Upon Insulting the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)

Date: 23rd January 2015; 2nd Rabī’ al-Thānī 1436

Allah has given us limited life in this Dunya and all of us need to utilize this as much as possible. Allah has blessed us in being a part of his Ummah of His Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). The Ummahs of the other prophets had a longer lifespan so that they can make use of it.

When Allah designated the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) as His final prophet, the first person Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) gave dawah of Islam to was none other than the mother of the Mumins, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (Radi Allahu Anha). The first person ever to become a Muslim was in fact a woman and all of us need to understand that Islam in fact has respected women to the highest possible degree unlike the things we always hear from the media these days. Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (Radi Allahu Anha) readily accepted Islam without any doubts over her husband. Then among own age group, the first one to embrace Islam was his best friend and his closest companion, Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (Radi Allahu Anhu). Among the young people, the first one to accept Islam was Hazrat Ali ibn Abi Talib (Radi Allahu Anhu). The initial stage of the dawah system imposed on the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was to let everyone among his friends and relatives know about the new religion of Allah (Subḥānahu Wa Ta’Ala). Allah instructed in the Quran:

And warn, (O Muhammad), your closest kindred.

Surah Ash-Shu’ara, Ayah 214 (26:214) Translation: Sahih International

This actually teaches us that when we want to give dawah of Islam on anyone, at first, we need to focus on our family members.

After this verse of the Quran was revealed, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) ascended the mount Safa and cried out to the tribe of Quraish in a manner that was known among them for warning of an attack by the enemy. Some narratives maintain that he called the different Makkan clans by name, the clan of Banu ‘Abd Munaf, Banu ‘Abdul-Muttalib and others. All the clans of Quraish gathered around him, and he said to them: ‘If I were to tell you that the enemy is about to attack you in the morning or in the evening, would you believe me?’ They all unanimously replied in the affirmative. Then he said: ‘Verily, I am a Warner sent to you before the coming of a severe torment (as a result of disbelief or paganism). Abu Lahab, the uncle of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) then responded, ‘Ruin may seize you ! Is it for this purpose that you have called us together?’ and picked up a stone to hit him. Thus Surah Lahab was revealed.

May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined is he.

His wealth will not avail him or that which he gained.

He will [enter to] burn in a Fire of [blazing] flame

And his wife [as well] – the carrier of firewood.

Around her neck is a rope of [twisted] fiber.

Surah Lahab, Ayahs 1-5 (111:1-5) Translation: Sahih International

The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was known for his honesty among all the Quraysh tribe, even before the time when he became a prophet. He was known as Al-Amin, the Trustworthy. When he gave the news of the revelation of the new religion of Allah, his own uncle, Abu Lahab denied his words and cursed the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) in front of everyone by mentioning him to be ruined and also threw a stone at him. (Nauzubillah). Before the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) could respond, Allah immediately revealed his Surah cursing Abu Lahab in His own way.

The first ayah says: “May the hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined is he.” Since Abu Lahab used the stone to hit the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), Allah stormed at him saying that may Abu Lahab’s hands be ruined and since he has cursed the Last Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), it means that he has already ruined himself through his actions.

This entire Surah in fact teaches us that whoever declares a war against the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) by cursing or hitting, Allah declares a war against that person. In the modern day, we make mockeries of the Prophet  (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) consciously or unconsciously making fun of him without knowing what waits for us. If Allah can rages against an uncle of the Prophet  (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) for being so stubborn then imagine what He will do to us if we continue be so imprudent. Upon insulting the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) we are in fact ruining ourselves.

The verb tabba is derived from tabab which means ‘to perish’. In verse “Perish the two hands of Abu Lahab” is in the form of a prayer invoking or desiring the destruction upon Abu Lahab, and the second sentence wa tabba is the declarative sentence prophesying the consequence of the invocation. The first sentence was invoked against him to satisfy the indignation of the Muslims, because when Abu Lahab imprecated destruction upon the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was the desire of the Muslims that imprecation be invoked against him.

Allah thus fulfilled their desire, and also informed them that the invocation has taken effect and he perished. Seven days after the battle of Badr, Abu Lahab developed a terrible case of plague because of which people avoided him. They regarded the disease as infectious and were afraid that it might be transmitted by contact, so they forced him to live in an isolated house, and they did not come into contact with him at all. He at last died in this state. His dead body lay untouched in his house for three days. When his body began to rot giving out unbearable stench, people taunted his sons, and they hired laborers to take it away and bury it. They dug a pit in the ground, pushed his body into it with a stick and covered it with stones.

In the second verse, the phrase “ma kasab” (what he earned) could refer to the profits that accrued to him from investment of his wealth in business, and it could also imply ‘children’, for the children of a person are also referred to (in Arabic) as his earning. The phrase may also mean “children”.

Aisha (Radi Allahu Anha) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said:  “The purest of what you eat come from your own earnings, and your children come from your own earnings.”

References: Jami at-Tirmidhi, Sunan Ibn Majah, Sunan an-Nasai

Therefore, Sayyidah Aishah (Radi Allahu Anha), Mujahid, ‘Ata, Ibn Sirin and others interpret “ma kasab” (what he earned) as referring to ‘children’. Allah had granted Abu Lahab abundant wealth and many children, and these two factors led him to be ungrateful, and caused him to be proud and arrogant. Sayyidna Ibn ‘Abbas (Radi Allahu Anhu) says that when the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) called his people to faith and warned them about the Divine punishment, Abu Lahab said: “Even if what my nephew says is true, I will save myself from the painful torment on the Day of Judgement with my wealth and my children.” Thus Allah revealed the second Verse of this Surah, indicating when the Divine torment seized him in this world, neither his wealth nor his children benefited him!

The third verse- “He will [enter to] burn in a Fire of [blazing] flame” mentions the flame that is, either on the Day of Judgment or immediately after his death, while in his own grave, he will be pushed into the blazing fire. There is a rhetorical relationship between Abu Lahab and “dhata lahab” (full of flames).

The last two verses of Surah Lahab mentions the fate of the wife of Abu Lahab of being similar to that of her husband.

As Abu Lahab was a vehement enemy of the Holy Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), his wife too was supportive of her husband in his disbelief, rejection, obstinacy, and in persecuting the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). She was a sister of Abu Sufyan, and daughter of Harb Ibn ‘Umayyah. Her nickname was Umm Jamila. The meaning of her name is “The mother of beauty”. She was reputed of being the most beautiful women in her society and for this she turned so arrogant. The Qur’an makes plain in this verse that this wretched woman will also roast with her husband in the fire of Hell. She is described as in the fourth verse, which literally means ‘the carrier of firewood’.

Idiomatically, Arabs use this expression to refer to a ‘tale-bearer’, that is, one who gathers pieces of gossip and carries them between individuals and families in order to ignite the fires of discord and enmity between people, exactly as one would gather firewood to kindle the fire. This telltale woman improperly carried information concerning the private affairs of the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), and his blessed Companions in an attempt to ignite and instigate trouble. In this verse too, the phrase ‘the carrier of firewood’ has been interpreted by Sayyidna Ibn ‘Abbas & Mujahid, ‘Ikrimah and a group of commentators to mean that ‘She was a tale-bearer’ while Ibn Zaid, Dahhak and other commentators in attempting to retain its original sense and explain that she literally used to collect thorny branches from the jungle, and place them in the path of the Messenger of Allah in order to harm him – hence the description: ‘carrier of firewood.

Some scholars explain that just as she used to help her husband in this world to promote disbelief and tyranny and to assist him in harming the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), she will add to the torment of her husband in the Hereafter. She will collect the branches of zaqqum and other trees and add them as fuel to the fire of Hell in which her husband would be roasting.

The fifth verse mentions- “A neck is a rope of [twisted] fiber.Around her neck is a rope of [twisted] fiber.” In keeping with this general sense of the word, Sayyidna Ibn ‘Abbas (Radi Allahu Anhu), ‘Urwah Ibn Zubair (Radi Allahu Anhu) & and others said that in this context the phrase “rope of masad” refers to ‘rope formed by twisting iron strands’. This will be her condition in Hell where an iron-collar will be in her neck. Sayyidna Mujahid (Radi Allahu Anhu) interprets “min masad” as “min hadid” as ‘of iron’.

Sha’bi, Muqatil and other commentators have taken the phrase “min masad” to refer to ‘a rope made of twisted fibres of palm tree’ and said that Abu Lahab and his wife were extremely wealthy and were looked upon as leaders of their nation but, on account of his wife’s mean disposition and miserliness, she used to collect firewood from the jungle, bind them together with a rope, place the bundle on her head and put its rope round her neck, so that it might not fall from her head. This practice of hers one day led to her destruction. She had a bundle of wood on her head and the rope in her neck. She felt tired and sat down. Then she fell, was choked and died. According to this second interpretation, the verse describes her mean disposition and the disastrous consequences of her sadistic behavior. However, such a conduct in Abu Lahab’s family, especially of his wife, was hardly conceivable; therefore, most commentators have preferred the first interpretation. In the end, Allah knows best!

How can we even think of insulting the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) when we need his intercession on the Day of Judgement? When Allah gives us too much wealth we tend to forget him and His Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). We need to know that when we make dua we need to seek wasila through the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). One meaning of wasila can be interpreted as a “medium”; for every system in this world we need to have a medium. Many people making dua through the wasila of Prophet  Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is doing shirk. However, one must know that our Prophet  Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) will intercede for us on the Day of Judgement. We seek wasila from Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) by reciting Darood Sharif before making the dua.

Fodalah ibn Ubayd (Radi Allahu Anhu) narrated Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) heard a man making du’a’ during prayer. He did not glorify Allah, nor did he send Salam on the  Nabi (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam). Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “He hurried.” He then called him and said to him and who was not around: “If any of you prays, he should mention glorification of his Lord in the  beginning and praise Him; he should then invoke blessings on the Prophet; thereafter he should supplicate Allah for anything he wishes.

Reference: Sunan Abu Dawud

Imam ibn Taymiyyah (Rahmatullah Allaih) wrote:

“When Adam (peace be upon him) made a mistake, he made du’a like this: ‘ O Allah forgive my mistake with the wasila of Muhammad!’ Allah asked Prophet Adam (Alayhi As-Salām) [rhetorically] how he knew about Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Adam (Alayhi As-Salām) replied, ‘When you created me, I lifted my head and saw: ‘La Ilaha Illallah Muhammadur Rasulullah’ written on the Throne. Therefore I knew that this person must be of a very high status. Otherwise you would not have written his name with Yours.’ Allah Most High then said, ‘I have forgiven you. He will be the last Messenger from your children and I have created you because of him.’

The second narration is when Allah Most High created the sky, and the earth. He wrote our Prophet Muhammad’s (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) name on the pillars of the Throne and on the doors of Paradise, and on the leaves of the trees in Paradise. It was written that Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) would be the last prophet. In addition, both of these narrations are proofs which support each other. They have the status as authentic narrations”

References: Fatawa Ibn Taymiyya, Vol. 2; Ta’rikh Ibn Kathir, Chapter on ‘Story of Adam’

It is not an absolute compulsory to seek the wasila of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) while making dua as it can be interpreted such from this Quranic Verse:

And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.

Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 186 (2:186) Translation: Sahih International

But it is recommended by classical Islamic scholars and there is no harm in doing that.

If Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was never created none of us would have ever existed. It is mentioned in one Hadith:

Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas (Radi Allahu Anhu) stated in a Hadith: “Allah revealed to Isa (Alayhi As-Salām) and said: ‘O Isa! Believe in Muhammad and order those from among your people who will be present at his time to believe in him. For if it were not for Muhammad, I would not have created Adam and if it were not for Muhammad, I would not have created Paradise or Hellfire. I have placed the throne over water and it quavered, but when I wrote on it that there is no Deity except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, it became still”

Reference: Al-Mustadrak of Imam al-Hakim (Rahmatullah Allaih), who rated this Hadith as Sahih. However, Imam al-Bukhari (Rahmatullah Allaih) and Imam Muslim (Rahmatullah Allaih) did not record this Hadith.

Allah will treat us on the basis of our love for Him and His Messenger (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and all of us need to love our Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) more than anyone in this world.

Narrated By Anas (Radi Allahu Anhu): The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said “None of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children and all mankind.”

Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Hadith- 14

One example of a person who loved the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was Imam Abdul-Qadir al-Jilani (Rahmatullah Allaih).

In this world for the purpose of keeping sovereignty we have the government, for the purpose of keeping the Deen alive we have the Ulamas and the Auliyas we preserve the knowledge given to us by the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). One of them was Imam al-Jilani (Rahmatullah Allaih).

Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qaadir (Rahmatullah Allaih) was one of the Imams of Islam focusing the Hanbali Fiqh and Sufism. He attained a position of leadership over the Muslims of his time, in knowledge, good deeds, issuing fatwas and other aspects of religion. He was one of the greatest shaykhs of his time, enjoining adherence to the Shariah, enjoining what is good, forbidding what is evil, and giving that precedence over all else. He was an ascetic (zahid) and a preacher, in whose gatherings many people repented. Allah caused him to be well-liked by people and his virtue became widely-known. He was one of the leading Sufi shaykhs during their early stages, when their concepts were moderate and closer to the Sunnah, and in most cases were based on the Qur’an and Sunnah, with a particular focus on deeds of the heart (spirituality).

If we read his biography, we can indeed learn a lot and undoubtedly his life story is filled with speciality and amusing incidents. Since there is not much time left till the Jummah prayer, let us discuss one of these amazing incidents.

A famous incident which illustrates Abd al-Qaadir al-Jilani (Rahmatullah Allaih)’s obedience to his mother occurred shortly after him leaving for Baghdad when his caravan (Qafila) was attacked by a sixty man band of highwaymen. They demanded each member of the Qafila to hand over any valuables they had on their person. Unknown to them Shaykh Abdul Qadir (Rahmatullah Allaih) was carrying the forty gold coins which his mother had sewn to the inside of the garment he was wearing for safekeeping. Shaykh Abdul Qadir (Rahmatullah Allaih) refused to disobey his mother’s noble instruction not to lie and when one of the bandits asked him if he had any valuables he volunteered the whereabouts of the coins but the bandit did not believe him. A second bandit then asked Shaykh Abdul Qadir (Rahmatullah Allaih) the same question and he again said that forty gold coins were in his jacket but the second bandit also didn’t believe him. When the leader of the robbers heard of what Shaykh Abdul Qadir (Rahmatullah Allaih) had said he ordered that the stitching be undone and to his utter astonishment the coins were there. This great act of honesty reduced the leader of the robbers to a great state of humility and he asked Shaykh Abdul Qadir (Rahmatullah Allaih), ‘When your money was safe, what compelled you to insist that you had it and say where it was hidden’, to which the great Shaykh replied, ‘I must tell the truth under any circumstances, as I promised to my mother’. The leader was reduced to tears and in the spirit of repentance he said, ‘I reneged on my promise to the One Who created me. I stole and killed. What will happen to me?’. Before the great Shaykh could reply the other highwaymen, filled with the fear of Allah interjected and uttered the most unpredictable words, ‘You have been our leader all these years in sinning. Now also be our leader in repenting’. The highwaymen then took the hand of Shaykh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani (Rahmatullah Allaih) and offered their bay’ah (pledge of allegiance) and sought the repentance of Almighty Allah.

Reference: Sheikh Abdul Qadir al-Jilani (ra): The Rose of Baghdad by Adam Hani Walker, UK

Shaykh Abdul Qadir (Rahmatullah Allaih) valued honesty and his promise towards his mother more than his money, that is why his contribution to the Muslim World is still being lauded. Thousands of tons of bombs have been dropped in Baghdad but his tombstone remains untouched. Allah has bestowed His blessing towards this man because of his dedication towards Islam and the Muslim Ummah.

In the end it is for us to decide. Do we want to see ourselves insulting the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and be ruined like Abu Lahab? Or do we choose to respect Allah’s commands and remain committed to the Deen and in the end be honored like Shaykh Abdul Qadir (Rahmatullah Allaih)? This choice is fully ours.

Bibliography: Ma’ariful Quran by  Mufti Muhammad Shafi. Tafseer of Surah Lahab Ayahs 1-5 (111:1-5). Volume 8. pp. 908-913.

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