Chapter VI - Muhammad: his Position with God and Status among Muslims
«and we raised high for you your repute.»
(surah ash-sharh, 94:4)
god described himself as wise and knowing. so he chooses what he wills by knowledge and wisdom.
• «and it is he [i.e., god] who is [the only] deity in the heaven, and on the earth [the only] deity. and he is the wise, the knowing.» (surah az-zukhruf, 43:84)
• «indeed, my lord is subtle in what he wills. indeed, it is he who is the knowing, the wise.» (surah yusuf, 12:100)
with his all-encompassing knowledge and infinite wisdom, he selects from humanity prophets and messengers.
«god chooses messengers from the angels and [messengers] from the people. indeed, god is hearing and seeing.» (surah al-hajj, 22:75)
the selection is, therefore, neither accidental nor random. moreover, prophets were not men who planned to become prophets; rather, they were granted prophethood unexpectedly, and god chose them through his knowledge, wisdom, consideration and benevolence. for example, prophethood had never occurred to moses, but he was chosen by god to be a prophet and messenger.
«and has the story of moses reached you? – when he saw a fire and said to his family, stay here; indeed, i have perceived a fire; perhaps i can bring you a torch or find at the fire some guidance and when he came
to it, he was called, o moses, indeed, i am your lord, so remove your sandals. indeed, you are in the sacred
and through his knowledge and wisdom, god also chose muhammad to be a prophet and messenger out of the millions of people who lived in the early seventh century ad, telling him:
• «recite in the name of your lord who created – created man from a clinging substance. recite, and your lord is the most generous – who taught by the pen – taught man that which he knew not.» (surah al-‘alaq, 96:1-5
• «and thus we have revealed to you an inspiration of our command [i.e., the qur’an]. you did not know what is the book or [what is] faith, but we have made it a light by which we guide whom we will of our servants. and indeed, [o muhammad], you guide to a straight path – the path of god, to whom belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. unquestionably, to god do [all] matters evolve [i.e., return].» (surah ash-shuraa, 42:52-53)
• «and indeed, [o muhammad], you receive the qur’an from one wise and knowing.» (surah an-naml, 27:6)
and he said about him:
• «muhammad is not the father of [any] one of your men, but [he is] the messenger of god and seal [i.e., last] of the prophets. and ever is god, of all things, knowing.» (surah al-ahzaab, 33:40)
the exalted position given to muhammad by god
a person chosen by god, the wise and knowing, who chooses with wisdom and knowledge, must be an exceptional human being: worthy, noble and truly respectable. we know this from the words of god revealed to prophet, muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him). in the qur’an, god praised his chosen prophet, muhammad, and exalted his status, saying:
• «o prophet, indeed we have sent you as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and a warner.» (surah al-ahzaab, 33:45)
• «and raised high for you your repute.» (surah ash-sharh, 94:4)
• «and indeed, you are of a great moral character.»
(surah al-qalam, 68:4)
• «and be patient, [o muhammad], for the decision of your lord, for indeed, you are in our eyes [i.e., sight].» (surah at-tur, 52:48)
• «indeed, god confers blessing upon the prophet, and his angels [ask him to do so]. o you who have believed, ask [god to confer] blessing upon him and ask [god to grant him] peace.» (surah al-ahzaab, 33:56)
• «he who obeys the messenger has obeyed god.» (surah an-nisaa’, 4:80)
•«so fear god, o you of understanding who have
believed. god has sent down to you a message [i.e., the qur’an]. [he sent] a messenger [i.e., muhammad] reciting to you the distinct verses of god that he may bring out those who believe and do righteous deeds from darknesses into the light.» (surah at-talaaq, 65:10-11)
• «o you who have believed, do not raise your voices above the voice of the prophet or be loud to him in speech like the loudness of some of you to others, lest your deeds become worthless while you perceive not. indeed, those who lower their voices before the messenger of god – they are the ones whose hearts god has tested for righteousness. for them is forgiveness and great reward.» (surah al-hujuraat, 49:2-3)
• «and we have not sent you, [o muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.» (surah al-anbiyaa’, 21:107)
he is to god, as described by him, a witness for and against mankind, giving testimony that is fair and just according to the standards of right and justice with which he was sent. he is also a bringer of good tidings and the advocate of all goodness, truth, beauty and perfection. he is the illuminating lantern whose reputation is forever exalted and whose character was most sublime. as he moved or was motionless, spoke or acted, delivered his message, guided, taught and advised, he was lovingly watched over, guarded, and protected by god. angels and believers invoke god,s blessings on him; obedience to him is in fact obedience to god; no voice may be raised above his. he embodied god,s mercy to all humanity, continually supplicating to god and reminding people of him through his words, deeds, manners and conduct.
with prophet muhammad enjoying this venerable position in the eyes of his lord, god has himself undertaken to defend his beloved, chosen prophet and messenger.
«whoever should think that god will not support him [i.e., muhammad] in this world and the hereafter – let him extend a rope to the ceiling, then cut himself off, and let him see: will his effort remove that which enrages [him]?» (surah al-hajj, 22:15) .
among the connotations of this verse is that anyone who thinks that god will not support his prophet is deluded to the extent that he becomes confused and troubled and will eventually perish, because it is certain beyond any doubt that god will support his prophet.
«if you do not aid him [i.e., muhammad] – god has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out [of makkah] as one of two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, do not grieve; indeed god is with us.» (surah at-tawbah, 9:40)
«indeed, we are sufficient for you against the mockers.» (surah al-hijr, 15:95)
and when one of the polytheists described the prophet as being «cut off,» that is, having no offspring, god responded through his words to the prophet: «indeed, we have granted you the greatest abundance. so pray to your lord and sacrifice [to him alone]. indeed, your enemy is the one cut off.» (surah al-kawthar, 108:1-3)
after abu lahab insulted the prophet and said, «may you be ruined the rest of the day,» god responded by saying: «may the hands of abu lahab be ruined, and ruined is he. his wealth will not avail him or that which he gained. he will enter to burn in a fire of blazing flame, and his wife [as well] – the carrier of firewood.» (surah al-masad, 111:1-4)
muhammad,s place in the hearts of muslims
the number of muslims (followers of muhammad) is now estimated to be one billion and four hundred thousand. they represent all races, colors, languages, and backgrounds. when adding to this the number of muslims who have lived on earth for the past 1,428 lunar years, from the time muhammad was sent as a messenger to the present, the number is multiplied many times over. all those billions of muslims have loved prophet muhammad with true, deep and sincere love, love that is stronger than that for their family members and even themselves. why?
1. they love him because they believe in the existence of god and his oneness, in his ability to reveal scriptures and send messengers and in his absolute and infinite wisdom in doing so. he did not create human beings for no reason and without a program of guidance. «then did you think that we created you uselessly and that to us you would not be returned? so exalted is god, the sovereign, the truth; there is no deity except him, lord of the noble throne.» (surah al-mu’minun, 23:115-116)
from the very beginning, when god sent adam down to the earth and charged him with responsibility, he decreed that he would send a program to guide humanity to what is best, one to be conveyed by his prophets and messengers.
«we said, go down from [
god has fulfilled his promise. actual history testifies that humanity has witnessed a successive procession of prophets and messengers, from the time of noah and ending with muhammad. this history is consistent with in god,s words in the qur,an: «indeed, we have revealed to you, [o muhammad], as we revealed to noah and the prophets after him. and we revealed to abraham, ishmael, isaac, jacob, the descendants, jesus, job, jonah, aaron, and solomon; and to david we gave the book [of psalms]. and [we sent] messengers about whom we have related [their stories] to you before and messengers about whom we have not related to you. and god spoke to moses with [direct] speech. [we sent] messengers as bringers of good tidings and warners so that mankind will have no argument against god after the messengers. and ever is god exalted in might and wise.» (surah an-nisaa’, 4:163-165)
2. they love him because god, who exists and is one, the all-capable, all-knowing, all-wise, and who, out of mercy for mankind sent them messengers, chose muhammad and presented him to mankind that they might believe in him and his message. «o mankind, the messenger has come to you with the truth from your lord, so believe; it is better for you.» (surah an-nisaa’, 4:170)
trusting the words and insight of one who presents another undoubtedly implies trust in him who has been presented and that he will be respected and loved. prophet muhammad is the one presented by god; «and who is more truthful than god in statement?» (surah an-nisaa’, 4:122)
muslims were the first to believe in prophet muhammad and benefit from the enlightenment he brought. as a result, they loved him, for once a good thing is sampled it soon becomes familiar, cherished and a means of success. «so they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him – it is those who will be the successful.»(surah al-a‘raaf, 7:157)
3. they love him because he is the means by which they were rightly guided and their lives illuminated, for it is he who conveyed to them book of guidance and light, the noble qur’an.
prophet muhammad was the means by which muslims are guided:
• «and we have sent down to you the book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the muslims.» (surah an-nahl, 16:89)
• «and indeed, [o muhammad], you guide to a straight path.»(surah ash-shura, 42:52)
prophet muhammad was the means of illuminating their lives, their consciences, their minds and their hearts through the revelation he brought from god:
• «so is one whose breast god has expanded to [accept]
islam and he is guided by a light from his lord [like one whose heart rejects it]?»
(surah az-zumar, 39:22)
• «god has sent down to you a reminder – a messenger reciting to you the distinct verses of god that he may bring out those who believe and do righteous deeds from darknesses into the light.» (surah at-talaaq, 65:10-11)
the commencement of guidance and source of light and enlightenment was when prophet muhammad informed muslims about their lord, their creator and their god, and taught them how their relationship of belief, worship and conduct with god should be.
muhammad (blessings and peace be upon him) is the one who taught us and implanted in our hearts and minds the belief that none created the universe but god, none maintains it and runs it according to a magnificently precise system but god, none created man in the best form and honored him but god, none has knowledge of the unseen but god, none can implement whatever he wills but god, none can guide to the truth but god and none is worthy of worship but god. to him alone, without partner, is due sincere worship; he alone is with every human being wherever he might be; he alone knows what is concealed within the heart; he is the ever-living, the sustainer of all existence, who is not overtaken by weariness or sleep; he holds the keys of the unknown and knows all that is within the land and sea.
«whatever is in the heavens and earth exalts god, and he is the exalted in might, the wise. his is the dominion of the heavens and earth. he gives life and causes death, and he is over all things competent. he is the first and the last, the ascendant and the intimate, and he is, of all things, knowing. it is he who created the heavens and earth in six days and then established himself above the throne. he knows what penetrates into the earth and what emerges from it and what descends from the heaven and what ascends therein; and he is with you wherever you are. and god, of what you do, is seeing. his is the dominion of the heavens and earth. and to god are returned [all] matters. he causes the night to enter the day and causes the day to enter the night, and he is knowing of that within the breasts.» (surah al-hadeed, 57:1-6)
«god – there is no deity except him, the ever-living, the sustainer of [all] existence. neither drowsiness overtakes him nor sleep. to him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. who is it that can intercede with him except by his permission? he knows what is [presently] before them and what will be after them, and they encompass not a thing of his knowledge except for what he wills. his footstool extends over the heavens and the earth, and their preservation tires him not. and he is the most high, the most great.» (surah al-baqarah, 2:255)
«and with him are the keys of the unseen; none knows them except him. and he knows what is on the land and in the sea. not a leaf falls but that he knows it. and no grain is there within the darknesses of the earth
and no moist or dry [thing] but that it is [written] in a clear record.» (surah al-an‘aam, 6:59)
this knowledge of god is a source of unique happiness for people endowed with great minds, free consciences and upright souls.
every person having a sound psychological and mental outlook longs in his mind and heart to know and love the lord who created him and to draw near to him through whatever method he might authorize for worship and deeds.
before muhammad was sent by god as a prophet and messenger, an arab, zayd bin ‘amr bin nufayl, was searching for a way to know and worship his lord. he was confused and did not know how to go about it, so he supplicated, «o god, if i knew the method you like best i would worship you according to it, but i do not know.»
the method unknown to this man who had a great yearning to establish a sound relationship with his lord was introduced by prophet muhammad, and through it we can know our lord, believe in him, love him, worship him, praise him day and night and remember him often.
refined and ethical manners naturally demand that muslims love the man who brought this true happiness to them, the contentment of a sound relationship with god, the most merciful, the great, the exalted, the kind, the affectionate.
4. muslims also love prophet muhammad because he is a special mercy to them on account of their belief in him, in addition to his being a general mercy to all mankind.
• «there has certainly come to you a messenger from among yourselves. grievous to him is what you suffer; he is concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful.» (surah at-tawbah, 9:128)
• «[it is] an ear of goodness for you that believes in god and believes the believers and is a mercy to those who believe among you.»
(surah at-tawbah, 9:61)
• «the prophet is more worthy of the believers than themselves, and his wives are [in the position of] their mothers.»
(surah al-ahzaab, 33:6)
5 . they also love him because one will obtain god,s love by following him. «say, [o muhammad], if you should love god, then follow me, [so] god will love you and forgive you your sins. and god is forgiving and merciful.» (surah aali ‘imraan, 3:31)
6. and they love him because he struggled, endured, stood firm, and suffered abuse until the religion was complete and the blessing obtained. he conveyed islam to them in pure form, perfected and preserved by god. hence, when he addressed the 100,000 muslims present during the farewell pilgrimage, enquiring of them, «when you are asked about me, what will you say?» they replied, «we will testify that you fulfilled [the trust], delivered [the message] and advised [the people].» he said, «o god, witness it, o god, witness it, o god, witness it.» he meant: «o god, witness that i have conveyed the religion of islam to the people, complete and perfect as you intended.»
evidences of muslims love for their prophet
first, he was loved during his lifetime and among his supporters. his companions respected and revered him; they hastened to respond to his call, listen to and memorize his words, obey his orders, learn and follow his sunnah (teachings and examples). and they were always ready to protect him with their own lives.
what was the primary motive for all that? the greatest motive was love, the love those companions had for their prophet (blessings and peace be upon him). here are a few examples that serve as evidence and show the love of early muslims for their prophet:
1. abu bakr wanted to accompany the prophet on the hijrah (emigration from makkah) to madinah, and the prophet granted him that wish. while on the journey, abu bakr would walk ahead of the prophet for a time and then behind him for a time. when the prophet asked him why he did that, abu bakr said, «o messenger of god, when i remember the pursuers i walk behind you and when i remember those waiting in ambush i walk in front of you.» the prophet said, «abu bakr, if something happened would you rather it happened to you than to me?» he meant, «do you mean to protect me with your own life?» abu bakr said, «yes, by him who sent you with the truth, any disaster should strike me and not you.» and abu bakr used to say frequently, «we would ransom our fathers and mothers for you.»
2. umar bin al-khattab would tell the prophet, «you are dearer to me than my own self.»
3. on the eve of the emigration, ali bin abi talib spent the
night in the prophet ,s bed to protect the prophet with his life out of love for him. ali was asked, «how was your love for god ,s messenger?» he said, «by god he was dearer to us than our properties, our children, our parents and than cold water is to someone who is thirsty.»
4. when the inhabitants of makkah drove zayd bin ad-dathannah out of the sacred mosque to kill him, abu sufyan bin harb said, «i ask you by god, zayd, would you not like muhammad to be with us now in your place to strike off his head?» zayd replied, «by god, i would not like muhammad in the place where he is now to even be pricked by a thorn while i am sitting [safe] with my family.» abu sufyan said, «i have never seen among people a person who is loved by another more than the companions of muhammad love him.»
5. when muslims went out of madinah to defend it after receiving information to the effect that the enemy planned to attack, the battle of uhud took place. while the battle was raging, abu talhah al-ansari made himself a human shield to protect the prophet from enemy arrows. to this act of love he added words of love, saying, «o prophet of god, dearer than my father, do not move away lest an arrow should strike you; my chest will protect yours.»
6. when the prophet entered madinah at the end of his emigration journey, the muslims felt as if light was spreading everywhere. but when the prophet died, they felt as if the whole city was covered in darkness. one of his companions, anas bin malik, said, «on the day the prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) arrived in madinah, everything in it was covered with light. but the day he died, everything in it was dark. we had barely finished with the prophet,s funeral rites when our hearts rejected us.» only one who is devoted will see light when the beloved is present and darkness when he is absent.
second, he has been loved by muslims in every era. the prophet said, «some of those in my nation who love me most will be after me. one of them would wish he could see me even for [the price] of his family and property.»
this love that had been foretold became a historical reality following the prophet ,s passing. there are many various indications and manifestations of it, among which are the following:
1. every muslim longs to see the prophet in a dream. when someone is fortunate enough to do so, he feels an overwhelming happiness filling his soul, heart, and consciousness, and his heart keeps yearning for another similar dream.
2. learning and following the sunnah of the prophet in word and deed is something motivated by love. and at the same time, it is a means of obtaining god,s love: «say [to the people, o muhammad], if you should love god, then follow me, and god will love you.» (surah aali ‘imraan, 3:31)
3. muslims travel specifically to visit the prophet,s mosque and then offer greetings of peace to the prophet and call god,s blessings and peace upon him.
4. invocation of god,s blessings and peace upon the prophet is done after the call for prayer, during every
prayer and while supplicating, during the friday sermon, at the beginning and end of books and documents and throughout the entire day and night.
5. thousands of volumes have been written about his biography, his sunnah and his description, and tens of thousands of beautiful descriptive poems have been written praising him.
6. his noble person and status is always defended.
among the evidences and manifestations of the love muslims have for their prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) is that they are always prepared to sacrifice themselves for his sake. hence, they immediately arise to defend his noble person whenever anyone abuses him. it is defense necessitated by belief in and love for him.«so they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him – it is those who will be the successful.»(surah al-a‘raaf, 7:157) supporting him is an important aspect of belief and love, and this undoubtedly includes defending his noble person and honored status.
it is incorrect to say that since god has guaranteed protection of his prophet and said: «and god will protect you from the people.» (surah al-ma’idah, 5:67) and has said: «indeed, we are sufficient for you against the mockers,» (surah al-hijr, 15:95)
that there is no need for muslims to defend him. no doubt, god did guard his prophet against harm until he had conveyed the message and fulfilled the trust completely and perfectly. after that he passed on to his lord well-pleased and pleasing to him, pure, blessed and triumphant. however, there is no methodological or practical contradiction between god,s defense of his prophet and his defense by muslims. evidence of the perfect harmony and integration between god,s role and that of muslims is in the following:
1. god has undertaken to defend believers: «indeed, god defends those who have believed. indeed, god does not like everyone treacherous and ungrateful.» (surah al-hajj, 22:38) however, he still made it obligatory for them to defend themselves: «fight in the way of god those who fight you but do not transgress. indeed, god does not like transgressors.»(surah al-baqarah, 2:190)
2. god, the almighty, whose decree is preordained and who but says, «be,» and it is, is self-sufficient and needs no defense. but he tests the faith of believers through their willingness and readiness to defend and support his cause:
• «o you who have believed, if you support god, he will support you and plant firmly your feet.» (surah muhammad, 47:7)
• «...so that god may make evident those who support him and his messengers unseen. indeed, god is powerful and exalted in might.»(surah al-hadeed, 57:25)
• «o you who have believed, be supporters of god.» (surah as-saff, 61:14)
in short, god has linked his ability in such matters to the application of causes, which include the means ordained by him in the form of free, voluntary actions according to the different conditions and abilities of believers.
the position of prophet muhammad in the hearts of muslims is unassailable and continuous. love for him constantly fills their hearts and souls and they declare this love openly. they express their love in various forms, one of which is resolutely and persistently defending his elevated position against the abuse of any assailant.
while they love, respect and praise the prophet, muslims do not allow the balance of truth and justice to be tilted in their minds. for in the muslim ,s creed there are very distinct differences between the status of prophethood and the status of divinity.
god alone is the creator, provider, the ever-living, the sustainer, the giver of life, the causer of death, the knower of what is unseen and seen, the omniscient, the omnipotent. he alone is the true object of worship who is worshipped by right. he is the exalted, the one, the everlasting, who is unique and never merges with any of his creatures nor do they with him.
as great in repute, high in position, and close to his lord as he is, the prophet was but one of god,s creations, a repentant, faithful and exceptional servant.
• «exalted is he who took his servant [i.e., prophet muhammad] by night from al-masjid al-haram to al-masjid al-aqsa, whose surroundings we have blessed, to show him of our signs. indeed, he is the hearing, the seeing.» (surah al-israa’, 17:1)
• «then he approached and descended, and was at a distance of two bow lengths or nearer. and he revealed to his servant what he revealed.» (surah an-najm, 53:8-10)
• «it is he who sends down upon his servant
[muhammad] verses of clear evidence that he may bring you out from darknesses into the light. and indeed, god is to you kind and merciful.» (surah al-hadeed, 57:9)
thus, the human nature of prophets has been duly confirmed.
• «it is not for a human [prophet] that god should give him the scripture and authority and prophethood and then he would say to the people, be servants to me rather than god, but [instead, he would say], be pious scholars of the lord because of what you have taught of the scripture and because of what you have studied. nor could he order you to take the angels and prophets as lords. would he order you to disbelief after you had been muslims?» (surah aali ‘imraan, 3:79-80)
• «their messengers said to them, we are only men like you, but god confers favor upon whom he wills of his servants.» (surah ibraheem, 14:11)
• «say, i am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one god. so whoever would hope for the meeting with his lord – let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his lord anyone.» (surah al-kahf, 18:110)
confirmation of the human nature of the prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) has certain objectives and practical considerations:
• the first is to keep the religious creed pure and not confuse prophethood with divinity.
• the second is that the human nature of the prophet makes it possible for other human beings to follow his example, for he is a man like themselves and not an angel from another species which they could not possibly imitate. «say, if there were upon the earth angels walking securely, we would have sent down to them from the heaven an angel as a messenger.» (surah al-israa’, 17:95)
it is true that the prophet shares this human nature with all other human beings, but he surpasses them by innumerable degrees due to his being chosen by god, due to the revelation he received, due to the honor of his ascent to his lord and having reached the furthest boundary of existence, and due to the distinction of having received divine love, protection and care. for god had instructed him: «be patient for the decision of your lord, for indeed, you are under our observation.» (surah at-tur, 52:48)