Brothers and Sisters, the month of Rabiul Awwal brought with it memories of the Prophet Muhammad (SA). Muslims throughout the world would have increased their salutations on the blessed Prophet (SA). Many assemblies and functions would have been organised and kept to remember his marvellous Seerah (life history). Beautiful and eloquent songs and poetry would have been sung and recited reminiscing his illustrious live. Abundant tears would have been shed out of the claim of love for him and his companions. Happiness would have been displayed with mentioning of his happiness, and sadness would have been displayed with the mentioning of his sadness. Lectures would have been delivered on the many events found in his life. Yet, with all this claim of profound affection and passionate assertion to following his Seerah, it is clear and apparent from the practical lifestyle of many Muslims that the real meaning of the seerah (the blessed life of the Prophet) is not understood. Likewise, from the speech, habits and practices of many, it is again seen that the real lessons of the Sunnah have not been learnt. What position does he occupy in the life of a Muslim? How should the lessons from the life of the greatest personality who walked the surface of the earth be implemented?
The lessons of the Prophet (SA) are tremendous. It encompasses the needs of human beings in all aspect of their lives. It answers all the questions for one who is looking for answers. It solved the problems of the world which existed at his time, and it can pertinently solve the problems existing in the world in the present time as well as the future.
Respected readers, lets consider who this great personality really is. This should stimulate within us a desire to emulate and apply his teachings in our lives. The Prophet (SA) occupies the highest position among the Prophets. He said in a narration: “I am the leader of the children of Adam, and there is no boast in it.” (Mishkaat) He will also be the chief of the children of Adam on the Day of Resurrection as narrated from Aisha (RA) that the Prophet (SA) said, “I will be the chief of all the people on the Day of Resurrection.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
Abu Hurairah (RA) reported Allah’s Messenger (SA) as saying: I shall be pre-eminent amongst the descendants of Adam on the Day of Resurrection, and I will be the first intercessor and the first whose intercession will be accepted (by Allah). (Muslim)
Allah distinguished him with the completion of prophethood. In a narration, the Prophet (SA) said: ‘My example and the example of the prophets before me is like a man who built a house, which he built and perfected except for the space of one block; people would go round the house and stare in awe at its perfection and say, ‘had it not been for this space!’ The Prophet (SA) said: ‘I am that brick, I am the last of Prophets.’ (Bukhari) His virtue was such that even the previous prophets wanted to be among his Ummah (followers).
Concerning his character, Allah Almighty has given him the highest rank of approval. Allah declares: “Indeed you are of an esteem moral character.” [68:4]
Hazrat Anas (RA) did service for the Prophet (SA) for more than ten years, and he reported that Allah’s Messenger (SA) was the best amongst people in disposition and behaviour. (Muslim)
Likewise his beloved wife, Aisha (RA) narrated: “I never saw anyone more than the Apostle of Allah (SA) in respect of gravity, calm deportment, pleasant disposition – according to al-Hasan’s version: in respect of talk and speech…”. (Abu Dawud) When asked about the noble traits of the Prophet (SA), she responded that it was like that of the Quraan.
The Prophet (SA) holds such esteem position with Allah such that his name is remembered along with Allah’s blessed name. “And We would raise for you your remembrance.” (94:4) Therefore every time the name of Allah is mentioned, the Prophet’s name is usually mentioned. The Adhaan is called aloud 5 times a day throughout the entire world. Because of continuous change of the time zone this means that 24 hours around the world, the name of the Prophet (SA) is called out and raised loud along with the name of Allah in the minarets.
The very testimony of faith, ‘Laa ilaaha illal laah Muhammadur Rasuulullah’ bears the name of the messenger along with Allah’s name. His name is written on the Arsh of Allah along with the name of Allah. In many places of the Quraan, it is mentioned that success and mercy will be for those who obey Allah and His messenger (SA). On the other hand, the punishment of the fire will be for those who disobey Allah and His messenger (SA). (Quraan 4:13-14)
Allah informs us in the Quraan that the Prophet (SA) possesses such a high position, that even He and the angels send blessings on the Prophet (SA) and has also commanded us to send blessings and greetings on him. “Verily Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet (SA). O you who believe send blessings and salutaions on him.” (33:56)
Therefore, during the course of the day and night as well as in prayer (Salaah) and out of prayer many ‘daruuds’ are recited, asking Allah to convey them to the Prophet (SA) which he responds to. Likewise, on a daily basis, those who visit his sacred grave give salaams to him directly, and during the time of Hajj there is indeed an influx of visitors giving salaams to him (SA). All this being done, in obedience and love to Allah and His Messenger (SA).
Allah Almighty has also shown great respect to the Prophet (SA) in the Quraan, in that He has not addressed him directly by his name, but rather, by his qualities and names of respect. This is exceptional for the Prophet (SA), since He addresses the other prophets directly by calling them their names.
His eminent status is not only for this world but would also be seen on the Day of Judgement. He would be the one to intercede before Allah to commence the accountability when all the previous Prophets, including Adam, Noah, Ibrahim, Moosa and Esa, would shun such request and responsibility. (Bukhari) He would also be called to testify to the truthfulness of the previous prophets, that they had fulfilled their mission on the earth, when their followers will deny them.
Allah has also blessed the Prophet (SA) with the (Haud e Kauthar) Cistern/Fountain on the Day of Judgement. This distinction is only given to the Prophet (SA). The Quraan informs, “Certainly we have given you the Kauthar.” (108:1) Jundab reported: I heard Allah’s Messenger (SA) as saying: “I shall be there at the Cistern before you.” (Muslim)
Respected readers, Muslims believe in the status of the Prophet (SA) and his message. Since, to only believe in Quraan and not his Sunnah, or to believe that another person after him occupies his position as a prophet, is in fact Kufr (disbelief). For true believers, Allah and His Prophet (SA) are sufficient for acceptance and adherence. However, in order to quell the doubts which may arise in the hearts of those who may still have questions about him, some narrations of past leaders and kings as well as some orientalists will be mentioned. This will, Inshaa Allah, fill the void which may exist in some Muslims and even among the non-Muslims. Since, knowing the status of someone is essential for the acceptance of that individual as well as his teachings, and increases his credentials for acceptance.
Even the Arabs before the advent of Islam knew him as Al-Ameen, the trustworthy and As Sadiq, the Truthful. They could not call him a liar.
The non-Muslim leaders of his time from other countries and lands also acknowledged his status and message. One such example is that of the king of Abyssinia (Ethiopia). When the unsympathetic persecution against the Muslims continued at Mecca, a little more than one hundred migrants successfully managed to escape the scrutinizing eyes of the Quraish and headed towards Abyssinia. They sought refuge with the Negus or the King, however, the Quraish were quick to catch up with them. The King allowed them an audience to hear their point of view. Jafar bin Abi Talib who had led the group stood up and diligently and honestly answered the King, quoting relevant chapters of the Quraan. Thereupon, the king, along with the bishops of his realm, was moved to tears that rolled down his cheeks and even wet his beard. Here, the Negus exclaimed: “It seems as if these words and those which were revealed to Jesus are the rays of the light which have radiated from the same source.” Turning to the crest-fallen envoys of Quraish, he said, “I am afraid, I cannot give you back these refugees. They are free to live and worship in my realm as they please.” (Ar Raheequl Makhtuum)
Another such example of the recognition which he received can be seen from the Caesar. In a lengthy Hadith, recorded in the compilation of Bukhari, the Prophet (SA) sent a letter of invitation to Islam with Dihya Al Kalbi to the Govenor of Busra who forwarded it to Caesar. Upon reading the letter, he enquired if any one from the Arabs were present in Syria or Jerusalem. Abu Sufyan along with others from the Quraish were present there at that time and were summoned to his courts. Abu Sufyan (not yet a Muslim) was appointed to speak and was asked several questions to which he attested ‘I told the truth’. He was asked about the family of the Prophet (SA); about any claim of prophethood before him among the Arabs; was he ever blamed for lying before; were there kings in his ancestry; are his followers rich or poor; are they increasing or decreasing; has anyone who accepted Islam became displeased and turned away; if he breaks his promise? Abu Sufyan answered all the questions among which he said that the Prophet (SA) never spoke a lie nor broke any of his promise. After the detailed questioning, the Caesar commented on that which he had asked, and then said: “These are the qualities of a prophet who I knew (from the previous scriptures) would appear, but I did not know that he would be from amongst you. If what you say is true, he will very soon occupy the earth under my feet, and if I knew that I would reach him definitely, I would go immediately to meet him; and were I with him, then I would certainly wash his feet”. (Bukhari)
These are two examples of leaders in the early stage of Islam who recognized the truthfulness of the Prophet (SA) and his mission. Even, in recent times, contemporary historians, orientalists, and researchers could not help but acknowledge the impeccable character and complete message which he brought.
Thomas Carlyle said in his book: ‘Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History’: “But, from an early age, he had been remarked as a thoughtful man. His companions named him “Al Amin, The Faithful.” A man of truth and fidelity; true in what he did, in what he spoke and thought.”
Michael H. Hart says in his work ‘The 100, a Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History’: “My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels.”
The German Poet, Goethe, said: “I looked into history for a human paradigm and found it to be in Muhammad (SA).”
Professor Keith Moore, said in his book, ‘The Developing Human’: “It is clear to me that these statements must have come to Muhammad from God, or Allah, because most of this knowledge was not discovered until many centuries later. This proves to me that Muhammad must have been a Messenger of God, or Allah.’ He further said: ‘I have no difficulty in my mind reconciling that this is a divine inspiration or revelation, which lead him to these statements.”
Dr. Gustav Weil in ‘History of the Islamic Peoples’ said: “Muhammad was a shining example to his people. His character was pure and stainless.”
Maurice Gaudefroy, the French writer, said: “Muhammad was a prophet, not a theologian, a fact so evident that one is loath to state it. The men who surrounded him and constituted the influential elite of the primate Muslim community, contented themselves with obeying the law that he had proclaimed in the name of Allah and with following his teaching and example.”
Marquis of Dufferin said: “It is to Mussulman science, to Mussulman art, and to Mussulman literature that Europe has been in a great measure indebted for its extrication from the darkness of the Middle Ages.” (Encyclopedia of Seerah)
G. Lindsay Johnson, F.R.C.S. the renowned writer writes in ‘The Two Worlds’, “The ignorance displayed by most Christians regarding the Muslim religion is appalling… Mohammad alone, among the nations at that time, believed in one God to the exclusion of all others. He insisted on righteousness as the source of conduct, of filial duty, and on frequent prayers to, the Ever-living God, and of respect to all other peoples, and of justice and mercy to and moderation in all things, and to hold in great respect learning of every kind… Most of the absurdities which Christians would have us believe to exist in the Quran were never uttered by Mohammad himself, nor are they to be found in a correct translation of the work.”
With such credible standards, from the Quraan, the Sunnah, the disbelievers, leaders of the past and the present, the lessons of the Prophet (SA) must be accepted and adhere to upon all conditions.
The Quraan says: “And whatever the messenger brings to you then take it and whatever he forbids you from then abstain.” (59:7)
Therefore, adherence to his ways is essential for divine guidance. Adopting another custom or lifestyle would not be accepted. Likewise, to consider his teachings as outdated and not applicable is a matter of disbelief. The verse also indicates that the entire message/lessons must be applied in one’s life to achieve complete success. Muslims must therefore not take parts of the message, and leave off parts.
The most important lesson which the Prophet (SA) brought was the lesson of Tawheed. He was sent at such a time when the people had forgotten the ways of the previous prophets and were steeped into idol worship. They would carve their gods from wood and stone with their own hands and then worship them. They were very hostile, arrogant and stubborn against any one who challenged the religion of their forefathers, a religion of paganism and rivalry. In such antagonistic and unsympathetic circumstances, the Prophet Muhammad (SA) came with the message of belief and worship of One God.
Muneeb al-Azdi said: ‘I saw the Messenger of Allah in the Era of Ignorance saying to the people: “Say, there is no god worthy of being worshipped except Allah. If you would, then you will be successful.” There were those who spat on his face, and those who threw soil on his face, and those who swore at him until midday. Whenever a certain young girl came with a big container of water, he would wash his face and hands, and would say: “O daughter, do not fear that your father will be humiliated or struck by poverty.” (Mu’jam al-Kabeer)
Along with this, they would beat him, throw dust on him, throw the entrails of the camel on him, throw thorns on his path, exile him and continuously assault and insult him whenever they got the chance. In the face of their taunts and callousness, the Prophet (SA) was a rock of steadfastness, preaching Imaan in Allah, pure monotheism (Tawheed).
The Prophet (SA) was sent as a complete guide to man. Man’s purpose is to worship Allah, his Creator. How could this be done when his life is divided into so many facets which include direct ritual worship like prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, etc. as well as, normal every day duties and responsibilities.
As the Prophet (SA) was a human being, he lived a life, practical to humans. Had he been from another creation, then there would be differences and conflicts in the application of laws which pertain to humans. As human lives are filled with different roles, functions and responsibilities, a person must be cognizant of the proper manner of doing them in order to please his creator. A person is a child, a parent, an employer, an employee, a manager, a business person, a labourer, a student and a teacher. Likewise, one is a master, a slave, a commander, a soldier, a husband, a wife, an Imam, a follower, a politician or statesman, a subject, etc.
Similarly, a person’s life is also surrounded with attitudes, feelings, passions and emotions. He feels love, hate, pleasure, pain, pride, anger, gratitude, jealousy, mercy, compassion, greed, humility, guilt, embarrassment, etc. The Prophet (SA) taught us the best way of fulfilling each of these responsibilities and emotions, either by his direct and practical example or by his sayings, approvals and disapprovals (Sunnah). When these comprehensive lessons of the Prophet (SA) are learnt and put into one’s life, seeking the pleasure of Allah, then his life becomes complete with worship and servitude. The questions of: ‘How to do an act? When to do an act? In what manner should it be performed?’ – are all answered by adhering to the Sunnah of the Prophet (SA).
The lessons of the Prophet (SA) are not to be learnt only with an academic approach- i.e. only for the sake of knowing or for arguments and discussions. The main purpose of these lessons is for practical implementations. It is only with such implementation that true love and dedication to the Prophet (SA) is shown. In fact, by following the Sunnah, one truly displays love for Allah. The Quraan commands: “Say (O Muhammad! To mankind) If you love Allah, then follow me. Allah will love you and forgive your sins.” (3:31)
Allah indicates to us in this verse that by implementing the lessons of the Sunnah of the Prophet (SA) in our lives, we are not just displaying love to Allah and His messenger (SA), but, we will also be deserving of the love of Allah himself, In ShaaAllah.
The lessons of the Prophet (SA) must not be forsaken because of frivolous gains. The acquisition of power, wealth, name or fame must not be placed above the value of the teachings of the Noble Prophet (SA). We must endeavour to emulate the example set by the Sahabahs in their practical love for the Sunnah of the Prophet (SA).
In one incident, it has been recorded that Huzaifah bin Yaman was invited in the courts of the leaders of Iran to establish diplomatic talks. He was sitting on the tablespread of the Kisrah when a morsel dropped from his hand. He proceeded to follow the sunnah of the Prophet (SA) by picking up the morsel to eat it, when a man sitting by his side hinted to him not to do that in the court of an Empire that was regarded as the super power of that age, that such action would degrade them in their eyes. Huzaifah replied to him: “Should I give up the sunnah of the Prophet (SA) for the sake of these ignorant people?” In other words, he was saying ‘I cannot give up the Sunnah, regardless of what they would think of us, or how contemptuously they laugh at us.’ So he picked up the morsel, cleaned it and ate it.
Many such incidents of a similar nature have been mentioned in the books of the History of Islam. All of these point towards the truth that success lies in following the sunnah. The Sahabas would prefer to put themselves in danger than to have even a thorn prick the Prophet (SA). They would use themselves as shields instead of the Prophet (SA) facing any harm, like the case of Abu Dujaanah, who in the battle of Uhud had shielded the Prophet (SA) with his own body from the arrows of the disbelievers. Abu Ubaidah, did not consider the worth of loosing his teeth when he withdrew the strands of the helmet which was struck in the head of the Prophet (SA) in the battle of Uhud. Hazrat Ali (RA) did not consider the worth of his life when he lay on the bed of the Prophet (SA) on the night of the Hijrah, allowing him to escape unnoticed by those who had planed to kill him. Simlarly, we see Abu Bakr being bitten by scorpions and snakes in the cave of Thawr while on the Hijrah rather than disturbing the Prophet (SA) from his rest.
The significance and lessons of the Sunnah is not only to be remembered once or twice for the year; or only for a gathering or function; or only in a classroom or lecture, but it has to be a part of every aspect of one’s life, every day, every month, every year, for one’s entire life. This is the true meaning of love for the Prophet (SA). Singing of songs about the Prophet (SA) and reciting of poetry in praise of him will only be considered of merit when one’s life is in conformity to the teachings and lessons of the Prophet (SA). Otherwise, these will all be acts of show with really no basis or virtue. At the same time, one should not engage in acts of innovations and call them Sunnah. The Prophet (SA) has declared that ‘Whosoever innovates in this matter of ours (Deen of Islam) what is not from it, it would be rejected.“ (Bukhari)
May Allah send His choicest blessings on the Prophet (SA), his family, companions and all the believers. And may He guide us and our families firmly upon the Sunnah. (Aameen)