Love, Rationality & Justice In Seerah Of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
MILADUN NABI (SAWA) – PART 3
Monday 2 November 2020 (17th night of Rabiul Awwal 1442)
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Heartfelt congratulations to the whole Ummah of Islam (Muslim nation) and in fact, to the whole of humanity, and also to the great leaders of humanity, especially the leader (Imam) of our time, who is the heart of this universe, and heir of this great personality whose Milad and birth we are celebrating.
May Almighty Allah (SWT) shower His infinite mercy, favours and blessings upon this Ummah and to the whole of humanity on this auspicious night of the birth of the best of creation, His most beloved servant, His last messenger, the seal of all the Prophets and apostles, Rasulullah (SAWA).
As you are aware, this is also the night of the Milad and auspicious birth of his grandson, the 6th Imam of the Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s).
Our discussion which we are about to develop has two parts:
A. The sacred birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA);
B. His message and character, which is a continuation on the 2 earlier lectures on 28th and 29th Oct
THE SACRED BIRTH OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) IN RABIUL AWWAL
What we are celebrating here is the arrival and appearance of this light of Almighty Allah (SWT) in this material world, on 17th Rabiul Awwal in the year of the elephant (Aamul Fil). As discussed many times before, there is a difference of opinion amongst historians regarding the birthday of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). Some historians have even suggested that he was born in Ramadaan!
The majority of our Sunni brothers believe that his birthday is 12th Rabiul Awwal, whereas the majority of scholars from the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s) believe that he was born on 17th Rabiul Awwal. What is unanimous between Sunni and Shia tradition is that Rasulullah (SAWA) was born during the year of the elephant, in the city of Mecca, from the womb of a great, pure and pious lady by the name of Syeda Amina bint Wahab (s.a).
For the benefit of our younger audience, I would like to clarify that in the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s), in the light of the teachings of the family of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), we strongly believe that even this very physical existence of Rasulullah (SAWA) moved from Nabi Adam (a.s) through pure and pristine wombs as carriers to his parents.
This means they were all worshippers of one God (SWT) ie. monotheists. They were not tainted by those who associate partners with Almighty Allah (SWT). Unfortunately, there are still those who have a warped understanding of believing that the mother of Rasulullah (SAWA) was not a true believer! They often like to narrate the story which is totally fabricated.
They try to propagate the notion that Rasulullah (SAWA) asked for forgiveness from Almighty Allah (SWT) for his blessed mother, Amina bint Wahab, and apparently, according to their warped understanding, Allah (SWT) reprimanded him for this!!!
Rasulullah (SAWA) loved his mother and visited her grave numerous times. History has recorded that he cried at her grave and made all those around her also cry!
PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) IS THE FIRST OF CREATION BUT REVEALED LAST
The birth we celebrate in these joyous days is the physical arrival of this sacred existence in this world. Again, from the position of the Ahlul Bait (a.s), we believe that Almighty Allah (SWT) created the existence of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) before everything. We believe he is the first creation.
There are Hadith narrations which record that the first thing which Almighty Allah (SWT) created was the intellect. Then there are Hadith which record that the meaning of this intellect is the truth and reality of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) ie. Haqiqate Muhammadia (SAWA).
Some Hadith record that the first thing which Almighty Allah (SWT) created was the pen. Then, following on, there are Hadith which state that the pen with which He wrote the destiny of this world is none but the sacred existence of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
There are plenty of Hadith in this regard. Example, there are Hadith which describe that the first thing which Almighty Allah (SWT) created was His Noor (divine light). Then, Rasulullah (SAWA) himself says that he was already a Prophet (a.s) when Nabi Adam (a.s) was still between clay and water!
He then says that Nabi Adam (a.s) and whoever is after is under his flag. Then, there is another beautiful Hadith where Rasulullah (SAWA) says that between him and his Lord (SWT) is a space which is not shared by any angel, any Prophet, and any existence. This special space is reserved purely for him and his Lord (SWT)!
Therefore, in the Ziyarah which is taught by the Ahlul Bait (a.s), we learn that the way to pay our respects to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is by saying:
“Salaam (peace) be upon you, the first Prophet to take the pledge of Almighty Allah (SWT), but you are the last one to be sent.”
He was the last one to appear, but the first to be created! This is what we refer to as Haqiqate Muhammadia (SAWA) ie. the Muhammadian truth and reality.
THE EXTRAORDINARY BIRTH OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) EXPLAINED BY HIS BLESSED MOTHER
Our point of view is shared by a great number of renowned Sunni scholars, especially those who adopt the mystical approach, like ibn Arabi and others. They understand this phenomenon, that whatever there is in this world is the reflection of that one true light in which the attributes of Almighty Allah (SWT) reflected, and everything else is a reflection from this one central truth and reality known as Haqiqate Muhammadia (SAWA).
Therefore, the arrival of this physical existence, even in this material world, was accompanied by miracles. This is narrated directly by the Amina bint Wahab, the blessed mother of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
She says that she experienced a divine light (Noor), through ladies descending from the heavens to help her with the birth. She narrates that she saw from her backyard a divine light shining over the horizon of Mecca, which brightened the whole valley.
History further records that many of the main idols in the various headquarters of idol-worshipping (shirk) also collapsed with the sacred birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). Furthermore, 14 of the carvings which were on the top of the palaces of the Persian empire also collapsed at this momentous birth occasion.
In addition, history records that the fire of Zoroastrians was also extinguished with this momentous birth occasion, after burning for centuries!
The list of miracles associated with his sacred birth is long, as recorded in the books of Hadith. The point I am trying to make is that these are all signs that this is not just another baby who was born. The sacred birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is clearly very special, and came to this world with amazing divine light, from which we all continue benefit.
Clearly, an extraordinary and exceptional birth.
MESSAGE AND CHARACTER OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) IS A TIMELESS MODEL FOR EXCELLENCE
I now wish to take our previous discussion further, where we elaborated that LOVE was the source and main fibre associated with the internal core of the message, personality and character of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). If you recall, I explained in light of the Hadith from our 6th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), where he says that Almighty Allah (SWT) groomed His prophet on His love, such that he is the greatest of sublime morality and ethics.
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and his message are the manifestation of divine love towards His creation. We discussed at great length about his love for the people, and mercy towards his enemies. His overarching compassion for humanity and all of creation! Clearly, the dimensions for the love displayed by Rasulullah (SAWA) is magnanimous!
UNIVERSAL LOVE AND MERCY OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) WAS TO ALL CREATION
I will give you an example of his sensitivity, even towards trees! There was a palm tree in his Masjid in Madina, which he used to take the support of the stem of this palm tree to deliver his sermons. This tree was on a very awkward position in the mosque, obstructing people from reading salaah over there.
He was absent from Madina for a few days, and so the companions (Sahabah) decided to cut the tree during his absence, to make the area more comfortable for people, given the awkward position of the tree.
Rasulullah (SAWA) returned to Madina after a few days and was upset at noticing that the palm tree was cut during his absence. His companions asked him why he was upset, as they thought they did the right thing to cut the tree and make the place more comfortable, rather than have the tree in an awkward place. Rasulullah (SAWA) replied by saying he is upset because he can hear the tree crying!
This is the same Prophet (SAWA) who especially warned his companions after winning the wars and conquering lands, that they are not allowed to cut the trees, burn the crops or harm the animals. He even commanded that if a dog dies, its body should not be crushed, but be disposed of respectfully.
This Prophet (SAWA) was so caring and compassionate and the embodiment of Almighty Allah’s (SWT) love towards His creation, so much so that he gave glad tidings of Paradise to a very terrible woman, because she took care of animals!
We all know too well the story of the lady who use to throw her rubbish at him when he would walk through the road passing her house. After a few days of noticing that this woman was not committing this wicked act, he started getting worried and enquired about her. Rasulullah (SAWA) was informed that she is sick, and he therefore visited her.
The people mocked him and even tried to assassinate him, showing him the worst form of contempt. His companions then said he should invoke the curse of Allah (SWT) upon these wicked people. However, he responded saying that he was not sent to this world to curse and take away the divine mercy of Almighty Allah (SWT) from the people. Instead, he reminded them that he has been sent to this world to invite people toward the right path.
This is mercy and love for humanity, which was the main core of his message, in the form of Rahmaniyya and Rahimiyya, manifested in his noble character and interaction with the people.
RATIONALITY AND REASONING OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) WAS HIS POWER OF PERSUASION
The second important core quality and central theme of the personality of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is that of rationality. His approach in the propagation and presentation of his message and in interacting and reflecting different phenomena was based upon rationality and reason.
Pure intellect is very dry, whereas the rationalist approach is based more upon reason. At the same, it accommodates context and understands and considers the conditions relevant at the time. Rationality in the practical life of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is one of the shining examples.
Rasulullah (SAWA) never used fake beliefs to promote his message. He always used intellect, and thereby challenged people to think. He challenged them to use common sense in understanding his divine message.
He founded his message on rationality, in a society which was extremely irrational and ignorant! This was the same society which buried baby girls alive. This was a society where people use to fight over the most trivial matters, resulting in conflict for more than 100 years!
These are people who use to worship idols which they made themselves and carried food with them while on travel, supposedly for security. But then, when they consumed all the food while on travel, they would then reduce to eating the idol as well! These were their extreme levels of ignorance!
PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) NEVER EXPLOITED THE IGNORANCE OF THE MASSES
Hardly anybody in Mecca could read and write. History has recorded a small list of people who could read and write, in such a big city like Mecca! This was the total extent of education, which was very much confined to some people who had very basic exposure to earlier scriptures by virtue of their business travels. This was it; nothing else!
Ignorance was clearly at its peak! There are numerous examples of their infatuation with superstitions as well. In this society of compound ignorance, Rasulullah (SAWA) fought and presented rationality and reasoning! He propagated that the message of Islam is one of reasoning and rationality.
He rejected idol-worshiping on the basis that it does not make sense, as it is inconceivable to bow down to an idol which is manmade. His whole challenge was to the common sense and rationality, irrespective of who he was speaking to.
One of the hallmarks of Rasulullah (SAWA) was that he never exploited the ignorance of the people in his favour. We all know of the incident that occurred when his son by the name of Ibrahim passed away at a very young age. Rasulullah (SAWA) loved him dearly and was naturally grieving at his passing.
Coincidentally, there was an eclipse on the same day he buried his son. Based upon the same superstitious approach they had, people started creating a story that the reason for the solar eclipse is because the heart of Rasulullah (SAWA) is sad, and therefore the sun is also sharing in his mourning.
Rasulullah (SAWA) immediately intervened upon hearing this story being cooked up, commanding everyone to gather in the mosque. He then explained to everyone from the mimbar, that the sun eclipse is a natural phenomenon from the system which Almighty Allah (SWT) has created. He categorically denounced any connection of the eclipse with the death of his son. He does not need fake stories to prove his point!
One of the companions of Rasulullah (SAWA) lived far away. He was known for fabricating stories, and so, Rasulullah (SAWA) became naturally upset with this practice. Rasulullah (SAWA) approached this person on the matter, asking why he does this bad practice. This person explained that the people in his city are completely hopeless. They waste their time doing useless things and consuming themselves in vain talk.
He then explained that he fabricates stories in an attempt to draw them closer to Islam. He explained that in order to encourage them to make better use of their time, he would fabricate stories of the Quran, saying that by reading this Surah of the Holy Quran, they would receive this reward etc.
Rasulullah (SAWA) got very upset about this, challenging this person that he is using lies to promote the Holy Quran, and this is not acceptable.
RATIONALITY OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) WAS INSTRUMENTAL IN HIS SOCIO-POLITICAL PROGRESS
This rational approach of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) has numerous angles. We see this evident in his approach to different socio-political issues too, always preferring peaceful resolution instead of extremist means. The arrogant approach of “my way or the highway” does not resonate with his noble, moral character.
One of the most well-known qualities of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was to come along with all types of people. This means he was not rigid, and able to compromise. This is the rational approach and his great legacy for us all to reflect on.
We see this with the compromises he made, his peace treaties, and how he forgave all his enemies after the conquer of Mecca. Besides being a manifestation of universal mercy, we see with these examples how his rationality came to the fore.
Rasulullah (SAWA) forgave everybody after the conquest of Mecca, except for 10 people whom he authorized must be executed. Amongst them was a terrible person by the name of Safwan, who escaped to Jeddah. Safwan’s cousin came to Rasulullah (SAWA) to present a plea for forgiveness, which he agreed to.
Now, this person (Safwan’s cousin) was very impressed with the merciful attitude of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and said that he does not understand Islam and requested two months to study Islam so that he can accept Islam with proper conviction. Rasulullah (SAWA) told him to take six months to do all the research he needs before embracing Islam.
It is recorded by Imam Ali (a.s) that Rasulullah (SAWA) said that the best treasure of a nation is the intellect and rationality. The foundation of leadership is indeed aql. That said, adopting a rational approach does not mean having no principles in life. It does not mean having no decisiveness on certain values and principles.
In fact, Imam Ali (a.s) has a very beautiful statement in this regard, by saying the final outcome of rationality is not compromise and humiliation, but rather, it is resistance! Decisive position on decisive principles!
Along with the Hadith referenced earlier on aql being the best treasure of a nation, Imam Ali (a.s) also relays that Rasulullah (SAWA) said that aql is the source of moral character and good values. Perseverance and courage all come from aql too.
UNCOMPROMISING JUSTICE OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) INSPIRED CONFIDENCE IN SOCIETY
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was the manifestation of divine love. He was also the model for rationality. He was also the promoter of justice. He did not surrender to injustice! In fact, when it came to justice, the same Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) who was the embodiment of love, compassion and care for the people was uncompromising in his justice, especially in the principle rights and values of the people.
There are so many examples of this decisive attitude of Rasulullah (SAWA) when it came to justice. We have all heard the story of Fatima Makhzoumi, who was from the upper echelons of the elite. She committed theft and was caught. Now, she is supposed to be punished for this crime.
Zaid ibn Harith came to Rasulullah (SAWA) suggesting that since this lady comes from the high class of the society, it is diplomatically inappropriate for her to be punished for the crime of theft. Zaid ibn Harith suggested that there should be some form of “presidential pardon”, as it is not favourable for us if these elite families become our enemies.
Rasulullah (SAWA) paused and did not respond to Zaid. Instead, he gathered everyone in the mosque and ascended the mimbar (platform) explaining that the law is above everyone. He then went further to explain that previous nations were banished and destroyed because they implemented the law more favorably on the rich, and harsher on the poor!
He then took an oath by Almighty Allah (SWT), saying that if his beloved daughter Fatima Zahra (s.a) commits a crime, he will apply the same law on her. Obviously, this thought of any wrongdoing by Lady Fatima (s.a) is totally inconceivable, but Rasulullah (SAWA) used her name as the best example to illustrate the point about the fair application of the law on EVERYBODY!
Compromise on justice is therefore totally unacceptable for Rasulullah (SAWA).
PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) WAS UNFORGIVING WITH THE OPPORTUNISTS
There was a person in the time of Rasulullah (SAWA) who had a long history of animosity towards Islam. He came to Rasulullah (SAWA) seeking a compromise, saying that he is ready to accept Islam, but expects some form of rebate, namely, to be exempt from the five compulsory daily prayers!!! Rasulullah (SAWA) told this person that he does not need his Islam, as someone who does not perform salaah does not have religion!
A similar situation is experienced in the Battle of Tabuk, where some people preferred to stay behind. These people apologized to Rasulullah (SAWA) upon his return from this battle, but he admonished them, saying that the apology is not accepted from people who run away from the responsibility of needing to sacrifice the life to defend Islam.
Note that this is the same Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) who was ever ready to accept the sincere apology on any price. However, he was uncompromising when it came to matters of principle and justice, going to the extent of commanding the Muslims to boycott these individuals who cowardly stayed back when the call was made to go into the battlefield to defend Islam.
Let me now conclude by summarizing the 3 core values we discussed (amongst many others) in the character, message and behaviour of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), which is his enduring legacy. They are:
1. Love and compassion;
2. Rationality and reasoning;
3. Uncompromising justice
May our mothers and fathers and our everything be sacrificed for you, oh Rasulullah (SAWA). May Almighty Allah (SWT) grant us the Taufeeq to benefit from his rich message and legacy.
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