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 Love For the Prophet is a Condition of Faith

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PostSubject: Love For the Prophet is a Condition of Faith   Wed Jun 25, 2008 6:34 am

Love for the Prophet is a Condition of Faith
by Dr. Ahmad Shafaat (written in 1986)

Love for the Prophet Muhammad is a measure of one's iman (faith and inner conviction) and our iman is completed and perfected only when our love for the Prophet exceeds our love for everything else in this world, including our own lives. The Holy Qur'an says:
"The Prophet is preferable for the believers even to their own selves..." (33:6)

This is a definitional sentence which tells us what it takes to be a believer: preferring the Prophet even to one's own life. In confirmation of this the Prophet is reported in Hadith to have said:

"None of you becomes a believer until I am dearer to him than his children, his parents and all mankind." (as reported by Bukhari and Muslim) Some versions add: "his life, his wealth and his family".

The best of believers, the suhaba (companions of the Prophet), did show such love for the Prophet, especially the noblest of them. Hadhrat Ali, speaking on behalf of all the community of suhaba in Medina, is reported to have said:

"The Holy Prophet is dearer to us than our wealth, our children, our fathers, our forefathers, our mothers and cool water at the time of severe thirst."

The firmly established principle in Islam that our iman is as good as our love for the Prophet is fairly and accurately expressed by an Urdu poet when he says:

"Without love for the Prophet it is difficult to find God;
He who is not of the Prophet's cannot be of God.

Without love for Muhammad faith cannot be complete;

To be a Muslim it is not enough to believe in God.

Daily prayers, charity, fasting and hajj are fine;

But despite these I cannot be among the faithful.

Unless I am ready to be sacrificed for the honour of Muhammad;

God is witness - my faith cannot attain perfection."


Love of the Prophet breathes life into our practice of religion. Without it our religion reduces to an empty adherence to a set of dead rules and rituals.
("Soul of iman, essence of the Qur'an and life of religion - all these are love of Muhammad, the Mercy to All Creation.")



THE MEANING OF THIS LOVE FOR THE PROPHET

At one level it seems clear why the faithful should love the Prophet: he is their teacher, guide and leader and it is impossible for him to teach, guide and lead them if they don't love him. But there is a deeper meaning in the principle that love for the Prophet is essential for iman.

Love of the Prophet is love of all the beauty and nobility of character, truthfulness, justness, humility and inner strength of which man is capable and which the Prophet as al-insan al-kamil (the Perfect man) possessed in the utmost degree. Love for the Prophet means to acknowledge, cherish and glorify all the potential of goodness and greatness that God has created within Man.

It also means love of humanity, not just in regard to its potential for perfection but also despite its general inability to realize that potential and despite all kind of imperfections and weaknesses from which it suffers. For the Prophet is not only the Perfect Man but also the Representative Man who on the day of judgment will represent mankind and plead on their behalf for their imperfections and weaknesses before the throne of God.

Thus love of the Prophet, on the one hand puts us on the road to perfection by making us cherish it dearly and on the other hand it helps us accept our imperfect humanity and in this way to live in peace with ourselves as repentant servants of God hopeful of His mercy. This is why love for the Prophet is a condition of iman, for what is iman if it is not to acknowledge and repent for one's imperfections and weaknesses and to cherish and strive for - even as an unachievable ideal - the perfection of which man is potentially capable?

There are two closely interconnected sides of iman. One is divine and consists of recognizing God and being at peace with Him. The other is recognizing one's own self and being at peace with oneself. The two sides are like two sides of a coin, none of which can exist without the other. This is shown by numerous verses in the Qur'an and ahadith of the Prophet. For example, the Prophet is reported to have said that he who recognized his own self recognized his Lord. Approaching the same principle from the other direction, the Qur'an says:

"that those who forget God are made to forget their own selves" (59:19).

The word Islam means being at peace with God and this is linked in the Qur'an with being a self at peace with itself.

The love of the Prophet represents the human side of faith. as man the Prophet represents a believers own true self. His love for the Prophet means that he has recognized his own true self and is at peace with himself which in turn means that he has recognized his Lord and made peace with Him by surrendering to Him.



THE PROPHET ALSO LOVED US

If the faithful love the prophet, they are not the first to do so. The Prophet loved the faithful first. The Qur'an testifies to this when it says:

"(The Prophet) is greatly grieved at your loss and extremely anxious for your good. For the believers he is full of kindness and rahmah (mercy, love)." (9:128)

The Prophet's love was not limited just to the believers. In a way he loved all of God's creation. God says in the Qur'an:

"We have not sent you (O Prophet) but as rahmah to all the worlds." (21:107)

It is true that the Prophet had to battle those who were bent on doing zulm (injustice) on their own selves and to remind them of the bitter reality of hell. But this too was out of rahmah (mercy and love), not out of enmity or hate. It is always an easy thing to do to leave alone those of one's fellow human beings who choose the path that leads to their destruction. In contrast, it takes a tremendous amount of love and courage to try to help them, which is exactly what the Prophet tried to do, successfully as it turned out towards the end of his life. That the Prophet was motivated by rahmah even for his opponents is shown by the ease with which he forgave them all at the time of Makkan conquest.
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