Jamaat al-Muslimeen International Press Release

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Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was Born on Rabi' al-Awwal 12 (approx. April 571 c.e.)
A Brief Look at the Greatest Teacher, Spiritualist and Jihad Leader of All Times

by Kaukab Siddique

Today is 12 Rabi' al-Awwal in Baltimore, Maryland, and Masjid Jamaat al-Muslimeen has about a hundred people in it, mostly from the Senegalese community (West Africa), gathered to remember and honor the messenger of Allah, the Chosen one (peace be on him). The gathering started at 10:30 pm and will probably go on till 1 AM or more. Sis. Ashira, the administrator of the Masjid, says the African sisters and brothers are coming in well dressed and with plenty of good food. There will be presentations on the message and personality of the Prophet (pbuh).

On Friday, May 9, an African-American brother, Muhammad Noor, gave the Juma' khutba at Masjid Jamaat al-Muslimeen, in which he emphasized, with the help of extensive quotations from the Qur'an and the Hadith that Muslims must ingrain the love of Muhammad (pbuh) in themselves. Knowledge and Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) is essential but it must develop into love of Muhammad (pbuh) above mother, father, children and all human beings.

Among many Muslims, unfortunately, 12 Rabi' al-Awwal has been viewed in two ways which are both away from the spirit of the Qur'an and the Hadith.

The Saudis have projected an Islam in which the Prophet (pbuh) is no more than a law giver and a ritualist. The Saudis are largely concerned with externals, the length of the beard, the dimensions of the woman's outer garments, the man's trousers should be above the ankles, hands should be folded on the chest for prayers rather than on the navel.

For the Saudis, the memorialization of the birth of the Prophet (pbuh) is Bidah or innovation in religion and must be rejected.

Others among the Muslims, particularly in India, Pakistan and Turkey have gone to the other extreme. They have turned the Prophet (pbuh) into an angel, miraculous and above human beings, almost like God. In their Rabi al-Awwal 12 celebrations, they will often even forget the obligatory prayers while they are singing songs about the perfections of the Prophet's (pbuh) personality.

We, in Jamaat al-Muslimeen, urge Muslims to follow the middle path. We reject the idea that remembering and honoring the Prophet (pbuh) is Bidah or an innovation in religion. It would be Bidah only if it became a form of worship, or if it were done in a ritualized form which could become permanent or if it replaced or was added to any of the prescribed forms of Islamic prayer.

The other extreme too is wrong too in which the Prophet (pbuh) is extolled so much above human beings that his humanity is lost. As a result, many Muslims simply admire him but do not study and follow his example as ordained in the Qur'an.

Br. Muhammad Noor was right that central to Islam, second only to the Oneness of Allah, is the love of the Prophet (pbuh). This love can be attained if we understand the revolutionary and transformational nature of his example (uswa) and his character (khulq). For instance:
1. He freed the slaves.
2. He gave equality to women with men.
3. He struck devastating blows at racism, tribalism and loyalties based on blood.
4. He taught and practiced a DIRECT connection between the Creator and the created, putting an end to priesthood and elitism.
5. He insisted on the distribution of wealth and an end to economic disparities.
6. He put an end to the idea that honor, merit and nobility should be based on wealth, class (tribe) or gender. God-conscious endeavor (TAQWA) alone counts.
7. He opened the doors for scientific understanding of the heavens and the earth.
8. He taught a holistic style of life, indigenous, healthy, without waste and without harm to any of the creatures who share the world with humanity.
9. He was the first animal rights advocate of the modern era, compassionate to all.
10. He was the first environmentalist and the first to teach the planting and nurturing of trees as part of worship.
11. He taught peace with all peoples and war against oppressors and exploiters.
12. He put an end to the idea that religion can be imposed on anyone by force.
13. He struck at the ideas of inherent impurity of people such as menstruating women, or people who are scavengers.
14. He taught preventive medicine and the safeguarding of water resources.
15. He connected the idea of this World with that of the Hereafter in such a way that a person of religion would NOT leave worldly pursuits but use them for reward in the Hereafter.
16. He helped to remove the fear of the powerful, the despots, the kings from peoples souls. Hence the history of Islam has been a history of uprisings against kings, despots and exploiters.

The principles of these revolutionary concepts were revealed to Muhammad (pbuh) in the form of an inimitable Book called the Qur'an. His entire life was commentary on the Qur'an. His example is practical and livable because it has been documented with great precision and with tremendous scholarly honesty in the books of Hadith.

We must know the Prophet's (pbuh) life through study. As we know him more, we will learn to love him. And God's promise has been summarized by the poet Iqbal in these two lines of Urdu poetry:

"Kee Muhammad say wafa toonay to hum taray hain
Yeh jahan cheez hay kiya, loh-o-kalam taray hain."

[Trans: [Allah says] If you are faithful to Muhammad, I am yours
What is this world! The Pen and the Tablet it writes on (Destiny itself) is yours.]

In conclusion, here is a a sample of how the Prophet (pbuh) used the respect he had attained to uproot the ideas of racism and ethnic superiority prevalent among arrogant Arab chiefs:

"Fear Allah in the matter of the nappy haired Black people of Madra because they are related to me both as ancestors and as in-laws." [Hadith of Muhammad, pbuh, narrated in Ibn Hisham's SEERAH or life of the Prophet, pbuh.]

[Ibn Hisham was using the text of the original book collected by Ibn Ishaq, who lived 83 A.H. to 150 A.H. 704-770 c.e. These dates are important because they point to the existence of Hadith narrations in the First Century after the Prophet, pbuh, passed away.]

2003-05-15 Thu 19:40ct