Innallaha ma3a Sabireen
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
A few days from now, many Muslims will “celebrate” the birth of their Prophet . Ask anyone why they “celebrate” this occasion, when historians disagree on the certain date of the Prophet’s birth and there is no precedent of the Prophet himself celebrating birthdays or the early Muslims doing so during his lifetime or after his death and most people answer: It is an expression of our love for the Prophet .
To love the Prophet….what did it mean to the early Muslims, that blessed generation chosen by Allaah for the privilege of having their lives illuminated by the Prophet’s physical presence among them? How did they express their overwhelming love for Allaah’s Messenger ?
The poetess Elizabeth Barrett Browning expressed worldy love in this way:
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints. I love with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
What did the early Muslims say?
“Let my parents be sacrificed to you , yaa Rasoolallaah ”
Anas narrated that when it was the day of ‘Uhud, the people left the Messenger of Allah while Abu Talhah was in front of the Messenger of Allah shielding him with his leather shield.
Abu Talhah was a skillful archer who used to shoot violently. He broke two or three bows on that day. If a man carrying a quiver full of arrows passed by, the Prophet [SAW] would say (to him), put (scatter) its contents for Abu Talhah. The Prophet [SAW] would raise his head to look at the enemy, whereupon Abu Talhah would say, “Let me father and mother be sacrificed for you! Do not raise you head, lest an arrow of the enemy should hit you…. my neck rather than your neck.”
“May our lives and the lives of our children be sacrificed to you, yaa Muhammad ”
Abu Sai’eed al Khudri said that during his final illness, the Prophet [SAW] sat on the pulpit one day and said: “Indeed a slave was given a choice by Allaah between having anything that he desired from the attractions of the world and having what was with Allaah, and he chose what was with Allaah.”
With his deep perception and sensitivity, Abu Bakr [RA], who was in the congregation, realized that the Prophet [SAW] was referring to himself. Deeply moved and crying he said: But we would give our own lives and the lives of our children for you, Yaa Muhammad! [SAW]
“Yaa Rasoolallaah , press toward that which Allaah has shown you. We are with you. By Allaah we shall never say to you as the Jews said to Musa [AS]: “Go alone with your Lord and fight with Him for us, while we remain here and wait your return. Rather, we say, “Go forth, you and your Lord to fight, for we are fighting with you.”
And: “By Him who sent you as a prophet, if you lead us toward the sea, we shall enter into it with you and not one of us will stay behind.”
In the prelude to the Battle of Badr, we learn that the Prophet [SAW] set out to intercept a caravan of the Quraysh. He was accompanied by only 300 men mounted on 70 camels. They continued their march from Madinah until they reached a valley called Dhafiraan where they camped. It was there that the news reached them that the Quraysh had come out in full force to meet them -- the noblemen of Makkah had come out to protect their trade.
The Prophet [SAW] consulted the members of the expedition concerning the course of action that they ought to adopt. After Abu Bakr and ‘Umar expressed their opinions, al Miqdaad al ‘Amr stood up with a strong expression of support. A moment’s silence reigned after Miqdaad’s speech, which the leader of the Ansaar’s, Sa’ad ibn Mu’adh correctly interpreted as a sign that the Prophet [SAW] was waiting to hear their point of view.
He said: “Does it seem, yaa Rasoolallaah, that you are seeking to hear our view?” The Prophet answered: “Indeed”. Sa’ad affirmed the Ansaar’s position: “We have believed in you , and we have witnessed that what you have brought to us is the truth. We have covenanted with you to hear and to obey.”
“Every fortune is negligible if you are safe”
In the Muslim’s reversal of fortune during the battle of ‘Uhud, a woman from Bani Deenar was among those waiting to hear news from the battlefront. One by one the returning soldiers informed her of the loss of her father, her brother and her husband in the battle. She, radiyallaaho anha, kept saying innaa lilllaahe wa inna il’ayhe raajeoon, while anxiously asking the returning soldiers about the wellbeing of the Prophet [SAW]. When he was pointed out to her and she saw for herself that he was safe, she gave thanks to Allaah swt and sobbed with relief, “Every fortune is negligible, now that you are safe.”
They said: “By Allaah! I certainly prefer that Muhammad be where he is , safe from all harm.”
Some time after the battle of Uhud, a group of tribesmen came to the Prophet [SAW] and said: “There are some Muslims among us. Please send with us some of your companions to teach us the law of Islaam and to recite the Qur’aan.” Acceding to their request, the Prophet [SAW] sent six of his companions with them. When they were camping in a place called al-Raji’, their host betrayed them to the hostile Hudhayl tribe. The six Muslims arose to find that they were surrounded by enemies with drawn swords. They drew their swords too and prepared for battle. But the Hudhayl tribesmen said: It is not our intention to kill you but to sell you as captives to the people of Makkah. Lay down your swords and we solemnly promise that we shall not kill you.”
Knowing that a humiliating captivity in Makkah was far worse than life, the Muslims decided to fight. Four of them were killed and the other two made captives and taken to Makkah where they were sold. Zayd ibn Dathinah was purchased by Safwaan ibn Umayyah in order to avenge the death of his father Umayyah ibn Khalaf; Khubayb was publicly crucified.
When Zayd was being brutally tortured, Abu Sufyaan asked him: “Tell me, O Zayd, would you not prefer that Muhammad was here in your place to receive this last punishment while you were at home with your people?”
He replied: “No! By Allaah I certainly prefer that Muhammad be where he is , safe from all harm. That is more preferable to me than re-union with my people.”
"What I would not give for your sake yaa Rasoolallaah "
When Abu Bakr [RA] heard the news of the Prophet’s demise, he entered Aishah’s [RA] quarters. He came up to where the Prophet was lying, uncovered his face and said: “What I would not give for your sake yaa Rasoolallaah! You have tasted the death which Allaah has decreed for you. Now you will never be afflicted with death after that.”
He went to the masjid, where the people were being addressed by ‘Umar [RA] and motioned that he wanted to speak to them. After praising Allaah, he said: “O people, whoever worshipped Muhammad [SAW] then know that he is dead. But whoever worshipped Allaah, then know that Allaah is alive and will never die.”
Then he recited:
Muhammad is but a messenger,
Messengers have passed away before him.
Will it be that if he dies or is slain
You will turn on your heels?
He who does that does not harm Allaah
And Allaah will reward the thankful.”
One of the glaring differences in the stature of those who preceded us in Islaam and us today, is the difference in our expression of our professed love for the Prophet [SAW]. They,[radiyaallaaho anhum ajmaeen] were ready to sacrifice the lives of their dear ones, their own selves for the love of Allaah and His Prophet.
We, on the other hand, have a hard time sacrificing even our base desires, our nafs for the pleasure of Allaah in the pursuit of the Prophet’s way.
Abu Huraira RA narrates: “Allah's Apostle said, “By Him in Whose Hands my life is, none of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father and his children.” [Saheeh Bukhari]
Anas RA reported: The Prophet said, “Whoever possesses the following three qualities will have the sweetness (delight) of faith:
1. The one to whom Allah and His Apostle becomes dearer than anything else.
2. Who loves a person and he loves him only for Allah's sake.
3. Who hates to revert to Atheism (disbelief) as he hates to be thrown into the fire.
How can we claim to have tasted the sweetness of faith when we hold our desires dear? How can we claim to have tasted the sweetness of faith when we fail to love Allaah with the all-encompassing, overwhelming love that is due to Him, making the love of His beloved Prophet an offshoot of that love?
Once a bedouin came to the Prophet [SAW ] and confessed that he did not exert himself in good deeds beyond that which was compulsory, but added that he loved Allaah and His Prophet. The Prophet [SAW] assured him: “You will be with those whom you love”. [Saheeh Bukhari]
These words inspire endless hope in my heart. While I will never measure up to those who were the personification of love, I dare to pray that I might be the recipient of Divine Mercy and one day be in the hallowed company of those whom I dearly love .
Allaahummaa urzuqnaa hubbaka, wa hubba rasooleka , wa hubba man yanfa'u hubbuhu [ Our Allaah! Grant us Your love and the love of your Prophet and the love of those whose love benefits].