The Light of the Prophet by Dr. Badawi


"Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth . . . "[1. Qur'an (24:35).]

The Light is one of the ninety-nine Beautiful Names of Allah. Light is that by which things become known. Things may exist in the dark, but they cannot be seen. Light may be physical, such as the light of the sun or the moon, or intelligible, like the light of the intellect. The latter is that which illuminates the darkness of ignorance with the light of knowledge. Total darkness is non-existence, thus light is that which brings created beings out of non-existence into existence. It is the creative act of Allah and this is one of the meanings of "Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth . . . " The other meaning is that every light in the universe is but a reflection of His mercy, every knowledge a reflection of His knowledge and so on. "Allah created His creation in darkness," said the Prophet, may Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, "then He sprayed them with His light. Those whom this light reached became rightly guided, while those it did not went astray."[2. Tirmidhi.] And he also said, as recorded by Muslim, "Allah, August and Majestic is He, wrote the destinies of creation fifty thousand years before He created the Heavens and the earth. His throne was on the water. Among what He wrote in the Remembrance, which is the Mother of the Book, was: Muhammad is the Seal of the Prophets."


Trust in Allah


Trust in Allah, the Glorious, the Exalted

Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) preached to the people to trust in Allah (swt). His whole life was a sublime example of the precept. In the loneliness of Makkah, in the midst of persecution and danger, in adversity and tribulations, and in the thick of enemies in the battles of Uhud and Hunain, complete faith and trust in Allah (swt) appears as the dominant feature in his life. However great the danger that confronted him, he never lost hope and never allowed himself to be unduly agitated. Abu Talib knew the feelings of the Quraish when the Prophet (s.a.a.w.) started his mission. He also knew the lengths to which the Quraish could go, and requested the Prophet (s.a.a.w.) to abandon his mission, but the latter calmly replied,

"Dear uncle, do not go by my loneliness. Truth will not go unsupported for long. The whole of Arabia and beyond will one day espouse its cause." [Ibn Hisham, Sirat-ur-Rasul]


Prophet's Appearance and Dress


Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) was of a height a little above the average. He was of sturdy build with long muscular limbs and tapering fingers. The hair of his head was long and thick with some waves in them. His forehead was large and prominent, his eyelashes were long and thick, his nose was sloping, his mouth was somewhat large and his teeth were well set. His cheeks were spare and he had a pleasant smile. His eyes were large and black with a touch of brown. His beard was thick and at the time of his death, he had seventeen grey hairs in it. He had a thin line of fine hair over his neck and chest. He was fair of complexion and altogether was so handsome that Abu Bakr composed this couplet about him:

"As there is no darkness in the moonlit night so is Mustafa, the well-wisher, bright."

His gait was firm and he walked so fast that others found it difficult to keep pace with him. His face was genial but at times, when he was deep in thought, there there were long periods of silence, yet he always kept himself busy with something. He did not speak unnecessarily and what he said was always to the point and without any padding. At times he would make his meaning clear by slowly repeating what he had said. His laugh was mostly a smile. He kept his feelings under firm control - when annoyed, he would turn aside or keep silent, when pleased he would lower his eyes [Tirmidhi].


His dress generally consisted of a shirt, tamad (trousers), a sheet thrown round the shoulders and a turban. On rare occasions, he would put on costly robes presented to him by foreign emissaries in the later part of his life. [Ahmed, Musnad, Hafiz Bin Qayyim]

His blanket had several patches. [Tirmidhi] He had very few spare clothes, but he kept them spotlessly clean. [Bukhari] He wanted others also to put on simple but clean clothes. Once he saw a person putting on dirty clothes and remarked,

"Why can't this man wash them." [Abu Dawood]

On another occasion he enquired of a person in dirty clothes whether he had any income. Upon getting a reply in the affirmative, he observed,

"When Allah has blessed you with His bounty, your appearance should reflect it." [Abu Dawood]

He used to observe:

"Cleanliness is piety."


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Surely the guilty shall not prosper!


إِنَّهُ لاَ يُفْلِحُ الْمُجْرِمُونَ 


The Qur'anic term falah (prosperity, success) used in the above verse (last part of verse 10:17) has been understood by some to signify such things as longevity, worldly prosperity and other worldly attainments. Under this false impression, they tend to believe that if a claimant to prophethood attains material prosperity and longevity or if his message is spread around, then he ought to be considered a genuine Prophet because he has indeed attained 'prosperity'. Had he been an impostor, it is argued, he would soon have been assassinated, or would have starved to death, and, in any case, his message would not have spread around. Such an absurd line of argument can only be pursued by those who are altogether ignorant of the concept of falah (prosperity) as envisaged in the Qur'an, who are unaware of God's law of respite regarding evil-doers, and who are altogether unappreciative of the special meaning in which the term has been employed in the present context.
In order to fully understand what is meant by saying that 'the guilty shall not prosper', a number of things ought to be borne in mind. In the first place, the Qur'anic statement that "the guilty shall not prosper' is not made with a view to providing a yardstick that might be applied by people so as to determine the truth or falsity of the claimants of prophethood. The verse does not seek to stress that all those who 'prosper' after claiming to be a Prophet are truly Prophets, and that those who do not prosper after making such a claim are not so. The point of emphasis here is altogether different. Here the Prophet (peace be on him) is being made to say that since he knows fully that those guilty of inventing lies against Allah could not prosper, he would not dare make any claim to prophethood if such a claim was false.
On the other hand, the Prophet (peace be on him) also knew that the unbelievers were guilty of rejecting the true signs of God and of declaring a true Prophet of God to be an impostor. In view of that monstrous guilt, it was quite apparent to the Prophet (peace be on him) that they would not prosper.
Moreover, the Qur'anic term falah (prosperity, success) has not been used in the limited sense of worldly success. Rather, it denotes that enduring success which admits of no failure regardless of whether one is able to achieve success in the present phase of one's existence or not. it is quite possible that someone who calls people to falsehood might enjoy life and nourish in a worldly sense, and he might even be able to attain a substantial following for his message. But this is not true prosperity or success; rather it constitutes total loss and failure. Contrarily, it is also possible that someone who calls people to the truth might be exposed to much persecution and be overwhelmed by pain and suffering. It is possible that even before he is able to create any significant following, he is continually subjected to persecution and torture. In the Qur'anic view, such an apparently tragic end constitutes the very zenith of such a person's success rather than his failure.
Moreover, it should be remembered that it has been amply elucidated in the Qur'an that God does not punish evil-doers instantly: that He rather grants them a fair opportunity to mend their ways. Not only that, if the evil-doers misuse the respite granted by God to perpetrate further wrongs, they are sometimes granted an even further respite. In fact, at times a variety of worldly favours are bestowed upon such evil-doers in order that the potential for wickedness inherent in them might be fully exposed by their actions, proving that they do indeed deserve a very severe punishment. Hence, if an impostor continues to enjoy periods of respite and if worldly favours are lavished upon him this should not in any way give rise to the notion that he is on the right path.
In the same way as God grants respite to other evil-doers. He also grants respite to impostors. There are no grounds whatsoever for believing that the respite granted to other evil-doers would not be granted to those impostors who lay false claim to prophethood. We may well call to mind that Satan himself has been granted a respite until Doomsday, It has never been indicated that although Satan is granted a free hand to misguide human beings, as soon as he throws up an impostor claiming prophethood such a venture is instantly nipped in the bud.
In order to refute the view expressed above it is possible that someone may refer to the following verse of the Qur'an: Now if he [i.e. Muhammad] would have made up, ascribed some sayings to Us, We would indeed have seized him by the right hand, and then indeed would have cut his life-vein (al-Haqqah 69: 44-6).
Even a little reflection makes it obvious that the verse in question does not contradict the view we have expressed above. For, what the present verse says relates to a principle which God follows in dealing with true Prophets. Were any such Prophet to falsely claim something to be a revelation from God, he would instantly be seized by God's wrath. To argue to the contrary that all those who are not seized by God's wrath are necessarily genuine Prophets is simply a logical fallacy devoid of any justification. For the threat of instant Divine wrath embodied in this verse is applicable only to true Prophets, and not to impostors who, like other evil-doers, are granted a respite.
This can be well understood if we bear in mind the disciplinary rules laid down by different governments for their officials. It is obvious that those rules are not enforced in respect of ordinary citizens. Were the latter to lay any false claim to being a government official, he would be subjected to the normal rules of the criminal code relating to the conviction of those who are guilty of fraud rather than to the disciplinary rules meant for government officials. Under this analogy, an impostor who claims to be a Prophet, would be dealt with by God along with other evil-doers who commit evil, and who, as we know, are not necessarily punished immediately.
In any case, as we have pointed out earlier, the verses quoted above were not revealed so as to provide the criterion to judge the truth of anyone who lays claim to prophethood. This verse should not be considered to mean that if a celestial hand stretches forth to cut off the life-vein of a claimant to prophethood, such a person is an impostor; and if that does not happen, he is a genuine Prophet. Such a weird criterion would have been needed only if no other means were available to judge the genuineness of a claimant to prophethood. But as things stand, a Prophet is known by his character, by his work, and by the contents of his message. (Tafheemul Quran)


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The Power of Iman

Such is the nature of iman, or religious conviction, to which Islam has called. It has nothing to do with blind faith. Instead, it is involved with the conviction of the enlightened mind, the instructed reason which has considered and weighed the alternatives, pondered and reconsidered the evidence on all sides, researched and rediscovered and finally reached the certainty that God-may He be adored-is. Surely any man who considers the evidence with both heart and reason will be guided to religious conviction. Indeed, the more closely a man looks at the evidence, the longer he contemplates and the larger his scope of investigation becomes so that his awareness considers the whole of time, space, and all the eternally changing universes which they include, the more he will be convinced of his littleness vis-୶is the well patterned, well-ordered, and well-governed worlds, of the shortcoming of his knowledge to grasp them or to enter him into meaningful relation to them without the assistance of a power surpassing his senses and reason, the more capable he will become of defining his place within the total realm of being. All this is the precondition of his entering into relation with the universe and of his encompassing with his consciousness and vision the whole of being. This enlarged vision is the strength given by religious conviction alone.


Iman in God

Iman, or religious conviction, then, is a spiritual intuition by which man's consciousness is filled whenever it seeks the universe and realizes that the infinity of space and time is unreachable, and whenever it seeks to encompass all being within itself, realizing that every species in existence lives, changes, and dies in accordance with laws and patterns, and that all existence realizes the divine pattern and fulfills the cosmic laws of its Lord and Creator. To look for God-may He be adored-as immanent in all existence and in contact with it, rather than as absolutely separate from it, is a futile search leading to error rather than to truth, harming rather than blessing the investigator. Moreover, it does not add to man's knowledge. Writers and philosophers have often exhausted themselves seeking evidence for God's immanence without avail, while others have sought to grasp the essence of the Creator Himself-all to no purpose. Some writers and philosophers have acknowledged that the success of such searches are forever impossible.

But if our reason falls short of achieving such knowledge, that very shortcoming can be the source of a greater realization, namely, the certain religious knowledge of God: This certitude of ours that God exists, that He knows, provides for, and governs everything, that He is the Creator, the Forgiver unto Whom everything returns, can also convince us that it cannot ever be possible for us to know the nature of God Himself. If to this day we do not understand the nature of electricity, even though our very eyes have seen its effects, nor the nature of ether, though we grant that its waves or quanta carry sound and light, how vain it is not to accept the existence of God when we constantly behold His original creations and effects, or to go about denying Him until we can know His very nature! God is transcendentally beyond anything anyone may say in description of Him. As a matter of fact, those who try to describe God under one form or another are precisely those whose consciousness is incapable of rising to the level requisite for grasping that which lies beyond human life. It is they who should be accused of seeking to measure being and the Creator of being with their own relative standards gathered from their own little knowledge of being. On the other hand, those who have true knowledge and wisdom will pause at these divine statements: "And when they ask you concerning the Spirit, answer, `The Spirit belongs to God.' Given the little knowledge that you have, your minds must fall short of understanding its nature." [Qur'an, 17:85] The consciousness of such men becomes filled with certitude and conviction regarding the Creator of the Spirit, the Maker of the whole universe. They do not allow themselves to become involved in futile and vain controversy.


Short Quotes

Cleanliness is ...

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: 'Cleanliness is half of faith, and [saying] 'Praise be to God' fills the scale, and [saying] 'Glory be to God' and 'Praise be to God' fill up what is between the heavens and the earth, and prayer is a light, and charity is proof [of one's faith], and patience is a brightness, and the Qur'an is a proof for or against you. All men go out early in the morning and sell themselves, some setting themselves free and others destroying themselves.'(Narrated by Muslim)