The glory of the sun of revelation shone out of the depths of a land at once known for its utter darkness and barbaric customs. A land known for burying female children alive and circumbulating the ancient Kaaba naked. The land of Arabia was a land abandoned by all neighbouring kingdoms and empires, which were flourishing civilisations. Abandoned and distant from the happenings of their time, they indulged in some of the lowest acts a human being can partake in and from such a mean people, one of the greatest to ever traverse this earth in flesh and blood was born and raised. Muhammad was the grandson of the Quraishi patriarch Abdul Mutalib. So he was a bona fide tribesman of the most illustrious tribe amongst the Arabs – the Quraish.
He was the best among his people and they attested to this. He was the gentlest and most humble with regard to dealing with the people, way before his ordination to prophethood leading to the title of Al-Amin (The Trustworthy). And during the times when his tribesmen are busy partaking in their self indulgence, he would retreat in the cave on the outskirts of Makkah. He was basically a man given to a contemplative life. He detested and rejected the wayward acts of his people early on, which led him to spend most of his time alone in that blessed cave, Hira.
All of these retreats were, in fact, preparations for the great and sublime responsibility which would soon be conferred upon him by his Lord. It so happened that during one of those retreats, he had a profound encounter that would change his life forever and in so doing change the world itself, illuminating the dark heartlands of Arabia and then transcending that peninsula itself and building the greatest empire of faith the world has ever seen and creating a nation of saints, legal luminaries and the most powerful theologians.
“Read!” The angel squeezed and commanded him and he started shivering, replying, ”I can’t read.” Again he squeezed him and commanded him, but again came the most honest and sincere reply of Muhammad, that he can’t read. And then the angel recited the first lines of revelation to him:
”Read, in the name of Your Lord,
Who created, created man from a clot.
Read! And Your Lord is the most bountiful.”
From thenceforth the revelation begins to pour forth, reminding and admonishing him and commanding him to call others unto this faith from on high. And that’s just were our journey into the timeless love of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) begins. For his message was embraced by men and women who loved him to such an extent it eclipsed the faculties of the disbelieving folks of the Arabs.
The first of those lovers of the beloved of God was his wife. Khadijah, was the epitome of real womanhood. A strong lady, full of grace, she was the one who consoled the prophet when he came home running and panting, frightened by his first encounter with the angelic being in the cave. She comforted her husband and assured him of the goodness and greatness of that encounter. She later went on to sacrifice all of her wealth for the success of Muhammad’s mission. And that’s why when she passed away, the prophet always mentioned her with a great love and reverence. Listen to this narration:
Once the Messenger mentioned Khadijah before Aa’isha, the latter responded: “She was not but such and such of an old lady, and Allah replaced her with a better one for you.” He replied: “Indeed Allah did not grant me with anything better than her; she accepted me when people rejected me, she believed in me when people doubted me, she shared her wealth with me when people deprived me, and Allah granted me children only through her.” Aa’isha says, after this incident, “I learnt to keep quiet, whenever Khadijah’s name was mentioned by Muhammad.”
Yet she was not the only one who gave up everything. For during those intense times, Abu Bakr and the bold black man Bilal were already in the heat of it; giving their very lives to protect the noble life of the prophet. And there was Musab Ibn Umair, who gave up his life of luxury to serve as the first envoy to Madinah for the cause of this new faith. But the question is what moved these people? What made them such great sacrifices and put their very lives at risk? Many answers would be advanced but the best of them would be that they loved him. They loved him because of his attributes. In a beautiful and moving description of him, Ali ibn Abi Talib, his nephew and companion, describes him in the following words:
“By nature he was averse to aspersion, lewdness and indecency and never indulged in any such act even under pressure of a situation. He did not ever talk loudly in the market. He did not return evil with evil; instead, he preferred to forgive. He never raised his hand on anybody, except in a holy war. He never hit a slave or a woman. I did not see him taking revenge form anybody for a personal offence, except when a person violated the limits established by Allah. If a commandment of Allah the Almighty was violated and put to disgrace, he became extremely angry at the offender. When he had a choice between two things, he always preferred the convenient one. When he came to his house, he lived like an ordinary person: he himself washed his clothes, milked his goats, and performed other household chores.
“He guarded his tongue and spoke only about things which concerned him. He was courteous with people and did not make them unhappy. If a respectable person of a tribe or community visited him, he showed respect to him and appointed him to a respectable post. He was careful in making comments about others and did not deprive them of pleasant and courteous treatment on his part. He remained informed about his Companions and inquired of their conditions from others.
“He highlighted the good aspect of a virtue and thus strengthened it and exposed the bad aspect of an evil and thus weakened it. His ways were moderate and consistent. He did not remain careless toward a thing lest others should also become careless toward it and lose interest in it. He was prepared for all situations. He neither lagged behind in attending to the just rights of others, nor overacted in this regard. The persons staying close to him were the best and the selected ones. The best person in his sight was he whose sympathies and courtesies reached people in general. He held him highest in esteem who was most sympathetic, most compassionate, most helpful.
“He stood from his seat with remembrance of Allah on his tongue and sat with remembrance of Allah on his tongue. When he came upon a gathering, he took a seat at the end of it and also instructed others to do the same. He gave full attention to each person attending his company. Each person present in his gathering thought that he was closest to him. If a person asked him to sit with him for some purpose or talked with him about a personal need, he listened to him with due attention and patience until he finished and departed. If a person asked him for help, he did not let him return without fulfilling his needs; at the least he talked to him in reply in a soft and courteous way. His courtesy was open for all and he had assumed a fatherly character for them.
“Everybody was equal in his sight in matters of justice. His gathering was a seat of knowledge and cognisance, modesty and bashfulness, patience and trust. In it neither voices were raised, nor blemishes mentioned, nor honour and prestige challenged, nor weaknesses publicized. All enjoyed equal status; the superiority of one to others was only on the basis of piety (taqwa). His companions treated elders with respect and the young with kindness and affection. They preferred the needy to themselves, protected travelers and newcomers and took care of them.”
It was these attributes and many others, which made them, sacrifice and die for him. And it’s this legacy that inspired millions of believers throughout the ages to dedicate their lives to living according to his way. To create and sustain a lifestyle modeled on his attributes. Thousands of odes and poems of praise have been written about him. To this day, the love of the Prophet Muhammad, continues to inspire some of the greatest poets and writers. Love for him is a part of the believer’s faith, and truthfully so you cannot help but love such a magnificent human being. Muslims across the centuries have shown the world what it means to love a man without ever meeting him. It’s a love that’s timeless and ageless, a love that’s selfless and pristine in all entirety. Many of those who have tried to look at this love as ridiculous, have really no clue as to what it entails to love a man who treated the entire existence with mercy and compassion. One who gave up the attractions and luxuries of this world to advance the cause of the God almighty. Who didn’t even forget to mention those who will come after him when he said: “Those in my community with the strongest love for me are from the people who will come after me. Some of them would have given their family and wealth to have seen me.”
Islam continues to thrive on this love, the highest calling being to live according to the revelation that God sent him with. God promised to love those who follow suit in the prophetic lifestyle, however this following can only mature and have meaning when it’s done out of love and adoration for the beloved of God. And with God lies success. May the peace and blessings of God be upon him eternally.
Author: Alieu A Bah (Immortal X)