Today is 12th Rabi ul Awwal, the birthday of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Once again, a large number of muslims are celebrating his birthday. Many countries have announced a holiday to honour this day. Seminars, conferences and processions will be held, food will be cooked and distributed, and even cakes will be cut, to celebrate the birth of our Beloved Prophet (SAW).
In the eyes of the enthusiasts and celebrators, those who do not celebrate this auspicious day are committing quite a sin; while on the other hand, Saudi clerics have issued a “fatwa” claiming that celebrating the Prophet’s birthday is “haram!!” Not surprisingly, the issuing of such fatwas, playing with such strong words as “haram” and “halal,” and condemning those with a slightly different point of view to hell is not a matter of great unease or discomfort for us.
Yet, during all this over-enthusiasm and birthday preperations on the one hand, and issuing of fatwas on the other, do we ever stop and consider HIM (SAW) who we are celebrating or fighting over: the Prophet of Mercy, not just for muslims but for the entire mankind. The Quran says,
“We sent thee (Muhammad) as a mercy upon the worlds.”
Where exactly is this concept of mercy when we are forever ready to send each other, as well as the “non-believers,” to “hell” in his name?
We all remember the stories we read, from the Prophet’s life, in our course books, which told us about the tolerance and compassion practiced by him, how he forgave the worst of his enemies and the enemies of Islam. There was the story of the woman who threw garbage on him every day, and one day when she didn’t show up, the Prophet visited her, and seeing that she was sick, looked after her, as a result of which she accepted Islam. Then there was the story of the conquest of Makkah, when the Prophet forgave each and everyone of the Quraish, no matter how deeply they had wronged or hurt him. Were these just stories, or were we actually supposed to learn something from them?
According to the great poet-philosopher Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the spititual father of Pakistan, the Muslim Community is bound through the love of the Holy Prophet SAW. It is this love that works as a binding force between muslims and creates the collective ego, soul or consciousness known as the Muslim Community or the Muslim Nation. Each Muslim’s heart is lit by this love, it is the one thing which is common between us. Iqbal says in Rumuz e Bekhudi (Mysteries of Selflessness):
He … Made of Apostleship a magic ring
To draw around us ; the Community
A circle is, whose great circumference
Centers on Mecca’s valley; and by force
And virtue of that same relationship
Stands our Community unshakable,
Tidings of mercy to the world entire…
…The Prophet, power and strength of soul and heart,
Becometh more beloved than God Himself.
His book is reinforcement to the hearts
Of all believers; through his wisdom flows
The lifeblood of the whole Community…
… In God the Individual, in him
Lives the Community, … his Apostleship
Brought concord to our purpose and our goal.
A common aim shared by the multitude
Is unity which when it is mature,
Forms the Community; that may live
Only by virtue of the single bond.
A nation bound by such love should be full of mercy, compassion and empathy, for each other, as well as for the rest of the world. If we claim to possess such love for our Prophet, our actions should speak louder than our words. We accuse non muslims of blasphemy every once in a while, we are protesting over cartoons and movies some sick minded individuals make about our Prophet, yet we are the ones committing blasphemy every day, by not practically following his example and showing to the world who Muhammad (SAW) really was. We judge in his name, we are ready to kill in his name; yet we are not willing to follow the message he left for us. If we spend the same amount of time trying to adopt the Prophet’s Sunnah – of tolerance and mercy -which we spend putting together a hate speech in his name, we might be doing more justice to this immense love we claim to possess and are eager to celebrate. We are ready to die for him, will we ever be ready to create a new, better world in his name?
قوت عشق سے ہر پست کو بالا کر دے
دہر میں اسم محمد سے اجالا کر دے
Raise through Love all lowly and humble to greatness,
Enlighten the world with Muhammad’s name!
If we, the descendants of Ibn Sina ( Avicenna), Ibn Al Haitham, Al Kindi, Al Razi, Ibn Rushd, Ibn Farnas, Maryam Astolabi, want to reclaim our lost glory, we must once again tread the lost path, the only path to our salvation, which lies in the Sunnah of the Prophet of Mercy:
کی محمد سے وفا تو نے تو هم تیرے ہیں
یہ جہاں چیز ہے کیا لوح و قلم تیرے ہیں
(To My Muhammad be true, and you shall conquer Me,
This world is nothing, you shall command your Destiny!)