AL-AQSA is the first Qiblah (direction of prayer) of Muslims, and the land of Al-Israa’ and Al-Mi’raj. Our hearts bleed for all the sacrilegious acts been perpetrated against Al-Aqsa. The status of Al-Aqsa is clearly explained in the Hadith that reads: “People are not to travel except to three mosques: The Sacred Mosque (in Makkah), Al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem), and my Mosque (in Madinah).” (Reported by Muslim)
The city of Jerusalem was chosen at the command of Allah by Prophet Dawud (David, peace be upon him), in the 10th century B.C. After him his son Prophet Sulayman (Solomon, peace be upon him) built a mosque in Jerusalem according to the revelation that he received from Allah. For several centuries this mosque was used for the worship of Allah by many Prophets and Messengers. It was destroyed by the Babylonians in the year 586 B.C., but it was soon rebuilt and was rededicated to the worship of Allah in 516 B.C.
It continued afterwards for several centuries until the time of Prophet Isa (Jesus, peace be upon him). After he departed this world, it was destroyed by the Romans in the year 70 C.E. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was taken there in his miraculous journey of Al-Israa’ and from there he went for Al-Mi’raj. When Muslims took the city of Jerusalem in 636 C.E. during the caliphate of Umar he ordered for the building of this mosque again and it stands until now as a Masjid for the worship of Allah as it was originally built by our Prophet Sulayman (peace be upon him).
The significance of Jerusalem is that it is the city of many Prophets of Allah as Makkah is the city of Prophets Ibrahim (Abraham), Isma’il (Ishmael) and Muhammad (peace be upon all of them). The Mosque of Al-Aqsa is one of the ancient mosques and in the Qur’an Allah called it and its land “… the neighborhood whereof We have blessed…” (17: 1)
When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was in Makkah and also for about 17 months after his Hijrah to Madinah, he and his followers used to pray toward the direction of Al-Aqsa Mosque. This was to establish in the minds of Muslims the link between the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and other Prophets of Allah (peace be upon them all). When this principle was established in their minds then Allah ordered Muslims to turn to the Ka’bah and pray toward its direction.
Now, we are not allowed to pray to the direction of Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque, but we must respect and honor the city of Jerusalem and its blessed mosque. It is also the duty of all Muslims to guard and protect this mosque from any harm and damage, for the mosque belongs to those who believe in all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah.
PROPHET Muhammad (peace be upon him), was an orphan child. His father died while his mother Amna was still pregnant. His mother also died when he was six years old. When she was dying, he cried but she told him as her last words “Muhammad, be a man.” And he was the best of all men.
There are other four women who acted as Prophet Muhammad’ mothers after the death of his real mother.
The first woman was Thuaiba (may Allah be pleased with her), the maid servant of his uncle Abu Lahab, who was the first one to have the honor of breast-feeding the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet liked her so much and was grateful to her and her children till she died in the seventh year A.H (after Hijra).
The second mother was Halimah Al-Sadiah (may Allah be pleased with her), one of the most famous wet-nurses in the Arabian Peninsula at that time. She came to Makkah to find a child from a rich family whom she could breast-feed as a means of making a living, but she did not find any child except for Muhammad (peace be upon him) who was a poor orphan rejected by the other wet-nurses who were searching for rich children, but Halimah (may Allah be pleased with her) had a strange feeling that, that orphan boy would be a source of blessing and goodness to her and her family.
The third one was Barakah Bint Tha’labah, commonly known as Umm Ayman, who took care of the Prophet (peace be upon him) immediately after the death of his mother. She was a slave and the Prophet (peace be upon him) set her free. She embraced Islam and became a good Muslim and the Prophet (peace be upon him) was grateful to her till she died.
Fatimah Bint Asad (may Allah be pleased with her)’ his uncle, Abu Talib’s wife, and the mother of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) also acted as his foster mother. She acted as foster mother after the death of the Prophet’ grandfather when the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to live with his uncle. Fatimah noticed something strange: whenever her children gathered to eat, they never felt full except when Muhammad (peace be upon him) had eaten with them.
Her love for that orphan child increased after she heard what her husband told her: he told her that one of the hermits told him that his nephew (Muhammad) would be the next prophet.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) remained grateful to her throughout her life and when she died, he buried her with his honourable hands and prayed for her.
This means that although he had lost his mother, Allah gave him four foster mothers, to whom he was a grateful son.
Perhaps nothing is more important to a person who is charged with bringing about a fundamental change in the life of his community than having a settled and happy family life. When the home front is established on sound basis and characterized by love and care between all its members, the head of the family can evaluate matters in public life more accurately. This will help him to address problems and define priorities. By contrast, if his family life is plagued with problems, or mistrust, or lack of mutual care, his vision of public life will be impaired. How can he bring about the desired change, or establish proper reforms?
Long before the beginning of his mission, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) enjoyed a very happy and settled family life. His wife, Khadijah, belonged to a distinguished family from the Quraysh. She was wealthy and in her womanly prime. She was a mature woman who had had a previous marriage and given birth to two children. Although it is commonly thought that she was forty years of age at the time of her marriage to Prophet Muhammad, this is far from certain. On the contrary, the fact that she gave Muhammad six children over a period of ten years suggests that she was much younger. According to a report by Ibn Abbas, she was no more than 28 at the time when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) married her.
It was Khadijah who proposed marriage to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). She was a woman of sound judgment, and she discovered all his good qualities. Most important to her were the facts that he was true to his trust, always speaking the truth. Moreover, she made certain that he had no design to lay his hand on her wealth. On the contrary, he was content with what he lawfully earned. Yet when they were settled in their home, she discovered in him more of his fine qualities: his kindness, humility, care for the weak and vulnerable and his keen sense of fairness. She was later to describe him in the following terms: “By God, you are faithful to your trust, kind to your kinsfolk and you always tell the truth.”
Numerous are the reports that tell us of the care each of the two spouses took of the other. Yet this was manifest throughout their marriage. During the few years that preceded the first divine revelations, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)used to seek solitude in a cave in a mountain close to Makkah. He would take food and water to drink, sufficient for a few days. He would then return home to replenish his stock. When he was late on one occasion, she sent some of her servants to look for him. She told him that she was worried. Later, during his mission, he would go out to speak to people in Makkah, telling him about his message and that God wanted them to believe in His oneness. He would try to convince everyone of the truth of his message. But he often received the same type of stubborn rejection. He might be at his task for the best part of the day, then he would go home tired, exhausted and full of sorrow. As soon as he got home, he was always sure to be received by a caring, loving wife who comforted and encouraged him, so as to start again on the following day, full of vigor and enthusiasm.
– By Adil Salahi
Right from the days when Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a young man in Makkah, he was known to be trustworthy. No one ever accused him of betraying trust in any way or form. On the contrary, he was known by his nickname, Al-Ameen, which means the trustworthy. His community gave him this nickname long before he began to receive divine revelations. Indeed Khadeejah was keen to become his wife when she realized how honest and trustworthy he was. She had sent him on a business trip, looking after her trade on one of the traditional, annual trips the people of Makkah used to make, sending merchandise to Syria and bringing home commodities people needed. When she received reports of how he behaved himself, she realized that he was a man of great fidelity, conscientiously faithful to his trust. Hence, she took steps that led to her becoming his first wife. He valued her companionship and they were the happiest of couples.
A few years before Muhammad was given his mission and became the last Prophet, the people of Makkah wanted to renovate the building of the Kaaba, the holy place. They did so, and all clans shared in the work, taking pride in it. However, when finally they wanted to put the Black Stone in place, they ran into dispute. They considered that action a source of honor, and every clan wanted it for itself. No length of argument could get them to agree on a solution. The dispute threatened to develop into a real battle. However, some wise men among them suggested that they should refer the matter to arbitration. They all agreed to this, and further agreed to make the first person to enter through a certain door the arbiter. Soon Muhammad came in and they were delighted when they saw him, because they recognized his objectivity and fair mindedness. They said: “Here is Al-Ameen, and we agree to his rule.” It should be noted that they did not say, ‘Here is Muhammad’, but rather they referred to him by his nickname, which highlighted his main quality of faithfulness to trust and assured reliability.
Muhammad listened to their argument and soon came up with the solution that satisfied them all. He placed the Black Stone on a robe and asked every clan to nominate one of its members. These nominees lifted the robe together, and took it to its position, when he himself placed it in its proper corner. Thus, the dispute was settled and a flare up was avoided.
Throughout his life in Makkah, people gave Muhammad their valuables for safe-keeping. At the time, there were no banks, safes or secure storage. Hence, when anyone had something, which he feared to be lost or stolen if left at home, he would give it to Muhammad, knowing for certain that it was safe with him. His reputation for trustworthiness was never called in doubt. People simply gave him whatever they needed to be kept safe. They continued to do so after he started to preach his message. The overwhelming majority of the people in Makkah did not accept his message. Many accused him of lying. Still they trusted him with their valuables. How come? Their accusation meant that he fabricated something and attributed it to God. In other words, they asserted he was lying to God, yet they trusted him.
Their trust was well placed. They had no reason to fear that Muhammad would betray it. When things came to a head and his people decided to assassinate him, they chose a man from every clan to share in the ghastly crime. These men went and besieged his home. The Prophet managed to move out, but before doing so he asked his cousin, Ali, to sleep in his bed to give the impression that he was still there. He also asked Ali to return to the people of Makkah all their valuables they had given him for safe-keeping. It is amazing that these people could not see the facts they recognized and acknowledged, that Muhammad was the symbol of trust and that he never told a lie, meant that what he told them about the message God entrusted to him was the absolute truth.
Yet trustworthiness means more than returning goods and articles to their owners. It involves being true in all actions and transactions. Muhammad was the very symbol of that. He never breached a promise he gave and never told a lie, not even in jest. Whatever he said or did was based on truth, good will and reliability. Hence, no one who dealt with him in any manner ever complained of any breach of even the highest standards of reliability.
This quality he emanated to all members of his household. His wives continued to follow his example for the rest of their lives. Some of them lived several decades after he had passed away, but they continued on the same lines. Those who served him in one capacity or another, did likewise. They all realized that they could not have a better role model in dealing with people. He was the best teacher and they all learnt from him what served them well in their lives.
Published in Saudi News Paper By: Adil Salahi
The Prophet’s Masjid in the city of Madinah Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was unlettered but a wise and well-respected man, a member of the ruling Quraysh tribe, who was born in Makkah in the year 570 C.E. at a time when Christianity was not yet fully established in Europe. He was orphaned at an early age and then raised by his uncle Abu Talib. As Muhammad (peace be upon him) grew up, he became known for his truthfulness, generosity and sincerity, so that he was sought after for his ability to arbitrate in disputes. His reputation and personal qualities also led to his marriage at the age of 25 to Khadijah, a widow whom he had assisted in business. From then on, he became an important and trusted citizen of Makkah. Historians describe him as calm and meditative.
Muhammad (peace be upon him) never felt content to be part of his society whose values were devoid of true religious significance. He never worshiped idols and never drank alcohol, although drinking was widespread in Arabian society at that time. It became his habit to retreat from time to time to meditate in the cave of Hira’ near the summit of Jabal An-Nur, the “Mountain of Light”, near Makkah (now within Makkah city).
At the age of 40, while engaged in one such meditative retreat, Muhammad (peace be upon him) received his first revelation from Allah through the Angel Gabriel (Jibril). This revelation, which continued for 23 years, is known as the Qur’an.
His first convert was his wife Khadijah, whose support and companionship provided necessary reassurance and strength. He also won the support of some of his relatives and friends. The basic themes of the early message were the majesty of the One, Unique God; the futility of idol worship; the threat of judgment in the new life after being raised for grave; and the necessity of faith, compassion and morality in human affairs.
All these themes represented an attack on the crass materialism and idolatry prevalent in Makkah at the time. So when he began to proclaim the message to others, the Makkans rejected him. He and his small group of followers suffered bitter persecution. Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his followers drew comfort from the knowledge revealed to him about other Prophets, such as Abraham, Joseph, and Moses (peace be upon them all), each of whom had also been persecuted and tested.
KHADIJA Bint Khuwailed was the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) first wife. Reading the life story of this noble lady reveals that she was an ideal woman in the full sense of the word.
She was married twice before getting married to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Many of the nobles and rich men of Makkah proposed to her, but she rejected all of them.
She was a wealthy lady in possession of a big fortune and had her own private trade. She heard a lot about Prophet Muhammad’s integrity and honesty and that was why she chose him to conduct her business. Her admiration for the Prophet (peace be upon him) increased after what she had heard from her servant, Maisara, who accompanied the Prophet on his trade journeys. Maisara praised the Prophet’s manners and humane dealings with everybody and narrated some of the miracles that accompanied him (the Prophet) throughout the journey such as the cloud that kept hovering above the Prophet to protect him from the sun.
She sent a go-between to ask the Prophet (peace be upon him) to propose to her. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not hesitate to propose to this great lady, although she was 15 years older than him. She was his only wife for more than 25 years and the mother of all his children (except for Ibrahim who was the son of Maria the Copt).
She was known for her wisdom, common sense and balanced thinking. She was the Prophet’s wife for 25 years during which she never made him angry even once. She also supported him all through her life financially and emotionally. The year in which she died was called the Year of Sorrow because the Prophet (peace be upon him) was deeply grieved to lose this noble wife who had been the source of tenderness, love and support.
Even after her death the Prophet (peace be upon him) remained loyal to her memory. He used to warmly welcome her relatives and friends and when his other wife ‘Ayesha used to feel jealous because of this. Once she said, “Allah gave you a better wife, (meaning herself),” but he said, “This is not true, nobody is better than she was: for she helped me when other people let me down, and supported me when people abandoned me, and Allah made her the mother of my children.” He really respected her memory and never forgot her favors and love for him. May Allah be pleased with her.
At the time when the Prophet (peace be upon him) was assigned the task of delivering God’s last message to mankind, the Arabs had developed a wealth of knowledge about stars and their times of rising and setting.
This was easy for them as they mostly lived in desert areas, with clear skies most of the time. They identified, for example, 28 stars and planets which they called “points of moon rise.” Each of these remains for approximately 13 nights before it sets at a point in the west. A different star replaces it at an eastern point. They gave these 28 stars names to identify them. As rain was scarce, yet very important for their living, they observed that rain was more frequent when certain stars or planets were on the rise, or at particular points. Prior to Islam, the Arabs were pagan, ascribing divinity and powers of cosmic nature to certain objects which they called deities and considered them God’s partners. With their observations about rain and different stars and planets, their paganism led them to attribute the rain to the planet, rather than to God. They would say, “We have been sent rain by this or that planet.”
As the Qur’an was revealed in passages and surahs over a period of 23 years, it mounted a sustained campaign to eradicate all traces of paganism from the hearts of believers. However, when certain ideas take hold in one’s mind, they are difficult to erase. Islam makes clear that whatever happens in the universe is by God’s will. Forces of nature operate by His command. It is He who sends the winds to drive clouds and causes rain to fall where He determines. It is He who created everything in the universe and set them in operation. He set the laws of nature so that the universe could function to allow life to progress. Hence, nothing that takes place in the universe, or on earth, is caused by anyone or anything other than God. Therefore, we must attribute things to Him only.
The Prophet was keen to instill this truism in the hearts of his followers. Hence, he used every opportunity to emphasize it, as we see when we read the following Hadith:
Zayd ibn Khalid Al-Juhani reports: “God’s messenger led us in the dawn prayer at Al-Hudaybiyah, after it had rained that night. When he finished the prayer, he turned to the people praying with him and said: ‘Do you know what God Almighty has said?’ We replied: ‘God and His messenger know best.’ The Prophet said: ‘God said: Some of My servants are believers this morning and some are unbelievers. Anyone who says, ‘We have had rain by God’s grace,’ believes in Me and disbelieves in the planet, while anyone who says, ‘We have had rain by such and such a turn in the climate,’ disbelieves in Me and believes in the planet.”’ (Related by Al-Bukhari).
Anytime there is a rainfall in Arabia, people are very happy because it replenishes their stock, provides drinking water for themselves, their livestock and plants. Those companions of the Prophet, in their place of encampment about 25 km outside Makkah were particularly happy when they woke up for their dawn prayer to find that there was a good rainfall. The Prophet took this opportunity to emphasize the Islamic principle that everything in the universe occurs by God’s will. He asks his companions if they knew what God said. He was fully aware that they did not know, but he put the question in order to make them fully attentive to what would come next. He then made it clear that anyone who thought that the rainfall was caused by the movement of the planets or by their own will was an unbeliever. A believer attributes all phenomena to the Creator who has created the universe and set its laws and maintained their operation. He is the Almighty who controls everything.
– By Adil Salahi
The Prophet (peace be upon him) molded a society in which all people were equal.
When Makkah fell to Islam without a fight, eight years after the Prophet and his companions had to seek refuge away from it as a result of a sustained persecution campaign, Bilal, a black companion of the Prophet and a former slave, stood on top of the Kaabah to make the call to prayer. One of the chiefs of Makkah said to another: “I am glad that my father had died before he could see this taking place.” What he did not wish his father to see was that a former slave doing such an honorable action. Class distinction was so important to those people, as it has always been in many human societies. Islam, on the other hand, takes a very different view. All human beings are equal. They distinguish themselves by their deeds. Those of them who are more Allah-fearing achieve a better position in Allah’s standards.
The Prophet was very diligent in his efforts to purge all considerations that separate people and divide them into classes. No consideration of tribe, nation, race, sex or color was of any value in the society the Prophet molded. All were equal. The Muslims were very happy with their new outlook. They felt that the bond of faith was highly meaningful while their old tribal bonds were of no real value.
Yet this was not an easy endeavor. It is difficult to eradicate old values and traditional standards. Any disturbance could lead to old prejudices surfacing again. An example was the incident that took place after the Prophet and his companions achieved great success, with little fight in the Battle of Al-Mustalaq.
They were still encamping at the spring which provided the stage for their battle. Servants were taking horses to the water to drink. Among them was Jahjah, Umar ibn Al-Khattab’s servant. Apparently, there was some scrambling at the water among the servants. Jahjah clashed with an ‘ally’ of the Khazraj, named Sinan ibn Wabr. Neither man seemed to be endowed with much wisdom: Punches were exchanged and each appealed to his ‘group’ for help. Jahjah called on the Muhajirin to defend him, while Sinan called on the Ansar. Perhaps one should emphasize here that these two noble groups of Muslims did not feel themselves to be two separate communities. However, in a heated situation, old habits resurfaced. Thus, some individuals hastened to the combatants’ aid.
The Prophet was informed of what was happening. He felt very angry that the Muslims should stand against one another. He went out quickly to the spring where the event was taking place. Speaking strongly to the Muslims, he asked: “How come you are invoking the loyalties of ignorance?” He calmed the two sides and told them plainly that the loyalties they were invoking — tribal and national loyalties — were unworthy of them. They must abandon such ties because they were alien to Islamic values. He described such loyalties as “stinking” and ordered the Muslims to abandon them altogether.
It is indeed worth noting that the Prophet moved quickly to stamp out any tribal or communal division among the Muslims. Indeed, he feared nothing more than internal division in his newly formed community. This should serve as a reminder to all Muslims that their differences should at no time cause a split into separate camps which are hostile to each other, when the bond of Islam exists between them all. Muslims may have different points of view, but such differences must not be allowed to alienate any group of them from the other. They must always feel that any Muslim remains a brother with whom they have the strongest of ties. The Muslim community must always remain a single, united community, with mutual love and compassion prevailing among all its members.
– By NAUSHAD SHAMIM AL-HAQ