This is a distinction of the holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) that people relied on him as a means not only before his Prophethood but also before birth. In the last section it has been discussed how Adam (عليه السلام) first of all and then the Jews benefited from his mediation. When the former nations and communities prayed through him for victory over their enemies and for their own redemption, the Muslim community as his direct followers are far more deserving of this privilege. This is the reason the Qur’ān has furnished an irrefutable proof of the infinite blessings and rewards the Muslim community received through his mediation. The Companions depended on him as a source of intermediation and he never directed them to implore Allah directly. On the contrary, he himself educated them in making use of different modes of intermediation. The Qur’ānic arguments relating to intermediation through the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) are discussed below:
The Holy Qur’ān guides us in the following way about intermediation through the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) in his earthly existence:
And (the fact of the matter is that) it is unbecoming of Allah to inflict punishment on them while (O exalted friend,) you are also (present) among them, nor will Allah punish them in a state when they are seeking forgiveness (from Him).
From this it is evident that Allah has changed His universal system for the sake of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). The former nations fell victim to divine punishment when they crossed all limits of divine disobedience and refused to embrace the message of truth. In this way their disobedience incurred the divine wrath. Sometimes stones were hurled at them from the skies, at other times their faces were disfigured and at still other times, they were drowned in floods. In short, different types of punishment were wreaked on them, which clearly indicated that it was their outrageous act of disobedience that had invited the divine anger. But when the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) descended on this earth, Allah changed His rules and regulations. This reflects the glory and grandeur of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and the divine recognition of his exceptional status. It was for his sake alone that He waived His earthly punishments not only against the Muslims but also against the infidels, the Jews and the Christians. This waiver was not restricted to a specific time or era but became a universal and integral part of his Prophethood and Messengership. As long as his gracious presence as the Prophet and Messenger of Allah blesses this world, punishment will not visit the people who live on this earth. And there is no doubt that his Prophethood will continue till the Day of Judgement because on the basis of the Prophet’s presence amongst us (wa anta fīhim), his presence turned into a fountain-head of divine mercy. Therefore, as long as he is present among us, it is guaranteed by the Lord Himself that the Community will remain immune to all kinds of punishment. Thus the personality of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) has become a symbol of the absence of divine punishment.
The verse indicates two sources of access to divine nearness: one is the source of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and the other is the source of repentance. Both sources are means of immunity against divine punishment. Just as diplomats enjoy diplomatic immunity, people who repent and rely on the Prophet’s mediation enjoy divine immunity. This immunity helps in stalling punishment. But Allah has given precedence to the Prophet’s mediation over repentance as is reflected in their chronological order. First, He mentions the intermediation through the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), and then He mentions repentance. The inference is transparent if one studies the verse dispassionately: repentance is actually contingent on the repentant’s relationship with the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). This relationship should not be a mere pretense, but it should be based on sincerity and devotion. Therefore, the repentance of only those persons will receive divine sanction who whole-heartedly believe in the integrity and finality of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). Thus their repentance is conditional. People who repent should not only believe in him as a Prophet but also sincerely believe that even today he is with us and that he will continue to be with us till the Day of Judgement. When this belief is deeply entrenched in our hearts and minds, our repentance will acquire an incredible immediacy and lead to the waiving of punishment.
Strangely enough, the infidels and the disbelievers cast blatant aspersions on the truth of the Holy Qur’ān. They flagrantly challenged the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) by saying that they did not believe in the Qur’ān and if the Qur’ān they denied was full of truth, then punishment should be inflicted on them. As the Qur’ān says:
And when they said (tauntingly), O Allah, if this (Qur’ān) that has come from You is the truth, then hurl stones on us (on account of its disobedience) or inflict on us some agonizing punishment.
The infidels posed this challenge to gauge the truth and veracity of the Qur’ān. But in reply to the challenge, Allah has pointed out in the adjacent verse: if my beloved were not among you, your arrogance and false pride would have been quashed like that of the earlier nations. This goes against the grain of My mercy, that on the one hand, My Beloved is present among you, and, on the other hand, I should wreak punishment on you. Thus the presence of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and the infliction of divine punishment are mutually exclusive. The presence of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is a divine guarantee against the materialization of punishment because Allah has sent him as a means of mercy for all the worlds. The Qur’ān declares:
And (O great Messenger,) We have sent you but as mercy for all the worlds.
Here Allah makes it explicit that the extraordinary status of His beloved and its declaration in the 33rd verse of surah al-Anfāl, is what prevents Him from inflicting punishment on them, despite their sin and disobedience. Otherwise human history is a witness to the fact that rebels and challengers like them never enjoyed any immunity against divine punishment in any period and particularly those nations whose arrogant and supercilious behaviour had crossed all limits of human tolerance and decency and, therefore, invited His wrath. Some of them were cast in the moulds of monkeys, others were drowned in water while still others lost their lives as a result of some deafening sound. In short, their disobedience was instantaneously retaliated with divine punishment.
This is noteworthy that the infidels and disbelievers, spurred on by their chronic philosophy of denial and denigration, challenged Allah to wreak punishment on them because they denied the truth of the Qur’ān. But the Qur’ānic reply, recorded in the adjacent verse, surprised them by posing a counterchallenge. The Qur’ān not only highlighted the dignity and merciful nature of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) but also declared his personality as a means of holding back divine punishment against the infidels and the disbelievers in their earthly existence.
This is endorsed by surah Āl-i-‘Imrān which stresses the guarantee of the presence of the holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) as a means of guidance. Allah says:
And how would you (now) disbelieve while you are (among those fortunates) that to you are rehearsed the verses of Allah, and His Messenger (himself) is in your midst? And whoever holds fast to Allah’s (lap), is indeed guided towards the right path.
What precedes this verse is the Qur’ānic assertion that the Jews and the Christians employed an assortment of devices to persuade the Muslims to return to disbelief. The filthiest device used by them was their tantalizing attitude which helped them generate an ambience of suspense and uncertainty to sow seeds of doubt among the Muslims. They posed themselves as Muslims in the morning and turned disbelievers in the evening claiming that Islam did not suit their temper. But the conspiracy that operated behind this line of action was based on the belief that the weaklings among the Muslims would be inspired by their return to disbelief and, as a result, follow in their footsteps, jettisoning Islam and embracing disbelief. In fact, it was a heinous strategy to disenchant the Muslims with Islam. But it was unveiled by Allah and, on account of the presence of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) among them, the designs of these turncoats were hopelessly frustrated. In addition, the context of the verse also serves as a certificate of solace and consolation for those Muslims who seem vulnerable to doubt and vacillation, and this certificate is not a form of abstraction; it draws nourishment from the personality of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) himself. Allah is in fact saying that those who are assailed by doubt and suspicion and are in constant fear of losing their faith, should turn to the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) as a source of strength and stability. If they act on this prescription, they will never return to disbelief after they have embraced Islam. Thus the prescription for retaining a steady and unwavering faith is to hold on firmly to the Qur’ān and the Messenger of Allah. The two means are the strongest pillars on which the structure of Islamic faith can be raised.
In this Qur’ānic verse, the need and significance of belief in Messengership is being emphasized. What is being emphasized here is not the presence of the Qur’ān among them, but the presence of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). The Qur’ān could have emphasized the simultaneity of their presence: how could you return to disbelief as the Qur’ān as well as the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is present among you. But this mode of presentation is deliberately eschewed, unravelling a specific divine purpose. When He referred to His own Book, He stated that the verses of Allah are rehearsed to you. It means that the mere presence of the book carries no guarantee of protection against return to disbelief, therefore, it posits the presence of someone who will rehearse the verses, and it is His beloved who rehearses these verses to us. Thus the Qur’ān, referring to the Prophet’s duty of articulating these verses, claims:
(And) a Messenger (has been sent) who rehearses to you Allah’s verses.
Allah makes it explicit through these verses that whatever benefit you draw from the Qur’ān is through the Messenger’s rehearsal. Thus the benefit from the Qur’ān is operational only if it is processed through the mediation of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), otherwise, you shall be doomed forever. As Allah says:
Allah, by means of a single act, makes many people go astray, and guides many others.
Even in this condition, they shall have the Qur’ān, but some of them will earn only deviation from the right path. Then He declared:
And whoever holds fast to Allah’s (lap), is indeed guided toward the right path.
Now the question arises how to identify Allah’s lap, that is, approach to Him? The approach to Allah leads through the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). Any attempt to gain access to the Lord by bypassing him is an exercise in futility. In the Qur’ānic language, the servitude of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is in fact abstaining from sin in obedience to God’s will. Therefore, if you hold on firmly to him, you are following the will of the Lord as you cast yourself in the Prophet’s mould and guidance becomes your destiny. Thus, clinging to the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and emulating his way of life is a guarantee of immunity against any return to disbelief.
The episode relates to the battle of Uhud. Some of the Companions had been posted at a specific spot (pass) by the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) who had stressed upon them not to budge from their place whether the Muslims scored a victory or suffered a defeat. But some of them left their place of duty to grab the spoils of war. As a result, the infidels of Makkah pounced upon them from behind which bewildered the Muslims, and created a stampede in their ranks. A number of the Companions received martyrdom on account of the unexpected enemy attack. The Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) recalled the scattered Companions and inspired by his motivational address, they fought a pitched battle and inflicted a humiliating defeat on the enemy. The next day after they had returned from the battle of Uhud, the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) asked them to get ready for another battle. Though the Companions were lacerated with injuries and exhausted by overexertions, unprotestingly capitulated to the Prophet’s command. Both Allah and the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) felt pity at their spirit of sacrifice and Allah decided to forgive them for their lapses, for example, (1) to leave the pass for collecting the spoils of war, and (2) to leave the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) alone and unguarded on the battlefield, which had caused great loss to the Muslim army as well as resulted in a facial injury to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). It was no doubt a grave offence, but their readiness to plunge into another battle soon after the battle of Uhud and, inspired by the spirit of jihad, their readiness for self-sacrifice, deeply touched the strings of divine passion, and Allah commanded the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم):
So you should overlook their faults and ask forgiveness for them.
This Qur’ānic verse recommends forgiveness for the Companions. It clearly implies that the certificate of forgiveness cannot be issued to the Companions unless it is processed through the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), that is, unless it includes the Prophet’s mediation as an instrument of their forgiveness.
The point to be emphasized here is the reversal of priority. Allah, being the Lord and the Master, can act independently of any creature, and by virtue of His inherent independence, He is the Master of forgiveness while the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is His creature and, by virtue of his creaturely status, depends entirely on Him. But Allah, out of His love for the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), has deliberately reversed the priority. The Master wants to forgive and says to the one who is dependent on Him: O My beloved, I want to forgive your Companions, but first of all you should forgive them and then ask Me for their forgiveness so that I should forgive them on your recommendation. This fact has been given poetic expression by Ahmad Radā Khān. He has described how the Creator, in His capacity as the Lord and the Master, is conferring special honour on His own creature by giving precedence to His consent even over His own. He says that here the consent of the Master depends on the consent of the servant which turns the normal pattern of expectation upside down by eliminating the distinction between you and Me, between the Lover and the beloved, between the Master and the servant. Though the status of the creature is incomparable with that of the Creator Who is the Lord and Master of all the worlds, yet in this Qur’ānic verse, the element of comparison is being consciously underplayed by the Creator Himself and, through an act of voluntary surrender, He is raising the status of His creature to extraordinary heights of glory and excellence by the protocol of love, and not by the protocol of grade. He has not only edged out the “you-me” distinction, but is also giving priority to the creature’s consent even over His own. If God had intended to retain the distinction between Himself and His creature, He would never have made it contingent on the creature’s will. This by no means implies that the creature has all of a sudden grown into the Creator or surpassed Him in excellence. It only suggests the exceptional stature of the creature, which has been conferred on him by his Creator. It dissolves all distinctions between the creature and the Creator as both are bonded together in the relation of love, and not in the relation of grade.
The following Qur’ānic verse furnishes a strong argument in favour of intermediation through the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) in his existence on the earth:
(O beloved!) And if they had come to you, when they had wronged their souls, and asked forgiveness of Allah, and the Messenger also had asked forgiveness from them, they (on the basis of this means and intercession) would have surely found Allah the Granter of repentance, extremely Merciful.
Through this verse, Allah is directing the believers towards the most appropriate mode of repentance. Whenever they commit a sin or an error, they should ask forgiveness of Allah through the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). Allah will forgive them on the basis of this mediation. The verse makes the divine intention quite explicit and transparent. It also implies that, among the many modes of repentance available to the believers, the most effective mode is to seek Allah’s forgiveness through the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). His intercession will be a guarantee of its immediate acceptance. And this Qur’ānic injunction applied not only to his earthly existence but shall remain valid even after his death.
In addition to the Qur’ānic verses, the sayings of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) provide a clear proof that the believers relied on him as a source of intermediation in his earthly life. Besides, he himself commanded people to depend on him as a source of intermediation as has been narrated by ‘Uthmān bin Hunayf:
That a blind man called on the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and said to him: ‘(O Messenger of Allah,) pray to Allah to give me solace’. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said: ‘if you wish, I will stall it and this is better for you.’ He said: ‘you should pray for me to Him.’ So he asked him to perform the ablution: ‘perform the ablution thoroughly well and then offer two cycles of optional prayer and beseech Allah with this supplication: “O Allah, I appeal to You, and submit to You through the mediation of the merciful Prophet Muhammad. O Muhammad, through your mediation I submit myself to My Lord to have my need granted. O Allah, acknowledge his intercession in my favour.”
Ibn Mājah, Hākim and Dhahabī have declared it a sound (sahīh) tradition while Tirmidhī graded it hasan (fair) sahīh, gharīb (unfamiliar or rare).
Similarly, another tradition narrated by Imam Hākim is couched in different words. In this tradition, ‘Uthmān bin Hunayf says that he was present in the Prophet’s company. A blind person called on the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and complained about the loss of his eyesight. He added: ‘O Messenger of Allah, there is no one to guide me and I am in great trouble.’ On hearing his complaint, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) said:
Bring an earthen pot for ablution, then perform the ablution and offer two cycles of optional prayer. Then say: “O Allah, I appeal to You, and submit to You through the mediation of Your merciful Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). O Muhammad, through your mediation I submit myself to your Lord that He should give light to my eyes. O Allah, acknowledge his intercession in my favour and accept my supplication also in my favour.” ‘Uthmān bin Hunayf says: I swear by Allah that we had neither left the company nor had we carried on a long conversation that the man entered (with his sight fully restored) and it seemed as if he had never been blind.
In addition, a number of other traditionists of great repute have recorded this sound tradition and their names are given below:
Mahmūd Sa‘īd Mamdūh has also expressed his views in his book Raf‘-ul-Minārah (p.123):
“All these chains are sound which have been certified by persons who have committed the traditions to memory. Among these are also included Imam Tirmidhī, Tabarānī, Ibn Khuzaymah, Hākim and Dhahabī.”
This sacred tradition clearly indicates that the creature is imploring Allah Who Alone can help him and provide relief to him. He Alone has the power to transform non-existence into existence, non-entity into entity. But the point to be noted here is that the words of the supplication are being taught by the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) himself in which God’s attention and help are being invoked for its acceptance through his own mediation. It may be further noted that it is not only his person that is being relied upon for the acknowledgement of the prayer, but also the quality of his mercy that he has been vested with through Allah’s kindness. Thus the prayer boils down to the fact that the petitioner is saying: O Allah, I appeal to You through the mediation of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) whom You have Yourself vested with infinite mercy that You should restore my lost eyesight and return light to my eyes which they have lost.
Since the prayer was processed through the Prophet’s mediation, the Lord’s mercy gushed forth instantly as it is against the divine will that some petitioner should invoke His mercy through the mediation of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and his petition should not be granted. In this case the grant of the prayer was neither delayed nor was the phenomenon of cause-and-effect allowed to interfere in its acceptance. It was the blessing of the Prophet’s mediation which returned the eyesight instantly as if it had never been lost.
During the life of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) whenever there was a dry spell on account of a prolonged absence of rain and signs of drought appeared, the Companions used to request him to pray for rain though they themselves could have done it. There is no doubt that they were men of knowledge and possessed a greater understanding of religion than us, but they were also deeply aware of the difference between the ordinary servants of the Lord and His special servants. They knew too well that the prayer of an ordinary servant can be rejected but that of His favoured ones invariably finds His approval. And this was the rationale behind the Companion’s request to the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) to pray for the alleviation of their difficulties and problems. They wanted to impress upon the believers the distinction between ordinary people and Allah’s most favoured ones. They capitulated willingly to this divinely established hierarchical grading and they expected all believers to recognize and respect the special status Allah had conferred on His special servants, and this recognition of their extraordinary status should be ungrudgingly accepted because Islam is primarily a religion of submission to the will of the Lord. So whenever there was shortfall of rain and there were apprehensions of drought, the Companions approached the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and then witnessed the sight of God’s mercy with their own eyes. The Prophet’s prayer brought rain in the flash of a second. There is a frequent reference to such faith-boosting occurrences in the books on hadith. Below are recorded some of these occurrence to illustrate the fact that intermediation through the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is a direct source of bliss for the helpless and embattled people because whenever he prayed to the Lord, his prayer was immediately granted. This is an inherent feature of the Prophet’s supplication. It is out of the question that Allah should discard his supplication because it is a promise made by Himself that whenever His beloved prays to Him, his prayer would be granted, and without any delay.
When the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) himself was a child, there was a severe drought, not a drop of water to drink and people only looked at the sky wistfully for the unexpected rain. They had grown weary out of hunger. Their sobs and sighs dissolved in tears but to no avail. Not a single cloud appeared in the sky. At last, when all strategies to bring down the rain had fizzled out, Abū Tālib thought of praying through the mediation of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). He led all the people to a wide open space. Abū Tālib held the child in his arms, lifted him towards the sky and said: “O Lord, confer on us the gift of rain through the source of this handsome child, we submit his means to you.” He repeated these words three times. The sky that was used to raining fire and had been lying cloudless for a long time, was suddenly overcast with clouds. Jet-black clouds floated all around and it started raining. It rained in torrents and the drainpipes of the houses started flowing like gushing rivulets.
About forty-five years after this happening when the Banī Hāshim tribe was under house arrest in Abū Tālib’s mountain pass, Abū Tālib wrote a passionate panegyric which also referred to this happening. He warned the residents of Makkah that he would never hand over to them such a blessed person. On the contrary, they would sacrifice their lives, children and property in his defence. People who think that we will surrender to them our most precious treasure are sadly mistaken. One of the verses of this panegyric translates as follows:
And the one with the illumined face, whose lighted face acts as a means of bringing down rain, who is the supporter of orphans and a redresser of the complaints of widows.
Ibn ‘Umar says: ‘I often recalled this verse of Abū Tālib whenever I looked at the face of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) praying for rain. He had hardly stepped down the pulpit that the drainpipes started flowing.’ We come to know through Ibn ‘Umar’s words that the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) received frequent requests from people to pray for rain and, through the instrumentality of his prayer, it started raining. The tradition is recorded in these words:
‘Abdullāh bin Dīnār is reported to have heard it from his father who said: I heard it from Ibn ‘Umar who used to recite Abū Tālib’s verse: “And the one with the illumined face whose lighted face acts as a means of bringing down rain, who is the supporter of orphans and a redresser of the complaints of widows.” And ‘Umar bin Hamzah said that Sālim has reported to us from his father (‘Abdullāh bin ‘Umar) that I sometimes recalled this verse by the poet and sometimes looked at the lighted face of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) when he prayed for rain, and had hardly stepped down the pulpit that the drainpipes started flowing gushingly. “And the one with the illumined face whose lighted face acts as a means of bringing down rain, who is the supporter of orphans and a redresser of the complaints of widows.”
Different traditions are narrated through Anas bin Mālik in this context. Some of them are:
Once the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) was delivering the Friday sermon among us that suddenly a man approached him and said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah, it has not rained since ages. You should pray for us that Allah may saturate us with rain.’ So he prayed for them and it started raining, we hardly returned to our homes that the rain began to fall and it continued down to the next Friday. Again the same person or someone else stood up and said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah, pray for us that Allah should divert this rain to some other place.’ So the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) prayed: ‘O Allah, bring down the rain not on us but on the areas around and about us.’ I saw that instantly the cloud rolled away right and left. It rained in all the areas except in Medina.
That a person entered the mosque through the door in front of the pulpit and the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) was delivering the sermon while standing. So that person took a position right in front of him. Then he said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, the cattle have died and the paths are disconnected. So pray to Allah that He should send rain on us.’ (Anas says that) the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) raised both of his hands and addressed (Allah): ‘O Allah, send us rain; O Allah, send us rain; O Allah, send us rain.’ Anas said: By Allah! We could see neither a cloud in the sky, nor even a fragment of a cloud, and there was neither a house nor any other building between us and the mountain. Then a piece of cloud, that was the size of a shield, appeared from behind the hill. It started floating in the sky and then it spread out, and it started raining. By God! For six days we did not see the sun in the sky. Then the next Friday another person entered through the same door while the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) was delivering the sermon in the standing posture. He positioned himself in front of him and said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, the cattle have died and the paths are disconnected, so pray to Allah that he should stop the rain.’ Anas relates that the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) again raised his hands and addressed (Allah), ‘O Allah, (the rain) may fall around us, and not on us; O Allah, (the rain) may fall on the hills, hillocks, valleys and the places where the trees grow.’ Anas says that the rain stopped and we came out (of the mosque) and we were walking in the sunshine. Sharīk said, ‘I asked Anas: was it the same person who had come before?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’
Once during the time of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) famine gripped Medina. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) was delivering the Friday sermon to us that a person stood up and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, the horses and the goats have died. So pray to Allah that He may send us rain.’ The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) raised his holy hands and prayed. Anas relates that (at that time) the sky was as (transparent) as cutglass. (But on account of the Prophet’s prayer,) the breeze blew instantly and the clouds came over. Then they grew quite dense and then the sky opened its mouth wide (that is, it started raining in torrents). We came out from there and (drenched in rain and) almost drowning in water, we reached our homes. The rain did not stop till the next Friday. The same day the same person or someone else stood up and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, the houses have collapsed, so pray to Allah that this may stop.’ He smiled and then prayed (to Allah) that rain may fall around us, and not on us. So I saw that the clouds had rolled away from Medina (and Medina appeared) as if it was crowned by the sky.
In another tradition, Anas relates that Allah shows to the people the blessing of His Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and the acceptance of his prayers.
It happened after his Prophethood. The country was in the grip of famine. Once a villager came crying to him and pointed to him graphically the trouble and devastation caused by the drought. He depicted the afflictions of the affected people poetically in these terms:
O Messenger of Allah, our miserable situation has driven us to seek your help, to request you to pray for us. Young girls are forced to work on account of poverty and their breasts are bleeding due to overexertion. The sanguine situation has made people so self-centred that even a kind and affectionate person such as a mother has grown indifferent to her child. And on account of the physical debility caused by hunger, the child is lying senseless and exhausted, and neither a sour nor a sweet word is coming out of his mouth. There is nothing for people to eat except useless wild grass or the food that has been damaged by the affliction.
O Master! Our struggle is confined only to you, and people have access to no one else but the messengers.
On hearing the complaint, the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) became restless, and he ascended the pulpit, his shawl trailing behind and spread his hands in a posture of prayer: “O Allah, You are infinitely Kind and Merciful. Bring down on them the beneficial continuous torrential rain that may breathe life into the dead skeletons, fill the breasts with milk and give vitality to the land.”
The Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) had hardly touched his face with his spread palms to indicate the end of his prayer that the sky was overcast with clouds and they showered rain on the land so copiously that the entire area was saturated with water. The land wore a spring-clean look as it had been thoroughly washed by rain. The rain continued till people from adjacent areas came running to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah, everything is about to sink due to excess of rain. Please pray that the rain should stop, otherwise, it will wash away everything.’ People who had been deprived of water for a long time were so saturated with the divine mercy and blessing that they started grumbling against the narrow capacity of their valleys and canals. On account of the immediate acceptance of his prayer, the coming down of rain, its excess and the mixed reaction of his followers, he felt so elated that a pleasant smile spread over his face. It seemed as if spring had returned to the parched land. In that joyful state he said:
May God bless Abū Tālib. If he were here, this sight would surely have cooled his eyes (he would have felt very happy). Who will recite to us his verse?
‘Alī felt overjoyous on hearing this from the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) and said to him: perhaps you would like to listen to this verse:
And the one with the illumined face, whose lighted face acts as a means of bringing down rain, who is the supporter of orphans and a redresser of the complaints of widows.
Meanwhile, a poet from the tribe of Kinānah stood up and he expressed his appreciation in the form of these verses: ‘O Allah, we articulate Your praise and this praise is from Your servants who are grateful to You because we have been blessed with rain through the lighted face of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). He prayed to his Lord and at the same time he raised his eyes and looked towards the sky. Hardly a fraction of a second had passed that we saw the pearls of rain. He is a spitting image of the words in which his uncle Abū Tālib has cast him – he is handsome and has a face that gives out light and luminosity. So, whoever is grateful to Allah is ultimately blessed, and whoever is ungrateful, is cursed with the worst.’ The Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) was immensely pleased by the spontaneous expression of his sincere feelings and said:
If poets are capable of saying fine things, you have certainly given expression to something fine.
Another similar happening is recorded in the books on tradition and the life of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) which is sumned up as follows:
When the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) had returned from the battle of Tabūk, the afflected people of Fazārah tribe called on him and complained to him about their backwardness, poverty and sense of economic deprivation caused by lack of rain. He (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) took pity on them and prayed to the Lord for rain. As a result of his prayer, it rained in buckets and it continued uninterrupted for eight days. The next Friday someone requested the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) for the rain to stop. He prayed: ‘O Allah, let it rain around and about us but not on us,’ and Allah granted his prayer.
In the preceding pages we discussed in detail the reliance on the Prophet’s mediation during his earthly life in the light of the Qur’ān and the Sunnah. And this mediation was not restricted to a specific issue but it was applied invariably to all religious and worldly matters as the Companions used to pray to God through his means. The traditions we have described amply prove that the Prophet’s mediation was relied upon in all matters ranging from disease, pain, difficulty, faith, forgiveness of sins to the economic deprivation of the people. In short, people depended on his mediation in all religious and secular matters and he also prayed to the Lord for all kinds of people. He never discouraged them from coming to him for prayer. He never told them: ‘Allah is even closer to you than your main artery, so stay at your homes and pray to Him directly.’ On the other hand, he commended the people for coming to the right place which clearly indicated that Allah Himself had guided them to approach him for the fulfilment of their wishes and the realization of their needs. This particular guidance provided by Allah Himself to the needy is a clear proof of the fact that intermediation through the prophets and the messengers is a valid and commendable act.
. Qur’ān (al-Anfāl) 8:33.
. Qur’ān (al-Anfāl) 8:32.
. Qur’ān (al-Ambiyā’) 21:107.
. Qur’ān (Āl-i-‘Imrān) 3:101.
. Qur’ān (at-Talāq) 65:11.
. Qur’ān (al-Baqarah) 2:26.
. Qur’ān (Āl-i-‘Imrān) 3:101.
. Qur’ān (Āl-i-‘Imrān) 3:159.
. Qur’ān (an-Nisā’) 4:64.
. Ibn Mājah transmitted it in his Sunan, b. of iqāmat-us-salāt was-sunnah fīhā (establishing prayer and its sunnahs) ch.189 (1:441#1385); Tirmidhī in al-Jāmi‘-us-sahīh, b. of da‘awāt (supplications) ch.119 (5:569#3578); Ahmad bin Hambal in his Musnad (4:138); Nasā’ī, ‘Amal-ul-yawm wal-laylah (p.417#658-9); Hākim, al-Mustadrak (1:313,519); Ibn Khuzaymah, as-Sahīh (2:225-6#1219); Bayhaqī, Dalā’il-un-nubuwwah (6:166); Subkī, Shifā’-us-siqām fī ziyārat khayr-il-anām (p.123); Nawawī, al-Adhkār (p.83); Ibn-ul-Athīr, Asad-ul-ghābah (3:571); Yūsuf Mizzī, Tuhfat-ul-ashrāf bi-ma‘rifat-il-atrāf (7:236#9760); Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāyah wan-nihāyah (4:558); Ibn Hajar Haythamī, al-Jawhar-ul-munazzam (p.61); and Shawkānī in Tuhfat-udh-dhākirīn (pp.194-5).
. Hākim graded it sahīh (sound) in al-Mustadrak (1:526-7) according to the conditions of Imam Bukhārī and its authenticity has been acknowledged by Dhahabī as well.
. Suhaylī narrated it in ar-Rawd-ul-anf (1:179); Qastallānī in al-Mawāhib-ul-laduniyyah (4:272-3) who said that Ibn ‘Asākir transmitted it and Zurqānī also certified it in his Commentary (11:143-4).
. Bukhārī narrated it in his as-Sahīh, b. of istisqā’ (to invoke Allah for rain at the time of drought) ch.3 (1:342#963); Ibn Mājah, Sunan, b. of iqāmat-us-salāt was-sunnah fīhā (establishing prayer and its sunnahs) ch.154 (1:405#1272); Ahmad bin Hambal, Musnad (2:93); Bayhaqī in Dalā’il-un-nubuwwah (6:142-3) and as-Sunan-ul-kubrā (3:352); Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāyah wan-nihāyah (4:471-2); Yūsuf Mizzī, Tuhfat-ul-ashrāf bi-ma‘rifat-il-atrāf (5:359#6775); Badr-ud-Dīn ‘Aynī, ‘Umdat-ul-qārī (7:29-31); and Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī in Fath-ul-bārī (2:494).
. Bukhārī related it in as-Sahīh, b. of istisqā’ (to invoke Allah for rain at the time of drought) ch.7 (1:344-5#969); Muslim, as-Sahīh, b. of salāt-ul-istisqā’ (prayer to invoke Allah for rain at the time of drought) ch.2 (2:614-5#897); Bayhaqī, Dalā’il-un-nubuwwah (6:140); Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāyah wan-nihāyah (4:472-3); and Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī in Fath-ul-bārī (2:508).
. Bukhārī related it in his as-Sahīh, b. of istisqā’ (to invoke Allah for rain at the time of drought) ch.6,5,7,8,9,10,11,20,23 (1:343-6,348,349#968,967,969-73,983, 986), b. of jumu‘ah (Friday prayer) ch.33(1:315-6#891); Muslim, as-Sahīh, b. of salāt-ul-istisqā’ (prayer to invoke Allah for rain at the time of drought) ch.2 (2:612-4#897); Nasā’ī, Sunan, b. of istisqā’ (3:154-5, 159-60, 161-3); Ibn Mājah, Sunan, b. of iqāmat-us-salāt was-sunnah fīhā (establishing prayer and its sunnahs) ch.154 (1:404#1269); Ahmad bin Hambal, Musnad (3:256); Mālik bin Anas, al-Muwattā, b. of istisqā’, ch.2 (1:191#3); Abū Ya‘lā, Musnad (5:416#3104); Ibn Khuzaymah, as-Sahīh, (3:144,147#1788,1792); Ibn Hibbān, as-Sahīh (3:272-3#992); Bayhaqī, as-Sunan-ul-kubrā (3:354-5) and Dalā’il-un-nubuwwah (6:139-40); Baghawī, Sharh-us-sunnah (4:412-5#1166-7); Zayla‘ī, Nasb-ur-rāyah (2:238-9); Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāyah wan-nihāyah (4:472); Qastallānī, al-Mawāhib-ul-laduniyyah (4:265-6); and Zurqānī in his Commentary (11:120-5).
. Bukhārī transmitted it in his as-Sahīh, b. of manāqib (virtues) ch.22 (3:1313#3389), b. of jumu‘ah (Friday prayer) ch.32 (1:315#890), b. of istisqā’ (to invoke Allah for rain at the time of drought) ch.13 (1:346-7#975), b. of adab (good manners) ch.68 (5:2261#5742), b. of da‘awāt (supplications) ch.23 (5:2335#5982); Muslim, as-Sahīh, b. of salāt-ul-istisqā’ (prayer to invoke Allah for rain at the time of drought) ch.2 (2:614-5#897); Nasā’ī, Sunan, b. of istisqā’ (3:165-6); Abū Dāwūd, Sunan, b. of salāt (prayer) 1:304-5 (#1174); Ahmad bin Hambal, Musnad (3:271); Abū Ya‘lā, Musnad (6:82#3334); Ibn Khuzaymah, as-Sahīh (3:145-6#1789); Bayhaqī, as-Sunan-ul-kubrā (3:353-4, 356, 357) and Dalā’il-un-nubuwwah (6:140); Baghawī, Sharh-us-sunnah (4:415-6#1168); and Ibn Kathīr in al-Bidāyah wan-nihāyah (4:474).
. Badr-ud-Dīn ‘Aynī narrated it in ‘Umdat-ul-qārī (7:31); Ibn Hajar ‘Asqalānī, Fath-ul-bārī (2:495); Bayhaqī, Dalā’il-un-nubuwwah (6:141-2); Subkī, Shifā’-us-siqām fī ziyārat khayr-il-anām (pp.126-8); Ibn Hishām, as-Sīrat-un-nabawiyyah (1:280-1); Qastallānī, al-Mawāhib-ul-laduniyyah (4:271); and Zurqānī in his Commentary (11:139-41).
. Bayhaqī, Dalā’il-un-nubuwwah (6:143-4); Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāyah wan-nihāyah (4:476-7); Qastallānī, al-Mawāhib-ul-laduniyyah (4:269-70); Zurqānī, Commentary (11:133-8).
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