Rabi’ al-Awwal: In celebration of humanity’s greatest benefactor
WE are reminded in the Qur’an: “You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah an excellent example, for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the glorification of the Divine.” (Quran 33:21) His life example serves as a code of law and mode of guidance, a means of empowerment and a source of inspiration.
As uswatun hasanah (ideal exemplar), every aspect of the Prophet’s illustrious life; whether private or public; whether in the mosque or in the market; with family or strangers; in the social or political arena; in the economic or religious sphere; serves as an outstanding example. In commemorating the life and legacy of the greatest benefactor to humanity, we rejoice in appreciation of this Messenger (peace be upon him), who came as a mu’allim (teacher), as hadi (moral guide), as the khaatam an-nabiyyeen (final prophet to all humanity) and as rahmah-tan lil-‘aalimeen (a mercy unto the universe); an embodiment of the best specimen of humanity. Imam Busayri thus wrote in his Qasidah Burdah… “The depth of our understanding acknowledges him as a great human being; in reality, he is the best of all creation.”
The Prophet’s outstanding example of decency, fidelity, reliability, integrity, constancy and honesty remains unparalleled. His loyalty in friendship, his modesty in success, his magnanimity in victory, his humility amidst praise and his simplicity in lifestyle reflect the beauty of his unassuming character.
His generosity, both of means and of time; his consideration for the poor despite his own impoverished position, his championing the cause of the oppressed despite his own hardships, and his attentiveness to the weak despite his own challenges; all these manifest the eloquence of prophetic beauty in character. Sayyidna ‘Ali bin Abi Talib captured this in the following tribute:
“Prophet Muhammad is the Seal of Prophets, the most generous and the bravest of all. His speech was the most reliable. He was the keenest and the most attentive to people’s trust and was very meticulous in meeting people’s due. He was the most amenable person and the best companion.” [Ibn Hisham; Jami’ At-Tirmidhi].
We need to imbibe the Prophetic spirit of care and compassion and reflect the Prophetic beauty which is so central to his being; a beauty emanating from his deep-rooted piety, unparalleled integrity, noble humanity and high morals; a beauty manifested through his sunnah or tariqah al-mahmudah al-mustaqimah (upright way of commendable behaviour).
We are living at a time in the world that seems so devoid of mercy and so bereft of the characteristic of beauty. The earth appears filled with anger, hatred, wars, intolerance, oppression, injustices; the world needs the guiding light of beauty that may bring merciful rays into the maddening darkness that is so pervasive.
Perhaps, in the midst of a confused world, we have somewhat lost our own sense of beauty. The one devoid of inner beauty may not appreciate the beauty all around him. The great poet, Shaykh Sa’di Shirazi, wrote: “O complainant, what is your ailment? Imbibe beauty and you will see beauty everywhere.” He went on to pen the immortal words: “The Prophet reached the highest state by his sublime character. He removed darkness by his beauty. Excellent are all his characteristics and achievements… salutations upon him and his family.
Khan currently serves as the chief executive officer of Islamia College in Cape Town, South Africa.
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