Monthly Archives: September 2012

Seerah – Life of the Prophet: Read. The First Revelation

Seerah – Life of the Prophet: Read. The First Revelation

9-26-2012

Episode 27: Read. The First Revelation

Welcome to Seerah Pearls, which aims to highlight some tantalising learning points from each episode of the Seerah- Life of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

This session further discusses the start of the final revelation. The first thing that began from divine revelation was that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) started having true dreams i.e. he would see something in a dream, and that exact thing would then happen in real life. The scholars explain that true dreams taught the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to learn to trust his heart, so that he would not have doubts.

 

The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) spent increasing time alone, away from society in contemplation in the mountains. This practice is known as ‘Tahannuth’, which comes from the root ‘to break a promise’. It means to pull away and leave something. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was drawing away from the corruption, idolatry and chaos of society: to clean something, you have to remove it from that environment. His heart was now ready to receive revelation.

 

One day, the angel Gabriel came to him and said, ‘Read!’ He said, ‘I am not a reader’ i.e. he did not have the ability to read. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said the angel grabbed him and smothered him: he held on, until the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) felt he lost all his energy. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) tried to resist, but he finally gave up, unable to fight further. The angel released him, and again, he said, ‘Read!’ The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) repeated again, ‘I do not read’. The angel grabbed and smothered him again. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) finally desisted in fighting back, and the angel left him. The angel said for the third time, ‘Read!’ He again repeated, ‘I do not read’. The angel squeezed again, until the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) lost all energy, then he let go.

 

The angel then recited:

96:1     Recite in the name of your Lord who created –

96:2     Created man from a clinging substance.

96:3     Recite, and your Lord is the most Generous –

96:4     Who taught by the pen –

96:5     Taught man that which he knew not.

 

This story shows that there is a physical as well as a spiritual preparation. If we look into our deen today, we see that the spiritual preparation includes some physical activity e.g. making wudu, praying salah, and fasting: there is a link between the two. You have to apply yourself physically to achieve something.

 
Seerah – Life of the Prophet: The Cave of Hira

Seerah – Life of the Prophet: The Cave of Hira

9-19-2012

Episode 26: The Cave of Hira

Welcome to Seerah Pearls, which aims to highlight some tantalising learning points from each episode of the Seerah- Life of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

 

This session discusses the background to the momentous occasion of the beginning of revelation. It was a pivotal moment in human history: people had long been entrenched in darkness, as there had been 600 years since revelation had come to man.

 

In the months prior to revelation, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was nearing 40 years old. He had been reflecting on the immoral nature of society, and took time out to reflect on these issues. To do this, he would often go alone to the mountains, and frequent the cave of Hira on Mount Noor. The cave has enough room for 2 people to stand at most, and narrows at the end. There are openings at both ends, which provided good ventilation. Looking through one opening, the Ka’ba was visible in the distance. Here, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) found quiet, peace and serenity to contemplate life in isolation: this practice is known as at-Tahannuth. The first time he spent a prolonged period at Hira was during Ramadan: he would take food supplies with him so he could spend days there. There is speculation about the specifics of what the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) would do i.e. what was his form of praying, what was he actually reflecting on? Allah inspired that desire for the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) to go into isolation and reflect, to prepare his heart for revelation.

Similarly today, we should observe etiquettes when we make preparations to face Allah in worship, such as during salah and reciting the Quran e.g. by paying full attention to worship, purifying oneself with wudu, and facing the Kiblah.

 
Seerah – Life of the Prophet: Salman al-Farsi, Amr bin Murrah al-Juhani & Prophecies About the Coming of Revelation

Seerah – Life of the Prophet: Salman al-Farsi, Amr bin Murrah al-Juhani & Prophecies About the Coming of Revelation

9-12-2012

Episode 25: Salman al-Farsi, Amr bin Murrah al-Juhani & Prophecies About the Coming of Revelation

Welcome to Seerah Pearls, which aims to highlight some tantalising learning points from each episode of the Seerah- Life of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

 

This episode continues with the story of Salman al-Farsi. Salman remained in slavery after accepting Islam- he had to miss the battles of Badr and Uhud. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) advised him to buy his freedom. Salman’s owner asked him to plant and grow 300 date palms, as well as for 40g of gold. Salman tried to negotiate him down to silver, but he insisted on gold. The owner knew the risks of his demands were high: transplanting trees had a high likelihood of failing. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) announced to the Sahaba to help their brother Salman. They started helping him by bringing date palms, ranging from 1-20 each in number. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said to get the land ready and not to plant the trees, but to call him when they had dug the holes. He came and planted each of the 300 date palm individually with his own blessed hands. Miraculously, not even one tree died, and all 300 flourished. However, the gold was still required. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) had just recently been given a gift. Someone had found a gold mine and they chipped out a rock with gold and gifted it to him. He handed this over to Salman, who felt conscious of the debt he owed to the community. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) waived the debt, saying Allah would provide recompense. When Salman handed the block over to his owner, it was found to have exactly 40g gold. Thus, Salman obtained his freedom.

 

The first battle he participated in was the Battle of the Trench: he was the one to offer the novel strategy for the battle of digging the trench. During this endeavour, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) split the workers into groups of 10 based on family and tribe, so that the teams were familiar with each other and to aid cohesion. Salman did not have any alliances, but each of the Muhajiroun and Ansar argued that Salman belonged to their respective groups. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) settled the matter by saying that Salman belonged with him and his family.

 

Two stories are recounted about how some people are directly guided to Islam by extraordinary events by Allah’s decree. The first is the story of Amr bin Murrah al-Juhani. In the times of Jahiliyyah, he went to Makkah in the season of Hajj. Whilst sleeping, he awoke and saw a light shooting from the Ka’ba. Startled, he then heard a voice saying that the darkness was about to disappear, light was about to illuminate the earth, and that the final seal of the Prophets was about to be sent. A few nights later, he saw a similar light again, and heard a voice saying that Islam had become apparent and the idols had been broken. He told his people of this occurrence, but no one believed him. He came across a monk, and told him what had happened. The monk said that a man named Ahmed would be sent as a Prophet. Years later, when Amr came to Makkah, he heard people talking about someone who claimed to be a Prophet. He met the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and Amr accepted his call. Amr wanted to preach the message to his own people. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) advised him to be soft and gentle, and not to be harsh and arrogant. All of his people accepted Islam, except one. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) met all of them individually.

 

The second story is about Umar ibn Khattab (radiallahu anhu). Whilst he was Khalifah, a man walked into the Masjid. Umar (radiallahu anhu) called him and asked if he was Muslim: the man confirmed he was. He then asked if he used to be fortune teller. The man got offended, saying that since accepting Islam, no one had mentioned this. Umar (radiallahu anhu) reassured him that his intention was not to offend, but he wanted to see if the man remembered seeing a miraculous event, which he confirmed that he did. In the days of Jahiliyyah, Umar (radiallahu anhu) woke with a hangover near the place where the idols were kept. He observed a group of people who brought a goat to sacrifice to the idols. The goat was dead, but a voice came from it, saying that a new word had come, and the goat declared the Shahada.

 
Seerah – Life of the Prophet: The Approach of Revelation

Seerah – Life of the Prophet: The Approach of Revelation

9-04-2012

Episode 24: The Approach of Revelation

Welcome to Seerah Pearls, which aims to highlight some tantalising learning points from each episode of the Seerah- Life of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam).

We are at this point, a few years away from the start of revelation. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is the continuation and the completion of the guidance of Allah. It was six centuries since the last message by Isa (peace be upon him) had come to earth, which was one of the largest gaps between two Prophets. Some people of the scripture were aware of the coming of the last Prophet. So, why was it so shocking when he finally came? Why did not more people believe his message? The answer is that these people were rare, even written off as being ‘on the fringe’, and not well publically accepted.

 

The Quran mentions the previous scriptures foretold of his coming:

Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find written in what they have of the Torah and the Gospel, who enjoins upon them what is right and forbids them what is wrong and makes lawful for them the good things and prohibits for them the evil and relieves them of their burden and the shackles which were upon them. So they who have believed in him, honored him, supported him and followed the light which was sent down with him – it is those who will be the successful. (7:157)

Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; and those with him are forceful against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing and prostrating [in prayer], seeking bounty from Allah and [His] pleasure. Their mark is on their faces from the trace of prostration. That is their description in the Torah. And their description in the Gospel is as a plant which produces its offshoots and strengthens them so they grow firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers – so that Allah may enrage by them the disbelievers. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteous deeds among them forgiveness and a great reward. (48:29)

 

The Quran mentions how Isa (peace be upon him), foretold of his coming:

And [mention] when Jesus, the son of Mary, said, “O children of Israel, indeed I am the messenger of Allah to you confirming what came before me of the Torah and bringing good tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name is Ahmad.” But when he came to them with clear evidences, they said, “This is obvious magic.” (61:6)

 

The Quran mentions the covenant taken by the prophets to accept any prophet that comes after him:

And [recall, O People of the Scripture], when Allah took the covenant of the prophets, [saying], “Whatever I give you of the Scripture and wisdom and then there comes to you a messenger confirming what is with you, you [must] believe in him and support him.” [ Allah ] said, “Have you acknowledged and taken upon that My commitment?” They said, “We have acknowledged it.” He said, “Then bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses.” (3:81)

 

Prophet Ibrahim made a dua, of which the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is the manifestation:

Our Lord, and send among them a messenger from themselves who will recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book and wisdom and purify them. Indeed, You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” (2:129)

 

There is a narration about a Jewish scholar from As-Sham who migrated to Yathrib. The other Jewish tribes knew he was reclusive. When it would not rain, they would ask him to pray for rain, and his prayers would be consistently answered. When he was nearing death, he asked, ‘Does not it make you curious why I would leave As-Sham and come and live in the middle of the desert?’ He said he came because the Prophet of the last time was coming and Yathrib would be the place he would migrate to. He hoped to live to see the day he would come and he would follow the Prophet. The scholar advised the people to follow the Prophet if they lived to see his coming.

 

The Quran says:

And when there came to them a Book from Allah confirming that which was with them – although before they used to pray for victory against those who disbelieved – but [then] when there came to them that which they recognized, they disbelieved in it; so the curse of Allah will be upon the disbelievers. (2:89)

 

The story of the acceptance of Islam by Salman al-Farsi is discussed here. Even though he accepted Islam later in the chronology of events, it is relevant to mention here as it recounts the dynamic that there were a few people aware of the coming of the last Prophet.

Salman was from the people Persia. His father was the leader of the town. Salman was the most beloved thing to his father, to the point where his father was very overprotective of him, keeping him in the house. He used to worship the fire to spend his time and it was Salman’s responsibility to keep the fire burning. One day, his father was supposed to pick up a payment, and he entrusted the responsibility to collect the payment to Salman. His father emphasised not to get distracted from the job. Salman passed by a Christian monastery, where they were praying. He entered in and was amazed by the sight before him: he felt their religion was better than the religion of fire worship. He asked where they learnt the religion, and they said from As-Sham. Arriving late back home in the evening, Salman’s father was extremely worried. Salman recounted what he saw and said of how impressed he was with the religion. His father frightened him with regards to those people and dismissed his opinion, chaining him to the home. Salman sent a message to the people at the monastery, asking for information about anyone going to As-Sham. When informed about a group of business people going there, he picked the lock and ran away from home.

 

Arriving at As-Sham, Salman asked for the most righteous man in the religion of Christianity. The priest agreed that Salman could stay with him. However, he discovered the priest was not a good person: he would collect charity and hoard it for himself. Salman informed the people about the priest’s misconduct and they hung the priest. In contrast, the replacement priest was the most remarkable man. Salman stayed with him until the priest was on his deathbed: he was directed to another priest, who again was of good character. When this 3rd priest was about to die, he was again directed to a 4th person. On the deathbed of the final priest, Salman was informed there was nobody left to go to. Instead, he was advised to go and wait in a land in the direction of Hijaz, a place where they farm and have date trees, and where he would find mostly idol worshippers: the coming of the last Prophet was imminent in this land. Some of his signs would be: he will accept gifts but not take any charity for himself, and between his shoulder blades is the seal of Prophethood.

 

Salman asked some businessmen to take him towards that land. However, they betrayed him and sold him as a slave. He eventually ended up as a slave with the Jews of Banu Quraydah of Madina. Salman remained content, as he realised he was where he needed to be. One day, whilst Salman was working in the trees, someone came to his owner and remarked how they might be in trouble: all the idol worshippers were gathering at Quba, as a man had come there claiming to be a Prophet. On hearing this, Salman nearly fell out of the tree. He descended, asking eagerly for more details, but his owner dismissed him and sent him back to work.

 

Salman slowly gathered money and eventually went to Quba to see the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). He brought fruit and presented it to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) as charity: the Prophet did not eat from it. Salman again gathered money and a few weeks later, he went again and presented food as a gift: this time the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) ate from it. Finally, Salman came again after a few days, wanting to see the mark of Prophethood. Salman went and sat behind the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), who was wearing an upper and lower garment. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) noticed him and remarked that he knew what Salman was trying to see, thus he dropped the upper cloth and revealed the mark of Prophethood. Salman jubilantly ran up to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and hugged him from behind, kissing the mark of Prophethood. Salman’s long, arduous and difficult search had come to an end and he accepted Islam.

 
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