Man's need for a virtuous role model stems from his need to be influenced. Man has been created in such a way that he is influenced by others. Such influence plays a great role in his development as well as in the development of society. It is for this reason that the Noble Qur’an, amongst its methods of instruction, strives to introduce outstanding individuals, the most superior of them being the Noble Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him and his family).
The Qur’an explicitly introduces the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) as the role model for all of mankind and the best example for Muslims of all ages. Fortunately, a precious treasure composed of the sayings (hadiths) and history of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) has recorded the most minute details of his life, and this book, inspired by this valuable treasure, is a brief look at his manner of living.
Even though the title of this book suggests that it offers an explanation of the practices of the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him and his family), it is not completely out of place for us to make reference to the spiritual stations of this eternal example. Therefore, his spiritual stations have been summarized under the following headings:
The Noble Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) is an individual unrivaled amongst all mankind for all time, and history will never see another like him. Concerning this topic, the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Ali, peace be upon him, said,
"There is nothing God has created superior to Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him and his family."1
Though Khidhr crossed the Water of Life,
Muhammad passed beyond the Spring of the Spirit,
And if Solomon set his throne upon the winds,
Muhammad refrained from playing with the wind.
If Moses’ enclosure was built from mountain rocks,
The palace of Ahmad was made of pure light
And if the cradle of Jesus reached the celestial sphere,
Muhammad leapt out of the cradle himself2
God has created in accordance with a particular system and in it He has provided the order of "the most noble, then the most noble after that" (al-ashraf fal-ashraf). He has made the first among creation "The Muhammadan Truth"[haqiqat-e Muhammadiyyah ]. Sometimes this is also referred to as "The First Manifestation" [tajalli-e Awwal], or "The Far-Reaching Mercy" [rahmat al-Wasi‘ah]. Numerous traditions support this concept. Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah has narrated,
"I asked the Messenger of God (peace and blessings be upon him and his family), 'What is the first thing God created?' He answered, 'The light of your prophet, O Jabir! He first created it then from it He created all other things.'"3
The line from start to finish is one,
The whole of creation has become a journey to Him,
an this road prophets are like camel-drivers, being
conductors and guides of the caravan.
From among them our master has become chief,
Both first and last with regard to this affair,
With him, the end of this road has been reached;
Concerning him has been revealed:
"I invite others to God." [verse 108 of chapter 12 of the Holy Qur’an]
Since God is aware of the future decisions people will make and the deeds they will perform, He grants particular favors to individuals who have the spirit of pursuing the truth and choosing the path of virtue. For this reason, beginning in their childhood years, He places them under the umbrella of His guardianship. Spiritual individuals in general and the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) in particular, were the recipients of such gifts.
"Verily, from the beginning of the Prophet's childhood (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) God sent the greatest of His angels to be his companion in order to familiarize him with the path of noble traits and the virtues of universal ethics (akhlaq)."4
History books have recorded numerous instances where the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) received unseen support.
Another instance that shows the spiritual station of the Noble Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) is that he was the manifestation and fountain of God's providence. This station was granted to him due to his inner purity. This trait was manifest in his blessed existence from childhood and continued until the end of his life. For this reason and due to his noble existence, God refrained from punishing this community (ummah, the community of the Prophet).
"God will not punish them while you are amongst them and God will not punish them so long as they ask for forgiveness."5
In other words, just as the manifestation of God's mercy is to be found in repentance and seeking forgiveness, it is also to be found in the existence of the “Noble Prophet” (peace and blessings be upon him and his family).
Infallibility is a faculty of the soul that prevents man from sinning or committing errors. If this is found in an individual in its highest form, it is referred to as "the greatest form of infallibility". And if a lower form of this faculty exists in an individual, it is called "the lower form of infallibility"[‘ismat al-sughra’]. Without a doubt, the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) benefited from the highest level of infallibility.
This is a matter that both Sunni and Shi'ah scholars have unanimously agreed upon. A great number of verses of the Qur’an as well as narrations (hadiths) make reference to his station of infallibility. The following verse is one such reference:
"God desires but to remove impurity from you, O People of the Household (of the Prophet, peace be upon them), and to purify you thoroughly (of all imperfection)."6
Though it is true that all of God's prophets (peace be upon them) had very high spiritual capacities and for this reason, they were able to communicate with the unseen world and receive the waves of revelation which they caused to flow to the hearts of mankind, this ability and attribute of perfection was found in the Noble Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) with a particular intensity. Even the angels drawn close to God could not comprehend this station.
The intensity of his ability meant that at certain times, he could form a direct relationship with God. The Noble Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) explained his capacity and great existence as such, "I have a particular time with God that not even an angel drawn close (to God), a prophet sent (by God), nor a believing servant whom God has tested his heart for faith can attain."7
That which was mentioned in this introduction was merely a drop in the limitless ocean of the spiritual stations of the Great Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) since only God, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him and his family) himself and the infallible Imams (peace be upon them) are truly aware of his spiritual stations and it is not the purpose of this book to relate them.
Rather, this is a look into the ethical behavior and practices of this great example. We hope that the Islamic ummah, the youth in particular, will emulate his behavior and ways of life and quench the thirst of their souls with the abundance of this fountain of ethics and spirituality, God-willing.
Himmat Suhrab Pur
- 1. Al-Kafi, vol. 1, p. 440.
- 2. All poetry has been translated by ‘Ali Kashani.
- 3. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 15, p. 24.
- 4. Nahj al-Balaghah, sermon 234.
- 5. Surah al-Anfal 8:33.
- 6. Sura al-Ahzab 33: 33.
- 7. Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 18, p. 360.
- 8. According to the Iranian calendar, a reference to the number of solar years that have passed since the Prophet’s migration to Medina.