Thursday, January 31, 2013

Remembering the Holy Prophet (sa)

In his Friday Sermon of 18 January 2013, the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib of Mauritius (atba) gave a discourse on the early life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) whose endearing personality was “the epitome of purity, morality, spirituality and human perfection.” The Sermon presents a graphic portrait of the early years of the man whom Allah the Most High had destined to raise to a lofty spiritual station in this very life. Reflecting on the very many trials and tribulations faced by the young Muhammad, who went on to become the Holy Prophet of Islam, the Khalifatullah (atba) observes: “It was the will of God that the Prophet to-be should undergo all sorts of sufferings, pains and privations incidental to human life in order that he might learn to bear them with becoming fortitude and raise his stature in human perfection.”

Read the Extracts from the Friday Sermon:  

Born on the soil of Arabia on a Monday 12 Rabi’ul Awwal (in the year of the Elephant), the Seal of all prophets, Muhammad (pbuh) came as Warner and Preacher of the Unity of God, not only to the People of the land upon which he was born, but he came also as the Universal Prophet, that is, for all nations of the world, a blessing indeed for the world. He was commissioned to Prophethood on a Monday also, and very often he used to fast on this day in remembrance of the immense favour which Allah made upon him when He chose him as the best of mankind.

Mondays, and also Thursdays are the days during which the deeds of people are presented before Allah, and thus our beloved prophet, humble and God-fearing as he was, preferred to spend these days in fasting. Despite that he was sinless – with only slight faults like any human being which Allah strived to make him correct over the years as prophet – the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) represented the epitome of purity, morality, spirituality and human perfection. He was the ideal man, the ideal prophet, the ideal husband, the ideal father, the ideal grandfather, the ideal soldier, the ideal commander, the ideal leader, the ideal servant, the ideal common man, the ideal worshipper of Allah, the ideal advisor, the ideal arbitrator, the ideal judge etc. In a nutshell, he was the ideal human prophet, the exemplar man, the role model for mankind.

The chapters of his life show us that at each turn he strived to be the best and to remain the best till his last breath. His best was verily found in humility. Without humility, he could not have gone far in being the representation of the best human. In every situation he showed himself to be humble and patient, but there were times when the situation demanded, he was rough only to protect the Muslims under his wing, and this he did according to the Will and commandment of God.

The babyhood, childhood and adulthood periods of his life demonstrated how exemplary he was. Allah has made me understood that a Messenger of Allah is carefully protected by Allah even before his birth on earth. He is a light vouchsafed by Allah in the loins (Salib) of the father into the womb (Rahim) of the mother. Therefore, Allah purified both his father and mother so that they may welcome into the world the most perfect of children; the best of mankind. It is reported in the ancient traditions that his mother was recipient to many dreams and visions, and it was in one of them that she witnessed how glorious a son she will give birth to and what name to give him. Muhammad, the Praised One. A name within a name. Allah, our beloved Creator made him into existence so that his life may reflect the life of the blessed ones, and he is the sole prophet and human that whenever his name is pronounced and heard, one has to send the blessings of God upon him. This act of sending blessings forms part of the faith of the Muslim and is obligatory upon him to do so, lest he shall be considered as an arrogant in the eyes of Allah. He (pbuh) thus fulfilled the meaning of his name: Muhammad, the Praised One (pbuh).

His father sadly left the world before his birth. His mother died when he was in infancy. The first human being with whom we come into contact at the commencement of our life on earth is our mother. It is she who first conceives us in her being, then rears us in her lap, nourishes us with her milk and shares our joys and sorrows. Next comes our father who acts as a partner of our mother in the fulfilment of all these obligations and takes upon himself the weighty responsibility of our education and sustenance.

Now, to make an adequate return of their innumerable sacrifices is not possible for us; but surely our sense of gratitude must impel us to respect and honour them and do everything in our power to at least acknowledge their favours and obligations. Consequently the Holy Quran says:

“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, "My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up when I was small.” (17: 24-25).

Our beloved Prophet’s (pbuh) father, Abdullah ibn Shaiba ibn Hashim (ra) sadly left the world before his birth, and his mother Amina bint Wahb (ra) died when he was in infancy. He missed the love of his biological parents, yet Allah gave him provision of parental love in the form of his foster caregivers, and parents, like Halima Sadiya and her husband Al’-Harith ibn ‘Abdul-‘Uzza.  It was the will of God that the Prophet to-be should undergo all sorts of sufferings, pains and privations incidental to human life in order that he might learn to bear them with becoming fortitude and raise his stature in human perfection.

Despite losing both his parents at a very tender age, yet Allah provided for his needs through a gentle foster mother who witnessed miracles over miracles when she took baby Muhammad (pbuh) to care for. In ancient Arabia, it was the customs for mothers to give their babies to experienced wet-nurses who live in the deserts and mountainous areas so that their children may learn life in a most beautiful way and get the necessary provisions and knowledge till they reach old age. Halima Sadiya was at first reluctant to care for an orphan, and she was in need of money. But upon seeing that all her friends have got each a baby to return back home, she finally accepted to look after the sweet little orphan, and she got the surprise of her life when miracles upon miracles happened to her in the form of all sorts of provisions for the new-born. Milk came out in abundance for the perfect baby and thus began the journey of baby Muhammad (pbuh) in the arms of his foster mother.

Even when years later the little child was returned back to his mother Amina, it was not long before his mother died and he was given in the care of his paternal grandfather Shaiba ibn Hashim, better known as Abdul-Muttallib. Two years later, after the death of his grand-father, he was given in the care of his paternal uncle Abu Talib, and he also considered him and his wife Fatima bint Asad and children as his parents and brothers and sisters. But he never forgot his foster-mother, Halima Sadiya.

The respect and reverence due to parents, this was well reflected in the way Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) treated both his uncle and aunt, and his foster-parents also. There is a tradition to the effect that once Halima Sadiya came to the Prophet. No sooner did he see her than, overcome by love, he stood up and exclaimed: “My mother, my mother!” Instantly he spread his sheet for her and invited her to sit down.

About his uncle’s wife, as the Holy Prophet (pbuh) himself said, Fatima bint Asad was his “mother” who kept her own children waiting while she fed the Holy Prophet, kept her own children cold while she gave him warm clothes, and who even went hungry so as to feed her adopted son, Muhammad (pbuh). She was among the first Muslims who formed part of the family of the Prophet of Allah to have accepted his mission as Prophet. If on one hand, despite loving and sheltering him from all sorts of trials and persecutions, his paternal uncle Abu Talib did not accept the unity of Allah and Islam, on the other hand his adopted mother Fatima was among the first people to have believed in him and who became Muslim. She was ever ready to support him and shelter him from the evils of the Quraishs. Upon her death, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: “My dear mother, may Allah keep you under His Protection. Many times you went hungry in order to feed me well. You fed me and clothed me on delicacies that you denied yourself. Allah will surely be happy with these actions of yours. And your intentions were surely meant to win the goodwill and pleasure of Allah and success in the Hereafter.”

Another woman who attended to him in his infancy is Barakah. She was the maid-servant of Hazrat Amina (ra) and she was present for the prophet of Allah (pbuh) since his birth. When Halima Sadiyah (ra) returned the young boy to his mother, Hazrat Amina bint Wahb got a big help from Barakah in the upbringing of Muhammad (pbuh). Sadly enough, Hazrat Amina due to a fever she contracted while she was in Yathrib (Madina) to visit the grave of her late husband and to visit some of her families who lived there. Barakah accompanied her and the little boy, and it was on the way back to Mecca, at a place called ‘Abwa that Hazrat Amina (ra) succumbed to her illness.

Therefore, it dawned on Barakah that she has now to care for the little one and took him back with her in Mecca, and thus, throughout the remaining life of Abdul-Mutallib and through the growing-up of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) in the house of his uncle Abu Talib, Barakah was never far away from the child. She and Fatima bint Asad both doted on him as his mothers, and the Prophet loved both of them greatly. She was quite young when the Prophet of Allah was born, and she had the blessings of hearing about the prophecies of the coming of the Seal of Prophethood among the Children of Ismail from the mouths of the Jews of Medina (while she was there with mother and son). She witnessed so many signs and manifestations that it was inconceivable for her not to believe and follow her “adopted” son, Muhammad (pbuh). After his marriage to Hazrat Khatija (ra), the Prophet of Allah set her free. She then married Ubayd ibn Zayd and bore him a child, Ayman. As from this day, she was better known as, Umm Ayman. Both her husband and son later became martyrs in the battles in the cause of Islam.

It was to Barakah that the adopted son of the Prophet was then married to. Indeed Zayd bin Harith was the first freed slave to have become Muslim. Barakah was referred to as one of the ladies of Paradise by the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), and thus Zaid (prior to his marriage to Zaynab bint Jahsh) married Barakah, and together they had a son, Usama ibn Zayd who was a most beloved child to the Holy Prophet (pbuh).

Umm Ayman was thus present since the birth of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), and she witnessed so many events, including the passing away of the beloved Prophet of Allah, who was so close to her heart. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) used to go and rest at her house and keep her company. She died in ripe old age during the Caliphate of Hazrat Umar ibn Al-Khattab (ra).

It can, therefore, be easily conceived that when our beloved prophet (pbuh) evinced so much affection and paid such respect to these three ladies of exceptional and motherly attributes, what would he not have done for his real mother had he got the opportunity to benefit from her presence in his youth, adulthood and especially during his call as prophet of Allah!

There is another tradition which relates that once a woman was seen coming towards him, followed by a man and a youth; he offered her one corner of his sheet and requested the man to take his seat at the other corner; and when his eyes fell on the youth, he stood up saying: “O, my brother, O, my brother!” and embraced him. They were none else than Halima Sadiya, her husband and her son. It is evident that he accorded them the same respect and honour and cherished for them the same love and affection as one does for his real parents and brother. This same brotherly love, he also bestowed it upon the sons and daughters of his paternal uncle Abu Talib. Indeed, when Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) was old enough, it was him who took the responsibility of his youngest cousin, Ali bin Abu Talib. Therefore, since a young age he learnt and also developed a caring for children, doing everything in his power so that they are well cared for, well-nourished and respected.

Attachment to and affection for one’s children are inborn in human nature and the ties of blood that bind us to them are next in rank only to those of parents and cannot be severed unless those creatures of Allah denies Allah and become the enemy of Allah and that of His Messenger. It is then that according to the Holy Quran, preference must be given to Allah, His Religion and Messenger, but that those people should be treated in an estranged cordial way, but not as intimates. The Holy Quran verily says:

“Indeed, the ones who oppose Allah and His Messenger - those will be among the most humiliated. Allah has written, "I will surely overcome, I and My messengers." Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might. You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the Last Day having affection for those who oppose Allah and His Messenger, even if they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their kindred. Those (are they whom) He has decreed within their hearts faith and supported them with spirit from Him. And We will admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally. Allah is pleased with them, and they are pleased with Him - those are the party of Allah. Verily, it is the Party of Allah that will be the successful” (Quran 58: 21-23).

The Holy Prophet (pbuh) and his companions set such an example in this respect. He moreover was a staunch protector of the rights of the women, children and orphans. He condemned the killing of daughters, and as per the Will of Allah, he fought this injustice ever since his youth. These people took daughters as a bad omen, a burden and dishonour. They thought it below their dignity to kiss even their youngest offspring, were abashed and dumbfounded. In the times of Islam, the following commandment of God struck them like a tight slap:

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (17: 32).

This verse applies to those among the barbarous Arabs who without any qualm killed those innocent souls because of the shame of their birth and sex. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) came as the liberator of the women and girls and to re-establish for them their rights, ever since their birth on earth. He is reported to have said:

(1) “Allah has forbidden you … to bury your daughters alive…” (Bukhari) 
(2) “He who is involved in the responsibility of bringing up daughters and he accords benevolent treatment towards; them, there would be protection for him against the fire of Hell.” (Bukhari & Muslim) 
(3) “Whoever is not merciful to others will not be treated mercifully.” (Bukhari)

When he got married to his first wife (who later became his first disciple) Lady Khatija (ra) at age 25, and begot children from her, four out of whom were daughters, our beloved Prophet cherished them so much and cared for her in the best of ways. His first-born child was his daughter Fatima Zahra, that he frequently referred to her as his “heart and soul,” and treated her sons, Al-Hasan and Al-Husain as his own. He used to hug them and kiss them on their foreheads and address them in sweet, endearing terms. Once it so happened that they entered the mosque while he was delivering a sermon. The moment he saw them tottering towards him, he came down from the pulpit, approached them, lifted them up in his arms, and made them sit beside him. Thus he demonstrated to the world that love for children and for one’s off-springs does not come in the way of devotion to and worship of Allah.

Allahummah salli ala Muhammadiw wa ala aali Muhammadin bi adadi kulli zarratim maa’ata alfin alfa marratiw wabaarik wa sallim.

“O Allah! May Your beneficence be on Muhammad (pbuh) and on the House of Muhammad (pbuh) in a number equal to a million fold of each atom (that You created) and Your blessings, Your Peace be on him.” Ameen.

I’ll stop here for today’s sermon on the life of our beloved master and prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). May Allah enable each of us to emulate his example and follow in his footstep to reflect the true Islam within you and all around us, Insha-Allah, Ameen.