The Eminence of the Beloved
17 Explanations of the Title ‘Prophet of Repentance’
Abun-Noor Rashid ‘Ali ‘Attari Madani
Imam Ahmad Raza Khan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه extracted 13 explanations for the blessed title ‘نَبِیُّ التَّوْبَةِ’ (the Prophet of Repentance) from the hadith commentaries and the books of seerah while deducing four additional ones. Hence, he writes:
The blessed name ‘نَبِیُّ التَّوْبَةِ’ is a wonderous and concise name of many meanings. I have extracted 13 explanations of it from al-Nawawi’s Sharh Sahih Muslim, al-Qaari and al-Khafaji’s respective commentaries on Kitab al-Shifa, Mirqat and Ashi’a-tul-Lam’aat, both commentaries of Mishkat al-Masabih, commentaries of Jami’ al-Sagheer such as al-Tayseer, Siraaj-ul-Muneer, and Hafni, Jam’-ul-Wasail Sharh al-Shamail, Matali’-ul-Masarraat, al-Mawahib, Sharh al-Zurqani, and Majma’-ul-Bihar, and with the grace of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ, I have made four additions myself, totalling 17. Each one of them is sweeter than the other.
These 17 explanations are briefly mentioned here:
1. Through the guidance of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, many people have repented and attained the honour of turning to Allah Almighty. Answering the call of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, various groups and nations returned to Allah Almighty.
2. Through the blessings of the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, the creation was given the opportunity to repent. There is a difference between this and the first explanation; guidance is to show the way and to invite, whereas attaining the Prophet’s blessings refers to having the actual ability to repent.
3. A greater number of people repented at the hands of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم than at the hands of any other prophet. On the Day of Judgment, the size of this Ummah will be greater than the other nations; not only on an individual basis, but even more than all of the other nations combined. The rows of the dwellers of Paradise will be 120, from which 80 – with the grace of Allah Almighty – will be ours, and 40 will be of the other nations – and praise be to Allah Lord of the Worlds.
4. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم brought the command to repent.
5. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم conveyed the glad tidings of repentance being accepted in the court of Allah Almighty.
6. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم brought repentance to all; previous prophets brought repentance to their respective nations exclusively but he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم came with repentance for the entire universe.
7. In fact, it is he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم who brought the command of repentance in general, as all of the prophets عَـلَـيْهِمُ السَّلَام are his representatives, thus, all of the repentance that has been sought or will be sought from the creation from the first day till this day, and from today until the Day of Reckoning, and that has taken place or will take place; the prophet of them all is our Prophet, the Prophet of repentance صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم.
8. The meaning of ‘Prophet of repentance’ is ‘the Prophet of the people of repentance,’ just as ‘الْقَرْیَۃ’ in the Quranic verse ‘اَلْقَرْیَۃ وَسْئَلِ’ ‘ask the town’ actually means ‘ask the people of the town,’ and it is more appropriate to take the meaning of ‘faith’ from ‘repentance’. Thus, the meaning of ‘Prophet of repentance’ is ‘Prophet of all people of faith.’
9. The Beloved Prophet’s صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم nation is oft-repenting and is distinguished from other nations in this regard. The Quran describes them as ‘اَلتَّائِبُون’ (those who repent); when they commit a sin, they repent; this is the virtue of the Ummah, and every virtue of the Ummah returns back to its Prophet.
10. The repentance of the merciful Prophet’s صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم nation was most accepted from among all nations, for feeling regret, leaving the sin at once, and being determined to not commit it again was sufficient. The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم lightened their burden; he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم did not allow the difficulties of the previous nations to reach them. The repentance of the previous people had strict conditions. For example, for their repentance for the sin of worshipping the calf to be accepted, Bani Israel were commanded to take their own lives, and only after 70,000 of them had died was their repentance accepted.
11. The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم himself repented in abundance, as related in Sahih al-Bukhari: ‘I seek Allah’s forgiveness (istighfar) 100 times every day.’ He did not repent because of sins - he was infallible, rather he would repent because he was constantly traversing the stations of proximity and direct witnessing (mushahadah), as Allah Almighty states:
وَ لَلْاٰخِرَةُ خَیْرٌ لَّكَ مِنَ الْاُوْلٰىؕ(۴)
‘And indeed, the latter is better for you than the former,’
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 30, Surah Al-Duha, Verse 4)
Whenever he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would ascend to a greater and loftier station, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would consider the previous rank a type of shortcoming and therefore repent.
12. The door of repentance: In the final age of the noble Prophet’s صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم Ummah, the door of repentance will be closed. Whenever a person did not repent at the hands of a previous prophet, he would repent at the hands of a prophet that came after, and it would be accepted. However, the door of prophethood was closed with the Seal of Prophets صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, and when his nation will depart [from the world before the Day of Judgment and when only disbelievers will remain], the door of repentance will also be closed. Thus, the one who did not repent at his noble hands (i.e. by bringing faith in him), will not find repentance anywhere.
13. The opener of the door of repentance: He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is the opener of the door of repentance; Sayyiduna Adam عَـلَيْـهِ الـسَّـلَام was the first to repent and it was through his means that he did so. Thus, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is the source and means of repentance.
14. The Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم accepts repentance; his door of generosity is always open for those who repent and seek pardon. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم declared the blood of Ka’b b. Zuhayr to be lawful when he was a disbeliever, but after he turned back and repented, he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم accepted his repentance. It is stated in the Sacred Torah:
لَایَجْزِئ بِالسَّیِّئَةِ السَّیِّئَةَ وَلَکِن یَعْفُو وَیَغْفِرُ
‘Ahmad صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم will not respond to an evil with an evil but will pardon and forgive,’ (Bukhari, vol. 2, p. 25, Hadith 2125; Sunan Daarimi, vol. 1, p. 16, Hadith 5).
This is why ‘عَفُوّ’ and ‘غَفور’ are from the blessed names of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم.
15. People have been commanded to go to him if they want to repent and seek forgiveness. Although Allah Almighty hears us wherever we are, He declared that if we wish to repent to Him, then we must go to His Beloved:
وَ لَوْ اَنَّهُمْ اِذْ ظَّلَمُوْۤا اَنْفُسَهُمْ جَآءُوْكَ فَاسْتَغْفَرُوا اللّٰهَ وَ اسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمُ الرَّسُوْلُ لَوَجَدُوا اللّٰهَ تَوَّابًا رَّحِیْمًا(۶۴)
‘And if when they do injustice to their own souls (by committing sins), O Beloved, they should then present themselves in your august court, and then seek forgiveness from Allah, and the Messenger intercedes for them; so they would definitely find Allah the Greatest Acceptor of repentance, the Most Merciful,”
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 05, Surah Al-Nisa, Verse 64)
While the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was on Earth, people would come to his court. Now they visit his radiant resting place, and when this is not possible, they direct their hearts towards the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم and plead, seek help, and beg for his intercession; after all, the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is present in the home of every Muslim today. Mulla Ali al-Qaari رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَلَيْه writes:
رُوْحُه علیهِ السَّلام حَاضِرٌ فِی بُیُوتِ اَھلِ الاِسْلام
‘The blessed soul of the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is present in the home of every Muslim,’ (Sharh-ush-Shifa lil Qaari, vol. 2, p. 118).
16. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم distributes the blessings of repentance; it is he who accepts repentance. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم takes repentance and gives it too. If he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم did not offer repentance, nobody would be able to repent. Repentance is a great bounty, in fact, it is the greatest bounty, and it is proven from mass-transmitted reports, the noble saints, and the erudite scholars that every bounty, few or copious; small or great; material or spiritual; religious or worldly; manifest or hidden; from the first day till today; from today till the Day of Judgment; from the Day of Judgment till the Hereafter; from the Hereafter till eternity; whether the recipient is a believer or disbeliever; righteous or sinful; human or angel; jinn or animal, in fact, besides Allah Almighty, everything that anyone has received, is receiving, or will receive, is distributed through his hands. He صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم himself stated:
اَنَا اَبُو الْقَاسِمِ اللهُ يُعْطِی وَاَنَا اَقْسِمُ
‘I am Abul Qasim; Allah grants and I distribute,’ (Mustadrak-lil-Hakim, vol. 3, p. 502, Hadith 4243).
17. One repents to him from sins, his name is taken alongside Allah Almighty’s when repenting, i.e. ‘I repent to Allah and His Messenger.’ Sayyidatuna ‘Aaishah al-Siddiqah رَضِیَ الـلّٰـهُ عَنْهَا said:
يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ اَتُوبُ اِلَى اللهِ، وَاِلَى رَسُولِهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ مَاذَا اَذْنَبْتُ؟
‘Messenger of Allah! I repent to Allah and His Messenger, what mistake have I made?’ (Bukhari, vol. 2, p. 21, Hadith 2105)
It is narrated from Sayyiduna Sawban رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ in al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer that our masters Abu Bakr Siddeeq, Umar Al-Farooq, and 40 other noble Companions رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُم stood before the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم with their hands spread out, trembling, and said: ‘تُبْنَا اِلَى اللهِ وَرَسُولِهِ’ ‘We repent to Allah and His Messenger,’ (Mu’jam Kabeer, vol. 2, p. 95, Hadith 1423)
Imam Ahmad Raza Khan further states: Repentance (taubah) means to leave disobedience, to renew the promise of obedience to the One Whom you have disobeyed, and to please Him. It is proven from an explicit Quranic verse that the one who is disobedient to Allah Almighty is disobedient to the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم also. Allah Almighty states:
مَنْ یُّطِعِ الرَّسُوْلَ فَقَدْ اَطَاعَ اللّٰهَۚ-
‘Whosoever has obeyed the Messenger, he has indeed obeyed Allah,’
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 05, Surah Al-Nisa, Verse 80)
This necessitates the opposite to be true, i.e. ‘مَنْ لَمْ یُطِعِ اللهَ لَمْ یُطِعِ الرَّسُوْلَ’ ‘The one who did not obey Allah, did not obey the Messenger,’ and this is the meaning of our statement, ‘مَنْ عَصَی اللهَ فَقَد عَصَی الرَّسُولَ’ (whoever disobeyed Allah, has indeed disobeyed the Messenger). The Noble Quran gives the command to please Allah and His Messenger. Hence, Allah Almighty states:
وَ اللّٰهُ وَ رَسُوْلُهٗۤ اَحَقُّ اَنْ یُّرْضُوْهُ اِنْ كَانُوْا مُؤْمِنِیْنَ(۶۲)
‘And Allah and His Messenger have more right that they should please Him, if they had faith,’
[Kanz-ul-Iman (translation of Quran)] (Part 10, Surah Al-Tawbah, Verse 62)
May Allah Almighty grant us forgiveness for every type of shortcoming and sin through the means of the Prophet of repentance, Sayyiduna Muhammad صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن صَلَّی اللہ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلہٖ وَسَلَّم