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The Meaning of Prophet’s (s) “Perfected Character”

Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

8 December 2011 Singapore

Suhbah at Simply Islam

A`oodhu billahi min ash-Shaytani 'r-rajeem. Bismillahi 'r-Rahmani 'r-Raheem.

Alhamdulillahi rabbi ‘l-`alameen was-salaat was-salaam `alaa ashraf al-mursaleen Sayyidina Muhammad (s) wa `alaa aalihi wa saahbihi wa sallam.

Alhamdulillah that Allah guided us to Islam and we would not have been guided if not for the guidance of Allah, and we are blessed to be from ummat an-Nabee! I want to begin with the word that Allah first created the Light of Prophet (s) and from it all things were created, the universes and Heaven. That is a grant from Allah (swt).

Brothers and sisters, I have to say, and it is not something hidden, but I have to confess in front of Allah (swt) and His Prophet (s) that I am nothing more than the lowest among you. I am trying to be at the feet of our shuyookh, standing at their threshold if they accept me, and I am not that speaker, that `alim, that scholar, but here at “Simply Islam,” a simple Muslim. I am not pretending to be anything, and I didn’t this red jubba; someone gifted it to me and the Prophet (s) accepted the gift, so we cannot turn away from it and so we accept it because in Islam the adab is to accept the gift. If it is for showing off it is not accepted, but if it is for love to Allah (swt) and love to the Prophet (s) it is accepted and you must also accept it.

To begin with, Allah (swt) said in Holy Qur'an:

أَطِيعُواْ اللّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِي الأَمْرِ مِنكُم

Ati`oollaha wa ati`u 'r-Rasoola wa ooli 'l-amri minkum.

Obey Allah, obey the Prophet, and obey those in authority among you. (an-Nisa, 4:59)

So in that verse when we read “ati`oollah,” and it is enough when we say it, it means “obey Allah (swt).” Then at that moment, all manhiyyaat, forbiddens have been cleared up completely within that verse of the Holy Qur'an, just as in:

وَرَحْمَتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ

wa rahmatee wasi`at kulla shay.

My Mercy encompasses all things. (al-`Araaf, 7:156)

When we recite that verse of the Holy Qur'an, all manhiyyaat and maamoorat, forbidden and required, are in that verse. Allah's Words are not makhlooq, created, they are Allah’s (swt) words revealed to the Prophet (s) in a way we don't know. They were revealed to the Prophet (s), who heard the reality of these words! The Sahaabah (r) did not hear that nor did we, only the Prophet (s) heard that and he is the only one who can understand the words of Allah (swt)!

Prophet (s) mentioned awliyaullah and scholars in the hadeeth:

علما امتي كانبيا بني اسرائيل

`ulamaa ummattee ka-anbiyaa Bani Israa’eel.

The scholars of my nation are like the prophets of Bani Israa’eel. (Ihyaa of Imam Ghazali)

Allah (swt) mentioned awliyaullah in the verse:

أَلا إِنَّ أَوْلِيَاء اللّهِ لاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ

alaa inna awliyaullahi laa khawfun `alayhim wa laa hum yahzanoon.

Verily on the friends of Allah there is no fear, nor shall they grieve. (Yunus,10:62)

Those awliyaullah and genuine scholars are like when you decorate a cake with sprinkles in thousands of colors, which beautifies it and without which the cake is not as attractive. That is just an example, not the reality. Imagine then when Allah (swt) revealed to the Prophet (s) a verse, what kind of knowledge was sprinkled on those Holy Words? What kind of knowledge is given with a verse of Holy Qur'an, with a word or letter of that verse? It is ‘sprinkled’ with knowledge, as Sayyidina Imam al-Busayri (r) said, wa kullun min rasoolullah multamisan, “Everything is taking from the Prophet (s).”

What is kullun? He wants to express his understanding in this verse that kullun is “everything other than Allah,” ma`a siwallah, whatever is not Allah is extracting from the noor and wisdom of the Prophet (s), from the light that Allah (swt) put in his heart. Everything: angels, Heavens, kursee, `arsh is taking from the Prophet (s)! That is why he said, “Wa kullun min rasoolullah multamisaan,” he didn't limit it to naas, Mankind, and he didn't say `ibaadullah, who worship Allah, but he said “everything.” “Iltimas” is to ask and acquire something from the Prophet (s). So when Allah revealed the verse “ati'oollah” and anyone hears it, I don’t think anyone here or throughout the whole Muslim world, if you say to them, “Ati`oollah! Obey Allah!” they will not say “no,” they will say, “Yes, we obey!” No one can say no, not even the most disobedient one, in his heart he cannot say no. When you recite that aayah, the secret of that is like a washing machine that will clean everything by the barakah of the Prophet (s) and by the rahmah of Allah (swt)! So when Allah said, “Ati`oollah!” He put all forbiddens and all maamooraat or orders in it, so when you recite it, it is as if you fulfilled all maamooraat and refused all manhiyyaat!

What do you think will happen if you recite the entire Holy Qur'an? Next in the aayah is wa ati`oo 'r-Rasoola, “And obey the Prophet (s).” No one can say, “I don't obey,” even though they may commit all kinds of sins. But when it comes to the dignity of Islam, for example when you say, “Salloo `alaa ‘n-Nabi,” even a big sinner will reply, “Allahuma salli `alaa Sayyidina Muhammad (s)!” Then immediately he comes under the shafa`ah of the Prophet (s) and he will be cleaned of all his sins.

Then, what comes next in the verse? Wa ooli 'l-amri minkum, “And obey those in authority.” Allah (swt) knows, He didn’t say ita`at, “to obey,” which is an order, a verb or an imperative or an action, an `amr; He said “ati`oollah,” and then “ati` ar-rasool,” but then He said, “ooli 'l-amr,” because He knows people differ (in interpretation). The ooli 'l-amr spread, which is good on one side, as `ulama said, “The differences of the ummah are a mercy.” That is why Allah (swt) didn't say there, “Ati` ooli 'l-amr,” because then we would be under pressure to obey any `alim. Allah gave you a way out of that, but He didn't give a way out of ita`atillah wa ita`at ar-rasool, obeying Allah and the Prophet, because obedience is only to Allah and to the Prophet (s), but with ooli 'l-amr, you obey because you love them. Also with ooli 'l-amr they spread; Allah sent big imaams to guide us on the way. and these imaams follow the agreement of all the four scholars, Imam Abu Hanifa al-Nu`man, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi`i, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, and Imam al-Awzai who was another big one, but they left him out to reduce (the number) and there are other imaams whose fatwas you can take from. Abu Zahra mentioned in his books there are 500 different madhhaabs in Islam; you have that book and you must read it.

So for obedience, you have to know that Allah (swt) is the One to fear. This is not mentioned to make people afraid, but when you want to say the truth you must say it. Allah (swt) said, atakhsha ‘n-naas, “Do you fear the people?” No! You must only fear Allah (swt)! And He said to Sayyidina Musa (a) and Sayyidina Haroon (a), wa laa takhafa, “And fear not.” So we must not fear in Allah's Way or then we are losers.

Last week we had a conference in Istanbul where many `ulama, including the president of al-Azhar, were there to discuss a number of different issues. An `alim must not fear his superiors or he will give a wrong fatwa. You must not fear when giving decisions in the way of Allah (swt), not to scare people, because we are ummatan wasatan, a moderate nation. We are neither too liberal nor too extreme, or on the violent side; we are in the middle. In every country we have thousands of `ulama guiding the ummah, but the real `alim, the One Who expressed Knowledge from Himself to Himself, is Allah (swt), “al-`Alim.”

الرَّحْمَنُ عَلَّمَ الْقُرْآنَ

Ar-rahman `allam al-qur’an.

The Most Gracious has imparted this Qur’an (to Man). ( Rahman, 55:1-2)

He is the Real Knower, so whatever He gives us we must follow, not what our nafs gives, and we must also follow the real `alim who fears none except Allah (swt). If he is going to fear the hukaam, “those on top of him,” what is he going to give as a fatwa? His fatwa is not going to be important; it will be thrown in his face!

What did Allah say about Sayyidina Muhammad (s)?

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلى خُلُقٍ عَظِي

wa innaka la `alaa khuluqin `azheem.

You are of the most exalted character. (al-Qalam, 68:4)

What is “magnificent character”? That is a very inferior explanation in English. Allah said, wa innaka, ta-akeed, “You are truly of a high khuluq,” and, wa kaana khuluqahu al-qur’an, “His character was the Qur’an.” So the Prophet (s) received what Allah gave him: his character and behavior was the Holy Qur'an.

What is the Holy Qur'an? It is Allah's Own Words, not created. The Prophet (s) is created, but his khuluq, character, was dressed in an “uncreated” way. That is why we say noor an-Nabi, “his light” was first. The scholars didn't really explain it in the Musannaf of Abdur Razzaq, in that hadith, “The first thing Allah (swt) created is the light of the Prophet (s).” And the first thing created was noorullah, that made me happy to hear him recite that (qasida): “The first that Allah created is the light of the Prophet (s)!” That light, which is khuluq, cannot be qadeem, eternal, and jadeed; it has to be connected with both sides to reach each other. For that reason, Allah (swt) put Prophet’s name with His Name; you cannot say “Allah” without saying “Muhammad,” that is not accepted. You have to believe in Allah, but without belief in the Prophet (s) it is not accepted and you are not a Muslim, as there are some religions that say “Laa ilaaha illa-Llah,” but don't say “Muhammad rasoolullah.”

So Allah created the light of Sayyidina Muhammad (s) to dress that light with the reality of the Holy Qur'an. (In Surah ar-Rahman) Allah said, `allam al-qur’an , then khalaq al-insaan; He taught the Qur’an and then created Mankind, so first comes adab, then `ilm. If an `alim has knowledge but no adab, or he is knowledgeable but rude with people, is that `ilm? Is there any Name of Allah (swt) or the Prophet (s) that means "rude"? No, but there are some `ulama who are rude.

The Prophet (s) said,

إنما بعثت لأتمم مكارم الأخلاق

Innamaa bu`ithtu li utimmu makaarim al-akhlaaq.

I was sent to perfect human behavior.

This means to make people’s behavior from the Holy Qur'an. That is why the Prophet (s) dresses awliyaullah with the Holy Qur'an and they are constantly multamis, extracting from it. Will he (s) give them water or the secret of the Holy Qur'an?

Allah (swt) revealed the Holy Qur'an on Sayyidina Muhammad (s), but did He reveal it without giving him its meanings? That is why, “You are of the most exalted character,” means, “There is no limit to what Allah (swt) gave Sayyidina Muhammad (s), as there is no limit to the Greatness of Allah (swt)!” The Prophet (s) is receiving realities from the Holy Qur'an without limits, and throwing them into the hearts of awliyaullah. That is why you hear about so many awliyaullah in the time of the Prophet (s), the Sahaabah and tabi`een (r) who were always in dhikrullah. Through the four imaams, the Ahlu 'l-Bayt and the richness of the Islamic library of sainthood, we see they are rich with meanings you cannot understand. So how did they get that? Imam al-Busayri (q) said, “Don't worry where that came from as they are all taking from the Prophet (s)!” Don't look in books; it will give you headaches and mental disorders as they are `Ilm al-Awraaq, Knowledge of Papers, which lacks the sincerity embedded in the letters of the Holy Qur’an that is engraved in the heart through the light of the Prophet (s)!

That is the `ilm we are after. Anyone can go to a university and get a PhD, but they don’t know except what they have read; no fresh knowledge comes to their hearts. Freshness is rare, like when you go to the market you might find only spoiled fruit, and that is what you end up taking. However, awliyaullah take fresh knowledge, but from where?

وَإِنَّ فِي الْجَسَدِ مُضْغَةً إِذَا صَلَحَتْ صَلَحَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ وَإِذَا فَسَدَتْ فَسَدَ الْجَسَدُ كُلُّهُ أَلَا وَهِيَ الْقَلْبُ

Wa inna fi ’l-jasadi mudghatan idhaa saluhat saluha ’l-jasadun kullahun wa idhaa fasadat fasada ’l-jasadun jasadun kullahun alaa wa hiya ’l-qalb.

Surely there is in the body a small piece of flesh; if it is good, the whole body is good, and if it is corrupted, the whole body is corrupted, and that is surely the heart’ (Sahih al-Bukhari)

The heart is mentioned more than a hundred times in the Holy Qur'an. That is why we have to confess our sicknesses and say “astaghfirullah” every moment, because every moment our mind gossips against others, and that is from the sickness of the heart. The Prophet (s) told us to be careful of anger, which brings every bad upon you. Allah (swt) said in the Holy Qur’an:

الَّذِينَ يُنفِقُونَ فِي السَّرَّاء وَالضَّرَّاء وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ وَاللّهُ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

Alladheena yunfiqoona fi ’s-sarraai wa ’d-darr`ai wa ’l-kaazhimeena al-ghaytha wa

l-`aafeena `ani ’n-naasi w’Allahu yuhibbu ’l-muhsineen.

Those who spend (freely), whether in prosperity or in adversity, who restrain anger, and pardon (all) men, for Allah loves those who do good. (Aali-`Imraan, 3:134)

He didn't say, “Those who increase their anger.” Then the verse immediately follows with wa ’l-`afeen `an an-naas, “Those who forgive the people.” He didn't say wal `afeen `an al-mu’mineen, “Those who forgive the believers, or Muslims.” Leave people to their business and their religion. The Prophet (s) said, ad-deenu naseeha, “Religion is advice.” Don't create fitna or fights; whoever loves you loves you, and if they love someone else that is okay! So keep your anger down and forgive people. I am asking this entire group here, do you hate anyone? The answer is “yes,” because we are human beings and, therefore, we have problems and sicknesses. But Allah said, wa ’l-`afeen `an an-naas, “Those who forgive the people,” faman `afaa wa aslaha, “The one who forgives and is first to make peace.”Don't wait for the enemy to make peace; you should be the first to be peaceful, then your reward will be with Allah (swt)!

Allah said, wa man `afa wa aslaha, “If we forgive and make up,” so let us first do this within ourselves, not with non-Muslims. Let us fix our home first as it is falling apart and full of problems, so we have to fix it. Wa la tabaaghadoo, wa laa tahasasoo, “Don't hate each other and don't make conspiracies against each other,” don't find mistakes in others or think we are clean, because we are full of mistakes. We want Allah's forgiveness and He is Generous in His forgiveness, not stingy like us! If we have something, we hold on to it and if something slips from here, you lick it, you don't let anything go out. Allah (swt), the Prophet (s) and awliyaullah are generous, so be generous in your behavior with others and Allah will love that!

Religion is based on advice and there is nothing else; therefore, we are coming for advice so let us take it. The message for this meeting is first, let us drop our anger as much as possible; let us go for ten days and try not to show any anger. If you can do that, then you are successful; if not, what is the benefit of these conferences, addresses and all this; it is for nothing. It is better to sit home and rest and don't bother anyone. That is the way we have to behave in order that Allah (swt) will love us. Yassiru wa la tu`assiru, “Make it easy and don't make it difficult.”

Allah (swt) said in the Holy Qur'an:

إِنَّ مَعَ الْعُسْرِ يُسْرًا

Innama al-`usri yusra.

With every difficulty there is ease. (ash-Shahr, 94:6)

So make it easy and say, “laa hawla wa laa quwatta illa billah,” then Allah (swt) will save you.

Allah taught the Prophet (s), adabanee rabbee fa ahsana taa`deebee. What do you think what the Prophet (s) is saying, “Adabanee rabbee, my Lord has taught and trained me?” We can say “adabanee shaykhee,” or “adabanee hadha al-`alim,” but no one can say, “My Lord taught and trained me.” He didn't say “adabanee Jibreel,” he said it directly, “Allah taught me good conduct, directy through my heart.” What is that adab, can anyone know? With what did the Prophet (s) address the Sahaabah (r)? We can know, but is there something he didn't tell them? wa ahsana taa`deebee, “and perfected it,” which means there is a lower and a higher adab, and no limitation to the perfection of the Prophet (s)! So then, what is one of these adab you can understand? If someone has nakhwa, “self-respect,” “honor,” or “dignity,” will he allow his brother, son, daughter or sister to be lost at the hands of the enemy? No way! Do you think from the adab that Allah perfected in the Prophet (s) that He will allow anyone in his ummah to not enter Paradise?

And he said, Innamaa bu`ithtu li utimmu makaarim al-akhlaaq, “He came to perfect the best of character.” So that means you will not leave this dunya without being perfected in adab by the Prophet (s). Will a general fighting an army of devils or enemies let anyone be taken prisoner? Will the Prophet (s) let Iblees take anyone of his ummah, or he will take the whole ummah with him to Paradise? He will take the whole ummah! That is why it is said in the hadith that on Judgment Day the Prophet (s) makes shafa` ah for the ummah in three different sajdas and he will take the entire ummah (to Paradise).

O Muslim brothers who are here, or anywhere: try to learn adab! When we say “Allahu Akbar,” enter into prayer with perfect adab; otherwise, for example, how can someone who is junoob pray? You have to take a shower and dress in clean clothes, then you pray. So adab is to perfect our hearts, then present ourselves to Allah (swt).

Why is it necessary to go to Hajj? Because in visiting the Prophet (s) and Ka`batullah, Allah gave many ways for purification. In the hadith it is mentioned that one prayer in the Haram ash-Shareef is equal to 100,000 prayers. If I pray `Asr, how many `Asr did I pray? 100,000. If I pray there all day and night 100,000 Fajr, 100,000 Zhuhr, 100,000 `Asr, 100,000 Maghrib and 100,000 `Isha: 500,000 prayers.

What are the pillars of Islam? There are five: Shahaadah, Salaat, Sawm, Zakaat and Hajj. Why is Hajj at the end; why did the Prophet (s) in his answer to Jibril (a) mention Hajj last? He left it to the end, because when you do Hajj and don't fight others or come with dirty behavior, you return home pure, like a newborn baby. If you missed any prayer, pray its qada, then you have covered it. But you must do qada, you must not miss any or you have to make it up. Some Muslims miss it, they have this problem .You have to pray qada, but many don't. So we hope that with Allah's mercy these 100,000 prayers will cover the missed prayers. You still have to do the makeup prayer, but Allah is giving a huge reward, giving you 100,000 prayers for each.

Also, in Madinah you get the reward of 10,000 prayers for each prayer. Why is it 10,000 in Madinah, why not one million? It is from adab, the Prophet’s (s) good manners with Allah (swt), showing he is a servant! But awliyaullah say there is no count of the reward that Allah will give for prayers in Madinah, out of love to His Prophet (s)!

May Allah (swt) forgive us and may Allah (swt) bless this meeting.

Wa min Allah at-tawfeeq bi-hurmatil Fatihah.