4. NABI (PROPHET) AND RASUL (MESSENGER)
1. We did sent messengers before thee and gave them wives and offspring (13: 38)
C. Against the idle opinion of the unbelievers, messengers of Allah needed not be celibate and without offspring. Perhaps this idea was coming from Christians in contact with them who wanted to discomfit the Prophet sws, believing that Jesus AS was celibate and childless and therefore holier. May be he wasn’t celibate, since the extant gospels cannot be trusted too much and never mention his marital status anyhow. There are persistent views among some Christians and Christianity researchers that Jesus did marry and produced children. Allah knows best. What the above verse means is that a prophet is a normal human being whose only major distinction is his special born ability to receive Revelations from Allah and being fully worthy of them.
2. We did not sent messengers before thee but they used to eat food (25:20)
C. Again, messengers are ordinary human beings in biological terms except that they are extraordinary in their spiritual genius and every bit worthy of Allah’s gift of prophethood. Having their other qualities like needing and eating food does not detract from their worth. This rules out the existence of any human being not needing food as some claim since the Prophets of Allah are His highest and most extraordinary servants and cannot be outdone in any spiritual excellence by non-prophets. A hadith quoting the Prophet sws discouraging his companions keeping too many and too strict fasts while he was sometimes fasting a bit hard and explaining “I am not like anyone of you; my Lord feeds and waters me” should not be read too much into it even in case it is a genuine hadith. There are other and more numerous hadiths showing the Prophet sws suffering from the debilitating effects of both fasting and hunger caused by poverty. In one instance when his daughter Fatima asks why he looks so worn and pale he sws replies “It is three days now that nothing passed from the throat of thy father”. Allah similarly rejects the alleged divinity of Jesus and his mother Mary by pointing out that they used to eat food thereby implying that not to need any food was only Allah’s prerogative and not of any human being’s at all (see, Surat al Maida, v. 75)
3. We have not sent a messenger but in the language of his people (14: 4)
C. Many fully legitimate and even mandatory conclusions may be drawn from this verse. Firstly a prophet to be effective must talk the language of his audience. For future generations of believers who cannot talk their prophet’s language translating the revelations made to the prophet into those believers’ language is mandatory. For Allah says “We have sent it down an Arabic Qur’an so that you can understand” (12: 2). He also said “(How come,) non-Arabic for Arabs? (41: 44).
In other words He indicated that non-Arabs are excused for not believing if they do not understand what is sent to a prophet in another language. Of course non-Arab Muslim ulema at least in very summary form explained Islam to their non-Arab people but this does not meet all their needs. They must have translations of the Qur’an, the Hadith and many other source books of Islam if they want to study them without learning Arabic which is not always possible for everybody for many reasons. Rasulullah sws allowed Selman RA to translate al Fatiha for his Persian Muslim brethren and Abu Hanifa RA ruled that it was acceptable for a non-Arab to use translated verses of the Qur’an in salat. This he later withdrew and that has been better but his fatwa shows that such a practice is thinkable and Allah’s accepting such salat cannot be ruled out by anybody. The middle road might be that in salat Arabic is used but the translations of the verses may be taught to the performers of salat so that they know what they are saying. Leaving everything in Arabic with no clue given to the meanings is a serious defect which Allah’s above verse implies very clearly.
4. In the end his nafs/ego led him (Qabil/Cain) to kill his brother (Habil/Abel) and as a result he became one of the losers (in the Divine test of souls). (While he was alarmed with the prospect of detection) Allah SENT (arsala) A CROW DIGGING THE EARTH TO SHOW HIM HOW TO BURY HIS BROTHER’S CORPSE. “Woe to me” he said “I could not be as much as a crow to know how to bury my brother’s corpse!” (5: 30- 31)
C. This strange verse is an epitome of a source of Divine gnosis: It discloses the fact that ALL PHENOMENA are lessons from Allah and all actors partaking in them are messengers from Allah sent to teach us a lesson! In other words the whole creation, as Allah puts it only too many times in His Qur’an, are as much Signs (ayat) of Allah as the verses of the Qur’an themselves are; that is why Allah calls phenomena like winds, rains and floating ships, animals and seasons… as items of His catalogue of Signs/Ayat. Seeing this point is a form and perhaps the best form of realising the Unity of Being/Wahdat al Wujud and it enables one to read all phenomena he is aware of as messages from Allah and take lessons as he would read and take lessons from the Qur’an. This is the main body of the gnosis called ‘Taweel al Ahadith” given to Joseph AS and in fact his father Jacob AS. In the case of Joseph AS we only find the interpretation of dreams given as explicit examples of such gnosis but that is not the entire case. He knew more than that: His detention of his younger brother by a trick was meant as a signal to his father Jacob AS in the sense that when Jacob’s grief was doubled by the loss of another dear son he read this added catastrophe to mean that it was time for both of his dear sons to be returned to him by Allah: for saints know that increased suffering signals a delivery from Allah provided the servant bears it gracefully and keeps praising Allah. So he confidently remarks to his sons “What behoves me now (in the face of the loss of a second son) is good patience. Perhaps Allah will bring me all back… (83) I submit my pain and sadness to Allah and I knows things from Allah you do not know” (86) (12: 83 & 86).
In the Cain and Abel verse above we find a even a grave sinner being enabled by Allah to read a natural event like a crow’s digging the earth and realise his stupidity in the face of a dead body which he did not know how to hide and regret his crime which means NO SOUL WHATSOEVER can escape Allah’s mercy in one form or another and it is Allah and not the Satan who has the last word in everything. Although Allah’s punishment is terrible it also contains a normally invisible core of mercy in it. We of course are praying for mercy inside out in all things that Allah sends us. Amen.
Incidentally Allah uses the same word ‘arsalna’/’We sent’ for the crow as for sending His messengers which makes the crow and all creatures Allah may choose to send to deliver us a lesson Allah’s messengers in a deeper sense; in other words it is He and only He Who is guiding us all the time and crow or prophet His messengers are only virtual means veiling His Mighty Hand behind all events. The importance of this gnosis cannot be exaggerated provided no absurd conclusions are drawn from it by the misguided employment of simplistic logic. It has its multi-layered subtle logic.
5. Indeed Allah chose Adam and Noah and the House of Abraham and the House of Imran over all mankind; they are descendants from one another. Allah is the Hearer and the Knower (3: 33-34)
C. With Adam as their common father all races and nations of mankind may produce prophets from among themselves. Noah’s own seed also contained many potential prophets but his family had some bad apples who then perished in the Flood. Abraham was so blessed that his line produced the most prophets whose the last and greatest was no other than Muhammad sws. As for the House of Imran it is the extended family which included prophets Zacchariah, his son John (Yahya) and their cousin Jesus/Isa (Allah’s blessings on them all). This verse and another, namely “We have granted him (Abraham) Isaac and Jacob and put in their seed Prophethood and Scripture…” (29: 27) show that prophetic ability is genetically determined and therefore runs in families. It appears that the persistent inbreeding among the Jacobite branch of Abrahamites so much enhanced this gene that all the way down to Jesus AS many prophets rose among them, namely the Israelites. Arabs being a far larger nation with less inbreeding thanks to the multiplicity of their tribes could not produce as many prophets as the Israelites but eventually produced the very best in Muhammad sws. They also had other Arab prophets predating even Abraham among which prophets were Hud and Salih AS, may Allah bless them all. The proof of this is in Surat al Mu’min (or al Ghafir), verses 30- 31.
6. (O Muhammad sws) We have sent thee for the ENTIRE MANKIND as a giver of good-news and a warner (34: 28)
C. The only prophet to be told that. It cannot be a coincidence that he has been both the last and the most universally-oriented and universally successful messenger of God. At the present the great majority who believe in One God are his followers, most who descended from Christians having compromised that belief and in fact stopped believing God altogether. Muhammad’s sws has been the fastest growing faith since its inception with the least apostasy rate among all religions. As long as religious faith lasts among mankind Islam looks set to prevail over all the rest. In fact this is part of the Islamic dogma in the sense that He Almighty ruled: “It is He Who sent thee with the Guidance and the Religion of Truth in order to make it prevail over all religion” (48: 28)
7. Whoever turns away (from thy call then no bother), We have not sent thee to be a keeper (of their affairs- they are free to choose) (4: 80)
C. Allah sends His messengers only to transmit the Message. The prophets have neither the duty nor the powers to force people to accept Allah’s Message.
8. Thus We have made for every prophet enemies from among the criminals (25: 31)
C. An insight that should never be forgotten. Why criminally-minded members of a society, which members often monopolise the leadership cadres, oppose prophets must be obvious. Allah in Whose Name a prophet speaks is for both justice and charity and community leaders are frequently unjust and uncharitable characters who plot many selfish plots to come and then stay in power and grow even stronger and richer. By leaders we mean the real leaders which are all those whose word is almost law. These include both effective politicians and those with big economic assets and also those who run the never absent criminal gangs which nowadays are called the mafia. Even in modern democracies politics is still the dirtiest of professions and success in the long term is based on a mixture of skilfully well-presented performance (spin) which in fact may be rotten and beating the opposition and smaller rivals at the dirty tricks game. Even when politicians embrace popular religious themes it is done for political exploitation reasons. The politician’s instinctive hatred for real justice and charity remains the same. There must be exceptions but exceptions only prove the rule as the saying goes.
9. The Prophet sws is dearer to the believers than themselves and his wives are their mothers (33: 6)
C. Said the Messenger of Allah (sws) “None among you is a believer until he loves me more than his parents, his spouse and his children and all people”. Why? Because we often commit wrongs in the supposed interests of our near and dear ones. Only when we love the Prophet sws more than our near and dear ones may we act justly at all times. His wives are our mothers: Only with this regard of them may we avoid the ever-present and alert Devil’s promptings to exploit the Prophet’s wives’ possibilities for our any unholy plans. Suppose that a sahaba could marry a widow of the Prophet sws. He could begin to boss over others and if he was a hypocrite use any information about the Prophet sws he learned from or invented on behalf of the widow to advance his unholy aims. Last but not least, the Prophet’s spiritual status, being even more sacred than biological father, should bar all his followers who are spiritually closer to him than their fathers, from marrying his widows.
10. O believers, do not raise your voices over the Prophet’s lest you cancel your good works without being aware (49: 2)
C. When talking in the presence of the Prophet or anybody representing him we should not behave as if we are equals with him like we are with each other. This harms that most important mystic sense of holiness that must underlie all our relations to Allah’s chosen. Treating a prophet, an accomplished pious alim or graces-effusing spiritual master on the prophetic model like an ordinary fellow corrodes faith and blocks salvation. Faith is a very emotional and reverential thing and too rational, too dispassionate and too ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ mentality is destructive to faith.
11. O Prophet, why are you making haram to yourself what Allah made halal for you, seeking your wives’ pleasure? (66: 1)
C. Conjugal relations and at a wider sense friendships and other forms of associations based on common close interests may sway us from the Law of Allah. If the Prophet sws was allowed to ban a totally innocent item like honey for himself just to placate his mutually jealous wives some of his followers in later times could ban for themselves other halal items like meat or proper dress or proper rest with the dubious hope of pleasing other people or Allah more. From this verse and many ahadith we see that Allah’s halals and harams are not negotiable- they equally apply to all believers whatever their ambitions or pretensions. What any spiritually ambitious (in the sense of really caring for Allah’s pleasure more) can do to promote their worthy aims is not banning certain halal foods or halal comforts but purifying their hearts DESPITE continuing with their halal enjoyments.
12. O Prophet sws, fight the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be stern towards them (66: 9)
C. A prophet or believer may not be self-effacing and spineless towards the enemies of al Haqq (Divine Reality, Truth and Commandments). Without being rude or nasty he must maintain an attitude of cold regard towards them in order to show them that they are not approved but are excluded. But he must also subtly signal that all can change if the offending party takes any steps, however small, towards al Haqq. This is a very fine point and balance which can be achieved with Allah’s help. That must be our method also.
13. It does not behove a mortal (like Jesus) that Allah gives him the Scripture and the Judgment and prophethood and then he says to people “Be my worshippers alongside Allah” (3: 79)
C. This refers to the alleged teachings of Jesus AS (as imagined by St Paul and his followers) which is supposed to make Christians worship him as a god or a part or aspect of the Godhead. We may generalise this to cover all cases in which the real or alleged founder of a cult enjoins on his followers to treat him as a god at least for all intents and purposes. As for him who is asking to be regarded as the God, a full escape from him is mandatory whatever his trick, dazzle and charisma.
14. We did give the Children of Israel the Scripture and the Judgment (the Law) and prophethood and provided them with good things and raised them over all people (with such favours). We gave them proofs about the AMR (the demonstrations of Heavenly workings- spiritual secrets). They did not fall into (all those unblessed) disputes except after the knowledge (as above) came to them. Thy Lord will judge among them concerning their disputes on the Day of Resurrection. Then We put thee (o Muhammad sws) on a Sharia (Way/ Law) of the AMR (the Implementation of Our Will which is man’s guidance); therefore follow it and do not follow the vanities of those (fragmented and dissipated Jews) who do not know (the truth any more) (45: 16- 18)
C. Accurate and unanswerable criticism of the derailed Judaism which begins with admitting the initial election and the glories of the Children of Israel and then diagnoses their later malaise caused by their prostitution of chances and talents given them. Especially unfortunate has been their abuse of their gift of spiritual insights as a result of which the gifts ceased to be effective in their salvation but were reduced to market commodities with each trader trying to outbid others in their commercial exploitation. By commercial we mean the gifts’ abuse in the form of buying power and prestige by their exploitation. In other words their mysticism was reduced to magic. THAT ATTAINING SOME GENUINE AND LOFTY SPIRITUAL INSIGHTS THROUGH LEARNING AND PIETY IS NO GURARANTEE AGAINST A SUBSEQUENT FALL FROM GRACE BECOMES OBVIOUS FROM THESE VERSES.
Allah mentions a case of possible prophethood which failed because of the earthy inclinations of a candidate (see next entry). If potential prophets may be turned back and down what about non-prophet aspirants to spiritual secrets? Sufi masters have always recognised that every sufi is in danger of falling from grace until the moment he dies, which means there is no safety from the Devil until the very end. We take refuge in Allah.
Wiping the slate clean, Allah lastly and finally sent one more messenger, namely Muhammad sws and took especial care of what He gave him as to guidance. Both the Qur’an and to a lesser but effective extent genuine Hadith survives thanks to Allah’s protection and Muslims can solve their every dispute by referring them to these two sources. Unlike Judaism, Islam took firm root among and a strong hold on mankind and continues to increase its extent and influence. Neither its inner nor outer enemies can bring it down simply because the two Divinely protected sources, the Qur’an and the more reliable part of Hadith will always check and limit the successes of their impious efforts.
15. Recite to them (the Jews) the news of the man to whom We had given our Signs- Verses (ayat) but he had slipped out of them as a result of which the Devil stalked him and he ended up as one of the deceived. Had We wanted We could raise him by them (Signs) but he inclined towards the earth (lustful material life) and pursued his vanity. His case is like the case of a dog: Whether you make a go towards it or leave it alone, it goes on hanging out its tongue (breathe and salivate with is mouth open and tongue hanging out, unsure of what you want from it). Tell them the story that they may contemplate (7: 175- 176)
C. Commentators are of the opinion that this story refers to a would be either Jewish spiritual aspirant, namely Bal’am b’ Baura in the times of Moses AS or Umayya b. Abi Salt or Nu’man b. Sayfi of Muhammad’s sws times. Each of these are said to have aspired after prophethood or sainthood and were initially given some gifts to that effect. Each blew up his chances by abusing the new-found spiritual wealth and slipped out the gifts whereby they attracted the covetous attention of the Devil who stalked and devoured them. Of course the story fits the only too many examples of failed spirituality from the example of Cain (Qabil) to the present age abusers of spiritual gifts who set up shops and vie for customers.
16. We have not sent before thee as messengers except men to whom We made revelations. Ask ye the people of the ‘Zikr’/Bible if you do not know (o idolaters who are thinking that messengers must be angels). We did not made them corpses not eating food nor did We make them immortals. If you die shall they live on forever? (21: 7- 8) *
C. Could Allah be clearer on a matter which keeps troubling some people in all religions? Christians insists that Jesus died but was soon resurrected and remains undead. Some Muslims think that Jesus did not die at all but was taken up to the sky and awaiting to be sent down for a second round. Some others keep insisting that some prophet or saint is alive, he did not die but survives on and is haunting we the worldlings all over the place. Some claim that a perfected man needs no food etc. and only dies in appearance and not in fact. Allah is putting all such claims to shame. He adds to the above two verses “Every soul shall taste death. We test you with good and evil (turns in life) and you will be returned to Us (21: 35).
It means that our worldly existence is only for testing us for the finite duration of our adult lives and nobody can live in this world for more than it takes to test him. His next place can only be the hereafter. Prophets’, martyrs’ and good believers’ being alive after their death is true and real only in the sense that theirs post-mortem existence is in another world and in the Company of Allah (‘bel ahyaaun inda rabbuhum yurzaqun’,i.e., ‘But alive in the Company of their Lord and being provided for’, as v. 154 of S. al Baqara. Now I know that the simplistic belief that prophets etc. are physically alive in their graves and from that headquarters they occasionally venture out to interfere in world affairs is a sweet and reassuring concept for the infantile minded but I can assure my dear readers that the real situation which is what the Qur’an repeatedly informs and explains is the case. This earth is too dirty and limited a place for Allah’s physically deceased best friends to stick to even if underground; for them much better and loftier locations exist for a more developed and refined existence and a more sumptuous sustenance. Let’s grow up Muslims, shall we?)
17. It is not Allah’s Way to make you access the ghaib but He chooses from His messengers whom He will (to reveal what is necessary). Therefore believe in Allah and His Messengers (3: 179)
C. Ghaib in its absolute (non-personal and impartial) sense belongs to Allah and Allah alone. This covers all the affairs of the universe (the spiritual dimension of existence included) and the Hereafter. The creatures only know what is within the range of their weak and limited sense organs and also what has stuck in their memories. Spiritually more talented and/or matured persons are more perceptive and may therefore be able to READ EVENTS AND PERSONS like reading a book but it is always possible only to limited extents. It is a form of enhanced holistic perception and neither magic nor miracle. It is like a wise parent’s reading a child’s mind which is very easy. True sheikhs and other mature pious persons can read events and persons this way and may foresee some future this way. Such feats are not too rare among people and there always are very perceptive and insightful persons IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR INDIVIDUAL MORAL WORTH who can read events and persons better than more ordinary fellows and may issue what are popularly called mind readings and or prophesying. People with such prophetic foresight may then take successful pre-emptive actions against possibilities nobody thought to be probable. Apart from such ‘natural’ feats people in general have no access to the infinite kinds and numbers of secrets Allah keeps to Himself of which secrets He may choose to reveal a few to His selected servants every now and then as necessary. This makes all claims by all mystics who are not prophets about the matters of heavenly goings-on and the hereafter very suspect and in principle invalid.
18. I am not telling you that with me are the treasures of Allah, nor that I am an angel (6:50)
C. We had seen this verse before in the Angels section. We are just noting again.
19. The ghaibs of the heavens and the earth are with Allah. None knows them but He! He knows what is in the land and in the sea. Not a single leave falls but He knows it. Not a single seed in the depths of the earth or anything wet or dry but all are in an Open Book (in front of His unfailing, ever-watchful Gaze) (6: 59)
C. Is any comment necessary?
20. Say (o Prophet sws) “I have no control over myself as regards any good or evil touching me, except what (control) Allah wills to allow. HAD I KNOWN THE GHAIB I WOUKD INCREASE MY GOOD SHARE OF THINGS AND NO HARM COULD TOUCH ME. I AM JUST A PLAIN WARNER (and not a mythical superman nor a mystic pretender) (7: 188)
C. It is a sin not to increase one’s good share of legitimate things when they are known and are asking to be taken. Similarly it is also a sin to suffer a harm while one knows that it is there and is threatening. But to know about all good or bad things awaiting us is not the lot of us the mortals. The Messenger of Allah is commanded by his Lord to disclaim all such superhuman knowledge. Who are we to censure Allah or gainsay his Messenger sws and claim such cosmic knowledge and knowhow? If Allah shows me something good for my this life and the next, lays it at my feet to pick it up, shall I not be a fool and a sinner not to pick up my Lord’s gift and use it in His service? Similarly, if He shows me what danger lies ahead and inspires me how to avoid it shall I not be a fool and sinner to ignore this kindness on His part and instead walk into the danger and be blown up? Because the Prophet sws did not know about such things except when Allah granted the knowledge at the time he lived the life of poor men and suffered many accidents, illnesses and other harms. Had he known where to find enough gold to buy off his opponents he could convert Arabs to Islam overnight. For money can buy all silly people provided the right price is offered and most people are silly. The Prophet sws DID buy a lot of people but that was as much as he could afford from time to time. Sometimes the people so bought subsequently became sincere believers. When they did not at least their younger children and grandchildren could become sincere believers because they could be raised in an Islamic setting.
21. And He sent down on thee the Book and the Wisdom and taught thee what you never knew (4: 113)
C. So Allah is not only sending down a Revealed Book to His messengers but also ‘al Hikmat’, THE WISDOM. What is this THE Wisdom. Since the two gifts are sent down together the best interpretation must be that a Prophet is not a mere transmission centre for the Creator’s special messages to people but also the recipient of the wisdom inherent in the Revealed Word which wisdom enables him to both interpret the Revealed Word and put into practice correctly any instructions it contains. We see this wonderful ability to supplement Allah’s concise statements in the Qur’an by the Prophet’s sws expansive interpretations on them which interpretations and implementations of them are known as Hadith or Sunna. In this sense the Prophet’s sayings and doings in the matter of our religion are as good as Divinely revealed. In secular matters what he says or does may not always be correct but often they are as well. This none other than the Prophet sws has admitted to be the case. This does not diminish the prophet sws but, perhaps to the surprise of any objectors it enhances him. Because he is THE perfect example for us, his occasional mistakes in secular matters are Divinely designed to teach us that however accomplished and great we may be there shall always be limits to our powers and some mistakes we shall always make. That is as it should be since it is our shortcomings that set us apart from our Creator and feeds our admiration and worshipping zeal towards Him and also inspires us with that most precious spiritual quality called humility. “Allah has no partners” means just that: None can equal Him by being perfect like Him.
Allah taught His Messenger sws things he never knew before: Which contradicts any spurious claims that anybody can pre-know Divine and other heavenly secrets before coming to this earth and being taught them by various experiences which, in the case of prophets includes Wahy/Revelation. Such Gnostic beliefs are delicious and addictive like wine but one must beware of falling into the trap. What is eternal in man is his aptitude for spiritual gnosis and not the articles of gnosis themselves. It is like the genes: Under favourable circumstances the genes regulate our growth but in themselves they do not contain flesh, blood and consciousness which come about later and gradually in and their own right. The pacts between Allah and us men mentioned in the Qur’an, like Allah’s addressing us long before we are created and asking “Am I not your Lord” to which we answered “Indeed so!” are not events like the worldly events but spiritual events which materialise as behavioural codes in our genes. What it means is this: All of us are genetically designed to have an instinct for recognising the truth of which the Supreme Epitome is God. If we value and pursue this potential of ours we end up as good godly people while if we despise and suppress it we end up shameless and unconscionable sinners. See v. 172 of S. al A’raf. The next verse below also reveals a secret of this category.
22. When Allah had obtained the pledge of the prophets thus: “Once I give you the Book and the Wisdom (going with it) and afterwards a prophet confirming what was with you comes, you shall believe him and you shall help him. He (Almighty) said “Have you accepted and are you giving your pledge on this duty of yours towards Me?” They said “We accept”. He (Almighty) said “Then be witness, I am a Witness alongside yourselves” (3: 81)
C. Each prophet is given his commission only after pledging to Allah that he will instruct his followers to also believe and help any prophet who may come after him with the same message as given him. This is especially the case with all nations’ obligation to accept and help the very last and final one of all prophetic messengers sent by Allah, namely Muhammad sws. In the Torah we we find Moses and in the Gospel we find Jesus prophesying Muhammad sws and admonishing their respective followers to listen to and obey Muhammad sws (See Deut. 18/12 and John 14: 16 and 16: 12 and Qur’an 61: 6)
23. Muhammad sws is but a messenger. Many messenges came and went before him. If he dies (naturally) or is killed (a martyr) are you going to apostate? Whoever apostates thus cannot harm Allah a thing. Allah will reward the thankful (for whatever happens) (3: 144)
C. This was the very verse when the greatest of this umma, namely Abu Bakr as-Siddiq RA recited to remind the bereaved and bewildered ashab/companions of the Messenger (sws) of Allah that it was not Muhammad sws but Allah who was their actual guide, patron and protector. He prefaced his recitation of this verse saying: Whoever was worshipping Muhammad sws let him know that Muhammad (sws) is dead; but whoever was worshipping Allah let him know that Allah never dies, He is Ever-Living”. Don’t we have some people even today who refuse to believe that Muhammad sws is dead and invent a hundred stories and interpretations to angrily prove that he is fully alive in his earthly form albeit in his grave; not only that, he is also watching over everything and in fact running the world. This is an inadequate if for some too sensitive people natural reaction to the death of somebody loved very much and is rarely seen among even some persons bereaved of another person which was too dear to them. This reaction is an unconscious, instinctive response to a disaster which could otherwise make the sufferer insane. By the creation of a small and sealed spot of insanity in the bereaved lover’s mind total insanity is avoided.
Historically the greatest example of a group of believers taking refuge in partial insanity against the loss of their hero were the Christians who were deceived by an appearance of Jesus being killed on the cross and then when he showed up well and good took this to mean his resurrection, effectively a feat amounting to his cheating death. We have this story in the Gospels. What Allah the Most Truthful and Kind is doing with this verse is bluntly reminding the ashab and us that Muhammad sws was a mortal, did die as all mortals should and is not coming back. We should thank Allah for Muhammad’s sws brief but fully effective visit to us and thank even more for Allah guiding us and making us victorious in His Way. With Allah’s too explicit and categoric statement about the matter and our best Muslim brother Abu Bakr’s RA equally explicit and categoric interpretation of it we have no room for manoeuvre but must submit. Allah is saying explicitly what he is saying and no less an authority than Abu Bakr al Siddiq RA is interpreting this verse for us.
The truth should be that prophets, being higher than martyrs in spiritual rank, DO HAVE AN ETERNAL LIFE WITH ALLAH where they are constantly provided with all the good things Allah keeps in store for them. That martyrs also have this form deathlessness (which is incomparably superior to biological earthly life) is explicit from the Qur’an al Karim (*)Their any involvement in this world’s affairs are from a distance and through angelic means and occasional as all precious things are, and not ordinary, mundane and routine. In His Qur’an Allah corrected Christians about their deifying claims about the Christ and also corrected any incredulous Muslims who could not accept the Prophet’s worldly death. Allah knows best.
24. How many prophets have been with whom many RIBBIYYUN/men of the Lord fought together. They did not go limp despite what touched them in the Way of Allah nor did they show weakness and did not give up; Allah loves the steadfast (3: 146)
C. A consolation and encouragement to the ashab who at times felt too hard pressed in their pursuit of holy war for Allah’s sake. The term ‘ribbiyun’ is very important: Derived from RBB which also gives the words RABB and TARBIYA it must signify most godly people with a gnosis of the Lord guiding all their actions, that is to say, true saints which most sahaba were (minus the hypocrites whom mostly only Allah knew as He Almighty tells us in S. 9, v. 101). True ashab were greatest saints no matter what the later saints among later generations could do about godliness. Self-inflicted privations done in monasteries are nothing to compare with God-inflicted tests which the ashab were subjected to more than any other generation of men.
CONCLUDING COMMENTS ON PROPHETHOOD
From the above verses and many others in Allah’s Book we understand the following:
Prophethood cannot be acquired but it is elective and pre-destined. It entails genetically determined aptitude, ability and potential. It ran most strongly in our master Abraham’s (AS) seed through which greatest prophets were produced culminating in Muhammad sws.
THERE SHALL BE NO TRUE PROPHET AFTER HIM, although dwarfish fakes can only proliferate.
A prophet’s most distinguishing feature is his incomparably splendid character worn around highest possible intelligence for any man. Among his splendid character traits are loving mercy (rahmat), truthfulness, goodwill, justice, courage and untiring industry. With the loving mercy in his heart a prophet regards the whole creation and especially fellow men with loving compassion in a fundamental sense and basically only resent their departure from Allah’s path.
In due course a prophet-to-be is contacted and invaded by the Holy Spirit and imparted Allah’s Word and the Wisdom enabling him to understand and apply the Word. In other words he does not only become a knower but a full doer of Allah’s Command.
He never ceases to be a normal man in need of all normal things all men are in need of. Unlike a mystic aspirant to Divine Gnosis a prophet knows that it is not what you do with your legitimate and natural personal needs that promotes you in Allah’s Estimation but your uncomplicated, loving and reverent submission to what He Almighty ordains. So a mystic tries to conquer if not storm Allah’s Realms with intensive self-punishing methods which are called ascetic or monastic practices while a prophet eats, drinks and socialises to a reasonable degree and normally but remains in command of his ego simply because He knows and fears Allah enough to keep his ego submissive to Allah at all times. As such for us Muslims following our Prophet sws as he actually conducted himself in life which conduct was keeping the ego within its limits while enjoying the legitimate pleasures of life is the best way, best tariqa, best piety as the Prophet sws severally explained and insisted on.
Practicing non-prescribed severities on one’s body always contain an element of anger, haste and hubris all of which smack of devilish will. It often leads to offensive boasting and showy miracle mongering. Just submitting to Allah and His Messenger sws is more curbing of the ego than asceticism because the submissive ego is full nothingness, humbly ashamed to be itself while the spiritually ambitious ego is still the same greedy ego which substitutes his ambition of material greatness with an ambition for supposed spiritual greatness, in both cases desiring to attain a point where he can look down on others and boast of himself, at least in his heart. Why do you think the Prophet sws advised us to keep our nafl (voluntary) devotions secret? It is because displaying them may involve and mean hypocritical showing-off. By living in seclusion and emaciating and rubbishing himself an ascetic becomes only too prominent and his skeleton-like looks, shabby clothes and excessive self-effacing manners makes him famous enough for the ‘Satan’ to gain entry into his heart and run him from there. Instead the Prophet sws asked us to groom ourselves well within our means, eat and drink normally but without waste or excess and look like ordinary fellows and be sociable at all times and look like just another citizen except for our exceptional morals and manners. Excellence is sought in moderation in every legitimate thing wrapped in a wrapping of highest morality and most graceful but not affected manners.
A Prophet is the supreme example of reconciling and harmonising the duties of this world with those of the next. He works enough for both because he knows that for a true believer even his worldly affairs are unmissable opportunities to build his status with Allah. For example, being a good merchant or shepherd whose customers are satisfied with him, being a good husband whose wife is satisfied with him, being a good father whose children are satisfied with him… are forms of service (ibadat) to Allah as much as prayer and fasting if not more. Shirking from socialisation deprives one from all such unmissable opportunities.
A prophet basically can never forget Allah and any small lapses he may momentarily fall into makes him the most apologetic and remorseful of men and his asking pardon from the Lord knows no limits. Note how many days Jonah/Yunus AS glorified Allah and asked for His forgiveness while in the belly of the whale. A prophet is the most god-fearing of men.
A prophet models himself on Allah in everything that he can. He cannot create things but at least he can be merciful, generous, loyal and just, as his Lord is and wants him to be, for example. And these are exactly the real aims of all true piety and not the attainment of imaginary glories with no practical use by the exercise of invented practices. If following a prophet is genuine the follower himself attains these moral glories all of which are embedded in a matrix of absolute humility and sweetness. How many practicing ‘Muslims’ have you seen who are also humble and sweet?
A prophet is the most prudent, diplomatic, hard-working, consulting and heroic man when it comes to struggling in the Way of Allah. Without being a tyrant or dictator he inspires and influences his followers to join him in his struggle and both teaches them and himself practices being steadfast in battle and equanimous in the face of defeat or death if that is what Allah wills. He will never tire of trying again and again to win over Allah’s enemies but that never means that he will employ any foolhardy methods just to display his courage or commitment. He is responsible at all times and careful about enemy subjects’ rights as his own subjects’.
A prophet always prefers easy and sweet methods of winning any too hard or too bitter opponents. If compliments and ‘bribes’ can buy an enemy he will not resort to threats or force. Bribes paid in the Way of Allah are not bribes but sadaqa/alms in the Way of Allah. Which means if a Muslim faces a dangerous enemy his first course of action should be sweet word and persuasive benefits and NOT counter insults or frontal attack. The sweet word and the sweetening benefit may not only neutralise the enemy but may even convert him. The Prophet sws consistently used this mellow method and made more converts with it than he made by force. If a convert so won will not be too good a Muslim in sincerity at least his descendants may be so.
A prophet impresses both friend and foe as an exceptionally decent, fair, polite and determined man so that his wise punishments of any hurts less than otherwise it could and discourage more any opposition to him. One simply feels ashamed of contradicting him and afraid of taking on him. He impressively reminds one and represents Allah and that is unmistakable.
A prophet can forgive anybody and anything except when the offence is against Allah in which case he is at his most severe. You can do anything to him in the past but once you apologise and repent he loves you so much that in a way you almost become grateful for having caused the offence in the first place. That level of forgiveness the prophet learns from Allah Whose top representative and agent he is.
Subhana rabbika rabbil izzati amma yasifuna wa salamun alal mursalin walhamdulillahi rabbil alamin (High Exalted is the Lord of Glory over all they can think of and greetings of peace on all messengers and praise be to the Lord of All Existence). Amen.