Last night, I was almost brought to tears from a discussion I had with a brother of mine about the matters of Deen, the example of the Prophet (SAW), and how important it is for us to remember Allah and His Messenger (SAW) in everything we do. He said one thing that broke it all down for me, and this is the advice that changed my life completely, Alhamdulillah. He said:
“Ask yourself, what would the Prophet (SAW) do or advise?”
I’ve heard this before. I’ve even advised others with these same words. I’ve thought that all this time, I’ve been trying to apply it to my life (and perhaps I have to some degree), but for some reason, it hit me harder this time than it ever has before. My brother reminded me that the nature of the Prophet (SAW) is so extraordinary that no one has or ever will amount to what he was like, but that it’s on us to try our best to be like him and learn from him. Many today will make excuses that his ways and his nature wouldn’t work in today’s world and society because things are different, but I believe that is because they are afraid of truly living by his example in fear of what others will think. I’ll be honest, often, that has held me back as well, whether I recognized it or not.
We may think to ourselves that using common sense, we can figure out the answers to how we should act. But the problem with that is that we are biased by our emotions, our fears, our desires, and the opinions and expectations of others.
When one truly submits to and believes in Allah, “common sense” becomes that which coincides with the teachings of Islam. Our opinions and things like that should be established based off of the understanding of the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah, and should not be based off of our own desires, thoughts, or anything of that sort. That doesn’t mean that we are robots that blindly follow our faith. We know that Allah does not obligate us in religion (Quran 2:256), but that is because there is no sense of obligation when one truly submits to Him, believes in Him, and trust Him unconditionally. We know clearly that Allah has said in the Quran:
“It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger (SAW) have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger (SAW), he has indeed strayed into a plain error.” – Quran (33:36)
With that said, we recognize that there are certain things that Allah and His Messenger (SAW) have commanded that we must obey, without question.
Then, there is the example of the Prophet (SAW). His example is one that, I can say from experience, is far better for us to follow than the example of anyone else. Every time that I have done something because I knew it was what he (SAW) would do, even if I were uncomfortable or hesitant of it, I would see myself being successful, Alhamdulillah. Every time I would not follow his example out of fear, be it of failure or of being ridiculed, or for any other reason, I would find myself struggling even more than I did before trying to deal with situation I was in. The Prophet (SAW) is truly the greatest example, and that is known across the globe, throughout all of history, amongst Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
“…I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and his own mission. These, and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every trouble.” – Mahatma K. Ghandi, YOUNG INDIA, 1924
But, Times Have Changed…
“And We have not sent you [O Muhammad (SAW)] except as a giver of glad tidings and a warner to all mankind, but most of men know not.” – Quran (34:28)
This is just one of the many examples in the Quran that express the Prophet (SAW) being sent for all of mankind, be it as a warner, a messenger, and example, and more. That means, he was sent for those before us, after us, and during our time. It is a truth that we should learn to accept, because only at that point can we truly say that we have submitted to the command of Allah.
Society has changed, people have changed, and practically everything else has changed. But, one thing that we know has not changed is the Quran and the fact that the Prophet (SAW) is our greatest example. He was a man who was as strong as a lion, with the heart of a bird, in that he would always remain calm, and it would be rare to see him get upset despite the hardships, ridicule, insults, torture, and more that he got from those who opposed him. But, when he needed to be firm and strong, he would be so, within the bounds of Islam, wisdom, and justice. In the world we live in today, it’s thought that the strongest man is the one who can defeat the other with harshness, and sometimes, deception. But, the most victorious and successful of men in history was the Prophet (SAW); harshness and deception was just not in his nature. So, success is clearly in following the Prophet (SAW)’s example, by being kind, understanding, patient, and wise. Remember to be confident in his ways, as this will give you the motivation, conviction, and courage to continue on the path of Allah, insha Allah.
The Greatest Example, The Greatest Advice
We, as Muslims, and even non-Muslims, have been blessed to have an example like that of the Prophet (SAW) in our history. Make an effort to always ask yourself, “What would the Prophet (SAW) do or advise?” when you are about to act on something, be it based on emotion, a major decision, or anything else. Following his example is a sure way to success, and even if others around you may become displeased, remember that Allah has commanded that we follow the example of the Prophet (SAW) in order to be successful. I will end this post with a simple reminder from the Prophet (SAW) that is incredible in giving us what we need to survive and be happy in this life and the Hereafter. But, remember, that its acceptance requires that we live up to the name Muslim by truly submitting to the will of Allah.
It has been narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas (RA) that the Messenger of Allah (S) said: “One who keeps his hopes solely upon Allah, He will be sufficient for that person in all affairs (of his life); one who keeps his hopes on the material world, Allah will leave him (with the world); one who wishes to reach his goals through disobeying Allah will be the furthest away from that which he wishes (to achieve) and will be the closest to difficulties; one who seeks to please the people through the disobedience of Allah, He will change the pleasure (of the people) towards him to be his disgrace (amongst the people).
One who seeks to please the people while earning the displeasure of Allah, Allah will appoint those people to be above him (to rule him); one who seeks to please Allah while making others displeased with him (through not obeying them), Allah will be sufficient for him from the evil of the people; one who acts properly with that which is between him and Allah, Allah will make sufficient that which is between him and the people; one who makes right that which he performs in secret, Allah will correct that which he performs in the open. Allah will make sufficient the affair of the one who works for his next life in all of his affairs of this world.”