Sunday, November 29, 2015

001 - Specialties of Prophet Muhammad SAW

Insha'Allah (إن شاء الله - God willing), before we embark on the journey of seerah, we will study the Prophet's PBUH (ﷺ - May Allah's Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) shama'il (شمائل - characteristics) to build up even greater eagerness and motivation to learn about the life and times, the lessons and morals, the incidents, that occurred in the life of our Prophet Muhammad PBUH.

Where do we begin when it comes to describing the one whom Allah (الله) has chosen above the entire creation. How can we do justice to him when Allah AWJ (Azza wa Jal/عز وجل - Mighty and the Majestic) Himself says, "We have raised up your remembrance and mention" [see Quran, 94:4]. And indeed, Ibn Abbas (ابن عباس) and other scholars of the sahaba (صحابة - Companions of the Prophet) said, "Allah has raised up his remembrance such that whenever Allah is mentioned, the Prophet PBUH is mentioned right after." Allah SWT (Subhanahu wa Ta'ala/سبحانه وتعالى - Glorified and Exalted be He) Himself called our Prophet PBUH a "Rahma li al-Alamin (رحمة للعالمين - Mercy to the World)" — He is the embodiment of rahma (رحمة - mercy); he is the channel of Allah's mercy. Indeed the Prophet PBUH is mercy, his sending is mercy, his message is mercy, his teachings are mercy, and believing and acting upon what he has come with is a mercy. He is everything associated with mercy. So how then can we begin to do justice to the Prophet PBUH when Allah has praised him so highly.

However, even if we cannot mention all of his blessings and characteristics, let us at least mention some.

The Names of Prophet Muhammad PBUH

We begin by mentioning some of the names that Allah AWJ gave our Prophet Muhammad PBUH. He had many names. Many of his names were given by later people (i.e. the sahaba, tabi'un, and the early scholars), and one of the famous scholars of the seerah has derived over 250 names for the Prophet PBUH; but we will only mention some of the names that Allah has given him, for those are the primary names that have the deepest meaning.

From Jubayr ibn Mut'im (جبير بن مطعم), in Sahih Muslim, he said the Prophet PBUH said: "I have a number of names. I am Muhammad, and I am Ahmad, and I am al-Mahi —the one whom Allah erases kufr through—, and I am al-Hashir —people will be resurrected after me—, and I am al-Aqib —the one who has no prophet after—."

And in another narration: "And I am Nabi al-Rahma, and Nabi al-Tawba, and al-Muqaffa, and Nabi al-Malahim."

The two nouns that the Quran (قرآن) explicitly mentions are Muhammad (محمد) and Ahmad (أحمد).

The name Muhammad is mentioned 4 times in the Quran (see [3:144], [33:40], [47:2], [48:29]), and the name Ahmad is mentioned 1 time from the tongue of Isa (عيسى) AS (Alayhi al-Salam/عليه السلام - Peace Be Upon Him) in the Quran, "A messenger after me whose name will be Ahmad" [Quran 61:6]. Both names come from the root حمد (h-m-d); and "hamd" means "to praise," but not any type of praise, it means to praise not in return for some favor given to you; a praise that is given simply because of the inherent characteristics in the one that you are praising; that is, he deserves to be praised for who he is. An object of perfection. He is worthy of being praised regardless of what he has done or has not done. And both of the Prophet's PBUH names —Muhammad and Ahmad— come from "hamd." Why? Because Allah has praised him, the angles have praised him, all the prophets have praised him, and every single one of mankind praises him directly or indirectly. As for praising him directly, these are the Muslims — we praise him directly; and as for praising him indirectly, these are the non-Muslims — even those who reject the Prophet PBUH by the tongue, they must praise his character and qualities. So he is praised in the heavens and the earth, in the previous umam (أمم - nations) and the present umam, in this dunya (دنيا - world) and the akhira (آخرة - hereafter). This is the ultimate praise. There is no human before, now, or after, who is praised more than the Prophet PBUH.

002 - Specialties of Prophet Muhammad SAW (Part 2)

In our last halaqa (حلقة) we mentioned around 15 khasa'is, but the fact is there are close to 50 special qualities that only the Prophet PBUH was given.

The Physical Appearance of Prophet Muhammad PBUH

Today insha'Allah we will begin by talking about his physical appearance. And realize it is the sunnah of Allah (سنة الله - the custom of Allah) that Allah sends prophets with the most perfect characteristics, inner and outer - so that mankind has NO reason to reject the message and the person. Indeed every prophet was sent with the most perfect characteristics, mannerisms, and image. As we know, Prophet Yusuf was given half of all beauty. Some scholars say it means half of all beauty of mankind (majority opinion); but some scholars say it means half of the beauty of Prophet Muhammad PBUH because —according to this opinion— the Prophet Muhammad PBUH is the most handsome and beautiful of the entire creation.

We have many narrations that describe the physical features of our Prophet PBUH. It is reported in al-Tabarani's (الطبراني) al-Mu'jam al-Kabir (المعجم الكبير) and Bukhari's Kitab al-Manaqib (كتاب المناقب) that when the son of an old sahabiyat (صحابية - female Companion) asked his mother al-Rubayyi' binti Muawwidh (الربيع بنت معوذ) after the Prophet passed away, "What does the Prophet PBUH look like?" all she could say was, "O my dear son, if you were to have seen him, you would have thought that the sun had risen up." And it is amazing she described him as a sun, and Ka'b ibn Malik (كعب بن مالك) (another sahabi) described him as a moon, "Whenever the Prophet PBUH was happy, his face would light up as if it was the full moon." One is saying he is like the sun, and another the full moon. It is beautiful that the sahaba are describing the Prophet PBUH with what they know to be the most beautiful.

There is a tradition that almost makes you want to cry - the tradition of Amr ibn al-As (عمرو بن العاص). He used to be of the leaders of the Quraysh (قريش) who were against Islam. He only had the opportunity to be a sahabi for a few years; and later on in his life he would say, "There was nothing that was more sweeter or beloved to me than to stare at the face of the Prophet PBUH." The beauty and nur (نور - light) of the Prophet PBUH was so great that he is saying, "There is nothing sweeter than to simply look at his face PBUH. I could never get enough of looking at him." "And YET, were you to ask me how he looked, I couldn't describe him, because along with this desire to stare at him, there was also this awe I had that couldn't allow me to stare directly at him and I had to look down." So there were two types of powers emanating from the Prophet PBUH: the first of them is attracting Amr's vision to him, and the second is making Amr look away. Amr is saying, "Even though I loved to stare, I couldn't." And this is coming from a nobleman of the Quraysh and this is how humbled he was just by the appearance of the Prophet PBUH.

003 - Why Study the Seerah and Pre-Islamic Arabia

Before we discuss the life of the Prophet PBUH, we must discuss Pre-Islamic Arabia. In order to understand the seerah, we must begin with the world at his time. This is why every single book on the seerah has a number of introductory sections.

What does the word seerah (سيرة) mean? It means to traverse or to journey. It is derived from the root word which means to travel - and the reason why seerah (the biography of a person) is called seerah is because you are travelling his journey, following his footsteps. Even though its use can be for the biography of anybody, the Muslim scholars have kept it now only for the biography of the Prophet PBUH.

Benefits of Studying Seerah

Why should we study the seerah? Benefits are numerous:

1. Allah has commanded us to know this man. It's an obligation and there are over 50 verses in the Quran that command us to take the Prophet PBUH as an example. Of them:

لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ
"Indeed there is for you, in the messenger of Allah, an exemplary manner, a perfect conduct." [see Quran, 33:21] So we have the perfect example and therefore the study of the life & times of our Prophet PBUH is the study of someone we must follow. And amazingly, no matter how we look at the seerah, we will benefit from it:

(i) Religion: in terms of how we worship Allah
(ii) Manners and morals: mercy and tenderness
(iii) Leadership: how he lead the Muslims to success
(iv) How he was as a father, husband, etc.
(v) How he was as a friend, neighbor, etc.