Show me the Prophet that I can identify with (Part 3) – Dr Amriah Buang

Inside, Haykal’s heart struggles with a lot of questions regarding faith that are taboo to the polite society out there.

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

6. That the Prophet ﷺ too sometimes gave way to customary approval

Zaynab and the Prophet ﷺ were cousins who grew up together. Zayd was a former slave, later adopted by Khadijah, and freed by the Prophet. Although in the Arab society of the Prophet’s time someone like Zayd would be called the “son” of Muhammad, the Quran has rebuked this practice and described it as a mere artificial social construct which the people created and conjured in their own minds for which God did not send any authority.

When the time was right, the Prophet arranged the marriage of his former slave Zaid to Zaynab. However, Zaynab, her brother and other family members did not want her to be married to a former slave. The Prophet ﷺ insisted that they marry to break and put a stop to the Jahiliya culture of confining marriage to couples within certain classes or skin colour only.

Nevertheless, Zaynab and other family members eventually accepted the marriage as revelations came down. The marriage didn’t last long since there were a lot of domestic quarrels. Zaynab used to bring up her lineage and Zayd being a former slave.

Unable to withstand further humiliation Zayd went to the Prophet ﷺ to inform him of his intention to divorce Zaynab. But the Prophet ﷺ ordered him to stay married to her and to “fear God”. Zayd went back and forth for a while (weeks or months) every-time complaining about his unhappy marriage, and every time he did that the Prophet ﷺ would tell him to “fear God” and keep his wife. Eventually, the divorce came through.

Throughout the time when Zaid and Zaynab had issues at home, the Prophet ﷺ beforehand received revelations that the marriage would end in divorce and that the Prophet would have to marry Zaynab. In his heart, the Prophet did not want to marry her because she was married to his adopted son. He feared that the people in the society would talk about his ‘malpractice’.

Allah sent down revelations that the Prophet ﷺ should fear Him rather than the people in the society. The marriage went ahead as the Prophet had no say to disobey the command. His marriage ﷺ to Zainab was done to break the taboo in the Arab society which stipulated that an adopted son’s wife was the same as that of a biological son – which Allah dismissed as mere sayings from their mouths:

وَإِذْ تَقُولُ لِلَّذِىٓ أَنْعَمَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَأَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْسِكْ عَلَيْكَ زَوْجَكَ وَٱتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ وَتُخْفِى فِى نَفْسِكَ مَا ٱللَّهُ مُبْدِيهِ وَتَخْشَى ٱلنَّاسَ وَٱللَّهُ أَحَقُّ أَن تَخْشَىٰهُ ۖ فَلَمَّا قَضَىٰ زَيْدٌۭ مِّنْهَا وَطَرًۭا زَوَّجْنَـٰكَهَا لِكَىْ لَا يَكُونَ عَلَى ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ حَرَجٌۭ فِىٓ أَزْوَٰجِ أَدْعِيَآئِهِمْ إِذَا قَضَوْا۟ مِنْهُنَّ وَطَرًۭا ۚ وَكَانَ أَمْرُ ٱللَّهِ مَفْعُولًۭا 

“And (remember, O Prophet), when you said to the one (Zayd) for whom Allah has done a favour and you (too) have done a favour: “Keep your wife and fear Allah,” while concealing within yourself what Allah was going to reveal.

And you were considering the people, whereas Allah was more worthy of your consideration.

So, when Zayd had come to the end of his union with her, We gave her to you in marriage, so that there would be no blame on the believers for marrying the ex-wives of their adopted sons after their divorce. And Allah’s command is conclusively binding.”

al-Quran 33:37

7. That the Prophet ﷺ too sometime had to experience the rejection of his judgement

Umar al-Khattab told a story of when the army of the believers met the army of the unbelievers at Badr and the idolaters were defeated (seventy men of them were killed and another seventy captured), the Prophet ﷺ consulted Abu Bakr, himself and Ali about what to do with the prisoners. 

Abu Bakr said: “O Prophet of Allah, these are our brothers, cousins and sons of our clan. And my opinion is that you accept a ransom from them, so that what we take from them will be an added strength for us against the unbelievers. And happily Allah will guide them to Islam and be a support to us.”

The Prophet ﷺ then asked: “What do you think, O son of al-Khattab? (Umar)” 

Umar said: “By Allah, I do not agree with Abu Bakr. My opinion is that you give me so-and-so (a relative of Umar) so that I behead him, and give ‘Aqil to ‘Ali so that he beheads him and so-and-so (al-‘Abbas) to Hamzah so that he beheads him.”

“In this way, Allah, glorious and majestic is He, will know that there is no complaisance in our hearts toward the idolaters. These are their notables, leaders and chiefs,” Umar continued.

The Prophet ﷺ liked what Abu Bakr said and disliked what Umar said. And so, the Prophet ﷺ accepted a ransom from them. 

The following day, Umar went to see the Prophet ﷺ and found him sitting with Abu Bakr. They were both crying. Umar said: “O Messenger of Allah, what is it that makes you and your companion weep?”

The Prophet said: “I am crying because of the suggestion of ransoming the prisoners which your fellow believers advised me to do. We almost incurred a misfortune as a result of opposing your view! Allah, exalted is He, had revealed:

مَا كَانَ لِنَبِىٍّ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُۥٓ أَسْرَىٰ حَتَّىٰ يُثْخِنَ فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ ۚ

تُرِيدُونَ عَرَضَ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَٱللَّهُ يُرِيدُ ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةَ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ

“It is not fit for a prophet that he should take captives until he has thoroughly subdued the land. You (believers) settled with the fleeting gains of this world, while Allah’s aim (for you) is the Hereafter. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise.”

al-Quran 8:67

8. That the Prophet ﷺ himself discouraged the ummah from idolising him

Kais bin Sal said that he came to Hirah, and saw the inhabitants worshipping their chief. Kais said, “Verily the Apostle of God is worthy of being worshipped.” Then he came to the Prophet ﷺ and said: “I saw the people of Hirah worshipping the chief of their tribe, and you are most worthy of being worshipped.”

The Prophet ﷺ said to Kais: “Tell me, if you should pass by my grave, would you worship it?” 

Kais said: “No.” And the Prophet ﷺ replied: “Worship not me.”

The Prophet ﷺ was in the midst of a crowd of his Sahabas, and a camel came and prostrated itself before him. They said: “O Apostle of God! Beasts and trees worship you; then it is met for us to worship you.”

The Prophet ﷺ said: “Worship God, and you may honour your brother, that is me.”

When the ambassadors of Bani Amir went to the Prophet ﷺ, they said: “You are our master.” The Prophet replied: “God is your master.” 

Then they said: “You are most excellent to the highest degree.” When the Prophet ﷺ heard this, he said: “Say so, or less, and do not exceed reasonable bounds in praise.”

(Source: Modernised from Sir Abdullah Al-Mamun Al-Suhrawardy, 1941, The Sayings of Muhammad, http://muslimcanada.org/hadiths.html)

Now he feels closer

Haykal wrote down his Quranic and Hadith findings and saved them in a document file entitled “Show me the Prophet that I can identify with”. He also added the following notes:

I thank The Almighty for showing me the common humanity side of the Prophet. This has certainly corroborated the import of the verse:

قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ

Say (O Prophet): “I am but a mortal man like all of you…”

al-Quran 18:110

With this discovery I feel much closer to the Prophet, and more confident in emulating the example of the Prophet, because as a truly mortal man he should understand what it’s like to be subjected to groping and fumbling, feeling down and depressed, fearing the unfamiliar, making unintentional mistakes, experiencing marital problems, complying with customary practices, and committing errors of judgement. That with all such human frailties and inadequacies I too can rise and better myself in going through the trials and tribulations of this worldly life. That from the messiness of my human fitrah my spiritual being can soar high if I make the necessary effort.

With this discovery I find the peace and quiet of a private Taqwa that sustains my soul. The peace and quiet away from the dogmas and dictums of the establishment Da’wah.

Haykal marked the file ‘private’, meaning he was not going to tell anyone about it. Safer that way, he thought. His findings are for his own use. Haykal has become his own Daie.

Fast forward to this 2020 Rabi’ulawwal.

It is Mawlid commemoration once again. But there is a difference this year because there is the pandemic challenge of COVID-19.

Suddenly, Haykal is reminded of his buddies – Ashraf, Bernard and Khor Meng. Siti and Emma. Each one of them is a bundle of emotional problems, too. ‘How are they doing right now?’ he wonders.

Haykal went to his laptop and opened his “Show me the Prophet that I can identify with” file. He has this idea that to mark this 2020 Mawlid, he is, after all, going to share this file with Ashraf, Bernard, Khor Meng, Siti and Emma.

Hmm, it looks like Haykal has become a Daie himself. Albeit an atypical Daie.

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