Miladun Nabi (sawa) lecture delivered by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider on 17 December 2016 at Ahlul Bait (a.s) Islamic Centre, Ottery, Cape Town
I extend my congratulations on this auspicious night on the birth of the most perfect existence after Allah, being our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sawa) and simultaneously the birthday of his grandson, 6th Imam Jafar Saadiq (a.s) who is the head of the Mathab of Ahlul Bait (a.s). My congratulations extends to the Imam of our time, Imam Mahdi (a.s), his rightful successors and to all humanity.
Tonight we also commence with our partial move to the entrance hall of our new mosque on this auspicious occasion which is a momentous event in our history and Inshallah in a few months time we will enjoy the formal opening of this full complex.
VIRTUE OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA)
This is a night of the best of creation of Allah. Where does one start if one wants to say something about Prophet Muhammad sawa?
Let me start with a sentence of the salawaat of 8th Imam Reza (a.s) on Prophet Muhammad (sawa).
In this salawaat, after calling on different names of Allah, the Imam says:
“O Allah send salutations upon someone where salaat (our daily prayers) is honoured to have included in it the salawaat (salutations) of Prophet Muhammad (sawa).”
This is an amazing distinction. The Imam does not say that Prophet Muhammad (sawa) is honoured due to salawaat being brought upon him by every Muslim in their daily prayers, but the reverse is in fact true in that salaat itself is honoured to have within it the salutations being sent upon Prophet Muhammad (sawa)!
And so the virtues of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) is beyond our imagination.
Great poets have summarised this by saying that “After Allah, you (Oh Muhammad (sawa)) are the greatest.”
INNUMERABLE VIRTUES OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA)
Once someone came from a rural area to Imam Ali (a.s) and said “count for us the moral qualities/virtues of Prophet Muhammad (sawa)”. So Imam Ali (a.s) said to him “do you know how to count?”
The man replied “yes”.
So Imam Ali (a.s) said to him “count the blessings/joys of this world.”
The man replied that counting the blessings/joys of this world is not possible as it is too much.
So Imam Ali (a.s) said “you couldn’t count something that was little. As Allah says in the Quran:
قُلْ مَتَاعُ الدَّنْيَا قَلِيلٌ وَالآخِرَةُ خَيْرٌ لِّمَنِ اتَّقَى وَلاَ تُظْلَمُونَ فَتِيلاً
“Say: the enjoyment of this world is little” (Surah 4:77)
…while you want me to count virtues which Almighty Allah descibes as being “exalted” when Allah says about Prophet Muhammad (sawa):
وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ
“And you possess an exalted character”. (Surah 68:4)
VARIOUS DESCRIPTIONS OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) REFLECT LIMITED VIEW OF THE VIEWER
So given the words of Imam Ali (a.s), how can we capture the virtue of the greatest man who walked on this earth? It’s simply not possible to do so comprehensively.
Therefore when different scholars viewed him, they viewed him from their own limited angle and thus attributed him from their own limited angle.
Thus one might say that Prophet Muhammad (sawa) was the best leader ever, as the aspect of leadership is essentially what appealed to the viewer.
Or others might says he was the best manager.
Or others might say he was the best military strategist.
On this point it is narrrated that the companions of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) used to say that when battles became hot, they would take shelter behind Prophet Muhammad (sawa)!
Then you even have atheists who don’t believe in Prophet Muhammad (sawa) who study history and when examining how he turned the direction of history in such a short space of time, they conclude that in the 100 most influential people in history, Prophet Muhammad (sawa) takes first position.
PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) IS THE PERFECT INTELLECT
And then philosophers and intellectual giants – they say if you can imagine a perfect intellect – then that perfect intellect is Prophet Muhammad (sawa). Of course this concept is confirmed by ahadith, especially in School of Ahlul Bait (a.s).
Eg. the well known narration stating “the first thing that Allah created was the intellect”.
What is this intellect? We sometimes mistakenly thing it means your ability to be shrewed!
However, in the first hadith in Usul Kafi, on the issue of “intellect” we learn:
Abu Ja’far (al-‘Imam al-Baqir) (A) said:
“When God created the Intellect (al-`Aql), He examined it. Thereupon He said to it: `Come forward!’ It came forward. Then He said: `Go back!’ It went back. Thereupon He said: `By My power and majesty, I didn’t create any creature dearer to me than thee! I will not make thee perfect except in one whom I love. Indeed, to thee are My orders and-prohibitions addressed. And for you are My rewards and retributions reserved.”
From the many dimensions of this narration, one thing that we learn is that the intellect has the perfect capability to submit to Allah. Thus when it was told “come forward”, it came forward and when it was told “go back”, it went back.
So the perfect intellect that philosophers conceptualise is the first creation of Allah which simultaneously is the intellect of Prophet Muhammad (sawa).
So in other narrations when we learn that the first thing that Allah created was the “Nur of Muhammad (sawa)”, it does not contradict the above mentioned narration but refers to the very same Reality.
ONLY TRUE REALITY AFTER ALLAH IS PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA)
But there is a deeper understanding which is not from philosophers but from the people of Irfaan (Mysticism).
They say that what Allah created first is actually the only True Reality that Allah created as “from One nothing can eminate except one!”
Thus the Only Real Existence is Allah.
Then what Allah created is a reflection of the Attributes of Allah.
Allah has so many attributes….99 Names are mentioned in Quran which are all Attributes of Allah.
But one particular attribute which manifested in this reflection is manifestation of an attribute that includes all other Attributes and that is the Attribute of Rahma (Mercy) of Allah.
Why did Allah create?
Allah does not need us. We need Him.
No wise person does anything without purpose. We create something to take benefit from our creation for ourselves.
But Allah does not need anything and thus benefit from His creation. Allah creates because Rahma or the Attribute of Mercy is only Rahma if it manifests.
Example a Provider can only be a Provider if you have a recipient of the Provision.
So for Allah to be Merciful, there must be a recipient of Mercy.
So a direct result of the Attribute of Mercy is that He must create so there’s a recipient of His Mercy.
Prophet Muhammad (sawa) is the pure manifestation of the Mercy of Allah unto all the worlds.
Then that Mercy (Nuru Muhammadiyya) further reflected as a reflection of the unique Mercy of Allah to worlds….all other creation thus are that reflection of Nuru Muhammadiyya.
Why does each Surah in Quran begin with reference to Mercy?
Because Quran is a manifestation of Mercy of Allah.
The whole Seerah (life of Prophet Muhammad (sawa)) is summarised as a Mercy of Allah.
All other virtues of Allah are under the overall attribute of Mercy.
Urafa then have elaborate explainations for different levels of Mercy (which we will not include in this lecture).
COMPREHENSIVE MERCY OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) EXTENDS TO NON-BELIEVERS
Even the worst enemies of Islam received Mercy of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) which is something that can’t be denied.
There is a well known recorded incident of an occasion when Prophet Muhammad (sawa) was once sleeping under a tree and a kaafir (non believer) stood over him with a sword and woke Prophet Muhammad (sawa) up and said:
“I want to kill you, who can rescue you?”
So Prophet Muhammad (sawa) said “my God can save me”.
At that moment the kaaffir slipped from the rock that he was standing on and at this point Prophet Muhammad (sawa) jumped up, grabbed the sword and stood over the same kaafir who threatened to kill him.
Then Prophet Muhammad (sawa) said to him:
“My God rescued me, now who will rescue you?”
And amazingly, the very same kaafir who did not believe in him said “Your Mercy will save me of Muhammad son of Abdullah!”
Every particle of this personality is Rahma!!
MERCY OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) FOR WAHSHI – THE ONE WHO MUTILATED THE MARTYRS
In the Battle of Uhud, something happened that Prophet Muhammad (sawa) could not forget.
After the Battle he found that the enemies started to mutilate the bodies of the martyrs.
They would cut off the noses and ears of the martyrs and make a chain out of it which they would wear as a form of ornamentation around their necks.
This mutilation affected him Prophet Muhammad (sawa) greatly.
But it reached its peak when he noticed that Wahshi, who was a slave of Hind (the wife of Abu Sufyaan, the mother of Muawiyya, the grandmother of Yazid – all lifelong enemies of Prophet Muhammad (sawa)) was commanded by Hind to cut open the chest of Hamza, the Uncle of Prophet Muhammad (sawa).
He was then commanded to remove some of the organs of Hamza (R.A), and then Hind started to chew the liver of Hamza (R.A).
This heart of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) which is the softest possible heart that exists who was the embodiment of the Mercy of Allah could not handle this scene.
So in later years, when Wahshi made tawba (repented) and wanted to become Muslim – Prophet Muhammad (sawa) still forgave him even though he could not forget that scene of how the liver of Hamza (R.A) was chewed.
And though the Prophet (sawa) forgave him, he told him to leave Madina as he did not want to see him as his face reminded him of that horrific incident.
This is how the comprehensive Mercy of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) manifested – it was all-inclusive!
And so we too seek nearness to Almighty Allah by going through the channel of Prophet Muhammad (sawa). In Dua Tawassul we start by saying:
“O Allah, I beseech Thee, and turn towards Thee, through Thy Prophet, the Prophet of Mercy, Muhammad, may Allah Bless him and his Progeny, and grant them peace. “
FOLLOWERS OF PROPHET OF MERCY UNABLE TO SHOW MERCY
With such a wonderful view of the all-encompasing Mercy of Prophet Muhammad (sawa), we ask how do followers of this Prophet of Rahma became so merciless?
And they not merciless to the enemies of Islam – in fact they are kind to them, but are merciless towards each other!
One of Prophet Muhammad (sawa)’s manifestation of Mercy is that he is a uniting force!
The Quran says he brought you a blessing that even mountains of gold can’t buy and that is the blessing of bringing your hearts together.
In Surah 3:103 we read:
كَيْفَ تَكْفُرُونَ وَأَنتُمْ تُتْلَى عَلَيْكُمْ آيَاتُ اللّهِ وَفِيكُمْ رَسُولُهُ وَمَن يَعْتَصِم بِاللّهِ فَقَدْ هُدِيَ إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ
“…and remember Allah’s favour on you when you were enemies (of each other ), then He united your hearts with (mutual) love, and thus you became brethren by His favour while you were on a brink of a pit of Fire then He delivered you from it!
After centuries of meaningless wars, Almighty Allah united the hearts of people who were enemies of each other through the Mercy of Prophet Muhammad (sawa).
Islam progressed through two primary strategies:
One was the conquering of lands which was primarily used by the early khalifs; and
the other which was primarily used by Prophet Muhammad (sawa) was not conquering lands but conquering hearts by offering Rahma/Mercy/Love and Compassion to the world.
And the Quran bears testimony to this facts when it says:
فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللّهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لاَنفَضُّواْ مِنْ حَوْلِكَ فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الأَمْرِ
“Thus, it is due to the mercy from Allah that you have been lenient with them, and had you been rough, hard hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you. Therefore, pardon them and seek forgiveness for them; and consult with them in the affairs”
Thus it is the Rahma of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) that is the source of unity for us.
And thus we consider Rabi-ul Awwal to be the month of Unity.
But the naysayers declare kufr, issue fatwas of division, spend their life on campaigns to weaken us – yet they call themselves followers of the Mercy unto all the Worlds!!
Let us pray for Almighty Allah to make us of those true followers of Prophet Muhammad (sawa) who are “merciful among ourselves” and show Mercy, Compassion and Care to the rest of the world.