Mercy upon Mankind
The Prophet (pbuh) lived with mixed sentiments of grief and anxiety, pity and mercy struggling continuously inside him towards the humanity he (pbuh) was sent to, as strongly worded in his Hadith, saying: “My similitude is that of a man who has kindled a fire, but when it lit all around him, moths and such insects that fall into fire start falling into it. He starts to prevent them, but they overpower him and burst into it. This is my similitude and your similitude. I am grasping you by your waistbands away from Fire (crying),
Away from Fire! Away from Fire!’ but you overpower me and burst into it
( Sahih Muslim )
A living picture of the Prophet’s feelings that can be seen, heard, and felt.
People are attracted to the fire, insisting on falling into it, and between them stands the Prophet (pbuh) with his body as a barrier. He (pbuh) keeps pushing them away from it with all his might – untiring, unyielding, undiscouraged – but they overpower him and burst into it!
The pain and sorrow that the Prophet of Mercy (pbuh) experienced tormented him, as he (pbuh) saw people walking on the path he knew would lead them to destruction. They rejected the Qur’an and shunned guidance; the thought of this triggered surges of grief in his soul, which were only allayed by the consoling and compassionate Words of his Lord, saying:
Perhaps you would kill yourself through grief over them, (O Muhammad), if they do not believe in this Message, and out of sorrow
(Al-Khaf 18: 6)
He (pbuh) was so anxious for all those on earth to become believers, but he (pbuh) could not compel people to believe. Allah Almighty kindly addressed His Messenger (pbuh), saying:
Had your Lord willed it, those on earth would have believed, all of them together. So, will you (O Muhammad) then compel mankind until they become believers?"
(Yunus 10: 99)
His persistent endeavors continued. Even on their deathbeds, still the Prophet (pbuh) called upon his people to believe in Allah, their Maker, as their One and Only God and to revoke the false gods that their forefathers used to worship. Al-Musaiyab narrated:
When the death of Abu Talib (the Prophet’s uncle) approached, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) came to him, but found with him Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abu Umaiyah bin Al-Mughirah.
He (pbuh) said: “O uncle, say, ‘La ilaha illa Allah (there is no god but Allah),’ a word with which I can witness in your favor before Allah.”
Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abu Umaiyah said (to Abu Talib): “Will you desert the religion of ‘Abdul-Muttalib?”
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) kept on offering it (i.e. the Testimony of Faith: There is no god but Allah) to him, while they kept on turning him back (to disbelief) with that statement until Abu Talib said his final words to them, “I am of the religion of ‘Abdul-Muttalib,” and he refused to say, “La ilaha illa Allah.”
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “By Allah, I will keep on asking for forgiveness for you unless I am forbidden from asking for forgiveness for you.”
In response, Allah Almighty revealed:
It is not for the Prophet and those who believe to ask forgiveness for the Mushrikin, even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are the dwellers of Hellfire (because they died in a state of disbelief)
(At-Tawbah 9: 113)
Then Allah revealed a special Ayah concerning Abu Talib, saying to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh): Indeed, (O Muhammad), you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills.
Sadly, the Prophet (pbuh) saw others willfully hurrying to fall into hypocrisy, an abyss even lower than disbelief, saying with their mouths what was not in their hearts, mocking and thinking that Allah Almighty did not know about the fake belief they concealed.
Again, the All-Merciful One soothed His Messenger’s grief, saying:
O Messenger, let not those grieve you, who hasten into disbelief among those who say, “We believe” with their mouths, but their hearts believe not
(Al-Ma’idah 5: 41)
Consciously, they chose to live and die as hypocrites, feigning belief while harboring disbelief and enmity inside, still the Prophet (pbuh) was merciful to the end, sincere and persistent in his endeavors, pushing them, “Away from Fire!” But they overpowered him and burst into it!