Rabi’ul-Awwal: Remembering the Prophet’s Mission as well as his Message
In Rabi’ul- Awwal, believers are reminded of the message of Islam and our love of the Prophet ﷺ with both the birth and death of the Prophet ﷺ happening in this month.
The affection that Muslims have for our Prophet ﷺ is only natural, as Allah says
النَّبِيُّ أَوْلَى بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ
“The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves” [al-Ahzab 33: 6]
Az-Zajjaaj said: “Man’s love for Allah and His Messenger is to obey them and to accept what Allah سبحانه وتعالى has commanded and the Messenger of Allah ﷺ has brought.”
Anas رضي الله عنه narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “None of you would be considered a believer until I become more beloved to him than his family, wealth and all the people.”
The companions of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ were very much concerned about the application of this duty.
‘Abdullah b. Hisham said: We were with the Prophet ﷺ when he took the hand of ‘Umar. Umar said: “I love you more than anything except my soul which is between my two sides.” The Prophet replied, “None of you will believe until I am dearer to him than his own soul.” ‘Umar said, “By the One who sent down the Book on you, I love you now more than my soul which is between my two sides.” The Prophet said, “‘Umar, now you have it!”
Such is our veneration of the Prophet’s message, that if a believer finds any aspect of the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ missing they are quick to change that within themselves. Believers have no better way of expressing their love for our Prophet ﷺ than to love all that He ﷺ loved and to dislike all that he disliked. Believers know that what was most beloved to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ is also what is most beloved to Allah سبحانه وتعالى, so they strive to make that the most beloved to themselves.
The message of Islam brought by the Prophet ﷺ and detailed in the shari’ah is rightly defended by Muslims. Any criticism, insult or ridicule is not left unchallenged. A believer would not want to change Islam to make the people happy. Rather, he would cling onto the shari’ah, explaining its superiority over all other ways and the error of the ones criticising.
The Prophet ﷺ was truly honoured among the Prophets عليهم السلام, as he was singled out to be the last and final messenger to all of mankind. `Ali bin Abi Talib رضي الله عنه said that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “I was given what no other Prophet before me was given.” We said, “O Messenger of Allah! What is it” He said, “I was given victory by fear, I was given the keys of the earth, I was called Ahmad, the earth was made a clean place for me (to pray and perform tayammum with it) and my Ummah was made the best Ummah.” The reason we were made the best ummah is stated in the ayah:
كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ
“You are the best ummah singled out for mankind: you enjoin what is right (ma’roof), forbid what is wrong (munkar), and believe in Allah.” [aal-Imraan 3:110]
When believers hear of an aspect of the Messenger’s ﷺ sunnah is not being upheld, they are quick to encourage it, as therein lies the proof of their love – to love what he loved. Qatadah said, “We were told that Umar bin Al-Khattab recited this Ayah [3:110] during a Hajj that he performed, when he saw that the people were rushing. He then said, ‘Whoever likes to be among this [praised] Ummah, let him fulfil the condition that Allah set in this Ayah.’”
Discussion around the excellent qualities of the Prophet ﷺ and his ever lasting message should be encouraged among young and old. At the same time we must not forget that the Prophet ﷺ was not simply sent with a message to be conveyed, but rather he ﷺ came with a mission to complete.
The manifestation of the Prophetic mission was the hijrah in the month of Rabi’ul-Awwal. From the very first day he ﷺ established the authority for Islam in Madinah and then on to neighbouring lands. Often when the hijrah is discussed, we can limit ourselves to the details describing how the Prophet ﷺ hid in a cave or who slept in his ﷺ bed. This inevitably diverts us from discussing the true significance of the event.
Umar رضي الله عنه is reported to have said: “The Hijrah has separated truth from falsehood, so calculate dates from it.”
The hijrah to Madinah did not take place because the Muslims in Mecca wanted to avoid the persecution there, or to run away from the hardships they faced in that city. Rather, it was an event that took the dawah of Islam in a new direction. Prior to the hijrah the people of Mecca knew of the Prophet’s message, even though they rejected it. For those who embraced Islam, they accepted Muhammad ﷺ only as a Prophet. However, when he ﷺ arrived in Madinah, they were receiving him ﷺ as a ruler and a Prophet. Before the hijrah, he ﷺ was a Prophet criticising the values and practice of the idol worshipping Quraysh. After the hijrah, he ﷺ was the one who implemented the rules and laws of Islam. Islam had gone from pointing out the problems of society, to providing solutions for mankind.
Rasool Allah ﷺ, as the best example, demonstrated his mission by showing the State in Medina as a beacon of justice. Yet today, the Muslim world remembers his message in parts but has abandoned his ﷺ mission to establish an Islamic authority that the Prophet ﷺ promised would return when he said “Then there will be a rightly guided Khilafah according to the method of Prophethood.”
The death of the Prophet ﷺ in Rabi’ul-Awwal has further significance for Muslims that is often overlooked. The news of the Prophet’s death was so hard upon his companions and Muslims that some of them refused to believe that he had passed away. Upon hearing this, Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه went to the mosque and delivered one of the noblest speeches: “O People! If it was Muhammad whom you worshipped, then know that he is dead. But if it is Allah whom you worshiped, then know that He does not die.”
He then recited the following verse, which was revealed after the Battle of Uhud:
وَمَا مُحَمَّدٌ إِلَّا رَسُولٌ قَدْ خَلَتْ مِنْ قَبْلِهِ الرُّسُلُ أَفَإِنْ مَاتَ أَوْ قُتِلَ انْقَلَبْتُمْ عَلَى أَعْقَابِكُمْ
“Muhammad is no more than an Apostle: many were the Apostles that passed away before him. If he died or were slain, will you then turn back on your heels?” [aal-Imran 3:144]
If a Muslim dies, it is obligatory for Muslims to bury him as soon as possible. But the Sahabah رضي الله عنهم did not bury the Prophet ﷺ immediately. Al-Haythami said, “It is known that the Sahabah رضي الله عنهم consented that selecting the Imam after the end of the era of Prophethood was an obligation. Indeed they made it (more) important than the (other) obligations whilst they were busy with it over the burial of the Prophet ﷺ.”
We must honour the struggle and sacrifice of the Prophet ﷺ and his Sahabah رضي الله عنهم, whom were people that the He ﷺ loved. We must do this by narrating their stories and following in their footsteps, behaving as they would when faced with what we face.
The message of Islam today- its values, ideals, rules and laws- and the condition of its followers is under immense attack. We must take inspiration from the words of the companions, who never wavered despite facing immense challenges and obstacles.
It is reported that Rabiah Ibn ‘Amir رضي الله عنه ,
when asked by the King of Persia why he had come to see him replied. “Allah عز وجل has sent us to deliver you from worshiping the creation to worshiping the Creator of the creation, and to deliver you from the constriction of this world to the vastness of this world and the afterlife, and from the oppression of the religions to the justice of Islam. Allah عز وجل has sent us to save you from worshiping each other.”
Today, as we remember the life of the Prophet ﷺ the Muslim ummah requires a contemporary mission of our time – for Muslims to re-establish the Khilafah State following the path of Rasool Allah ﷺ so that the world can once again see the beauty and light of Islam.