Uswat’ul-Hasanah / The Quintessential Example

Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh) is the only prophet, and in fact, the only man in history to have every intricate detail of his life recorded. Only a limited account of the flawless conducts of other prophets, inherent with the resources of providing guidance for mankind and steering to what is good, have survived till today. But with an inner world of feeling thoroughly monitored, moment by moment, as it became actual in the simplest to the most involved of his words and actions, the ways of the Prophet of the Final Hour (pbuh) have been thoroughly preserved as befits the most precious heritage in history, awarded through the grace of Allah with the furthermore privilege of an assurance of survival till the very last man to come until the Final Hour.

Resisting failure at the face of the various trials and tribulations life has to offer compels us to place trust in the Almighty, be at peace with destiny, uphold patience, courage and perseverance, be altruistic and generous, with a contentedness and a richness of heart, and hold a steady balance against the possible discrepancies of the given circumstance. The murshid’ul-kamil par excellence in exercising all these virtues as typified through a pure and exemplary life is Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh), the most generous gift of Allah, glory unto him, to humankind.

The life of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) provides a splendid example for all generations to come until the Last Day. Of him, the Quran states:

“Nay, verily for you is a Reward unfailing; and you stand on an exalted standard of character.” (al-Qalam, 3-4)

The life and the gracious character of the Prophet (pbuh) mark the apex of human conduct, even simply with his pattern of behavior that is graspable by human understanding. The pinnacle of prophets and the archetype of human character who completed his mission in the midst of society by setting the best of examples to emulate, the Almighty has presented him to mankind as, in the words of the Quran, uswat’ul-hasana, the quintessential example.

Thus states the Holy Quran:

لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ ف۪ى رَسُولِ اللّٰهِ اُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِمَنْ كَانَ يَرْجُوا اللّٰهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْاٰخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللّٰهَ كَث۪يرًا

“You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a quintessential example for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.” (al-Ahzab, 21)

In all stages of life, the Noble Prophet (pbuh) offers a brilliant perfection for all eyes to see, exuding all kinds of beautiful conduct, whether in concise or in detail. Whatever the most perfect forms of conduct there may be to follow, one may therefore find its epitome in the sublime life and the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).

Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh)is the religious leader and the head of state. He is an example for those entering the garden of Divine Love, and no less for his gratitude and humbleness when abounding in the blessings of Allah.

Just as he is an example for his patience and trust in Allah, glory unto Him, in times dire, the Prophet (pbuh) is also an example for his generosity with and personal abstinence from the spoils of war. He is an example for extending the abundant compassion he had for his family to the slaves, the weak and stray; and all the more in his magnanimity and lenience towards the guilty.

Thus If you are wealthy, then ponder on the humbleness and generosity of that Great Prophet who reigned sovereign over entire Arabia and won over the hearts of every Arab notable through love…

If you are among the weak, then take reference from the Prophet’s life in Mecca under the rule of the horribly oppressive idolaters…

If you are triumphant, reflect on the Prophet of courage and submission who routed the enemy at the battles of Badr and Hunayn…

But, Allah forbid, should you become defeated, then remember the Prophet walking patiently and courageously amid his wounded and martyred Companions at the field of Uhud, having completely yielded to Divine Will…

And if you are a teacher, just think of the delicate,sensitive and affectionate Prophet conveying the pearls of his heart to the Students of Suffa by the Masjid’un-Nabawi … 

If you are a student, picture the Prophet sitting before Jibril (a.s) at the moment of Revelation, cautious and motivated, filled with respect.

If you are a preacher, a counselor calling to the good, then give ear to the pleasant voice of the Prophet flashing sparks of wisdom from his heart to his Companions at the Masjid… 

If you are left without an aid in your want to protect and communicate the Truth and elevate it, then take a look at the life of the Prophet who proclaimed the Truth to the ignorant and called them onto guidance at a time when he was deprived of all aid in Mecca…

If you have broken the resistance of the enemy, leaving them incapacitated, and devastated evil to proclaim the Truth, then bring before your eyes the sight of the Prophet, on the day of the Conquest, humbly and thankfully entering the sacred turf of Mecca, on camelback as if to fall prostrate, despite being a victorious commander…

If you own a farm and want to put things on track, then draw a lesson from the Prophet of competence who appointed the most able to revive and administer, in the best possible way, the lands of Banu Nadir, Khaybar and Fadak after seizing possession of them…

 If you are lonely, then reflect on the son of Abdullah and Aminah, their dearly loved orphan of innocence

If you are a teenager, closely consider the life of the youth, the future prophet, shepherding the stock of Abu Talib at Mecca…

If you are a trader set out with caravan loads of goods, ponder the integrity of the grandest man of the convoys destined for Yemen and Damascus…

If you are a judge, recall his just and prudential move in intervening to replace the Black Stone at the verge of Meccan notables going at each others’ throats…

Then turn your glance once more to history and take a look at the Prophet in Medina at the Masjid’un-Nabawi delivering his verdict with the greatest conceivable justice between the poverty stricken destitute and well to do rich, as just as one can imagine.

If you are a spouse consider the deep emotions and compassion of the Blessed Husband of Khadijah and Aisha…   

If you are have children then learn the affectionate conduct of the father of Fatimah, the grandfather of Hasan and Husayn…

Whoever you may be and in whichever circumstance you may find yourself in, you will find Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh) as the most perfect master and most beautiful guide at all times and places.

Such a master he is that one can correct all mistakes through emulating his Sunnah; and putting things back on course, make amends for all misplaced efforts. Following the light of his guidance, one will at once rid his path of drawbacks and find himself reach the gates of happiness…

The inner world of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), to be sure, is an exhibition far more exquisite than a garden of paradise bursting with rare and elegant flowers and charmingly scented roses.

Truly evident is hence the fact that the life of the Prophet (pbuh) constitutes the most perfect example, even for those on opposite poles of the social plane. The life of a convict, for instance, can never provide an example for a judge, just as a judge cannot be shown as an example to a convict. Likewise, the fate of one grappling with poverty and struggling to earn a living throughout her life can never provide a case in point for one wealthy abounding in riches. But the life of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) affords an example for both ends of the scale, for the reason that making him begin his journey of life from the lowest social end as an orphan, the Almighty proceeded him through each arduous stage of life till finally elevating him to the apex of power and authority, as prophet and head of state.

Each phase the Prophet (pbuh) underwent throughout the course of his life abundantly exhibits ideal modes of behavior to abide by in accommodating the ebbs and tides of human life in general. Thus in whatever position and circumstance one may be encumbered by, compliant with their means and capabilities, the life of the Noble Messenger (pbuh) offers concrete and perfect examples of actions to adopt and implement for all people.

He is thus the grandest masterpiece transpired by Allah, glory unto Him, in mankind. The exemplar par excellence for society to emulate, from the lowest end of the scale to the highest, for Believers steeped in his inimitable character, the Prophet of the Almighty (pbuh) is, at once, the ideal criterion in practice.

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Apart from prophets and the righteous who follow in their wake, everyone with the pretense of showing humankind the road to salvation, with the false air of being a guide for the rest to follow, and in particular philosophers attempting to explain everything with their limited rational capabilities and cognition, are eternally doomed to betray deficiency. Since they are firmly grounded in Divine Revelation, all prophets have come as guides of Truth confirming one another. Each have communicated and instructed the commands sent by Allah, always quoting the Almighty, conveying His commands.

Yet it has always been their personal views that philosophers, posing as guides in shedding upon mankind the light of Truth, have expounded, insofar as they have been deprived of Divine reinforcement in their words and have thus had to infer under the influence of their egos, tainted by their inadequate reasoning. All they have accomplished therefore is refuting and disclaiming the systems of one another, falling miserably short of guiding themselves let alone the rest of society.

Aristotle, for instance, though known for having founded certain principles of ethics, being devoid of Divine Revelation, seeing a single person affirm faith in his system and find happiness through its application is inconceivable. True to form, the hearts of philosophers have not been refined; neither have their souls been purified and their thoughts and actions matured through the unique aid of Revelation.

The only means of protection from the abysses that rational faculties and inner inclinations untrained by Revelation may steer one towards, is the Habl’ul-Matin, the Toughest Rope presented to humanity by the Prophet of the Final Hour(pbuh), which is the Holy Quran.  And the most tangible and practical realizations of the truths found deep in the bosom of the Quran are to be observed in the prosperous life of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Standing as the most urgent task for man compelled to fulfill his reason for existence is therefore to align in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah.

For the Quran and the Sunnah are the prescriptions of happiness for both Here and the Hereafter, the eternal legacy of the Light of Being (pbuh) who has bequeathed those two luminous beacons for his ummah.

Before embarking on the duty of prophethood, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had moreover endeared himself to everyone, by virtue of a perfection exuding character that simply compelled all to confess to him being the Trustworthy –al-Amin– and the Honest –as-Sadiq-. Only subsequent to this affirmation of character did the Call begin.

Fully aware of the Prophet’s(pbuh) exemplary character of decency and integrity long before the arrival of the great duty, the locals cherished him. The Tribe that called him al-Amin had equally succumbed unconditionally to his adjudication amidst an embittered dispute regarding the replacement of the Black Stone during the renovation of Kabah. For the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was pervaded with such honesty that even Abu Sufyan, still an infidel nurturing only malice for the Prophet (pbuh) at the time, when posed a question by Heraclius, the Byzantine Emperor, regarding whether there was ever a time that the Prophet (pbuh) did not keep his word, had no other option than to answer, unswervingly:

“Never…Every promise he makes, he keeps.” (Bukhari, Bad’ul-Wahy 6, Salat 1, Sadaqat 28; Muslim, Jihad 74)

A further testimony to the extent the pre-Islamic Arabs trusted Noble Messenger (pbuh) are the words of Abu Jahl, the archenemy of the Prophet, and his friends:

“By God, Muhammad, we do not dispute you…for our part you are an honest and decent man. We only dispute that which you have brought!”

Revealed in relation was the below ayah:

“We know indeed the grief which their words do cause you. It is not you they reject but the signs of Allah, which the wicked contemn.” (al-Anam, 33)[1]

Even his most bitter enemies had recognized the noble Muhammad (pbuh) as a true prophet in their hearts, rejecting him nonetheless because of their deluded egos.

Another incident shedding light on as to why the Light of Being (pbuh) was dubbed al-Amin even by his foes runs as follows:

The Battle of Khaybar continuing, a shepherd from Jewish ranks by the name of Yasar came to the Prophet (pbuh) and after a brief conversation expressed his desire to enter the fold of Islam. Hospitable, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) nevertheless required him first to return the sheep to their owners;[2] and this at a time when the battle had already overstretched the time limit and a shortage of supplies had begun to emerge as an immediate crisis among Muslim ranks…The consideration doubtless provides a glaring exhibition of the importance of responsibility, awareness of duty and safekeeping what one has been entrusted with, even during the most difficult times.

As for deriving the utmost benefit from the excellent conduct and virtue of the Noble Prophet (pbuh), it is consequent upon reaching the level of the submission of Abu Bakr (r.a), exemplified by his remarks on the Miraj:

“If he says he has gone there, it must be true!”

Innumerable manifestations of justice, compassion and mercy throughout the life of the Prophet (pbuh) stand as exemplary acts to imitate for the entire world till the Final Hour. No unprejudiced eye that has enjoyed the privilege of a moments gaze at the dazzling light radiating forth from that Incomparable Chandelier can dare to dispute his reality, even if it remains concealed within their conscience. Many a foreign scholar, felt obliged to bow to his reality despite remaining a nonbeliever, has given voice to his inner acknowledgement of the virtue and success of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). One such figure is Thomas Carlyle, who has described his birth as:

“…the slipping out of light from darkness.”

Written in the Encyclopedia Britannica, confirmative of the virtue of the Noble Prophet (pbuh), is the following:

“Neither a prophet nor a reformist has verged upon the success of Muhammad in the whole history of humanity.”

Similar is the remark of B. Smith:

“Without the least doubt, Muhammad is unanimously the greatest revolutionary.”

Writer Stanley Lane-Polo makes a clean breast with the below confession:

“The day Muhammad forged the greatest victory against his enemies was also the day he acquired the greatest victory of virtue in himself; for the day he conquered Mecca, he let Quraysh go free of blame, rendering it an official amnesty effective for the entire Meccan community.”

A comparable disclosure is made by writer Arthur Gilman:

“We witness his grandness during the Conquest of Mecca. The effects of past torments he was inflicted with could have very well actuated in him feelings of revenge. But Muhammad rather prevented his army from shedding even a drop of blood. Showing a majestic compassion, all he did was thank God.”

A rigorous research of numerous legal systems well before the proclamation of the Declaration of Human Rights, enthused La Fayette, a philosopher renowned as being one of the masterminds behind the French Revolution of 1789, to appreciatively proclaim the supremacy of Islamic Law:

“Muhammad the Magnificent…! You have attained to such a towering peak of justice that it has been impossible, and so shall it remain, for anyone to surpass it!”[3]

How great a virtue it must be that compels even the enemy to affirm and admit its verity…Such is the virtue and integrity of the Blessed Prophet(pbuh), testified to all along by even the staunchest of disbelievers…

The exceptional life of Muhammad Mustafa (pbuh) has embodied a moral perfection more than sufficient to separately light the way, at once, for a variety of activities. He constitutes the focal point of the education of the entire corpus of mankind, throwing sparkles on the way of those seeking the grandest illumination. Offering guidance through unwavering and illuminative light for all in search of the true path, he is the sole master of humanity.

The avid circle of learners flocked around him was virtually a college that had enrolled persons from all levels in society. Regardless of the color of their skin, the disparity of their languages, and despite the copious variety of their cultural backgrounds and seemingly irreconcilable social differences, they would gather there, as one. Nothing stood in the way to hinder anyone wishing to join in the circle. There, was not reserved exclusively to any one tribe; it was rather a font of knowledge and wisdom valuing men and women insofar as they were human beings. And thus obliterated were all differences between the weak and strong…

Just take a look at those to have adhered to the Prophet (pbuh); you will see men of prominence of the likes of the Abyssinian King Najashi, the Ma’anian notable Farwa, the chieftain of Khimyar Dhul’qila, Firuz Daylami, the Yemeni notable Maraqaboud and the governors of Umman Ubayd and Jafar.

Sure to strike you at a second glance, however, over and above the kings and chieftains aforementioned are disfavored men such as Bilal, Yasir, Suhayb, Habbab, Ammar, Abu Fuqayha among others, and vulnerable and unprotected women like Sumayya, Lubayna, Zinnirah, Nahdiya and Umm Abis.

Among the illustrious Companions were people of supreme wit and intelligence endowed with a sense of precise judgment, just as there were those with competence to solve the most intricate of problems, steeped with insight into matters worldly, adept in governing vast lands with proficiency.

The adherents of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) were to end up ruling grand towns and vast regions. It was through their efforts that many were granted access to guidance and a taste of justice. They spread peace and serenity among people, fusing them like brethren.

[1].     Wâhidî, Asbâb’u Nuzûli’l-Qur’ân, prepared for publication by Kemâl Besyûnî Zağlûl, Beirut 1990, p. 219.

[2].     Ibn Hishâm, Sîratü’n-Nabî, Beirut 1937, Daru’l-Fikr, III, 397-398; Ibn Hajar, al-İsâba, Beirut 1328, Dâru Ihyâi’t-Türâthi’l-Arabî, I, 38-39.

[3].     See Kâmil Mîras, Tecrîd-i Sarîh Tercemesi, Ankara 1972, IX, 289.