The Qur’an says: To Allah belong the most beautiful names. [7:180] In a sahih hadith we read: ‘Allah is beautiful and loves beauty.’1 Now these aren’t statements about feelings, impressions or sentimentality, they’re statements about the very nature of the Divine Reality! Imam al-Munawi comments upon Allah’s beauty (jamal): ‘He is the possessor of absolute and perfect Beauty. From this Beauty, every manifestation of beauty that exists in creation emanates. His Essence (dhat) is beautiful; His Attributes (sifat) are beautiful; and His Acts (af‘al) are beautiful. If His Face were not veiled by light (nur), the majestic splendour of His Face would annihilate creation as far as it extends.’2
A more recent commentator had this to say about the above hadith: ‘Allah, exalted is He, is beautiful in regards His Essence, Names, Attributes and Acts; and He loves both outer and inner beauty. [He loves] outer beauty, like cleanliness of one’s body, clothes and home; and their like. As for inward beauty, it is beautification of character with excellence. This is why one of the prayers of the Prophet ﷺ would be: “O Allah, guide me to having beautiful conduct and character; for none can guide me to beautifying them except You. And avert from me bad conduct and character; none can avert them from me save You.”3 And Allah knows best.’4
Religion, then, is the recognition of such beauty, as well as the quest to actualise it in our lives and society at large.
For believers, to imitate the Prophet ﷺ is to imitate beauty. Emulating the example of the Prophet ﷺ – known in religious parlance as his Sunnah (lit. “way”) – must be at the core of every believer’s life. The Qur’an states: You have in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful example. [33:21]
The love, respect, attachment and admiration Muslims have for the Prophet ﷺ (from which imitation of him is arises) is not just an impressive fact of history, it is a central part of faith itself. He was a man who experienced life in an exceptional range. Not only was he a shepherd, merchant, orphan and exile, he was also a leader, law-giver, statesman and soldier. He was also a husband, a father who was bereaved many times over, a friend, a companion, and a widower. And in all these roles he was an exemplar. His wife, the lady Aishah, was once asked as to what he was like. She responded with these words: kana khuluquhu’l-qur’an – ‘His character was that of the Qur’an.’5 So her intimate knowledge of the Prophet’s life and character ﷺ led her to conclude he was the living embodiment of the Revelation – he was, figuratively speaking, the ‘walking’ Qur’an.
For Muslims, therefore, the Prophet’s Sunnah represents the very perfection of human conduct and being. It is to such beauty – and not to the mediocrity or ugliness offered by the norms of today’s dominant culture – that believers must fix their gaze.
In the botanical world there are certain plants which need to be grown on a trellis or a support of some kind, if they are to grow to their full potential. Otherwise they tend to sprawl across the ground, without direction, their leaves devoured by snails and slugs, their purpose unfulfilled.
In a similar way, man is a ‘climber’ too, and we need not look very far for examples of the human inability to grow or to flower without a firm support or framework. In this sense the Prophet’s Sunnah, Gai Eaton wrote, ‘provides not only a framework but also, as it were, a network of channels into which a believer’s will enters and through which it flows smoothly, both guided and guarded. It is not his way, the Muslim’s way, to cut new channels for his volatile life through the recalcitrant materials of the world against the grain of things. At first sight one might expect this to produce a tedious uniformity. All the evidence suggests that it does nothing of the kind; anyone who has had contact with good and pious Muslims will know that though they live within a shared pattern of belief and behaviour, they are often more sharply differentiated one from another than are profane people, their characters stronger, their individu-alities more clearly delineated. They have modeled themselves upon a transcendent norm of inexhaustible richness, whereas profane people take as their model the fashions of the time. To put it another way: the great virtues – and it is the Prophet’s virtues that the believer strives to imitate – can it seems be expressed through human nature in countless different ways, whereas worldly fashion induces uniformity.’6
The Sunnah, however, insists that a certain sense of haybah, or “dignity” of character, is essential to make even the most valuable manners respected and respectable. The belief that the Sunnah can be practiced without the least change in how we do things “on the streets” or “in de hood” is more ego than Islam. The Sunnah comes to elevate and dignify. Indeed, the greatest achievement of the ego is to make the practice of the Sunnah look ugly or undignified. For nothing is more troublesome than when the ego seeks to wear the robe of the Sunnah.
At the end of the day, those who drag the Sunnah down to their own crass, unrefined levels need ask only this: How long will I delay embracing the Sunnah’s inner beauty?
By the same token, to follow the Sunnah out of anger, protest, resentment or identity politics, darkens and deforms it and causes people to flee from Islam. Following it out of love for Allah’s Beloved ﷺ, intuiting its beauty and wisdom, is a radiant light and conclusive proof.
At the end of the day, those for whom the Sunnah is little more than a tool with which to vent their political angst and frustrations need ask only this: How long will I delay embracing the Sunnah’s inner beauty?
Likewise, to limit the Sunnah to no more than a few outward expressions of piety and external modes of behaviour makes it look superficial, unworthy and uninviting. The consequence of such shallow piety and religious reductionism: the Prophet’s beauty is veiled behind his Sunnah. Just to be clear. Emulating and imitating the Prophet ﷺ in his comings and goings, and in his manners and modes of behaving, is the hallmark of a true believer; of a lover, even. But outward emulation is of little worth unless it both reflects and engenders a profound inward conformity.
At day’s end, those fixated upon just the external aspects of the Sunnah need ask only this: How long will I delay embracing the Sunnah’s inner wisdoms and beauty?
The Sunnah, let’s not forget, is the middle way; and strict compliance with the Sunnah is what faith enjoins so as to avoid the fringes of deviancy. But strictness driven by the ego’s diktats is extremism; strictness that is born of the Spirit is pure submission. In fact, one of the great virtues of the Prophet ﷺ was his perfect sense of balance and proportion; of being able to put things in their right priority, correct order and proper perspective. The closer we contour the Sunnah, the closer we are to such balance.
At the end of the day, those who obscure the lines between the Spirit’s rigour and the ego’s; making them cold, harsh and hostile, need only ask this: How long will I ignore the Sunnah’s inner beauty.
As for those who consider the details of the Sunnah to be trivial and insignificant, for which we need to apologise or to exorcise from Islam; and if not, then from the public sphere, they either have a poor grasp of the realities of faith, or else are uninterested in the prophetic light. For his beauty ﷺ is in the detail, not just the broad strokes. We seek refuge in Allah from ugliness; and ask that He make us people of beauty.
1. Muslim, no.147.
2. Fayd al-Qadir Sharh al-Jami‘ al-Saghir (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifah, n.d.), 2:224.
3. Muslim, no.771.
4. Al-Sa‘di, Bahjat al-Qulub al-Abrar (Cairo: Dar al-Furqan, 2004), 203
5. Muslim, no.746.
6. Islam and the Destiny of Man (Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 1997), 201.
In his catalogue of hadith forgeries, Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari cites a spurious report alleging that Allah informed His beloved Prophet, peace be upon him: ‘Were it not for you, I would not have created the universe (law laka lama khalaqtu’l-aflaka).’1
But having cited the hadith, al-Qari says that although the hadith is forged (mawdu‘), ‘its meaning is sound.’2 This end assertion, that the hadith has a sound meaning, has raised considerable objection from some people; anger, even! For they feel this claim amounts to exaggeration – ghuluw, to use the Quranic language – about the Prophet, peace be upon him. And surely, as some have been quick to point out, it contradicts the Quranic verse which proclaims in no uncertain terms: ‘I created jinn and men only that they may worship Me.’ [51:56] The reason behind creating creation, they highlight, is worship; not the Prophet!
Yet a browse through traditional scholarly attitudes reveals al-Qari’s claim to be fairly normative. That is, classical Islamic scholarship seems to have been comfortable with this assertion. For instance, Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali reverently said about the Prophet: ‘he is the ultimate purpose behind creating the human race: its essence (‘aynuhu), its quintessence (khulasatuhu) and its very epitome (wasita ‘aqdihi).’3 Another even earlier Hanbali jurist, the highly critical Ibn al-Jawzi, stated: ‘The saints and the righteous are the very purpose of creation (al-awliya wa’l-salihun hum al-maqsud min al-kawn).’4 Of course, it hardly needs stating that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, is at the very head of such a purpose.
Yet for those who are resistant to the law laka – “were it not for you” – notion, or are over sensitive to what counts for exaggeration about the Prophet, peace be upon him, such quotations will have done little to abate their incredulity. The Arabs say: idha ‘arafa sabab, batala ‘ajab – “If the reason is appreciated, the astonishment departs.” Let me close this blog, therefore, with Ibn Taymiyyah’s analysis of the hadith, in the hope of lifting from such hearts their “disbelief”:
‘The excellence of our Prophet over the Angels was demonstrated on the Night of the Ascension (laylat al-mi‘raj) when he reached a station where he heard the “scratching of the pens.” He was now at a station higher than even that of the Angels. Now Allah manifests some of His tremendous power and astounding wisdom through righteous humans – via prophets and saints – in ways He does not do even via Angels. For He combined in the former, qualities that are dispersed throughout the other types of creation. So Allah created man’s physical body from the earth, whereas his spirit (ruh) was created from the Highest Assembly of Angels. This is why it has been said: “Man is a microcosm, but contains the macrocosm.”
‘Now Muhammad, peace be upon him, is the master of humanity, the best of creation and the noblest of them in Allah’s sight. Which is why it is said: “Allah created the universe because of him.” Or “But for him, He would not have created the Throne, Footstool, the heavens, the earth, sun or moon.” But this isn’t a hadith of the Prophet, peace be upon him; whether authentic or weak. It has not been reported by any of those versed in the Hadith science on the authority of the Prophet; nor is it known to have come from any Companion. In fact, it is not known who uttered it.
‘Nonetheless, it is possible to explain it from a sound perspective, such as with Allah’s statement: He has subjected to you whatever is in the heavens and the earth. [45:13] Or by His words: He subjected the ships to you that they may run upon the sea at His command, and subjected the rivers to you. He subjected to you the sun and moon, constant in their courses, and subjected to you the night and the day. And gave you of all you ask Him; and if you count the favours of Allah, you will never number them. [14:32-4]
‘There are other verses similar to these, all of which clarify that Allah created creation for the sake of mankind: even though it is known that in doing so Allah had another wisdom alongside this and greater than this.
‘Here, though, Allah explains to mankind the benefits the creation contains for them, and how they are immersed in His favours. So when it is said, “He did such and such [for this or that reason]”, it does not exclude the possibility that there could be other wisdoms behind the act. Likewise, the statement: “Were it not for so and so, such and such would not have been created”, does not negate the possibility of there being a higher wisdom behind the act. Instead, what it implies is that since the most pious of people is Muhammad, peace be upon him, creating him was a desirable end of deep-seated wisdom, more than in creating anyone else; and that the perfection of creation and the crown of its completion only occurred with [the Prophet] Muhammad …
‘Now since man is the the seal of creation; the last of creation; and its microcosm, their best will also be the best of all creation in absolute terms. Since Muhammad is the essence of humanity, the axis of creation, and the distributor of the collective, he is, so to say, the ultimate purpose behind creating creation. So an objection cannot be raised against the saying, “For him all was created” or “Were it not for him, creation would not have been created.” So if these, and similar words, are explained according to what the Book and the Sunnah indicate, they should be accepted.’5
To sum-up: since creation was created for mankind’s benefit; and since mankind was created to worship Allah; and since the perfection of such worship was manifested in, and by, the Prophet, peace be upon him, it may hence be said that he is the purpose behind creation being brought into existence. This, I hope, should help soothe those hearts that may have harboured undue opposition to the law laka reality, and deepen our connection to the Master of all Messengers.
O Allah, shower abundant blessings and peace upon our master,
Muhammad; the paragon of human perfection,
best of all creation.
1. Those who cite the hadith in their catalogues of weak and forged hadiths include: Ibn al-Jawzi, Kitab al-Mawdu‘at (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1995), 1:214; ‘Ali al-Qari, al-Asrar al-Marfu‘ah fi’l-Akhbar al-Mawdu‘ah, no.385; Suyuti al-La’ali al-Masnu‘ah (Cairo: al-Maktabah al-Tijariyyah, 1964), 1:272; al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (Riyadh: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1992), no.282.
2. Al-Asrar al-Marfu‘ah, 288.
3. Lata’if al-Ma‘arif (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm & Mu’assasah al-Rayyan, 1996), 21.
4. Sifat al-Safwa (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Arabi, 2008), 31.
5. Majmu‘ Fatawa (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1991), 11:96-98.
To travel through any Muslim land is to see tall, graceful towers – minarets – studded across the landscape from which, five times a day, the muezzin punctuates communal life by calling believers to prayer (salat). This stark, yet simple call serves to remind the community that in their day to day life – with its joys and its pains, its hopes and its disappointments – there runs a thread leading them to their ultimate purpose and end goal: Allah, and that it is time now – for a short while, at least – to put aside the world and restore to the soul a fuller and more natural awareness of Him. It is a call which helps put life into perspective.
The muezzin starts his call by first extolling Allah’s greatness (takbir, allahu akbar) and then follows it by proclaiming the Declaration of Faith, or shahadah. The first half of this Declaration is to testify to: la ilaha illa’Llah – ‘There is no god worthy of worship but Allah’. The second half bears witness to: muhammadun rasulu’Llah – ‘Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’ The first half affirms the doctrine of tawhid; the second, the method by which to live out and implement this doctrine.
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah obliges on each believer certain rights or huquq, all of which have been mentioned in the Qur’an. Scholars explain that these rights are seven in number:
1. To Believe in Him: This does not mean to merely believe he was a true, historical figure of seventh century Arabia, but to believe in his prophethood (nubuwwah) and in Allah’s message (risalah) to him too. The Qur’an says: Believe, therefore, in Allah and His Messenger, and the light which We have sent down. [64:8] One hadith says: ‘I have been ordered to fight mankind till they testify that there is no god but Allah and until they believe in me and what I was sent with.’ [Muslim, no.34]
2. To Obey Him: It is not enough to believe in him, peace be upon him. Instead, true faith necessitates that we be guided by his message and obey its demands: O you who believe! Obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not turn away from him when you hear him speak. [8:20] He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah. [4:80] One hadith declares: ‘All my nation will enter Paradise save those who refuse.’ They asked: O Messenger of Allah, who would refuse? He replied: ‘Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise, whoever disobeys me has in fact refused.’ [Al-Bukhari, no.7280]
3. To Emulate His Example: Given that Allah says about His beloved Prophet, peace be upon him: Yours is indeed a tremendous character, [68:4] it should come as no surprise to enlightened minds that imitation of the Prophet, peace be upon him, is also a right we owe him. The Qur’an states: Say: “If you love Allah, then follow me.” [3:31] Elsewhere it tells us: You have in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful example. [33:21] One celebrated hadith says: ‘Whoever turns away from my Sunnah is not of me.’ [Al-Bukhari, no.5063; Muslim, no.1401]
No doubt, within the overall obligation of ittiba‘ – to “follow” or “emulate” him – there are certain matters where emulation is mandatory, and other places where it is highly encouraged and urged, but not obligated (there are even some matters recorded about his life that are just descriptive, not prescriptive). A sound knowledge of fiqh should help distinguish between these levels of imitation and emulation. With that being so, believers try their best to conform to the prophetic example, and mould their lives in the light of his Sunnah, as far as possible. For it is in him that the Adamic perfection is found and the beauty of behaviour made manifest.
4. To Love Him: We find in the Qur’an: Say: “If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your tribe, the wealth you have gained, the trade you fear my slacken, and the home you delight in are more loved by you than Allah and His Messenger and striving in His cause, then wait till Allah brings about His command. Allah guides not the corrupt. [9:24] Indeed, love of the Prophet is what distinguishes believers in their perfection of faith, as one hadith says: ‘None of you believes until he loves me more than his father, his children and the whole of mankind.’ [Al-Bukhari, no.15; Muslim, no.44]
An essential part of loving the Prophet, peace be upon him, is to love his Family. The Prophet, peace be upon him, once urged: udhakkirukumu’Llaha fi ahli bayti – ‘I advise you concerning my family.’ [Muslim, no.2408] Once, Zayd b. Thabit was once praying the funeral prayer for his mother, after which he brought his mule near in order to mount it, upon which Ibn ‘Abbas came and took hold of the stirrup. Zayd said: ‘Let it be, O nephew of Allah’s Messenger.’ Ibn ‘Abbas said: ‘This is how we were taught to treat the scholars.’ So Zayd took hold of Ibn ‘Abbas’ hand and, upon kissing it, said: ‘This is how we were taught to treat the family of our Prophet.’ [Al-Tabarani, Mu‘jam al-Kabir, no.4746]
5. To Honour and Revere Him: True faith (iman) not only demands that he be loved, but that he be honoured and revered too. The Qur’an insists: Those who believe in him, honour him, support him, and follow the light that was sent down with him: those are the successful. [7:157] That you may honour him and revere him. [48:9] Al-Qazwini contrasts honour, reverence and veneration (described by terms such as tabjil, tawqir and ta‘zim) with that of love and cites Imam al-Bayhaqi saying: ‘This is a higher degree than that of love; for not all who love revere. A father loves his child, or a master his slave, but does not revere him. Whereas all who revere also love.’1
6. To Believe that Prophethood Ended With Him: The Qur’an declares: Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah has knowledge of all things. [33:40] Needless to say, when a thing is “sealed”, it is complete and so there can be no further addition to it. In a like manner, the Prophet Muhammad sealed the cycle of prophethood and brought it to a close: he is the last Prophet, after whom there will be no prophet. Henceforth, revealed truths shall be revived and reanimated by scholars, saints and renewers; but never again by prophets. That our Prophet, upon whom be peace, is khatim al-nabiyyin – “the Seal of the Prophets” – is also confirmed in many hadiths; one of which says: ‘There will arise among my nation thirty liars, all of them claiming to be a prophet. But I am the final Prophet; there will be no prophet after me.’ [Muslim, no.2889; Abu Dawud, no.4252]
7. To Send Blessings (Salat) and Salutations of Peace (Salam) Upon Him: When telling us that Allah and His angels are constantly raising the rank, status and honour of the Prophet, peace be upon him, the Qur’an states the following: Allah and His angels send blessings upon the Prophet. O you who believe! Send blessings upon him and salute him with a worthy salutation. [33:56] The hadith literature records: ‘Whosoever invokes one blessing upon me, Allah will send ten blessings on him.’ [Muslim, no.384] And: ‘Those closest to me on the Day of Resurrection are those who invoke most blessings upon me.’ [Al-Tirmidhi, no.484] And: ‘The miser is he who, whenever I am mentioned in his presence, does not invoke blessings upon me.’ [Al-Tirmidhi, no.3546]
As for what it means for Allah to “bless” or “send salat” on the Prophet, Abu’l-‘Aliyah, a famous tabi‘i, explained: ‘Allah’s salat is His extolling him to the angels; the angels’ salat is their supplication [for him].’2 The majoritarian view seems to be the one al-Tirmidhi records: ‘It is related from Sufyan al-Thawri and others from the people of knowledge that salåt of the Lord is His mercy, and salat of the angels is their seeking forgiveness for him.’3
Hence Allah blesses the Prophet by the constant effusion of mercy descending upon him; such divine mercy referring to: light, knowledge, revelation, support, protection, swift response to prayers, exalting in rank and nearness to Him, honourable mention of him, as well as other things that only Allah and His Beloved know. The angels bless the Prophet by praying for him and supporting him. The believers, by invoking Allah’s blessings upon him. As for salutations (salam), it is praying for protection, safety and peace upon him.
In conclusion: May Allah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet whenever his name is mentioned by those who may remember him, or neglected by those who are heedless of him. May Allah bless him among the first and the last of generations with the most favourable, most abundant and purest blessings that He has bestowed upon any of His creation. For, as the venerable Imam al-Shafi‘i has written, ‘no blessing, be it seen or unseen, has ever descended on us by which we gained spiritual or temporal gain, or by which spiritual or temporal harm was repelled, except that Muhammad, upon whom be peace, was the reason for it; the leader to its goodness; director to its guidance; protector from its destruction and evil that oppose righteousness; warner against what brings ruin; ever ready with sincere advice for guidance and warning. So may Allah’s blessings be upon him and his family, as His blessings are upon Abraham and his family. Indeed You [Allah] are Praiseworthy, Majestic.’4
1. Mukhtasar Shu‘ab al-Iman (Cairo: Maktabah al-Turath al-Islami, n.d.), 29.
2. Related by al-Bukhari as a Chapter Heading (bab) to hadith no.4797.
3. Al-Tirmidhi, as a gloss to hadith no.485.
4. Al-Risalah (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, n.d.), 16-17.
The Prophet said, peace be upon him: ‘Among those of my nation (ummah) that most fervently love me will be a people who shall come after me, and who would give up their family and property in exchange for being able to see me.’1
The lady ‘A’ishah related: A man came to the Prophet, peace be upon him, saying: “O God’s Messenger, I love you more than myself, my wife and children. When I am at home and remember you, I cannot wait to come and gaze at you. Though when I remember my death and your death, I know that when you enter Paradise, you will be raised-up with the Prophets. But even if I enter Paradise, I am afraid I will never see you.’ The Prophet, peace be upon him, did not answer him until the following was sent down to him: Whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, they are with those whom Allah has favoured, of the Prophets, the highest saints, the martyrs and the righteous. They are the best of company. [4:69]’2
Less than half a century later, the successor (tabi‘i), ‘Abidah al-Salmani, was once told that: We have in our possession a strand of hair of the Prophet, peace be upon him, by way of Anas b. Malik. To this he said: ‘That I possess a lock of his hair is more beloved to me than all the gold and silver on the face of the earth.’3
To this lover’s sigh, Imam al-Dhahabi went on to passionately say: ‘This utterance of ‘Abidah is a benchmark for perfect love, which is his preferring a strand of prophetic hair to all the gold and silver that people may possess. This statement from this Imam was said fifty years after the Prophet, upon whom be peace. So what should we say in our time if we were to ever find a lock of his hair reliably confirmed, or a thong from his sandal, or some of his nail clippings, or shards of a cup from whence he drank? If a wealthy person were to spend the greater part of his wealth in acquiring any of these things, would you think him a spendthrift or foolish? Never! So spend what you have in visiting his Mosque which he built with his own hands; and send salutations on him at his Chamber in his City; and cherish the sight of Uhud, and love it as your Prophet, peace be upon him, loved it; and revive yourself by spending time in his Garden where he sat. For you shall not be a true believer until this master becomes more beloved to you than even yourself, your children, your wealth, and the whole of humanity.’4
In his extensive biographical notice on Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Dhahabi feels the need to take-up the subject matter again; but this time with a degree of what may be described as “a lover’s ire”. He writes:
‘‘Abd Allah b. Ahmad said: “I saw my father take a strand of hair of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and put it to his lips and kiss it. I believe I saw him place it over his eyes too. He also dipped it into some water and drank the water, seeking a cure thereby. I saw him take the Prophet’s bowl, peace be upon him, rinse it in water and then drink from it. I saw him drinking Zamzam water seeking a cure thereby, wiping his hands and his face with it.” I say: Where is the extremist critic of Imam Ahmad now? For it is authentically confirmed from ‘Abd Allah that he once asked his father about those that touch the pommel of the Prophet’s pulpit, peace be upon him, and touch the Prophet’s chamber. He said: “I see no problem in it.” So may God protect us and you from the views of the Khawarij and from innovations.’5
Nor is it just human souls that yearn for the Prophet, upon whom be peace. In a well-known and mass-transmitted (mutawatir) hadith, we are told that the Prophet, peace be upon him, initially delivered his Friday sermons while leaning against the stump of a date-palm tree. When a pulpit was made for him, however, he addressed the people from that. It was during the first sermon from the pulpit that the tree stump wept at being seperated from the Prophet, peace be upon. ‘So the Prophet, peace be upon him, came to it and put his hand on it, whereupon it calmed down.’6 In other version, the Prophet, peace be upon him, remarked: ‘It weeps at the rememberance of what it has lost.’7 Another wording states: ‘Had he not put his arms around it and embraced it, it would have continued to grieve until the Day of Resurrection.’8
Let us end with a remark made by a peerless scholar and leading pietist of early Islam: al-Hasan al-Basri. Whenever he related the hadith about the tree stump, he too would weep and would say: ‘O servants of God! The stump of the date-palm tree wept for the Messenger of God, out of a longing to be with him. You should have a greater yearning to meet him.’9
So for this, let lovers pine and yearners weep!
1. Muslim, no.2832.
2. Abu Nu‘aym, Hilyat al-Awliya’, 8:125;. Shaykh Ahmad Shakir declared it to be sahih in ‘Umdat al-Tafsir ‘ani’l-Hafiz Ibn Kathir (Mansurah: Dar al-Wafa, 2005), 1:537.
3. Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala (Beirut: Mu’assasah al-Risalah, 1998), 4:42.
4. ibid., 4:42.
5. ibid., 11:212. Touching or kissing the Prophet’s blessed grave is not the authoritative (mu‘tamad) view in the Hanbali madhhab. The relied upon view is that it is preferred not to do so. Al-Mardawi, whose significance will not be lost on those familiar with the Hanbali school and its authoritative references, quotes Imam Ahmad as saying: ‘The people of knowledge never used to touch it.’ He then states: ‘It is preferred not to touch the grave according to the soundest view of the school.’ Al-Insaf fi Ma‘rifat al-Rajihi min al-Khilaf (Beirut: Dar al-Ihya al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1957), 4:53. Ibn Qudamah, al-Mughni (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1998), 5:468, stipulated: ‘It is preferred not to touch the walls of the Prophet’s grave, peace be upon him, nor to kiss it. Ahmad said: I do not know this.’ As for the view that permits touching the grave, it is recorded in Ibn Muflih, al-Mubdi‘ (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1980), 2:281; and Mar‘i b. Yusuf, Ghayat al-Muntaha (Riyadh: al-Mu’assasah al-Sa‘idiyyah, n.d.), 1:259.
6. Ibn Majah, no.1414; al-Tirmidhi, no.3627, who said it is hasan sahih.
7. Al-Bukhari, no.917.
8. Ibn Majah, no.1415, and it is sahih. Consult: al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 1991), no.2174.
9. Cited in Qadi ‘Iyad, al-Shifa’ (Damascus: Maktabah al-Ghazali, 2000), 371; Dhahabi, Siyar A‘lam al-Nubala, 4:570.