This may be difficult for those born a Muslim to understand, but I didn’t always love the Prophet ﷺ nor did I want to accept Hadith. I grew up as a Christian and my love for Jesus (Isa) peace be upon him, was firmly implanted in me. I had no idea who the Prophet Mohammad ﷺ was. Somehow I got it into my mind that Muslims equated him to a similar position as Jesus in Christianity and I was certain that only Allah is worthy of worship. My fear of falling into the same trap as I had been as a Christian made me reluctant to learn about the Prophet. So I simply ignored any reference of him for at least a year. It wasn’t until was was reading Men & Women Around the Messenger , in particular the introductory chapter entitled The Light They Followed that I found myself moved to tears. I was halfway through reading it when I was overtaken by a deep emotional feeling, it was love. I had never in my life experienced anything like it.
I knew nothing of the Prophet ﷺ other than those few words I had read and yet I felt as though I had always known and loved him. I was eager to learn more. But as the hassle and grind of daily life encroached I soon found myself forgetting about my quest to get to know the Prophet ﷺ. That is how the Shaytaan works. He will use anything to keep you from Allah. And knowing about the life of the Last Prophet ﷺis certainly a way to be drawn closer to Allah. The desire however, remained in the back of my mind and heart. A friend gave me a copy of The Sealed Nectar. This was my chance to learn more. But I found the first two chapters of the book full of information I found uninteresting. I realized that I needed something more accessible.
Thus began my search for an authentic, yet accessible Seerah. This I found rather difficult. A search on google yielded a number of Seerah’s but I found that many had been written by non Muslims and were jaded. One book that kept popping up was When the Moon Split. I was reluctant to read it as it is a translation so I put it aside.
Months later, desperate to recapture that feeling of love for the Prophet ﷺ which by now was a distant memory, I picked up When the Moon Split and began reading. I couldn’t put the book down. As I read I found many things I had read in the Quran coming back to me and their meaning becoming cemented. In particular the ayah, ‘Allah showed great kindness to the believers when He sent a Messenger to them from among themselves to recite His Signs to them, purify them and teach them the Book and Wisdom, even though before that they were clearly misguided.’ (Surah Al `Imran: 164). From this I began to truly understand the importance of the Sunnah.
It had always boggled my mind as to why the Sunnah was important. I know it may seem like common sense but at the time it wasn’t. Then I remembered a Christian saying, what would Jesus do? And I thought to myself, as Muslims we don’t need to ask that question because we know what the Prophet ﷺ did. Slowly I began to learn and follow different aspects of the Sunnah. But more importantly I contemplated the importance and significance of each act. And how these acts of worship were drawing me closer to Allah, as well, as increasing my love and gratitude for the last Prophet ﷺ. I began to understand the significance of his life, his mission, and how he truly is a mercy for all mankind.
The aspect of his life which I most relate to is how he suffered. And during difficult times in my own life I remember that this life is but a test, and temporary in nature. It is easy to get caught up in your own suffering. So I started to ask myself, what did the Prophet ﷺ do when he was faced with adversity? And I thought of his visit to Ta’if. I can only imagine how he felt, bloodied and beaten. And what did he do. He supplication (Du’a) to Allah which is as follows:
اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي وقلة حيلتي وهواني على الناس
ياأرحم الراحمين أنت أرحم الراحمين
أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي
إلى من تكلني إلى عدو يتجهمني أم الى عدو ملكته امرى
إن لم يكن بك غضب علي فلا أبالي ولكن عافيتك هي أوسع لي
أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أضاءت له السموات و الأرض
وأشرقت له الظلمات وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والأخره
أن ينزل بي غضبك أو يحل علي سخطك
لك العتبى حتى ترضى ولاحول ولاقوة إلابك
To You, my Lord,
I complain of my weakness,
lack of support and the humiliation I am made to receive.
Most Compassionate and Merciful!
You are the Lord of the weak,
and you are my Lord.
To whom do You leave me?
To a distant person who receives me with hostility?
Or to an enemy You have given power over me?
As long as you are not displeased with me,
I do not care what I face.
I would, however,
be much happier with Your mercy.
I seek refuge in the light of Your face by which
all darkness is dispelled and both this life and the life to come
are put in their right course against incurring your wrath
or being the subject of your anger.
To You I submit,
until I earn Your pleasure.
Everything is powerless without your support.
Our Prophet ﷺ acknowledged his weakness and that Allah is his Lord. But what stands out for me most is that he is seeking the pleasure of Allah. In this darkest of moments the Prophet ﷺ is seeking the pleasure of Allah, how amazing is that. I decided to implant this idea into my heart and mind and to ask myself several times a day, “is what I am doing pleasing to Allah?” I wanted the idea of pleasing Allah to become a part of me. The Du’a ends with the Prophet ﷺ acknowledging that he is powerless without Allah. He completely and utterly submitted Himself to Allah, relying and his Rabb in everything he did. The life of the Prophet is the example for how we should strive to live our lives.
I make it point to continually learn about the Prophet ﷺ through Hadith, as well as, by reading his Seerah and following courses about his life. For each aspect of our lives we can find something new that is relevant to us at that point. I find that something which I may not have noticed upon first reading or hearing it, when revisited becomes relevant to my circumstance at that time. This is why continually learning about the Prophet ﷺ is an important endeavor. The lessons are uncountable, and invaluable. I laugh at the stupidity of my former self thinking that I could be a Muslim without knowing about the Prophet Mohammad ﷺ. Knowing who he was, makes me not only love him more but Allah more. Contemplating the gift of the Prophet’s life and mission I am humbled by Allah’s mercy and feel grateful, so completely and utterly grateful. In the Quran Allah tells us. “You have an excellent model in the Messenger of Allah, for all who put their hope in Allah and the Last Day and remember Allah much,” (Surat al-Ahzab :21) and Allah warns us of the dangers of abandoning the Sunnah, “We have sent you bearing witness, bringing good news, and warning so that you might all believe in Allah and His Messenger as well as honor, respect, and glorify Him in the morning and the evening. Those who pledge their allegiance to you pledge allegiance to Allah. Allah`s hand is over their hands. Those who break their pledge only break it against themselves. But as for those who fulfill the contract they have made with Allah, We will give them an immense reward,”(Surat al-Fath: 8-10).
Today I can’t imagine a life that doesn’t include a deep love for our Prophetﷺ. And for those who have very little knowledge of the Prophet’s life I recommend you read some of the books I mentioned, as well as, other authentic Seerah. His life, his mission, his suffering, and his complete and utter reliance on Allah is an example for all of us.
Nour M. Fox