By Dr Muzammil H. Siddiqi

 

 

Prophet Muhammad’s Message: Common, Unique and Relevant
(Khutbah at ISOC – Jumadal Ula 3, 1434/ March 15, 2013)

 

مَا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَا أَحَدٍ مِنْ رِجَالِكُمْ وَلَٰكِنْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا {الأحزاب 40)

Muhammad is not the father of any one of your men; he is Allah's Messenger and the seal of the prophets: Allah knows everything. (33:40)

روى البخاري عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال : إن مثلي ومثل الأنبياء من قبلي كمثل رجل بنى بيتاً فأحسنه وأجمله إلا موضع لبنة من زاوية فجعل الناس يطوفون به ويعجبون له ويقولون : هلا وضعت هذه اللبنة؟ قال : فأنا اللبنة وأنا خاتم النبيين .(البخارى 3535)

The example of me and other prophets before me is like a person built a building. He made it fine and beautiful, except for a stone at a corner. People walked around the building and were amazed but said, ‘For what reason this cornerstone is not placed?’ I am the cornerstone and I am the seal of the prophets. (Al-Bukhari, Hadith 3535)

In Islam we emphasize both the commonality of Prophet Muhammad’s message with the message of other prophets and messengers of Allah as well as its uniqueness. It is important to recognize commonality, because this makes us work with others and cooperate with them in matters of goodness. It is also important to understand the special and unique mission of Prophet Muhammad, because this makes us distinct and help us to make our unique contribution to the world. We should talk of uniqueness not in any arrogance but in humble thankfulness to Allah and give this message to the world.

We believe in all prophets and messengers of Allah without any discrimination between them. We specially recognize the prophets and messengers who came in the line of Prophet Ibrahim and are recognized by Jews and Christians. Most of the Prophets mentioned in the Qur’an are the same as mentioned in the Jewish and Christian scriptures. The teachings of all prophets were very similar. They all emphasized faith in one God and righteous life. They all emphasized that God created this world. He created human beings as His special creation to serve Him and take care of His creation.

The uniqueness of Prophet Muhammad is that he was the last and final prophet of Allah and his message is the universal and final message of Allah. There is no new prophet after Prophet Muhammad and there is no new divine message after his message. He was sent for all humankind until the end of the world. The Qur’an also tells us that this message is complete and perfect and does not need any addition or alteration. The message was also preserved and protected. So we should follow it without any doubt or hesitation.

... الْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِي وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ الْإِسْلَامَ دِينًا ۚ... (المائدة 3)

… Today I have perfected your religion for you, completed My blessing upon you, and chosen as your religion Islam… (Al-Ma’idah 5:3)

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا الذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ لَحَافِظُونَ {الحجر9}

We have sent down the Reminder Ourself, and We Ourself will guard it. (Al-Hijr 15:9)

However, the most important things for us are to reflect on the relevance of this message today and on our role. The relevance of this message is its universal quality. It is a most suitable message for our global village. It is a message that is good for the shrinking world where people of diverse background meet, live and work together. The core principles of this message are five. These principles were good for humanity in the past and they are much more relevant and needed today. These principles are:

  • One God
  • One human family
  • Dignity and equality of all human beings
  • Justice and fairness towards all people
  • Absolute requirement of balanced morality and universal ethics

These principles are mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah in different places and in different ways. All of them are important and relevant, but there are two verses of the Qur’an that are most outstanding in presenting the core and global message of Islam. They present this message in the most powerful and beautiful way. One is known as Ayat al-Birr (al-Baqarah 2:177). Sayyidna Abu Dharr al-Ghifari called it ‘Ayat al-Iman’. The other is Ayat al-‘Adl (al-Nahl 16:90). Sayyidna Abdullah ibn Mas’ud called it ‘the most comprehensive verse of the Qur’an:

لَيْسَ الْبِرَّ أَنْ تُوَلُّوا وُجُوهَكُمْ قِبَلَ الْمَشْرِقِ وَالْمَغْرِبِ وَلَٰكِنَّ الْبِرَّ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَالْمَلَائِكَةِ وَالْكِتَابِ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ وَآتَى الْمَالَ عَلَىٰ حُبِّهِ ذَوِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَالْيَتَامَىٰ وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَابْنَ السَّبِيلِ وَالسَّائِلِينَ وَفِي الرِّقَابِ وَأَقَامَ الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَى الزَّكَاةَ وَالْمُوفُونَ بِعَهْدِهِمْ إِذَا عَاهَدُوا ۖ وَالصَّابِرِينَ فِي الْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ وَحِينَ الْبَأْسِ ۗ أُولَٰئِكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا ۖ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُتَّقُونَ {البقرة 177}

Goodness does not consist in turning your face towards East or West. The truly good are those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, in the angels, the Scripture, and the prophets; who give away some of their wealth, however much they cherish it, to their relatives, to orphans, the needy, travelers and those who ask, and to liberate those in bondage; those who keep up the prayer and pay the prescribed charity; who keep pledges whenever they make them; who are steadfast in misfortune, adversity, and times of danger. These are the ones who are true, and it is they who are aware of Allah. (Al-Baqarah 2:177)

The ayah emphasizes that true righteousness (or religiousness) means sound faith, sincere social concern, deep devotion to Allah and excellence in character. The second ayah says:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ ۚ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ {النحل 90}

Allah commands justice and kindness, and generosity towards relatives; and He forbids what is shameful, evil, and aggressive. He teaches you, so that you may take heed. (al-Nahl 16:90)

In this ayah we have three commands and three prohibitions. Justice, benevolence and family connections are the basic rules for individuals and society. Indecencies, evil and aggressions must be removed to keep the individuals and society safe and secure.

This message is not for any particular race, ethnic groups or nationality. It is good for all people and for all times, especially for our time. However, the message itself cannot be effective unless there are people who sincerely commit to this message and conduct their personal and communal affairs by it. Our responsibility therefore is:

  • To learn this message and its details from the authentic sources and teachers. Knowledge is the foundation.
  • We should live by it sincerely. Unless we practice what we profess we cannot be effective.
  • We must present it to others with wisdom and compassion using the right words and means.
  • Our goal must be to increase love, harmony and cooperation among all people.
  • Our ultimate objective must be Allah’s approval.

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ {162}لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ ۖ وَبِذَٰلِكَ أُمِرْتُ وَأَنَا أَوَّلُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ {163}قُلْ أَغَيْرَ اللَّهِ أَبْغِي رَبًّا وَهُوَ رَبُّ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ ۚ وَلَا تَكْسِبُ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ إِلَّا عَلَيْهَا ۚ وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَىٰ ۚ ثُمَّ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكُمْ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَيُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ فِيهِ تَخْتَلِفُونَ {الأنعام 162-164}

Say, ‘My prayer and sacrifice, my life and death, are all for Allah, Lord of all the Worlds; He has no partner. This is what I am commanded, and I am the first The first ‘of you’: cf. verse 14 and many others. to submit to Him.’ Say, ‘Should I seek a Lord other than Allah, when He is the Lord of all things?’ Each soul is responsible for its own actions; no soul will bear the burden of another. You will all return to your Lord in the end, and He will tell you the truth about your differences . (Al-An ‘am 6:162-164)

 

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