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A Mercy to the Worlds

 


"We have sent you but as a mercy to the worlds." [Al-Qur'an 21:107]

The year is 570 CE, five years after the death of the Roman Emperor Justinian. An army of men, horses and elephants ruthlessly march towards the city of Makkah, intending to wipe it out of existence. This is the army of the Abyssinian warlord Abraha, who after conquering Yemen is now advancing towards the sacred city of Makkah. One of the notables of Makkah, Abdul-Muttalib, has ordered all the women and children to go up into the mountains and take refuge there whilst the men go and fight. However, the men of Makkah are of no match to the deadly Abyssinian lancers who soon crush their resistance on the borders of the city.

Victory seems imminent for Abraha. Yet when the army advances to the fringes of the city, headed by its lead elephant, the creature stops unexpectedly and refuses to go any further towards the direction of Makkah. No amount of budging will make this beast go towards the direction of conquest, yet when the army turn it around, it is more than willing to go back. Suddenly from the distant horizon, a huge flock of birds is seen. Ominously it makes its way to the scene of the battle. In their beaks and claws the birds carry with them stones. Like lightning do they descend upon the confused army of Abraha and pelt them viciously with the stones. The stones start to cut and tear away at the bodies of these aggressors and reduce them to helpless wretches. The army of the tyrant are sent back in humiliation. It is no less than a miracle which has saved this sacred city.

This event was to be remembered by the Arabs as the year of the elephant and was to hold great significance in the balance of power in Arabia. But it was the event which occurred fifty days later in the same year which was not only to be remembered, but would also change the course of history forever. It was on the 12th day of the month of Rabi' al-Awwal, that in the house of Abdul-Muttalib a child was born. It was the child of Amina, the wife of Abdullah, the son of Abdul-Muttalib. This was the child who would change the way of life of all those around him. This was the child who would unite all people under one way. This was the child who would bring the great empires of the world to a standstill.

This child was Muhammad, the last and final messenger of Allah to mankind.

The name Muhammad was given to the child by his grandfather Abdul-Muttalib. The name was one which was known amongst the Arabs at that time but was not common. The literal meaning of Muhammad is 'the praised one', and it is reported that upon being asked why Abdul-Muttalib had named his grandson so, he replied:

"I did so with the desire that my grandson would be praised by Allah in Heaven and by men on earth." [The History of Islam and the Muslims, Iqbal Mohammed, vol 1 p. 138]

It seems as if the desire of Abdul-Muttalib came true, for it was the name of Muhammad, upon whom be peace, which was to be uttered and praised more times than that of any person in history. In fact it is not only men who praise this remarkable man, but also the Creator of the Heavens and the earth, Allah, and the inhabitants of the heavens, the angels:

"Allah and His angels bless the Prophet. O you who believe! Bless him and salute him with a worthy salutation." [Al-Qur'an 33:56]

The grandson of Abdul-Muttalib was destined to become the greatest man ever to live.

The early life of Muhammad, peace be upon him, before his prophethood, is unknown to most people. His life is highlighted by his sublime character and noble manners. The world of Muhammad, peace be upon him, was a world of idolatry, a world in which women and slaves had no rights whatsoever, a world in which men would cheat each other for a few dirhams.

However Muhammad, upon whom be peace, was not like those around him. He was not known to swear or talk in a vile manner, nor was he known to drink or gamble. His honesty surpassed that of all others and he was known with the title of al-Amin (the trustworthy). In fact it was this quality of honesty which attracted so many people to his noble message.

The nature of the Arabs at the time of Muhammad, peace be upon him, was very barbaric and they would fight over the smallest of things, such as one tribes camel grazing on the land of another tribe. This would often result in wars which would last for years and take thousands of lives. In the year 605 CE the Kaabah was accidentally burnt down and a massive reconstruction program had to be initiated. Many people were involved in it's rebuilding. However, upon its completion, the issue of replacing the black stone in its original place, the south east corner of the Kaabah, arose. Each of the major tribes and clans wanted the honor of placing the black stone in its proper place. Civil war loomed over the Arabian peninsula. It was then suggested by Abu Ummayah al-Mughira, one of the elders of Makkah, that the way to settle this dispute was to let the first person to come through the masjid gate the next morning, decide the fate of the matter. Lo and behold the first man to enter the masjid the next morning was indeed Muhammad. Upon seeing him some of the Arabs exclaimed with joy, "Here is the trustworthy one, we shall agree to his decision - he is Muhammad". Muhammad, peace be upon him, asked for a sheet or a robe to be brought to him and to have the black stone placed in the middle of it. He then asked the elders of each of the major tribes to lift up the sheet from each of the corners. The elders did as they were instructed and took the black stone over to the south east corner. Muhammad, peace be upon him, then took the stone and placed it firmly in its resting place And so it was Muhammad, upon him be peace, who with wisdom and honesty saved the Arabs from self-destruction. [The History of Islam and the Muslims, Iqbal Mohammed, vol 1 pp. 163-166]

Muhammad's early life was wrought with unhappiness as he never saw his father Abdullah who died before he was born. At the age of six his mother, Amina passed away and he was entrusted into the care of his beloved grandfather Abdul-Muttalib. However, at the age of twelve, Abdul-Muttalib also passed away and Abu Talib, the uncle of Muhammad, peace be upon him, took charge of him. With such distress and heartache so early on in life, one would imagine that this boy would grow up to be rebellious and troublesome, as is the case in so many of our societies today. But this was obviously not to be.

It was Abu Talib who then reared and brought him up. Abu Talib was a trader and businessman and he sometimes took his nephew along with him on his trade journeys. It was these trade journeys which eventually formed the alliance between Muhammad and his future wife Khadija, may Allah be pleased with her. Khadija was a wealthy widow from Makkah who was known for her noble character and morals. Soon Muhammad, peace be upon him, was working for Khadija as a manager for her trade caravans. It was his honesty and efficiency which led to Khadija's proposal, and soon after Muhammad had returned from a trade journey to Syria, they were married.

It was in the year 610 CE that the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, received the first revelation. It was the practice of Muhammad, upon whom be peace, that he would often go up to the cave of Hira to meditate and pray to Allah alone. One night during the month of Ramadan while he was meditating, an angel appeared before him. This was the angel Jibril (Gabriel), the very same angel who had brought down revelation to the earlier prophets of Allah such as Jesus and Moses, upon whom both be peace. ln a thundering voice the angel commanded him "Read". "I cannot read", replied Muhammad honestly. The angel grabbed hold of him and squeezed him so hard that Muhammad thought he would die of suffocation. "Read", the angel commanded again. Muhammad's reply was the same. So the angel squeezed him again and again, each time harder than the previous, and Muhammad replied the same, each time thinking that he would die of suffocation. The angel then released him and spoke the words which would be remembered as the first words of the final revelation to mankind:

"Read! In the name of you Lord who created; Created man from a clinging clot. Read! Your Lord is the Most Generous, Who taught by the pen. Taught man what he did not know." [Al-Qur'an 96:1-5]

This was the start of the revelation from Allah to humanity. It was the final incorruptible message by which mankind would have to live by and worship according to. And it was Muhammad, the son of Abdullah who was chosen to spread this good news.

HIS NOBLE CHARACTER

It is the character of the Prophet Muhammad which was one of the main reasons for the spread of his noble message. As mentioned before, he never swore and he never spoke vilely about anyone. But after his appointment as a prophet of Allah, he not only observed these excellent qualities for himself, but also ordered all the Muslims to live their lives according to these noble traits. This is why we find that lying and cheating are totally forbidden in Islam, and about lying the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

"Lying leads to obscenity and obscenity leads to the fire of hell." [Recorded in Sahih Muslim]

For the Arabs to stop cheating and lying it would mean that the whole of their lives would have to be turned upside down. Cheating and lying during business transactions was a regular practice for the Arabs, and it was from this behavior that the racist slogan "you cheating Arab!" was derived. Backbiting and slandering one another were totally forbidden and the Prophet was instructed by Allah to inform the people that backbiting another Muslim was like eating:

" ... the flesh of your dead brother." [Al-Qur'an 49:12]

Muhammad, peace be upon him, was known to laugh very little, if at all. Rather when he was happy he would express his delight by smiling and he is reported to have said:

"Too much laughter kills the heart." [Reported by at-Tirmidhi and Ahmad]

Likewise when he was angry, he would not fly off the handle or start a tantrum, but rather the complexion of his face would simply turn red.

The generosity of Muhammad, peace be upon him, was so great that one of his companions, Ibn Abbas described his huge generosity as being like "the blowing wind." [Recorded in Sahih Muslim] To give charity during those days was outdated and those who gave charity were very rare in that troublesome society. But the trends of society were nothing to this man, who simply wished to attain the pleasure of Allah by helping those who were less fortunate then himself. In fact his giving of charity often meant that he had to sacrifice the pleasures of life for himself and his family. His wife Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, reported that "three consecutive days would not go by without the family of Muhammad not eating their fill."[Recorded in al-Bukhari]

The relationship between Muhammad, peace be upon him, and women has been subject to vicious attack by many western writers. He has been accused of being sexually immoral and depraved by his enemies. Many a feminist has accused him of depriving women of their rights. Yet the reality of this man is unknown to many of these ignorant people. When Muhammad,upon whom be peace, left the cave of Hira, trembling and shaking like a leaf, who was the first person that this alleged male chauvinist turned to? When spreading the message of Islam who was the first person to respond to this so called patriarchal religion? The answer is Khadija, his wife, a woman. It was Khadija who comforted him during these initial days of anxiety. It was Khadija who reassured him of his role by accepting his message. And it was Khadija who gained so much respect and admiration from this remarkable man.

Pre-Islamic Arabia was characterized by the evil crime of burying baby girls alive because they were seen as a shame to the family. Yet it was this man Muhammad who spoke out vehemently against this great social crime. In fact he stated the great blessing and reward of having and rearing female children:

"Whomsoever brings up two girls upon this religion, then me and him shall be like this in paradise [and he joined his forefinger with his middle finger]." [Recorded in Sahih Muslim]

His conduct with women was not like that of the men today, rather he treated the women as they deserved to be treated. He did not openly parade women about like cattle (for example, in pre-Islamic Arabia women were subjected to intolerable humiliation, and they were often paraded naked during the festivals which were held by the pagan Arabs), as was done before the coming of Islam nor did he seek to please them by showing off his masculinity. Rather he as described as being "more shy than a virgin behind a veil." [Recorded in Sahih Muslim] For a man who achieved so much in his lifetime it would be expected (by corrupt western standards!) that Muhammad would abuse his power with regards to women. Yet we do not find a single instance in his life in which he went out raping and destroying the honor of the women folk who were captured. Rather it was the women of Arabia who came forward in their droves to accept the message of this man, who came to liberate humanity from the oppression of this world. Despite the constant barrage of distortion against Islam, it is a fact that more then 70% of those people who become Muslim in the west, are women.

By the time of his death in the year 632 CE almost the whole of the Arabian peninsula had been conquered. A million square miles lay at his feet. Yet such was the humble nature of this man that he would mend his own shoes, sew his own clothes and milk his own goats. Such behavior has become awe inspiring for millions of people and has thus led them to the beauty of this religion. As a leader for his people he was a great example of humility and mercy. When his companions walked past his house they could hear him crying in his prayer, so much so that it was like a "boiling pot." [Reported by Abu Dawud] He would continuously pray during the nights to such an extent that his feet would swell up. Upon observing this his wife Aisha asked him, "Why do you pray so much, when your Lord has forgiven your past sins and your future sins?", and the reply from the Prophet, peace be upon him, was:

"Should I therefore not be a grateful servant of my Lord?" [Recorded in al-Bukhari]

The famous conquest of Makkah is an event which shall be remembered for the justice and mercy which were shown that day. Even though he had the option to punish those who were guilty of oppressing the Muslims, Muhammad, peace be upon him, issued a general amnesty by which many people were forgiven. It was this behavior which saw the amazing acceptance of Islam by almost the whole population of Makkah literally overnight. How different is this behavior from that of the non-Muslim conquerors such as the crusaders, who upon the conquest of Jerusalem; raped, looted and burnt their way to success.

With leadership and conquest comes fame but fame did not affect this man whose only aim was to establish the religion of Allah on earth. His position as a messenger of Allah was not exaggerated. His insistence on being a mere mortal like others was firm. And his desire to single out Allah alone for worship was stressed wholeheartedly. It is for this reason that he ordered his followers not to make any pictorial representations or statues of him. Before his death he condemned the "Jews and Christians for taking the graves of their prophets and pious people as places of worship" [Recorded in al-Bukhari]. By implication this made it prohibited for the Muslims to take the grave of Muhammad, upon whom be peace, as a place of worship. For all those who call the Muslims 'Muhammadans', then this is the response which we as worshippers of Allah bring forward. Throughout history leaders of nations, ideologies and empires have often ended up becoming objects of worship. We find statues and pictures of Marx, Lenin, Caesar, Jesus, St Paul, Hitler, Napoleon, Confucius and so many others. Yet despite all the reminders of these people, it is still this man Muhammad, peace be upon him, who has had the most influence upon history, despite the fact that we find no 3-D visual image of him*. This is indeed a mercy from Allah.

The world of the 7th century was a crumbling place. The empires of Rome and Persia were locked in constant battle. The Chinese and Indian civilizations were in moral decline. Christianity, Zoroastrianism and Judaism were all religions which were fast losing momentum. The case of the Arabs was clear to everyone and they were regarded as being at the bottom of this decaying pit. It was among this decadence that Allah sent Muhammad, peace be upon him. He was like the light to this world of ignorance. Like a lamp did he shine in this abyss of darkness. From the confines of Arabia it was his light that would reach the farthest regions of the earth and release the people from their burdens:

"O Prophet! We have sent you as a witness and a bringer of good news and a warner. And as a summoner to Allah by His Permission, and as a lamp that gives light." [Al-Qur'an 33:45-46]

"Be thankful for small mercies" goes the saying of old. But the mercy which we have been given is far from small. Rather the greatness of this mercy will enable us to live and die upon a way of success and contentment. This mercy is the way of the Prophet Muhammad and through it we, by the will of Allah, will enjoy an everlasting life to come.

"In the messenger of Allah you have a good example for him who hopes in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much." [Al-Qur'an 33:21]

* This fact has even been attested to by Christians, such as Professor Michael Hart in his book, The 100: The Most Influential Men in History. Despite the fact that Professor Hart casts doubt upon the source of the Prophet's Law, he still cannot help but admit that this man exercised more influence on humanity then anyone else. It is for this reason that he places Muhammad in the No.1 position, even ahead of his Lord Jesus, whom he places 3rd just behind St Paul.

 

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Imam Al-Awzaai – Allah have mercy on him – said:

Faith (Iman) is not sound except with [correct] words. Faith and words are not sound except with [good] works. And faith, words and deeds are not sound except with [the correct] intentions in conformance to the Sunnah. Those who went before us of our Salaf did not separate faith from deeds: deeds are a part of faith, and faith is from [ones deeds]. Iman is a word that brings together these aspects of the religions [of Allah] and is confirmed through [a person's] works.

So whoever believes in word, knows in his heart and confirms [his belief] through his works, then this is the strongest handhold that will never break. And whoever says [words of faith] but does not know [faith] in his heart nor confirms it with his works, it will never be accepted of him and he will be in the hereafter from those who suffer in loss.

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10 Sicknesses of the Heart

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Ibrahim Bin Adham ( May Allah swt have mercy on him) told these sicknesses of the spiritual heart to a group of people who asked him why their dua’s weren’t getting answered. In other words, if you want your dua’s to get answered, reflect on the conditions below:

 


1. You believe in the existence of Allah (Subhanahuwa'tala) but you do not fulfill His Commands.

2. You say you love the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) but you do not follow his Sunnah.

3. You read the Holy Qur'an but you do not put it into practice.

4. You enjoy all the benefits from Allah (Subhanahuwa'tala) but you are not grateful to Him.

5. You acknowledge Satan as your enemy but you do not go against him.

6. You want to enter Paradise but you do not work for it.

7. You do not want to be thrown into Hell-Fire but you do not try to run away from it.

8. You believe that every living-thing will face death but you do not prepare for it.

9. You gossip and find faults in others but you forget your own faults and habits.

10. You bury the Dead but you do not take a lesson from it.

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Some Benefits of Islam

Islam provides many benefits for the individual and the society. This chapter mentions some of the benefits gained through Islam for the individual.

(1) The Door to Eternal Paradise

God has said in the Quran:

And give good news (O Muhammad) to those who believe and do good deeds, that they will have gardens (Paradise) in which rivers flow.... (Quran, 2:25)

God has also said:

Race one with another for forgiveness from your Lord and for Paradise, whose width is as the width of the heavens and the earth, which has been prepared for those who believe in God and His messengers.... (Quran, 57:21)

 

The Prophet Muhammad told us that the lowest in rank among the dwellers of Paradise will have ten times the like of this world,1 and he or she will have whatever he or she desires and ten times like it.2 Also, the Prophet Muhammad said: {A space in Paradise equivalent to the size of a foot would be better than the world and what is in it.}3 He also said: {In Paradise there are things which no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind has thought of.}4 He also said: {The most miserable man in the world of those meant for Paradise will be dipped once in Paradise. Then he will be asked, “Son of Adam, did you ever face any misery? Did you ever experience any hardship?” So he will say, “No, by God, O Lord! I never faced any misery, and I never experienced any hardship.”}5

If you enter Paradise, you will live a very happy life without sickness, pain, sadness, or death; God will be pleased with you; and you will live there forever.

 

God has said in the Quran:

But those who believe and do good deeds, We will admit them to gardens (Paradise) in which rivers flow, lasting in them forever.... (Quran, 4:57)

 

(2) Salvation from Hellfire

God has said in the Quran:

Those who have disbelieved and died in disbelief, the earth full of gold would not be accepted from any of them if one offered it as a ransom. They will have a painful punishment, and they will have no helpers.(Quran, 3:91)

 

So, this life is our only chance to win Paradise and to escape from Hellfire, because if someone dies in disbelief, he will not have another chance to come back to this world to believe.  As God has said in the Quran about what is going to happen for the unbelievers on the Day of Judgment:

If you could but see when they are set before the Fire (Hell) and say, “Would that we might return (to the world)!  Then we would not reject the verses of our Lord, but we would be of the believers!”(Quran, 6:27)

 

But no one will have this second opportunity.

The Prophet Muhammad said: {The happiest man in the world of those doomed to the Fire (Hell) on the Day of Judgment will be dipped in the Fire once.  Then he will be asked, “Son of Adam, did you ever see any good?  Did you ever experience any blessing?”  So he will say, “No, by God, O Lord!”}

 

(3) Real Happiness and Inner Peace

 

Real happiness and peace can be found in submitting to the commands of the Creator and the Sustainer of this world.  God has said in the Quran:

Truly, in remembering God do hearts find rest. (Quran, 13:28)

 

On the other hand, the one who turns away from the Quran will have a life of hardship in this world.  God has said:

But whoever turns away from the Quran,1 he will have a hard life, and We will raise him up blind on the Day of Judgment. (Quran, 20:124)

 

This may explain why some people commit suicide while they enjoy the material comfort money can buy.  For example, look at Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam), formerly a famous pop singer who used to earn sometimes more than $150,000 a night.  After he converted to Islam, he found true happiness and peace, which he had not found in material success.

 

(4) Forgiveness for All Previous Sins

 

When someone converts to Islam, God forgives all of his previous sins and evil deeds.  A man called Amr came to the Prophet Muhammad and said, “Give me your right hand so that I may give you my pledge of loyalty.”  The Prophet stretched out his right hand.  Amr withdrew his hand.  The Prophet said: {What has happened to you, O Amr?}  He replied, “I intend to lay down a condition.”  The Prophet asked: {What condition do you intend to put forward?}Amr said, “That God forgive my sins.”  The Prophet said: {Didn’t you know that converting to Islam erases all previous sins?}

 

After converting to Islam, the person will be rewarded for his or her good and bad deeds according to the following saying of the Prophet Muhammad : {Your Lord, Who is blessed and exalted, is most merciful.  If someone intends to do a good deed but does not do it, a good deed will be recorded for him.  And if he does do it, (a reward of) ten to seven hundred or many more times (the reward of the good deed), will be recorded for him.  And if someone intends to do a bad deed but does not do it, a good deed will be recorded for him.  And if he does do it, a bad deed will be recorded against him or God will wipe it out.}

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