Saturday 9 November 2019 (12th night of Rabiul Awwal 1441)
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider

ن ۚ وَالْقَلَمِ وَمَا يَسْطُرُونَ
1. Noon. I swear by the pen and what the angels write,

مَا أَنْتَ بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ بِمَجْنُونٍ
2. By the grace of your Lord you are not mad.

وَإِنَّ لَكَ لَأَجْرًا غَيْرَ مَمْنُونٍ
3. And most surely you shall have a reward never to be cut off.

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ
4. And most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality.

Surah Qalam (Chapter 68 of the Holy Quran)

First of all, I would like to extend Tabrikaat and felicitations on these auspicious days of the Milad of the best of the creation of Almighty Allah (SWT), in our celebration of the most beloved servant of Almighty Allah (SWT).


As we have always informed our brothers and sisters, there is no dispute or disagreement about the month of Milad and birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), which is Rabiul Awwal. There is also no dispute on the year of the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), which is the year of Aamul Fil. This refers to the year when Abraha and the people of the elephant attacked on Mecca.

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was born approximately 2.5 months after this incident where Abraha attacked and assaulted Mecca. The Holy Quran speaks about this in Surah Fil (chapter 105).

There is however, a difference of opinion regarding the date of birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), even though there is consensus on the month and year of his sacred birth. There are scholars who believe that Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was born on 7th Rabiul Awwal, while others believe 9th of Rabiul Awwal to be his birthday. Then as we know, 12th and 17th Rabiul Awwal are very popular dates believed to be the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).

The majority of our Sunni brothers, scholars and historians prefer 12th Rabiul Awwal as the birthday of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) in the city of Mecca. The majority (not all) of the religious scholars from the school of Ahlul Bait (a.s) prefer 17th of Rabiul Awwal as the birthday of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). All these days are, of course, a reminder of this greatest of personalities, and best of creation and this most beloved servant of Almighty Allah (SWT) and this highest of the creation who could reach to the highest status, degree and virtue.


I always quote from the great Persian poet Saadi, who summarizes in one sentence, where he says that after Almighty Allah (SWT), you (Prophet Muhammad (SAWA)) are the most high, and everyone else is after you, and nobody can reach to that level where you reached in the eyes of Almighty Allah (SWT).

This is again another issue where there is absolutely no doubt or dispute. This is not a Sunni-Shia dispute at all. Lot of people get confused. In fact, I was speaking to one of the brothers, and he was referring to one of our neighbours who lives in the vicinity who reacted rather abruptly when asked whether he attend the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, since it is conveniently located in the neighbourhood.

So, our brother asked why does this neighbour not want to have anything to do with us or attend this Masjid, to which he received the most ignorant response from this neighbour, saying that we Shia believe that Imam Hussain (a.s) is the Prophet!

Our brother then obviously refuted this incorrect statement by asking this person whether he has ever paid attention to the Adhaan echoed from this Masjid, where “Ash hadu anna Muhammadar Rasulullah (SAWA)” is clearly audible.

This neighbour then responds that there are all kinds of banners of Imam Hussain (a.s) there. You see, this is the result of ignorance and prejudice. It makes one go blind!

Our brother naturally left it at that, given this level of ignorance from the neighbour. I wish this neighbour could really read the banners of Imam Hussain (a.s) which were on display during Muharram. While the banners were indeed about Imam Hussain (a.s), they were quotes from Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) about Imam Hussain (a.s)!

So, if we believe in Hussain (a.s) and view him as important for us, and if we pay respect to him and glorify his greatness, it is because our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) said:
“Hussain is from me and I am from Hussain, Allah loves those who love Hussain.”

Hussain (a.s) is important because of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA)! Hussain (a.s) is sacred because of his connection with Rasulullah (SAWA). Without Rasulullah (SAWA), Hussain (a.s) is nothing!


Imam Ali (a.s) is indeed whom we believe as the head of this school of Madhab Jafari, and proclaim ourselves to be his followers. What does Imam Ali (a.s) say when he comes in front of Rasulullah (SAWA)? He says that he is the servant from the servants of Muhammad (SAWA)!

There is absolutely no dispute, disagreement, or smallest of doubt about this lofty status of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). In fact, the approach of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) is that whatever is in this world is a reflection of the Noor of Muhammad (SAWA). The thinking of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) is that they are nothing but from the rays of that Haqikat Muhammadia (Muhammadian reality).

We have that well-known sentence which says that “our first one is Muhammad, our middle one is Muhammad, our last one is Muhammad, and all of us Ahlul Bait (a.s) are nothing but Muhammad (SAWA)!”

In that Ziyarah which the Ahlul Bait (a.s) taught us to read on this auspicious birthday of Rasulullah (SAWA), we say that there are 2 births of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). There is the birth which we celebrate in Rabiul Awwal. In addition, the Ahlul Bait (a.s) taught us that the birth of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is long, long before the year of Aamul Fil! The Noor and reality of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is much earlier than any Prophet of God (SWT), and Rasulullah (SAWA) is reported to have narrated that all the Ambiyaa (Prophets) are under his flag.

This is the approach of the Ahlul Bait (a.s) towards our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).


I would like to now draw your attention to another aspect of this great personality, which the Holy Quran explores. This particular angle we are going to discuss is filled with greatness, as you will experience shortly.

Someone came to Amir al-Mu’mineen Imam Ali (a.s) and asks him to describe Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). Imam Ali (a.s) replied by asking this person what he thinks about the favours and blessings of Almighty Allah (SWT) which he receives in this world. This person naturally stated to Imam Ali (a.s) that it is very difficult to answer this question, as the blessings received from Almighty Allah (SWT) are countless. This is 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.”

If I can again reference that great Persian poet Saadi, he says that there are 2 favours from Almighty Allah (SWT) in every breath that we take. He says that our inhalation is one blessing from Allah (SWT) and similarly when we exhale, it is another blessing from Allah (SWT), as both are important for our survival.

So, we are surrounded by gifts and favours from Almighty Allah (SWT). Imam Ali (a.s) and this person asking for a description of Rasulullah (SAWA) both agreed that the blessings from Almighty Allah (SWT) are too much…in fact, countless. We are completely drawn in the favours of Almighty Allah (SWT) in this dunya.

Imam Ali (a.s) then asked this individual another question ie. What to do you think about the deception of Satan? This person responds that this is also countless, since Satan has too many shrewd plans in this dunya! Satan has very complicated plans and catches us somehow or the other. He is very powerful over us and we somehow get caught in his trap.

Now, after hearing these two responses, Imam Ali (a.s) replied by citing an excerpt from verse 77 of Surah Nisaa (chapter 4 of the Holy Quran):

قُلْ مَتَاعُ الدُّنْيَا قَلِيلٌ
“Say (unto them, O Muhammad): The comfort of this world is short.”

Imam Ali (a.s) explains from this verse that our beloved Prophet Muhammad is divinely ordained to inform the people that the value of worldly possessions is very much limited. Imam Ali (a.s) then also explains to this person that the plans from Satan which he said are too complicated, are in fact quite weak. Imam Ali (a.s) cited an excerpt from verse 76 of Surah Nisaa in this regard:

إِنَّ كَيْدَ الشَّيْطَانِ كَانَ ضَعِيفًا
“Surely the strategy of the Shaitan is weak.”

So, the Holy Quran refers to this worldly value which we think is so much, as being very little, and then the deceptive plans of Satan, which we think are too much, the Holy Quran refers to them as very weak!

Imam Ali (a.s) concludes his response by citing verse 4 of Surah Qalam (chapter 68 of the Holy Quran), which describes the character of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA):

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ
“And most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality.”

This leads us to reflect on the following. If all the blessings of this world are very little, according to the Holy Quran, then what must be the level of “Adzim”? The Holy Quran describes the character of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) as being of the greatest level of moral standard.

This is truly amazing and I want to focus tonight’s discussion on this particular attribute which the Holy Quran praises our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) with ie. his sublime morality.


Without making this a technical discussion, let me briefly explain what “Khuluq” means in Arabic. It is derived from the word “Khalaqa”, which means creation. Now, this is the beauty of Arabic: “Khalaqa” means creation and “Khalq” means the quality of creation in physical form. This would then describe our physical features ie. tall, short, etc.

Now, if this same word is with a “dhamma” instead of a “fatha”, it reads “Khulq”. This subtle change on the same word now refers to inner qualities ie. features of our soul. So, “Khalq” refers to exterior, physical features and “Khulq” refers to internal features.

The Holy Quran is therefore saying in verse 4 of Surah Qalam cited above, that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is on the highest level of those internal qualities of creation. Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) therefore has the best inner qualities of the soul.

Now, to simplify this for us all, it means that the Holy Quran is saying that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) has the best, most noble moral character. He has the highest level of ethics. What is akhlaq is indeed a very big discussion.

As I mentioned a moment ago, “Khulq” refers to the qualities of the soul, in the same way that “Khalq” is the qualities of the body. “Khulq” can be good, and “Khulq” can be bad. This means that our soul can have good and bad qualities, in the same way that our body has good and bad qualities.


The quality of the soul refers to the attitude of the person when he or she interacts with other people. This is a very important point to remember when reflecting on the quality of the soul. That quality of the soul decides and dictates how you behave in this world.

Many people think that good akhlaq means smiling! Having a happy face and being nice to everybody is indeed akhlaq. However, the Holy Quran is referring to akhlaq in verse 4 of Surah Qalam (cited earlier) as being internal, instead of external.

Sometimes, the source of this smiling face or apparent humility may not always be good. Sometimes, I will pretend to be very good because I want people to praise me! I want to achieve the favour of the people, and that drives me to be nice! This is not Akhlaq because the one quality which is driving this is not a good quality. Instead, it is hypocrisy. I want to pretend and show off and prove something.

Referring back to verse 4 of Surah Qalam (cited earlier), our beloved Prophet Muhammad is described as having the greatest “Khulq” ie. inner soul is of sublime morality. This greatest inner soul reflects in the best of akhlaq in every situation and in all conditions.

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ
And most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality.

There are many different definitions of akhlaq. Dale Carnegie has written a very well-known book titled “How to win friends and influence people”. Now, let me tell you that when we speak about the akhlaq of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), we are not referring to the Dale Carnegie’s akhlaq, because in Dale Carnegie’s description of akhlaq, it is all focused on the apparent side. It is very much externally focused, rather than internal.

This internal akhlaq and greatness indeed reflects in the form of a smiling face and humility, and soft, kind speech. However, there are times when the same internal akhlaq requires one to be firm as well! Let it be clear that “khuluqin adhim” does not refer to the akhlaq of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) to always be smiling.

This is evident from verse 29 of Surah Fath (chapter 48 of the Holy Quran), which explains that Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and those who are with him are kind amongst themselves, but firm in the face of disbelievers:

مُحَمَّدٌ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاءُ عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاءُ بَيْنَهُمْ
“Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those with him are firm of heart against the unbelievers, compassionate among themselves.”

That akhlaq which suggests you must smile with everybody is a hypocritical akhlaq. Therefore, the Holy Quran says in verse 4 of Surah Qalam (chapter 68), that Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is:

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ
And most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality.

That core of Rasulullah (SAWA) is good akhlaq. That external, selfish akhlaq is all based on material needs. That akhlaq disappears as soon as that need goes away. However, if someone has that inner quality of the soul described here, then he will never be able to separate himself from that good akhlaq.


What I want to explain here, and again in the second celebration of Miladun Nabi (SAWA) on 17th night of Rabiul Awwal (Thursday 14 November), is that the Holy Quran places significant emphasis on this aspect of the personality of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) ie. his sublime akhlaq and noble moral character.

We find that more often when our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is praised in the Holy Quran, it is because of his sublime akhlaq. His kind, compassionate, pure nature is repeatedly emphasized. One such example is verse 107 from the Surah Anbiyaa (chapter 21 of the Holy Quran) which we very often hear in reference to his personality:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِلْعَالَمِينَ
“And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds.”

Similarly, we read in verse 159 of Surah aal-Imraan (chapter 3 of the Holy Quran), that it was through the gentle nature of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) that people were attracted to him, because nobody would have stayed with him if he was hard-hearted:

فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ لِنْتَ لَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كُنْتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانْفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ
“Thus it is due to mercy from Allah that you deal with them gently, and had you been rough, hard hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you.”

This is how the Holy Quran speaks about our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). There is amazing emphasis placed on his sublime akhlaq.

Similarly, we read in Hadith narrations from Rasulullah (SAWA) directly, where he makes it clear that he has been appointed as a Nabi and sent to humanity to take these bounties of morality to its perfection!

إنما بعثت لأتمم مكارم الأخلاق

From these references, we find that one of the reasons why Rasulullah (SAWA) is the best of creation and better than all the Prophets (a.s) before him is because of his akhlaq.


In the lengthy Hadith from Rasulullah (SAWA) about Mi’raj, he narrates how Almighty Allah (SWT) spoke to him. Almighty Allah (SWT) addresses Rasulullah (SAWA) as “Ya Ahmad, Ya Ahmad, Ya Ahmad”. Insha Allah, we will unpack this further in the second celebration of Miladun Nabi (SAWA) on 17th night of Rabiul Awwal (Thursday 14 November).

In the Holy Quran, we notice that Almighty Allah (SWT) never addresses Rasulullah (SAWA) by his name. It is only in the Mi’raj where Allah (SWT) addresses him directly as “Ya Ahmad, Ya Ahmad, Ya Ahmad”. More to come on this in “17th night of Rabiul Awwal (Thursday 14 November)!

In this Hadith of Mi’raj, Rasulullah (SAWA) narrates the discussion between him and Almighty Allah (SWT), as follows: “O Ahmad, do you know for what reason have I prioritized you over all other Prophets?” Rasulullah (SAWA) replied to Almighty Allah (SWT) that he does not know.

Almighty Allah (SWT) responded that there are numerous reasons. First of all, the reason why our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is above everybody else is because of Yaqeen – he has the unmatched level of certainty. The second reason is because of his beautiful akhlaq. And the third reason is because his persona is very much dignified and honorable! This is again an illustration of his exemplary akhlaq.

Almighty Allah (SWT) goes further to explain to Rasulullah (SAWA) during this night of Mi’raj, that the reason why he is preferred over all other Prophets (a.s) is because of his compassion for the people.

So, there are 4 things mentioned in this hadith of Mi’raj:
– Yaqeen (certainty);
– husnul khalq (beautiful akhlaq);
– sakawatun nafs (dignified and honorable soul);
– rahmatul khalq (compassionate nature)
Now, you will rightfully identify that the last 3 all talk to the akhlaq of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). Therefore, this hadith is saying that there are 2 main themes which resulted in Rasulullah (SAWA) achieving this highest level, namely Yaqeen and Akhlaq!

The akhlaq of Rasulullah (SAWA) is on a degree which we cannot even imagine.


Someone asked from one of the wives of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) to describe his akhlaq. She gave a very good response, saying that his akhlaq was the Quran! What does this mean? The Holy Quran is the attribute of Almighty Allah (SWT) and expresses His commands and here the akhlaq of Rasulullah (SAWA) is being described by his wife as the Quran. This means that that our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was the embodiment and manifestation of the divine attributes explained in the Holy Quran.

Someone asked our 6th Imam of Ahlul Bait (a.s), Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s), to explain what verse 4 of Surah Qalam (chapter 68 of the Holy Quran) means:

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ
And most surely you conform (yourself) to sublime morality.

Imam Jafar Sadiq (a.s) explains that Almighty Allah (SWT) has trained Rasulullah (SAWA) on His love and therefore he conforms to sublime morality. In a similar hadith narration, it is explained that Almighty Allah (SWT) inspired and trained Rasulullah (SAWA) with the greatest of Akhlaq, and when he achieved this complete, perfect state of the greatest of akhlaq, Almighty Allah (SWT) addressed him with the above verse.

This exemplary akhlaq (noble moral character) is the central theme of the personality of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).

Shaheed Ayatollah Murtaza Mutahhari very beautifully explains in his analysis of the history, victory, progress and very rapid success of Islam, where Islam was able to capture the hearts and souls of so many people causing Islam to spread to so many lands in less than 100 years. He explains that what brought Islam to be victorious and the most successful religion on earth, in such a short period of time, was nothing but Akhlaq and character of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).

What melted the hearts of the people was the manner in which Rasulullah (SAWA) interacted with them. Rasulullah (SAWA) presented a strong message and explained the philosophy of Tauheed, no doubt. However, in 99% of the cases, the most convincing aspect for people was his impeccable akhlaq.


We know the story of the woman who threw her rubbish at Rasulullah (SAWA) regularly when he was passing by every day. There came a time when all of a sudden this despicable act was not committed by the lady for a few days, and Rasulullah (SAWA) naturally started to enquire what has happened to her.

People told Rasulullah (SAWA) that this lady is ill, and therefore bedbound, which renders her incapable of doing such bad things anymore. Rasulullah (SAWA) decided to visit her and express his comfort and support for this woman who use to throw rubbish at him every day!

It is at this point where she takes the Shahada and embraces Islam!

This discussion can continue, especially when one reflects on how he treated the worst of the worst enemies, and the way he treated his friends and companions. Similarly, the way he conducted himself in the family. Everything was exemplary in his noble, moral character, and this is what melted the hearts and brought people towards Islam.

I would like to conclude with the following reflection. You know, every Prophet is remembered for a different special characteristic. For example, when we speak about Nabi Isa (a.s), we reflect on his loving, caring nature and his special ability to cure the sick. Similarly, when we speak about Nabi Moosa (a.s), we reflect on magic. Then also with Nabi Dawood (a.s) we speak about iron-craft. Every Prophet has some special quality which we speak about.

Now, when we speak about our beloved Nabi Muhammad (SAWA), we reflect on him as the Nabi of akhlaq! He is the Nabi of noble, moral character and ethics! What a great tragedy it is, that unfortunately and regretfully, his Ummah is very far away from akhlaq! This is the great tragedy at every level, from leadership, to religious scholars, to the normal person in the street. The common denominator which is missing in Muslim character is akhlaq.

This is the reason for the disaster which we see in the Ummah today. Going back to the inspiration of the akhlaq of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is the only way.

In the next Moulood celebration on Thursday night 14 November (17th night of Rabiul Awwal) we will continue this discussion about some of the distinctive features of the akhlaq of our beloved Nabi Muhammad (SAWA).

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