The Creed of Islam
Beholding the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم
Mawlana Adnan Chishti Attari Madani
Perhaps “beyond mortal understanding,” is the best way to describe the generous hand and selfless heart of the Mercy for the world صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم! Even after leaving this world, he continues to reveal his radiant and luminous visage to his devotees, enlightening them and warming their hearts. Allah Almighty may have veiled him from this world but visions of him are as real as ever. Not only in dreams but the blessings of beholding the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم in a state of wakefulness have been experienced by countless men and women of Allah Almighty throughout history. As such, beholding the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم in a state of wakefulness, and the special favours and bestowment he confers upon his devotees, are events that are found in such substantial measure, as reported by elder scholars of this nation and scholars of investigative research, that in order to compile them all, a separate department would be necessary.
The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم stated:
مَنْ رَاٰنِیْ فِی الْمَنَامِ فَسَيَرَانِیْ فِیْ الْيَقَظَةِ وَلَا يَتَمَثَّلُ الشَّيطَانُ بِیْ
“Whosoever saw me in a dream, then he shall soon see me in wakefulness, and the devil cannot take on my appearance,” (Bukhari, vol. 4, p. 406).
Imam Abu Muhammad Abdullah b. Abi Jamra al-Maliki رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه explained that this hadith makes it clear that whosoever sees the holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم in their dream will soon see him in a wakeful state. Moreover, this hadith is broad and unrestricted, applying to the visible blessed life and after veiling from this world. Whoever attempts to limit its implication through their own understanding, without any scriptural evidence, only enacts hardship upon himself, (Bahjat al-Nufus, vol. 4, p. 237, summarised).
The annals of history bear testimony that after the worldly demise of the holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, multitudes of pious people from this Ummah have beheld him while they were awake.
Who freed the imprisoned?
During the reign of Sayyiduna Umar al-Faruq رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ, an exceedingly brave warrior and expert on warfare, Sayyiduna Abul-Hawl Daamis رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه, was captured by the Roman forces on the first day of the Battle of Marj al-Qaba’il. On the second day, the Muslim forces were fully engaged with the Romans when suddenly the Muslim army saw the ranks of the Roman army being broken from behind by a group of warriors who were overpowering the Romans as they swept through their rows. Initially, the Muslims assumed that these were angels sent by Allah Almighty to assist them. However, soon they realised that it was Sayyiduna Daamis رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه and his companion who had been taken as captives the day before.
The commander of the Muslim forces, Sayyiduna Maysarah b. Masrooq رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه, asked Sayyiduna Daamis رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه as to where he had been—the entirety of the Muslim army were concerned about him. Sayyiduna Daamis then explained: “Yesterday, our enemies gained advantage over us, and captured me alongside my companions. Having taken us away, they further bound us with chains. When night fell, then I beheld the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. He said to me: لَا بَاْسَ عَلَيْكَ يَا دَامِسُ اِعْلَمْ اَنَّ مَنْزِلَتِيْ عِنْدَ الـلّٰـهِ عَظِیْمَةٌ; ‘O Daamis, do not worry, know! With Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ, my rank and station are great.’ He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم then placed his blessed hand upon my chains, and they opened immediately. In this manner, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم also removed the chains that bound my companions and stated: ‘اَبْشِرُوْا بِنَصْرِ اللهِ فَاَنَا نَبِيُّكُمْ مُحَمَّدٌ رَّسُوْلُ اللهِ; Become happy with the assistance from Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ, I am your Prophet Muhammad (صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم). Upon this, the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم further stated: اَقْرِیْ عَنِّيْ مَيْسَرَةً اَلسَّلَامَ وَقُلْ لَّهُ جَزَاکَ اللّٰهُ خَيْراً; ‘O Daamis! Convey my salaam to Maysarah bin Masrooq, and say to him, may Allah Almighty grant you a reward of goodness,’” (Futooh al-Shaam, vol. 2, p. 8).
Beholding the holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم in wakefulness is not a mere possibility but a reality that has materialised countless times for many saints and pious individuals. During the ninth Islamic century, Imam Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه encountered some parties who denied this reality and so he corrected their mistaken notion in his marvellous work Tanwir al-Hakak. Towering figures of Islam have confirmed the real possibility of beholding the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم in wakefulness, including Ibn Hajar al-Makki, Siraj al-Din Ibn al-Mulaqqin, al-Zurqani, al-Qastalani, Muhammad b. Yusuf al-Shami, Ibn Haaj al-Makki, and Ibn Abi Jamra al-Maliki—Allah have mercy on them all. Reinforcing this, certain scholars have referenced incidents pertaining to seeing the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم in wakefulness, within their literary work. An example of which is as follows:
Beholding the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم in wakefulness 75 times
Sayyiduna Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه was sent a written request asking if the Imam would approach the king of the time and present a plea to him on the asker's behalf. The Imam responded: “My brother! Until now, I have been present in the sublime court of the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم and beheld him face-to-face in wakefulness 75 times. If I did not fear that by visiting the king or figures of authority I would be deprived of beholding him, I would have gone to the king's palace and presented a plea on your behalf. I am a servant of hadith, and I rely upon the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم to guide me in authenticating [many of] those hadith which the hadith scholars deemed weak. Without doubt, the benefit I receive from this outweighs any benefit I may receive from you,” (Meezan al-Shari’ah al-Kubra, p. 55).
One of the friends of Allah once attended the gathering of an Islamic jurist. The latter began to narrate a particular hadith when the friend of Allah said: “This hadith is a fabrication.” The jurist asked how he knew this. The saint explained that, “The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is standing by you, and he is saying; ‘This is not my statement.’” The veil upon the eyes of the jurist was lifted, and he too beheld the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, (Al-Haawi Lil-Fatawa, vol. 2, p. 314).
Sayyiduna Shaykh Abu’l ʿAbbās al-Mursī رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه states: “If the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was hidden from my eyes for even a moment, I would not consider myself a believer,” (Al-Haawi Lil-Fatawa, vol. 2, p. 312).
Sayyiduna Abul Lata’if b. Faris al-Waf’ai رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه relates that his spiritual master ʿAlī Wafā b. Muhammad Wafā al-Shādhilī al-Mālikī رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه used to say:
When I was five years old, I would visit Shaykh Ya’qub رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه to recite Quran. One day, I travelled to him, only to behold the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, not in my dream, but in complete wakefulness. Not only was he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم beautifully dressed in a white cotton shirt, I suddenly found myself to be in the same attire. The Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم then said: ‘Recite!’ I recited Surah al-Duha and Surah al-Inshirah. Upon completing these two chapters, the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم became hidden from my eyes. After this miraculous event, time passed, and eventually I reached 21 years of age. At a region known as al-Qarafa, I began the Fajr prayer, only to once again behold the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. He held me to his blessed chest and stated: وَ اَمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثْ۠(۱۱) “And publicise well the bounty of your Lord.” Since this incident, I have attained perfection in my speaking, (Al-Haawi Lil-Fatawa, vol. 2, p. 314).
It is evident from these incidents, that those who hold close spiritual proximity to the Mercy for the worlds صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم may on occasion, also behold his luminous appearance. Adding to this, the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم also may directly speak to them, shake their hands, or even envelop them in his embrace. However, in order to attain these auspicious honours, cleansing of the heart, purification of the eyes (by abstaining from looking at that which is forbidden) and love of the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is of utmost critical importance.