Tuesday, August 23, 2005

When the candle goes out, all goes dark...

Photo: Worshippers hurry to the Prophet's (صلي الله عليه و سلم) mosque for Maghrib prayer. © Fareena Alam. Please do not re-use without permission and proper credit.

Upon visiting the Prophet’s (صلي الله عليه و سلم) grave the Quranic statement that kept returning to my mind was: “Muhammad is no more than a Messenger: many were the Messengers that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will ye then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah.” (The Holy Quran, 3:144) I realized how the Sahabah must have felt on the day of Uhud when this ayah was revealed after the spread of the rumor of the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) being killed. Imagine, the state of these people, in the heat of battle, defending their beloved Prophet, hearing news that he (صلي الله عليه و سلم) is killed. Not having anything to live for, many turned back, stopped fighting, struck deeply by this statement. Some simply put down their weapons and sat down, loosing all drive to continue the struggle.

I imagined the state of Medina at the time when the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) died. Although going through difficulty and hardship, through hunger and pain, bearing the loss of loved ones and fortunes, there was none in comparison to this for the Sahaba. The revelation from the heavens had been cut off. Their lifelong guide had departed. Life felt like it could not continue without his presence. Umar (RA), the man who’s positions would be supported by revelations. The man who the Prophet said: “If there were to be a prophet after me it would be Umar.” The man who would unsheathe his sword at moments notice upon the Prophet being insulted. The man who when everyone made hijra secretly under the protection of the night, went to the Ka’ba in broad daylight and announced his intention to migrate, threatening anyone who would follow in pursuit. This fearless Umar could not bear the news and threatened to kill all who confirmed it.

This was truly a test of perseverance for the inhabitants of Medina, at this point, when it seemed that all was lost, Abu Bakr stood up. Swallowing his sorrow, knowing that he did not have the luxury to grieve like the others. The stakes were too high. All that their Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) had worked for risked being lost. At this moment of trial, the only companion who’s companionship was confirmed in by the Quran, gathered the people and proclaimed: “Muhammad is no more than a Messenger: many were the Messengers that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will ye then turn back on your heels? If any did turn back on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah.” (The Holy Quran, 3:144)

After spending a few weeks within the sacred boundaries of the harem under the guidance of dear scholars, the difficultly of leaving is only compounded. A place so beloved to Allah (swt) that he sent His beloved Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) to honor it with his footsteps and his sujood. A land so protected that when enemy armies invade they are warded off by raining stones or when volcanoes erupt they are diverted to the surprise of geologist. Take note of this nauseating feeling one gets leaving this land of constant dhikr, cities closing upon the athan, and Muslims from every corner of this planet. Now imagine the feeling of those Companions whose love of the Prophet we cannot even fathom let alone hope to achieve. Leaving the side of the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) to go out upon his command to spread the Call to humanity. Imagine being these Sahaba, knowing that they most probably will never see his (صلي الله عليه و سلم) beloved face, never hence on pray behind him in congregational prayer, never again defend him against his enemies. How can we even grasp the pain? They, however, were taught in the best of schools, under the best teacher known to mankind. Their love for the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) didn’t result simply in yearning for his physical presence but rather to seek his pleasure, thus providing them with drive, causing them to leave his company, going out to further his cause. They knew that for this man, the cause was above all, even himself. For him (صلي الله عليه و سلم), the burden of the responsibility placed upon him of guiding humanity to their Lord was of utmost importance. We claim to love the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم). Aren’t we then responsible to ease his load, play our part in delivering his message? The companions not only understood vision, but placed their lives, wealth, and families at ransom for its realization. Take heed from this example. Long for the Prophet (صلي الله عليه و سلم) in private, walk in his footsteps even if you walk alone.

- Saif Omar


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