The Holy Prophet of Islam as a Father
Today is Friday the 12 Rabi'ul Awwal 1439 AH. The majority of the Muslim World is celebrating Yaum-un-Nabi - the Day of the Prophet (pbuh), while others call it Milad-un-Nabi - the birthday of the Prophet (pbuh). While celebrating birthdays was not a Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), each Muslim must bear in mind that celebrations which resemble the practices of the non-Muslims (e.g. cake cutting and blowing on candle and making wishes, partying with dancing, music and alcoholic drinks etc.) are strictly forbidden in Islam.
As for us, we prefer to commemorate the Seerat-un-Nabi, i.e. the life story of the Prophet (pbuh) so that we may remind ourselves of his perfect character as a human being and prophet.
Muhammad literally means much praised. Even before he made claim to prophethood, his own people knew him to be truthful and trustworthy. The Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuh) was the father of three sons and four daughters. Two sons, Qasim and Abdullah, named in the family Tayab and Tahir were born from Hazrat Khadija. Another son, Ibrahim, later on, was born from Hazrat Maria, his Coptic wife (who later became Muslim).
The first born was Qasim after whom, according to the Arab custom, the Holy Prophet himself was called Abul Qasim, i.e. father of Qasim. Qasim died at the age of two before the advent of Islam. Next to Qasim was his eldest daughter named Zainab. Next to her were daughters Ruqayya, Umme Kulsoom, and the youngest of all daughters was Fatima. The youngest offspring of the Holy Prophet and Hazrat Khadija was Abdullah, who passed away as an infant before the advent of Islam.
Hazrat Khadija had two children from her previous husbands, from one a son, and from the other a daughter, and both were called Hind. Apparently, the children remained with the respective families of their fathers, and came to visit her from time to time, to receive affection and gifts. The son, Hind Ibn Abi Hala seems to have been much attached to the prophet, his stepfather as later in Islam, he enthusiastically wrote about the Holy Prophet (pbuh) in touching terms: “… his mouth was like a box of rubies full of pearls, his face was more beautiful than the moon when it is full…” This reflects unmistakable intimacy, and an extraordinary love and respect.
According to Arab custom, when Zaid bin Harith was offered for sale, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) asked Hazrat Khadija to buy him. So Zaid bin Harith was bought and set free. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) and Hazrat Khadija then adopted him as their son and afterwards he was known as Zaid bin Muhammad. He lived under the Holy Prophet's protection and became a notably faithful companion and believer.
Hazrat Zainab, the eldest daughter, was married to Abul-As bin Rabi bin Abd Shams. Hazrat Ruqayya and Hazrat Umme Kulsoom were married to Utbah and Utaibah, son of the Holy Prophet's uncle Abu Lahab. As time passed and he proclaimed himself to be the prophet of Islam, Abu Lahab prevailed upon his sons to divorce his daughters Ruqayya and Umme Kulsoom and afterwards both sisters were married to Hazrat Usman bin Affan one after the other, after the demise of the first married. Both daughters died in the Holy Prophet's lifetime. Hazrat Fatima, the youngest, was married to Hazrat Ali and she was the only child that survived the Holy Prophet. She was deeply affected with grief by her father's death with the result that she died within six months of that event.
Almighty Allah blessed the Holy Prophet of Islam (pbuh) and Hazrat Maria, his wife of Coptic origin with a son who was named Ibrahim. It was an ecstatic occasion for the Holy Prophet (pbuh). It was natural that he expressed his affection for the newborn. The baby's mother, Hazrat Maria, also brought delight for the Holy Prophet (pbuh). He also generously rewarded the midwife Salma, wife of Abu Rafi. He celebrated the birth with great happiness for he had a strong attachment for him since he had lost his two earlier sons, Al Qasim and Abdullah at a tender age.
His daughters, after they grew to maturity, married and bore children, but only Fatima survived from all his progeny. Naturally the death of all these sons and daughters who passed away one after the other and were buried by the Holy Prophet's own hands left him with a severe sense of bereavement. It was, therefore, natural that a father who was so bereaved felt exceedingly joyful and happy at the birth of Ibrahim.
Alas, the pleasure that Ibrahim brought to the Holy Prophet (pbuh) did not last long. Soon, the child fell seriously ill. He was moved to a date orchard near Mashabat Umm-i-Ibrahim, where his mother and Sirin, his mother's sister, looked after him. When his condition worsened and it became apparent that he would not live long, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) was informed and called. He was so shocked at the news that he felt his knees could no more carry him and asked Abdur Rahman ibn Awf to give his hand to lean upon.
The Holy Prophet (pbuh) proceeded immediately to the dwelling of his wife Maria and arrived just in time to bid farewell to an infant dying in this mother's lap. His heart was torn apart by the new tragedy, and his face mirrored his inner pain. Choking with sorrow, he said to his son:
“O Ibrahim, against the judgement of God, we cannot avail you a thing” and then he fell silent. Tears flowed from his eyes. The child lapsed gradually and his mother and aunt cried loudly and incessantly, but the Holy Prophet (pbuh) never asked them to stop. As Ibrahim approached death, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) with tears in his eyes talked to the child: “O Ibrahim, were that truth not certain that the last of us will join the first, we would have mourned you even more that we do now.” A moment later he said: “The eyes send their tears and the heart is saddened, but we do not say anything except that which pleases our Allah. Indeed, O Ibrahim, we are bereaved by your departure from us.”
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) tried to suppress his sadness and lighten his sorrow. Looking towards Hazrat Maria and Sirin, her sister, he said to them in appeasement that Ibrahim would have his own nurse in Paradise.
Umm-i-Burdah, or according to another version, Al-Fazl Ibn Abbas washed the body of the child in preparation for the burial. He was carried on a little bed by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and a number of Muslims to the cemetery of Al-Baqi, where, after a prayer recited by the Holy Prophet (pbuh), he was laid to rest. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) ordered the grave to be covered in. He filled it with sand, sprinkled some water and erected a tombstone. He then said: “Tombstones do neither good nor ill, but they help appease the living. Anything that man does, God wishes him well.”
It is recorded that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said: “Had Ibrahim lived, he would have been a true prophet.” (Kanzul Ummal).
The death of Ibrahim coincided with an eclipse of the sun, a phenomenon that the Muslims saw as a miracle. They went about saying that the sun eclipsed in sadness over the death of Ibrahim. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) heard them and said: “The sun and the moon are signs of God. They are eclipsed neither for the death or birth of any man. On beholding an eclipse, therefore, remember God and turn to Him in prayer.”
May Allah be always pleased and love our perfect role model and prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) and his family members and companions forever, and may He grace His Ummah with eyes of mercy and love and help us to bring back the glory of Islam by following the footsteps of our beloved master (pbuh). Ameen.
-Friday Sermon of 01 December 2017(12 Rabi'ul Awwal 1439 AH) delivered by Muhyi-ud-Din Al Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.