Our Prophet: The Most Sublime, The Most Great
The Prophet’s Sublimity
Abul Hasan Attari Madani
Unbound mercy and comfort
اَنَا رَحْمَةٌ مُهْدَاةٌ13.
‘I am a mercy, a gift of the Lord,’ (Musannaf Ibn-e-Abi Shaybah, vol. 16, p. 504, Hadith 32442).
Despite possessing God-given authority over the world, the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم specifically highlighted his mercy and comforting nature above his other aspects – this is the perfect, merciful character that defined him; in fact, scholars have included ‘mercy’ and ‘divine gift’ among his titles. A gift is something that does not require anything in return, as noted by the scholar Muhammad Al-Salihi:
The meaning of this is that Allah Almighty has sent the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم as a mercy that does not require remuneration from people. When a gift is sent as a mercy and compassion, payment is not sought for it, (Subul-ul-Huda war-Rashad, vol. 1, p. 464).
اَنَا رَسُولُ الرَّحْمَةِ وَ رَسُولُ الرَّاحَةِ14.
‘I am the Messenger of mercy and comfort,’ (Al-Shifa, vol. 1, p. 231).
This blessed narration identifies the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم with two particular qualities; mercy and comfort. Although semantically similar, there is a subtle difference between the two. As for ‘comfort,’ it has connotations of peace, ease, support, joy, and relief from hardship. The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم epitomised each of these qualities in the most complete way because his advent brought comfort, peace, and ease to the whole of creation rather than to a specific region, tribe, or nation. After his arrival, the path of repentance was made easy and the doors of worship were opened so that humans can now worship Allah Almighty and offer Salah to Him anywhere in the world, not just in a specific location. Moreover, great rewards are now stipulated for even the smallest of deeds, and those who are unable to partake in Hajj, ‘Umrah, charity, and other major deeds can avail equivalent rewards by carrying out alternative smaller deeds.
For example, the simple act of uttering two words ‘سُـبْحٰـنَ الـلّٰــه’ once is rewarded with a tree in paradise, reciting one letter of the Quran avails ten rewards, and the reward of reciting the entire Quran is attained by simply reciting Surah Al-Ikhlas three times. And he gave hope to the sinners by offering the opportunity to avail his intercession on the plains of resurrection. These are but a few of the countless bounties which we have received because of the Beloved Messenger صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, and they bring comfort and peace to our hearts and souls.
Excellence of mercy
The Beloved Prophet’s صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم title, Prophet of Mercy (رَسُولُ الرَّحْمَةِ), has many implications and senses. For one, his person, character, and words are universal mercies that wrap all of creation and benefit everyone from the pious and the sinners to the believers and non-believers. Allah Almighty declared this in unequivocal terms:
وَ مَاۤ اَرْسَلْنٰكَ اِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعٰلَمِیْنَ(۱۰۷)
And We did not send you (O Beloved) but as a mercy for all the worlds
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 17, Surah Al-Ambiya, Verse 107)
The blessed being of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is a shoreless ocean of mercy, compassion, esteem, and majesty. 1400 years have passed, yet authors, poets, thinkers, and scholars continue to discover new dimensions of his person and further wisdom in his words and teachings.
His mercy shook the world order, birthing a paradigm shift, and changed the course of human civilisation forever. For the first time in world history, slaves were given rights to freedom and able to attain powerful positions. While the world had shackled slaves to the fringes of society, the Merciful Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would seat them next to him. He made women counterparts of men, liberating them from the societal fetters that had deprived them of honour, dignity, inheritance, and fundamental rights. His mercy poured onto the poor and destitute, giving them hope and glad tidings of Paradise before others, and he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم gave sinful believers glad tidings of intercession on the Day of Judgment, granting them solace.
There are two aspects to the mercy of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم:
1. Teaching mercy and compassion to others.
2. Personally embodying mercy and compassion.
1. Teaching mercy and compassion
Just as the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was merciful towards everyone and everything, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم also taught and encouraged others to be beacons of mercy and compassion, and he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم emphasised this on several occasions. Once, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم said:
اَلرَّاحِمُونَ يَرْحَمُهُمُ الرَّحْمٰنُ، اِرْحَمُوْا مَنْ فِی الاَرْضِ يَرْحَمْكُمْ مَنْ فِی السَّمَاءِ,
‘The Most-Merciful has mercy upon those who are merciful, have mercy upon those who are upon the earth and the King of the heavens will have mercy upon you,’ (Tirmizi, vol. 3, p. 371, Hadith, 1931).
He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم also encouraged mercy and compassion by means of maintaining ties of kinship:
اَلرَّحِمُ شُجْنَةٌ مِنَ الرَّحْمٰنِ، فَمَنْ وَصَلَهَا وَصَلَهُ الـلّٰـهُ
‘Ties of kinship are a branch that are linked to the Most-Merciful, so the one who joins it, Allah Almighty will join him,’ (Tirmizi, vol. 3, p. 371, Hadith, 1931).
At times, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would encourage mercy and compassion in strong terms. The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم once kissed Imam Hasan رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ, brought him close to his chest, and began to inhale his fragrance. Seeing this level of compassion and love, one individual remarked, ‘O Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم! I also have a son who has reached the age of maturity now, but I have never kissed him.’ He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم replied, ‘What can I do if Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ has removed mercy from your heart?’ (Al-Mustadrak-lil-Hakim, vol. 4, p. 161, Hadith 4846)
Similarly, a person once saw the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم showing love and mercy towards Imam Hasan رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ, and commented:
اِنَّ لِیْ عَشَرَةً مِنَ الْوَلَدِ مَا قَبَّلْتُ مِنْهُمْ اَحَدًا فَنَظَرَ اِلَیْهِ رَسُولُ الـلّٰـهُ صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَقَالَ: مَنْ لَا يَرْحَمُ لَا يُرْحَمُ
‘I have ten sons and I have not kissed any of them.’ So, the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم looked towards him and said, ‘Whosoever does not show mercy, will not be shown mercy,’ (Sahih-ul-Bukhari, vol. 4, p. 100, Hadith 5997).
The second aspect of the Beloved Prophet’s صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم mercy will be explored in next month’s issue.