Jumuah lecture on Friday 30 October 2020 (13 Rabiul Awwal 1442)
Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Almighty Allah (SWT) prescribes for those who follow this great Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) by saying in verse 157 of Surah A’araaf (chapter 7 of the Holy Quran):
الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الرَّسُولَ النَّبِيَّ الْأُمِّيَّ الَّذِي يَجِدُونَهُ مَكْتُوبًا عِنْدَهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنْجِيلِ يَأْمُرُهُمْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَائِثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ فَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِهِ وَعَزَّرُوهُ وَنَصَرُوهُ وَاتَّبَعُوا النُّورَ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ مَعَهُ ۙ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
“Those who follow the Messenger-Prophet, the Ummi, whom they find written down with them in the Taurat and the Injeel (who) enjoins them good and forbids them evil, and makes lawful to them the good things and makes unlawful to them impure things, and removes from them their burden and the shackles which were upon them; so (as for) those who believe in him and honor him and help him, and follow the light which has been sent down with him, these it is that are the successful.”
This year, the situation is very unique in this month of Rabiul Awwal. This month is celebrated as the month of the sacred birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). However, we are also witnessing insults and attacks on the dignity and sanctity of this most honourable person in the history of mankind.
The situation is particularly out of control, if you assess how people are reacting from both sides. The question I would like to address is how are we supposed to respond to this attack and insult against our most beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA)?
There is a direct backlash, and sometimes this reaction is violent, crossing the borders of what is acceptable. We can fully understand and comprehend the severity of the hurt and wound in the hearts of the lovers of this great Prophet (SAWA). Therefore, it is not surprising to see the violent reaction to these insults.
BARBARIC RESPONSE TO THE CARTOONS ADDS FURTHER ASSAULT ON RASULULLAH (SAWA)
Naturally, when we speak about our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), we repeatedly emphasize that he is the manifestation and embodiment of the divine love of Almighty Allah (SWT). This is who he was, even to his enemies, even to his worst of the worst foes.
With this understanding, violence and especially assaulting innocent people and places of worship is totally unacceptable and shall be condemned. It is not suitable with the title of Prophet and leader of universal mercy. This is clearly not comparable. Therefore, we do not agree with this type of response, even though we can understand where it is coming from.
This violent response damages the very concept of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) being the universal mercy, which France and their secularist ilk are trying to distort through promoting terrible insults and humiliation again Rasulullah (SAWA), by presenting him as a messenger of hate, violence and intolerance.
Hence, this violent response does not help, nor does it take us anywhere, as they fall into this trap set by the secularists with a horrible image they are trying to portray of Rasulullah (SAWA).
OUR REACTION TO THE INSULTS REQUIRES A DIGNIFIED RESPONSE IN HONOUR OF RASULULLAH (SAWA)
We come with the historical evidence of academic discussions proving and presenting the most honourable and beautiful personality and noble, moral character of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) through various ways to the world.
This is indeed very important. Linked to this is the approach of presenting the personality of Rasulullah (SAWA) in the best academic, intellectual and rational way to the world, with historical evidence and insights by non-Muslims, including Christian clergy, thereby defusing this secularist agenda.
Also, using peaceful political means to present our anger and emotions to these enemies of humanity, through voicing our opposition to these uncultured people, who claim themselves to be cultured. This can take the form of boycotts and political statements.
This is another very important response, challenging the leadership of this so-called Western world with their own standards and rhetoric, which in fact is quite empty, despite supposedly claiming to have sympathy for humanity.
If they have the smallest of sympathy for human feelings, then they would not hurt the feelings of nearly 2 billion people the way they have done!
MILADUN NABI IS THE BEST EXPRESSION OF LOVE IN THE FACE OF INSULTS
After setting this background, I would like to analyse this situation in a different way. I think one of the most beautiful responses to this campaign of insults and hate against our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is the celebration of his birth itself!
I opened today’s discussion with the recitation of verse 157 of Surah A’araaf (chapter 7 of the Holy Quran) where Almighty Allah (SWT) clearly commands that the ones who are successful are those who:
– believe in Rasulullah (SAWA);
– support him;
– follow him;
– follow the divine book he brought to this world; and
– very importantly, honour him
I will not delve into those baseless theological arguments about whether celebrating the birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is an innovation, as there is no ground for this theologically. That is not the direction I am taking.
Rather, what I want to delve into is this tradition of Miladun Nabi, which is our way of honouring and expressing our love and respect to Rasulullah (SAWA) in a most beautiful and humane manner, as a response to this vitriolic and anti-civil campaign of hate and insult against him.
MILADUN NABI IS OUR INHERENT CULTURAL HERITAGE AND PRIDE
Miladun Nabi is something deeply rooted in the people. It is part and parcel of the culture of the masses across the Muslim world, with rich diversity. Everybody celebrates Miladun Nabi in their own way, expressing their love in different forms, through decorating the roads, bright lights, distributing sweets, poetry, etc.
This shows the world that this personality is not simply a socio-political, religious or ideological leader of this nation. Instead, what we see is that his love has penetrated their hearts! When Muslims celebrate the birth of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), we are saying that Rasulullah (SAWA) is a part of us, the same way that we ensure to celebrate the birthday of our dear loved ones in this world.
This therefore becomes part and parcel of our own culture. This extreme, emotional connection is not something new. Miladun Nabi is the expression of that emotional and passionate connection between the Muslim nation (Ummah) and our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
Our expressions of love in Miladun Nabi celebrations is our cultural heritage and very much an innate part of us wherever we are in the world. It shows to the world, that whenever this noble personality is insulted and his dignity attacked, we are vociferously protesting this as blasphemy rather than freedom of speech, because these insults are meant to hurt us and challenge our culture of love over the centuries, by billions of people across the ages, in every corner of the world.
CONFINING RASULULLAH (SAWA) TO THE STATUS OF MESSENGER IS ITSELF AN INSULT TO HIM
Miladun Nabi is celebrated on this grand scale, where we express our pride as followers of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). This is clearly a major issue, and the humane aspect embedded in the culture of Moulud is of crucial importance!
We often focus our attention on these people who are attacking the dignity of Rasulullah (SAWA), be it in Europe or wherever. That said, we tend to overlook the reality that plenty of our youth are likely influenced by these people. They may then also have this question of what is wrong to poke sarcasm or satire through a cartoon of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA)?
We therefore have a responsibility to conscientize our youth, because unfortunately the Wahhabi approach has reduced the esteemed status of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) by simply referring to him as nothing more than a Messenger of Allah (SWT). They trivialize his esteemed status as being nothing more than that of a postman who brought a message from Allah (SWT) to the people!
This is the greatest insult unfortunately! Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) was not a postman who dropped off the divine message and has nothing to do with the message he is delivering! What he delivered is very much connected to him! Having the connection with him and honouring him is extremely crucial for our faith and the survival of our ideology.
Contrary to what the internal and external enemies wish to present, this emphasis on celebrating Miladun Nabi is not a new phenomenon that has suddenly emerged after 14 centuries.
BEAUTIFUL ANECDOTE OF RASULULLAH (SAWA) PENETRATING THE HEARTS WITH HIS PERSONALITY
Ibn Hisham, the very well-known writer who recorded the life of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), narrates that during the migration of Rasulullah (SAWA) from Mecca to Madina (the Hijra) along with his fellow companions, they realized that they were short of food. They saw a tent in the middle of nowhere in the desert, and so they approached it, thinking that maybe there will be some food available there, which they can purchase from the person living in that desert.
When they reached the tent, Rasulullah (SAWA) saw an old woman and he asked her if she has some food to sell them. She replied saying that unfortunately she has absolutely nothing. Then Rasulullah (SAWA) asked her about the sheep he saw in the background, but this old woman responded saying that it is a very weak, frail sheep that got left behind.
Rasulullah (SAWA) then asked this old woman whether this sheep has any milk, to which she replied astonished at the question, saying that this poor sheep can barely walk, and so milk is definitely not possible from this sheep. Amazingly, Rasulullah (SAWA) still asked her to bring the sheep.
She brought the sheep to her tent and Rasulullah (SAWA) placed his blessed hand on the sheep and uttered Bismillah. Rasulullah (SAWA) then asked her to bring a container. They milked the sheep, which suddenly was able to produce a big container full of milk!
Rasulullah (SAWA) and his companions who were travelling with him enjoyed the milk, together with the old woman. Then, he also left a huge container filled with this sheep’s milk for the benefit of the old woman and left after a while.
Now, to get to the point, this old woman’s husband came back after Rasulullah (SAWA) and his entourage had already left. She offered her husband milk, to which he was naturally perplexed on where this milk came from. She explained to her husband that a very nice man stopped by along his journey, and he has amazing blessings, as the sheep produced milk after he placed his blessed hand on it!
Her husband was further surprised by this phenomenon and was naturally interested to know more and understand who this amazing man was. Now, picture this scene, you have a rural woman sitting in the middle of a barren desert, who simply provided milk to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and experienced his esteemed presence for a few minutes.
She responds to the question of her husband, by describing Rasulullah (SAWA) in a most beautiful, eloquent manner, saying that he was a shining face, with a handsome disposition, a well proportioned body, broad-eyed with long lashes, and had a melodious voice.
She goes on and on with the description of the physical attributes of Rasulullah (SAWA). This is how a rural desert woman describes Rasulullah (SAWA) upon seeing him for the first time, completely awestruck! This is the inspirational calibre of person these secularists want to poke fun at!
This emotional expression of love for our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is clearly significant in response to this campaign of hateful insults, which has no foundation.
ISLAMOPHOBIA IN FRANCE AND REACTION IN THE MUSLIM WORLD
Moulud celebrations and expression of our love and honour to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is the most beautiful way of responding to this campaign of hate and insult. It exposes them and removes this veil from their real ugly face which they hide behind.
It is very clear that the French President has used this opportunity to promote Islamophobia on a huge scale, and they think that by becoming extremist and Islamophobic that they will be able to fight back with so-called radical Islam (in their understanding). This is their biggest mistake, as it will produce further violence and extremism if they continue like this.
The reality is that they are the same sponsors of extremism for their political goals, in different parts of the world.
Another important reflection on this matter is that Alhamdu Lillah, there was great response to this Islamophobic campaign in France, from Bangladesh, to India, Pakistan, Yemen, Turkey and even in some Middle East countries like Kuwait and Qatar. This is admirable and we acknowledge.
WHY NO REACTION TO THE INSULT ON RASULULLAH (SAWA) FROM NORMALIZATION WITH ISRAEL?
At the same time, we need to reflect on ourselves. While emotions are crucial, as elaborated in the first khutbah above on the human connection, not everything should be emotional. They insulted our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) in the form of cartoons, and indeed it is despicable and extremely hurtful, no doubt. But why is it that we don’t feel hurt when Muslim countries recognize the Zionist state of Israel? We don’t feel emotional and don’t feel the need to react and respond?
These corrupt, despotic rulers of Muslim countries, after recognizing the illegitimate state of Israel find no resistance or opposition! Is this silence not an attack and assault on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA)?
On the one side, we see this type of deplorable political stand, and on the other side is the attack on the personality, dignity and sanctity of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). What do the enemies want from us?
We need to wake up and look at the bigger picture! On the one side, they are threatening our faith and ideology, and our very basic values of Islam by creating doubt therein, under the name of supposed freedom of speech. And on the other side, on the socio-political level, the worst of the worst enemies of Islam and Muslims and the biggest problem for the Muslim world and the whole world of oppressed has been recognized and accepted as a norm!
This is all indeed an assault on our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) and our religion of Islam. This is the reality to which we need to wake up and evaluate where are we standing today!
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