GLORIFIED (and Exalted) is He (Allah) Who took His slave (Muhammad, peace be upon him) for a journey by night from Al-Masjid Al-Haram [at Makkah] to Masjid Al-Aqsa [in Jerusalem], the neighborhood whereof We have blessed, in order that We might show him (Muhammad, peace be upon him) of Our Ayat (proofs, evidence, lessons, signs, etc). Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer. (17:1)
Surah Al-Israa’ begins with glorifying Allah, the most fitting action to confirm the bond between Allah and His servants in the atmosphere of compassion and friendliness imparted by the mention of the night journey. The Surah emphasizes the position of man as Allah’s servant. The emphasis here is needed in the context of the Prophet’s ascension to heaven where no human being had gone before.
It is important in this context that the status of man’s servitude to Allah should always be remembered.
There must be no confusion of status similar to that which happened in the case of Jesus on account of his birth, his being raised to heaven at the end of his life on earth, and the powers that were given to him during life. All these caused some people to confuse his status and to claim that he had a divine nature. In its simplicity and purity, Islam insists that no similarity could ever exist between Allah and any creature.
The Arabic text of this opening verse uses the verb Asra, which denotes “traveling during the night.” It is sufficient then to use this verb to denote the time of the action. Yet the verse adds the word laylan or “by night” to give an added sense of the still night and the ease of travel.
The journey from the Grand Mosque to Al-Aqsa Mosque was one chosen by Allah, the Compassionate Who knows everything. It provided a link between all monotheistic faiths from the time of Abraham and Ishmael to the time of the last Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon them all). It also established a link between the holy places in all these religions. It seems that this unusual journey served as an announcement that the Last Messenger was the heir to the heritage of all former Messengers. His message staked a claim to all these holy places. Thus it becomes a journey that goes beyond the scope of time and place.
The opening verse describes Al-Aqsa Mosque as one with blessed environs. This description shows the blessings surrounding the mosque and flowing in abundance. This impression could not have been given with a direct description such as “the mosque which We have blessed.”
This is another example of the refined use of language characteristic of the Qur’an.
The Prophet’s night journey was a telling sign, and it was accompanied by others, as the opening verse says in stating its purpose : “…. in order that We might show him of Our Ayat…”. Covering the distance between the Grand Mosque in Makkah and Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in a very short period that did not allow the Prophet’s bed to become cold is a sign of Allah’s power, whatever the means used to accomplish it. It opens our minds to new horizons in the universe and reveals latent potentials within mankind.
It shows that those human beings chosen by Allah to be the bearers of His message have the latent ability to receive whatever greater powers He wishes to give them. It is Allah Who has honored man, giving him a favored position among His creation, and endowed him with such potentials.
“Verily! He is the All-Hearer, the All-Seer.” He indeed hears and sees all that is beyond the reach of our hearing and seeing faculties.
It is especially impressive that the opening verse of this Surah starts with glorifying Allah: “Glorified (and Exalted) is He (Allah) Who took His slave for a journey by night.”
After defining the purpose of this journey, the Surah finishes with highlighting two of Allah’s attributes, perfect hearing and seeing that encompass all things.
This quick movement across purposes reflects the finest points of the expression used. The glorification is addressed to Allah Himself, and the statement about the purpose of the night journey comes from Him, while the description of Allah’s powers is made in the form of an indisputable statement. All these forms are combined in one verse so as to give their different imports.
The first few years of the Prophet’s life saw him suffering repeated loss of his immediate relatives and carers. His father died when he was on a journey, perhaps unaware that his wife was pregnant. He stayed most of the first four or five years of his life with his wet nurse, Haleemah, in a desert encampment. It was a tradition among the top families in Makkah that they gave their newborn children to be nursed by women in the desert, believing that there the children would grow up stronger. Perhaps Makkah suffered attacks of infectious diseases, and keeping the children away gave them a better chance of survival. However, Haleemah and her family felt that Muhammad (peace be upon him) brought them some subtle blessing. Therefore, she was keen to keep him with her as long as possible. Hence she persuaded Aminah, his mother, to leave him with her. This was agreed, and Haleemah only returned the young Muhammad to his mother when he was five years of age. Only a year later, Muhammad lost his mother. He was then cared for by his grandfather, Abd Al-Muttalib, who was the most distinguished figure in Makkah and by now a very old man. Two years later Abd Al-Muttalib died and Muhammad moved home again, going now to his uncle, Abu Talib.
Abu Talib loved his orphan nephew, Muhammad, as one of his own children. There was about him an air of serenity and quiet acceptance of what life might present. Hence, he was dear to all around him, particularly his aunts. Yet Abu Talib and his family were the closest to his heart, because of the care he received in his uncle’s home. We see him, as he became a young man, talking to another uncle of his, Al-Abbas, during a time of hardship when all things were scarce in Makkah, saying: “You see how things are in the city, with people finding it hard to make ends meet. Your brother, Abu Talib is a poor man, and he has a large family. We better do something to help him. How about the two of us taking one of his children each to look after?” They went to Abu Talib with their proposal. Al-Abbas took Jaafar, and the Prophet took Ali. This was long before the start of Muhammad’s prophethood. The two young lads thus found good homes where they were welcome, and their father’s burden was significantly lightened.
His close relationship with his uncle, Abu Talib, continued for the rest of the latter’s life. The Prophet would have dearly loved that Abu Talib should accept Islam, but this was not to be. However, Abu Talib continued to extend his care and protection to his nephew against all opposition by his tribe, the Quraysh. Moreover, the Prophet continued to give Fatimah bint Asad, Abu Talib’s wife, a special position of favor in his heart. He acknowledged her favor and unwavering care when he was a child. As he grew up, he always showed her dutiful respect and often favored her with generous gifts, according to his means.
Abu Talib died three years before the Prophet’s emigration to Madinah. Fatimah bint Asad followed the Prophet to Madinah sometime after he had settled there. The Prophet was so delighted with her arrival, welcoming her as one of his closest relatives. It was with deep grief that he later received the news of her death. He prayed God to give her a high position in heaven. He gave instructions to those who were preparing her body for burial to use his own garment to wrap her with. When her grave was ready, he went in first and lied where she was to be placed, praying that angels would attend her there. His companions looked at him, wondering why he did that when he never did it with any other funeral. They saw him praying for her forgiveness, with his eyes tearful. He said to them: “Next to Abu Talib, she was the one who took best care of me when I was young.”
Another person who earned the Prophet’s gratitude was Thuwaybah, a slave woman owned by his uncle Abu Lahab. She breast-fed him in his early days of life, before he was given to Haleemah. Thus, she nursed him for a few weeks after his birth. The Prophet cared well for her, inquiring after her when he was in Makkah. When he got married, his wife Khadeejah was very hospitable to her. Then at one point, Khadeejah approached Abu Lahab, proposing to buy Thuwaybah so that she might set her free. Abu Lahab would hear nothing of the sort. Abu Lahab, who stubbornly opposed the Islamic message and took a hostile attitude to the Prophet, could not countenance the prospect of Muhammad being seen in Makkah in such a light, showing a great favor to the slave woman who nursed him in his early days. Yet, when the Prophet immigrated to Madinah, Abu Lahab himself set Thuwaybah free. Therefore, the Prophet used to send her money and clothes whenever he could. He learnt of her death in year seven after his settlement in Madinah. When the news was brought to him, he asked about her son, Masrooh. He was informed that he died earlier, and that she had no other relatives.
While those we have mentioned had special positions with the Prophet because they looked after him when he was young, the Prophet was very kind to all his relatives. He respected his uncles, loved his aunts and was kind and friendly with all. He would visit anyone of them who was ill, praying for their recovery. Needless to say, that was the best thing such an ill person could hope for, because the Prophet’s prayers were always answered. He urged them all to do good works so that they would enter heaven on merit. He advised them that their relation with him would not benefit them unless they worked for their own salvation. Some of them opposed his message and took a hostile attitude. This was very painful to him. However, when they changed their attitude and accepted Islam, the Prophet received them with open arms, praying for their forgiveness.
Abu Hurairah (Radi Allahu anhu) said:
Allah’s Messenger (SalAllahu alaihi wasallam) said, “There are two types of people who will be punished in Hell whom I have not seen: men having whips like the tails of cows and they will be beating people with them*, and women who will be dressed but appear to be naked, inviting to evil; and they themselves will be inclined to it. Their heads will appear like the humps of the Bactrian camel inclined to one side. They will not enter Jannah and they will not smell its fragrance which is perceptible from such and such a distance.
As Taken from Riyad-us-Saliheen
*Flogging in Hadd and Qisas does not come in the category of oppressions because oppression in the real sense is perpetrated when whipping is done as a means of tyranny and cruelty.
The Forgiveness of Muhammad Shown to Non-Muslims
The Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, was described as a “Mercy for all the Worlds”, as God said in the Quran:
“We have sent you as a mercy for all the worlds.” (Quran 21:107)
The recipients of this quality were not limited to just the Muslim nation, but it also extended to non-Muslims, some of who spent all their effort trying to harm the Prophet and his mission. This mercy and forgiveness is clearly demonstrated in the fact that the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, never took revenge on anyone for personal reasons and always forgave even his staunch enemies. Aisha said that the Prophet never took revenge on his own behalf on anyone. She also said that he never returned evil for evil, but he would forgive and pardon. This will, God willing, become clear after a deep analysis of the following accounts of his life.
In the earlier portion of his mission, the Prophet traveled to the city of Taif, a city located in the mountains nearby to Mecca, in order to invite them to accept Islam. The leaders of Taif, however, were rude and discourteous in their treatment of the Prophet. Not being content with their insolent attitude towards him, they even stirred up some gangs of the town to harass him. This riff-raff followed the Prophet shouting at and abusing him, and throwing stones at him, until he was compelled to take refuge in an orchard. Thus the Prophet had to endure even more obstacles in Taif than he had had to face in Mecca. These ruffians, stationed either side of the path, threw stones at him until his feet were injured and smeared with blood. These oppression so grievously dejected the Prophet and plunged him into in such a state of depression that a prayer, citing his helplessness and pitiable condition and seeking the aid of God, spontaneously came from his lips:
“O God, to You I complain of my weakness, lack of resources and humiliation before these people. You are the Most Merciful, the Lord of the weak and my Master. To whom will You consign me? To one estranged, bearing ill will, or an enemy given power over me? If You do not assign me any worth, I care not, for Your favor is abundant upon me. I seek refuge in the light of Your countenance by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the next is set right, lest Thy anger should descend upon me or Your displeasure light upon me. I need only Your pleasure and satisfaction for only You enable me to do good and evade the evil. There is no power and no might but You.”
The Lord then sent the angel of mountains, seeking the permission of the Prophet to join together the two hills and crush the city of Taif, between which it was located. Out of his great tolerance and mercy, the Messenger of God replied,
“No! For, I hope that God will bring forth from their loins people who will worship God alone, associating nothing with Him.” (Saheeh Muslim)
His mercy and compassion was so great that on more than one occasion, God, Himself, reprimanded him for it. One of the greatest opponents of Islam and a personal enemy, was Abdullah bin Ubayy, the leader of the hypocrites of Medina. Outwardly proclaiming Islam, he surreptitiously inflicted great harm to the Muslims and the mission of the Prophet. Knowing his state of affairs, the Prophet Muhammad still offered the funeral prayer for him and prayed to God for his forgiveness. The Quran mentions this incident in these words:
“And never (O Muhammad) pray for one of them who dies, nor stand by his grave. Lo! They disbelieve in God and His Messenger, and they died while they were evil doers.” (Quran 9:84)
Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 7, Number 331:
Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah: The Prophet said, “I have been given five things which were not given to anyone else before me.
1. Allah made me victorious by awe, (by His frightening my enemies) for a distance of one month’s journey.
2. The earth has been made for me (and for my followers) a place for praying and a thing to perform Tayammum, therefore anyone of my followers can pray wherever the time of a prayer is due.
3. The booty has been made Halal (lawful) for me yet it was not lawful for anyone else before me.
4. I have been given the right of intercession (on the Day of Resurrection).
5. Every Prophet used to be sent to his nation only but I have been sent to all mankind.
Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 7, Number 331:
Had the Holy Prophet Muhammed Salalaahu Alaihi wasallam not been there niether Adam , not the sky nor the earth would have been created , everything was created for him , even all humanity , all animals , all birds , every microorganism living on the planet,
The Universe has been created for him , He was the first of all creations
Times of difficulty are always a good time to reflect about one’s position in life. This is not only true for individuals, but also for nations. The past year has been troublesome for Muslim ummah. The dissatisfaction of the people with their living conditions reached a point that they took to the streets to demand better leadership for their countries. Today, they are still in the process of finding a new order for their lives and their societies.
As long as the stream of life runs calm and everything seems to be in order, a lot of problems remain hidden under the surface and people enjoy a superficial sense of relief and satisfaction. Nevertheless, even a seemingly calm running river, with a shiny surface, hides a lot of trash underground! It is in times of disturbances that much of this filth comes to the surface and people start to wonder where all these impurities are coming from. It is a mercy of Allah that once in a while he forces us to face reality to recognize all the trash that has built up in the so-called Muslim countries.
Allah said, “Evil, (sins and disobedience to Allah) has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned (by oppression and evil deeds), that He (Allah) may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return (by repenting to Allah, and begging His pardon.)” (Qur’an, 30:41) This is precisely the moment when people have to look deeper into the realities of life to find the root of all this mischief that happened, which led their countries into this state of backwardness.
It is about time that Muslims look for a new path and move in the right direction by leaving behind the path of falsehood, which has given nothing but misery.
The best example to change a society can be found in the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his Companions. They transformed a country from utmost backwardness into a large Muslim empire which dominated the world for a long time.
If, however, Muslims do not wake up and do not try their best to clean the society of all impurities, like the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) cleaned the Ka’ba from all impurities, then we will break our contract with Allah and would be doomed!
Allah said in the Glorious Qur’an, “But those who reject our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations) and treat them with arrogance, they are the dwellers of the (Hell) fire, they will abide therein forever.” (Qur’an, 7:36)
The times through which we are passing are disturbing and distressing mainly because some Muslims do not follow the true teachings of the Glorious Qur’an and the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) anymore! “How shall Allah guide a people who disbelieved after they belief and after they bore witness that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is true and after clear proofs had come unto them? And Allah guides not the people who are Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers).” (Qur’an 3:86)
Success is only from Allah. It is mercy from Allah for those who follow His way, regardless of the fact he be whether an individual, society or nation. In Islam there are two kinds of societies — Islamic and un-Islamic. The Islamic society is the one that follows Islam not only in belief and worship, but also in matters of law, economy and organization. This is the foundation of a successful Islamic nation and it was the secret behind the success of the first Muslim nation; to follow the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) unconditionally and wholeheartedly.
“The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allah (His words, the Qur’an) and his Messenger (peace be upon him) to judge between them, is that they say: “We hear and we obey.” And such are the successful (who will live forever in paradise).” (Qur’an, 24:51)
“You do not worship besides Him but only names which you have named (forged) — you and your fathers — for which Allah has sent down no authority. The command (or the judgement) is for none but Allah. He has commanded that you worship none but Him (i.e His monotheism); that is the (true) straight religion, but most men know not.” (Qur’an, 12:40)
One can just hope that Muslims today realize their chance to transform their countries into real Islamic states, according to the will of Allah! We need to understand that life in an Islamic State encompasses our tradition, lifestyle, values and behavior as well as the way we are governed.
– by Tahseen Abu Djihad
A major part of the Prophet s (peace be upon him) mission was to bring peace to the world. One of the ways in which he strove toward this end was to attempt to convince people that all men and women, albeit inhabiting very different regions of the world, and different from one another in color, culture and language, et cetera, were in fact blood brothers and sisters. His message was crucial, for a proper relationship of love and respect can be established only if that is how human beings regard one another. To inculcate such feelings, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would preach to his followers, You are all Adam’s offspring and Adam was made of clay. And in his prayers to his Creator, he said, O Lord, all Your servants are brothers.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) would exhort his followers to live in peace with their fellow men, saying, A true believer is one with whom others feel secure, one who returns love for hatred. He used to teach the believers that anyone who would return love only when love was given belonged on a lower ethical plane. The true believer never reasons that only if people treated him well that he will treat them well in return. He is accustomed rather to doing good to those who mistreat him, and to refrain from harming those who do him injury. The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself set the example. All his recorded words and actions reveal him as a man of great gentleness, kindness, humility, good humor and excellent common sense, with a great love for all people and even for animals.
Despite his position as the leader, the Prophet (peace be upon him) never believed himself to be greater or better than other people. He never made others feel small, unwanted or embarrassed. He urged his followers to behave kindly and humbly, releasing slaves whenever possible, and giving in charity – especially to very poor people, orphans and prisoners – without any thought of reward.
He told the people that every religion has some special characteristic, that of Islam being modesty. In the absence of such a virtue, no community can have lasting peace. The Prophet s (peace be upon him) own modesty, coupled with great strength of character, is depicted in a well-known story of an old Makkan woman who hated the Prophet (peace be upon him). Every morning when the Prophet passed by her house, she would empty a basket of rubbish on his head from the upper story of her house. He never once remonstrated with her about this. One day, when the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed through this area, no rubbish fell on his head. Thinking that the old woman must be ill, he went upstairs to inquire how she was, and found her ill in bed. When she discovered that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had come to see her, she began to weep, I ill-treated you, and now you come to inquire about my health! Ultimately, she became one of his followers. What strength of character, what patience and tolerance the Prophet (peace be upon him) evinced in refusing to be provoked, preferring rather to show kindness and magnanimity to one who had wished him ill.
His was a high moral character, so that even if badly treated by others, he went on returning good for evil. People harmed him, yet he would pray for them. He would remain patient in the face of oppression and, regardless of the provocation, he would refrain from becoming incensed. In setting this example, his aim was to fashion souls that were Allah-oriented, that found Allah so great that everything else paled into insignificance.
The essence of this philosophy is expressed in one of the Prophet s (peace be upon him) sayings: Nine things the Lord has commanded me: Fear of Allah in private and in public; justness, whether in anger or in calmness; moderation in both poverty and affluence; that I should join hands with those who break away from me; and give to those who deprive me; and forgive those who wrong me; and that my silence should be meditation; and my words be remembrance of Allah; and my vision be keen observation.
His life s experience ranged from penury to prosperity, from defeat to success, yet whatever the degree of well-being or hardship, he steadfastly trod the path of moderation. At all times and right till the end, he remained a patient and grateful servant of the Almighty, bringing his message of peace and tolerance to mankind.
PROPHET MUHAMMAD (peace be upon him) was an ideal human being in the full sense of the word. In every single situation or event, he sets an example not only for Muslims to follow, but for all those human beings who are seeking perfection.
As a human being, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) led a simple life void of extravagance, pomp, arrogance or harshness. The character of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is that he led a simple life although he could be the king of the world.
The Noble Prophet’s easygoing nature made his enemies get attracted and won them over to him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was never seen frowning or dealing harshly with anybody, even if the person in question was not a Muslim. He (peace be upon him) was always polite and courteous with everybody including children and this is why the children in Al-Madinah were fond of him and used to hug him whenever they saw him walking in one of the streets of Al-Madinah.
As a husband, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was an ideal one respecting his wives’ points of view and helping them in the household chores whenever he had a chance to do so. When asked about his manners, his wife, ‘Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) said, “His manners were the Qur’an.” Scholars give different interpretations of this very subtle statement. Some of them say that she meant that he (peace be upon him) did perfectly all that the Qur’an said perfectly while others suggest that she meant that the Prophet (peace be upon him) as a human being was as perfect as the Qur’an as a Holy Book. In a nutshell, he was the embodiment and personification of the Qur’an in flesh and blood.
Even as a military leader, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) dealt with his enemies in a very humane way. During wars, the Noble Prophet (peace be upon him) used to order his Companions not to fight or kill a woman, an old man, a hermit, or a child, burn a house or cut a tree. These are the real manners of a real chivalrous commander. Whenever Muslims got a prisoner of war, the Prophet, (peace be upon him) ordered his companions to deal with him humanely. These values are what the modern world is proud of and calls them human rights enshrined in the Geneva Convention.
At the end, I would like to say that Prophet Muhammad’ s manners are the beacon to all human beings to find their way in life. Allah, praise be to Him, praised the Prophet’s manners in the Holy Qur’an, “And verily, you (O Muhammad, peace be upon him) are on an exalted (standard of) character.” (Qur’an, 68:4)