Fruits for the Week

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The crowd was growing in size by the minute. They were beating drums, singing, dancing, and shouting with joy. Pagan Makkah was about to kill Khubaib ibn Adi Ansari (ra) who had been captured through a sinister and treacherous plot, then sold in the slave market so the buyers could exact their vengeance.

It started when some tribesmen from Uthul and Qara went to Madinah and requested the Prophet (saw) to send some teachers with them who could educate their fellow tribesmen about Islam. The request was granted and about ten companions were sent with them. When the group reached Raji’ two hundred armed men were lying in wait for them. Khubaib (ra) and Zaid ibn Adathna (ra) were captured alive, while the others were martyred. Then they were sold in exchange for a hundred heads of camel. Both had fought in the battle of Badr and their swords had killed some pagan soldiers.

Now the relatives of those killed in war wanted to get even. Of course, Arab traditions did not allow revenge for war like this. But their opponents were Muslims. Then, as now, the pagan world was ready to violate its own rules and traditions when the victims were Muslim.

While facing death, Khubaib (ra) said a poem that has been recorded by history. It includes these lines:” They say if I renounce Islam, my life will be spared. But it is better to die with belief than to live with unbelief.”

At the last minute, the pagans asked him:” Don’t you wish that you were spared and Muhammad (saw) got this punishment? Would not you like that you were resting comfortably in your home, while he was killed in your place?” From the man who was about to die because he had accepted the message brought by Muhammad (saw) came this reply:” By Allah, I cannot even imagine that a thorn should prick the foot of Muhammad (saw) while I rest in my home.”

Abu Sufyan, an unbeliever at the time, remarked to his associates:” See the love of companions for Muhammad (saw) is unparalleled and unprecedented.” At another time, a similar observation was made by another Quraish leader Urwah ibn Mas’ud al-Thaqafi.” I have seen Caesar and Chosroes in their pomp, but never have I seen a man honored, as Muhammad is honored by his comrades.”

The biographies of the companions are full of stories that show their extraordinary love and devotion for the Prophet (saw). The Qur’an itself attests to this:” The Prophet is closer to the believers than even they themselves are.” (Al-Ahzab: 6).

It is a statement of fact as well as a command. The following two hadiths, from among the many on the subject, clarify this point further:” None of you can be a believer until I become dearer to him than his parents, his children, and all the people.” (Bukhari). “There are three signs that indicate that a person has tested the sweetness of faith: 1. That loves Allah and His Prophet more than anything else. 2. He loves a person solely for the sake of Allah. 3. After accepting Islam he hates going back to unbelief as much as he hates going into the Fire.” (Bukhari)

It has to be so because our relationship to the Prophet (saw) is at the core of our entire religion. He is human, not divine, but he is our connection. He relays to us the Word of Allah and he explains what the Word of Allah means. He sets a personal example that we look at not just for admiration but emulation. Our relationship with him is legal as well as personal; moral as well as spiritual; intellectual as well as emotional. Allah (swt) chose him to guide us, educate us, inspire us, and purify us – and we remain indebted forever!

This not only establishes a relationship between a believer and the Prophet (saw), but it also establishes the relationship among the believers, making them one unit because of- in addition to their common faith – their common love for the Prophet (saw).

Together these facts explain a Muslim’s sensitivity to the honor of the Prophet (saw). To begin with, we must remember that the honor of everyone is important. As the hadith reminds us:” No one forsakes a Muslim whose honor and dignity are under attack except that Allah will also forsake him when he is most in need of Allah’s help. And no one helps a Muslim whose honor and dignity are under attack except that Allah will also help him when he is most in need of Allah’s help.” (Abu Dawud)

If a Muslim is not supposed to be indifferent when the honor of another ordinary Muslim is under attack, how in the world can anyone expect him or her to be indifferent when the honor and dignity of the Prophet (saw) himself may be under attack?

Some say that since the Prophet (saw) forgave his worst enemies and never took revenge for himself, any law that prescribed punishment for assaulting the honor of the Prophet (saw) is clearly against his Sunnah. The premise is true but the conclusion is false. What the prophetic example teaches is that we should also be willing to forgive those who have committed offenses against us, personally – an important message that is generally ignored. On the other hand, we know of Ka’ab bin Ashraf who used to abuse the Prophet (saw) and instigated others to do so. He was executed by Muhammad ibn Salma (ra) on the orders of the Prophet (saw). (Bukhari No.3731).

There are not many such incidents but history records that whenever anyone tried to abuse the person of the Prophet (saw) the same punishment was meted out to him. As the Persian poet said:” May take liberty with God, be careful with Muhammad (saw).

by Khalid Baig

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