By Dr. Mahmudul Hasan
Love for Prophet Muhammad is an obligation for all Muslims. This may sound oxymoronic, as obligatory love may not be considered true love. However, this love is still a moral obligation that arises from an intrinsic deep connection between us; the believers and him; our beloved one. This obligation is, thus, embraced — it is not imposed on Muslims.
In fact, this obligation is slightly different from other forms of religious duties. Many Muslims are negligent in carrying out their religious duties and rituals, yet there is a deep-seated love for the Prophet in their hearts. In fact, Muslims’ love for him is unique; it is more than a mere obligation. However, the Prophet never allowed Muslims to exceed their limits when they show their love for him. One example can be mentioned here.
The Prophet had a beautiful child whose name was Ibrahim. The child’s mother was the Prophet’s wife Mariyyah Al-Qibtiyyah, who came from Egypt. Ibrahim died in AH 10 (632 CE) when he was only one year and a half. The Prophet wept over the death of his son and said,
“Allah knows, Ibrahim, how far we feel sorrow for your departure. The eyes tear and the heart grieves, but we say nothing except what pleases Allah.” (Al-Bukhari)
Incidentally, Ibrahim’s death coincided with a solar eclipse. People from ancient times believed that solar and lunar eclipses might be caused by the death of some important person. Hence, the people of Madinah began to attribute the eclipse to the death of the Prophet’s son. Greatly displeased by this, the Prophet gathered the people and addressed them, saying,
“Eclipses of the sun and the moon are not caused by the death of any human being; they are two of Allah’s signs. When you see the eclipse, you should show gratefulness to Almighty Allah and offer Prayer to Him.”(Al-Bukhari)
True Muslims are aware of their limits. They never exaggerate their great love for the great Prophet. They never confuse between their worship of Almighty Allah and their love for His Prophet.
However, this love remains very special. If one delves into the deep recesses of Muslims’ hearts and their conscious and subconscious minds, one will see the scars caused by the Prophet-defaming cartoons. These infamous drawings were published as a means to hurt the Muslim hearts already lacerated by oppression worldwide.
Many Muslims exploded with wrath in the aftermath of the publication of these drawings. Many more silently bore their anger, shock, and horror. In our present time, Muslims are the primary target of neocolonial powers and their racist slurs and prejudices, yet it was not expected that the Prophet of Islam would be targeted.
In fact, both the Prophet and his loving followers were targeted by these drawings. Throughout history, Muslims have been the target of evil forces aiming to eliminate Islam. Right from the beginning of Muhammad’s prophetic mission through the heyday of Orientalism and until now, Islamophobes have used their propaganda machines to spread wrong notions about the supreme character of Prophet Muhammad.
British social reformer Annie Besant (1847–1933) mentioned one such wrong notion only to refute it:
But do you mean to tell me that the man who in the full flush of youthful vigour, a young man of four and twenty (24), married a woman much his senior, and remained faithful to her for six and twenty years (26), at fifty years of age when the passions are dying married for lust and sexual passion? Not thus are men’s lives to be judged. And you look at the women whom he married, you will find that by every one of them an alliance was made for his people, or something was gained for his followers, or the woman was in sore need of protection.
Muslims cannot establish a dialogue with the diehard Islamophobes and deaf monologists in the West and the East. However, they can converse with the conscientious non-Muslims worldwide and urge them to appreciate the fact that approximately 1.5 billion are the followers of Prophet Muhammad. They love him and hold him in very high esteem. He is dearer to them than their children, parents, and even their own selves. In other words, more than a billion people try heart and soul to emulate him in all their activities, mundane and spiritual.
Sublime Manners, Deep Compassion
Indeed, the Prophet’s heart was filled with intense love for all humans, irrespective of race, creed, and color. He advised his Companions to regard all people as their brothers and sisters:
“You are all Adam’s offspring, and Adam was born of clay.” (Abu Dawud)
On another occasion, a funeral procession passed by. On seeing this, the Prophet stood up. One of his Companions remarked that the funeral was a Jew’s. Upon that, the Prophet replied, “Was he not a human being?” (Al-Bukhari).
Furthermore, he commanded his Companions to refrain from disrupting ants’ busy activities and to stay away from anthills. Indeed, this noble Prophet was sent as a mercy for all creatures. Almighty Allah says,
(And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds.) (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:107)
How merciful he was to humanity! Although he never did any wrong to anyone, he prayed to his Lord, saying, “O Allah, for whomever I insulted or cursed, turn this into a charity, mercy, Prayer, purity, and immolation with which you bring him or her closer to You on the Day of Judgment” (Muslim).
When the Prophet’s people refused to believe him and treated him rudely, Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) visited him with a message from Almighty Allah. He said, “Indeed, Almighty Allah has heard the sayings of your people and [seen] how they responded to you, and He — exalted be He — has commanded the angel of the mountains to obey any order from you against them.”
The angel of the mountains called Prophet Muhammad and said, “Ask for whatever you want; I would, if you wish, crush them with theakhshabain [surrounding mountains].” Prophet Muhammad said, “No, I hope that Allah will bring out of their offspring people who worship Allah alone with no associates” (Muslim).
Even at that point, when he was utterly exhausted and wounded head to toe, all he said was “O my Lord, guide my people along the true path, as they are ignorant of the truth.”
Another sign of his sublime manners and deep compassion is the kind way in which he used to treat orphans. He used to command people to sponsor them and treat them with excellence. Announcing the consequent virtues of that, he said, “I and the person who looks after an orphan and provides for him or her will be in Paradise like these” (Al-Bukhari). He then put his index and middle fingers together.
Although we are required to follow the example of the Prophet with regard to his treatment of orphans and those in need, we lag far behind the required standard. About the domestic workers, the Prophet said,
“The domestic workers are your brothers and sisters. Allah placed you as guardians over them. Let them eat of what you eat and be dressed of what you wear. Do not burden them with work beyond their capacity. Yet, in case you burden them with a difficult task, assist them in carrying it out.” (Muslim)
Muslims’ love for Prophet Muhammad is not based on any deception or false ideas about him. It is a logical consequence of his infinite yearning for the well-being of the entire human race, other creatures, and the whole environment. As mentioned earlier, this love is completely reciprocal: Muslims’ love for him is a reflection of his love for them and for all humans.
Furthermore, Muslims’ love for this noble Prophet inspires them to emulate his character, to become good humans, and to establish justice in society. If Muslims fail to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet in all walks of life, then this may suggest that their love for him is not rightly guided. So, let us celebrate this unique love by establishing justice on earth and by calling people to the right path.