The Prophet’s Sensitivity in Conveying His Message and in His Call 

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What is the prophets sensitivity in conveying? What is the prophets sensitivity in his message and call?

“Yet it may be, if they believe not in this statement, that you (Muhammad) will torment your soul with grief over their footsteps.” (al-Kahf 18; 6)

Allah the Almighty chose His Messenger (pbuh) amongst the human beings and charged him with conveying the message of Islam to His servants. In this regard our Prophet (pbuh) presented a unique example of patience and determination.

We see that the Prophet (pbuh) fulfilled his call in four stages:

  1. His kinsmen
  2. His tribe
  3. The rest of the Arab tribes
  4. The human beings and Jinn until the Judgment Day.

In other words, his prophethood advanced step by step from simple to more difficult tasks. The first Divine command began by the order “Read.” (al-Alaq 96; 1), then the task of conveying the message of Islam was given to the Prophet (pbuh):

“Arise and warn!” (al-Muddaththir 74; 2). The next order was

“And admonish your nearest Kinsmen…” (al-Shuara 26; 214). Later this task was extended to the entire city of the Prophet:

“Nor was thy Lord the one to destroy the townships until he had sent to its Centre a messenger, rehearsing to them Our Signs; nor are We going to destroy a population except when its members practice iniquity.” (al-Qasas 28; 59)

The next stage was to encompass the neighboring cities into the call to Islam:

“And this is a book which we have sent down, bringing blessings, and confirming (the revelations) which came before it: that you may warn the mother of cities and all around her. Those who believe in the Hereafter believe in this (book), and they are constant in guarding their Prayers.” (al-An’am 6; 92)

And finally the limits were widened to the extent that embraces the whole of humanity:

“We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for the peoples.” (al-Anbiya 21; 107)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) completed perfectly all the steps of these stages and taught us how to perform our duty in the minutest detail. Allah the Almighty praises the sensitivity and fastidiousness of the prophets in conveying His message in the Qur’an as follows:

“(It is the practice of those) who preach the messages of Allah, and fear Him and fear none but Allah. And enough is Allah to call (men) to account.” (al-Ahzab 33; 39)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) asked his followers to fulfill this duty as meticulous as he did. Indeed, in his following saying he stated the importance of fulfilling this task no matter what the circumstances were: “Even if it is a single verse from me convey it to the people” (Bukhari, Anbiya, 50) Allah the Most Exalted also expresses in the Qur’an that those who believe, do righteous deeds, and invite people to the straight path are the ones who speak the most beautiful speech. (Fussilat 41; 33)

One day the Prophet (pbuh) stopped while he was walking with his Companions. Meaning Ali, (r.a.) he said that “there are those amongst you who show the same effort and meticulousness in understanding and interpreting the Qur’an as I have done in receiving the revelation and conveying it to humanity.” (Ibn Hanbal, III, 82) Thus, he also clearly pointed out a very significant service for those who would like to follow his traditions and take him as their most excellent exemplar. From the following prophetic supplication we understand how much the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) loves those who walk on this path:

“May Allah lighten the faces of those who hear something from us and then deliver it to others as it is.” In the following part of his supplication, he then explains the reason for insisting on conveying the message of Islam.

“There are those who understand the knowledge they receive better than those who brought that knowledge.” (Tirmidhi, Ilm, 7)

Due to his mercy and compassion for his ummah, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) strived to deliver the truth even to people living in farthest places, and endeavored to ensure their salvation. For this reason, he sent his Companions to various places as missionaries. When he (pbuh) was sending Ali (r.a.) on such a mission, he told Ali (r.a.):

“…by Allah, if one man is guided on the right path (i.e. converted to Islam) through you, it would be better for you than (a great number of) red camels.” (Bukhari, Ashab al-Nabi, 9)

Those who guide others to salvation will benefit from their good and spiritually rewarding lives. In this respect, the following prophetic saying conveys glad tidings for those who exert efforts in delivering the message of Islam:

“He who called (people) to righteousness, there would be reward (assured) for him like the rewards of those who adhered to it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect.” (Muslim, Ilm, 16)

Ibn Abbas (r. anhuma) says regarding Allah’s Messenger’s love and enthusiasm in conveying the revelation he received and the truth he learned from Allah the Almighty: “the Prophet (pbuh) wanted the whole of humanity to believe in his message and pledge their allegiance to him. Consequently, Allah the Almighty revealed the following verse:

“It may be that you torment yourself (O Muhammad) because they believe not. If We will, We can send down on them from the sky a portent so that their necks would remain bowed before it.” (al-Shuara 26; 3-4) (Haythami, VII, 85)

While even a person’s conversion made the Prophet (pbuh) very happy, , he was overwhelmed by sorry at the death of an unbeliever. It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira (r.a.) that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said to his uncle (at the time of his death):

“Make a profession of it that there is no god but Allah so I will bear testimony of your being a Muslim on the Day of Judgment.” His uncle Abu Talib said:

“Were it not the fear of Quraish blaming me and saying that it was the fear of approaching death that induced me to do so, I would have certainly delighted your eyes. It was then that Allah revealed:

“Verily you cannot guide to the right path whom you love. And it is Allah Who guides whom He will and He knows best who are the guided” (al-Qasas 28; 56)” (Muslim, Iman, 41-42)

Aisha (r.anha) narrated another incident about the Prophet’s efforts to deliver Islam’s message to people:

“Surat Abasa (Chapter 80) was revealed about Abdullah b. Umm Maktum. He came to the Prophet, pbuh, and began to say,

“O Messenger of Allah! Show me the straight path,” whilst one of the leading men of the idol worshippers was in audience with the Prophet (pbuh). Thus, he could not answer the Ibn Umm Maktum’s request. When Ibn Umm Maktum insisted, the Prophet (pbuh) began to turn away from him and give his attention to the other man, at which point he said to the man,

“Father of so-and-so, do you see any harm in what I am saying?” and the man replied “No, by the blood of our sacrifices I see no harm in what you are saying.” As a result of this incident the chapter Abasa was revealed. (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 80; Muwatta, Qur’an, 8)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was so eager to guide a polytheist to the straight path that he received Divine reproach for not showing enough interest in a believer. According to the narration of Abu Huraira Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) described his and his followers’ state as follows:

“My example and the example of the people is that of a man who made a fire, and when it lighted what was around it, moths and other insects started falling into the fire. The man tried his best to prevent them from falling in the fire but they overpowered him and rushed into the fire. The Prophet added: Now, similarly, I take hold of the knots of your belts to prevent you from falling into the Fire, but you insist on falling into it.” (Bukhari, Riqaq, 26)[1]

As stated in this tradition, in order to introduce himself and invite people to Islam the Prophet (pbuh) used to go to the fairs in Mecca during the season of pilgrimage. During these visits he would tell people that he was the Messenger of Allah and invite them to accept the unity of God and worship Him alone. (Ibn Hanbal, III, 492; Ibn Sa’d, I, 216) In the early years of his prophethood, he would walk around with the polytheistic tribes that had come to Mecca for the pilgrimage and tell of Islam to everyone he met without making any discrimination between poor and wealthy, weak and powerful, slave and free.

It was narrated by Jabir b. Abdullah (r.a.):

“The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) presented himself to the people at Arafat, saying:

“Is there any man who takes me to his people? The Quraish have prevented me from preaching the word of my Lord.” (Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 19-20) Unfortunately, no one answered his request or offered their protection to the Messenger of Allah. On the contrary, some of them shuned him and treated him badly, while others argued with him saying: “your tribe knows you better. Why didn’t they accept your call?” Nevertheless, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) responded with patience to all their questions and continued to invite them to the right path. (Ibn Hanbal, III, 322; Ibn Sa’d, I, 216) Likewise, neither a polytheist nor an infidel could stop him from his mission. Polytheists sent a message to him through his uncle Abu Talib and asked him to give up his call and in return they offered him everything he could want, but Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) refused this offer with the following magnificent response:

“Dear uncle! I would not have given up my mission even if they had put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand. Allah the Almighty will either spread His religion all over the world or I will die on the way.” He then became so sad that he began to weep. (Ibn Athir, al-Kamil, II, 64)

The Prophet would go to every door and invite people to Islam time and time again, while making use of every opportunity and never growing tired. He even invited his worst enemies to Islam several times. Mughira b. Shu’bah narrates one of his experiences related to this matter as follows:

“I and Abu Jahl met the Prophet while walking through the streets of Mecca. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) told Abu Jahl:

“O Abu al-Hakam! Come and obey Allah and His Messenger so that I can pray to Allah for you.”

Abu Jahl replied:

“O Muhammad! Again you will talk against our idols and prohibit us from worshipping them, won’t you? I swear that if I knew that you were talking the truth I would follow you.”

When the Prophet (pbuh) left, I turned to Abu Jahl and admitted that:

“By Allah I know that what he says is true.”

Later, Abu Jahl told people that his rejection of the Islamic faith was because of tribal pride and jealousy.” (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, III, 113)

Below, Imam Busiri, may Allah have mercy upon his soul, explains how diseases of the heart prevent one seeing the truth:

“Sometimes the eye denies the Sun light because of conjunctivitis

And mouth refuses the taste of water because of a malady.”

One day the polytheists of Quraish, who could not stop the efforts of the Prophet (pbuh) to teach and deliver the Islamic call, asked of him:

“Leave criticizing us and our idols so that we too will leave you and your God alone.” Upon this Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) asked:

“Do you see that sun?” When polytheists replied affirmatively, he told them:

“Can I prevent you from benefiting from its light?” (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya, III, 92; Ibn Ishaq, 136)

Here Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) pointed out a very important aspect of Islam and likened it to the sun, which illuminates everywhere generously with its beams. It is such a light that enters into every house of a heart whose windows are open and nobody can prevent this. The more its windows are open, the more light it will let in.

Allah the Almighty sent Islam to enlighten His servants’ spiritual worlds just like He created the sun to lighten up the universe. Whatever sunlight means to an eye, the verses of the Qur’an have a similar relation to intellect and perception. If it is appropriate to refer to the sun as light, then it is much more suitable to call the Holy Qur’an light. (al-Taghabun 64; 8) The statements of the Prophet (pbuh) have been more powerful than the beams of the sun and his blessed existence was loftier than the sun. In fact Allah the Almighty describes the sun as a lamp, whereas He characterizes our Prophet (pbuh) “…as a Lamp spreading Light.” (al-Ahzab 33; 46) What we understand from this verse is that the attribute of illumination like a sun manifested itself most strongly in the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).

It was the strength of his faith that motivated the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in his actions. He strove to enlighten people with the sun of Islam. Abdullah b. Jahsh (r.a.) took some captives during the Nahla expedition. One of them was Hakam b. Kaisan. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) invited Hakam to Islam and told him about the religion in detail by explaining continuously in order to dispell any doubts.

Umar (r.a.) got upset because of Hakam’s refusal to accept Islam in spite of all of the Prophet’s (pbuh) efforts and said:

“O Messenger of Allah! Why do you keep talking to this man? By Allah he will never become a Muslim. Let me kill him so he may go to Hell.” But the Prophet (pbuh) kept telling Hakam about Islam. Hakam asked:

“What is Islam?” Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) replied:

“Islam is to worship Allah alone and bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.” Hakam said:

“I accept Islam.” Upon this Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) turned to his Companions and said:

“If I were to do what you had said, he would now be in Hell.” (Ibn Sa’d, IV, 137-138; Waqidi, I, 15-16)

Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) would not belittle or despise anybody when inviting them to Islam. For instance, during the conquest of Haibar he taught Islam to a shepherd slave who was herding a Jewish man’s sheep, and guided him to find the straight path. (Ibn Hisham, III, 398)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) did not close the door of guidance on people like Umar b. Khattab, who had been coming to kill him, Ikrima b. Abu Jahl, who had done all kinds of enmities towards Muslims until the conquests of Mecca, Wahshi who had killed his uncle Hamza (r.a.), and even on Abu Sufyan’s wife Hind, who had mutilated Hamza’s martyred body and eaten his lung.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sent one of his Companions to invite Wahshi, who had martyred his uncle Hamza, to Islam. Wahshi replied to the Prophet’s call by saying:

“O Muhammad! How can you invite me to Islam when you had stated Allah’s decree saying: “Those who invoke not, with Allah, any other god, nor slay such life as Allah has made sacred, except for a just cause, nor commit fornication; and any that does this (not only) meets punishment. (But) the Penalty on the Day of Judgment will be doubled for him, and he will dwell therein in ignominy.” (al-Furqan 25; 68-69) I have committed all those sins. How can salvation be possible for me?” Then Allah the Almighty revealed the following verse:

“Unless he, repents, believes, and works righteous deeds, for Allah will change the evil of such persons into good, and Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (al-Furqan 25; 70)

And Wahshi sent the follwoing message:

“O Muhammad! These are very difficult conditions: repentance, belief, and doing good deeds… I may not be able to fulfill all of these conditions.” Then Allah the Exalted revealed another verse:

“Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with him; but he forgives anything else, to whom he pleases; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed.” (al-Nisa 4; 48) When the Prophet (pbuh) informed Wahshi about the newly revealed verse, Wahshi sent another message:

“O Muhammad! I see that mercy comes from Allah’s will. I do not know whether He will forgive me or not. Is there anything else?” In conclusion the following verse was revealed:

“Say: O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls. Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” (al-Zumar 39; 53)

After several trips of the messengers Wahshi found relief in this last verse and said:

“O Lord! How great Your Mercy is!” He then repented and converted to Islam together with some of his friends.

The Companions asked:

“O Messenger of Allah! Is this mercy and forgiveness just for Wahshi or does it apply to all believers?” The Prophet (pbuh) replied:

“It is for all Muslims.” (Haythami, X, 214-215)

Imam Busiri describes the greatness of Allah’s mercy as follows:

“O my inner self! Do not despair since you had committed great sins; because great sins are little in the presence of the Most Benevolent!”

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) even endeavored for the guidance of his fiercest enemies. He had no hesitation about going to everybody’s door to invite him to the Islamic faith. Asma (r. anha) narrated:

“One day after the conquest of Mecca Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) was sitting in the mosque when Abu Bakr (r.a.) brought his father Abu Kuhafa to him. The Prophet (pbuh) told Abu Bakr:

“O Abu Bakr! Why did you bring your father here and make him tired. I could have gone to him.” Abu Bakr (r.a.) replied:

“O Messenger of Allah! It is more appropriate for him to come to you than for you to go to him.”

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) had Abu Kuhafa sit in front of him and then placed his hand on Abu Kuhafa’s heart and told him:

“O Abu Kuhafa! Accept Islam and reach salvation.” after which Abu Kuhafa proclaimed the shahadah and sincerely converted to Islam. (Ibn Sa’d, V, 451)

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) also wanted people to declare their faith as early as possible. Bara (r.a.) narrates:

“A man whose face was covered with an iron mask (i.e. clad in armor) came to the Prophet and asked,

“O Allah’s Apostle! Shall I fight or embrace Islam first?” The Prophet said,

“Embrace Islam first and then fight.” So he embraced Islam, and was martyred. Allah’s Apostle said,

“A Little work, but a great reward (He did very little after embracing Islam), but he will be rewarded in abundance).” (Bukhari, Jihad, 13)

One day Allah’s Apostle (pbuh) told a man: “Embrace Islam.” The man replied: “I do not feel willing to do that.” The Prophet (pbuh) told him:

“Embrace Islam even if you do not feel willing.” (Ibn Hanbal, III, 109)

This prophetic approach shows the significance of hurrying to submit to Islam. Allah’s Messenger would first invite the visiting delegates to Islam. Byzantium’s ambassador Tanuhi states:

“I came to the Messenger of Allah and sat in front of him. I presented him the Emperor’s letter. He took the letter and left there. Then he asked:

“Which tribe are you from?” I replied:

“I am from the Tanuhians.” Then he asked:

“Would not it be better if you embrace Islam or your ancestor Abraham’s religion?” I replied:

“I am an ambassador of my tribe and I also believe in their religion. I am not planning to change my religion until I go back to them.” Upon which Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) smiled and recited the verse:

“Verily you cannot guide to the right path whom you love. And it is Allah Who guides whom He will and He knows best who are the guided” (al-Qasas 28; 56)” (Ibn Hanbal, III, 442; IV, 75)

The Prophet’s sensitivity in this respect was adopted and followed to a profound extent by his Companions too. The Apostle of Allah (pbuh) once sent Khatib b. Abi Baltaa to Muqawqis as his messenger. Muqawqis sent back some gifts, Mariya and her sister Sirin, to the Prophet. Khatib (r.a.) told the two sisters about Islam and encouraged them to embrace it. And they proclaimed their faith in Islam. (Ibn Sa’d, VIII, 212) They did not even wait to arrive at Medina to encounter the truth.

Teaching the requirements of Islam to new converts is among the primary responsibilities of believers. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) would leave everything that occupied him and would first try to teach Islam to such people. Abu Rifa’a (r.a.) reported:

“I came to the Holy Prophet (pbuh) when he was delivering a sermon, and I said:

“O Messenger of Allah, here is a stranger and he wants to learn about this religion. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) looked at me and stopped giving his sermon. Then he came to me, and he was given a chair. I think that its legs were made of iron. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sat in it and he began to teach me what Allah had taught him. He then went back to the pulpit for his sermon and completed his speech until the end.” (Muslim, Jumu’a, 60)

All of the battles of the Prophet (pbuh), without any exception, were to convey the message of Islam. This is why opposing parties had always been invited to embrace Islam before the fight began. During the siege of Haibar someone had tried to provoke the Jews to fight and told them many lies. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) told his Companions:

“A devil had come to the Jewish people and said: “Muhammad is fighting with you just to seize your possessions from you.” Tell these people: “Proclaim that there is no god but Allah so that (by saying this formula) protect your lives and possessions. And your questioning in the Hereafter is upon Allah the Almighty.” The Jews were thus addressed. They responded: “By the Torah or the book of Moses we would neither do what you ask nor leave our religion.” (Waqidi, II, 653)

Allah’s Apostle did everything he could to clear up the misunderstandings about his message. He was also very sensitive in transmiting the revelation he received exactly as it was. Aisha (r. anha) said:

“If the Messenger of Allah had concealed something from the revelation he received, he would have concealed the following verse and she mentioned the thirty seventh verse from the sura Ahzab,٭ which is about his marriage with Zainab and is criticizing his behavior.” (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 33/9)

Again Aisha (r. anha) said:

“He who presumes that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) concealed anything from the Book of Allah fabricates the greatest lie against Allah, because Allah the Almighty says: “O Messenger! Proclaim the (Message) which has been sent to you from your Lord. If you did not, you would not have fulfilled and proclaimed His Mission. And Allah will defend you from men (who mean mischief); for Allah guides not those who reject the Faith.” (al-Maida, 5; 67) (Muslim, Iman, 287)

When something about Islam was asked to the Messenger of Allah, he would either say “I do not know,” if there had been no revelation about the issue in question or he would wait for a revelation in order to solve the problem. He would not respond by giving his personal opinion or by making analogy. (Bukhari, I’tisam, 8)

On the other hand, he warned those who did not respond to people’s questions about which they had knowledge saying:

“If someone does not reply a question t to which he knows the answer, he would be made to wear a bridle made from fire on the Day of Judgment.” (Tirmidhi, ‘Ilm, 3)

In the following lines witness how elegantly Jalal al-Din Rumi (q.s.) describes the sensitivity and patience with which the prophets conveyed their message to people:

“I grant indeed that ye have become stony and have put locks upon your ears and hearts; (But) we have nothing to do whether you accept our word or not: our business is to resign ourselves (to God) and fulfill His command. He has commanded us to perform this service. What we tell is His commands. They are not from us. We do not have this office of proclaimer (prophethood) from ourselves. We possess life only for the purpose of executing the command of God. If He had ordered us to sow in sand, we would have done it.

The prophet’s soul has no friend except God: he has nothing to do with the acceptance or rejection of (his message by) the people. The reward for delivering His messages comes from Him (God): we have become hateful and wear the aspect of enemies (to the people) for the Beloved’s sake. At this (Divine) Portal we are not weary, so that we should halt everywhere because of the distance of the way. Oppressed in heart and weary is that one (alone) who is in prison through being parted from the Friend. The Heart-ravisher and Desired One is present with us: amidst the largesse of His mercy our souls are giving thanks.” (Mathnawi, III, verses: 2926-2934)٭

In conclusion, Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) showed the utmost sensitivity and attention in receiving and delivering Allah’s message to people. He perfectly fulfilled his mission. In his sermon at the farewell pilgrimage, he asked thrice: “Have I delivered the message?” and each time he got the affirmative response from his Companions. In the end, he took Allah as a witness for the people’s answers, and so he showed the way how a Muslim should live until the end of his life.

[1] The similitude of this prophetic statement was manifested in Khalid b. Sa’id’s conversion to Islam. It was a frightening dream that caused him to convert. One night he saw himself in his dream sitting by a fire. His father was trying to push him into the fire, but the Prophet (pbuh) caught him from his waist and saved him from falling. And he was scared very much. He thought that this dream had to be a true dream and he told his dream to Abu Bakr (r.a.). Abu Bakr said to him:

“May your dream bring you the best. The Prophet (pbuh) is right over there. Go and submit yourself to him right away. If you submit yourself to him, convert to Islam, and be next to him, he will save you from falling into fire. Your father, on the other hand, will go to Hell.” Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) became very happy for Khalid’s conversion. (Ibn Sa’d, IV, 94; Hakim, III, 277)

٭ “Behold you did say to one who had received the Grace of Allah and your favor: Retain you (in wedlock) your wife, and fear Allah. But you did hide in your heart that which Allah was about to make manifest you did fear the people, But it is more fitting that you should fear Allah. Then when Zayd had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to you: in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality their marriage) with them. And Allah’s command must be fulfilled.” (Ahzab 33; 37)

٭ For The English Translation Of Mathnawi, I Have Benefited from The Mathnawí Of Jalálu’ddín Rúmí, Edited From The Oldest Manuscripts Available, With Critical Notes, Translation & Commentary, Ed. Reynold A. Nicholson, Konya Metropolitan Municipality, 2004

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

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