Celebrating a Birthday
As the days of Rabi` ul-Awwal begin to fade away, it is hard not to look back on it and think about the Prophet (sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam). There are so many characteristics that, even if we tried, we could not have enough gatherings to discuss his qualities and attributes. One characteristic that I have always loved about the Prophet (sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam) is the immediacy by which he sought to do da`wah. People today also call others to Islam, but most people keep it as a secondary item on their list of things to do. They go to the masjid if the time allows, they attend or deliver lectures/classes if time allows, and they tend to the need of others when convenient. However, our beloved Messenger (sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam) looked at everything in life secondary to his true love, which is Allah (subhanahu wa ta`alaa). He was so in love with Allah (subhanahu wa ta`alaa) that he wanted everyone to experience the love that he was experiencing. It meant more than anything in the world for him to connect people with his Beloved so that they may attain salvation. In fact, Allah (subhanahu wa ta`alaa) even cites this in the Qur’an:
Then perhaps you would destroy yourself out of grief, sorrowful, if they do not believe in this message. (18:6)
His concern was always the ummah at large. Rather than asking for himself, as evident on the day he was stoned in Ta`if, the Prophet (sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam) only cared for the world. When Jibreel (`alayhis salaam) came — accompanied by the Angel of the Mountains — to the Prophet (sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam) offering to destroy Ta`if, which was a valley situated between two powerful mountains, our messenger (sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam) rejected the offer to see those abused him crushed, citing that their progeny may accept Islam. And, true to His word, Allah (subhanahu wa ta`alaa) fulfilled his desire and not only made that land Muslim but also allowed the beneficiaries of the Prophet’s generosity stretch as far as the Indo-Pak subcontinent, as one of the progeny of the people of Ta`if spread Islam to this region. Such generosity and care, that despite the fact that he was dripping with blood this supplication came from his blessed lips:
O Allah! I complain to You of my weakness, my scarcity of resources and the humiliation I have been subjected to by the people. O Most Merciful of those who are merciful. O Lord of the weak and my Lord too. To whom have you entrusted me?
To a distant person who receives me with hostility? Or to an enemy to whom you have granted authority over my affair? So long as You are not angry with me, I do not care. Your favor is of a more expansive relief to me. I seek refuge in the light of Your Face by which all darkness is dispelled and every affair of this world and the next is set right, lest Your anger or Your displeasure descends upon me. I desire Your pleasure and satisfaction until You are pleased. There is no power and no might except by You.
His love for Allah (subhanahu wa ta`alaa) was so evident here. Every complaint was against himself, every weakness was against himself, and when he addressed Allah (subhanahu a ta`alaa) by saying, So long as You are not angry with me, I do not care. For him the only goal was Allah (subhanahu wa ta`alaa) and His pleasure.
But what was more evident here was his immediacy of sharing the deen and his Beloved with others in order to grant them the opportunity to attain Paradise. When the Prophet (sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam) took refuge under the tree of a nearby garden, two of the enemies of Islam, Utbah bin Rabi` and Shaybah bin Rabi`, who owned that garden took pity on him and sent his servant, Addas, with grapes. When Addas presented the grapes to the Prophet (sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam), the Prophet took them and began with bismillah. Surprised that someone from the Arabs would begin eating in such a way, he began to converse with the Prophet (sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam). The Prophet (sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam) asked him of his name (Addas) and the land he was from (Nineva). After hearing these answers, the Prophet (sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam) told him that he came from the land of the nobleman, Yunus bin Matta (salaam), and that he too was a prophet sent with a message similar to that of Yunus (`alayhis salaam). One can only imagine how upset Utbah was that day when he saw the Prophet (sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam) giving da`wah in such a state — despite his wounds and pain.
This immediacy of sharing the message and knowledge of the One whom he loved is what I remember as this month ends. He brought so much to a people that would bury their daughters alive, start wars over the most trivial incidents, and degrade themselves and those who interacted with them. He would turn to his companions and say,
My example and the example of the people is that of a man who made a fire, and when it lighted what was around it, Moths and other insects started falling into the fire. The man tried (his best) to prevent them, (from falling in the fire) but they overpowered him and rushed into the fire. The Prophet added: Now, similarly, I take hold of the knots at your waist (belts) to prevent you from falling into the Fire, but you insist on falling into it. (Bukhari)
This desire to help them by sharing his love for Allah (subhanahu wa ta`alaa) moved and motivated the sahabah (radiullahu `anhum) to change. Such was the excitement of those sahabah (radiullahu `anhum) to follow the message of Allah (subhanhau wa ta`alaa) that they became desirous to fulfill any moment of submission and were always seeking opportunities to rectify their shortcomings.
This became most evident in their interaction with Ramadan. Because this month was sent with an abundance of blessings and opportunities — multiplication of reward, exile of Satan, days devoted to mercy, forgiveness, and emancipation from the fire, and a night that is more meritorious than one thousand months – so perchance you may gain piety (2:183), the companions were cognizant of its importance and worried about their acts in this month. Thus, they would spend one-half of the year that followed the end of the blessed month begging Allah (subhanahu wa ta`alaa) to accept their acts from Ramadan, and they would spend one-half of the year that preceded Ramadan begging Allah (subhanahu wa ta`alaa) for the opportunity to be able to experience the month of mercy and Qur’an again. And the mid-point between these two phases happens to fall in this month of Rabi` ul-Awwal, as if the birth of the Prophet (sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam) is the reminder for the believer to recognize the immediacy of the task at hand, to prepare for a month that can grant the long elusive, long sought after taqwa.
How else can a person better celebrate the Prophet (sallAllahu `alayhi wa sallam) than by implementing this immediacy in their lives? For the students who are reading this, we have formed a way to help us prepare for this treasure trove. When a runner is running in a relay race, he begins to jog and enter a trot so that the baton may be passed to him while he is nearing full speed. Many of us are sitting down when Ramadan comes and thus become overwhelmed by what it requires from us physically and spiritually. If we begin to trot now and gain some speed and momentum, perhaps by increasing our fasts and prayers a few days in the months that precede Ramadan, we may be able to run into Ramadan full speed and finally have the month not be merely a month of salvation and forgiveness but also a month of progress and elevation.
Below is a chart that you may utilize to help in the process. Please contact the Tarbiyah Club to match yourself with a teacher to keep track of your weekly progress. The month of Ramadan may only be five months away, but the opportunity for wilayah is even closer if Allah (subhanahu wa ta`alaa) chooses to grant it to us. So hurry to forgiveness from your Lord and a garden as wide as the heavens and earth, prepared for the righteous (3:133).