The following is a famous hadîth qudsî, or saying of Allah:

I was a hidden treasure, and I wished to be known; this is why I created the universe.”

Thus we can understand that the universe and the whole of creation consist of Divine love. This is the reason why people see the world with a deep stirring in the soul, perceiving all the worldly belongings and wealth as a sign of love and affection, and why they realize that Allah Almighty has created everything; they accept this as evidence of His abilities and perfection. Mawlânâ Rûmî explains the importance of love and affection for humans in the following lines:

“Know how pitiful is he who does not possess divine love and affection; he may even be inferior to a dog, because the dog of the Companions of the Cave [1] searched for tamed love, and found it; he reached spiritual pleasure and those special mortals attained heaven.”

The pious know that the reason for their creation is the bud of eternal affection, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh): ‘O beloved! If it was not for you I would not have created the universe.’ Complimented with the title ‘The Light of Creation’, the Prophet Muhammad (May God bless him and grant him peace), has had the universe dedicated to him.

The First and Last Page of the Calendar of Prophet­hood

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), whose Divine light appeared before Adam, but who physically appeared after all the other Messengers, was both the first and the last in the line of Prophets. In respect of creation, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the first, but in respect of time, he was the last Prophet. As he was the reason for the entire creation, Allah Almighty blessed him with the title ‘Beloved’. The Prophet Muhammad’s exceptional life was established by Allah Almighty in the most beautiful way, both spiritually and physically, and he was then blessed as a Mercy for the whole of mankind.

The manners and personality of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his behaviour towards mankind are an example for all. Allah Almighty created the Prophet Muhammad as an example of perfect character for everyone. This is why he was sent into the community as a pitiful orphan, passing through all the grades and levels of society and stages of life, becoming a head of state and Prophet; thus he reached the highest rank of authority and power. His display of excellent behaviour and actions, his intelligence, and his capabilities and power are an example for human beings at any level or rank. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was sent by Allah the Merciful as an example for all of mankind from the time he was appointed to the Prophethood until the Day of Judgment. We are told in the following verse:

Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the Final Day, and who remembers Allah much.” (Ahzâb, 33: 21)

We can understand from this that it is our duty to study the life and actions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in order to attain this excellent temperament, faith and spiritual intuition. Every human must wrap themselves in his spirituality and affection in order to be able to apply their own knowledge and instincts when following his blessed example.

Before becoming a prophet, Muhammad lived a contented and dignified life, believing in the unity of Allah. In particular, during the period immediately before he was blessed with the duty of Prophethood, he would spend much of his time in worship, retreating to the Mountain of Light (Hirâ) and absorbing himself in deep contemplation.. The reason for this seclusion was the blatant perversity of his society and the sadness and affection he felt for those who were oppressed or destitute. In reality, all these trials were but a preparation by Allah Almighty to reveal the Qur’ân to mankind via the Prophet. The Qur’ân was to be our guide for life and it was to come to us through the holy heart of the Messenger. In the following Qur’ânic verse we learn:

“Say: Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel – for he brings down the (revelation) to thy heart by Allah’s will, a confirmation of what went before, and guidance and glad tidings for those who believe.” (Baqarah, 2: 97)

With these experiences, the Prophet Muhammad’s heart had reached a state of purity and a level from which he could comment upon and instruct in the revelations. The Prophet’s heart had now been prepared for the Revelation; for six continuous months he had received spiritual signs and inspirations. For an average person to take up such a heavy burden would have been impossible; normal human beings are not created with this kind of capability. But for the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), the mysterious veil of spirituality had been removed and it was time for this gift and power of mystery to surface.

This Honoured One of the Universe had combined the duties and power of all the Prophets with his actions and character. In the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) nobility and dignity, moral quality and the manifestation of Divine perfection reached their peak. Commandments were given. Instruction was provided for ‘cleansing of the heart’ and ‘purification of the nafs’, and with a pure heart he taught the prayers and servant-hood which were to be performed in front of Allah Almighty. By living and displaying the best of morals, the

Muhammad became the most perfect example of humanity.

The Essence of Tasawwuf (Islamic Spirituality)

The essence of tasawwuf is to attain a pure and healthy soul that has dedicated itself to the love for Allah; these are the cause of the Divine union of the soul. The spiritual events that happened to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) prior to receiving the Revelation, the purification of his soul and the cleansing of his ego are all a part of the grounds for tasawwuf.

Certainly, the Prophet Muhammad’s heart and soul had attained a high spiritual level before he received the Revelation; the holy Prophet lived a life of good conduct and divinity. However, when he returned from the Mountain of Light, Hirâ, with the Divine order, it was obvious that he had reached a glorious phase that was very different from his former life.

Spiritually communicating with Allah Almighty, absorbing every speck of light from the glory of unification and the merits of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had reached the peak of faith and submission; he would stand in prayer until his feet were swollen, shedding tears in adoration while still continuing his Divine service. Even when he slept, the Prophet Muhammad’s heart was always alert; he never distanced himself from Allah’s remembrance or contemplation for a single moment.

With the blessing of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) attained this nature of his heart and a state of perfection; he continued to convey the message of Islam to all of mankind, aware of the Divine trust that he had been endowed with and which lifted him to the peak of all peaks. Prophet Muhammad rejected anything that would reflect on or prevent him from carrying out the Divine duty that had been bestowed upon him and he acknowledged the duty of worshipping Allah Almighty over everything else.

It is essential to begin first with praising the Lord of the Universe, the result of which is the purification of the heart from evil feelings, thoughts, and preoccupations; only then can the Qur’ân, which orders that the whole of creation take refuge in Allah alone, be a book of guidance for mankind until the Day of Judgment. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his lifetime of actions are the guide for human conduct. Affection for the Prophet Muhammad is affection for Allah, obedience to him is obedience to Allah and rebellion against him is rebellion against Allah. Thus the blessed existence of the Prophet Muhammad is a refuge of affection for mankind.

Tasawwuf is the unification of that which is evident and that which is hidden in the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and is a blend of great affection. This is because every act of the Prophet Muhammad is a form of the essence of tasawwuf in that every action aims to make the heart pure, the ego (nafs) clean, and the soul healthy so that the human is prepared for his “Divine union” with his creator in the most excellent way.

In another account, it is stated that tasawwuf is a Divine privilege, starting with the ‘blowing of the soul’ into Adam (a.s) and ending with the vision of the perfection, His Messenger, on the Day of Judgment. It is the reflection of the dew of prosperity on hearts full of affection.

[1].    The Companions of the Cave were a group of young people who, fleeing oppression, entered a cave and were made by Allah to fall asleep and reawaken 100 years later. The dog mentioned here was guarding the door of the cave to keep the group safe and due to his proximity to the group, was also a recipient of the blessings of this Divine miracle.