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What is the meaning of Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) suffering?

By Muhammadrasul Saaduev : Imam of Central Jum`ah Mosque | Makhachkala | 12 Aug 2011

Difficulties in the Spread of Islam.

When the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was humiliated and mocked by the Quraysh pagans, Allah said: “I’ll answer for you to those mocking and making fun of you!”

It brings up a question: if Allah talks about the protection of His Prophet, what for were the trials and the tortures of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)? We know from his story about the abuse and cruelty of the pagan enemies towards him (pbuh). After all, The Almighty said, that he (pbuh) is under His protection, because it’s easy for the Almighty to keep the Prophet (pbuh) out of sorrow. After all, He could grant safety to the Prophet (pbuh), make the enemies be kind to him. Why did not this happen?

These trials for Muhammad (pbuh) have two wise reasons. The first reason is that, although Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the last messenger, he is at the top of those who invite unto Allah. He brought the message of Allah. He leads everyone who intends to call to the path of Allah after him. He is the leader of all Islamic preachers, all callers to Islam. He is the Imam and the example to follow for them.

The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) arrived after a long gap between the divine messages at the time, when people drifted away from the truth.

Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) knew that before the Judgment Day there would be people calling to the path of Allah, following his (pbuh) example. The Prophet (pbuh) said about it: “Bring to the people at least one Ayah from me!” i.e. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) called the whole Ummah to Da`wah (call to Islam), so that everyone, to the best of their ability, should call nonreligious people to Islam.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) knew that the chain of people calling to Islam would continue up to the Judgment Day, and that he would be a model for those people.

Though the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) knew that Allah takes care of him, protects him against the scoffers, he did not resort to His help. Why? He did not, because he thought about the people who would continue his work. He knew that those calling to Islam after him would face hardships.

Calling to Islam is a hard path, where people face many difficulties and trials, are scoffed and humiliated. Therefore, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) thought about those who would call to the way of Allah. How would they feel, if in the time of privation, injustice, oppression on this tough path, they happen to read, that the Prophet’s life (pbuh) was a bed of roses, and that he did not face any difficulties or trials?

As he was the last of the Messengers of Allah, Allah offered protection only to him!

He chooses this plight for the love of his followers, who would call after him to the path of Islam. The Prophet (pbuh) selects a path of severe trials, starvation, abuse and humiliation. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) made this choice voluntarily. He (pbuh) decided, since his followers are to face adversity from non-believers, he would be the first to experience this pain, to take the tough burden, to hear the insults and mockery from unbelievers. He (pbuh) thought, that if this path requires leaving one’s home and worldly pleasure, he must be the first to go through it.

Why? By this the Prophet (pbuh) shows his mercy, his love for the people, who do the most holy deed: call to Islam. And people, who face challenges, hardships, scoffing when calling to Islam after the Prophet (pbuh), will be pleased to know, that they are suffering, though to a lesser degree, as Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) did.

And indeed, for the people, who sincerely call upon the path of Almighty, these difficulties are a pleasure they enjoy. That is because they know that their leader, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) suffered much more. For this sake the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) voluntarily refused the protection that Allah granted him; so that his followers, undergoing at least part of what he suffered, did not despair, overpowered by the ordeal, and tried to overcome!

That is the first wise reason.

The second wise reason is the lesson of the Prophet (pbuh) to all of us. We must always remember this practical lesson from the life of the Prophet (pbuh). It tells us how to behave in the situation when we hear the unbelievers hooting about our religion or the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) shows us by his example how to behave in such cases. Let us remember, for instance, how the citizens of Ta'if met the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and his Companions, who came to invite them to Islam. They were hailed with stones; the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was bleeding. But it was not the toughest ordeal of his life – in fact there were even worse times. When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) made a prostration near the Kaaba, the pagans began throwing the guts of stabbed animals at him, but he (pbuh) endured it too. These stories are countless. The main thing is that, despite all this, the Prophet (pbuh) did not give up calling people to Islam and was steady in his purpose, indifferent to all the hardships. He preached the same to his Companions. Instead of avenging the cruelty to him and his followers, the Prophet (pbuh) prayed to Allah for them. And then, after the inhabitants of Ta'if hailed the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) with stones, and he had to leave the city, one of the Companions said to the Prophet (pbuh): “Oh Messenger of Allah, please pray to the Almighty!” They were enraged and wanted the Prophet (pbuh) to ask Allah to punish Taif. However, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) appealed to the Almighty: “Oh Allah, guide the Sakif tribe and make them believe!” He (pbuh) did not even think about revenging the citizens of Ta'if. Instead, he requested Allah to guide them to the path of Truth.

This is the second wise reason for the trials of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh). For, indeed, the struggle between the truth and lies will not stop until the Judgment Day. It is a great lesson to any caller to Islam.

The Almighty has given us a great mission, and says: “Let there arise out of you a group inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong”. Allah also says: “Who is better in speech than one who calls to Allah, works righteousness and says “I am of those who bow in Islam!”. The attitude and feelings underlying the appeal to Islam are also noteworthy. Of course, they must be those of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh): love and compassion for all, mercy, especially to the fallacious. Only these feelings, wishing good for all, should underlie calling to Islam. In no case should they include rage, hatred and fury against the people who do not understand the truth. Rage and fury cannot create anything, they can only destroy. After all, Islam is good, honest advice, the desire of good and blessing for everybody.

This lesson is one of the most important in the lifestory of the Prophet (pbuh). Calling to Islam can only be effective, if the callers wish good. The invitation to Islam has never been through bloodshed, explosions and threats.

We have recently witnessed obscene caricatures and publications about the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). All this was well-planned. After all, this did not happen dozens, hundreds of years ago – and suddenly it does... What for? What is their purpose?

Their purpose is, first, to awaken certain patriotic feelings in Muslims. Second, it is a try to pull Muslims into the turmoil.

These are the two motives behind these publications. People, who ordered these articles, want Muslims to be out in the streets shouting and raising havoc. It is the only goal of these enemies of Islam! And most Muslims are nose-led by this scenario. What are we to do? Just as the Prophet (pbuh) did. Do not react to any provocation, invite to Islam sincerely, no matter what they are trying to rope us into. This is our duty. This is what the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did, and so did his Companions. And no other approach will give us a better result!