إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّواعَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا
“Verily Allah سبحانه و تعالى and his angels, shower their salutations, their peace, blessings and prayers upon the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم), O Believers, you also send your peace, salutations and prayers to the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم)”
Surah Al Ahzab: Verse 56
As believers we have clearly been instructed and commanded by Allah to greet the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) in the most honourable manner. In the interpretation and the practical application of this verse, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) actually taught us what to say, what to read, how often to read. We, as believers, should also fulfil this command, by the clear text of the Quran and the clear instructions in the A’hadith, we have been commanded that whenever we hear the name of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), we should actually say “صلى الله عليه و سلم”.
All the Ulema of Islam agree that it is an obligation upon every Muslim at least once in his or her lifetime to say salaat and salaam upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). The Ulema also agree that in a gathering, the first time His name is mentioned then it becomes an obligation on each and every believing listener, to say salaat and salaam upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). If someone fails to do so, that person is sinful. Many Ulema actually agree from all the schools of Fiqh that it is not just a question of once in a lifetime, or the first time in any gathering, but whenever, no matter how frequently someone hears the name of the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) it becomes incumbent upon him or her to say “صلى الله عليه و سلم”, to fail to do so is a sin. This is mentioned because; here we are talking about the honour of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and the respect that should be shown to him according to the respect that Allah سبحانه و تعالى has conferred upon him. But we as Muslims, we should be the first to uphold that respect; we should be the first to honour Him as Allah سبحانه و تعالى has commanded us; and it is an act of extreme laziness and indolence or possible insolence that a person hears the name of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and he does not respond by saying “صلى الله عليه و سلم”.
Some A’Hadith in this regard:
Imam Tirmidhi relates a hadith in his Sunan and Imam Ahmed ibn Hanbal relates the same hadith in his Muslim.
From Saydena Ali (رحمة الله عليه), that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said; “The miserly one is he, the stingy, tight fisted miserly one is he, in whose presence my name is mentioned, yet he does not say salaat and salaam upon me”.
Why has the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) termed such a person as being miserly? One of the reasons is that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) did so much for his Ummah, He has a great right over us. We have a great obligation and duty towards Him. As Allah mentions in the holy Quran, in Surah Al Ahzab: Verse 6:
“The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own souls, and his wives are their (believers') mothers”
So we have a great duty and obligation towards Him, and he has a great right over us. Considering all the sacrifices He underwent, all the hardships He suffered, all the dangers and threats He braved throughout His lifetime for the sake of this Ummah. Considering His great right over us, it is an act of great laziness, indolence, insolence, miserliness, tight-fistedness, stinginess and a total lack of consideration on our part not to be able to even motivate ourselves to move our lips and say “صلى الله عليه و سلم” when his name is mentioned.
Imam Hakim (رحمة الله عليه) relates an authentic hadith, in which the companions relate, that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) once ascended the pulpit, and on the first step He said “Ameen”, when he placed His foot on the second step He said “Ameen”, when He placed His foot on the third step he said “Ameen”.
So in any case, what needs to be taken from these A’Hadith is that someone who fails to say salaat and salaam upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) when His name is mentioned, in the words of the Prophet of Allah, he is a miserly, tight fisted, stingy individual and according to the prayer of the leader of all the angels and the Ameen to that prayer of the leader of all the Prophets, he’s been cursed. It has been prayed to Allah, that may he be removed from Allah’s mercy and distanced from it. And in Arabic ‘Lah’na’ ultimately means a curse, to be distanced and removed from Allah’s mercy. These are just two narrations from the A’Hadith, which exhort us to saying salaat and salaam on the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), whenever his name is mentioned. So let us not be miserly and let us fulfil the command of and his Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). In fact Imam Muslim relates a hadith in his Sahih, from Saydena Abu Huraira (رضى الله عنه); that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said “Whoever sends one salutation upon me Allah will shower 10 of his blessings upon that individual”.
Imam Tirmidhi relates a hadith in which Saydena Ubay ibn Kab said to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), ‘Ya Rasool Allah, I frequently and excessively pray salaat and salaam upon you, so what portion of my prayer and of my remembrance should I make salaat and salaam upon you, whenever I engage in the remembrance of Allah, and whenever I pray; what portion of that should I devote exclusively to saying salaat and salaam upon you?’ So the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), said, ‘As much as you can’. Ubay ibn Kab said ‘Ya Rasool Allah, what if I devote a quarter of my prayer just to, sending salaat and salaam upon you’. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said ‘That’s good but if you can increase it, it will be better’. So he said ‘Ya Rasool Allah, what if I devote half of my prayer to sending salaat and salaam upon you?’ The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) replied again ‘That’s good but if you can increase it, it will be better’. So he said ‘Ya Rasool Allah, what if I devote two-thirds of my prayer too sending salaat and salaam upon you?’ The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) replied again ‘That’s good but if you can increase it, it will be better’. So Ubay ibn Kab said ‘Ya Rasool Allah, what if I make my entire prayer devoted exclusively to sending salaat and salaam upon you? The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) replied ‘In that case all of your needs will be taken care of and catered for by Allah and your sins shall be forgiven’.
These are all authentic narrations and there are many, many more. All of them tell us, that we are to as frequently as possible, recite salaat and salaam upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and that’s why I mention this in the hope that we as Muslims and others may also understand that the relationship between the believers and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), is very different to that of any two people, very, very different.
Blasphemy against the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) and blasphemy against any other individual is very different, because blasphemy against the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), is an attack on the core and the very personality and very being of every Muslim.
Allah says in Surah Al Ahzab “The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) is closer to the believers than their own souls”. So by the clear command and instruction of Allah, we are to love and hold dear the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) even more than our own souls. Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim and all the others relate hadith in which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) says, ‘One of you can not become a true believer, until I am more beloved to him than his parents, his children, the whole of mankind and even himself’.
Once Umar ibn Al-Khattab (رضى الله عنه) spoke to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), and said to him ‘O Messenger of Allah, I have searched my soul and I have come to the conclusion that after my own soul, you are the dearest to me in the whole creation of Allah. So Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said ‘O Umar, you can not become a true believer, until I am dearer to you than your own soul’. Umar (رضى الله عنه) said, ‘Ya Rasool Allah, I accept and I declare that you are more beloved to me than myself’. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said ‘Now O Umar, only now can you be a true believer’.
So the relationship between a Muslim and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) is very different than that between Muslims, or between any human being and anybody else. We are to love the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) more than our own souls, more than our families, more than our children or our parents. We also have a very vibrant and thriving personal relationship, a spiritual relationship with the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم), practically in our every day lives. We are reminded constantly, Allah says in Surah Ash-Sharh, addressing the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم):“Have We not expanded your bosom for you? And have we not removed your burden from you, that which bore down heavily on your back, and have we not elevated the mention of your name”
Jibreel (عليه السلام) came to the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم and He said, “Do you know what Allah means when He says have we not elevated the mention of your name?” The Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم replied “No”. Jibreel (عليه السلام) said, “Allah has taken it upon himself, that never will Allah’s name be mentioned, except that in conjunction with Allah’s name you shall be remembered”.
That is why throughout the day when the call is made for the prayer, five times a day throughout the world; in every village and every town and in every city of the Muslim world and non Muslim parts of the world. Whenever a call is made to the prayer, a short while before the prayer, in the Athan, “I bear testimony that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger”, part of the Athan is actually referring to the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. Just prior to the salaah, in the Athan, and in the 2nd Iqama again, the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم is mentioned. Even in the Salaah (after the tashshahud) in the manner that we all do. According to Imam Shafa’i (رحمة الله عليه) if a Muslim fails to send salaat and salaam on the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم during the salaat, then his entire prayer is null and void. This shows that our relationship with the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, is live, vibrant, spiritual and on a personal level on a daily basis; not once a week or once a year.
As Muslims we have been commanded and instructed by Allah سبحانه و تعالى to observe the sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم in everything. So as Muslims, we dress a certain way (those of us that do); in the hope that we may resemble the clothing and the Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. We eat in the manner prescribed by the Prophet of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم); even in our habits, our personal lives; not just in the laws of permissibility and prohibition. In taste, in inclinations, in likes, in dislikes, we strive to follow the Sunnah and the example of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. Our clothes, beginning with the right, we slip our foot into the right shoe first before we do the left; even though this may seem trivial and insignificant. In essence we do so, not because it’s an obligation but because it’s the Sunnah of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم and we feel that we will be resembling his character and personality, his habits, we will be emulating him and in doing so we will be rewarded by Allah. This is the relationship between a believer and the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم.
With regards to the current situation, many of us can see through it all. Muslims do not really believe that this is a debate on choice and freedom of expression. Muslims do not believe, that this is the freedom to publish, the freedom of choice and the freedom of expression. Rather, we should see this as part of a wider campaign as an attack on Islam, the Muslims, the Symbols and personalities of Islam. A wider campaign of vilification and so much more. Recent articles have suggested that the whole cartoon controversy is a conspiracy by the Muslims, to precipitate a clash, a war, to bring about further terrorisation, as an attack on western values. SubhanAllaah the victims have become the perpetrators, being termed as the tyrants. In a Hadith the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم actually said that “…one of the signs of the day of reckoning and closer to the day of judgement, the truthful will be regarded as liars and the lies will be regarded as the truth. The honest and trustworthy shall be dismissed. The traitors will be regarded as being the trustworthy”.
So the general gist of this Hadith is there will be a total flip and conversion of ideals, values and of the truth. We are witnessing all this today. The victims are being portrayed as the tyrants and suffering injustice, all over the world.
As Muslims we stand up for truth and justice, even if part of that justice means accepting our own mistakes. In a Hadith the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم said “Be just even if it is against yourself”.
So as Muslims we are being commanded to be just, stand up for justice, even if we have to accept we are wrong in some aspects. This doesn’t only refer to the victim mentality of a Muslim, but others too. We are clearly witnessing this reversal today in the victim being portrayed as the tyrant etc.
Throughout the medieval ages, the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, was commonly portrayed in paintings, in literature, in supposed critical works of history as a subhuman (Astag’firullah). Much of this material still exists. As Muslims we can take solace and comfort in the words of Allah and his beloved Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم.
The Freedom of Expression debate
Allah سبحانه و تعالى says in the holy Quran none other: “And you will most assuredly hear from those that were given the book before you and from the idolaters much abuse. And if you are patient and you fear Allah, this can not harm you in the least. Verily Allah witness all that they do”.
There is always this question over the faith of the Muslim being robust and resilient enough to withstand criticism ridicule, lampooning. “Alhamdulillah!” our faith, our love of Allah, our love of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, insha’Allaah our dedication to Allah and our devotion are all robust and resilient enough to withstand this ridicule and much more. That’s the stance we should adopt now and in the future because we should expect this to continue. This isn’t “Freedom of Expression”, or an objective study or analysis of Islam; this isn’t a historical review of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. Freedom of Expression has a purpose. These cartoons were nothing to laugh about. They caused deaths, disruption, misery, crisis after crisis, tension all over the world; playing into the hands of all of those people from any side to ferment trouble. It is far from being satirical; they are no joke, no laughing matter. No one is laughing, not even the cartoonist themselves, nor the readers, nor anyone in any part of the world. There is nothing funny about these cartoons. Islam has withstood any criticism, vilification or attack for the past 14 centuries. If someone wishes to assess the honourable character of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم in a just manner, then they are welcome to do so.
Some are intelligent enough to recourse to the book of history after reading all the negativity in the media, they actually read the biography of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم and learn about him. Those who are honest and integral enough, their hearts and their minds are guided to the beauty of the character of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم, bringing them towards him. Though Freedom of Expression has a purpose, this has no purpose. It’s not even a joke.
1. Son of Adam has abused me and it is not for him to do so. And the rejection of Son of Adam is that he refuses to believe in Allah as a Creator.
2. Son of Adam has abused me and it is not for him to do so. By ascribing a son unto me when I am the only one who has not begotten himself, nor is he begotten.
Without belittling the extent or gravity of what has happened, we need to consider how we could and should respond. If someone was to attack and vilify our own mothers and fathers, the pain that is felt over the abuse of the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم cannot be reached by even multiplying far beyond that pain.
Surah Al An’am: “Do not abuse those Gods and idols that they take besides Allah, lest they abuse Allah in their ignorance and in their transgression. In this way we have made beautiful for each nation its deeds. To Allah is their return and then Allah shall make them aware inform them and apprise them of what they were doing”.
This verse was revealed in Mecca, when some of the Muslims, in their passion were abusing some of the idols, so they in return were abusing Allah سبحانه و تعالى. Then this verse was revealed and the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم was told to instruct the believers against being the cause of them abusing Allah. The law of this verse remains intact till this day. So we should not abuse another’s religion if we believe that will in return lead to them vilifying Allah and the religion of Islam.
Similarly in Surah Al Ma’ida “And do not let your enmity or your hatred of the people, incite you in to committing injustice. Be just, this is closer to taqwa and Allah is well aware of what you are doing”.
In another verse of the Quran; “Do not your dislike of a group of people (because they have prevented you from entering the holy mosque of Mecca), incite you into committing injustice. Do no commit injustice and assist each other in righteousness and in taqwa and in piety, and do not assist each other in sin and in transgression”. The backdrop to this verse, to put it simply; the Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم and his companions were prevented from entering Mecca in the 6th year of Hijra when he went to perform Umrah. The companions were outraged. The Pagans were preventing the Prophet of Allah from entering the house of Allah. There were enraged. At the same time there were some Pagan Arabs from other tribes, making there way from different parts of Arabia towards Mecca. The Companions were suggesting attack on the caravans of the Pagans travelling to Mecca, as they had been prevented/denied entry by their Pagan Arab brothers. So Allah سبحانه و تعالى said; “Although your anger is justified, that they have prevented you and the Prophet of Allah from entering Mecca; Be just, do not let your anger and hatred directed at those people in Mecca lead you and incite you into committing injustice and transgressing against these people. Who may be their brethren in religion, and may be their fellow Pagans. They had no part in preventing you entry into the city of Mecca”.
We should protest and let our indignation be known, our frustration be known. This is not just about the cartoons; the truth is this is just one link in a chain. We should be rising up as Muslims collectively to establish justice, truth and witnesses for the sake of Allah in everything. Even for our fellow Muslims who are suffering in all parts of the world (e.g. Afghanistan, Iraq, and Palestine, Chechnya). We should defend the truth, in honour of justice, and wherever it may be. We should remain in our limits, be wise, just, and integral, and realise that we should not say or do anything that gives anybody the excuse to vilify us or attack us further, or Allah سبحانه و تعالى and his Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم further, and we should reflect on the verses of the Quran in order to learn lessons and progress.
May Allah سبحانه و تعالى give us the tawfiq to act and understand and do what is right. (Ameen)
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