The Holy Prophet of Islam(saw) was a man of love! He was a loving husband, a loving father and a loving companion. He loved humanity; he loved animals! He loved the poor, the oppressed and the marginalised and, throughout his life, he strove to ameliorate their melancholy plight. But it is the love of Allah which dominated his heart. It is in his love of Allah Almighty that he excelled every other creature and creation of Allah. It is in his love of Allah that he remains an excellent exemplar for everyone else to emulate. This love found expression in his worship and in his honour of Allah Almighty; this love found expression in his obedience, his faithfulness and in the discharge of his duty to Allah Almighty. I will endeavour to shed some light on these aspects to demonstrate the all-consuming love which the Holy Prophet(saw) had for his Lord.
Even before he assumed the mantle of prophethood, it is patently obvious that the love of Allah and the love of His worship began to possess the Holy Prophet(saw). This is evident from the fact that even though his childhood, boyhood and youth had been spent in the corrupt and debased society which Makkah was at the time, he never engaged in any of the evil practices or frivolous activities of his fellow citizens. He never paid homage to an idol nor did he partake of any food presented to an idol as offering. Revolting against the many vices of the people of Makkah, he would repair, with provisions, to the solitary confines of Cave Hira, two or three miles out of town, where he would spend several days at a time in the worship, day and night, of Allah. It is indeed on one such occasion while in this very Cave Hira, that he received the Divine call inviting him to the ministry – an event which changed the course of history!
That which inspired the Holy Prophet(saw) first and last was his duty to God. After receiving the call, he demonstrated his love of Allah through his devotion to duty in the face of persecution and privations that were bitter, cruel and sustained. Nothing and no one could affect his high resolve and no consideration could stand in the way of the performance of his duty. The people of Makkah sought to place all sorts of temptations in his way to persuade him to give up his opposition to idol-worship. When all this had failed, a delegation was sent to his uncle and guardian, Abu Talib, with the message that if he did not persuade his nephew to give up preaching the new doctrine, on the pain of being disowned, they would be compelled to disown Abu Talib. Abu Talib spoke to his nephew, conveying to him what the delegation had said but the Holy Prophet(saw) replied firmly that while he lamented his uncle’s dilemma, he was under Divine instructions which he could not disobey. “Do not give up your people, uncle,” he said, “I do not ask you to stand by me. You may disown me as they have suggested. As for me, the One and Only God is my Witness when I say that if they were to place the sun on my right hand and the moon on my left hand, I would not desist from preaching the truth that God commands.” Abu Talib was not ready to declare his faith in the Prophet’s message but was quite fond of him and must have felt a surge of pride at his firm and noble resolve that he was moved to say: “Go thy way; do thy duty as thou seest it; my people may disown me but I will stand by thee.”
Every aspect of the Holy Prophet’s life was coloured by his love for, and devotion to, God. In spite of the very heavy responsibilities that had been laid upon his shoulders, the greater portion of his time during the day as well as during the night was spent in the worship and praise of Almighty Allah. He would leave bed at midnight and devote himself to the worship of God till it was time to go to the mosque for the morning prayers. He prayed till his prayer mat became wet with tears; he wept till his breast heaved like a boiling pot. He sometimes stood so long in prayer during the latter part of the night that his feet would get swollen, and those who saw him in that condition were always much affected. When his Holy Consort, Hadhrat ‘A’ishah(ra), was moved to venture a mild protest against such prolonged devotion, the Holy Prophet(saw) answered: “If Allah has, by His Grace and Mercy, conferred His love and nearness upon me, is it not my duty in return to be always rendering thanks to Him?”
With a few honourable exceptions, through fourteen centuries Western critics have consistently ignored all that was patently good and beneficent in the life of the Holy Prophet(saw) and have been anxious to paint his portrait with bright colours of falsehood. But in truth every action of the Holy Prophet(saw) was governed by his love of Allah. Everything he did was an act of worship. A book published by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community entitled Invocations of the Holy Prophet(saw) illustrates the case in point. It catalogues hundreds of prayers which the Holy Prophet(saw) recited on all occasions, from the ceremonies of religion to the rituals of daily life. The Holy Prophet(saw) supplicated Allah when arising in the morning and when retiring to sleep at night; he supplicated when starting a meal and upon its completion; when leaving his home and when re-entering, when entering and when leaving the mosque; he supplicated when donning his attire, when putting on new shoes, when mounting his ride; he supplicated upon the sighting of the moon, upon the falling of rain, upon an eclipse. He constantly supplicated for Divine grace, mercy and communion for such was his desire for nearness to his beloved Lord. One of his oft-recited prayers which not only shows how much he loved Allah but also how much he longed for the love of Allah is:
“O Allah, grant me Thy love and the love of those who love Thee and the love of those deeds which enable me to attain Thy love. O Allah, make Thy love dearer to me than my life, my family and [dearer to me than] cold refreshing water to a man dying of thirst.”
As the Holy Prophet(saw) loved Allah, so did he love the Word of Allah. Whenever he heard the Holy Qur’an being recited, he was overcome by emotion and tears would well up in his eyes. And whenever he referred to or discoursed about God, it appeared to onlookers as if his whole being was in the grip of a passion of love for and devotion to God. So much was this so that even his enemies in Makkah would often remark, ‘Muhammad is intoxicated with the love of his Lord.’
Such was the desire of the Holy Prophet(saw) to please his beloved Lord that he never entered upon any undertaking without divine command or permission. When persecution in Makkah became very severe and life became unbearable, he gave permission to his Companions to migrate to Abyssinia and though some of them expressed their desire for him to join them, he declined on the grounds that he had yet not received divine permission to that effect. Thus he chose to endure privations in the cause of Allah until such time as he was commanded to migrate to Madinah.
Where there is love, there is a jealous regard for the beloved. So it was with the Holy Prophet(saw) in his love of Allah. He had an extreme sense of jealousy for the honour of Allah Almighty. One incident which sums this up happened after the cessation of hostilities in the Battle of Uhud. As the exhausted and badly wounded Muslim army gathered around the Holy Prophet(saw), the Makkans raised slogans, one after the other, to the effect that they had, God forbid, killed the Holy Prophet(saw), Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) and Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra). The Holy Prophet(saw) heard these boastful cries but, on each occasion, forbade the Muslims from answering lest the enemy should know the truth and attack again. Then the enemy raised a cry in praise of their national idol “Glory to Hubal! Glory to Hubal! For Hubal has put an end to Islam.” The Holy Prophet(saw) could not bear this boast against the One and Only God, Almighty Allah. Only remnants of his small force remained and the enemy forces were large and buoyant. But the jealousy of the Holy Prophet(saw) had been aroused by this insult to Almighty Allah. Even though his own safety and that of the small band of Muslims lay in keeping silent, he could no longer restrain himself. He looked angrily at the Muslims and said: “Why stand silent and make no reply to this insult to Allah, the Only God?” The Muslim’s asked: “What shall we say, O Prophet?” He replied, and the Muslims shouted accordingly, “Allah alone is Great and Mighty! He alone is High and Honoured!” This cry stupefied the enemy for they realised that they had not succeeded in killing the Holy Prophet(saw) after all. But they dared not attack again.
Another remarkable scene was witnessed when Makkah was conquered without any bloodshed by the Muslims, and the Holy Prophet(saw) and his companions marched trium-phantly into the city within eight years of their flight therefrom. There are a thousand and one things the Holy Prophet(saw) could have done upon re-entering his home town after so long. He could have sought reunion with friends and family, he could have proceeded to the tombs of his beloved wife Hadhrat Khadijah(ra) and uncle Abu Talib; he could have called to account the Makkan leaders who had left no stone unturned in their persecution of the Muslims. But the first thing the Holy Prophet(saw) did was to proceed to the Holy Ka’abah and having performed the circuit of it, he directed the demolition of all 360 idols that were installed inside and around the Holy Ka’abah. The Holy Prophet(saw) abhorred every action and practice which savoured of idolatry and it is patently obvious that the presence of idols in the House of Allah had been consuming his soul. His soul could now rest in peace in the realisation that the Holy Ka’abah had been restored to its original purpose – that of the worship of the One True God.
The love which the Holy Prophet(saw) had for his Lord is also evident from the way he submitted to the Will of Allah in the face of extreme adversity. Throughout his life, he encoun-tered a succession of bitter experiences. He was born an orphan, his mother died while he was still a small child and he lost his grandfather at the age of eight. After marriage he had to bear the loss of several children, one after the other, and then his beloved and devoted wife Hadhrat Khadijah(ra) died. A month later he lost his uncle, Abu Talib. Some of the wives he married after Hadhrat Khadijah’s death died during his lifetime and towards the close of his life, he had to bear the loss of his son Ibrahim. He bore all these losses and calamities cheerfully and accepted the Will of Allah on all occasions. Indeed, on the loss of his son Ibrahim, he uttered those heart-rending words of grief which have become a formula for the mourning of a departed soul: “The eyes shed tears and the heart grieves” he said, “yet we say not anything that would offend our Lord. Ibrahim, we grieve sorely thy parting. To Allah we belong and to Him shall we all return.”
Yet even as he grieved, he displayed a singular sense of honour for Allah, the Almighty. An eclipse of the sun occurred on the same day that his son Ibrahim died and some people spoke of it as a mark of divine condolence. The Holy Prophet’s love of Allah would not permit such a misguided notion to gain currency. He expressed great displeasure and severely condemned it explaining that heavenly bodies and their phenomena are governed by divine laws and had no relation to the life or death of any person.
The Holy Prophet(saw) was most forgiving and forbearing in respect of personal wrongs or injuries against him. His judgements were always tempered with mercy. But when it came to the discharge of binding obligations and the demands of justice imposed upon him by his duty, his love for Allah would not allow him to fail to exercise sternness when the occasion required it of him. Once a daughter of a prominent Arab chieftain was caught stealing; her name was Fatimah, the same as that of the Holy Prophet’s daughter. Some people were asking for mercy as she was the daughter of a powerful chief. They prevailed upon Usamah bin Zaid(ra) whom the Holy Prophet(saw) loved dearly to intercede on her behalf. He proceeded to do so, but this annoyed the Holy Prophet(saw) so much that the vein on his forehead darkened. “What do you mean by this intercession?” he asked, “I would most certainly have done what Allah wants me to do even if my daughter Fatimah had committed this crime.”
Such was the Holy Prophet of Islam(saw)! Little wonder then that we find his love for Allah reciprocated manifold by Allah, his beloved. Little wonder that he is assured by the Holy Qur’an of blessings from Allah and His angels. Little wonder that the believers are commanded in the Holy Qur’an to invoke blessings upon him when it enjoins: Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! You also should invoke blessings on him and salute him with the salutation of peace. (Ch.33:V.57)
When the time of his departure from this life was near, he was given a choice by God either to return to Him or to spend some more years in this earthly existence. His response was: ‘To the companionship of my Exalted Lord. To the companionship of my Exalted Lord.’ These were the last words he uttered before passing unto life eternal. The Holy Prophet (saw) chose death so that he could live forever in the love of Allah.
He indeed proved himself to be a loving, faithful, loyal, steadfast, humble, obedient servant of Allah. His every thought, every movement, every action, his very being was devoted to God in the effort to seek closer communion with Him. This is affirmed by divine testimony. He was directed by the Holy Qur’an to say: ‘My Prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds. He has no partner. And so am I commanded, and I am the first of those who submit.’ (Ch.6:V.163-164).
One indisputable truth emerges from all this and that is whatever view might be taken of the Holy Prophet’s claim to prophethood, he certainly was no impostor. His devotion to Allah and his love of Allah affirm sincerity and truth. May light perpetually shine upon him!