December 2017 marked the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad(s), the Prophet of mercy. The Islamic College in London commemorated the occasion on December 6th with a magnificent celebration attended by students, staff and members of the public.
The programme, hosted by Sheikh Mirza Abbas, started with the recitation of the Holy Qur’an by Mr Haidar Muhammad Mehr and was followed by a number of speeches.
Dr Sheikh Isa Jahangir, the first speaker, congratulated and welcomed the attendees on the occasion of the Prophet’s birthday which is the same date as the birthday of Imam Ja’far Sadiq(a)
In his speech, Dr Jahangir stressed the sense of affection and proximity towards the Prophet felt by all Muslims. By quoting some relevant traditions, he explained the practical ways for us to contribute to the Prophet Muhammad’s(S) mission. He stated: “One of the most important practices is to endeavour to bring the hearts of people closer together”.
The programme continued with the recitation of nasheed (an Islamic eulogy) and poems by Sheikh Ayub Rashid and four students of the Hawza department of the Islamic College, which brightened delighted the ceremony and delighted its participants.
The second speaker, Dr Amina Inloes (from the research department of The Islamic College), addressed the topic of love in the Qur’an and Islam. Referring to the relevant verses and traditions, she noted that one of the miracles of the Prophet was establishing unity among the divided Arab tribes in Arabia.
As a person who embraced Islam many years ago, Dr Inloes shared some of her experiences in interacting with Muslim communities and emphasised the importance of understanding Islamic societies with their different cultures, ethnicities and nationalities. She also described the tranquillity and peace brought by the Prophet Muhammad(s) and how these should be applied firstly at individual level then within society. Her talk was followed by a 10-minute video clip related to the foretelling of the coming of the Prophet Muhammad(s) by preceding prophets.
The programme continued with a speech by Dr Shaykh Zeeshan Qadri from Minhaj-ul-Qur’an. He explained the meaning of sending salutations upon the Holy Prophet. He emphasised that according to some Islamic traditions, by doing so, the Prophet reciprocates by sending salutations upon the sender. Dr Qadri concluded the first part of his talk with a nasheed for the Prophet. In the second part, he focused on the subject of the quality of actions. Mentioning verses from the Holy Qur’an he said that quality of intention and practice is better than the quantity of action. He also added that since the blessings of God are countless, our responsibility is to be grateful, and one of the ways of being grateful is to celebrate and commemorate the life of His Great Prophet.
The ceremony continued with the reading of poems by Mr Tehrani and recitation of nasheed by Sayed Jalal Masoomi. The final and keynote speech was delivered by Dr Sheikh Mohammad Ali Shomali who underlined the importance of using the Qur’an correctly as a source of knowledge and explained the level of expertise required to understand the Quranic view on a particular subject. He explained that while there are topics in the Qur’an that can explicitly be understood by anyone, others require a high level of insight and expertise. Dr Shomali stated that there are two important concepts and Quranic views that necessitate proper understanding above all others. These relate to what is the mission of the Prophet and the type of person entrusted to conduct such a mission.
Dr Shomali stressed that if one wants to reach a proper understanding of Islam, its nature and what it has to offer to humanity according to the Qur’an, he or she should first focus on the verses that relate to the message itself and secondly on the verses that speak of the character of the Prophet Muhammad(s). From the Qur’an Dr Shomali pinpointed the common element shared by both the Prophet and Islam which is rahma (mercy).
He emphasised: “When it comes to the Prophet, God chose someone with a soft personality. One of Islam’s main characteristics should be reflected in the characteristics of the message itself, hence a message of mercy brought by a prophet of merc”.
Dr Shomali further stressed that even the Prophet Musa(a), when addressing the Pharaoh, initially spoke to him in terms of mercy and reconciliation. He further explained that there is no verse in the Qur’an where God asks the Prophet Muhammad(s) to be soft but rather the opposite. In fact, in situations of war, God exhorts the Prophet to be a bit harsh in battle as a necessity, indicating that his character was not hard but soft by default. Taking people from darkness to light is God’s objective because he is loving and merciful and He does it by means of a compassionate messenger.
Dr Shomali cited the Quranic verse as a clear description of the Prophet’s concern for humanity and the core of his mission:
“There has certainly come to you an apostle from among yourselves. Grievous to him is your distress; he has a deep concern for you, and is most kind and merciful to the faithful.”(9:128)
Dr Shomali ended his speech by thanking both organisers and participants for their involvement in the celebration.
The programme ended with the award of prizes for the book reading and poetry competitions and a delicious dinner.
Video of the event available from: