THESE are indeed dark times. The world remains in the grip of a deadly pandemic that shows few signs of abating. Moreover, economic, political and ethno-religious crises continue to rage, as humankind looks for a way out, for a better tomorrow.
As the world in general continues to broil in this toxic mix of mostly man-made calamities, we in Pakistan face our own particular crises. Like the rest of the world we are not immune to the effects of Covid-19 or the attendant economic turbulence. But a recent spate of events — political instability, the Motorway tragedy, rampant cases of child abuse — point to our own considerable failings as a society.
It would be easy to drone on and on about all that is wrong with us and the world around us. But as the Quran instructs, “So, verily, with every difficulty, there is relief:” (Surah As-Sharh). And following in the Quranic spirit, we look to the greatest exemplar, the Insaan-i-Kaamil, the Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH), whose birth is being celebrated today, to find a way out of these dark times. For it is the Almighty that has dubbed the Noble Prophet “a beacon of light” or a “shining lamp” (Sirajum munira) in Surah Ahzab, that dispels the clouds of darkness and despair through the Nur-i-Muhammadi.
Today, there will be celebrations throughout the country, and indeed, throughout the world. But do believers actually stop to think about how much of the “excellent example” that is the Noble Prophet’s character, we follow in our own lives? Some religious circles insist on adopting many outward aspects of the Sunnah — growing a beard, wearing a certain kind of attire, using miswak etc. But have we thought about the deeper, batini aspects of his Sunnah that can be adopted, such as compassion, contemplation, and forgiveness, that have the potential to transform ourselves and our society?
The example of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is before us to find a way out of darkness.
Take, for example, the Holy Prophet’s treatment of women and children. Can we, who claim to love and follow him, honestly stake such a claim when we look at the state of women and children in our society?
Among the Ummahatul Momineen,the Holy Prophet’s wives, Bibi Khadija holds a prominent place. A noble lady of great wealth, she stood by the Messenger in the most testing of times due to her great belief in her husband and his message. Indeed, the marriage between Bibi Khadija and the Messenger was an example of how domestic relations should be conducted.
In the books of Seerah, we find nothing but respect and affection coming from the Prophet for this noble lady, a testament to her lofty character. In fact, when she left this mortal world, the year became known as Aam al Huzn (The year of sorrow) for in the space of this one year the Holy Prophet had lost two of his most steadfast supporters in Makkah: Bibi Khadija and his uncle Hazrat Abu Talib.
If those who believe in the Prophet in this country and beyond try to replicate the respect and affection the Messenger showed to his spouse, the lives of Muslim women could improve considerably. Instead, we cling to outdated notions of ‘honour’ and tribal customs to dictate our domestic affairs.
Coming to how the Messenger treated children, the affection he showered upon his daughter Bibi Fatima Zehra is exemplary. While the pagans of Makkah taunted the Messenger for being ‘issueless’ as none of his male children survived into adulthood, the Almighty saw things differently. Referring to Bibi Fatima, in Surah Kauthar the Quran says “...We have given thee Abundance” while in the same Surah declaring that the Prophet’s enemies are “without posterity”.
As recorded in hadith, the Noble Messenger showered great affection upon Bibi Fatima, standing up to greet her whenever she entered the room, declaring that “Fatima is a part of me, and he who makes her angry, makes me angry” (Bukhari).
Again, we, who follow the Prophet, need to ask ourselves how we treat our girl children. Unfortunately, like in the days of ignorance, the preference for male offspring makes many in this society neglect girl children when it comes to health, education and even nutrition. If we really wanted to show our love for the Prophet, there would be next to no street children roaming our cities and towns, susceptible to abuse. The state, or conscientious citizens, would have ensured that these most vulnerable members of society would have safe spaces where their childhood could be protected. Certainly, there is much distance to cover when it comes to practising what we preach.
While celebrations are great, and indeed an expression of our inner joy, let us also try and emulate the Holy Prophet in how he treated those around him, by adopting the ethical model he has left in the shape of his lofty personality.
The writer is a member of staff.
Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2020