By Dr. Mahmudul Hasan
Love is defined as a feeling or disposition of deep affection or fondness for someone, typically arising from a recognition of attractive qualities, from natural affinity, or from sympathy, and manifesting itself in concern for the other’s welfare and pleasure in his or her presence (Oxford English Dictionary).
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) had a profound love for humanity. Throughout centuries, Muslims have had a deep, passionate love for him. The love harbored in the hearts of Muslims remains a source of inspiration, a factor of unity, and a leveler of differences among them. Indeed, this love is based on the love of Almighty Allah and on the supreme message of Islam.
Varieties of Love
However, there are other varieties of love that do not have the same intensity of feeling or the same ramifications of relationship. Ordinary love among humans is relative, not absolute or pure.
Love between a lover and a beloved one remains an interesting theme in all ages, especially for the litterateurs. Such a bond of love has remained an unsolved subject of research. It is difficult to guarantee it.
Some love-based relationships last long, while many others tend to be transitory, like a mirage in the desert that fades away, causing immense suffering for the individuals involved. In a nutshell, this love remains an enigma — an elusive topic.
For many, stability in love remains an impossible dream. Love between a husband and wife is generally sweet. It is Allah’s given gift to the humankind, where loyalty takes root and sympathy finds its way to the hearts. Yet, unfortunately, this relationship can sometimes take a different course.
In many cases, some husbands and wives refuse to talk about or even think of the very topic of love, as if love was inexistent in their relationship. The relationship may begin with a promise that they will always be together in this world, but in many cases it ends with an “agreement” that they will not meet or see the faces of each other for the rest of their lives. It turns out that no glorious affinity remained.
Love between parents and children and that between siblings are understandable. Naturally, a strong bond, domiciliary intimacy, and closeness are developed in such relationships. Again, this love is also subject to change; it sometimes ends up marred by anger and acrimony, especially when worldly interests rise to the surface, giving a space for Satan to interfere and pour his poison unto the relationship.
Even if the above-mentioned relationships do not suffer any tensions, conflicts, misunderstandings, or grievances, there is still a danger that they may prevent people from doing justice to others. Many people fail to strike a balance between their love for their beloved ones and their kindness, justice, and responsibility toward other members of the society. Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an,
(Your riches and your children are only a trial, and Allah — it is with Whom is a great reward.)(At-Taghabun 64:15)
(Beautified for humankind is love of the joys (that come) from women and offspring and stored-up heaps of gold and silver and horses branded (with their mark) and cattle and land. That is comfort of the life of the world, and Allah — with Him is a more excellent abode.)(Aal `Imran 3:14)
The above-mentioned forms of love are natural and instinctive. They work as cement that holds our families and society together. They are both religious and secular; they are present among both the believers and the unbelievers and among both the religious life and the unreligious life. Religious precepts encourage people to respect these love-based relationships and keep them lively and vivid all the time.
However, they are largely predicated on humans’ natural fondness and predilection, but they are not always purely based on any strong ideological foundations or ethical standards. Hence, these love-based relationships suffer turns and twists, rises and falls, and intensity and indifference.
Conversely, love for Prophet Muhammad neither suffers any decline or indifference nor deprives Muslims from doing justice to one another and to the society at large. During the Prophet’s time, this love instilled justice, love, and dignity in all those around him. Now, it is doing the same, and it will continue to do so until the end of the world.
Love for the Prophet is free from all drawbacks of worldly interests, which generally disappoint and embitter ordinary relationships. Muslims’ love for him is due to his immaculate and perfect character and his kind concern for all humanity. This love-based relationship is absolutely reciprocal.
Halimah As-Sa`diyah (the Prophet’s wet nurse) reported that he always suckled from one nipple and left the other for his foster brother, as if he was divinely inclined toward justice. Such considerateness and kind concern for other human beings at such an early age! Also, this love impelled him to call people to the right path for the sake of their meaningful existence in this world and for their emancipation in the life to come. Almighty Allah says in the Qur’an,
(There has come to you a Messenger from among yourselves; grievous to him is your falling into distress; (he is) excessively solicitous respecting you; to the believers (he is) compassionate.)(At-Tawbah 9:128)
If one asks any Muslim who has an iota of faith about his or her love for the Prophet, one will not miss the selflessness, devotion, and intensity of that love. Muslims’ love for the Prophet surpasses their love for their parents and their beloved ones. Nevertheless, Muslims have an even greater love for Almighty Allah.
On the other hand, the biographies of Prophet Muhammad and his blessed Companions are replete with numerous examples of his love for the humanity, as well as examples of Muslims’ love for him.
In one of the military engagements of the Prophet, a Muslim woman from Madinah was successively informed about the martyrdom of her son, father, and husband. However, her main concern was the safety of the Prophet; she was repeatedly asking the people around her about his condition. She remained restless until she saw him with her own eyes. Having seen the Prophet returning from the battle unharmed, she said, “After this [the Prophet’s safety], everything else [the death of family members] is easy for me to bear.”
The very basis of Muslims’ love for the Prophet is their conscious choice of accepting Islam as their way of life. Their love for Islam and their love for the Prophet of Islam overlap each other. They are intertwined and indistinguishable. Furthermore, their love for Almighty Allah and their love for His Messenger are inseparable.
The governing spirit of Muslims’ love for the Prophet is tackled in different verses of the Qur’an. Almighty Allah says,
(Say, “If your fathers and your sons and your brethren and your mates and your kinsfolk and the property you have acquired and the trade in which you fear a decline and the dwellings you like are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger and striving in His way, then wait till Allah brings about His command,” and Allah does not guide the transgressing people.)(At-Tawbah 9:24)
(Say, “If you do love Allah, then follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” Say, “Obey Allah and the Messenger.” But, if they turn back, then surely Allah does not love the unbelievers.)(Aal `Imran 3:31–32)
(Thus, it is due to mercy from Allah that you were lenient with them (O Muhammad), for if you had been stern and fierce of heart, they would certainly have dispersed from around you. So, pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult with them upon the conduct of affairs. Then, when you have decided, put your trust in Allah; surely Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).)(Aal `Imran 3:159)
(But nay, by your Lord, they cannot have (real) faith until they make you judge of what is in dispute between them and then find within themselves no dislike of that which you decide, and submit with full submission.)(An-Nisaa’ 4:65)
(Verily, you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for anyone who hopes in Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.)(Al-Ahzab 33:21)
(And, verily, you [O Muhammad] are on an exalted standard of character.)(Al-Qalam 68:4)
Thus, the supreme perfection of luminous character of Prophet Muhammad is certified by Almighty Allah Himself in the Glorious Qur’an. We also receive the same testimony from the Prophet’s Companions: Describing Prophet Muhammad, `Ali ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) said,
Anyone who suddenly saw Prophet Muhammad would stand in respect of him, and anyone who got to know him through spending time with him came to love him. Those who described him said that they had never seen anyone like him. (At-Tirmidhi)
Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said,
I served the Prophet for 10 years, and he never said to me, “Uff” [harsh interjection denoting impatience], and never blamed me by saying, “Why did you do so or why didn’t you do so” (Al-Bukhari)
The Prophet is reported to have said, “Whoever loves my way of life loves me, and whoever loves me will be with me in Paradise” (At-Tirmidhi).
Also, Al-Bukhari and Muslim reported that the Prophet said, “None of you can have (real) faith until I become dearer to them than their own fathers and children and all humans.“