His Reverence    

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What is reverence of prophet muhammad?

Those who won won because of their reverence; and those who lost lost because they abandoned reverence.

Reverence means to esteem a being in the heart, to elevate his/her honor, and to hold his/her commands above all the other commands. Reverence to Allah the Almighty, on the other hand, means to reserve the highest level of such feelings for Him.

The essence of Islam, which is the prescription for the salvation of humanity, is:

Ta’zim li amrillah: Reverence to Allah the Almighty and His commands, in other words willingly submission to Him;

Shafqat li Khalqillah: Serving the creation of Allah with compassion and mercy.

The Prophet’s (pbuh) reverence to Allah the Almighty was so high that he held his contentment for Him above everything else. The Prophet’s greatest fear was to do something which would attract His anger and lose His love. We can see the most remarkable example of this in his journey back from the city of Taif. While his arms and legs were covered with blood, he prayed as follows:

“Dear Lord! If are not angry at me, I would not care the troubles and difficulties that I am in. Your blessings and kindness is greater for me. Dear Lord! I seek refuge in Your Face from Your Anger and from being deprived from Your contentment… Dear Lord! I ask Your forgiveness till You are content with me. O Lord! All power and all might comes from You…” (Ibn Hisham, II, 30)

The Prophet’s reverence was to lose himself, like how the stars disappear when the sun rises. Only Allah with all His Might is manifested in the enlightened existence of the Prophet (pbuh). Pointing out this reality, Jalal al-Din Rumi says that:

“What is (the meaning of) of exalting and glorifying Allah? To deem yourself despicable and (worthless) as dust. What is (the meaning of) knowledge of Allah’s unity? To consume yourself in the presence of the One. If you wish to shine like day, burn up your night-like self-existence.” (Mathnawi, I, verses: 3008-10)

The Prophet’s reverence to Allah the Almighty is clearly seen in his efforts to follow the orders of Allah. In fact it is stated in the following verses:

“And those who, when they are reminded of the revelations of their Lord, fall not deaf and blind thereat.” (al-Furqan 25; 73)

“…when it (Qur’an) is recited unto them, fall down prostrate on their faces, adoring” (al-Isra 17; 107)

In this regard, Ḥabbab (r.a.) narrates the following exemplary incident:

“Akra’ b. Habis and Uyaynah b. Ḥiṣn came to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). They saw him sitting with poor and helpless companions like Bilal, Suhayb, Ammar, and Ḥabbab. They belittled these poor companions and told the Prophet (pbuh):

“We would like you to arrange a separate meeting for us. Thus, Arabs will know that we are superior to these men. As you know, delegates and groups from Arab tribes come to us. We are ashamed to be seen together with these slaves. Therefore, when we come, let them go. After our meeting, you may still see them.” The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Okay” then they told him:

“It is not enough to say okay. We would like you to write it down for us.” Upon this Prophet (pbuh) called Ali (r.a.) and asked for a piece of paper to write their agreement down. We were sitting in a corner. Just then Gabriel came and brought the following verse “And do not drive away those who call upon their Lord in the morning and the evening, they desire only His favor; neither are you answerable for any reckoning of theirs, nor are they answerable for any reckoning of yours, so that you should drive them away and thus be of the unjust.” (al-An’am 6; 52) Then He brought the next verse:

“And thus do We try some of them by others so that they say: Are these they upon whom Allah has conferred benefit from among us? Does not Allah best know the grateful?” (al-An’am 6; 53) after that the next verse was revealed:

“And when those who believe in Our revelations come unto thee, say: Peace be unto you! Your Lord has prescribed for Himself mercy…” (al-An’am 6; 54)

The Messenger of Allah, mercy of the worlds, placed the paper down and immediately called us. When we came, he said, “Greetings to you, your Lord adopted mercy and beneficence as His attributes.” We came closer to him. We were so close to him that our knees were touching his knees. After the revelation of these verses, we continued to sit with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh); but, when he wanted to leave, he would leave. When the following verse was revealed:

“And withhold yourself with those who call on their Lord morning and evening desiring His goodwill, and let not your eyes pass from them, desiring the beauties of this world’s life; …” (al-Kahf 18; 28), he stopped doing that and after that we began to be more careful. When we were together, we began to leave before it was too late.” (Ibn Majah, Zuhd, 7; Tabari, Tafsir, VII, 262-263).

According to Wahidi’s report, when the last verse was revealed, the Prophet (pbuh) stood up and began to look for the poor companions. He found them behind the mosque repeating the names of Allah (making dhikr). Upon this, he said:

“All praises are due to Allah, who did not take my life before giving me an order to be patient about being with these people. All praises are due to Allah! From now on my life and death will be with you.” (Asbab al-Nuzul, p. 304)

Abu Bakr’s daughter Aisha (may Allah be pleased with them) narrates the following incident about her father, who was known for his submission and obedience to Allah and His Messenger (pbuh):

“When Allah the Most High revealed the verses about my innocence[1], my father who used to disburse money to Mistah bin Uthatha because of his relationship to him and his poverty, said, ‘By Allah, I will never give anything to Mistah bin Uthatha after what he has said about Aisha.’ Then Allah revealed:

“And let not those who possess dignity and ease among you swear not to give to the near of kin and to the needy, and to fugitives for the cause of Allah. Let them forgive and show indulgence. Yearn you not that Allah may forgive you? Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (al-Nur 24; 22)

Abu Bakr As-Siddiq said, ‘Yes, by Allah, I would like that Allah forgive me.’ and continued to give Mistah the money he used to give him before. He also added, “By Allah, I will never deprive him of it at all.” (Bukhari, Maghazi, 34; Muslim, Tawbah, 56)

This kind of feeling of reverence existed in all companions’ of the Prophet (pbuh). The best manifestation of this can be seen at the time of the prohibition of alcoholic drinks. The prohibition of alcoholic drinks was finalized with the revelation of the 90th and 91st verses of the fifth chapter of the Qur’an. When the Prophet (pbuh) recited the last part of the verse “Will you then desist?” (al-Maidah 5; 91), Umar (r.a.) immediately said:

“O Lord! Yes, we desist.” Not just Umar but all believers, who happened to be there, said “Yes, dear Lord, we will abstain from alcohol and gambling from now on.” Then, upon the order of the Messenger of Allah a public crier announced the prohibition of alcoholic drinks. Upon hearing this announcement, all the believers emptied their stocks of wine into the streets, and the streets of Medina became flooded with alcoholic drinks. (Ibn Ḥanbal, I, 53; II, 351; Nasai, Ashribah, 1-2; Ḥakim, II, 305)

The Prophet’s (pbuh) reverence to Allah the Almighty led him to be very sensitive about His Oneness and Greatness. He (pbuh) spent all his life abstaining from everything which was against the principle of tawhid (the unity of Allah), and he adopted the following Divine commands:

“Lo! Allah forgives not that a partner should be ascribed unto Him. He forgives (all) and saves that to whom He will. Whoso ascribes partners to Allah, he has indeed invented a tremendous sin.” (al-Nisa 4; 48)

“And verily it has been revealed unto you as unto those before you (saying): If you ascribe a partner to Allah your work will fail and you indeed will be among the losers. Nay, but worship Allah, and be of those who give thanks.” (al-Zumar 39; 65-66)

In this respect, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) never tolerated negligence and he always intervened in the tiniest acts which might be associated with attributing partners to Allah the Almighty.

Zayd b. Khalid al-Juhani narrates that:

“The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) led us in the morning prayer at al-Hudaybiyah after rain had fallen during the night. When he finished, he turned around to the congregation and said:

“Do you know what your Lord says?” Companions replied, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” Then he (pbuh) said:

“[Allah says]: This morning some of My servants became believers and some of them became disbelievers. Those who said ‘We have been given rain by the grace and mercy of Allah,’ believe in Me and disbelieve in the stars; those who said ‘We have been given rain by the dawn and setting of such-and-such star,’ disbelieve in Me and believe in the stars.’” (Bukhari, Adhan, 156)

Another tradition related to this issue is as follows:

There was a solar eclipse on the day that the Prophet’s (pbuh) son, Abraham, passed away. People began to say that the eclipse happened because of death of the Prophet’s son. Upon hearing this, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

“The sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death of someone from the people but they are two signs amongst the signs of Allah; when you see the eclipse stand up and pray.” (Bukhari, Kusuf (Eclipses), 15)

In the former one of these two incidents, the Prophet (pbuh) points out that attributing partners to Allah in any of His actions means disbelief and that Allah the Almighty is the Absolute Actor. In the latter one, on the other hand, he (pbuh) states that, compared to the Greatness of Allah the Almighty, people, even the son of the Prophet, have no value other than servitude to Him; therefore, respect must be shown to Him only.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) closely watched his companions, who were still trying to recover from the age of ignorance and polytheism. He paid the utmost attention to keep them away from falling into false beliefs. The following incident is an example in this respect:

Abu Waqid al-Laythee: “We went out with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) on the campaign to Hunain. The pagans had a tree called Dhat Anwat where they would remain and hang their arms upon it. When we passed by it we said “O Messenger of Allah, won’t you make for us a Dhat Anwat just like theirs? The Messenger of Allah became really sad and told us “Allahu Akbar! You have said exactly as the sons of Israel have said to Moses, “…O Moses! Make for us a god as they have (their) gods…” (al-’Araf 7; 138). By the One Whose Hand my soul is in, verily these are the ways of the earlier nations.” (Tirmidhi, Fitan, 18)

Umar (r.a.) ordered that the Samura tree in Hudaibiyah, under which the ridwan pledge was sworn, be cut down for the same worry as the Prophet (pbuh). (Ibn Sa’d, II, 100)

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was also sensitive about the attributes and names of Allah the Almighty to Him only. He would not let the smallest bit of polytheism suspicion exist. According to the narration of Ibn Abbas (r.a.), a man came to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and said:

“O Messenger of Allah! As you willed and as Allah willed. (He mentioned the Prophet’s name along with Allah about the issue of the Divine Will).” The Prophet (pbuh) refused to be mentioned along with Allah in regards to the Divine Will and said:

“You made me equal to Allah, you should have said “what Allah willed.”” (Ibn Ḥanbal, I, 283) Even though he was a prophet, he stated that the Absolute Will is the Will of Allah.

Another remarkable example is the following:

‘Adi b. Hatim reported that a person recited a sermon before the Apostle of Allah (pbuh) and said:

“He who obeys Allah and His Apostle, is on the straight path, and he who disobeys both of them, certainly goes astray.”

Upon this the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:

“What a bad speaker you are; (Instead of saying both of them) say: He who disobeys Allah and His Apostle.” (Muslim, Jum’a, 48)

Here, the Prophet (pbuh) warned the speaker for using the pronoun “هما,” which means both of you, because the idea that Allah and the Prophet are at the same level may be considered. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) reminded the speaker that he is also a servant of Allah and it is not appropriate for reverence to mention his name together with the name of Allah the Almighty.

Because of his reverence and love for Allah, the Prophet (pbuh) fought hard with idols and idol worship, which were obstacles on the path to Allah. He did not treat them favorably, he always hated them even before he became a prophet. As it was narrated by Jabir b. Abdullah, the Prophet (pbuh) ordered Umar ibn al-Khattab (r.a.) at the time of the conquest of Mecca to go to the Ka’bah and obliterate all idols in it. The Prophet (pbuh) did not enter it until they were all destroyed. (Abu Dawud, Libas, 48)

Prophet’s Reverence and love for Allah manifests itself in his continuous remembrance of Allah. He was ordered to, in the Qur’an, by the Lord of the worlds:

“And remember your Lord within yourself humbly and fearing and in a voice not loud in the morning and the evening and be not of the heedless ones.” (al-’Araf 7; 205)

 In addition, he remembered Allah, as it was reported by Aisha (r.a.), at all moments of his life. (Muslim, Hayd, 117)

To revere sha’air or the signs of Allah is another way to show reverence to Him. This is stated in the following verse:

“…Whoever holds in honor The Symbols of Allah, Such (honor) should come truly from piety of the hearts.” (al-Hajj 22; 32)

Islam is based upon showing respect to Sha’airullah. The word sha’air is the plural form of the word, shi’ar, which comes from the infinitive shu’ur meaning, to feel. Symbols, such as the Holy Qur’an, Ka’bah, call to the prayer, prayer, sacrifice, Safa and Marwa, which inspire feelings that remind us of Allah are called sha’air. In order to make people understand these abstract ideas more easily, Allah the Most High explains them through tangible symbols. These are the symbols which are used in worshiping Allah the Almighty and which can be felt by our senses. This is why the reverence shown to them is considered as reverence to Allah and being disrespectful to them means disrespect to Allah the Almighty.

The Holy Qur’an, one of these symbols, is the Divine ordinance which was revealed by Allah to the Prophet’s (pbuh) pure heart. Therefore, respect shown to the Qur’an means respect to its Revealer, Allah the Almighty. People can reach Allah the Almighty by following the Prophets’ footsteps, which is achieved by showing respect to the books revealed to them and reading and living in accordance with the rules and regulations in these holy books.

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) became very attentive when he received revelations. In the early days of his prophethood, the Prophet (pbuh) would repeat the revelation to prevent from forgetting it. This is why the following verses were revealed to him:

“Do not move your tongue with it to make haste with it; it is for Us to collect it and to promulgate it: Therefore when We have recited it, follow its recitation.” (Qiyamah 75; 16-18)

Another manifestation of the Prophet’s love and reverence to Allah the Almighty is his love for the Holy Qur’an. He used to shed tears while he recited and listened to the words’ of Allah; because, a lover listens very carefully to what their beloved says and there is nothing more delightful than the words of the beloved. Often a lover feels like they are with their beloved when they repeat the words of the beloved. The following narration of Ibn Mas’ud is a nice example for this reality: One day, Ibn Mas’ud recited parts from the Qur’an to the Prophet (pbuh) upon his request. When Ibn Mas’ud recited the following verse from Surat-An-Nisa’ (The Women):

“But how (will it be with them) when We bring of every people a witness, and We bring you (O Muhammad) a witness against these?” (Nisa 4; 41) The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Enough for now,” When Ibn Mas’ud (r.a.) looked at the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), he saw that his eyes were overflowing with tears because of the Greatness of Allah. (Bukhari, Faḍa’il al-Qur’an, 32; Muslim, Musafirun, 247)

Because of the feelings of reverence and respect, it was quite often that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) cried when reciting or listening to the Qur’an. Companions, who closely followed the examples of the Prophet (pbuh) in every aspect of their lives, also revered the word of Allah. Every morning when Umar and Uthman (may Allah be pleased with them) woke up, they routinely kissed the Book of Allah. According to reports, every morning Ibn Umar (r.a.) would take the book of Allah, kiss it and say “this is my Lord’s covenant and clear ordinance.” (Kattani, II, 196-7) Ikrimah (r.a.) used to take it, rub it to his face and cry saying “my Lord’s words! My Lord’s book!” Thus, he expressed his reverence and respect for Allah the Almighty. (Ḥakim, III, 272)[2]

Before the revelation of the Qur’an, seven chosen poems, called mu’allaqat al-sab’ had hung on the Ka’bah’s wall. People read them and talked about their rhetoric and eloquence. One of those poems belonged to Labid b. Rabi’a. Labid’s poem stayed hung on the Ka’bah for years. When Labid was honored with the light of Islam, he never wrote another poem again. His final lines were as follows:

All praises are due to Allah, because before my time came

I, too, put on Islam’s enlightening dress (Ibn ‘Abdilbarr, al-Isti’ab, III, 1335)

The Ka’bah is another symbol of Allah, and showing respect to it is considered a requirement for reverence to Allah the Possessor of Majesty. The Ka’bah, as a manifestation of Allah’s Mercy, is a sacred place of worship to which believers face while in prayer and circumambulation. By doing these they try to get closer to Allah the Almighty. Allah invites His servants to visit and show respect to His house. Requirements of being respectful to it include having ritual purity while circumambulating and not turning the front or back of the body towards the Ka’bah when relieving oneself. This is why our predecessors were careful about the direction of the toilets in their houses during their construction.

Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) was very sensitive about these issues. Abu Huraira reported that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saw some sputum in the direction of the Qibla of the mosque. He turned towards the people and said:

“How is it that someone amongst you stands before his Lord and then spits out in front of Him? Does any one of you like that he should be made to stand in front of someone and then spit at his face?… (Muslim, Masajid, 53)

Junaid al-Baghdadi (q.s.) visited someone, who was known as a pious believer, and saw that he spat in the direction of Qiblah. Junaid (q.s.) left before meeting the man thinking that “he was not following Prophet’s tradition.”

We should not infer from the above mentioned statements that spitting around is something approvable. Spitting around is reprehensible, but it is more reprehensible if it is done in the direction of Qiblah.

Prayer is another symbol of Allah. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who was more attentive to prayer than anyone else, commanded believers to be reverent with their prayers saying “Whenever anyone of you is in prayer, surely Allah is in front of him.” (Bukhari, Kitab al-Adab, 75)

In regards to adhan, or call for prayer, it is a significant symbol of our religion. By means of adhans the pillars of Islam are reminded to believers five times a day. As it is expressed by the poet Hakani:

Adhans are like the drums of Islam brought by the Sultan of the worlds. Heavens get shaken everyday by their ruble.”[3] Even though there are not many words in the call for prayer, it includes everything related to faith. The Prophet (pbuh) would have someone recite the adhan for every prayer time, and ask that everyone listen to its words and repeat them after the muadhdhin. He also asked his followers to say special supplication after listening it. He (pbuh) showed respect to it and asked his followers to do the same. (Muslim, Salat, 12; Abu Dawud, Salat, 36)

As it is stated in the following verse, “And (as for) the camels, We have made them among the signs of Allah for you…” (al-Hajj 22; 36), sacrificial animals are also accepted among the symbols of Allah. This is why believers are required to be respectful towards the notion of sacrifice and sacrificial animals. As in other types of worship, reverence and piety are the essence of sacrifice in Islam. Allah the Almighty states in the following verse:

“Their flesh and their blood reach not Allah, but the devotion from you reaches Him…” (al-Hajj 22; 37)

The following incident is a nice example for Prophet’s (pbuh) reverence towards Allah the Almighty through sacrifice:

In Hudaibiah, among the sacrificial animals there was a camel with a silver ring on its nose, which used to belong to Abu Jahl and had been taken as war booty in the Battle of Badr. When it was grazing with other animals, it ran away and went to Abu Jahl’s house in Mecca. Amr b. Anamah (r.a.) went to catch the camel. Some people did not want to return it to Amr. Instead they offered a hundred camels in place of it . When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) heard their offer, he said:

“If we did not determine it to be a sacrifice, we would accept your offer.” (Waqidi, II, 614)

Because of his reverence to Allah the Most High, Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) did not exchange the camel, which had been assigned to be a sacrifice, even in return for a hundred camels.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) showed his respect to Allah in every aspect of life. Here, we would like to present some examples. According to Anas’s (r.a.) report, when the Prophet (pbuh) entered the privy he removed his ring, because the expressions “Muhammad the Messenger of Allah” was written on it. (Abu Dawud, Ṭaharah, 10)

In another occasion, Bahz b. Ḥakim’s grandfather (r.a.) came to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and asked him about covering the private parts of the body. The Prophet (pbuh) replied:

“Conceal your private parts except from your wife and from whom your right hands possess (slave-girls).” Allah’s Apostle gave the following response to the same companion’s question about the permissibility of being comfortable when getting dressed when no one is around:

“In respect to be modest before Him, Allah is more entitled than people.” (Abu Dawud, Hammam, 2)

Because of his reverence to Allah the Almighty, the Prophet (pbuh) advised to those who lost his temper and beat their slaves, despite his warnings about treating the slaves nicely:

“While one of you is beating his slave, his slave tells him “please stop” and mentions Allah’s name, then he should stop immediately.” (Tirmidhi, Birr, 32)

After this warning, Abdullah b. Umar (r.a.) began to emancipate his slaves who performed their prayers and exhibited good behavior. When one of his friends told him that some of his slaves were using his good intentions and going to the mosque just to be emancipated, Ibn Umar (r.a.) said:

“We are happy to be deceived by the deceptions of those who try to deceive us with Allah.” (Ibn Athir, Usd al-Ghabah, III, 343)

Bishr al-Khafi, a friend of Allah, was a sinner until one day when he found a piece of paper on which Allah’s name was written. He picked it up, cleaned it, and put it in a nice place. That night he heard in his dream:

“You nicely wrapped My name; showed your respect to it. And I will make your name respected in the two worlds.” Upon this Bishr woke up, repented for his sins and sincerely turned towards Allah the Almighty. (Attar, p. 128)

Our predecessors, who made reverence to Allah and His Messenger (pbuh) a natural part of their lives and expressed their respect in every chance they had, did not write the full word “Allah” in their books. They wrote «اه» instead of «الله» because of the possibility that their books may be left on the ground.

[1] Hypocrites slandered about chastity of the mother of believers Aisha (r.anha) because of an incident occurred during the expedition of Bani Mustaliq. Allah the Almighty revealed the verse stating that she is innocent and chaste. (Al-Nur 24; 26)

[2] Companions and our righteous predecessors showed great respect and reverence to the Book of Allah. They used to wash to erase the writings in ink. Anas (r.a.) narrates that during the caliphates of Umar, Uthman and Ali (may Allah be pleased with them all), people did not randomly throw the water, with which they erased the Qur’an. They saved it in cups and then poured it either next to a grave or into a clean well. There are also reports that people sometimes used this water for the purposes of medicine. (Kattani, Ii, 200)

[3] “Kûs-İ Şer’inden O Şâh’ın Seheri

Source: An Excellent Exemplar, Osman Nuri Topbaş,  Erkam Publications

The Human Reality

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