USWAT’UL-HASANAH The Quintessential Example

Among entire creation, it is only human beings who have been given the honor of taking a share from all the Divine Names of Allah, glory unto Him. Together with that, the Almighty has endowed human beings with the ability for both right and wrong, a tendency for both good and evil.

The aim of religion is therefore to minimize the negatives pertaining to the human ego to the point of annihilating them and in turn promote spiritual potentialities to their peak. But for the purpose to be realized, human beings need an actual example they can take after; an uswat’ul-hasanah, a quintessential example. One of the underlying wisdoms behind the sending of prophets lies in the fact of their providing an embodied example that human beings can follow. Allah, glory unto Him, declares:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلاَّ لِيُطَاعَ بِإِذْنِ اللّٰهِ

“And We did not send any messenger but that he should be obeyed by Allah’s permission…” (an-Nisa, 64)

This quality finds its consummate embodiment in the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), as testified by the Almighty:

لَقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللّٰهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن
كَانَ يَرْجُو اللّٰهَ وَالْيَوْمَ الْآخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللّٰهَ كَثِيراً

“Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah a quintessential example for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day and remembers Allah much.” (al-Ahzab, 21)

No other man, let alone a prophet, has had the entire details of his life recorded in every minute detail. Documented moment by moment, the Blessed Prophet’s (pbuh) every single word, deed and feeling constitutes a plaque of honor in history. The Quran states:

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلى خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ

“And you stand on an exalted standard of character.” (al-Qalam, 4)

Even with only its aspects graspable by human understanding, the life and the noble character of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) are on the highest scale of human conduct. Allah, glory unto Him, has presented him as a quintessential example, a supreme ideal for entire humankind. It is for no other reason that the Almighty made him begin his journey of life from the most vulnerable end as orphan, and then proceeded him through each difficult stage of life until finally elevating him to the peak of power and authority, as prophet and head of state; in order that people can find in him the most perfect example of conduct, in whatever level of the social scale they may be, and seek to realize the example he provides to the best of their capability. That is something attainable only by loving the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and embodying his spiritual perfection.

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh) is the head of both religion and 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 the Almighty. Just as he is an example for his patience and trust in Allah, glory unto Him, in times dire, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) is also an example for his generosity with and 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.

If you are wealthy, then ponder 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 Noble Prophet’s (pbuh) life in Mecca under the horrible pressure of 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, sensitiveand 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 desire to protect and communicate the Truth and elevate it, then take a look at the life of the Prophet who proclaimedtheTruth 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 and devastated evil to proclaim the Truth, then bring before your eyes the sight of the Prophet, who on the day of the Conquest, humbly and thankfully entered the sacred turf of Mecca, on camelback as if to fall prostrate, despite being a victorious commander…

If you own a land 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 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 Beloved Husband of Khadijah and Aisha…

If you 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 model and most beautiful guide at all times and places.

Such a master he is that one can correct all mistakes by following 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…

If you want to rescue yourself from becoming a slave to material and seek to lead a spiritual life, then take after the likes of Bilal, Yasir and Sawban (r.huma), all of whom were brought up by the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Become someone trustworthy through their company, so that you acquire a heart of sensitivity, elegance and receptivity. Remember that it was through being guided through the efforts of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and then remaining steady by his side that turned the people of ignorance into trustworthy exemplars. Even Qitmir, the dog of Ashab’ul-Kahf, the Sleepers of the Cave, was given an enormous blessing owing simply to remaining constant by the side of the righteous. In stark contrast, Lut’s (a.s) wife and Kanan, the son of Nuh (a.s), were struck with the wrath of Allah, glory unto Him, for becoming mixed up with the wrongdoers. They and those alike have ultimately drowned in the whirlpool of their egos, suffering the same menacing end as the oppressors they took sides with.

Then strive to fill the remainder of your days in the company of the loyal and righteous devotees of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), so that you do not end up among the ignorant.

His existence resembled a garden adorned with the most exquisite and beautifully scented roses. Complementing the perfection of his unique spiritual constitution was his awe-inspiring appearance. His unparalleled worth in the sight of Allah, glory unto Him, leads Him to declare in the Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللّٰهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَاتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ. يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَرْفَعُوا أَصْوَاتَكُمْ فَوْقَ صَوْتِ النَّبِيِّ وَلَا تَجْهَرُوا لَهُ بِالْقَوْلِ كَجَهْرِ بَعْضِكُمْ
لِبَعْضٍ أَن تَحْبَطَ أَعْمَالُكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَشْعُرُونَ

“O you who believe! Be not forward in the presence of Allah and His Messenger, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is Hearing, Knowing. O you who believe! do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet, and do not speak loud to him as you speak loud to one another, lest your deeds became null while you do not perceive.” (al-Hujurat, 1-2)

The Quran thereby invites all Believers to adopt respect towards the Prophet of Allah (pbuh). Despite addressing all other prophets by their names, the Quran never addresses the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) directly by his name, preferring instead such appellations as ‘Nabi’ or ‘Rasul’. Allah, glory unto Him, at the same time, enjoins all Muslims to take on a similar approach:

لَا تَجْعَلُوا دُعَاء الرَّسُولِ بَيْنَكُمْ كَدُعَاء بَعْضِكُم بَعْضًا

“Do not hold the Messenger’s calling (you) among you to be like your calling one to the other…” (an-Nur, 63)

The ayah reveals that it is contrary to the nature and conduct of being a Muslim to refer to the Noble Messenger (pbuh) only by his name, emphasizing the necessity of pronouncing, along with his name, his sublime and sacred attributes. When saying his name, one is therefore required to append to it titles like Nabi, Rasul, Rasulullah and Habibullah and in line with the command of the 56th ayah of al-Ahzab, say salat’u salam upon hearing his name mentioned. This is an important part of the manners the Almighty demands from us towards His Prophet (pbuh) and commands the entire ummah to endorse. So declares the Quran:

إِنَّ اللّٰهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ
آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا

“Surely Allah and His angels bless the Prophet; O you who believe! call for (Divine) blessings on him and salute him with a (becoming) salutation…” (al-Ahzab, 56)

Not only was the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) a teacher who taught the Quran literally, he at the same time was a living embodiment of it. In a hadith narrated by Jabir (r.a), he professes, “Allah has sent me to complement good morals.” (Muwatta’, Husn’ul-Khuluq)

All Islamic works written over the past 1400 years have had the sole aim of explaining the Holy Quran, and only one man, the Prophet of Allah (pbuh). So precious does Allah, glory unto Him, consider his life to be that He pledges an oath on it; and it is only on the Prophet’s (pbuh) life that He does: لَعَمْرُكَ “By your life!” (al-Hijr, 72)

Gaining closeness to the Muhammedan Truth is possible not so much through reason but through love. And without a doubt, it is that Truth that solves all mysteries. Acquiring a share of the quintessential example of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), distancing oneself from the passing pleasures of the ego, becoming committed to worship and getting hold of the wisdom that unravels all the riddles of servanthood; it is these that provide a passage to that Truth. Once man begins to acquire an apportioned share of the Muhammedan Truth, he becomes an elegant display, a beauty of creation, on who the light and truth of the mysteries of Divine manifestations become embroidered.

The secrets of the Quran are unveiled to one’s heart, to the extent of its depth in becoming one with the spirituality of the Noble Prophet (pbuh). And with regard to adhering to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), the one and only standard for humankind, Allah, glory unto Him, declares:

وَمَا آتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانتَهُوا
وَاتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ

“So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you; and fear Allah, for Allah is strict in punishment.” (al-Hashr, 7)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللّٰهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَلَا تُبْطِلُوا أَعْمَالَكُمْ

“O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and do not make your deeds of no effect.” (Muhammad, 33)

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللّٰهَ وَالرَّسُولَ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ مَعَ الَّذِينَ أَنْعَمَ اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِم. مِّنَ النَّبِيِّينَ وَالصِّدِّيقِينَ وَالشُّهَدَاء وَالصَّالِحِينَ وَحَسُنَ. أُولَـئِكَ رَفِيقاً

“And whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger, these are with those upon whom Allah has bestowed favors from among the prophets and the truthful and the martyrs and the good, and a goodly company are they!” (an-Nisa, 69)

 قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ اللّٰهَ فَاتَّبِعُونِي يُحْبِبْكُمُ اللّٰهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَاللّٰهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ. قُلْ أَطِيعُواْ اللّٰهَ وَالرَّسُولَ
فإِن تَوَلَّوْاْ فَإِنَّ اللّٰهَ لاَ يُحِبُّ الْكَافِرِينَ

“ Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Say: Obey Allah and the Messenger; but if they turn back, then surely Allah does not love the unbelievers.” (Al-i Imran, 31-32)

وَمَن يُطِعِ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَيَخْشَ اللّٰهَ وَيَتَّقْهِ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ

“And he who obeys Allah and His Messenger, and fears Allah, and is careful of (his duty to) Him, these it is that are the achievers.” (an-Nur, 52)

وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاء بَعْضٍ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاَةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَيُطِيعُونَ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَـئِكَ سَيَرْحَمُهُمُ اللّٰهُ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

“And (as for) the believing men and the believing women, they are guardians of each other; they enjoin good and forbid evil and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Messenger; (as for) these, Allah will show mercy to them; surely Allah is Mighty, Wise.” (at-Tawbah, 71)

مَّنْ يُطِعِ الرَّسُولَ فَقَدْ أَطَاعَ اللّٰهَ وَمَن تَوَلَّى فَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ عَلَيْهِمْ حَفِيظاً

“Whoever obeys the Messenger, he indeed obeys Allah, and whoever turns back, so We have not sent you as a keeper over them.” (an-Nisa, 80)

 أَلَمْ يَعْلَمُواْ أَنَّهُ مَن يُحَادِدِ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَأَنَّ لَهُ
نَارَ جَهَنَّمَ خَالِداً فِيهَا ذَلِكَ الْخِزْيُ الْعَظِيمُ

“Do they not know that whoever acts in opposition to Allah and His Messenger, he shall surely have the fire of hell to abide in it? That is the grievous abasement.” (at-Tawbah, 63)

وَأَطِيعُواْ اللّٰهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلاَ تَنَازَعُواْ فَتَفْشَلُواْ وَتَذْهَبَ
رِيحُكُمْ وَاصْبِرُواْ إِنَّ اللّٰهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ

“And obey Allah and His Messenger and do not quarrel for then you will be weak in hearts and your power will depart, and be patient; surely Allah is with the patient.” (al-Anfal, 46)

Shivering and feeling all esthetic sensations come to life over the love of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and beginning to empty the spirit of the presence of the ego along with all its blemishes, are sure signs that a Believer has entered the path of acquiring a share of the love of the Noble Messenger (pbuh) and his exemplary character.

The heroes of the heart, who, having taken an apt share from the noble character of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh), in which they were virtually annihilated, have continued to provide uplifting examples, showing just what loving the Prophet (pbuh) means. Life was what they found in the truth of the Prophet (pbuh).

One such hero was Sayyid Ahmad Yasawi, the great saint of Turkistan, who after turning sixty-three, the very age in which the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) had passed away, deemed it inappropriate to ‘walk on earth’ any longer and dug a grave-like burrow in the ground, in which he lead the remaining time of his life.

When Uways al-Qarani heard the news that the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) had suffered a broken tooth during the Battle of Uhud, not knowing exactly which tooth it was, he became estranged from every tooth in his mouth. Relief only came after he pulled out every single one of them, by virtue of which he was able to get rid of the mystery tooth, which he considered prevented him from total annihilation in the Prophet’s (pbuh) existence. (Fariduddin Attar, p. 23)

Imam Malik (r.a) was another who lived every moment of his life in the ecstasy of being one with the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). Out of respect, he never mounted a ride inside Medina. The Imam always spoke with a low voice at the Rawdah, the area between the minbar and the blessed grave of the Noble Prophet (pbuh). He therefore was quick to caution Abu Jafar Mansur, the Caliph at the time, who momentarily raised his voice there:

“Lower your voice in this area, Caliph. Allah’s warning was to a group much more virtuous than you!” He followed this up by reminding the Caliph of the ayah:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَرْفَعُوا أَصْوَاتَكُمْ فَوْقَ صَوْتِ النَّبِيِّ وَلَا تَجْهَرُوا لَهُ بِالْقَوْلِ كَجَهْرِ بَعْضِكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ أَن تَحْبَطَ أَعْمَالُكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لَا تَشْعُرُونَ

“O you who believe! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet, and do not speak loud to him as you speak loud to one another, lest your deeds became null while you do not perceive.” (al-Hujurat, 2)

Imam Malik, again, forgave the Governor of Medina who had caused him unjustified troubles, saying, “I would feel embarrassed to seek my rights in the Hereafter from an offspring of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh).”

Expressing that it was only from the love of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) that her spirit received its replenishment, Bezm-i Alem Valide Sultan wrote:

From love, was Muhammad born,

Without Muhammad…love is forlorn…

In 1678, the Ottoman poet Nabi embarked on a hajj journey with a number of state officials. As they reached closer to Medina, anxiety and excitement got the better of the poet and he lost all sleep. In the meantime, he noticed an official lying down unaware that he had stretched out his legs towards Medina. Depressed from the sight, Nabi began writing his celebrated ode to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh). As their caravan got within a very short distance of the Mosque of the Prophet (pbuh), Nabi, much to his amazement, could hear his ode being read aloud from a minaret:

Desist from disrespect; this is the land of the Lord’s Beloved,

The focus of Divine gaze, this is the site of the Prophet,

Enter this shrine, Nabi, intent only on utmost conduct,

This is the place prophets kiss, the precinct of the sacred…

Excited almost beyond belief, Nabi quickly found the muaddhin, asking him where he had learnt the ode from.

“Last night in our dream”, he explained, “the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said to us, ‘A poet by the name of Nabi from my ummah is coming to visit me; a man who is very much filled with my love. Therefore, welcome him with his own ode from the minaret of the Masjid’. So we were only fulfilling his command.”

Nabi was almost immediately reduced to tears of joy. “So the Prophet of Allah referred to me as someone from his ummah”, he said as he wept. “So he has accepted me into his ummah…”

“A unique light that even the sun orbits”, a poetic remark belonging to Suleyman Çelebi, the author of Mawlid, who conceives even the sun as revolving around the Noble Prophet (pbuh), depicting the undying love even physical entities have for him.

Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, who wrote poems under the pseudonym ‘Muhibbi’, sends the below plea to the Blessed Prophet (pbuh):

The light of the universe you are, even the Beloved of the Lord,

Do not banish, even for a moment, your lovers from your door…

Ali (r.a) recounts:

“I used to walk with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in Mecca. Together one day we went outside of Mecca. Every single stone and tree that we walked passed greeted him in the words ‘Blessings and peace unto you Messenger of Allah!’” (Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 6/3626)

Displayed below is another manifestation of Prophetic love in physical entities:

The Blessed Prophet (pbuh), while on a campaign, communicated Islam to a Bedouin he came across. The Bedouin asked for a proof attesting to his prophethood, upon which the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) signaled to a tree ahead, calling it next to him. Complying immediately with the command of the Prophet (pbuh), the tree, splitting the ground as it dragged itself forth, came next to the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) and said, three times, the word of shahadah in his presence. Witnessing the scene in utter astonishment, the Bedouin remarked, as he parted ways to return to his tribe, “If my tribe listens to me, I will bring them to you; if not then I will return by myself and stay by your side!” (Haythami, VIII, 292)

Not only physical entities but also animals acknowledged the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) and obeyed him. One such account is narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah (r.a):

“We were returning from a campaign with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). As we came near the gardens of Ibn’un-Najjar in Medina, we learnt that there was a wild camel, in the garden, attacking everyone that tried entering, not letting anyone inside. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was made aware of the situation. So he went there, entered the garden and called the wild camel that would not let anyone get near it. Hearing the voice of the Prophet (pbuh), the camel bowed its head, to the point where its lips were making contact with the ground, and humbly walked over to him, where it humbly crouched.

‘Bring me a rope’, then said the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Placing the rope around the camel’s neck, he then handed it to its owner, after which he said, ‘Apart from the rebellious humans and jinn, all beings in heaven and earth know that I am the Messenger of Allah.’” (Ahmad, III, 310)

We must think and reassess the sincerity of our obedience and devotion to the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), in comparison with the profound state of love harbored by physical and living entities…

We stand in an enormous need for his spirituality, especially in these tumultuous times; a turbulence inciting the poet to call out for the Blessed Prophet (pbuh): “Wake up, the Master of the Universe, for the Day of Judgment is nigh!”[1]

How great sources of consolation we have in our salawat, the greetings through which we keep our communication with the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) ever alive and in the love we feel for him…

Sensitive Muslims with an elegance of spirit have considered it the greatest blessing in the world to gain closeness to the truth of the Prophet (pbuh) by virtue of letting go of their selves in his spiritual path; and as a result have immersed themselves in Divine zests.

The utterly magnificent character of the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) which we have here attempted to summarize so far, within the limited opportunity provided by words, are mere rays reflecting onto our understanding from that great Light of Being (pbuh). The secret behind wasl ila’Allah, or reaching Allah, glory unto Him, lies in becoming intimate with the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet, with a genuine heart, and in loving those whom Allah and His Messenger loves and detesting whom they detest. The difference between both is as infinite as the distance between a’la-i iliyyin and asfal-i safilin, the highest of the high and lowest of the low. Loving the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) and hating the opposite of all that he signifies is the most powerful catalyst in enabling one to benefit from his spirituality.

Great Muslims, who throughout history have been able to emulate the quintessential example of the Noble Prophet (pbuh), have been able to reach the peak of iman; and by perfecting the tendency for the good inherent in their fitrah, or natural disposition, they have become shining stars in setting examples for others to follow.

There you have it; the Muhammedan Truth expressed, to the degree the understanding of an inept author can bear of it and the limited words, which he uses, can hold…

We must admit that the words delivered in this book to its subjects, known and unknown, are like a few drops from a boundless ocean. And they now stand exhausted before the majestic gates of a bottomless silence.

Allah…Render this audacious effort of ours, weighed down by the limited possibility provided by words, a means for Your abundant compassion and grant us thereby a share of the Muhammedan Truth! Make us attain to the great intercession of Your Prophet (pbuh), the essence and font of love!

Amin

[1].      Bernard Shaw, who has come to terms with this fact, admits, “In our times where problems are piled upon one another, we stand in desperate need of Prophet Muhammad who can solve all problems with ease.”