Appreciating the Prophet’s history

My brother’s in Islam,

Let us increase our taqwa to Allah subhana wa ta’ala for taqwa is the only determinant for our success in this life and the Hereafter. It is the only key for a way out of any problems and hardships. Allah subhana wa ta’ala says in Surah At-Talaq, ayat 2 and 3, which means:

And whosoever have taqwa to Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things.

Thus, it is clear that taqwa and trust in Allah (tawakkal) are the two main keys that determine the success in this world and the Hereafter.

My brothers in Islam,

Almost two weeks have passed in this new Hijrah year 1426. I’m sure that we have listened a lot about the Hijrah, the Migration. However, there is one misconception that may still prevail among some of us and our children. And that is the date of the Hijrah.

The Hijrah, or the migration of Rasulullah salla allahu alayhi wassallam from Mecca to Medina, did not take place in the month of Muharram, as been widely misconceived. Instead, it took place in early Rabiul Awal. The Prophet salla allahu alayhi wassallam went out of Mecca towards the end of Safar, the second month of the Islamic calendar.

His journey took slightly more than a week, going by the rarely used coastal route. He arrived on the outskirts of Medina with his most trusted companion Abu Bakar r.a. on Friday, the twelfth of Rabiul Awal. This date, the twelfth of Raibul Awal, is a very important and historic date in the history of Islam. It was the date the Prophet was born. It is was also the date Rasulullah s.a.w arrived in Medina. And it was the date the Prophet s.a.w died. But most of us best remember it as the Prophet’s birth date. And we commemorate the Migration, the Hijrah, on the first day of each Islamic year.

My brothers in Islam,

If we test ourselves on our knowledge about the history of the Prophet s.a.w, what will the answer be? If we ask our children on what they know about the life of the Prophet s.a.w, what will the answer be?

I think we should be frank to ourselves; the answer will be that we know very little about the Prophet.

Sure we know the important events during his life. And we surely know the opposition of the Meccan towards him and the religion he preached.

But beyond that? Do we also know what significant things happen, for example, in the 7th year of Hijrah? I maybe wrong, but I think we only have some brief knowledge of the Prophet’s life.

And this is not right, my brothers.

It is not right for us to be quite ignorant of the Prophet’s life.When there are already so much written about him.

It is not right when our children, or even ourselves, to know more about the lives of entertainers, singers, actors, than our beloved Prophet s.a.w.

Our Prophet Muhammad s.a.w will be our saviour in the Hereafter. He will intercede with Allah s.w.t and seek His mercy to hasten our judgement. So that we will not stand too long on the hot and terrible plain of Mahsyar.

Will the singers intercede for us? Will the actors, the entertainers, the celebrities intercede for us?

Of course not. Even they themselves need the Prophet’s help to intercede for them. And yet, we know better about them than we know our beloved Prophet. I ask again: is this right?

Can we truly and sincerely look at the Prophet’s eye in the Hereafter and ask his help, when we do not even bother to read up about him?

My brothers in Islam,

The Malays have this saying: tak kenal maka tak cinta. Which means: if you do not know someone, you will not love him. The same thing applies to Rasulullah s.a.w. If we do not know him, or take the trouble to know him, we will not begin to love him. He who has sacrificed a lot for us. He and his companions, who had to endure so much hardship to let the flag of Islam fly high and proud. And we do not appreciate them?

If we do appreciate their sacrifices and contributions, let us begin to get to know about them. Let us begin to read the Prophet’s history. For by reading it, we will understand and appreciate him and his companions who without them, we will not be Muslims today.

Our Islamic history is our heritage.

We should know it better than our cultural heritage. Because, our cultural heritage is limited to a race of people, whereas the Islamic heritage transcends races. It is the common denominator for all Muslims, whatever language they speak.

Only by reading on our Islamic heritage, especially the life of the Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wassallam, will we be able to cultivate the love towards him.

The Pophet salla allahu alayhi wassallam said in a hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim:

Which means: I swear by the God who hold my life in his hand. No one among you will not be full believer until he loves me more than his parents and children.

By brothers in Islam,

To be aware of the importance of knowing the Islamic history is the first step.

The next step will be to know the methodology of doing it.

There are many books on Islamic history, written by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Some are written from a specific perspective. Others are too general.

So what is best type of book that will give us a better view on the Prophet’s life?

The answer lies in the methodology employed by past great Muslim historians when they wrote books on Islamic history.

From the earliest time, great historians such At-Tabrani, Al-Jauzi and Adz-Dzahabi, employed the methodology of writing history in chronological order.

Starting from a certain year, say from the year Rasulullah s.a.w was born, the book will relate the events occurring on each subsequent years.

With this methodology, it is easier for people to read and remember historical events, as if the reader is living among the people he is reading. Thus, if we should try to look out for such books, so that we can get a better view of Islamic history.

My brothers in Islam,

Sometimes, when we are reading the history of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w, we will come upon some actions from the companions or even the Prophet himself, that may seem to be alien or even harsh for us.

But do remember one thing.

Perspectives change across culture and time. So an action that may seem harsh to us today, may not seem to be harsh for the Arabs during the time of the Prophet. What more, they are the hardy people living in desert condition, whereas we are people living a cushy life in big towns and cities.

Perspectives change across time and place. But what is important is that we learn from the Prophet’s history.

We should know how to differentiate which one is cultural, and which one is a universal value that we should emulate. For if we know how to do it, our society will excel and be more progressive.

Insya Allah, the future sermons will touch upon certain examples of the Prophet’s life that are universal in value. Allah said in Surah Al-Ahzab: 6, which means:

The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers. And blood relations among each other have closer personal ties in the Decree of Allâh (regarding inheritance) than (the brotherhood of) the believers and the Muhajirûn, except that you do kindness to those brothers. This has been written in Allâh’s Decrees.

Friday sermon released by the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, 25 February 2005 / 16 Muharram 1426

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