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Straight Talk With the Prophet

Adil Salahi

Arab News, 7/21/04

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was keenly aware that the task assigned to him by God involved talking to all types of people and explaining to them the message God required him to deliver. He fulfilled this task in a way that provided the best example to follow in all situations.

Muslims in all generations are placed in the same position of advocating faith in God, the only deity in the universe who has created everything and given them what they need to live, and who causes their death. Hence, in fulfilling their charge, they cannot do better than learning from the Prophet and following his example. He did not disdain to speak to people or to spend with them any amount of time, as long as they were willing to listen. He answered all their questions, but he never pressurized anyone to adopt his faith, because he was keenly aware that faith is a matter of conviction and choice. It can never be the result of pressure or compulsion.

Abu Tameemah Al-Hujaymi, a companion of the Prophet, reports that he was present when one of his own tribesmen came to the Prophet and asked him: “Are you God’s Messenger?” Or he might have asked: “Are you Muhammad?” When the Prophet confirmed that he was, the man asked him about the message he was advocating. The Prophet said: “I call on people to believe in God alone. He is the One who, when you are in distress and appeal to Him, would remove your distress. He is the One who, if you suffer from long drought and you appeal to Him, would make your plants grow; and if you lose your camel in a desert area and you pray Him, He would return your camel to you.” The man declared his belief in Islam. He then said to the Prophet: “Give me some advice, Messenger of God.” He said: “Never curse anything.” (Or he might have said: ‘Never curse anyone.” The man comments: “I have never cursed even a camel or a sheep since the Prophet gave me this advice.”)

The Prophet mentioned three aspects that were close to his interlocutor’s life. An Arab living in a mostly desert land, depending on the little vegetation that grows up in scattered areas, and is dependent on his mount for safety when he travels across the desert, realizes how important these matters are. The Prophet reminds him of the situations when he loses any of these and finds himself in dire trouble. He only appeals to God for help. The Prophet tells him that it is God who answers his prayers in each and every situation. The man thinks seriously about the Prophet’s answer and realizes that no one could be of help in such cases, and that he would only appeal to God to lift his distress. The Prophet tells him that this is the essence of his faith, and the man accepts Islam.

Another example is cited by Mu’awiyah ibn Haydah Al-Qushayri who speaks about his meeting with the Prophet: “When I went to the Prophet I said: ‘Messenger of God, I have come to you but only after I had sworn more times than my fingers — and he put his two hands together — that I would never come to see you or accept your faith. I have come to you as a man who knows nothing except what God has taught him. I appeal to you by God’s face, the Great, to tell me what message has our Lord given you to deliver to us.’ He said: ‘He sent me with the Islamic faith.’ I asked: ‘What is Islam?’ He replied: ‘You say: I submit myself to God alone and abandon everything else, and you attend regularly to prayer, pay zakah, and observe the rule that every Muslim is forbidden to do any harm to another Muslim, for the two are brothers who support each other. God does not accept any action from anyone who has reverted to paganism after he had accepted Islam until he parts company with the unbelievers. How is it that I am pulling you by your robes away from the fire! Well, my Lord will call me and ask me if I have delivered His message to His servants? I will reply that I have. Well, let those present convey what I say to those who are absent. Well! You will certainly be called out, and your mouths will be sealed while the first organs that speak on your behalf will be your thighs and hands.’ I said: ‘Messenger of God! Is this our religion?’ He said: ‘This is indeed your religion. Wherever you do a good deed, God will take care of you in what you do.’”

In this short Hadith the Prophet clearly outlines all the important aspects of the Islamic faith. But we note how the man started his address to the Prophet, pointing out that he was determined not to see him and that he did not want to know anything about him or his faith. Nevertheless he came over when he realized that he lacked true knowledge and wanted to be certain. It is in this light that we should look at his appeal to the Prophet with a solemn oath to explain his message. This was the man’s way of making sure that he would receive a true answer.

As the Prophet answers, he first outlines the main Islamic duties and acts of worship. He goes on to explain the sort of community Islam establishes, with all members being brothers who help one another without hesitation. He then clarifies that reverting to unbelief after having accepted the faith means that God will reject the person concerned and will not accept any good deed from him until he has dissociated himself from unbelievers. He goes on to define his role as God’s Messenger, stating that his aim is to protect his people from incurring God’s punishment, which is the fire. It is through following the Prophet and practicing what he has taught us that we save ourselves such a destiny.

The Prophet adds a warning that when people face the reckoning on the Day of Judgment, different parts of their bodies will be witnesses against them. This is confirmed in the Qur’an, as God says: “On that day, their mouths will be sealed, while their hands will speak to Us and their legs will be witnesses testifying as to what they had done.” (36: 65)

But the Prophet never painted a grim picture without giving his interlocutor, and all people for that matter, hope that they can easily work for their happiness in the life to come. Here we see him concluding his remarks by telling the man that whatever good action he does, it will be for his benefit. But the benefit is not limited to the second life. It is in this life also that we receive reward for our good actions. In this Hadith, the Prophet states that such actions will ensure that God will take good care of us. Needless to say, His care is the best we hope for.



Earth, a planet hungry for peace

 Apartheid Wall

The Israeli Land-Grab Apartheid Wall built inside the Palestinian territories, here separating Abu Dis from occupied East Jerusalem. (IPC, 7/4/04).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah's.