Love and Reverence for the Prophet- Part 1

12 December, 2016
Q In surah Al-hujurat, Muslims were instructed as follows: Raise not your voice above the voice of prophet Muhammad. What are the reason for this instruction to which historical group was first addressed?


Asalamu Alaikum Salma,

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your question. Please find part one of the answer to your question below.  The second and final part is at this link.

There is a natural tendency, when we speak of a person’s multiple roles, to think in terms of tension. Or, in those moments when we display either a positive or pragmatic disposition, balance between competing pulls. We think of the parent/child, the employer/employee, the teacher/student all as disjointed functions with competing dynamics.

There is nothing wrong per se with this outlook; it probably reflects the lived experience of most of us, and may be useful from a teaching or learning perspective when we try to understand how to lead a good life. But it does, on a deeper level, miss on the integrity of the individual human being and the fact that he or she is all of these things simultaneously.

There is a significant difference between thinking of each of these roles, dynamics, functions, or demands as an attribute of the person and thinking of each of them as an aspect of the person or, worse still, a separate person entirely.

These perspectives carry over into theology and spirituality when we speak of God. God has given us His beautiful names as attributes that are simultaneously descriptive of God.

Knowledge of God arises from understanding the harmony (as opposed to tension or even balance) of these attributes subsisting in the person of God. We read:

{Indeed He is the Mighty, the Merciful.} (Ad-Dukhan 44:42)

It is not that He is mighty and merciful, or that He is mighty but merciful, or that He requires any other conjunction between these two attributes. He simply is the Mighty, the Merciful, in complete harmony and with zero tension.

This is invariably the language employed by the Quran and it is linguistically what would be required to present multiple attributes simultaneously and harmoniously descriptive of one person.

So it is with the Prophet (peace be upon him-PBUH). Too often we make the mistake of trying to interpret some event or reality related to the life of Prophet Muhammad without a prior appreciation of his role and the appropriate description of his person.

He was, in fact, an extraordinary ordinary person. He was a divinely inspired human being in charge of guiding all of humanity, leading those that followed him out of the darkness, and building a community and a civilization that would last until this Earth is no more.

He was a living person–with needs, and wants, and weaknesses–who was nonetheless a teacher and an example of human perfection. He is someone who has, as the Quran describes:

{a higher claim on the believers than they have on their own selves.} (Al-Ahzab 33:6)

And he was all of that simultaneously, without contradiction or tension. Is it any wonder that God placed for him in the hearts of those that came to know him love and reverence together?

One of his companions described him as:

The most generous in giving, most forbearing, softest by nature, the easiest to get along with, and most committed to truth and integrity. When one would first meet him, one would be in awe of him; and those who came to know him, came to love him. (At-Tirmidhi)

In the sixth year after Hijrah, the Prophet (PBUH) entered into a treaty with Quraish (the people of Makkah, who the believers had fled in search of religious freedom).

Leading up to the treaty, Quraish had sent multiple emissaries to the Muslim camp to get different people’s perspectives on the state of the Muslims, their intent, their readiness for war, etc.

One such emissary was Urwa ibn Masud, a well-traveled man with considerable experience. When he returned to report on the Muslims, he simply told the Quraish:

I have visited Caesar in his court and Khusraw in his palace. I have never met a people who love their leader the way the followers of Muhammad do. (Abu Al-Qasim Al-Suhaili, Al-Rawd Al-Anif, vol. 4, p. 47)

Together with this love, existing with it simultaneously, harmoniously, and quite naturally was a deep seated, essential reverence for Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Without such reverence the message would not be complete and the mission of the Prophet would have been impossible.

Reverence for the messenger is in fact one of the keys to understanding. Messengers are chosen: the role is not one for which one prepares or auditions. Messengers are nurtured by God and prepared through life experience, trials of significant hardship, and manifest divine intervention for the heavy burden that they would have to bear.

It cannot be otherwise for someone who will serve as the living connection between the world of appearance and the world of reality. And it cannot be otherwise for someone who will bear the rejection, enmity, and injury of people, while seeking–with love and compassion–to save them from their own injustice.

And no one that recognizes these objective realities could fail to have the deepest reverence for such a person.

Such a person is no longer “just” a human being; he is, in fact, the human being par excellence. Humility before Truth generates reverence for the embodiment of Truth. And the reverence becomes a lens that enables adequate vision of Truth.

I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.

Walaikum Asalam.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Following the Prophet: Our Deen is Full of Love

Were Prophets and Companions Infallible?

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): A Model of Change

Prophet Muhammad’s Assertiveness

The Righteous Caliphs: Why Follow?