From the very early part of the prophethood of Muḥammad [saws], there is a very amazing and remarkable story of love, commitment, dedication and devotion. In the very early part of the mission of the Prophet [saws] before the preaching was public, the people close to and around the Prophet [saws] started to embrace the faith and belief. The books of seerah mention the number of believers was now ranging from anywhere from 38-40 people. These are the first 40 believers and included many of his own close family members and close personal friends and close friends of those initial believers. It was a very close and small tightknit circle.
One of these first believers was al-Arqam b. Abi al-Arqam , who was hosting the Prophet [saws] and his companions within his own home so that they would have a place to pray and a place to learn and a place to congregate. This is the famous dar'l-Arqam (the house of Arqam).
Abu BakrAbu Bakr was a leader of his people even before Islam. He is a leader of this ummah of course, but he was a leader before Islam and was well-respected in the Makkan community. He was considered one of the seniors of the community. He was someone to whom people would take their problems. He was someone who would intermediate in conflicts and would step in and settle disputes. On top of that, it is said that Abu Bakr was a man of wealth and dignity and honor. The books on the life of Abu Bakr tell us that even before Islam he was well known not to consume alcohol, not to be publicly intoxicated, not to engage and indulge in fornication and adultery. He was a man of very high esteem and high honor and great dignity even before Islam. Regardless of the general culture of Makkah at that time, which had deteriorated very badly at that time, Abu Bakr was respected very widely because of this personal standard of dignity and honor and self-respect.
Abu Bakr was also a genealogist, a specialist of knowing people's lineages, the tribes and families and family trees. He knew people and where they came from. He was one of the first few people to accept Islam. He was the first adult male to accept Islam. According to the majority of scholars of sirah and hadith, the way they reconcile all of the narrations is that Abu Bakr may have been the fourth person to accept Islam after Khadijah, 'Ali, and Zayd b. al-Harithah . He was the first person to pray publicly by the side of the Prophet .
To give you a little bit of insight into their relationship with one another, there are narrations about the life of the Prophet and childhood of the Prophet that tell us that the Prophet and Abu Bakr had been best friends since the age of ten. There is a report that goes back all the way to the time when the Prophet was ten years old that talks about the friendship with Abu Bakr . At a minimum, they had been best friends for 30 years.
On top of that, he was a man of very great honor and dignity and respect. That is why when the Prophet presented the message to Abu Bakr, the narrations say that Abu Bakr asked the Prophet , “I haven't seen you coming and sitting with the people for the last day or so. What's going on? Is everything okay?” When you don't hear from a close friend for a day, then it is cause for concern. You immediately call them and drive over to their house and ask if everything is okay. Abu Bakr didn't see the Prophet for a day / day and a half, and he grew concerned about his best friend, so he went to the Prophet and said, “What is going on? Is everything okay?” The Prophet of Allāh told Abu Bakr about the message.
I'll tell you what Abu Bakr did when he heard the message through the words of the Prophet . The Prophet says in a narration that: “Any time I presented this religion, this deen, this īmān, this Islam to anyone, they always took a moment to think. They always hesitated for at least a little bit.” Even 'Ali was a child, but he told the Prophet , “I need to sleep on it.” The Prophet said, “Anyone I presented this religion to took a moment to reconsider things except for Abu Bakr . He immediately embraced the faith.”
One time Abu Bakr and 'Umar – and this happens amongst friends, colleagues, and coworkers – had a dispute over a matter. When it was brought to the Prophet , because of the overwhelming love that he had for Abu Bakr , he tells all of the sahabah that “I came and called all of you to Islam, and all of you initially said, 'You lie,' except for Abu Bakr. I told him the message and he said, 'You speak the truth.'” This is why the Prophet gave him the title of al-Siddiq.
This is a man of great love for the Prophet . This is a man who recognized the truth faster and quicker than anyone else. This was also a man who was willing to stand up for the truth before anyone else.
Spreading the Message of IslamThere is a beautiful story that when the number of Muslims reached about 40 and when the house of Arqam was popping at the seams and completely full of people, Abu Bakr told the Prophet of Allāh , “The time has come that we go and make a public appearance. It is time, O Messenger of Allāh.” The Prophet didn't prohibit him and didn't forbid it and didn't say “no,” otherwise it would have been a command. The Prophet of Allāh told Abu Bakr , “I think we should be a little bit more cautious.” Abu Bakr said, “No, O Messenger of Allāh. I feel confident.” He said, “Let's go.”
These forty believers are a very small minority in a big city. They march into the Haram, and the narration says that to try to put themselves in a position of safety and security, they all scattered about in the Haram and looked for a few other members of their tribe or their family and went and stood next to them. Why? Because there was so much tribal loyalty and affiliation at that time that even if they disagreed with what you were doing or saying, if someone from another tribe tried to harm or hurt you, your tribespeople would say, “He is ours. We'll take care of him. If he needs to be slapped around, we will do the slapping, and you don't touch him. He is our family member.” There was enough tribal pride. It was a strategic move.
They scattered about and found some people of their tribe and family even if they weren't believers to just be somewhat protected because these were very overwhelming odds.
The Prophet of Allāh sat down as well. Abu Bakr was the first public spokesperson. We talk about PR and wanting to make a statement in the media and a spokesperson. The first spokesperson for Islam was Abu Bakr . The first spokesperson on behalf of the Prophet and the first public endorsement the Prophet received was from Abu Bakr . He stood up and presented the message to them.
The narrations tell us that the people attacked and jumped Abu Bakr viciously. A few dozen other sahabah who were scattered around in the Haram came under attack. Everybody was being beaten, but no one was beaten worse than Abu Bakr . One of the leaders of Quraysh, 'Utbah b. Rabi'ah, took off his shoes and when Abu Bakr was knocked down, he sat on his chest and started to pound him on the face with his shoes. The narration was specific and said that he was targeting his nose. It broke his nose so badly and severely that the whole face of Abu Bakr was covered in blood. He was disfigured and people couldn't even recognize him until finally the family of Abu Bakr realized what was going on.
They stepped in and dispersed the mob and carried him home. Everybody was certain that he was going to die. The family of Abu Bakr, the majority of which were non-believers, swore that if he dies, they would kill 'Utbah b. Rabi'ah in retribution. The case was that severe and his condition was so bad.
When he was taken home, it is said that when his mother and family members saw him, they started to uncontrollably cry. The narration says that he was unresponsive for a day. Allāh knows best. It might have even been a coma. His family members gathered around him and kept trying to talk to him and resuscitate and revive him somehow until finally Abu Bakr opened his eyes after a day.
Everyone gathered around, and the first words out of the mouth of Abu Bakr were, “What happened to the Prophet ?” The last thing he remembered was that he was speaking in front of people and the Prophet was sitting there and then a mob broke out and there was pandemonium. The last thing he saw was the Prophet sitting in the middle of a riot. He didn't know what happened to the Prophet . The first thing he asked was, “What happened to the Prophet ?”
His father, Abu Quhafah, who was blind and the other family members were so disgusted that they started to curse him and they walked out. They said, “This man is helpless! It is pointless with him!” Before they left, they told his mother, who was called Umm'l-khayr, “Look after him, feed him.” They gave her advice on how to bring him back to good health.
When the mother came back inside and tried to treat him, he said, “What happened to the Prophet ?” She said, “I don't know, son.” He said, “Go to Umm'l-Jameel (who was the sister of 'Umar b. al-Khattab and a believer who was hiding her Islam) and ask her.” It is a very lengthy narration, but she goes there and she asks Umm'l-Jameel, who has to maintain her secrecy, and says, “I don't know what you are talking about.” She says, “Can you at least come see my son? He is dying.”
She goes to see Abu Bakr and imagine what his condition must have been. These were people who were used to war and used to sword fighting and brutality. When she saw Abu Bakr, she shrieked. Imagine what his face was like! She shrieked when she saw him and panicked. Finally, Abu Bakr says, “What happened to the Prophet ?” She said, “He is safe and he is okay.” Abu Bakr took an oath. Imagine the physical condition he is in. He took an oath and said, “I swear by Allāh, I will not eat anything, I will not drink a sip of water until I am able to lay my eyes on the Prophet and he is okay.” His mother started to cry and said, “Son, why do you do this?” Eventually realizing he wasn't going to budge, Umm'l-Jameel and his mother Umm'l-Khayr literally carry Abu Bakr at night to the house of Arqam.
When Abu Bakr walks through the door, the Prophet of Allāh sees Abu Bakr . What you would normally expect the story to say is Abu Bakr hugged the Prophet and kissed him and cried on his shoulder. The Prophet ran to the door and hugged Abu Bakr and held him and carried him and kissed him on his head. The narration said that the Prophet cried on Abu Bakr's shoulder. Abu Bakr told the Prophet , “I would give up my father and my mother for you, O Messenger of Allāh. I don't care what they have done to my face as long as you are okay.”
In Light of Current EventsThis is a story of true love and of compassion and of respect and of honor and of īmān above everything else. I bring this story up and wanted to talk about this because of what has transpired over the last week or so. This is not something that is completely new to us, but nevertheless this is something that we have to understand. We must understand not just through emotional rhetoric and not through a PR statement and not through a photo-op but this is something we have to understand in the light of the Book of Allāh and the life of the Prophet .
The Messenger of Allāh is a pillar of our faith. We believe in him. This is something very profound! He means a whole lot to us and is very important to us, and his disrespect and him being slandered and disrespected and when people speak about him inappropriately, it is something very hurtful to us. If it was not and if we could sit there and watch a video being violent and disrespectful towards the Messenger of God and it wouldn't churn our stomach and wouldn't make us upset and we wouldn't have to stop it, then we have a problem in our īmān.
I had heard about the video, but because I know myself, I can't read that material and can't watch it because I feel like I am physically incapable of doing so. It is too much to bear. One of my students insisted and started to play it and in twenty seconds, I had to get up and leave the room; I couldn't take it. If we weren't offended or insulted by it, then we have a problem in our own īmān. There is no doubt about that fact. As you have probably heard and as it has probably been stated numerous times, but it is important that it is stated here from the minbar on the day of Jumu'ah so that we all understand and internalize this, we also have to understand how to react and how to respond and how to deal with these emotions.
I'm going to present three basic things to you.
Character and Behavior of the ProphetThe first thing I would like to present to you is the character and behavior of the Prophet himself. On Twitter and Facebook I see all the young people interacting “what would Muḥammad do.” Let's not just have a hashtag. Let's not say it because it is popular and it's cool. What would the Prophet of Allāh do? What did he do?
I will first talk about the outlook of the Prophet when he looked at the world, which included his lovers and haters. It included his fans, believers, and followers, but it also included the people who despised him, hated him, and worked against him. How did he view the world? What was the lens of the Prophet ?
There is a narration that is in both Bukhāri and Muslim where Abu Hurayrah says, “I heard the Messenger of Allāh saying, 'My example and the example of all of humanity [he didn't say believers], our relationship and our interaction is a man standing in front of a burning fire. When the fire grew a little and became bigger, and then the little insects [like moths coming to a flame – there are insects and creatures that are attracted to the fire and sometimes they don't realize, to their own detriment, and keep coming closer and closer to the fire until they fall in it and burn] are starting to flock and fly towards the flame. The man starts to shoo the bugs and flies away, trying to scatter them away and fend them off from the fire, but these creatures are overwhelming this man and there are too many and just one man running around trying to catch all of them and stop all of them from falling into the fire. They themselves are going forward and falling headfirst into this fire and burning themselves. [Then the Prophet turns the example onto us] I am trying to grab ahold of y'all, O mankind, from behind you. [Meaning: I'm so overwhelmed that you are actually getting past me, and I'm not able to catch you before you get to me. You are passing me and I'm reaching back trying to grab ahold of your clothes from behind so that I can pull you back from the fire.] But you keep going headfirst and falling into the fire.'”
I want you to sense the desperation in this example and analogy. This isn't something that someone comes up with very casually. This is an expression of what somebody feels in his heart. This is pain and anguish. This is torture to live life in this way. That is why it is no surprise that the Prophet of Allāh goes to lay down in his bed after serving humanity and preaching to humanity and saving humanity all day long and he is barely able to lay down and close his eyes for a moment and then says, “I have to go.” He stands up and spreads his hands before Allāh and cries all night for humanity's sake.
This is the outlook of the Messenger of Allāh on the world that he lives in. This includes the people who hate him and who speak ill of him. We talk about what would the Prophet do in a situation where he is being wronged and slandered.
There is another narration mentioned by a few different books of hadith. It is narrated in the Mustadrak of Hakim and the Sahih of Ibn Hibban and by al-Tabarani in his collection of hadith. It is a very lengthy story. The Prophet had gone to Zayd b. Su'na, who was a Jewish businessman, to buy something from him. The Prophet did not have the payment ready at that time, so he fixed a payment date with him. The man came back before the payment due date. The narration says the Prophet is sitting with his companions. He literally tears through the congregation. Imagine somebody who is walking straight through and shoving people aside angrily. He walks right up to the Prophet , and the narration says he literally grabs his clothes. If somebody did that to us, what would we do? We would tackle him.
He grabs the Prophet of Allāh . Imagine that! He says, “Where is my money? You Banu Hashim, you people are notorious for not paying people back on time. Pay up! I don't trust you!” subḥānAllāh! The Prophet of Allāh is letting everyone cool down and relax. 'Umar draws his sword and says, “Give me the word, O Messenger, and I'll finish him right here where he stands. You speak to my prophet and my messenger like that?!”
The Prophet of Allāh says, “Sheath your sword, ya 'Umar.” He turns his attention to 'Umar b. al-Khattab and says, “'Umar, me and him didn't need someone to jump into the situation ready to spill blood. That's not what we need. We needed something else. You should have told me that I should pay this man back properly. And you should have told him to properly ask for his money [like scheduling an appointment and saying, “Brother can you please pay me because I have some bills to take care of and I would really appreciate it.”] You should have advised me to pay properly and you should have advised him to ask properly and not jump in the middle and say you are going to finish him.” Then the Prophet said to 'Umar, “And give him his right back and then on top of that, from yourself, I want you to give him an extra gift because you threatened him and treated him badly. How dare you speak to somebody like that! I want you to make it up to him and do something nice for him. You don't treat people that way!”
That is what the Prophet did. That is his standard. That's number one. None of the emotional rhetoric. I know that here are two sentiments amongst the ummah. I know that one sentiment is: “We have to watch ourselves and think this through and make sure what type of a political statement it makes. There is PR and media.” Then there is another sentiment of the ummah: “We are tired of all this and don't want to do any more photo-ops. We are tired of appeasing people and the truth is the truth. We need to do what is right.”
Both sentiments are human reactions, but both sentiments need to turn back and look at the life of the Prophet . Allāh said, “Take what the Messenger gave you and leave what he told you to leave.” We need to look at the Prophet for guidance. We want to defend him, so defend him by means of his guidance and his teachings.
That is the first thing I wanted to present. This is something consistent throughout the life of the Prophet . The narrations go on endlessly from the du‘ā’ that the Prophet made after Ta'if when he was abused and beaten at Ta'if and bled at Ta'if. The du‘ā’ he made for those people afterwards was for guidance. What did the Prophet do at the conquest of Makkah? He was compassionate, merciful and forgiving towards these people. This is a consistent thing throughout the teachings of the Prophet .
IgnoranceThe second thing is that there will always be ignorant people on the face of this earth. This is a reality of life. Stupid is as stupid does. There were ignorant people at the time of the Prophet who would say, “Yes, this is the truth, but I still want to oppose it.” There is no reasoning with that man. That is why the Qur'an and the precedent of the Messenger of Allāh even give us recourse in that matter. You will be addressed by ignorant people and just say, “I am not going to stoop to your level, sir!” It is not showing respect to that person but is respecting yourself. “I will go about my business, but I will not engage in this nonsense and this ignorance. I don't have time for this nonsense.”
This is the second thing we need to understand.
Telling People about the ProphetThis will be my concluding point. How do we fix this issue and how do we solve this problem? There has to be a more tangible solution. We need to go out there and tell people about who the Prophet is. We need to have written material, online material, public forums, symposiums, campaigns. We need to inform humanity about who Muḥammad was and what he means to us. We need to give them the truth about the Prophet .
Before we take that step – and this is the part that might sting a little and will be a bitter pill to swallow, and I apologize for anyone I offend. I'm talking to myself – I cannot go and cannot speak to humanity about who the Prophet unless I know what I'm talking about first. What do we know about the Prophet ? It's not for me to ask you or for you to test me. Ask yourself! Do you really know about the Prophet ? Do you really know his life? Could you properly educate people about who the Prophet is? Could you answer the questions that people would have about the Prophet ? Could you?
I need to ask myself and go look in the mirror, and it isn't going to be fun. A self-assessment never is, but it is important. If the answer comes back as it does to me, “no, I don't,” then it is about time I got a little serious about this. It is about time that I stop jumping and screaming when an incident occurred and actually dedicate my life to following the example and knowing who the Prophet is.
It is very important! There are tons of resources. The excuses in our times are gone! We have scholars in your midst. Sit and learn from them. If you want a book, there are books. If you want to read online, it is online. A humble little effort that we started was taking into consideration the lowest common denominator: someone who is very busy and doesn't have a lot of time or resources at all. I started conducting a weekly seerah class, and we record the audio and put it online for free. You can sign up so that it automatically downloads to your phone. You can listen to it while you drive. An hour a week – that's it, but you know who the Prophet is and what he stands for.
It is very important that we take this step to educate ourselves and our families and our communities until we become an educated community. Then, we most definitely have to make noise. But then we make the right type of noise. We don't just go out there and yell and scream for the sake of yelling and screaming.
Everywhere you turn, you see a Muslim talking about who the Prophet is. Everywhere you look, you see a Muslim exemplifying the character of the Prophet . Everywhere you look, you see a Muslim starting a project that brings to fruition and materializes one of the visions or instructions or guidance of the Prophet . We better humanity, society, and the world we live in by means of the Prophet . This is a practical plan and course of action.
May Allāh grant us the proper understanding of who the Prophet is and allow us to serve the deen properly.
Khutbah by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda | Transcribed by Sameera
Excerpts from the transcript of Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda's khutbah "Defending the Honor of the Prophet Muḥammad (salallahu 'alayhi wa sallam)." The transcript is slightly modified for the sake of readability and clarity.
From Muslim matters. Here Jazakallah, Amathullah.
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