Jumuah lecture on Friday 6 November 2020 (20 Rabiul Awwal 1442)
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
One of the areas where our Taqwa (God consciousness) is tested, is in our relationship with our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
During this month of Rabiul Awwal, we are discussing, every Friday during Jumuah, different aspects of this great personality, especially from the Quranic perspective. We have elaborated on his message, moral character (akhlaq), attitude, policy, interaction with the people and status with the people during these Friday sermons as well as the numerous programs presented online during the past 10 days celebration of Miladun Nabi.
Today, I would like to draw your attention, again from the Quranic perspective on the emphasis it places on something more sensitive on our relationship with our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). What I am referring to here is the issue of manners and etiquette when it comes to interacting with Rasulullah (SAWA).
It is not simply about following his message. Many people reflect on this very mathematically or clinically. Their logic is that Rasulullah (SAWA) presented the divine message of Almighty Allah (SWT) to this world, and this entailed prescribing to us what is right and wrong, Halaal and Haraam. Nothing special beyond that according to them, when it comes to Rasulullah (SAWA) as the person.
However, what we understand from the Quranic perspective, it is not confined only to accepting him as a messenger of Almighty Allah (SWT) and the ideal example to be followed. There are some special laws which the Holy Quran establishes, which governs our interaction with him. This is what we refer to as adab ie. respect, etiquette and special manners.
TIME WITH RASULULLAH (SAWA) HAS AN IMMEASURABLE OPPORTUNITY COST ALONGSIDE IMAAN
First of all, the Holy Quran says do not come and see him without making an appointment! This means that we need to first seek his permission. Almighty Allah (SWT) explains this etiquette in verse 53 of Surah Ahzaab (chapter 33 of the Holy Quran):
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَدْخُلُوا بُيُوتَ النَّبِيِّ إِلَّا أَنْ يُؤْذَنَ لَكُمْ إِلَىٰ طَعَامٍ غَيْرَ نَاظِرِينَ إِنَاهُ وَلَٰكِنْ إِذَا دُعِيتُمْ فَادْخُلُوا فَإِذَا طَعِمْتُمْ فَانْتَشِرُوا وَلَا مُسْتَأْنِسِينَ لِحَدِيثٍ ۚ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكُمْ كَانَ يُؤْذِي النَّبِيَّ فَيَسْتَحْيِي مِنْكُمْ ۖ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَسْتَحْيِي مِنَ الْحَقِّ ۚ وَإِذَا سَأَلْتُمُوهُنَّ مَتَاعًا فَاسْأَلُوهُنَّ مِنْ وَرَاءِ حِجَابٍ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ أَطْهَرُ لِقُلُوبِكُمْ وَقُلُوبِهِنَّ ۚ وَمَا كَانَ لَكُمْ أَنْ تُؤْذُوا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَلَا أَنْ تَنْكِحُوا أَزْوَاجَهُ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ أَبَدًا ۚ إِنَّ ذَٰلِكُمْ كَانَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ عَظِيمًا
“O Ye who believe! Enter not the dwellings of the Prophet for a meal without waiting for the proper time, unless permission be granted you. But if ye are invited, enter, and, when your meal is ended, then disperse. Linger not for conversation. Lo! that would cause annoyance to the Prophet, and he would be shy of (asking) you (to go); but Allah is not shy of the truth. And when ye ask of them (the wives of the Prophet) anything, ask it of them from behind a curtain. That is purer for your hearts and for their hearts. And it is not for you to cause annoyance to the messenger of Allah, nor that ye should ever marry his wives after him. Lo! that in Allah’s sight would be an enormity.”
A few principle points are established in this verse:
1. You are not allowed to enter his house without his permission.
2. When you are done with the purpose you are there for, then you should leave.
3. Also, when you are interacting with his wives, it should be with special respect.
4. Furthermore, his wives are not lawful for you after he passes away. They are clearly special.
This etiquette of seeking permission is again emphasized in verse 62 of Surah Noor (chapter 24 of the Holy Quran):
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَإِذَا كَانُوا مَعَهُ عَلَىٰ أَمْرٍ جَامِعٍ لَمْ يَذْهَبُوا حَتَّىٰ يَسْتَأْذِنُوهُ ۚ إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَسْتَأْذِنُونَكَ أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ
“Only those are believers who believe in Allah and His Messenger, and when they are with him on a momentous affair they go not away until they have asked his permission; surely they who ask your permission are they who believe in Allah and His Messenger.”
As we can see, this etiquette is so important, such that it is mentioned alongside Imaan (faith) in the Holy Quran.
ADDRESS RASULULLAH (SAWA) WITH EXTRAORDINARY RESPECT
When it comes to how we should address our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), we are not supposed to speak the way we address each other. Verse 63 of Surah Noor explains:
لَا تَجْعَلُوا دُعَاءَ الرَّسُولِ بَيْنَكُمْ كَدُعَاءِ بَعْضِكُمْ بَعْضًا
“Do not hold the Messenger’s calling (you) among you to be like your calling one to the other.”
This is all associated with the special status afforded to Rasulullah (SAWA) in the Holy Quran. These verses are about our manners and etiquette towards him.
Almighty Allah (SWT) has full right to address His Prophets (a.s) the way He prefers. He therefore refers to some Prophets by their first names, for example. However, when He addresses Rasulullah (SAWA), it is never a call out by the name Muhammad (SAWA). It is always by a title like Nabi, Rasul, etc.
Also, on the same matter of address, we read further about this in Surah Hujraat (chapter 49 of the Holy Quran), which is the chapter covering manners and etiquette. Verse 2 refers:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَرْفَعُوا أَصْوَاتَكُمْ فَوْقَ صَوْتِ النَّبِيِّ وَلَا تَجْهَرُوا لَهُ بِالْقَوْلِ كَجَهْرِ بَعْضِكُمْ لِبَعْضٍ أَنْ تَحْبَطَ أَعْمَالُكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تَشْعُرُونَ
“O you who believe! Do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet, and do not speak loud to him as you speak loud to one another, lest your deeds became null while you do not perceive.”
Amazing what we establish from this verse, that the manners and etiquette towards our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is so crucial, such that raising our voices above his will nullify our good deeds!
The contrast to this is discussed in verse 3 of Surah Hujraat:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَغُضُّونَ أَصْوَاتَهُمْ عِنْدَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ امْتَحَنَ اللَّهُ قُلُوبَهُمْ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۚ لَهُمْ مَغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ عَظِيمٌ
“Surely those who lower their voices before Allah’s Messenger are they whose hearts Allah has proved for guarding (against evil); they shall have forgiveness and a great reward.”
What we learn here is that those who lower their voices while in the presence of Rasulullah (SAWA) are those whose hearts have been tested for Taqwa by Almighty Allah (SWT). As we mentioned earlier, this adab (manners and etiquette) is very much a sign of Taqwa (God consciousness) and piety.
And then we read in verse 4 that those who are calling aloud from behind are those who clearly lack understanding:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُنَادُونَكَ مِنْ وَرَاءِ الْحُجُرَاتِ أَكْثَرُهُمْ لَا يَعْقِلُونَ
“As for those who call out to you from behind the private chambers, surely most of them do not understand.”
ALLOW RASULULLAH (SAWA) TO LEAD AND WE FOLLOW
Another very important issue pertaining to manners and etiquette towards our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is that we should never be ahead of him. The respectful thing is to always be behind him. He shall lead and we follow him. This is another level of respect which is special to him. We read this in verse 1 of Surah Hujraat:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تُقَدِّمُوا بَيْنَ يَدَيِ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“O you who believe! be not forward in the presence of Allah and His Messenger, and be careful of (your duty to) Allah; surely Allah is Hearing, Knowing.”
We have discussed 3 aspects here, regarding the manners and etiquette we need to display in our respect to the Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). They are as follows, from direct references in the Holy Quran:
– Seeking his permission – verse 53 of Surah Ahzaab and verse 62 of Surah Noor
– Not raising our voices above his – verse 62 of Surah Noor and verses 2 – 4 of Surah Hujraat
– Letting him lead and we should follow – verse 1 of Surah Hujraat
However, this amazing emphasis on our manners and etiquette towards Rasulullah (SAWA) is much broader than simply these 3 angles.
PRACTICAL EXAMPLE FROM IMAM ALI (A.S) AND HIS EXTRAORDINARY RESPECT FOR RASULULLAH (SAWA)
Allama Tabataba’i, the great philosopher and commentator of the Holy Quran of the 20th century, makes a very interesting point regarding this subject of being well mannered and humble towards Rasulullah (SAWA). He says that Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s) is, beyond any doubt, the most eloquent of person in Arab history. His oratory power is unique.
Allama Tabataba’i explains that after the Holy Quran and the Prophet of Islam (SAWA), nobody can reach the capacity of expression in the most eloquent manner like Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s). There are more than 11,000 sayings recorded from this man. All of them are pearls of wisdom, with the most eloquent choice of words and most thoughtful messages.
In addition, there are hundreds of sermons, letters and conversations recorded from Imam Ali ibn abi Talib (a.s). Indeed, he is the Imam of greatest eloquence!
That said, the respect and manners of Imam Ali (a.s) is that there are no sermons, letters or sayings from him recorded during the lifetime of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). All the records noted above are from after the passing of Rasulullah (SAWA). THIS IS ADAB!
IS THE EXTRAORDINARY RESPECT TO RASULULLAH (SAWA) CONFINED TO HIS PHYSICAL EXISTENCE?
The special manners, etiquette, respect and humility before our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is so greatly commanded in the Holy Quran, as described above. Now, the question is whether these requirements are specific to his physical presence in this world (which was only 63 years) or whether these manners are extended beyond the passing away of his physical presence from this world?
Unfortunately, many people have confined these special etiquettes prescribed in the Holy Quran to only apply to his 63 year lifespan in this world. This is clearly a wrong interpretation. This respect and manners towards Rasulullah (SAWA) CONTINUES after his demise from this world. Yes, he passed away, but he is STILL our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
We do not say that Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was the final divine Prophet of Allah (SWT). We say that he IS the final divine Prophet of Allah (SWT)! Therefore, that special adab and respect MUST continue.
We need to understand the core message of all these special instructions relating to our manners towards Rasulullah (SAWA). If we are prescribed to be humble before him, then it means we need to display this humility before his grave too! Even before his house! Even before ANYTHING which is affiliated to him!
People unfortunately fall into a literal, material approach to Islam, and therefore cannot understand why we would display our love and respect by kissing the door to his grave, for example. They would argue these are material things. What they are missing is that this carries extraordinary respect as being the door to his shrine, and therefore, is unlike any other door!
Another key point emerging from the verses of the Holy Quran cited earlier is that our disrespectful attitude tortures our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
We do not live in Madina and therefore do not have access to all the sacred symbols affiliated to his very existence. That being said, even his glorified name deserves the special respect when we mention or write it, so that our love is clearly demonstrated.
SPECIAL RESPECT TO OUR ISLAMIC LEADERSHIP
The final point I would like to make is that we also indirectly understand that these commands also teach us how to interact with leadership! If our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) enjoys this special respect which Muslims are commanded to show towards him, it is because he is the leader and guide as the Prophet of Almighty Allah (SWT).
The SPIRIT of respect and etiquette applies to our interaction with the legitimate leadership of the Muslim Ummah, and not to those who have robbed the leadership of this Ummah and sold its dignity to serve the enemies of Islam.
SECOND KHUTBAH – REFLECTIONS ON THE AMERICAN POLITICAL SYSTEM
Humility, respect, manners and etiquette towards our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is a command of Almighty Allah (SWT) in all aspects, be it in his very physical existence, in front of his grave, or whatever is affiliated to him and whenever his blessed name or his teachings are referenced.
In the broader sense, there are great lessons for us in how to behave and interact with genuine, religious leadership of Islam. This is a divine leadership, which is not achieved by fooling people through lies, propaganda and spreading misinformation.
I do not think it is necessary for me to comment on the headline news these days, which is the American elections. However, let me share a few principle points in this regard.
Firstly, it really does not matter who comes into the White House and who goes. The real issue is the system which rules, with its imperialist hegemony, aimed at controlling the people, countries, their resources and dictating. That system does not change. Perhaps one would argue who is less evil between the two candidates, but nothing more than that.
WHERE IS THE MORAL COMPASS OF 50% OF AMERICANS WHO VOTED FOR TRUMP?
The second point, connected to the first, is that at the end of the day, the United States of America is a reality in the world we live in. It is a country which always promotes itself as the most civilized, most cultured, most democratic, most human, sticking to the principles of human dignity and rule of law, and so on…
Regardless of who wins and who loses, the reality is that around 50% of the American people from this so-called civilized, educated and developed first world country voted for a man who is openly a racist, liar, fraud, does not respect women, minorities, etc.
Now, one can argue that the American administration by its very nature displays these traits, but here you have someone who is so brazen and flippant in his arrogance. Yet, 50% of the American people believe in him and very proudly voted for him!
It shows that this so-called civilized country of human rights and dignity is a bunch of empty rhetoric, lacking genuineness. I am saying this according to their standards, leave our standards and moral criteria one side for a moment…
Someone who is losing is now shouting that the whole system is a fraud! It is this same fraud system which brought him to power and kept him in power for 4 years, but now all of a sudden, he calls this system a fraud! And 50% of the American people still go and vote for him through this same fraud system!
These are important reflections of the modern world and its so-called culture of human rights, equality and all the slogans they like to promote!
MORAL CORRUPTION IS A PLAGUE EATING AWAY OUR COUNTRY TOO
Corruption, which we are also suffering from in South Africa, has different levels. But the highest level of corruption is when our minds are corrupt. This is when our thinking is corrupted into believing that racism is acceptable, and we saw this with the horrible adjective this American President used to describe African countries! Despite this completely wayward moral compass, 50% of the American people still feel proud of him!
This is the ground reality unfortunately.
While I am voicing this critique of what we are witnessing with the American elections, it is high time for us to also reflect here in South Africa. We have also given all these nice slogans, and I will say with a good level of confidence that we in South Africa have given greater value to these slogans than Americans, without any doubt.
At the same time, the corruption of thought and mentality is also killing us here, taking us to very dangerous places. The Zondo Commission is in front of us! This mentality of corruption and having a nice life without any struggles, which is pushed by certain people, while again hiding behind beautiful slogans of supporting the poor etc.
Through this façade, they have taken people away from the culture of working and serving to uplift our society. This is a very serious plague preventing our society from progressing.
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