Prophet of Mercy and Light (full transcript)

Unity Conference - 18th November 2018 - Al-Asr Education Centre, Woking Hujjat al-Islam Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali

It is a great honour to be here with you and to celebrate together the birth anniversary ofProphet Muhammad (s) and Imam Sadiq (a) and also to emphasise the significance and necessity of unity. There can be no occasion better than this for renewing our commitment to establishing unity among the ummah of the Prophet Muhammad (s). In the du’a which is recommended after ZiyaratAlay Yasin, there is a very short but profound sentence at the beginning, “Allahummainni as’aluka an tusalli ‘ala Muhammadin nabiyyi rahmatika wa kalimati nurik: O Allah, I ask you to send your salutations upon Prophet Muhammad (s), who is Your Prophet of mercy and the word of Your light.” Nabiyyi rahmatika wakalimati nurik means that his mission originated from the mercy of Allah and is meant to spread that mercy of Allah to all people. As we heard from our dear speakers, and it is something about which everyone is aware, God says,

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ

“We did not send you but as a mercy to all the nations (21:107).”

If the versesaidarsalnaka rahmatal lil ‘alamin,”it would still be great: We have sent you as a mercy for ‘alamin, for all people, or for all intelligent beings. However, God says even more; He does not say that We have sent you as a mercy, but We have not sent you except as a mercy for alamin. I do not have time to explain this idea in detail, but it means that any understanding of the mission, teachings, and legacy of the Prophet (s) that would not illustrate mercy is a misunderstanding of Islam. His mission is mercy; he has been sent only for rahmah. Therefore, everything must be understood under this banner. He is the Prophet of mercy, not na’udubillaha prophet of war, division, separation, hatred or cursing. Certainly not; he is truly the Prophet of mercy. I would like to mention a few examples from the life of the Prophet (s) as a reminder for ourselves and as communication for those who are not familiar with Islam.

If you want to understand what God blessed the Prophet (s) with and what he achieved, you must make a comparison between what used to be the situation before the advent of Islam and afterwards. Without this comparison, you cannot understand what the Prophet (s) achieved. If we go back to the period before Islam, what do you we see? When it comes to education, you do not see that much interest in education, especially in literacy. Although there was oral literature, written literature was minimal, except perhaps for some poems like Mu’allaqat Saba. These were seven pieces of poetry which were considered important, so they were kept inside the Ka’bah. Nevertheless, there was no emphasis on writing, reading, and schools. Those who were able to read and write were less than the fingers of one person. Can you imagine such a society?

It is extremely important to realise that Rasul Allah (s) is not the fruit of that society. Heis actually a sharp contrast to that society. In a society which had no importance for education, Rasul Allah’s first act of receiving revelation started with “iqra,

اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ

“Read in the Name of your Lord who created (96:1).”

In a society in which education was not important, the Book that Allah gives to the Prophet (s)brings education even before creation.


 عَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ

 “The All-beneficent, has taught the Qur’an, He created man, [and] taught him articulate speech (55:1-3).”

Even today where there is so much emphasis on education, we always say we are created and then we have to learn. However, the Qur’an declares,

عَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ الرَّحْمَـٰنُ

خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ

It does not stop there and further states,

عَلَّمَهُ الْبَيَانَ

“[And] taught him articulate speech (55:4).”

Hence, we are surrounded by ta’lim; ta’lim before mentioning creation and ta’lim after mentioning creation. You cannot understand this as a natural or human product of that culture; surely, it must be divine intervention.

When it comes to morals, few morals were important in that society, whereas the rest were not that important. For example, hospitality was important, but only if it did not cost too much. They would be hospitable if someone knocked on their door, but they were not hospitable towards pilgrims. In fact, they were very cruel towards those who visited Makkah. They would tell those who came for tawaf that you cannot use your own clothes when you come to Makkah; you have to buy from the local market. If the pilgrims could not buy from them, they told them to perform tawaf naked. Therefore, it was all a business.

Many strangers were mistreated when they visited Makkah. They were even betrayed when they would leave their amanat with the people. For this reason, when he was a young person Rasul Allah (s) made a treaty called Hilf al-Fudul with some other youths. They promised each other that they would support any stranger whose right was denied when he came to this land. Hence, there was not that much commitment to hospitality unless someone came to their own home as a guest.

Furthermore,there was no respect for the properties of people. Actually, it was a sign of pride and honour to belong to a tribe that was skilful in attacking and looting other tribes. In a famous poem from that period, a person who belonged to a tribe that was not adept in attacking and looting says, “Laytha li bihimqawman iza rakibu shannul igharata wa fursa: I wish that instead of my tribe I belonged to another tribe that by foot or by riding horses and camels could loot other people.”

Such was the society at that time. Also, modesty was not a virtue then. Out of respect for the majlis, I will not mention examples. You may have heard some of them. In the same way that Rasul Allah (s) shifted the paradigm to a paradigm which is based on education, he brought another dimension to his message and that was the focus on morals. This emphasis was to such an extent that he said, “Innamabuithtu li utummima makaramil akhlaq.” Again, innama is hasr,like wa ma arsalnaka illa, which demonstrates exclusiveness. “Allah has sent me only to accomplish noble traits of character.” What are noble traits of character? He was not just sent to tell us that when someone does something good to you, you have to do good to him or her.

هَلْ جَزَاءُ الْإِحْسَانِ إِلَّا الْإِحْسَانُ

“Is the requital of goodness anything but goodness (55:60)?”

When someone does good to you, you have to reciprocate by doing good to him or her. However, this is still a lower level; it is mahasin akhalq, not makarim akhlaq. Rasul Allah (s) came to teach us to do good to people who have wronged us, “Atayman haramaka silh man qata’aka: If someone has not observed silh rahm,has not connected to you, you connect to him.” If you were ill and someone did not show you any attention or visit you in hospital, when he is ill you should go and visit him. If you asked someone for help when you needed it but he denied to help, when you know he is in need do not wait for him to come to you. Go and offer help because this is makarim akhlaq; this is what Rasul Allah (s) came to teach.

Two of the greatest qualities that the Prophet (s) highlighted and demonstrated in his life and teachings were honesty and trustworthiness. For forty years before Islam, he had the top record of honesty and trustworthiness. Not only did people not know of any case in which he disregarded and compromised honesty and trustworthiness, indeed everyone was aware of his full commitment to trustworthiness and honesty. Therefore, it was not his father, grandfather or mother, but all the people of Makkah who recognised him as al-Sadiq and al-Amin. Can you imagine it? What adds to its significance is that even thirteen years after Islam, when those people had turned to few believers and many enemies, they did not for a moment doubt his honesty and trustworthiness. Before Islam, all the people of Makkah were respectful, loving, and proud of him, but after Islam some people rejected him due to their own interests. They accused him of being majnun, sahir, or mu’allam. Nevertheless, even the people who were happy to kill him and torture his people did not doubt his honesty and trustworthiness.

The proof of this statement is that when Rasul Allah (s) wanted to migrate from Makkah to Madinah, he had lots of amanat with him. Clearly, these amanat werethose of the kuffar and mushrikin. Rasul Allah (s) asked AmirulMu’minin (a) to deliver these amanat back before he joined him, although they belonged to the people who did not like them and were happy to kill them. However, even that fact does not change our commitment to honesty and trustworthiness, which has no limit, “Ada’ul amanah ilal barri wal fajr: A Muslim is not the one who keeps amanat for his friends, but for enemies.” A Muslim cannot say, “Since they are my enemies, I can keep it for myself or I can use it for poor people.” When someone gives you amanah, whether he is a friend of God or an enemy of God, you should give amanah back.

Imam Zaynal-‘Abidin (a) is quoted as saying, “If the killer of my father leaves with me as amanah the sword by which he killed my father, I will give it back to him.” Now, compare this morality to that society, or even to any society. Indeed, this is much, much greater; however, if you compare it to that society, it becomes very meaningful. Consequently, this can only be by divine intervention.

In a society in which kindness was considered as a weakness for men, Rasul Allah (s) was extremely kind. The mentality was that men should not show kindness. Even years after Islam, a Muslim, not a mushrik, but someone who still suffered from that the mentality , was surprised when he saw Rasul Allah (s) kissing his grandchild. “How can Rasul Allah (s) kiss his grandchild in public?” A man should be strong and being strong means not having affection and compassion. Rasul Allah said, “Man la yarham la yurham: If you do not show mercy, you will not be shown mercy by Allah.” If a child is not shown kindness, do not expect that you will receive kindness. However, Rasul Allah (s) was not just kind with his grandchildren, but with all children and with all people, Muslim and non-Muslim. I will mention just some stories, as you all know many of them. 

There is a beautiful story that once when Rasul Allah (s) was going to the masjid with some of his companions, a few children of Madinah stopped him. They said, “O Rasul Allah, you play with your grandchildren.” Rasul Allah (s) often played with his grandchildren, even letting Imam Hasan and Imam Husayn ride on his back. Can you imagine any other leader doing so? Normally leaders, especially spiritual leaders, if people look at them with awe and see in them charisma, they try to be somehow different. Yet, Rasul Allah (s) was different by being extremely humble, not different by reducing his contacts and by observing too many protocols. He was different in being more humble than anyone else. His grandchildren would ride on his back and climb on his neck, even when he was in prayer in front of the public. When he was in sajdah they would go on his back.

Thus, these children of Madinah said, “O Rasul Allah (s), you play with your grandchildren, so you must play also with us.” Please show me any leader in the world to whom children have access, and, what is more, they can ask him to play with them and then he stops and does so. Rasul Allah (SA) did not say, “Go and ask your grandfather to play with you, or I am busy, I have commitments.” On the contrary, he stopped to play with them and meanwhile sent Bilal home to get some walnuts. Until Bilal returned, Rasul Allah (s) played with the children. When Bilal came, Rasul Allah (SA) offered these walnuts to the children and asked, “Are you happy to take these walnuts and release me?” Which man asks children for permission to carry on his job, especially those who are strangers? They answered, “Yes, we are happy to take these walnuts and let you go,” and then Rasul Allah said, “If sharau bi samananin bi daks darahim madudah: I was sold cheaper than Joseph. They sold Yusuf for a few dirhams, and these people sold me for a few walnuts.”

So, this is Rasul Allah (s). Once someone gave Rasul Allah (s) his or her child so he could bless the child. The child started urinating on the lap of Rasul Allah(s). Of course, there were no Pampers, etc. back then, so Rasul Allah (s) was becoming najis. The parent was very embarrassed and quickly wanted to take the child, but Rasul Allah (s) said, “No, let the child finish and relax. Donot disturb him; I can clean my dress, it is no problem.”

Such was the character of Rasul Allah (s). God had blessed him so much that his heart was filled with mercy. Not only was his heart filled with mercy, but actually mercy overflew from his heart.

 فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ ۖ

“It is by Allah’s mercy that you are gentle to them (3:159).”

Because of your receiving mercy from Allah, mercy has filled your heart; however, it is overflowing to everyone who comes to your access up to the last person of alaminIt does not just reach the few people around you, fa bi ma rahmatinminallah; this is because of Allah’s mercy coming to you.

Here, we can make a beautiful comparison between Prophet Musa (a) and Rasul Allah (s). We all know that Prophet Musa (a) is a very, very great personality; not only is he nabi, but he is also rasul, and not only is he rasul, but he is one of ulul azm. The ulul azm are the select of the select of prophets. Hence, Prophet Musa is one of ulul azm; therefore, I have full respect for Musa (a). However, I am just trying to analyse the Qur’anic text. When it comes to Musa, alanabiyyi wa alihi salam, God says, “O Musa! Go and speak to Fir’awn.” It is a very important command. First, you must be happy to speak; you cannot refuse communication even with someone like Fir’awn. Yet, you should go and visit him because he is arrogant,so he is not going to come and visit you. He will not agree to come to a place which is neutral, so you must go and visit him. This is very important, but what are you going to say to him? Are you going to shout at him and release your anger on him?

فَقُولَا لَهُ قَوْلًا لَّيِّنًا لَّعَلَّهُ يَتَذَكَّرُ أَوْ يَخْشَىٰ 

“Speak to him in a soft manner; maybe he will take admonition or fear (20:44).”

No, you with Harun, both of you; Allah sends two prophets to Fir’awn. If it is for guidance and if it is for the interest of people, even two prophets are to go and meet Fir’awn and speak to him. We should not lose opportunities, even with someone like Fir’awn.

لَّعَلَّهُ يَتَذَكَّرُ أَوْ يَخْشَىٰ

Fir’awn claimed to be God and said, “I am your greatest Lord,”

أَنَا رَبُّكُمُ الْأَعْلَىٰ

“‘I am your exalted lord (79:24)!’”

He went even further by saying,

مَا عَلِمْتُ لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرِي 

“‘I do not know of any god that you may have besides me (28:38).’”

Not only I am your greatest lord, but indeed I have come to this conclusion that you have no other Lord. Although he had no limit for arrogance, God says go and speak to him,

لَّعَلَّهُ يَتَذَكَّرُ أَوْ يَخْشَىٰ

 Perhaps even Fir’awn would remember and his heart may become soft. So, how should Musa (a) speak to Fir’awn?

فَقُولَا لَهُ قَوْلًا لَّيِّنًا لَّعَلَّهُ يَتَذَكَّرُ أَوْ يَخْشَىٰ 

 You must speak to him with soft language. This verse is a command about speech, “Speak to him with a soft manner.” However, when it comes to Prophet Muhammad (s), Allah does not command the Prophet (s) to speak softly. Allah informs us that he was a soft person; obviously, there is a great difference. If there are two people and I say to one of them, “Speak softly,” while I say to the other person, “You are a soft person,” there is a difference. “Linta lahum,” lintanot linta fil qawl; your whole character is soft, you are a gentleman, you are a soft person. Furthermore, Prophet Musa (a) says,

رَبِّ اشْرَحْ لِي صَدْرِي

 “My Lord! Open my breast for me (20:25).”

when it comes to the Prophet, Allah says,

أَلَمْ نَشْرَحْ لَكَ صَدْرَكَ 

“Did We not open your breast for you (94:1)?”

So, this man is so much filled with mercy from Allah that he has become a gentle and soft person. God says, وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ law kunta, had you been harsh and hardhearted,

لَانفَضُّوامِنْ حَوْلِكَ

فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ ۖ

 وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ ۖ

“It is by Allah’s mercy that you are gentle to them; had you been harsh and hardhearted, they would have surely scattered from around you (3:159).”

They would have been scattered from around you because they were people who were unable to change except through mercy, as they themselves were very harsh and hard. There are lots of things to say, but unfortunately, our time is almost over. I wish I had more time to talk about the Prophet (s), but I will now talk about unity. 

If we want to show our commitment to the legacy of Prophet Muhammad (s), we must be fully committed to establishing unity. Rasul Allah (s) brought unity to the people of Yathrib, to the two tribes of Yathrib, Aws and Khazraj, who had enmity. They invited the Prophet (s) to go and reconcile them to establish unity. By going to Yathrib which was divided, Rasul Allah (s) made Madinah which was united. Yathrib is full of division, Madinah is full of unity. Now, we should decide if we want to be members of Yathrib or members of Madinah. Do we want to be kuntumada’an, do we want to be enemies like the people before Rasul Allah (s) met them or do we want to be brothers?

وَاذْكُرُوا نِعْمَتَ اللَّـهِ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذْ كُنتُمْ أَعْدَاءً فَأَلَّفَ بَيْنَ قُلُوبِكُمْ فَأَصْبَحْتُم بِنِعْمَتِهِ إِخْوَانًا

“Remember Allah’s blessing upon you when you were enemies then He brought your hearts together, so you became brothers with His blessing (3:103).”

We must be brothers; we do not have any place for enmity. Islam unites people and not only does it unite Muslims, Islam invites People of the Book to unity,

قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ تَعَالَوْا إِلَىٰ كَلِمَةٍ سَوَاءٍ بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمْ

“Say, ‘O People of the Book! Come to a common word between us and you (3:64).’”

We invite People of the Book to establish unity.

Alhamdulillah, we have just published a book containing messages of unity from our thirty-three Shi’ah topmost scholars, maraji, and great ayatullahs. Indeed, it is a very important message for Shi’a and Sunni brothers and sisters to see how much we are committed to unity. I would like to just read one sentence from three great personalities to make it very clear that we are fully committed to unity and to avoiding anything that may offend Muslims from other schools of Islam. Insha’Allah I will leave a few copies with Hujjat al-Islam Dr Naqvi to give to our guests and Insha’Allahif you need more you can contact Islamic Centre of England.

The late Imam Khumayni is the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran and you are all aware of the great right that this man has on our generation. He says, “Nahnu waahlus sunnah kiyanun wahid li annana muslimun: We and our Sunni brothers are one body because we are Muslims and anyone who wants to separate us is either ignorant or has an agenda.” He has been asked by enemies to divide us. Then, Imam Khumayni says that every khatib (speaker) and every writer has a religious duty, in general occasions as well as in private occasions, to work for unity and avoiding division.

Grand Ayatullah Khamnei, the current Supreme Leader of Islamic Republic of Iran, says, “It is haram to say anything that would be showing disrespect to the figures and symbols of other Muslims, let alone to any wife of the Prophet (s).” Doing so is not Islamic or Shi’ite; the full text is here.  

Also, Grand Ayatullah Sistani says, “There is no real difference between Sunni and Shi’ah. We have different understandings of certain issues, but we are not divided. “Even people of the same madhab have differences, but we are not divided; our hearts are united. Then he says, “It is necessary and obligatory for the Shi’a of Iraq to defend all the political and social rights of Sunnah before defending rights of the Shi’ah.” Ayatullah Sistani adds, “I always say, ‘Do not say, Sunni brothers,’ say,anfusuna.’ They are our own souls; our relation is more than just brothers. We are the same, we are one.” He also says, “I listen more to sermons of Sunni Friday prayer leaders than I listen to Shi’a sermons. We do not distinguish between Arabs, Kurds, so on and so forth. Islam collects us.”

We need to go and offer unity to all people of the world; yet, it is a shame that we still suffer from division inside the ummah. I pray to God to enable us to refer back to the true legacy of Prophet Muhammad (s) and to charge ourselves with light, mercy, love, wisdom, and commitment to helping any person who is suffering. Rasul Allah (s) was harisun ilaykum; he was the one who wanted the best for you. He was azizun ilayhim antum; he could not see you suffer. We ask God to help us to follow the example of the Prophet (s)and help us, no matter what capacity we have, but especially people who have the influence to work tirelessly for bringing maximum solidarity, unity and brotherhood to all members of this great ummah, then to all believers in God, and then to all humanity. May God be always your help and support.

Wa akhiru dawana anil hamdu lillahi rabbil ‘alamin.

“And our concluding call, ‘All praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds.’”

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