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Thursday, 13 June 2013

Our Relationship with Prophet Muhammad

{We have truly sent you as a witness, as a bearer of gladtidings, and as a warner in order that you (O people)may believe in Allah and His Messenger, that you may assist him and honour him…} (al-Fath 48: 8-9)
The basis of our relationship with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is part of our Iman. By reciting the Shahadah (Testimony of Faith) we acknowledge the Prophet Muhammad as Allah’s Messenger. As a Messenger, he brought and delivered Allah’s message to mankind. There are two aspects of his Risalah (Prophethood).
First, he delivered the message to his contemporaries living in Arabia.
Second, his message was for the whole of mankind till the end of time as he was the last of the glorious chain of Prophets. After his death this responsibility of conveying the message was assigned to this Ummah. He was sent as a witness unto mankind and this is exactly the task given to the Muslim Ummah. The Qur’an explicitly mentions this in Surat al-Hajj:
{It is He Who named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you and you be witnesses for mankind} (al-Hajj 22: 78)
As a witness unto mankind, he brought the glad tidings to those who accepted him as Allah’s Messenger and believed in him. They attained success in this life and falah(salvation) in the Hereafter. For those who rejected his message and followed the path of disobedience there was a dire warning: they could enjoy and indulge in lustful pursuits in this world but in the end they would be the losers and earn eternal damnation.
Believing that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is Allah’s Messenger requires that we should obey him. Obedience to him is on a par with obedience to Allah as the Qur’an commands:
{O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger} (an-Nisa’ 4: 59).
Obeying the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is in fact obedience of Allah. He is the one who delivers Allah’s Message and we have no other means of knowing Allah’s commands. Thus, verse 80 of Surat an-Nisa’ explicitly lays down:
{He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah.}
We should also take note that this obedience is without reservation. We should accept his commands willingly and not feel any hesitation or scepticism. Allah emphasises this point categorically in the following verses:
{But no, by your Lord, they cannot have faith until they make you judge in all disputes between them and find in their hearts any resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction.} (An-Nisa’ 4: 65)
{It is not fitting for a believer, man or woman, when a matter is decided by Allah and His Messenger to have an option about their decisions. If anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger he is indeed on a clearly wrong path.}(Al-Ahzab 33: 36)
{So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you…} (Al-Hashr 59: 7)
The same message is given in this hadith:
“What I have forbidden to you, avoid: what I have ordered you [to do] do as much as you can.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Unlike obedience of national laws in a country where one happens to reside and finding them repulsive but feeling compelled to obey, obedience of the Messenger has to be with full faith and fervour and not half-hearted and perfunctory. One cannot be a believer unless one surrenders oneself fully. It is narrated by `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn al-`Ass that Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)  said:
“None of you [truly] believes until his inclination is in accordance with what I have brought.” (Kitab al-Hujjah)
Obedience equates with formal adherence of laws and regulations to fulfil the legal requirements of the Shari`ah. However, believers are required to follow the Messenger diligently. This is called ittiba` which means to follow in the footsteps of others. The instruction given to the believers is:
{Say: If you do love Allah follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins…} (Aal `Imran 3: 31)
The circle of ittiba`is wider than that of ita`ah (obedience). The latter covers obligatory and compulsory requirements whereas the former covers optional and supererogatory works. Obedience at times may be superficial and lacking sincerity whereas ittiba` can only be performed with love and devotion.
This is illustrated by the Companions’ conduct. For example `Abdullah ibn `Umar was so strict in following the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that he used to stop and pray where the Prophet happened to have done so. It is narrated that Shaikh Bayazid Bustami did not eat watermelon as he did not know whether the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)  had eaten this fruit and if so how he had eaten it.
Yet a much higher stage of our relationship with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)  is his love. Believers should have the utmost respect and love for the Prophet.
It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“None of you [truly] believes until you love me more than your parents, children or any other person.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
This love manifested itself in the lives of the Companions. They were utterly devoted to the Prophet. When he performed wudu’ (ablution) the Companions usually collected the used water and sprinkled it on their faces. The Prophet once asked them why they were doing so and they replied because of their love for him. (Mishkat) The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) once remarked:
“Those who love my Sunnah (really) love me and those who love me will be in Jannah with me.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Once a father and his son traveled from their village and visited the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and this was probably the only time they met him. They noticed that the top button of his shirt was undone. Thereafter, they always left their top buttons unfastened. When Abu Makhdhurah embraced Islam the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) touched his forehead and blessed him; from then on out of love for the Prophet he never clipped the hairs from his forehead. There are numerous such instances to be found in the lives of the Companions. Love of the Prophet is indeed part of one’s iman.
Manifestation of one’s love is not just an emotional outpouring but should also be reflected in strict obedience and following of the Prophet’s path. As he emphasised in the hadith quoted above about following his Sunnah to those who used the water from his ablution:
”Those who are pleased to love Allah and His Messenger should always speak the truth and if anything is entrusted to them they should keep it safe and return it to their owners.”
“They should also treat their neighbours well.” (Mishkat)
Today the hearts of the Muslim Ummahal-Hamdulillah, are filled with love and respect for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). People are ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of safeguarding his honour. Yet not much fervour is shown in obeying his commands and following his path. There are some people who are very particular about some of the Prophet’s minor Sunnah as regards dress and appearance, yet they neglect his first and foremost Sunnah which is Da`wah. Allah addressing the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
{O Prophet! Truly We have sent you as a Witness, a Bearer of Glad Tidings, and a Warner and as one who invites to Allah’s grace by His leave and as a Lamp Spreading Light} (al-Ahzab 33: 45-46).
His greatest Sunnah, which he carried out from the day of his messengership until his death, was to invite people to Islam. His parting message on his last Hajj was: “Those who are here should convey this message to those who are not here.” He asked the assembled gathering on the plains of `Arafat three times: ”Have I conveyed the message?” and the Companions replied “Yes you have”. He raised his hand pointing towards the heavens and said: “May Allah be witness to this.”
This is the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) which we have to follow if we truly love him.
May Allah strengthen our bonds of love, affection and respect of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and guide us to follow his Sunnah to the best of our ability; Amin.

(On Islam / 12 Jun 2013)

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