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Muhammad, the Beloved (peace be upon you)
Muhammad, the Beloved (peace be upon you)
Silently you came into this world and modestly you left.
Honoring the earth with each step you took and with every breath.
You humbled the sun and moon with the light emanating from your eyes.
You crumbled the mountains to grains of sand as they listened to your cries.
The stars were luminous until your smile captured their light.
The sky never felt such weakness until it saw your might.
The battlefield was intense with fear each time you rose your sword.
You were fearful of no one, but always in awe of your Lord.
You are worthy of praise, above any other creation indeed.
The door to success awaits us all and you are the only key.
No one has yet to cross this earth who can compare in any way.
You are the Beloved, Muhammad, peace be upon you, we pray.
© Hosai Mojaddidi, January 2012
Why Is the Prophet’s Character Described as Being Tremendous?
In the Qur’an, the Prophet is addressed directly, “Truly, you are of tremendous character.” [Qur’an, 68.4] This Qur’anic verse intrigued Muslim scholars, early and late, especially the Qur’anic exegetes and the masters of the spiritual path, especially as the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) himself emphasized that, “I was only sent to perfect noble character,” [Ahmad] and said, “The believers most perfect in faith are those best in character.” [Tirmidhi]
What is good character?
Good character, Ghazali explains in his Ihya’, is an inward disposition that causes one to incline towards praiseworthy inward traits and praiseworthy outward actions.
How is good character manifest?
Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali and others relate that the sum of Prophetic teachings is that good character is manifest in five matters:
(1) Fulfilling the rights of others
(2) Avoiding hurting or harming others
(3) Being cheerful and positive in one’s dealing with others
(4) Recognizing the good of others and reciprocating
(5) Responding to the wrong of others with nothing but the good.
These five manifestations of good character don’t only summarize the Prophetic teachings on good character, but they also summarize the Prophet Muhammad’s own character and conduct.
First. As for fulfilling the rights of others, the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) emphasized that, “Give everyone who has a right their due right,” [Bukhari] and he warned against non-fulfillment of others’ rights, “Injustice shall become manifold darkness on the Day of Judgment.” [Bukhari]
Second. Avoiding hurting or harming others is a corollary of fulfilling the rights of others. However, sometimes one can fulfill others’ rights in ways that hurt them; or we follow the follow the fulfillment of rights with hurtful reminders; or strive to fulfill rights, without considering how others feel or may consider our efforts.
Third. Being cheerful and positive in one’s dealings with others. The Prophet is described as always having been full of concern, yet he was always cheerful.
Fourth. Recognizing the good of others entails not only thanking and reciprocating those who do obvious acts of good to one, but to reflect, consider, and appreciate the less-obvious (but significant) good that countless people to for one–both directly and indirectly. We owe our very lives to our parents. When did we last thank them? Our teachers, whether at school or university, have taught us so much. When did we last thank them? The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) cautioned that, “Whoever is not thankful to people is not thankful to God.” [Ahmad, Tirmidhi, and Abu Dawud]
Fifth. The greatest test of character is responding to the wrong of others with nothing but the good. This tests one’s character because one’s personal urge would customarily be to reciprocate; and one’s negative urge would be to affirm oneself. However, the way of Prophets is to respond with nothing but the good.
Upon Entering Mecca, Victorious
When the Prophet Muhamamad (peace and blessings be upon him) entered Mecca as a victor, people expected that he would seek revenge two decades of opposition, wrong, and injustice from his people. The Meccans were fearful, and some hastened to declare that, “Today is a day of slaughter.” The Prophet responded that, instead, “Today is a day of righteousness and loyalty,” and he forgave them in public address, saying, “I say to you today as Joseph said to his brothers,’There is no blame on you today. May God forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of the merciful.’ [Qur’an, 12.92] Go! For you are free.” [Salihi, Subul al-Huda wa’l Rashad]
A bedouin once came to the Prophet, seeking some money. Without introduction or greetings, he said, “Muhammad! Give me, for you’re not giving me from your money or your father’s money.”
Despite the man’s rudeness, the Prophet gave him, and asked, “Have I pleased you?” The bedouin replied, “No, and you haven’t done me good.”
The Muslims who were standing around them were angered and surrounded the bedouin. The Prophet signaled for them to restrain, and he entered his house.
He asked for the bedouin to be invited in. When he entered, the Prophet gave him some money, and asked, “Are you pleased?” He replied, “No.” The Prophet gave him more, and asked, “Are you pleased?” The bedouin responded, “Yes, we are pleased.”
The Prophet told him, “You came to us and asked us. We gave you, and then you said what you said. As a result, there is something in the hearts of the Muslims regarding that. If you were to say in front of them what you said to me, that might remove those feelings from their hearts.” The man agreed, and mentioned the Prophet with praise and thanked him in front of the Prophet’s Companions. [Salihi, Subul al-Huda wa’l Rashad]
The Prophet was unaffected by the man’s words. His concern was for the good of the man himself and the feelings of his Companions. Why? This returns to the understanding why the Prophet character was described as being “tremendous” in the Qur’an.
Imam Junayd al-Baghdadi, one of the foremost authorities of Islamic spirituality (tasawwuf) and others have explained that, “The Prophet’s character was termed tremendous because his concern was for God alone.” [Qurtubi, Jami Ahkam al-Qur’an] What moved the Prophet was the pursuit of His Lord’s pleasure, both in acting and in responding.
This was manifest in small matters, too. Once a woman brought a baby for the Prophet to bless him. The Prophet placed him on his chest, and the child urinated. The mother reached out for the child, anxious. The Prophet signalled to let the child finish first. After that, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) calmly rinsed the area lightly. He didn’t want to alarm the child, nor make the mother feel bad.
It is also related that though he was the busiest of people, young girls in Medina would take the Prophet’s hand and would take him wherever they went–and he wouldn’t let go of their hand until they let go of his. [Bukhari, Sahih]
Lessons in Mercy
We see from this that the Prophetic example is nothing but a manifestation of mercy. And any understanding of religion lacking in mercy is lacking in true understanding. After all, the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) having been, “sent only as a mercy to all creation.” [Qur’an, 21.107] The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) himself emphasized that, “I was only sent as a gift of Mercy.” [Bazzar and Tabarani]
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) explained, too, that, “The merciful are shown mercy by the All-Merciful. Be merciful to those on earth and the Lord of the Heavens will be merciful to you.” [Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud, from Abd Allah ibn Amr; rigorously authentic] It is a sign of the way of traditional Islamic scholarship that this is the first Hadith (Prophetic teaching) traditionally conveyed by a scholar to their students.
This mercy, manifest in good character in one’s dealings with people, is the test and barometer of faith. After all, “The believers most perfect in faith are those best in character,” as the Prophet affirmed. [Tirmidhi]
It once happened that some non-Muslims greeted the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) with an insult. His wife, A’isha, insulted them back. But the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not. Rather, he simply replied, “And upon you,” which is the standard reply to the greeting of, “Peace be upon you.” Then, he said to his dear wife, “A’isha! Allah is gentle and loves gentleness in all matters.” [Bukhari, from Ai’sha] And he also taught that, “Gentleness is not found in anything except that it makes it beautiful; and gentleness is not taken out of anything except that is makes it ugly.” [Muslim and others, also from A’isha]
The Key to All Relations
The Prophet made clear that the key to all relationships is upholding good character and maintaining it, even when tested. He said, “Deal with people on the basis of good character,” [Tirmidhi] and affirmed that, “Forbearance is the very best of character.”
Forbearance is for one not to be moved by anger or negative emotion–but to make one’s response based on reason and (for a believer) Revelation. Forbearance is, ultimately, intelligence, as it is the capacity to respond in the best of ways to each situation.
This restraint and concern for excellence and the greater good that underly excellence of character–and that made the Prophet Muhammad’s character “tremendous”–are virtues each of us would do well to strive for in our own lives and relationships, both as individuals and communities.
*Shaykh Faraz Rabbani has contributed this beautiful article to the Light Reflections series on Healing Hearts. The article was originally published in Islamica Magazine.
The mawlid, or the birth of the blessed Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and grant him peace, is considered by Muslims to be the single greatest event in humankind’s history. Indeed, it was a momentous cosmic event. Ibn Kathir, the accomplished muhaddith (hadith master), muffasir (Qur’anic exegete), historian and qadi (judge), noted in his multi-volume work, al-Bidaya wa al-niyaha, that it was an occasion in which “Paradise and the skies were decorated and the angels moved about in continuous processions. The palace of Chosroes was shaken and the fire of 1000 years ceased to burn.” The Prophet himself often recounted to his companions the moment of his birth, describing how his blessed mother Amina marvelled at being able to see distant castles in Damascus by the light that emanated from her. The Prophet’s uncle, al-‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Allah be well pleased with him, described the moment of the Prophet’s birth in prose, exclaiming: “[W]hen you were born, a light rose over the earth until it illuminated the horizon with its radiance. We are in that illumination and that original light and those paths of guidance — and thanks to them we pierce through.”
Muslim theologians and poets throughout history concluded that it is almost impossible to describe the qualities of the Prophet Muhammad or praise him as he should be praised. The poet’s inability to praise the Prophet stemmed from the fact that he is mentioned in the Qur’an with words of praise, and since the Creator and the Lord of all the worlds utters blessings upon him, humans must be wholly incapable of praising him as he so deserves. The Spanish author Lisan al-din pondered over this dilemma and frustratingly admitted that since “the verses of the Holy book have praised you/How could the poem of my eulogy possibly praise your greatness?” Imam Muhammad al-Busiri concludes in his Hamziyya that the inability of tongues to describe the Prophet is one of his true miracles.
The Prophet’s companion, Hassan ibn Thabit, often captured the Prophet’s magnanimity in his poems, once stating: “I witness with Allah’s permission that Muhammad is the Messenger who is higher than heaven.” Even after the Prophet’s earthly departure, Hassan ibn Thabit defiantly proclaimed: “I shall never cease to praise him. It may be for so doing I shall be forever in paradise.” It is this precedent of extolling praise of the Prophet that following generations of Muslims emulate. None other than the hadith master, the Shaykh al-Islam (“The Senior of Islam”) al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, well-known and respected for his commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari, expressed these sentiments centuries later, when he lamented: “By the gate of your generosity stands a sinner, who is mad in love/Best of mankind […] Praise of you does not do you justice/ But perhaps, in eternity, its verses will be transformed into mansions. My praise of you shall continue for as long as I live, For I see nothing that could ever deflect me from your praise.”
Today, the most often recited and valued expression of praise of the Prophet is a poem entitled al-Burda (“the poem of the cloak”) written by Imam al-Busiri. He wrote this poem after suffering from a stroke. In anguish and in misery, he turned to the Prophet to compose a poem in his honour. The Messenger of Allah, Allah bless him and grant him peace, appeared to Imam al-Busiri in his dream and cast his cloak (“burda”) over him, just as the Prophet had once done to Ka’b ibn Zuhair, after listening to his poem honouring the Messenger of Allah. Imam al-Busiri was healed by the touch of the Prophet’s cloak and in the morning discovered that he could move once again.
For the companions, it was not enough to recite honorific poetry in his name; they used to cherish anything that was associated with him. Indeed, we know from the authentic hadith collections that they used to collect the Prophet’s hair (often using it to cure ailments) and tying strands to their caps. They would also kiss the hands of other companions that had touched the Prophet. Imam al-Dhahabi, arguably the greatest of all hadith masters, summarised the manifestations of the companions love for the Messenger of Allah, explaining that
[…] they enjoyed his presence directly, kissed his very hand, nearly fought each other [for] the remnants of his ablution water, shared his purified hair on the day of the greater pilgrimage, and even if he spat, it would virtually not fall except in someone’s hand so that he could pass it over his face […] Don’t you see the Companions in their intense love for the Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him peace, asked him, “should we not prostrate to you?” and he replied “no,” and if he had allowed them, they would have prostrated to him as a mark of utter veneration and respect, not as a mark of worship, just as the Prophet Joseph’s brothers prostrated to Joseph, upon whom be peace.
His birth is a blessing for all those who rejoice and celebrate it. We know that Abu Lahab, the “father of the flame” rejoiced at his nephew’s birth and freed his slave with his fingers, only to gain reprieve from his punishment in the grave for this single act of happiness. We also know that a dead palm tree trunk moaned when the Prophet Muhammad moved a slight distance away from it to deliver his Friday sermon in his mosque. The blessed Prophet walked over to it and consoled it. If a dead tree cries when distanced from the Prophet, what about a human being?
In addition to reciting poetry in praise of the habib Allah (the Beloved of Allah), the mawlid should move us to ponder and reflect upon the ethical nature and moral message of the Prophet Muhammad. Described by Allah as a “mercy for all of mankind,” the mawlid reminds us of the qualities we should strive to implement on a daily basis. Summarising his readings of the traditions that describe the Prophet’s character, Thomas Cleary refers to him as someone who was “[B]rilliantly spiritual, stern in matters of right yet compassionate and clement, rich in dignity yet extremely modest and humble […] a manly and valorous warrior who was most kind and gentle with women and children.” In countless sayings, the Prophet reminded his followers to be gentle, compassionate, and above all, merciful. It was related that he said:
[Allah] is Compassionate and loves those who are compassionate. He is Gentle and loves those who are gentle to others. Whoever is merciful to creatures, to him is Allah merciful. Whoever does good for people, to him will Allah do good. Whoever is generous to them, to him will Allah be generous. Whoever benefits the people, Allah will benefit him.
Thus, the mawlid is an event whereby Muslims not only have an opportunity to come to know the Prophet, pause and reflect on their character and check themselves against the behaviour of the Prophet Muhammad, but it also gives us an opportunity to come to love him. After all, the Prophet told us: “None of you believes until he loves me more than he loves his children, his parents, and all people.” The blessed Prophet once told a Bedouin (who had said that he hadn’t prepared much for the Day of Judgement, but he loved the Prophet) that “You will be with those whom you love.” Muslims, scholars and lay people alike have celebrated the mawlid throughout the ages to instil this love in us and offer us the hope of intercession. In the words of Jalal al-din al-Suyuti, the polymath, mujtahid Imam and mujadid (Renewer) of the tenth Islamic century, the person who celebrates the mawlid is “rewarded because it involves venerating the status of the Prophet and expressing joy at his honourable birth.”
© Aftab A. Malik, January 2012
….Salla’Allahu ‘alayhi wasalam…..
According to the most accepted opinion, when nine lunar months of the pregnancy had been completed, the moment for Time’s thirst to be quenched drew near.
On the night of the noble birth, Asiya (the wife of Pharaoh) and Maryam (the mother of Jesus) came to his mother along with the women of Paradise. Her labour pains began and she gave birth to him in luminosity, his splendour radiating:
His face shining like the sun. A clear moonlit night
a night of a birth that, along with its day, was a joy and a
blossoming for religion.
A birth that brought grief and a plague to the disbelief
that was rising.
A day that the daughter of
Wahb (Amina) became a proud mother, the like
of which no woman had ever attained.
She brought forth to her people he who was more
excellent than the one carried by the Virgin Mary in a
Exclamations of the joyous news came in quick succession
“The chosen one has indeed been born and happiness has established itself.”
O Allah, perfume his noble grave with the fragrant scent of blessings and peace!
The above is an extract from the Barzanji Mawlid, which has been eloquently translated and produced by Manaqib Productions.
The Barzanji Mawlid describes the blessed birth of the beloved Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam, his lineage, his childhood, his adulthood, his marriage, beginning of Prophethood, the night journey the seal of Prophethood and so on. It is recited throughout the world, especially at Mawlids. There really is no better way to celebrate the blessed birth of the beloved Prophet, than to recite the Barzanji Mawlid, especially in the month of Rabi al-Awal. Order your copy now!!
Shaykh Nuh (may Allah elevate his rank) said that:
“Having a copy [of this Mawlid] in your house will bring baraka”
May our hearts be filled with the love of the beloved Prophet sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam, and may we take every opportunity to draw closer to him sallaAllahu ‘alayhi wasalam, and by being close to him, may we draw closer to Allah ta’ala.