By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
15 March 2019
Allah says in the Quran, (21:107) “We sent you not (O Muhammad), but as a Mercy for all the worlds.” The creation of Adam and his progeny, distinct from every other creature, in their cognitive abilities, was a great favour of Allah on the progeny of Adam. Further, Allah sent Messengers all through the ages, to guide mankind on the straight path to success in this life and in the Hereafter. This process of guidance through revelations culminated with Muhammad (pbuh), and the revelation of the Quran containing the perfected and complete religion. With it was also complete the granting of full autonomy to man in making moral choices and therefore the Quran proclaimed, “Let there be no compulsion in religion”. Hereafter, war was ordained only to fight injustice and oppression. The people of the previous scriptures and all people who submit to Allah (by any name) and do good deeds are assured of their reward with Allah.
(2:112) Nay,-whoever submits His whole self to Allah and is a doer of good,- He will get his reward with his Lord; on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
There is a misconception even among some Muslims who are more familiar with the Bible than the Quran, that the Quran only recognizes “Abrahamic” religions. This is not true as it should be evident from the verse cited above. Besides, the Quran names two other non-Abrahamic religions, the Sabians directly and the Buddhists indirectly and there are several non-Abrahamic prophets mentioned in the Quran that do not find a mention in the scriptures of other “Abrahamic” religions as they were not from the Bani Israel or from the progeny of the Prophet Jacob/Yaqub.
The Prophetic mission of Muhammad (pbuh) was distinct from the mission of every previous messenger. Despite the intense opposition whipped up by a few, all the remaining people ended up accepting Islam, and proved to be very dedicated Muslims who made great sacrifices and spread the religion far and wide in a very short period. Those killed fighting, was of the order of 2% of the population and they were among the most vicious enemies of the religion.
Islam does not make any claim of being a new religion and connects with all previous scriptures and religions that preach submission to one God (by any name). It confirms part of what was revealed in the earlier scriptures, and omits what is no longer relevant, necessary or abrogated. It also contains portions that were not revealed before. This is so since the process was progressive revelations based on the times and the maturity of the people to receive guidance and continued until the people had reached a level of maturity to whom the “perfected and complete religion could be revealed”
Mankind owes an enormous gratitude to Allah for the distinctive abilities Allah has granted to the progeny of Adam, and guided them through the ages, and finally giving them the perfected and complete religion through Muhammad (pbuh). By honouring the Messenger, we honour Allah, and by showing gratitude to the Prophet, we show gratitude to Allah and if we disrespect or dishonour the Messenger ever so slightly, we disrespect and dishonour Allah. It is not possible to be a good Muslim while not respecting, honouring and loving the Prophet (pbuh).
(3:164) Allah did confer a great favour on the believers when He sent among them a messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the Signs of Allah, sanctifying them, and instructing them in Scripture and Wisdom, while, before that, they had been in manifest error.
Allah Demands Unquestioning Belief and Obedience to the Messenger
The Messenger is Allah’s partner in the revelatory process and indeed belief in Allah and His Book is not possible without belief in the Prophet. Since the Prophet is acting on behalf of Allah, obedience to the Prophet becomes obedience to Allah and rejection of the Prophet is rejection of Allah. You cannot honour, help, obey, love Allah without honouring, helping, obeying and loving the Prophet
(49:15) Only those are Believers who have believed in Allah and His Messenger, and have never since doubted…
(4:80) He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah. (3:132) And obey Allah and the Messenger; that ye may obtain mercy. (33:71) He that obeys Allah and His Messenger, has already attained the highest achievement. (24:51) The answer of the Believers, when summoned to Allah and His Messenger, in order that He may judge between them, is no other than this: they say, "We hear and we obey": it is such as these that will attain felicity.(33:36) It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.
(9:62)…. it is more fitting that they should please Allah and His Messenger, if they are Believers. (33:57) Those who annoy Allah and His Messenger - Allah has cursed them in this World and in the Hereafter, and has prepared for them a humiliating Punishment.
(58:20) Those who resist Allah and His Messenger will be among those most humiliated. (8:13) If any contend against Allah and His Messenger, Allah is strict in punishment. (9:80) ….Allah will not forgive them: because they have rejected Allah and His Messenger: and Allah guideth not those who are perversely rebellious.
How Do We Show Honour the Prophet (Pbuh) and Show Gratitude?
(33:56) Allah and His angels send blessings on the Prophet: O ye that believe! Send ye blessings on him, and salute him with all respect.
We are asked to send blessings or durud on the Prophet. We must recite durud excessively and always whenever the Prophet’s name is mentioned. Without developing respect and love for the Prophet, we cannot have faith in Allah. The moment we lose respect and love for the Prophet, we lose our faith. We should therefore be extremely careful about what we think and say about the Prophet. As Muslims, we are commanded to put the best construction on anything that we hear and not entertain evil thoughts about anyone, least of all the Prophet.
Enemies of Islam
The enemies of Islam are forever trying to turn Muslims into apostates. The simplest way is to make them doubt their Prophet or make him look bad. They therefore look for stories that can make their Prophet look bad. The Quran says about people who calumniate chaste men and women and bring evil charges against them:
(24:11) Those who brought forward the lie are a body among yourselves: think it not to be an evil to you; On the contrary it is good for you: to every man among them (will come the punishment) of the sin that he earned, and to him who took on himself the lead among them, will be a penalty grievous.
(12) Why did not the believers - men and women - when ye heard of the affair,- put the best construction on it in their own minds and say, "This (charge) is an obvious lie"?
The charge they often bring against the Prophet is based on verse 33:37 which we shall discuss shortly.
“Relations” Based Only On Our Manner of Speaking Are Derecognized
(33:4) Allah has not made …. your wives whom ye divorce by Zihar your mothers: nor has He made your adopted sons your sons. Such is (only) your (manner of) speech by your mouths. But Allah tells (you) the Truth, and He shows the (right) Way.(5) Call them by (the names of) their fathers: that is juster in the sight of Allah.
The tyranny of relationships based on merely our manner of calling, extended to divorce by Zihar which the Quran abolished. In addition, Pagan Arab society had the same taboos that Hindu Society has against marrying anyone whom one has at any time called mother/father, aunt/uncle or sister/brother although not related biologically.
We know now, that adopted children are susceptible to psychological trauma when they discover that their natural parents are different from their adopted parents. This is particularly likely during adolescence, as the child begins to explore his or her identity and question his or her place in the world. It is therefore better that they know all along their true and adopted identities and are made comfortable with it. The most compelling reason why adopted children should not change their name is they should not be ashamed of their past. This is the wisdom from psychology today which the Quran informs us 1400 years ago. Contrary to popular belief, the Quran does not abolish adoption, but only giving the adopted child your name. The adopted child continues to be the child of its natural parents and must continue to bear their name.
The True Story Of Zaid, the Prophet’s “Adopted” Son
Zaid was a slave gifted to Muhammad by his first wife Khadija (RA). He was fifteen years younger than Muhammad. Zainab was the Prophet’s cousin and a divorcee. The Prophet freed Zaid but he refused to leave Muhammad for his natural parents, declaring the Prophet to be his father. The Prophet sent Zaid’s marriage proposal for the hand of Zainab. Her parents first refused on account of the social stigma attached to a former “slave”. Zainab on hearing this, said that since the proposal had come from the Prophet, it cannot be refused and agreed to marry Zaid. The marriage however proved to be disastrous and Zaid wanted to divorce his wife. Allah had His plans and indicated to the Prophet to marry Zainab after she had been divorced by Zaid and after the due formalities of Iddat etc. as a duty to Allah (verse 33:38). The Prophet was uncomfortable for two reasons:
Zainab was his cousin and was known to him from her childhood. He never had any intention to marry Zainab which is why he had asked for her hand for Zaid rather than for himself.
The strong taboo against marrying the divorcee of one’s son applied in Arab Pagan society to the adopted son’s wife as well. He therefore feared the adverse reaction of the people if he married Zainab as commanded by Allah.
Since the command of Allah was to marry Zainab after Zaid divorce her, in order to avoid marrying her, the Prophet was trying to prevail upon Zaid not to divorce his wife saying, “Retain thou (in wedlock) thy wife, and fear Allah." While doing so, what he was hiding in his heart, was that Allah was not averse to the divorce, and in fact had indicated to the Prophet to marry Zainab after the divorce as a duty to Allah. This is what Allah finally revealed or made manifest. The following verses should now be clear:
(33:37) Behold! Thou didst say to one who had received the grace of Allah and thy favour: "Retain thou (in wedlock) thy wife, and fear Allah." But thou didst hide in thy heart that which Allah was about to make manifest: thou didst fear the people, but it is more fitting that thou shouldst fear Allah. Then when Zaid had dissolved (his marriage) with her, with the necessary (formality), We joined her in marriage to thee: in order that (in future) there may be no difficulty to the Believers in (the matter of) marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary (formality) (their marriage) with them. And Allah´s command must be fulfilled.
(38) There can be no difficulty to the Prophet in what Allah has indicated to him as a duty. It was the practice (approved) of Allah amongst those of old that have passed away. And the command of Allah is a decree determined.
(39) (It is the practice of those) who preach the Messages of Allah, and fear Him, and fear none but Allah. And enough is Allah to call (men) to account.
With this marriage, the taboo against marrying relations based on simply our “manner of speaking” but not by blood, was abolished.
The questions that are asked are, ‘why couldn’t this be done through a verse” rather than by making the Prophet do what was obnoxious in that society. The simple answer is that much of the teaching of the Quran is through “experiential learning”. The lesson is taught with an example or real-life event. There could not have been guidance on the conditions under which to migrate without a migration. There could not have been guidance on how to wage war and on how to behave in victory without fighting and winning a war. There could not have been guidance on treaties without treaties.
The stronger the taboo, the greater was the requirement to make the Prophet do what was considered obnoxious to break the taboo. We know how tyrannical this taboo is when we see boys hiding to avoid being tied a Rakhi by an unrelated girl.
The question is similar to ‘why was Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) asked to sacrifice his son? Did not Allah know about his unquestioning loyalty to the commands of Allah?’ The social evil that Allah abolished through the “sacrifice” (that did not take place) is child sacrifice. This was by demonstrating that Allah does not require such sacrifice even from His prophets.
Another similar question is, ‘why was Jesus born to virgin Mary? What has God to do with procreation? Why could he not be born the normal way with a father.’ The simple answer is because God wanted to provide proof of Adam’s creation without parents with the ‘miraculous’ birth of Jesus.
Another example is the verse: (65:1)” O Prophet! When ye do divorce women, divorce them at their prescribed periods…….” Why is this verse addressed to the Prophet and not to “The Believers” like every other legislative verse? This is because the Prophet never divorced any of his wives and there was a danger that the people may have considered divorce a taboo just because the Prophet never divorced. This verse tells us that even if the Prophet had divorced, it wouldn’t have been inappropriate and there is no taboo on divorce just because the Prophet never divorced.
People also question the timing of the verse to insinuate that this verse was forged by the Prophet to escape the wrath of the people. When else would Allah announce the marriage except immediately after performing the marriage? Could this have been revealed before Zaid divorced Zainab? That would have been like a command to Zaid to divorce his wife. Could it have been revealed much later? That would have been meaningless. When this was entirely an affair of Allah and arranged by Him to legislate voiding a taboo, the timing was perfect. And why would Allah allow the Prophet to suffer the barbs of the people when he was entirely innocent?
Through these events and verses, Allah separates the believers from the hypocrites and the apostates. Do not therefore fall a prey to the tricks of Satan by paying heed to such canards about the Prophet. The Prophet (pbuh) is far above what these enemies of Islam say about him.
(3:179) Allah will not leave the believers in the state in which ye are now, until He separates what is evil from what is good ….
(6:10) Mocked were (many) messengers before thee; but their scoffers were hemmed in by the thing that they mocked.
(6:112) Likewise did We make for every Messenger an enemy,- evil ones among men and Jinns, inspiring each other with flowery discourses by way of deception. If thy Lord had so planned, they would not have done it: so leave them and their inventions alone.
How Do The Pious Muslims Behave?
They show the utmost respect to the Prophet. The Prophet is not amongst us today and therefore, the equivalent of lowering the voice in the Prophet’s presence would be never saying anything about the Prophet, except what is honourable.
(49:3) Those that lower their voices in the presence of Allah´s Messenger,- their hearts has Allah tested for piety: for them is Forgiveness and a great Reward.
(49:7) And know that among you is Allah´s Messenger: were he, in many matters, to follow your (wishes), ye would certainly fall into misfortune: But Allah has endeared the Faith to you, and has made it beautiful in your hearts, and He has made hateful to you Unbelief, wickedness, and rebellion: such indeed are those who walk in righteousness;-
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to NewAgeIslam.com