Sunday, July 01, 2012

On Loving the Prophet

When I came to Islam, I found the following ayah especially meaningful:

O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Do not exceed the limits in your religion, nor say of Allah aught but the truth. The Messiah Jesus, son of Mary, was (no more than) a Messenger of Allah and His Word, ("Be!" - and he was) which He bestowed on Mary and a spirit created by Him; so believe in Allah and His Messengers. Say not: "Three!" Cease! (it is) better for you. For Allah is One God, Glory be to Him (Far Exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is All-Sufficient as a Disposer of affairs. (4:171)

By telling the reader (me, in that case) that it's better to just not say three, I understood that the very concept of the Trinity in Christianity was distorting my perception of God. Consequently, just throwing it out simplified things immensely. I felt like I couldn't call myself a Christian after reading this ayah, and it was one of my first big steps in coming to Islam.

But with my background in a religion that has gone to an extreme in elevating its Messenger, I have had a cautious view of the role of the Messenger I learned about in the Qur'an--the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), peace be upon him. I mean that I have struggled in learning to love Muhammad (pbuh) the way so many other Muslims seem to do so naturally.

I didn't swap one Messenger for the next, and shift my love accordingly. Instead, I came to understand the proper role of Jesus as a Messenger of God, and additionally, to accept Muhammad (pbuh) as a Messenger of God as well. And I became very fearful of the excessive and profuse love which I believed, when directed towards Jesus, led to the misunderstanding of his role and unjust elevation of his status by Christians.

When I started to learn about Islam, and even when I decided to convert, it was with very little knowledge about Muhammad (pbuh). For me, the power of the Qur'an was the means in which I found guidance, and by accepting it as the truth, I accepted Muhammad (pbuh) as a Messenger even though I knew almost nothing about him.

Since then, I've had to learn to find balance between the following. First, an ayah declaring Muhammad (pbuh) is only a Messenger, and second, a hadith which demands also a love of the Messenger.

Muhammad (SAW) is no more than a Messenger, and indeed (many) Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed, will you then turn back on your heels (as disbelievers)? And he who turns back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah, and Allah will give reward to those who are grateful. 3:144

Anas radi Allahu ‘anhu (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet ﷺ said, “None of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children and all mankind.” (Bukhari)

Of course, there is no conflict between these two. And it is easy to grasp the need to obey the Messenger, given the specific exhortations to do so in the Qur'an. Loving the Messenger, however--acquiring that love--that's what was new for me.

When I would hear Muslims talk about the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), what struck me was that they did so with more respect, more reverence, and more love than even Christians had when talking about Jesus. Perhaps that's why I was so cautious--because from my perspective, it seemed that Muslims loved Muhammad (pbuh) even more than Christians loved Jesus, and Christians thought Jesus was divine! 

And over time, I learned more about the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) through interacting with Muslims, taking classes on the Seerah and learning more about his life. But I continued to feel my love for him inadequate, compared to that of other Muslims. You could say I just didn't get it. 

But last weekend I had an interesting realization, due in part to another class I took about the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh.) It was an AlMaghrib class that came to Seattle called The Prophet's Smile. And while the subject was primarily the characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), I was able to reflect on how his life has affected me personally. 

Though I have heard many times, occasionally in gruesome detail, about the struggles he went through in his life, and what he suffered, I was never able to personally relate to it. I understood it in a purely abstract sense, and without having grown up loving this man, it wasn't immediate or natural for me to sympathize. 

But then it occurred to me that if not for his persistence in delivering the message, and his prayers for his ummah, I might not be a Muslim today. And because I really believe that being guided to Islam is a very special gift from God, it strikes me now the critical importance of the Messenger to establishing Islam as a way of life on Earth, as extensively as is currently is. 

When I hear about how he was stoned in at-Ta'if, for example, instead of just feeling bad about what he went through, I think--he endured that so I could find Islam, so many centuries later. That he suffered abuse from his own family members so I could be a Muslim. And that he worshiped and prayed at night for the Muslims until his legs were swollen so that guidance would reach even me

And that thought brings a flood of tears to my eyes and an overwhelming emotion. Realizing that no other human being has had such a tremendous impact on my ability to receive God's message of guidance as he, I finally start to truly love him. 

May Allah's peace and blessings and mercy be upon him and his family and his companions. 


Anonymous said...

Beautiful post. thanks for sharing

ireminisces said...

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Hajar said...

Salam Sis.

Masha'Allah wa tabarak'Allah. Your writing reminded me of the emotions I felt when I attended the AlMaghrib seminar - The Shepherds' Path. It was a wake-up call for me and made me realize, the amount of hardship, sacrifice and effort the Prophet p.b.u.h went through due to his love for his ummah. I literally broke into tears when the Shaykh asked; "How can you not love him? The person who made it possible for us to have Islam?". Peace and blessings to the Prophet, his family and the companions.

yousuf said...

asalam-o-allaikum....very nice..beautiful post

knitquest said...

Assalaam o alaikum,
So happy to see a new post. Missed you.

Hameed said...

Salaam Alaikum Amy,

Great post, Mashallah.

Just wanted to say Hi and let you know that I am still visiting. :)

Anonymous said...

I always look for updates on your blog. This is an excellent post and I appreciate reading your posts.

Anonymous said...

y u no blog no more?

Hafiz said...

Mash Allah very nice post. Thanks for sharing.

Samina said...

Great post! I am new user in this blog. I am reading your post about on loving the Prophet. MASHA ALLAH very nice post. I appreciate you. Really very informative and very useful post.

Anonymous said...

Assalaam alaikum, i just came across your blog and i'm loving it. I have always been a muslim so its very interesting to read the thoughts of someone who was not raised as a muslim and who chose islam after gaining hidayah and after careful thought. This particular post had me surprised. Since i have always known our beloved Messenger , peace and blessngs be upon him, i never realized what a process it must have been for you to suddenly have to love someone new the way he should be loved. Really loved this post. I learnt something new today, thank you, may Allah reward with the best! Regards, Um Muhammad.