Wednesday 28 October 2020 (12th night of Rabiul Awwal 1442)

Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town

by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider

I would like to extend our congratulations on this auspicious night of 12th Rabiul Awwal, which is one of the possible nights of the Milad and birth of the greatest man to have stepped on this earth, the most beloved of Almighty Allah (SWT), the best of His creation, our ideal, our leader and example, Rasulullah (SAWA).

As we are aware, different dates of his birth are recorded in history and the most common ones are 12th and 17th Rabiul Awwal. In the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s), 17th Rabiul Awwal is recorded as the most authentic date of his sacred birth, while the majority (not all) of our Sunni brothers place reliance on 12th Rabiul Awwal as the day of Miladun Nabi.

Of course, among notable Shia scholars, there are those who agree with 12th Rabiul Awwal being the birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) ie. the same position taken by our Sunni brothers. Amongst these are the great Shaykh al-Kulayni, who is the author of the most important compilation of Hadith in Shia resources, namely al-Kafi.

Anyway, this month of Rabiul Awwal, and these sacred days are days which are affiliated with our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and perfumed with his zikr (remembrance) and celebration. These various dates are a good excuse for us to take the opportunity to reconnect ourselves to the personalities and heroes of Islam which are associated with these dates, be it Muharram, Rajab, Shabaan or Ramadaan, and most importantly our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), who is the best of all.


Many people have this unfortunate misconception that we Shia do not celebrate our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) the way we celebrate other notable personalities of the Ahlul Bait (a.s). It is important to understand that in our theological approach as Shia, the Ahlul Bait (a.s) and Rasulullah (SAWA) are not separate entities.

“Awwaluna Muhammad, akhiruna Muhammad, awsatuna Muhammad wa kulluna Muhammad”

The first of us is Muhammad; The last of us is Muhammad;

In between us are Muhammad; And all of us are Muhammad.

From the Shia approach, the Ahlul Bait (a.s) are a reflection of his shining light! They are all rays and manifestation of his Muhammadean light. Therefore, our celebration of other members of his family is also indirectly respect and praise to Rasulullah (SAWA), because it was he (Rasulullah (SAWA)) who commanded us to love his family, the Ahlul Bait (a.s). Hence, love of his family can never be separated from love towards himself.

The centre of our love of Ahlul Bait (a.s) is nobody but the very existence of Haqiqat-e-Muhammadia ie. the Muhammadean truth and reality.

When Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s) says that he is the servant of the servants of Muhammad (SAWA), then our position is clear as the lovers and followers of Ali (a.s)!


In this discussion, I would like to elaborate on a very relevant point regarding the personality and character of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). The question is often asked about what is the secret of success and victory of this man, by the name of Muhammad (SAWA)?

There is absolutely no doubt, that it is unlikely that anybody would argue the fact that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was the most influential and successful person in history. He is the most loved person, and it is therefore no surprise that the most common name in the world today is Muhammad, while the global population of Muslims is not the majority in the world!

It is also evident from the way that people react when the dignity and sanctity of this highly revered personality is assaulted. We see how it creates immense anger amongst the people, such that people protest in every corner of the world. This shows the strength and influence of this personality in our world.

History and geography are not the limit for the influence of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). He is neither limited to a certain time, nor is he limited to certain geographical borders. He transcends all of this.


There are numerous aspects to his life that are documented, such as the philosophy he presented, the constitution he presented, the ideal state and system of governance he presented, to name a few. He has clearly given too much to this world and humanity at large.

The question then is, what is the secret that his success can be pinpointed to? Vast research has been conducted on this question, and most of them have drawn the same conclusion. People like Shaheed Ayatollah Murtadha Mutahhari and others who have analyzed the history have come to the unanimous conclusion that the secret to the success of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was his sublime akhlaq ie. his noble, moral character.

What changed people over such a short period of time was not his philosophy or sociology, which was in itself very influential. What they conclude is that his akhlaq is what really penetrated the hearts of people. This is based on numerous Quranic verses, where different aspects of his noble personality are expounded upon, such as his position as a socio-political leader, a military commander-in-chief, a statesman, a family man, rationality in his message, and the list goes on and on.

That said, the Holy Quran emphasizes repeatedly on one aspect, and that is his noble, moral character (Akhlaq). That is why he is referred to in verse 4 of Surah Qalam (chapter 68 of the Holy Quran) as conforming to sublime morality:

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ

“And most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality.”


Someone came to the 8th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Ridha (a.s), asking about the Akhlaq of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). Instead of replying to the question, Imam Ridha (a.s) asked the person what he thinks about the blessings and favours of Almighty Allah (SWT) which he enjoys in this life.

The person paused for a moment to ponder, and then responded by saying to Imam Ridha (a.s) that the blessings of Almighty Allah (SWT) in this world are infinite and clearly immeasurable, as expressed in verse 18 of Surah Nahl (chapter 16 of the Holy Quran):

وَإِنْ تَعُدُّوا نِعْمَةَ اللَّهِ لَا تُحْصُوهَا

“And if you would count Allah’s favors, you will not be able to number them.”

The great Persian poet, Saadi, very eloquently explained that it is impossible to count the favours of Almighty Allah (SWT), because there are two gifts from Him in every breath we take. The oxygen we inhale is the source of life, and when we exhale, that is the reason for our sustenance and survival! It is therefore impossible to count!

Imam Ridha (a.s) then explained to the person asking the question, that in all the blessings and favours mentioned, Almighty Allah (SWT) refers to these worldly blessings as very little. The following excerpt from verse 77 of Surah Nisaa’ refers (chapter 4 of the Holy Quran):

قُلْ مَتَاعُ الدُّنْيَا قَلِيلٌ

“Say: The provision of this world is short.”

So, the Quran refers to whatever we see in this world as being low in value. Can we imagine then, that Almighty Allah (SWT) refers to ALL these blessings in this world as trivial, whereas He refers to the moral character of Rasulullah (SAWA) as sublime morality (khuluqin adheem).

For Almighty Allah (SWT), this whole world is very little (qaleel), whereas the akhlaq of Rasulullah (SAWA) is sublime morality (khuluqin adheem).


I now want to take this journey of discovering our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) further. There is a book called “Basa’irud Darajat” compiled by a great scholar named ibn Saffar Qumi. He was from the great Shia scholars of the early Islamic era, circa 1000 years ago.

He recorded the following very beautiful Hadith in this book from our 6th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s). This Hadith states that Almighty Allah (SWT) trained and groomed His Prophet on His Love, and after this He said, “indeed you are on the greatest of morality”.

According to this Hadith recorded from Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), the foundation of khuluqin adheem and the great character of Rasulullah (SAWA) is divine love! The comprehensive moral character (akhlaq) of Rasulullah (SAWA) in his lifestyle and interaction with everyone and everything all point to its source being divine love. Rasulullah (SAWA) is therefore the manifestation of Almighty Allah’s (SWT) love.

We often get stuck into restricting our discussion on his moral character to a few matters of good behaviour. For example, his behaviour towards the elderly, neighbours, enemies, his loyalty, trustworthiness, etc. Indeed, these are all very true and significant. However, the foundation of this exemplary moral character was LOVE!

Philosophers have explained the reason for this love, saying that human beings become human when they have a sense of love. Love gives human beings a sense of humanity!

Qadi ibn Ayyaz was a great Sunni scholar, and he wrote a very beautiful book, titled “Remedy by defining the rights of Mustafa (SAWA)”. In this book, he narrates from Imam Ali (a.s) who asked from Rasulullah (SAWA) what the secret of his success is. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) replied to Imam Ali (a.s), summarizing his message in few words, namely that love is his foundation!

The great 13th century poet and mystic, Rumi, very beautifully praises Rasulullah (SAWA), saying that with the sword of love, he bought lots of throats from the sword of steel. He expands this by saying that numerous nations were enthralled by Rasulullah (SAWA) through his sword of love. Rumi further explains that the sword of love is much sharper than the sword of iron! In fact, the sword of love can bring an exponentially greater victory than the sword of steel.


The foundation of the exemplary, noble, moral character of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is undoubtedly his manifestation of divine love to creation.

Mystics are known to explore these spiritual issues on a much deeper level. They ask the question, “why did Almighty Allah (SWT) create us”? Surely, He does not need us? It does not make any difference to Him whether we are here or not. His power, grace and might remains unaffected whether we are here or not.

If He does not need us, but we need Him, then it begs the question why did He create us? The deeper answer to this question lies in verse 56 of Surah Dhaariyat (chapter 51 of the Holy Quran):

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنْسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ

“I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship Me.”

Does He need our worship? Does our worship make Him greater? Of course not – it has absolutely no effect on Him! So then, why did He create us for the sake of worship if He will not benefit? The deeper understanding of why He created us is because He loves, as one of His essential attributes is that He is gracious, compassionate and merciful.

Now, if these qualities of being the most gracious, compassionate and merciful are essential to Almighty Allah (SWT), then the question is who must He display this to? And the answer is He displays this to His creation!

The creation through ibadah (worship) are the ones who develop and achieve evolution, which is what Almighty Allah (SWT) wants. In fact, the reason for our creation is His love. The first creation is nothing but love, and this first creation is Haqiqate Muhammadia ie. the Muhammadian reality. We learn this from a Hadith narrated from Rasulullah (SAWA), where he says that the first thing which Almighty Allah (SWT) created was His light (Noor).


That central point is love. That is why Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) says that religion is nothing but love, and our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is the manifestation of love of Almighty Allah (SWT), in all its senses towards everything.

Two very important attributes of Almighty Allah (SWT) are Rahman and Rahim. This is repeated in the Holy Quran in every chapter, with the Bismillah, except Surah Tauba (chapter 9). Rahman refers to the inclusive mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT), whereas Rahim refers to His exclusive mercy.

So, if Rasulullah (SAWA) is the manifestation of love of Almighty Allah (SWT), then he is the manifestation of that inclusive mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT), which means being merciful even to non-believers, those who deny Him or do not believe in His existence. Indeed, He is merciful to ALL His creation.

When we reflect on the life of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), we see love taking over everywhere. I am not saying that Rasulullah (SAWA) does not take a firm position, as this is not what love means. Therefore, there are Hadith which state that religion is nothing except love and hate! That said, hate is secondary. In fact, hate is sometimes the result of love!

This is a very important aspect of Shia theology, which is based purely on love and grace of Almighty Allah (SWT). At the same time, this love requires us to take a position! A good example is peace, which everyone loves and strives for. However, war is sometimes required to sustain peace! This war is secondary, as the primary is peace.

We read the following verse in the beautiful Dua Joshan Kabeer:

يَا مَنْ سَبَقَتْ رَحْمَتُهُ غَضَبَهُ

O He, Whose Wrath is surpassed by His Mercy

So, the nature of Rasulullah (SAWA) is LOVE and this is manifested throughout his life.


We all know of the tragedy of the Battle of Uhud, where the Muslims originally won the war, but then this victory turned into defeat due to the weaknesses of some of those in the camp of Rasulullah (SAWA), with their weak faith and love of worldly pursuits.

This is known as one of the biggest tragedies in the history of Islam, where Rasulullah (SAWA) lost some key stalwarts and heroes, such as his dear uncle Hamza, Sayyid as-Shuhada, amongst others. He was naturally very disturbed by what had transpired. So, the companions (Sahaba) came to Rasulullah (SAWA) saying that all the trouble they are facing is because of the Quraysh, who are plotting their downfall day and night!

The Sahaba suggested to Rasulullah (SAWA) to curse these enemies in Quraysh, as Almighty Allah (SWT) will indeed bring His greatest punishment on the Quraysh if Rasulullah (SAWA) invokes the curse on Quraysh.

What was the response of Rasulullah (SAWA) to this suggestion? He replied saying that he was not appointed to this world to curse people! Instead, he reaffirmed that he has been appointed to this world to invite people towards truth and be a mercy to the world, as referred to in verse 107 of Surah Anbiyaa (chapter 21 of the Holy Quran):

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِلْعَالَمِينَ

“And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds.”

After the conquest of Mecca, we see that Abu Sufyan, the most terrible enemy of Rasulullah (SAWA), was extremely worried about revenge being taken out against them, for all the years of oppression inflicted against Rasulullah (SAWA).

Abu Sufyan therefore expressed grave concern to his people, saying that they need to be prepared for this as the Day of Revenge, since Rasulullah (SAWA) has now taken over. When Rasulullah (SAWA) became aware of this, he responded saying that today is the Day of Mercy, even those who are taking refuge in the house of Abu Sufyan are protected!

This is the nature of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). There is no revenge or hate in his existence and approach. Only love permeates!


Another striking feature of his love is that he would pray for the forgiveness of those people who would harm him. Today, when we see certain people insulting him and assaulting his dignity, it is clearly amongst the dirtiest of crimes in the name of supposed freedom of speech. What type of freedom of speech is this which hurts 1.8 billion Muslims across the world?

Being respectfully critical has never been an issue, as that is true freedom of speech. However, freedom of speech is not an unfettered right to insult and hurt. In fact, this practice is the wildest form of uncivilized culture. These people attack our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), whose every minute was a mercy and love towards the creation of Almighty Allah (SWT).

I always pose this question, on why it is such a big crime in Europe, or even France itself, to doubt the holocaust! Indeed, this atrocity did occur in history against the Jewish people, but why is it a crime if someone were to say something against the holocaust? Why is this not regarded as freedom of speech?

Why is it viewed as a punishable crime if you are critical (not insulting) towards those with a different sexual orientation for example? However, for these people it is not a crime to hurt the feelings of 1.8 billion people by insulting our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA)!

These are the same people who say that questioning the holocaust hurts the feelings of the families of the victims but have no problem with hurting the feelings of 1.8 billion Muslims with their insults towards Rasulullah (SAWA).

The reality is that they are exposing themselves. In fact, the Quran explains this by concluding that people resort to vulgar behaviour when they are not able to present a reasonable, logical argument. This is how they then fight with Islam through abuse, but it will never succeed, as it creates greater awareness of what Islam truly is and greater love for this most beloved Prophet of Allah (SWT).

May Almighty Allah (SWT) grant us the Taufeeq to sacrifice our lives for the dignity and sanctity of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).

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