What the Prophet Taught Me
This is my submission to The Madina, in which people were asked to submit a creative work on the general theme of Islamic Values.
Be the captain of the ship,
Mustafa, my chosen one,
My expert guide.
Look how the caravan of civilization
Has been ambushed.
Fools are everywhere in charge.
Do not practice solitude like Jesus.
Be in the assembly,
And take charge of it.
So you should live most naturally out in public
And be a communal teacher of souls.
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune–without the words,
And never stops at all.
We are in the Prophet’s Spring, Rabi’ al-Awwal, the blessed month in which it is reported that the Prophet Muhammad (salAllahu alayhi wa salam, may the peace and blessings of God be upon him) was born, in which he arrived in Madina after his migration (hijrah) and in which he passed away. In many ways it is ‘his’ month, a time when we increase in our remembrance of him, his life and teachings, and in our prayers upon him (salAllahu alayhi wa salam). Mercy to the worlds, lover of God, brother of men… who manifest every noble quality in his life and on his limbs, who was the best of character, and was sent but to perfect character – this is our beloved Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam).
It is in this same month we find our hearts shaken by the slaughter of innocent men, women and children in Syria as a brutal regime desperately grasps at its fleeting hold on power. This is not the first time we have witnessed injustice and cruelty on the world scene, but it is the latest and most blatant example of such brutality, of deeds done by people who evidently have no fear of God, and the viciousness to which some will go for their own ends.
In the face of such ugliness, The Prophet’s beauty (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) and the beauty of his teachings are only more resplendent. His unwavering sense of God-consciousness, truth, justice, forgiveness, and kindness, the values he lived his whole life seeking to impart, only become clearer and more distinguished in the face of such wrongs. We can also hold fast to a sense of hope that colors the Prophet’s life (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) and deeds. Even when he encountered some of the worst of the life of this world and the worst of human nature, his belief in his Lord was constant, his faith luminous. With the weightiness of the prophetic mission, a life replete with tribulation and difficulty, and his community facing some of the worst of oppression and bloodshed, he (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) never lost himself in despair, but instead saw suffering through the lens of one who believes in Allah and knows that everything that happens is within His knowledge and from His wisdom. We see a hopefulness, a confidence in Allah’s plan, that brighter days were coming soon and that this ummah (community) has a future, by God’s leave. Instead of giving up, we see a lifetime of constant work and sacrifice in the way of God.
In this month we find ourselves in the refreshing spring of his (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) remembrance, contemplating the temperate winds of his devotion, the beauty of each blossom of his teachings in full bloom for us to admire and take in. Every small act of goodness, refined character, and God-consciousness is a reflection of his teachings (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) and the values he imparted. May we be hopeful people who know that the darkest hour always comes before the dawn, and who seek to imbue his teachings (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) in our lives and selves down to the marrow of our bones. Ameen.
The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wa salam) taught me the value of…
Brotherhood and Sisterhood Across Race, Class or Color
My little son with some neighborhood children in Cairo. The Prophet (peace be upon him) taught, “You are all as equal as the tooth of a comb”, and that “God does not look at your faces or bodies, but at your hearts.” (Tirmidhi)
Standing for Justice
My father at a protest. In an FBI entrapment case which ensnared two members of the Albany Muslim community, my Dad was one of the very few of the older generation to step forward in support of the brothers who were prosecuted and their families. I really have never been prouder of him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was a pillar of justice and stood with the oppressed.
Showing Love and Mercy for the Young
My son Ibrahim on his first day of life. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “He is not from us who does not show mercy to young children nor honor the elderly.” (Tirmidhi)
A woman supplicates at Masjid Muhammad Ali, Cairo. The Prophet (peace be upon him) taught that remembrance of God brings life and light to the spiritual heart and said, “What purifies and polishes the heart is remembrance of God.” (Bayhaqi)
Helping One Another
Cousins helping each other face new adventures. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ” If anyone fulfills his brother’s needs, Allah will fulfill his needs; if one relieves him of his troubles, Allah will relieve his troubles on the Day of Resurrection…” (Bukhari and Muslim)
A lovely pool in a rose garden in Texas. The Prophet peace be upon him said, “God is beautiful and loves beauty.” (Muslim)
Walking the Path to a Greater Destination
Mother and son reflecting on their journey. The Prophet (peace be upon him) advised us to live in this life “like a wayfarer or traveler” (Bukhari), to remember the transient nature of this world and strive to make our time, energy and efforts a path to a better place by God’s leave.
(Poetry by Rumi and Emily Dickinson, respectively)