Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) At A Glance: Mercy For All

Dr. Shaykh Ali Gomaa

Dr. Shaykh Ali Gomaa is the Grand Mufti of Egypt and heads Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah. He is one of the internationally most respected Islamic jurists and scholars and plays an important role in presenting the intellectual discourse of Islam in the modern world.


Love is the most captivating sentiment that captures the heart of the lover and fills it with love and awe for the beloved. For the lover, his eyes are filled with tears whenever the name of his beloved is mentioned and his face sparkles with light when someone narrates a story about his beloved. The lover’s feeling of longing and yearning for his beloved is so intense that the beloved becomes dearer to him than all else. When the beloved is away from the lover’s sight, the lover would do anything to get a glimpse of his beloved. For Muslims, Prophet Muhammad is the most beloved of all and his biography indicates his noble life journey which was an embodiment of divine mercy. He was a divine mercy walking on earth and Muslims follow suit attempting to tread his path of mercy and love.

Prophet Muhammad is the last messenger of God in a long line of messengers starting from Adam passing by Noha, Jonah, Joseph, Moses and Jesus among many other prophets and messengers. Muslims believe that Prophet Muhammad represents the last divine link between heaven and earth carrying with him the last eternal testament to guide our journey here on earth to find our way back to our divine origin.

Origin of reverence

From this perspective, it would be relatively easy to understand the amount of reverence that the Prophet Muhammad enjoys due to the divine mission that he was sent to fulfill. This kind of reverence takes in Islamic etiquette more than normal feelings of awe, it goes further to a wide range of manners in dealing with the Prophet. These manners are well defined and detailed in the Quran through not calling the Prophet Muhammad with his first name and address him as a messenger of God. Also during his presence, Muslims are asked to lower their voices out of respect. After the death of the Prophet, the same practice is conducted when Muslims go and visit his blessed grave in Medinah.

One of the most important manners that Muslims are asked to observe is invoking peace and blessings on Prophet Muhammad whenever his name is mentioned and for this reason Muslims always say Prophet Muhamamd (peace be upon him). These kinds of manners and etiquettes are conducted even in protocols with kings and royalties and it shows utter respect and utmost feelings of greatness.

Flow of love

On the other hand reverence is not always a clear indicator of love. Sometimes reverence comes out of fear but whoever reads the biography of the Prophet Muhammad, he would find that his companions were paying him utter respect which was expected but also utter love which begs some questions in our minds. Love by nature cannot be bought or forced. It is rather an inner feeling of longing and attachment to the beloved. The unique thing about loving Prophet Muhammad is that it was not confined only to the companions who enjoyed the presence of the Prophet but it flowed from one generation to the next till it reached us today. Therefore, it would be no wonder to find a little boy or girl at the age of 5 or 6 singing love songs for the Prophet Muhammad.

This flow of love for Prophet Muhammad can only be understood within the context of the Quran and the appellation that was given to him by God as He named the Prophet as a “Mercy to the worlds”. Mercy in Arabic is rahmah which encompasses within its fold all meanings of love, compassion, generosity, tenderness, leniency, forgiveness…etc. This idea of overarching mercy to all worlds gives rise to the universality of Islam which does not confine itself to a certain place or limit itself to a specific time frame and more importantly this mercy does not target certain race or ethnicity be it Arabs or Turks or Caucuses or Anglo Saxons or Asians. The fact of the matter is that it transcends the boundaries of space, time and race to encompass all humanity in its fold.

Perfect Manners

Humans are naturally inclined to love those who are kind to them and caring about their affairs. Noble manners have the profoundest influence in guiding and reforming. The Prophet reached the summit of all virtues so perfectly that Allah praised him, saying: {And indeed, you (O Muhammad) are of an exalted moral character.} (Al-Qalam 68: 4)

This is the essence of the Prophet’s mission: “Verily, Allah has sent me to perfect righteous manners,” (Musnad Ahmad) to which he himself was the living embodiment, perfectly living what he preached.

Mercy for Enemies

In our world today, with the advancement of technology we managed to develop all sorts of lethal weapons with the aim of not only deterring the aggression of the enemy but with the adamant intention of annihilation with no guiding principles or limit for the use of force. Also the sense of aggression does not stop at killing the enemy but it extends to disfiguring their dead bodies turning a blind eye on the simplest meanings of human dignity. War captives are not better off being alive as they are subjected to severe torture and excruciating pain which make them at times prefer death over life.

When one traces the life of the Prophet Muhammad, we would find that mercy penetrated through his noble life not only in dealing with his family and friends but more importantly in dealing with his foes and enemies who aimed at his annihilation at every step of the way. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the role model who applied the different concepts of mercy, justice and freedom laid down in the Quran and showed Muslims how to conduct and abide by these concepts practically. In other terms he taught Muslims how to walk the talk.

The Prophet Muhammad had strict rules for conducting wars:

The nobility of purpose which means that no personal interests or private gains should be the aim behind which jihad is being waged.

Fighting should be only against warriors not defenseless civilians who are not in the battle field and not equipped or trained to be engaged in combat. Killing and harming women and children are prohibited.

Preserving the lives of the captives and treat them humanely.

Preserving the environment which includes the prohibition of killing animals or cutting trees or destroying harvest or polluting rivers or wells or demolishing houses.

Preserving religious freedom for the worshippers in their homes, churches or synagogues…etc. Killing and attacking people by surprise is prohibited since it involves deception.

Permission to enter a country is considered a non-verbal security agreement not to cause corruption in the host country. So whoever enters a foreign land in safety and betrays its people violates this security agreement. This is prohibited because it involves treachery which is forbidden in Islam.

The enemy must be from among those whom Muslims are permitted to fight as compared to the enemy with whom Muslims have a truce. It is impermissible to attack the enemy under the cover of night because it is a violation of the security pact between them in terms of lives, wealth, and honor.

These laid conditions indicate the Prophet’s keenness to keep his enemies alive and dignified while deterring their aggression. The prophet would prefer truce over bloodshed, reconciliation over war and harmony over hostility.

Mercy with his household

In our world today and with the fast pace of our lives, we get too occupied to show our family that we are there for them on day to day bases. We are overwhelmed with work thinking that we have fulfilled our share of the deal and simply refuse to cooperate with our families in house chores or in fetching items for the house.

The Prophet Muhammad strikes rather a unique example of humbleness and mercy to his household by being an active participant in chores and duties. Bearing the burden of messengership, propagating the message of Islam, building the new Muslim community, facing the aggression of his enemies are huge tasks that no man can bear yet Prophet Muhammad teaches us that no matter how busy our daily schedule is, finding time for one’s family is one of the duties that we all should aspire to fulfill.

Prophet Muhammad used to give fodder to the camel and tether it, sweep the house, milk the sheep, mend his shoes, patch his garment, eat with his servant, and grind the wheat instead of him if he asked him to. He used to buy dates from the marketplace; shyness did not prevent him from hanging them on his hand or wrapping them in the hem of his garment to take them to his family.

Mercy with people

In our daily lives, we became too hasty that we forget to pause and greet an old friend walking across the street. We would think twice before smiling back at a total stranger. We might feel shy to walk with someone who is not well dressed or looks dirty. Our ego may stand in our way to keep us from accepting an invitation over lunch or dinner from our subordinates or servants. We might get too occupied with our own lives to ask about the news of our friends.

The Prophet Muhammad taught us how to look at people with the eyes of mercy and only then all people will become equal in our sight rich or poor, black or white, old and young. The Prophet Muhammad shook hands with the rich and the poor, the young and the old, and was the first to greet whoever met him, whether young or old, black or red, free or a slave. He did not feel shy about accepting invitations when he was invited, even if they came from an unkempt, dust-covered person. He never looked down on anything to which he was invited.

He was lenient, generous, friendly, and cheerful. He smiled without laughing, was sad without frowning, strong without violence, modest without servility, and generous without extravagance. He was merciful towards all people, tenderhearted, and always contemplative. He was never satiated with food, and he never stretched his hand out of greed. He used to occupy himself with people’s concerns and guide them towards what might set right their affairs, answering what they asked about, telling them what they needed to know, and used to say:

“Let those of you who are present inform those who are absent (of the knowledge they have heard); and inform me about the needs of those who cannot convey it themselves. Truly, the one who informs a person of authority about the need of one who is unable to convey it himself will have his feet made firm by Allah on the Day of Resurrection.”

He used to inquire after his Companions, and ask about what troubled people. He used to praise and support the good things, and condemn and undermine the bad.

Mercy in his gatherings

In our modern life, meetings and assemblies might be a way of proving one’s self over others or forcing his opinion as the only valid one. Also gatherings can be about impressing others with one’s eloquent talk or fancy outfit without having a good reason for talking in the first place. At other times, gatherings are filled with backbiting and fault finding of others.

The Prophet Muhammad taught us the etiquettes of assemblies as his method of assembly was one of knowledge, tolerance, modesty, truthfulness, and patience, in which he was always cheerful, lenient, and good-natured. He was never rude, tough, noisy, or a fault-finder. He forbade himself from engaging in disputes, excess, and things that did not concern him, and never dispraised, criticized, or sought to know the lapses of anyone.

He only talked for a good purpose. No voices were raised during his assemblies. When he talked, those sitting with him bowed their heads and listened, as if there were birds perched on their heads. They did not speak until he had stopped. None interrupted the other, nor did the Messenger of Allah interrupt anyone. He laughed at what his attendants laughed at and admired what they admired.

He never rose or sat down without mentioning Allah, and would seat himself where he found a place (not in a particular place), and advised others to do the same. He used to divide his attention between all the attendants of his assembly to such a degree that each believed himself to be the closest to him. When anyone sat or talked with him about some issue, he remained patiently with him until that person was the one to leave. Anyone who came to him with a need would leave either having it fulfilled or with a kind word. His generously noble character was spacious enough to love all people, and he became a father to them all

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