THE UNIQUE ROLE MODEL

It is only possible for a believer to reach the supreme state of humanity if they perfect their spiritual attributes by taking a share in the exemplary life and lofty morality of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). This state can then be achieved through love felt for the Prophet and by mastering the ability to encircle oneself with his spirituality.

All of humanity has heard the holy recitations that cure and invigorate the heart with the Prophet’s blessed speech. Mankind has become the manifestation of Rahman’s (the All Compassionate) forgiveness and benevolence by honouring the love of the Prophet who is known as “the Light of Existence”. Again, despite of all its sins, mankind has attained the right to be compassionately addressed by our Lord as “O my Servants!” in honour of His love for the Prophet.

In view of this benevolence, courtesy and kindness, our duty as the Muslim Ummah (community) is to wholeheartedly follow the orders, prohibitions and advice of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and to live our lives with the spirituality of his Sunnah (the Prophet’s words and actions).

Being “compassionate and merciful” himself, the Prophet wished his Ummah to follow these instructions. Some of these are as follows.

a. Our prophet (pbuh) proclaimed:

“My Lord has ordered me to be in a state of awe and to fear Him in private and in public. (I advise you to be this way too.)” 

As he was completely obedient of this order, like all of Allah’s orders, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

“ I swear on Allah Almighty that I am the one among you most in fear of Him and I am the one who is most in awe of and reverential towards Him.” (Bukhari, Niqah 1).

Whenever he left a gathering the Prophet always made a supplication to his Lord, saying:

“O Allah! Bless us with your fear sufficiently to prevent us from sins” (Tirmizi, Daavat, 79)

Amongst mankind it was the Prophet (pbuh) who was blessed with the highest manifestations of Allah Almighty. One day he said to his companions:

“If you knew what I knew you would laugh little and weep much” and covering their faces they all cried aloud. (Bukhari, Tafseer, 5/12)

Allah Almighty promises Paradise to His servants who are in fear of Him in secret and in public. In a verse of the Qur’an He says:

“And for such as had entertained the fear of standing before their Lord’s (tribunal) and had restrained (their) soul from lower desires, Their abode will be the Garden.” (Qur’an:79/40-41)

“(A voice will say:) “This is what was promised for you, for every one who turned (to Allah), in sincere repentance, who kept (His Law), Who feared (Allah) Most Gracious Unseen, and brought a heart turned in devotion (to Him)” (Qur’an:50/32-33)

“Their limbs do forsake their beds of sleep, the while they call on their Lord, in Fear and Hope: and they spend (in charity) out of the sustenance which We have bestowed on them.” (Quran:32/16)

For this reason the prophets and people who are close to Allah illuminate their nights with their awe of Him and in the hope of being blessed with His eternal mercy. Their nights are brighter and clearer than their days, for their nights are filled with peace and the spirit of prostrations that are abundant with tears.

b. The Prophet (pbuh) said:

“My Lord has ordered me to rule with justice in times of anger and contention (I advise you to be this way too.)”

Anger is a state in which a person struggles to keep his/her temper and direction. One can lose one’s balance and stray from justice. In such cases a person should always remind him/herself of Allah and the Day of Judgment, remain patient and serene so as to not stray towards injustice Our Lord has instructed us:

“…stand out firmly for justice… Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve…” (Qur’an: 4/135)

“…be fair: for Allah loves those who are fair (and just)” (Qur’an: 49/9)

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said in a hadith (sayings of the Prophet), in which he talked about various issues:

“There are three things that save: To be just in times of anger and consent, To be frugal in times of wealth and poverty, To fear Allah in secret and in public.” (Haythami, I, 90)

When a man came to the Prophet to ask about repealing the punishment for theft, he gave the example of his beloved daughter and said:

“I swear to Allah that if Muhammad’s daughter Fatima stole, I would definitely cut off her hand as well” (Bukhari, Anbiya, 54; Muslim, Hudud, 8,9).

Justice is necessary for the welfare of the individual and society. Omar (pbuh) points out this truth with the following statement:

“Justice is the foundation of sovereignty (state, independence and government).”

In the two and a half years he ruled during the ninety-two years of the Amawi sovereignty, Omar bin Abdulaziz, the fifth greatest caliph of Islam, spread the borders of Islam as far as Spain. This achievement, accompanied by people living in peace and security, was the result of the rule of justice and equity in his own country. No one can be prosperous through transgression and no state can stand without justice.

Again, there is the example of the case of Sultan Fatih being taken to court by a Christian architect; the case came in front of judge Hizir Bey, who had been appointed by Fatih himself and was a very close friend, yet the court decided against the Sultan.

This was an outcome of the justice system that assured the rule of the Ottoman State for hundreds of years.

c. The Messenger of Allah said;

“My Lord ordered me to be frugal in wealth and in poverty. (I advise you to do the same.)”

Any person, be they rich or poor by Divine allocation, should be frugal. They should never squander their wealth. Even the Prophet (pbuh) advised that we should be aware of the value of wealth before poverty strikes.1

In the following verses Allah Almighty orders us to be frugal and temperate:

“…But squander not (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the Evil Ones; and the Evil One is to his Lord (himself) ungrateful.” (Qur’an:17/26-27)

”Make not thy hand tied (like a niggard’s) to thy neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach, so that thou become blameworthy and destitute.”  (Qur’an:17/29)

And the Prophet (pbuh) said:

“Those who are frugal and far from squandering will never be indigent.” (İbn-i Hanbal, I, 447)

“One who makes istikhara (a prayer made for guidance) will not be disappointed; one who asks counsel will not regret it and one who is frugal will not become poor.” (Haythami, Majmau’z-Zawâid, II, 280)

Accordingly, a believer should be aware that everything belongs to Allah Almighty and that they are a guardian of this estate. They should spend only as much as they need and use the rest for the sake of Allah (pbuh). Allah Almighty said:

“They ask thee how much they are to spend (in the way of Allah); Say: “What is beyond your needs.” ” (Qur’an:2/219)

Our Prophet (pbuh) advised us to be generous even in times when means are scarce. He said:

“Save yourselves from the fire even with half of a date. One who cannot find this should protect oneself with pleasing and graceful words.” (Bukhari, Adab, 34)

The true felicity of richness and possessions will be gained by distributing alms in the way of Allah. In order to be able to spend in the way of Allah one has to earn their sustenance through halal (lawful) means and not allow the love of these materials in the heart.

Hence the Prophet said:

“A halal and beneficial commodity is a blessing in the hands of a righteous person” (İbn-i Hanbal, IV, 202)

This is because a righteous person is compassionate and merciful. And compassion means to give from what you have to those who do not have it. In other words, compassion is running to the help of people to compensate them for what they have been deprived of.

Compassion and generosity mean a peaceful conscience in this world and good tidings for eternal happiness. The rich people are called “agneya-e shakereen” when they are thankful to their Lord and distribute alms that are scarce in societies.

The same is true for the people called “fukara-e sabereen”, who are poor but patient. For this reason, these two groups of people are pleasing to Allah Almighty. The people who are together in pleasing Allah as well as in human honour are the rich who are thankful and the poor who are dignified. But there is a reprimand for rich people who are arrogant and miserly and for the poor who are not patient but rebellious against what was predestined for them. For this reason the Prophet (pbuh) prayed:

“My Lord! I seek refuge in you from the instigation of richness and poverty” (Muslim, Dhikr, 49)

Thus, whoever carries lofty virtues, such as contentment and submission, and whoever puts one’s trust in Allah is wealthy in the truest sense. Also, the true sovereignty of wealth is achieved only through the felicity of almsgiving.

When the companions of the Prophet started mobilizing for the Tabuk War, even those who did not have much to offer were filled with the excitement of making sacrifices from their lives and from the scarce resources they had. Abu Akil (pbuh) was one of these companions who had worked all night and earned two measures of dates.

He left one measure at home for his family and gave the other to the soldiers participating in the war.

“One man had two dirhams. He gave one of them in alms (meaning he handed out half of his wealth.) Another man (who was very wealthy) went to his possessions, took out a hundred thousand dirhams and gave it in alms.” (Nasai, Zakat, 49)

What is meant here is that the first person gave half of what he had, although he was in need; the second person, although he sacrificed much more than the first one, gave only a small portion of his wealth. This means the stature of almsgiving is connected to the level of selfsacrifice and devotion felt in the heart, rather than the material quantity of it.

The account of the three martyrs at the war of Yarmuk which shows the level of self-sacrifice felt in the hearts of these people sets an amazing example that is difficult to attain. They offered each other a cup of water while they were all desperately thirsty and in the throes of death.

The companions’ ideal was to embrace themselves with the morality of the Prophet. For this reason, mercy and asceticism were at a peak with them. For that society lived in a state of ascetic discipline.

They did not know the squandering lifestyle of excessive consumerism, gluttony, luxury or ostentation. Their wealthy were the agneya-e shakereen and their poor were the fukara-e sabereen. The Prophet was the best example of agneya-e shakereen during the times when they received booty. He was also the best example of the fukara-e sabereen during the times when nothing was cooked in his home for days and he would have to tie a stone on his stomach to suppress his hunger.

d. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

“My Lord has ordered me to give due rights of a relative (i.e. visiting) even to those who have severed their ties with me. (I advise you to do the same)”

Allah Almighty persistently orders his servants to maintain their relationships with their kin and to be kind and beneficent towards them. After this the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

”May Allah bless what you have brought along with what you have withheld” And then he had the dates brought by Abul Akil added to the ones collected before. (Taberî)

One day the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “One dirham surpasses a hundred thousand dirhams”

The companions of the Prophet (pbuh) asked:

“How can that be, O the Messenger of Allah?”

and the Messenger said:

“One man had two dirhams. He gave one of them in alms (meaning he handed out half of his wealth.) Another man (who was very wealthy) went to his possessions, took out a hundred thousand dirhams and gave it in alms.” (Nasai, Zakat, 49)

What is meant here is that the first person gave half of what he had, although he was in need; the second person, although he sacrificed much more than the first one, gave only a small portion of his wealth. This means the stature of almsgiving is connected to the level of selfsacrifice and devotion felt in the heart, rather than the material quantity of it.

The account of the three martyrs at the war of Yarmuk which shows the level of self-sacrifice felt in the hearts of these people sets an amazing example that is difficult to attain. They offered each other a cup of water while they were all desperately thirsty and in the throes of death.

The companions’ ideal was to embrace themselves with the morality of the Prophet. For this reason, mercy and asceticism were at a peak with them. For that society lived in a state of ascetic discipline.

They did not know the squandering lifestyle of excessive consumerism, gluttony, luxury or ostentation. Their wealthy were the agneya-e shakereen and their poor were the fukara-e sabereen. The Prophet was the best example of agneya-e shakereen during the times when they received booty. He was also the best example of the fukara-e sabereen during the times when nothing was cooked in his home for days and he would have to tie a stone on his stomach to suppress his hunger.

e. The Messenger of Allah said:

“My Lord has ordered me to give to those who deprive me. (I advise it to you too).”

In a verse from the Qur’an it says:

”Nor can goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate!” (Qur’an: 41/34)

In a hadith:

“Do not sever your ties with those who sever them with you! Give to those who do not give to you! Forgive those who harm you!” (İbn Hanbal, IV, 148, 158)

There was drought and famine in Macca around the seventh year of Hijrah. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sent gold, barley and dates to help the Maccans who had shown fierce enmity towards him for the past twenty years.

Abu Sufyan received all of it and distributed it to the poor of the Macca. A human is defeated by beneficence. Kindness and beneficence will even soften the enmity of the enemy. On account of the goodness shown towards the poor of Macca by the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) even Abu Sufyan, showing his gratitude due to the lessening of his enmity and hardness felt in his heart, said:

“May Allah reward my brother’s son with kindness! Because he safeguarded the right of the kin” (Ya’kubi, History, II, 56)

Many people accepted Islam due this magnanimity and virtue. Prophet Joseph (pbuh) is a good example in this matter. Although his siblings, out of jealousy, threw him in a well he showed kindness to them.

He did not reproach them but forgave them. After this “They said:

“By Allah. Indeed has Allah preferred thee above us, and we certainly have been guilty of sin!” (Qur’an:12/91)

In short, in order to channel people to Allah and to goodness there is a need to find a path that goes to their heart. The shortest way is generosity, compassion and forgiveness, which means being able to give to Allah’s servants through these virtues of the heart.

To be able to become an exemplary believer who has attained Allah Almighty’s love we should always carry “fear of Allah” in our hearts, never sway from justice at times of anger or consent, be frugal in times of wealth or poverty and spend in the ways of Allah as much as possible, never sever ties with our relatives, show kindness to those who deprive us and even forgive those who oppress us with a boundless heart.

Angel Gabriel one day warned the Prophet about three matters in accordance to their importance: Ka’b bin Ujrah narrates:

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) wanted us to sit close to the pulpit. We all sat right in front of it. He walked up one stair and said “Amen!” He walked up another stair and again said “Amen!”

-May he be far from Allah’s mercy who reaches Ramadan and is not forgiven!

And I said “Amen!”

When I walked up to the second step he said:

-May he be far from Allah’s mercy who does not send you greetings when your name is pronounced next to him!

And I said “Amen!”

When I walked up to the third step he said:

-May he be far from Allah’s mercy whose parents, one or both, attains old age and yet he still cannot attain heaven! – and I said “Amen!” (Hakim, Mustadrak, IV, 170)

Our Lord! Enable us to be one of those beloved to our Prophet. Help us to follow his orders and advice meticulously like a shadow following his owner. May our Lord help us to attain the morality of the Prophet, the “unique role model”, whom He Himself has nurtured and may He join us with the faithful in this world who are witnesses of this lofty personage!

Amen!

1 Hakim al Mustadrak, IV, 341.

2 Bukhari, Manakibu’l Ansar, 20.