Muhammad the Prophet of Mercy


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  • Muhammad the Prophet of Mercy


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    A Word
    Picture

    A messenger to a tribe is transcended
    by a messenger to a town, who is transcended by a messenger to a whole nation. We
    keep ascending the ranks of greatness. We keep soaring towards the summit. We
    keep advancing, stride after stride, in the echelons of human perfection until we
    reach a level that eyes, however ambitiously they aspire, cannot reach, to find
    the man chosen to convey the Great Message to all of humanity, whose highest
    levels of virtue and ideals were shaped by Allah into a man who walked
    peacefully on earth. That is Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah r.1

    Painting a word-picture
    of the Prophet of Mercy
    r, his Companion, Abu Sa‘id Al-Khudri t
    said:

    He r
    used to give fodder to the camel and tether it, sweep the house, milk the
    sheep, mend his shoes, patch his garment, eat with his servant, and grind the
    wheat instead of him if he asked him to. He r used to buy dates from
    the marketplace; shyness did not prevent him from hanging them on his hand or wrapping
    them in the hem of his garment to take them to his family.

    He r
    shook hands with the rich and the poor, the young and the old, and was the
    first to greet whoever met him, whether young or old, black or red, free or a
    slave.

    He r
    did not feel shy about accepting invitations when he r
    was invited, even if they came from an unkempt, dust-covered person. He r
    never looked down on anything to which he r was invited.

    He r
    was lenient, generous, friendly, and cheerful. He r
    smiled without laughing, was sad without frowning, strong without violence,
    modest without servility, and generous without extravagance. He r
    was merciful towards every kin and Muslim, tenderhearted, and always
    contemplative. He r
    was never satiated with food, and he r never stretched his
    hand out of greed. 2

    Lady
    ‘Aishah
    t,
    the Prophet’s wife, continues the
    admirable picture:

    The Messenger of Allah r
    never satisfied his hunger, and he
    r
    never complained to anyone. He r found poverty
    preferable to affluence and richness. Even if he r spent the night
    starving until morning, this would not keep him from fasting during the day. Though had he r
    wished to ask his Lord to give him the
    treasures of the earth, its fruits, and its luxuries, from its Eastern and Western
    parts, he
    r
    could have done so.

    I might have cried out of pity for him for the
    hunger he
    r
    suffered. I would pass my hand over his
    stomach and say: “May my soul be scarified for you. If only you would
    satisfy yourself from this world with what sustains and protects you from hunger
    .”

    He r
    said: “O ‘Aishah, my brothers from the Messengers of strong will showed
    patience over what is harder than this and they departed in this state of
    theirs. They came to their Lord, Who honored their return and rewarded them
    generously. I would feel shame if I lived in such luxury that it makes me fall
    behind them. Therefore, patience for a few days is more beloved to me than
    having my share lessened tomorrow in the hereafter, and nothing is more beloved
    to me than joining my brothers
    .”3

    The Messenger of Allah r was in a state of continuous
    grief and thought, had little rest, periods of long silence, and never spoke
    needlessly. He r
    always started and ended his words by the Name of Allah U4. His words were precise, pithy yet
    comprehensive, never more or less than needed.

    He r walked as if descending a slope. When he r
    turned, he would turn his whole body. He r
    always lowered his gaze. The time he r looked towards the ground was longer than that
    towards the sky. Most of his looking was contemplative. He
    r
    used to walk at the rear of his
    Companions, guiding their steps, and would initiate greetings with anyone he
    r
    met.

    He r appreciated any blessing, even if trivial, and
    never dispraised any that he
    r received. He r was never angry about worldly life or worldly things, but when a right
    was violated he
    r
    stood angrily in defense of it until he rectified
    it. Still, he
    r never felt angry for his own person (when
    wronged) or sought to avenge himself.

    At home, he r divided his time into
    three: a part dedicated to Allah, a second to his family, and a third to
    himself, which he divided between himself and other people.

    He r
    used to occupy himself with people’s concerns and guide them towards what might
    set right their affairs, answering what they asked about, telling them what
    they needed to know, and used to say: “Let those of you who are present inform
    those who are absent (of the knowledge they have heard); and inform me about
    the needs of those who cannot convey it themselves. Truly, the one who informs
    a person of authority about the need of one who is unable to convey it himself
    will have his feet made firm by Allah on the Day of Resurrection
    .”

    He r
    used to inquire after his Companions, and ask people about what troubled
    people. He r
    used to praise and support the good things, and condemn and undermine the bad.

    His method of assembly was one of knowledge, tolerance,
    modesty, truthfulness, and patience, in which he r was always cheerful,
    lenient, and good-natured. He r was never rude, tough,
    noisy, or a fault-finder. He r forbade himself from engaging
    in disputes, excess, and things that did not concern him, and never dispraised,
    criticized, or sought to know the lapses of anyone. He r
    only talked for a good purpose. No voices were raised during his assemblies.
    When he r
    talked, those sitting with him bowed their heads and listened, as if there were
    birds perched on their heads. They did not speak until he r
    had stopped. None interrupted the other, nor did the Messenger of Allah r
    interrupt anyone. He r
    laughed at what his attendants laughed at and admired what they admired.

    He r
    never rose or sat down without mentioning Allah, and would seat himself where
    he found a place (not in a particular place), and advised others to do the same.
    He r
    used to divide his attention between all the attendants of his assembly to such
    a degree that each believed himself to be the closest to him. When anyone sat
    or talked with him about some issue, he r remained patiently with
    him until that person was the one to leave. Anyone who came to him with a need
    would leave either having it fulfilled or with a kind word. His generously
    noble character was spacious enough to love all people, and he r
    became a father to them all.5

    The Prophets and Messengers of Allah were all blessed with the
    most gracious appearance and the noblest characters. Allah U
    elected them, and certainly (Allah knows best with whom
    to entrust His Message
    .)6 And as such was Muhammad r.

    The Almighty chose him – He is the All-Knower of His creatures
    – to convey His last Message, and to set the ideal example for people until the
    Last Day. (And your Lord creates what He wills and chooses,
    not for them was the choice
    .)7

    This choice dictates that the messenger should be at the
    highest level in all human characteristics, both physical and ethical. He r
    is a human just like all other people. He r may forget as they
    forget, marry and have children, eat food, walk in the markets, and he r
    is not immortal on earth.

    He r
    does not know the Unseen except what Allah wills. (The
    All-Knower of the Unseen, and He reveals to none His Unseen. Except to a
    Messenger whom He has chosen
    .)8 He is the same as
    all people, but he is superiorly at the highest level in any quality that can
    exist in a human.

    Noble manners have the profoundest influence in guiding and
    reforming. The Prophet r
    reached the summit of all virtues so perfectly that Allah U
    praised him, saying: (And
    indeed, you (O Muhammad) are of an exalted moral character
    .)9

    This is the essence of the Prophet’s mission: “Verily, Allah
    has sent me to perfect righteous manners
    ,”10 to which he himself r
    was the living embodiment, perfectly living what he r
    preached. Lady ‘Aishah described her husband r, saying: “The
    manners of the Prophet of Allah
    r were (those of) the
    Qur’an
    .”11

    Anas bin Malik t,
    the servant of the Prophet r,
    said:

    The Messenger of
    Allah r
    was the best, the most generous, and the bravest of all people. One night, the
    people of Al-Madinah were terrified by a sound towards which some hastened, to
    be received by the Messenger of Allah r on his way back. He r
    had already preceded them to the source of the sound.

    He r
    was riding an unsaddled horse that belonged to Abu Talhah, with a sword slung
    round his neck, and he r
    was saying: “Do not be frightened. Do not be frightened.”12

    People of self-sacrifice and valor sought protection behind the
    back of the Prophet r
    during moments of intense fighting:

    Whenever the
    battle grew fierce and the two parties clashed, we would seek protection with
    the Messenger of Allah
    r
    who was the closest of us to the enemy.
    13

    People of sagacity appealed to the broadness and depth of his
    wisdom:

    The Quraish differed
    over who would replace the Black Stone14 after the rebuilding of the Ka‘bah (the Sacred House at Makkah) to
    the point that a war was about to erupt among them. They agreed to appeal to
    the judgment of the first person to enter (through the gates of the Sanctuary),
    which was the Messenger of Allah r. When they saw him,
    they said: “This is Al-Amin (the Trustworthy). We will be satisfied with his
    decision. This is Muhammad.”
    He r said: “Bring me a
    cloth.

    He r
    placed the stone in the middle of the cloth and said: “Let each tribe hold
    one side of the cloth, then lift it up together
    ,” and then he r
    laid it back with his own hands.15

    People of charity saw him as a more generous giver of good than
    the freely going wind. He r
    left nothing of material wealth to his heirs except his white mule, his weapon,
    and a piece of land bequeathed to charity. Anas bin Malik t
    narrated:

    A man asked of the
    Prophet r,
    so he gave him a flock of sheep filling a valley between two mountains. The man
    returned to his people, saying: “O people, embrace Islam. By Allah, Muhammad
    gives like one who fears no poverty
    .” 16

    This portrayal of virtues could go on and on. In every
    virtue he
    r excelled, like a brilliant light nobly
    glittering on the loftiest of peaks. But this grandeur and nobility of
    character was not a barrier that isolated him
    r from people. The
    Messenger of Allah
    r lived so closely to people, and was
    lenient and kind to everyone, walking with the widows and the poor to fulfill
    their needs, so much so that each believed themselves to be the closest and
    dearest to him
    r, in the same way that the sun sends its
    rays and warmth so that each person profits and has a share without feeling
    that others are sharing in or rivals for its warmth.
    17


    1 Adapted from Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Aqidat
    Al-Muslim
    (Creed of Muslim), chapter of Prophethoods, fifth edition, Dar Ad-Da
    wah.

    2 Reported by Abu Salmah bin ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf: Subl A-Huda
    wa Ar-Rashad fi Sirah Khairul-‘Abad
    , Muhammad bin Yusuf As-Salhi Ash-Shami, vol. 7.

    3 Ibid.

    4 Glorified and
    Exalted
    be He.

    5 Description
    on the authority of Hind bin Abu Halah At-Tamimy, reported by At-Tirmidhy in Mukhtasar
    Ash-Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyah
    ; Ibn Sa‘d, At-Tabakat Al-Kubra, vol. 1.

    6
    Translated meanings of Al-An‘am 6: 124.

    7
    Translated meanings of Al-Qasas 28: 68.

    8
    Translated meanings of Al-Jinn 72: 26-27.

    9 Translated meanings of Al-Qalam 68: 4.

    10 Narrated by Abu Hurairah: Musnad Ahmad, Book of Al-Mukthrin,
    Hadith no. 12840.

    11
    Sahih Muslim,
    Book of Salah Al-Musafirin wa Qasriha (Prayer of Travelers and
    Shortening It)
    , Hadith no.
    1233.

    12
    Sahih Muslim, Book of Al-Fada
    il (Merits), Hadith no. 4266; similar
    versions of the
    Hadith are also
    reported by
    Al-Bukhary
    (2608, 2692, 2813, 5573),
    At-Tirmidhy
    (1610),
    Ibn Majah (2762), and Ahmad (13362).

    13 Narrated by ‘Ali bin Abu Talib: Musnad
    Ahmad,

    Book of Al-‘Ashrah Al-Mubasharin Bil-Jannah (The Ten Given Glad Tidings
    of Paradise), Hadith no. 1276;
    similar versions of the Hadith
    are also reported by Muslim (4275, 4276).

    14 The Black Stone is a stone from Paradise that was set into one
    corner of the Ka‘bah by Prophet Abraham
    r which Muslims honor for that but do not worship,
    following the example of the Prophet
    r who kissed it in his
    Farewell Hajj.

    15 Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyyah: Rebuilding the Kabah and the Judgment Given by the Messenger r concerning Putting Back the Black
    Stone, vol. 1, Al-Maktabah Al-Qaiyamah.

    16
    Musnad Ahmad, Book of Al-Mukthrin min As-Sahabh, Hadith no. 13233.

    17 Adapted from Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Aqidat
    Al-Muslim
    , fifth edition, Dar Ad-Da‘wah.

     

     

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