Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Ethical Standard of the Prophet Muhammad

The Ethical Standard of the Prophet Muhammad 
(Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam)

By Imam Zaid Shakir

In the name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful;
All the praise and thanks is due to Allāh, the Lord of al-‘ālamīn. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allāh, and that Muhammad, sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Messenger

The recent “Cartoon Crisis” raises several issues. One of the most important is the incumbency of seeing the ongoing crisis as an opportunity to educate people in the West about our blessed Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). Along those lines, one of the greatest things we can do is teaching about the exalted ethical standard introduced by our Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). That ethical standard is the bedrock of his mission and message.

In an age of instantaneous communications and globalized media it is important for Muslims to reaffirm our commitment to the prophetic ethical ideal. Under prevailing conditions, the sensationalized excesses of some Muslims, excesses that contradict the ethical teachings of our Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), are often used to distort the perception of Islam by the West and its alliances. That distortion in turn helps to create prejudiced attitudes towards Islam and Muslims.

I would argue that the images that insinuate a connection between our Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) , and terrorism are more informed by the hijackings, kidnappings, beheadings, and cold-blooded murder of unsuspecting civilians, all of which characterize many of our recent political struggles, than to any inherent biases or prejudices among the people of Europe and America. If we Muslims are going to contribute to changing how Islam and our Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), are viewed in the West, we are going to have to change what we ourselves are doing to contribute to the caricaturing of Islam. That change can only be affected by sound knowledge coupled with exalted practice, and reviving the lofty ethical ideal of our beloved Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

Relevant Ethical Teachings from the Qur’an

You will surely be tested in your wealth and your lives. And you will hear from those given the scriptures before you and from the idolaters much abuse. If you patiently persevere, and remain mindful [of Allāh], surely in this is a manifestation of firm resolve.”  [Al-Baqarah 3:186]

An examination of the ethical standard of the Prophet Muhammad, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), relevant to the current crisis, must begin by looking at certain critical Qur’anic verses. We will begin by examining the above passage. This verse was preemptively revealed as consolation to the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), and his followers in anticipation of the abuse that would be heaped upon them from parties amongst the Jews, Christians, and idolaters. In the face of that abuse a course of action was prescribed. Namely, that they patiently endure those abuses and remain mindful of God in the face of the negative propaganda that would increase as their worldly power grew. The implication of that course of action is beautifully captured in the words of the great 18th Century Turkish scholar Imam Ismail al-Buru (rahimahullāh) in his commentary of the Qur’an. He says, God is going to treat you as one undergoing a test in order to show your mettle in persevering in the truth and righteous deeds.”[1]

Imam Buru (rahimahullāh) then summarizes one of the main lessons of the verse:

You should know that reciprocating vile deeds with vile deeds would only increase vileness. Therefore, the command to patiently endure abusive transgressions minimizes those things that bring harm to the worldly realm. Similarly, the command to remain mindful of Allāh minimizes those things that jeopardize the life hereafter. Hence, this verse combines the etiquettes essential for [success in] this world and the next. [2]

It is interesting to note that this verse was revealed after the migration to Medinah. Therefore, it was a pronouncement of state policy for the nascent Muslim polity. The strategic benefits of this policy would be realized years later in the bloodless conquest of Makkah. That conquest was made possible in large part because the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), did not cultivate a spirit of vengeance and retaliation in his followers. Nor did he cultivate in them a deep hatred for the people he was commissioned to call to Islam. It was on the basis of this spirit that he was able to fully accept and welcome into the fold of Islam his bitterest enemies – Abu Sufyan bin Harb, ‘Amr bin al-‘As, Khalid bin al-Walid, Ikrimah bin Abi Jahl, and many others.

“Therefore, proclaim openly what you have been ordered [to convey], and turn away from the idolaters. We will suffice you against those who mock you. Those who make another god with God; soon they will know. We know that your heart is greatly grieved by what they say. Glorify the praises of your Lord and be amongst those dutifully and consistently prostrating [unto Him]. And worship your Lord until death comes to you.” [Al-Hijr 15:94-99]

This group of Qur’anic verses revealed in Makkah also involves consolation for the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), in the face of his people’s abuse. The gist of this passage is that Allāh will assume the responsibility for taking revenge against his tormentors. The Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), is commanded to turn away from his enemies, leaving God to deal with them. Abu Su’ud, a 16th Century Qur’anic scholar, commented on this instruction, “That is to say, do not pay any attention to what they say, do not be concerned with them, and do not begin to think of vengeance against them.” [3] It is mentioned that these verses were revealed concerning five of the notables of the Quraysh who were especially abusive towards the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). Allāh dispatched the Angel Gabriel to deal with them and they all died terrible deaths, with the exception of Al-Aswad bin al-Muttalib, who lived, but went blind after Gabriel pointed to his eyes. [4] The Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), is instructed to proclaim the message, to forge on in his work of propagation, and to deepen his devotion and remembrance of Allāh. As for the fate of his enemies, Allāh would deal with them.

Rasulullah (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) would be reminded years later that his actions would never affect the fate of those opposing him. Allāh mentions in that regard:

“You have nothing to do with the outcome of their affair [O, Muhammad!] Whether He accepts repentance from them, or punishes them, they are indeed wrongdoers.” [Al-Baqarah 3:128]

In this verse, Allāh reminds His Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), that He is in control. The control of the affair of the universe is with Him. As for the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), his job is to convey the message, and not to burden himself by worrying about the ensuing outcome. In conveying the message, the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), is instructed to adopt the highest ethical standard, a standard that is established by Allāh, not by himself, nor any other human agent. Allāh says, surely, you are on an exalted standard of character. [Al-Qalam 68:4]

‘Aishah, the blessed wife of the Prophet, (radiyallāhu’anha), was asked to describe the character of the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). She responded:

He was not foul in his actions, nor in his speech; he was not boisterous in the marketplace; he did not retaliate in kind to vile acts perpetrated against him; rather he pardoned and forgave.” [5]

This tradition involves a detailed explanation of a more general description given by ‘Aishah of the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). She mentioned that his character was an embodiment of the Qur’an. [6] In other words, his character was godly, for the Qur’an is the eternal Speech of Allāh.

Here we should pause and reflect on the mission of the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam). He mentioned, describing that mission, “I was only sent to perfect good character.” [7] Consistent with what we mentioned above, we could interpret the tradition to mean, “I was only sent to make people godlier.” This idea that Islam is a path to godliness has to be stressed in these days when many Muslims view it strictly as a path to worldliness. That worldliness has contributed to the Muslim community, generally speaking, falling ever further down the slippery slope of political expediency. Political involvement is certainly a critical aspect of Islam. However, political expediency cannot provide ex post facto determinants of our values and principles. Those have been determined, a priori, by Allāh.

This idea of godliness is not something strange in our religion. The 12th century jurist, Al-‘Izz bin ‘Abd as-Salam, one of the greatest latter day scholars, mentions in his book ‘Shajara al-Ma’arif wa’al-Ahwal’:

No one is suitable for the supporting friendship of The Judge (Allāh Almighty) until he rectifies himself with the etiquettes of the Qur’an, and he adorns himself with the Attributes of the Most Merciful, to the extent humanly possible. He (Allāh) is most excellent and He commands [His servants] with excellence. He is most generous and He commands generosity. He beautifies and He commands beautification. He is the Benefactor and He commands extending benefit. He relieves and He commands bringing relief. He is All Forgiving and He commands forgiveness. He conceals faults and He commands the concealment of faults. He repairs and restores and He commands restoration... [8]

Enduring trials, tribulations, and bearing abuses are the crucibles through which the ability to move towards this state of godliness is forged. Because the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), is our leader in guiding us to this standard, in word and deed, no one was more tried or abused than he. He could not order anyone to adopt these characteristics, until he himself had adopted them, just as he could not urge the arduous traversing of the obstacles leading to them until he himself had traveled that difficult road. It is by traveling that road that we turn away from the creation and orient ourselves towards the Creator.

Not equal are good and evil. Repel [evil] with what is best; you will unexpectedly see one with whom you had enmity become an intimate friend. [Fussilat 41:34]

The Prophet’s, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), cousin and close companion, Ibn ‘Abbas, (radiyallāhu’anhu), is related as saying concerning this verse:

Allāh commands the believers with patience in the presence of anger; forbearance in the face of ignorant acts; and pardoning when offended. If they do that God will protect them from Satan and subdue their enemies. [9]

Imam Al-Buru (rahimahullāh) mentions in his commentary:

Not equal are good character traits and vile ones in the reward they incur and the outcome [they lead to]. If you patiently persevere in the face of their abuses and ignorance, leave off pursuing revenge against them, and pay no attention to their foolishness, you merit exaltation in this world, and a great reward in the next. They [your enemies] will merit the opposite. Do not allow their boldness in entertaining vile character traits prevent you from engaging in good ones. [10]

No single verse could better embody the spirit of Islamic ethics [Fussilat 41:34]. Not only does it prescribe a lofty course of action, it also shows how that action, far from leading to worldly weakness, is a source of worldly strength and exaltation. However, if one is not in touch with Allāh, one cannot perceive the veracity of His promise, or the scope of His power. Regardless of our perceptions, God has the power to transform our enemies into friends. However, in a worldly sense, we unleash that power through principled, ethically lofty behavior. As the verse after the one being discussed proceeds to remind us, No one is granted this lofty state except those who patiently persevere; and no one is granted it except the possessor of a great portion. [Fussilat 41:35]

Imam Buru (rahimahullāh) describe that great portion as:

[…a great portion] of personal virtues and spiritual strength. Preoccupation with revenge only exists because of the soul’s weakness, and its propensity to be affected by external stimuli. When the soul is strong in its essence it is not affected by external stimuli. When it is not affected by such stimuli, it is easy for it to bear abuses and not be preoccupied with revenge. [11]

One of the great losses we suffer as Muslims when we make politics our first priority is that we lose sight of the fact that our Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) , has introduced to the world the most refined system of spirituality and ethics known to humanity. Inaugurating and laying the foundation for the perpetuation of that system was at the heart of his mission. It is only on the basis of that system that any meaningful worldly accomplishments are possible. It is therefore fitting that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), proclaimed, “I have only been sent to perfect noble character.” [12]

Some Ethical Sayings of the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) [13]

The following is a collection of some of the ethical sayings of the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam); they are selected from the work of the great master of prophetic tradition, Ibn Abi ad-Dunya. He mentions these sayings in his book, Makarim al-Akhlaq (Noble Character Traits) [14] as narrated from authentic hadiths. They are related without comment to encourage personal reflection on their deeper significance for our current condition.

  • Ibn ‘Abbas (radiyallāhu’anhu) relates that the Messenger of Allāh, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), said, “Whoever would be pleased to be the noblest of people, let him be mindful of Allāh. Whoever would be pleased to be the strongest of people, let him trust in Allāh. And whoever would be pleased to be the wealthiest of people, let him be more confident in what Allāh possesses than with what he finds in his own hand. [15]
  • Sahl bin Sa’ad (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), said, “Surely, Allāh is generous, He loves generosity. He likewise loves noble characteristics and hates pettiness.” [16]
  • Anas bin Mālik (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that he heard the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), say, “Noble characteristics are among the actions of those destined for Paradise.” [17]
  • ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amr (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), said to him, “O, ‘Uqbah! Shall I inform you of the loftiest characteristic of the denizens of this world and the next? Join relations with those who break them with you. Give freely to those who deny you. And pardon those who oppress you.” [18]
  • Abu Hurairah (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), said, “Seek exaltedness with Allāh.” It was said, “What does that involve, O, Messenger of Allāh?” He replied, “Join relations with those breaking them with you. Give freely to those who deny you. And forbear with those offending you out of ignorance.” [19]

  • ‘Amr bin al-‘As (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that he heard the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), say, “There are forty character traits, the loftiest of them is to lend someone your ewe [to benefit from its milk]. No one acts on any one of them, anticipating its reward, affirming the promise associated with it, except that Allāh enters him into Paradise because of it.” [20]
  • Ibn ‘Umar (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), said, “Two traits are among the characteristics of the Arabs and are religious pillars, you are on the verge of leaving them: shyness, and noble character.” [21]
  • ‘Amr bin ‘Abasa (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that he asked the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), “What is faith?” He replied, “Patience and a magnanimous spirit.” ‘Amr then asked, “What is the best form of faith?” He replied, “Good character.” [22]
  • Anas bin Malik (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), never confronted anyone in a manner disliked by that person. [23]
  • Sa’id bin al-Musayyib (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) said, “A scarcity of shyness is a form of disbelief.” [24]
  • ‘Imran bin Husayn (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that he heard the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), say, “Shyness embodies all good.” Al-‘Ala bin Ziyad responded, saying, “We find in our books that it involves weakness.” ‘Imran rejoined angrily, “I am relating to you what the Messenger of God said and you are qualifying it with your books!” [25]
  • Mālik bin Dinar (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that ‘Umar bin al-Khattab said, “Whoever has a lack of shyness will have a lack of scrupulousness. Whoever has a lack of scrupulousness will have a dead heart.” [26]
  • Anas bin Mālik (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), said, “Every faith community has a distinguishing characteristic. The distinguishing characteristic of Islam is shyness.” [27]
  • ‘Imran bin Husayn (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), said, Surely, shyness only brings good.” [28]
  • ‘Abdullāh bin ‘Amr bin al-‘as (radiyallāhu’anhum), relates that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), said, “Surely, the best of companions with Allāh are the best of them with their companions, and the best of neighbors with Allāh are the best of them with their neighbors.” [29]
  • ‘Aishah (radiyallāhu’anha), relates that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), said, “Gabriel continued to caution me concerning the neighbor until I thought he would make him an heir.” [30]
  • Abu Shurayh (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), said, “Whoever believes in Allāh and the Last Day, let him treat well his neighbor.” [31]
  • ‘Aishah (radiyallāhu’anha), relates that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), said, “Good neighborliness, maintaining blood ties, and good character are the basis of civility, and they enhance civilization.” [32]
  • Anas bin Mālik (radiyallāhu’anhu), relates that the Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), said, “A man whose neighbor is not safe from his wickedness will not enter Paradise.” [33]
This presentation concludes with a selection of traditions concerning the rights of neighbors for we have all become neighbors in the “Global Village.” As the ongoing “Cartoon Crisis” illustrates, what happens in one corner of the village affects us all. The current situation was initiated when the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten chose to disregard the rules of civility governing relations between neighbors in that village. Those rules are nowhere better articulated than by the Danish Penal Code which states that any person “threatening, insulting, or degrading a group of persons on account of their race, color, national or ethnic origin, belief or sexual orientation, shall be liable to a fine or imprisonment…” Clearly, the editor of the newspaper made a conscious decision to break the law prevailing in his home country.

However, now that the transgression has occurred, how should we respond? Do we answer with transgressions of our own, as some have done? Or do we all redouble our efforts to demonstrate to people, in the clearest terms possible, what Islam and the teachings of our Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), are all about. Clearly, the latter option is far more desirable, productive, and closer to the spirit of the prophetic teachings.

The Salawāt upon The Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam)

It was related that Abdullāh bin Zaid (radiyallāhu’anhu), one who was shown the adzān (the call for Solāt) in a dream, narrated it on the authority of Abu Mas’ud Al-Ansari (radiyallāhu’anhu) said:

“We approach Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) at a gathering at Sa’ad bin ‘Ubadah. Bashir bin Sa’ad said to Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), “Allāh has commanded us to send Salāh upon you, O Rasūlullāh. How can we send Salāh (salawāt) upon you?” Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) remained quiet for so long that we wished that he had not asked him, then Rasūlullāh (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “[For Salāh on me] 

Say: Allāhumma salli ‘ala Muhammadiñ Wa ‘ala āli Muhammad kamā sallaita ‘ala āli Ibrāhīm; Wa bārik ‘ala  Muhammadiñ wa ‘ala āli Muhammad kama bārakta ‘ala āli Ibrāhīm, fil-‘ālameen; Innaka Hamīdun Majīd.

(O Allāh! Send Prayers upon Muhammad and the members of his household as You Sent Prayers upon the members of Ibrahim's household; And Send Blessings to Muhammad and the members of his household as You  granted Blessings upon the members of the household of Ibrāhīm, among all the nations’ Verily You are Most Praiseworthy, Full of Glory)’;

‘And the Salutation [i.e ‘As-salāmu ‘alaika ayyuhan-Nabiyyu wa rahmatullāhi wa barakātuh’] as you about knows it’.”

[Recorded by Muslim (803): Book on Blessings on the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) after Tashahhud; this narration uses the phrase: ‘ala āli Ibrāhīm, fil-‘ālameen; Innaka Hamīdun Majīd”]; this narration is Linguistically sound; more comprehensive] This was also recorded by Abu Dawud (976 and 980): sahih, An-Nasa’ie, At-Tirmidzi and Ibn Jarir. At-Tirmidzi said, "It is Hasan Sahih.''

The Virtues of Salawāt

The Salawāt reflects the honour, love, faith, attachment to our Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) which signifies to be the deep faith in Allāh. None is considered a true believer until one loves him more than one parents and all others. The Salawāt indicates the honour, love, belief, attachment to him as our Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) which signifies to be the deep faith in Allāh.  

Allāh Almighty says:  “Say: ‘O people! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allāh, to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth: there is no god but He: it is He that gives both life and death. So believe in Allāh and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, who believed in Allāh and His Words: follow him that (so) you may be guided.” [Al-A’raf 7: 158]

Allāh tells the mankind the purpose of sending Prophet Muhammad (Sallāhu ‘alayhi wassalam) as He Says in the Qur’an:  “And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” [Al-Anbiya’ 21: 107]

Anas Ibn Mālik (radiyallāhu'anhu) narrated the Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) said: “No one of you truly believes until I am dearer to him than his father, his son, his own self and all the people.” [Narrated by Al-Bukhāri, 15; Muslim, 44].

The Prophet (Sallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam) also said: “Whenever someone seeks Allāh’s blessings for me, Allāh returns the soul to my body until I reply to his salutation." [Reported by Abu Dawud]

Imām Ahmad related that Abu Talhah Al-Ansārī (radiyallāhu’anhu) said: The Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu’alayhi wasallam) arose one morning in a very pleasant mood with signs of good tidings apparent on his face. They said, “O Messenger of Allāh, we see that you look happy.” Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The angel came to me and told me, ‘O Muhammad, would it not please you if your Lord, may He be glorified, said: ‘No member of your Ummah sends Solāh (Salawāt) upon you but I send Solāh upon him tenfold, and no member of your Ummah sends greetings of Salām upon you but I send greetings of Salām upon him tenfold’.’” I said, “Of course.’” [This was also recorded by An-Nasā'ie Ibn Abi Shaybah, ‘Abd bin Hamīd and At-Tirmidzi; Cited with slightly different wording in Imām Abu Sulayman al-Jazuli's Dala'il Al-Khayrat (The Index of Good Things)]

‘Abdullāh bin Mas’ud (radiyallāhu’anhu) narrated that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu’alayhi wasallam) said: "Those who are most deserving of my intercession on the Day of Judgment are those who used to increasingly seek Allāh’s Blessing (salawāt) for me.” [This is recorded by Ahmad, Al-Bukhari, At-Tirmidzi and Ibn Hibbān said hasan]

Anas Ibn Mālik (radiyallāhu’anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allāh (Sallallāhu’alayhi wasallam) said: “There are three under the shade of Allāh on a day when there is no shade except His; the one who relieved a distress from someone from my nation; the one who invigorate my Sunnah and the one who invoked blessings on me (Salawāt) the most”. [This is recorded in the Mustadrak and the Musnad of al-Firdaus; Al-Hāfiz As-Suyūtī also recorded it in his Burūj Al-Hilāl.]

And the Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) likened those who do not salawāt upon him when his name is mentioned as a miser: "The miser  (wretched; niggardly, mistaken) is the one who hears my name mentioned and does not seek blessings for me.” [Reported by At-Tirmidzi]


During the Battle of Uhud, the Prophet’s incisor was broken, His lower lip was ruptured, and he had a bleeding wound on his forehead. He was constantly drying up the blood to keep it from falling upon the ground, saying, “If any of this blood falls on the ground, Divine Punishment would descend upon them [the Quraysh].” The situation weighed on the Companions, and they implored, “Why do you not pray against them?” Rasūlullāh (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), replied, “I have not been sent to damn people. I have been sent as a caller and a mercy. O, Allāh! Forgive my people for they know no better.” [34]

These are glimpses of the character of our noble Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam). As he said, he was sent as a caller and a mercy. That call and mercy should be available to all people, even in the West. The mercy that his mission embodied hinged on his uncompromising commitment to the ethical standard God established him on. Hence, his ethical standard made the gift of his mercy possible.

Now is the time for us to share the great gift of our Prophet, (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), and his guidance to the world. He described himself as a gift of mercy. His mercy led him to be deeply concerned about the guidance of his people, even when they were opposing him in the dastardliest ways. We should be just as concerned about the guidance of our own people, even though some of them may be opposing us. And we should try at all costs to avoid anything that would prejudice our people against Islam because of our own actions. As our Prophet (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), instructed us, “Call people and do not repulse them.”[35]

These are dark days when all peoples are abandoning their loftier ethical standards in the name of the amoral pursuit of worldly power. Let us be the people who pursue power through the strength of our commitment to our ethical standard. This is the sure basis of true ascension in the world and enduring esteem among nations. As the great bard of Egypt, Ahmad Shawqi, reminded us, “Communities are none other than the ethical code existing along with them; when that ethical code goes, they will soon follow.”

And Allāh Almighty Knows best.

[Imam Zaid Shakir 23.2.2006]


[1] Imam Isma’il Al-Buru, Tafsir Ruh al-Bayan (Beirut: Dar Ihya’ at-Turath al-‘Arabi, 2001/1421), 2:172.

[2] Ibid. 2:173.

[3] Abu Su’ud Muhammad bin Muhammad al-Hanafi, Tafsir Abi Su’ud (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-‘Ilmiyya, 1999/1419), 4:36.

[4] Ibid. 4:37.

[5] Imam Abu ‘Isa Muhammad bin ‘Isa at-Tirmidzi, Jami’ at-Tirmidzi (Riyadh: Dar As-Salaam, 1999/1420), p. 465, no. 2016.

[6] See Imam Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Jarir at-Tabari, Jami’ al-Bayan fi Ta’wil al-Qur’an (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 1997/1418), 12:179-180, nos. 34559, 34560, 34561, 34562.

[7] Imam Abu Bakr al-Husayn bin ‘Ali al-Bayhaqi, As-Sunan al-Kubra (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, 1994/1414), 10:323, no. 20782.

[8] Imam ‘Izz ad-Din ‘Abd al-‘Aziz bin ‘Abd as-Salaam as-Sulami, Shajara al-Ma’arif w’al-Ahwal (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1998/1419), p. 67.

[9] Imam Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti, Ad-dur al-Manthur fi Tafsir bil-Ma’thur (Beirut: Dar al-Ihya at-Turath al-Islami, 2001/1421), 7:282.

[10] Al-Buru (rahimAllāh) i, 8:351.

[11] Ibid. 8:353.

[12] Al-Bayhaqi, 10:323, no. 20782.

[13] For an excellent compilation of general ethical sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), see Shaykh al-Amin ‘Ali Mazrui, The Content of Character: Ethical Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), trans. Hamza Yusuf (London: Sandala LLC, 2005).

[14] Imam Ibn Abi ad-Dunya, Makaram al-Akhlaq (Cairo: Maktaba al-Qur’an, n.d.).

[15] Ibid. p. 19.

[16] Ibid. p. 19.

[17] Ibid. p. 20.

[18] Ibid. p. 22.

[19] Ibid. p. 23.

[20] Ibid. p. 25.

[21] Ibid. p. 29.

[22] Ibid. p. 31.

[23] Ibid. p. 37.

[24] Ibid. p. 37.

[25] Ibid. pp. 37-38.

[26] Ibid. p. 40. This type of narration, related directly from ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, the second Caliph, after the passing of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam), is referred to as Hadith Mawquf. It is mentioned by Ibn Abi Dunya in his collection. We have retained it even though it is not related directly from the Prophet,

[27] Ibid. p. 41.

[28] Ibid. p. 41.

[29] Ibid. p. 92.

[30] Ibid. p. 101.

[31] Ibid. p. 102.

[32] Ibid. p. 103.

[33] Ibid. p. 106.

[34] Quoted in ‘Abdullah Siraj ad-Din, Muhammad Rasulullah  (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) (Halab, Syria: Maktaba Dar al-Falah, 1990/1410), p. 254.

[35] Imam Abu ‘Abdullah Muhammad bin Isma’il al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari (Sidon, Beirut: Al-Maktaba al-‘Asriyya, 2005/1426), p. 532, no. 3038.

[New Islamic Direction]

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