The month of Rabi-ul-Awwal is, of course, the month in which the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was born on the twelfth; so throughout the world people have been celebrating his birth. There were many heavenly signs associated with his birth but that is not what I want to talk about.
Here in Cape Town in our Tariqah, we celebrate his coming onto the Dunya by constantly reciting Salawat on him privately, and in public. We recite Salawat on him after Jumu’ah on a Friday. In one of the Holy Traditions he said: “Recite considerable Salawat on me on the Day of Jumu’ah”. Of course, this Day of Jumu’ah stretches from Maghrib on what is called Thursday evening to Maghrib on what is called Friday evening. As is characteristic of the Muslim nation, the recital of the Salawat on the Day of Jumu’ah has divided us. There are major divisions within this nation with regard to many things associated with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), such as the celebration of his birth, the reciting of Salawat on him on the Day of Jumu’ah, his status as a Messenger, and many other things. Many of the Holy Traditions also have become sources of major division within this nation. It is the strangest thing that this nation has split up into sometimes antagonistic groups because of matters associated with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). Of course, there are also other matters that have caused further divisions. I do not know, and I am almost sure of this, whether there have been any attempts by these antagonistic groups to sit down with each other and solve some of these divisions within the religion of Islam. Sometimes these divisions have lead to open conflict.
Today, when we look back at the course of human history and we focus on the prevailing socio-economic and religious conditions prevalent in the world at the time of his (ﷺ) birth, then we can only thank deeply for his coming. He came into a world of unsurpassed corruption, a world in which the concept of the unity of Allah Almighty was almost totally destroyed. What prevailed religiously was just darkness. Here and there, there were individuals who tried to keep the religion brought by the Messengers Abraham and Moses (a.s.) but they were few and far between. Allah Almighty decreed that when this period of intense darkness comes, He was going to send the final Messenger to restore the light of His existence and other matters in revelation form. We have to understand that when the Messenger (ﷺ) came, he did not do so to only continue religious traditions, because the tradition of the previous Messengers had either been totally destroyed or distorted. In a strange kind of sense, he came to give mankind a new direction. I’ve referred to this in the past as his taking humanity by its shoulders and turning it 180˚ away from its religious conduct. To me, his coming at this stage in history was to bring about a major revolution in human thought and direction. Allah Almighty had perhaps given him the greatest religious responsibility ever given to anybody and all that he had at his disposal to bring about this revolution or reformation was the Divine Revelation of “La ilaha illalah Muhammad dur Rasullullah (ﷺ)”. This is all that he had at the beginning, and he was given instruction to use these words to change the course of human history. Today when one thinks of this, of the almost impossibility of this task, one can then understand, even if one knew very little about him, his unique calibre to be able to use two small statements of the unity of God and the Messengership of his Prophet (ﷺ) to cut away the foundations of unbelief and cultural decadence, and almost man alone to steer humanity in another direction. This was a phenomenal task if one thinks back now. But he was a phenomenal man. I do not know whether there was a single individual who may have been given such a task by his Lord and who had successfully carried out that task. History tells us that there was no other such individual.
You see, when we celebrate his birth, it has not only to do with his coming out of the womb of his mother. We must start to understand this. This coming out of the womb was the initial part of the process that he was going to get involved in, and it was launched by Allah Almighty into this world to restore the truths of the Heavenly Orders. His birth is an indication of when this process started. His whole life from the moment of his birth to the moment of his passing away was a major accomplishment against unbelievable religious odds to restore the Divine Words in the hearts of people. Of course, he was assisted by his Lord. How else? How else?
We do not know whether at his birth, He had already engrained in his personality those qualities, which were later to come to the fore. Were those unique qualities illustrating his character already there at birth or were they made part of his personality by his Lord in the forty years prior to the coming of revelation? This is an intriguing question, but it does not matter. When the first revelation came, his personality was of such a nature that it could accept the power of the revelation. And if one combines the personality at the stage with his Mi’raj at which his spiritual status was confirmed by his Lord, then one can understand, if it is at all possible, how unique he was. You see, we are not able to really comprehend the true nature of his personality either before or after the Mi’raj. In the same way we have little comprehension of the changes that took place within him during the Mi’raj. I find it very strange that there are teachings today that advocate him as being an ordinary man. I do not find this only strange but I find it inexplicable.
If one should ask today what precisely was the function of this human being when he was exposed to the world, the words “Qum fa andhir” “Get up” or “Expose yourself and warn”, “Come to the fore”. Sometimes when looking back at the historical processes around him and the general signs surrounding him from the time of or before Nabi Adam (a.s.), then one can understand why his Lord tells him after receiving the first revelation that he must “stand”. In other words that he must be seen and become known. The word “qum” is an ocean of knowledge for all of us. In a certain sense it is an instruction to him to launch the process of changing the direction of humanity at this stage in history in terms of the Divine Decree. The more one thinks of the word “qum” the more one obtains a small understanding of the calibre of the individual that was to come down in history as the greatest of us all. He was the greatest not only because of himself but also because of the task he was allocated. And so today and throughout time he is the one that walks in front of all human beings. He is number one by his Lord not only because of his greatness, the greatness of the task he was allocated but also because he had been granted the station of being right in front of all of humanity in the Presence of his Lord. This is an honour beyond all human understanding and description. And some people in their own personal darkness, in their own personal intense darkness, refer to the greatest of us all as ordinary or object when we stand in his honour. I sometimes ask myself as an ordinary human being: How do I show my Lord the respect I should have for the one He has placed first in line? I only ask. Perhaps one day I will be made to know. We ask our Lord to forgive us if in any way we have shown any form of disrespect to the greatest of us all, amin.