There are two primary sources of Islam, firstly, the most awe-inspiring and motivational figure of the prophet Mohammed (p.b.u.h.) and secondly, the astonishingly eloquent and the glorious Quran. Together, these two sources provide copious guidance, wisdom and powerful means of development as well as the perfection of human life. Muslims claim that , the complete blueprint to lead an unblemished and faultless life in this world and achieve salvation in the hereafter is contained within these two sources.
The Quran is described as containing advice and guidance on every single subject that affects human life as well as being a complete remedial cure for all the diseases of the heart and limitless source of mercy for all mankind. The prophet Mohammed (p.b.u.h.) similarly is described as Burhan – the clear evidence, mercy for mankind and a paragon of perfection, possessing every moral attribute humanly possible or imaginable.
Before i discuss the subject of this article, maulana ahmads love of the prophet it will be pertinent to further explore the how much God loved, cared for and praised the prophet;
“God has done a favour on the believers by sending a Prophet from amongst themselves, who recites His verses, purifies them and teaches them the book and wisdom” (Ale Imran: 164). And
“There has come to you a Prophet from amongst yourselves, your sufferings grieve him, ever anxious about your welfare and for the believers he is most kind and most merciful” (At-Touba: 128).
“We sent you as a mercy for the entire humanity” (21: 107).
God has blessed the Prophet with many excellent qualities; undoubtedly those qualities portray the perfection of his character, the flawlessness of his disposition and the excellence of his personality as well as the high esteem in which our Maker holds him. These verses of the Quran eloquently sing his praises. On the one hand they reveal the grandeur, the splendour and the majesty of the prophet whilst on the other hand they show the generosity of God. So much so that one is compelled to exclaim, as Jami said:
O most beautiful, o leader of mankind
To praise you, as you deserve is just not possible
After the almighty God you are the most noble
That is the story in short
A Punjabi poet Mahr Ali expressed very aptly this human inability to comprehend fully the magnificence of the Prophet when he wrote,
Glory is to God how beautiful, how wonderful and how perfect you are where is Mehr Ali? And where is your praise? On what have these irreverent eyes befallen?
The poet and philosopher Mohammed Iqbal (d;1938) expressed very movingly the unique and incomparable status of beloved prophet as follows:
He is the wisest of all, the final prophet, and the master of all,
Who gave the dust the brilliance of Mount Sinai?
From the vantage point of passion and love
He is the first and the last; the Quran, the criterion, Yaseen and Taha
Imam Ahmad’s esoteric beliefs and spiritual worldview:
Imam Ahmad strictly followed the Hanafi Madhab. And like other Hanafi scholars accepted the Asharie-Muturidi effectively the orthodox Sunni creed. In this respect he was an orthodox Sunni.
However, he was a profound scholar and highly intellectual individual who passionately loved the Messenger (PBUH) and the auliya Allah. This too is not an unusual since the Muslim history is full of many such sages and saints. People of this kind are intellectual giants because of their practice and passion of Islam. Consequently they are divinely blessed with ilmal luddini—special knowledge from God. This is what I call esoteric beliefs which are held by Sufis.
Imam Ahmad was a Sufi of the Qadri order. His spiritual Master Shah Al-e-Rasul was proud of him so much so that he once declared, “If on the day of judgement Allah ask me Ale-Rasul what have you brought with you- I will say Ahmad Raza.” Imam Ahmad was also extremely fond of his Master and Sheikh. After the death of the Pir he regularly commemorated his death—URS, in his home in Bareilly.
Imam Ahmad explained the relevance of spiritual Master as follows: The Messenger will intercede on the day of judgement_ “at the next level the Sufi Masters will intercede with the Prophet on behalf of their followers in all situations and circumstances, including the grave. It would be foolish in the extreme, therefore, not to bind oneself to a pir and thus ensure help in Times of need.” (Malfuzat)
This practice of adopting a spiritual master or a teacher is a common all over the muslin world. The Prophet is regarded as the first teacher and all those joined in the chain are part of this spiritual family. That’s why the members of the order are called “pir bhai” ‘brothers in order’.
The Sufi practices are regarded as complimenting the laws of sharia; Sharia is the outward law whilst Sufism is the inward reality. Imam Ahmad was affiliated to the Qadri order. The Grand founding Master was Sheikh Abdul Qadir Jillani (d: 11…..) who is buried in Baghdad. His splendid title is ‘Ghause al- Azam’ the greatest helper, he is regarded as the chief of all saints. The ghause is the heir of all spiritual graces and successes of his ancestors. Imam Ahmad expressed his intense love of the Ghause al Azam in a poem:
Except for divinity and prophet hood
You possess all perfections, O Ghaus.
Prophetic shade, Ali’s season, pure garden,
Beautiful flower, your fragrance is lovely.
Prophetic shade, Ali’s constellation, pure station
Beautiful moon, your radiance is lovely,
Prophetic sun, Ali’s mountain, pure quarry
Beautiful ruby, your brilliance is lovely.
Imam Ahmad’s Love of the Prophet
There are many reasons why maulana passionately loved the messenger, we can summarise them as follows;
Firstly, he regarded him as the cause of all creation therefore he holds the keys to our past. This is based on the hadith qudsi, “If you had not been, I would not have created the universe”. He believed that Prophets Light (Nur-e-Muhammadi) was created by God from his light and from the light of Muhammad all else was created. Being the first light. The sun and all light originate from the prophet. All the atoms, stones, trees and birds recognised Muhammad as Prophet, as did Gabriel and the other prophets.
Secondly, he believed that the Prophet is Kamil, perfect in his qualities and unique in the whole of the creation. He is the role model for all and the best friend of true believers.
Thirdly, he believed that the blessed messenger holds the keys to our success in the hereafter.maulana Ahmad said ‘Only the Prophet can reach God without intermediates. This is why, on the day of judgement, all the prophets, saints, ullama and people will go to him and ask him to intercede on their behalf_ and he will intercede for them with God….. (Malfuzat vol.2 P.58)
Those who opposed Imam Ahmad’s view, namely the Wahabi seet, argued that the belief in perfection and Nur of the Prophet is contrary to belief in Tawhid. Imam Ahmad’s response was ‘Everything comes from God, that only God is intrinsic (zat) while everything else is extrinsic or dependent. This said, however, God chose Muhammad as ‘His means of bringing’ the extrinsic (ghair) world to Him…….. Muhammad distributes what he gives. What is in the one is in the other (Usha sanyal P.98).
Imam Ahmad regarded the Prophet as the crown of Divine creation, the closest to the Lord, most beloved. He expressed this belief in a moving couplet:
I will call you ‘Lord’ sine you are Lord’s beloved
There is no “yours” and “mine” between the beloved and lover.
Imam Ahmad associated himself closely with the Prophet; he sang his praises, constantly sent blessings on him, and meticulously followed his way in the minutest details. He longed to be in his presence, he dreamt of him all the time. On his pilgrimage he visited the Prophet’s tomb with the hope of seeing him in a dream. Bihari his biographer says, “His fortune awake on the second bright of waiting. His watchful, vigilant eyes were blessed with the presence of the Prophet.” And ecstatically wrote a verse:
O pilgrims! Come to the tomb of the King of Kings
You’ve seen the Kaaba, now see the Kaaba of Kaaba.
Maulana Ahmad Raza demonstrates his love
Maulana loved the Prophet passionately, he believed him to be God’s beloved and therefore the Crown of his creation. He expressed this intimate, personal and awe inspiring relationship in poetry, in prose, even in his fatwa’s. However, the most convincing evidence of one’s love for the beloved is demonstrating it through obedience and following his sunna. And he was meticulous in following the Sunnah; when drinking water he would sit down and says bismillah and drink slowly in three gulps. In his dress code he always wore the turban in prayer. His biographer Maulana Zafar uddin Bihari notes that Maulana always prayed in congregation in the masjid. He believed that Prophets Sunnah was the best way to live; he had faith in the graceful effects of Sunnah. For example, once there was plague in Bareilly, his home town. Maulana fell ill, his gums were swollen, glands inflamed and high fever, and his couldn’t open his mouth because of the pain. The doctor diagnosed him with
having the symptoms of plague. Maulana disagreed with the physician and told him he was wrong in the diagnosis. He then explained to him that I recited a prayer which protects you. The Prophet PBUH taught “whoever recites this prayer upon seeing a sick person will be protected from that illness.” I have faith in the Prophets words. It wasn’t long before he became better.
Maulana received questions on theology from all over India. He took great care in replying to them. Some of the answers were short two or three lines only. But many were long and some were tracts and monographs. He would sign the fatwa as ‘Abdul Mustafa’ the servant of the chosen one—Mustafa is one of the names of the prophet.
Once, explaining the extent of his deep love of the prophet he said: if you were to cut my heart into two parts one will say “there is no God but Allah” whilst the other half will say “Muhammad is the Messenger of God”.
One day Maulana was invited to a civil function. In those days they still had chariots as taxis. These were used by the aristocracy. They were carried on the shoulders of four men. Maulana was travelling in a chariot; he abruptly ordered it to be stopped. He got out and asked ‘who is a sayed amongst you four’? A young man moved forward, maulana stepped forward humbly and began to request forgiveness. The people around were stunned, what is happening? Maulana insisted that the young sayed sits in the chariot and will carry him, Maulana kept on saying “what will I say to the blessed Prophet on the day of judgement?” this clearly showed how much he respected the members of Prophets Family. The question is how did he know about the young sayed who carried the chariot?
Poetry can be a powerful means of expressing love for the beloved. Maulana was lucid and sentimental poet. Here are a few couplets which eloquently expresses his love:-
From head to toe he is the grace of the Lord
There is no man like such is he
The Quran teaches he is the faith
Faith declares he is my essence.
When asked to write ode in praise of an aristocrat Nawab of Nanparah, he replied:
How can you praise the rich Raza?
Why entangle yourself in this Mess
I am the beggar of my generous master
My religion is not a piece of bread
Why Imam Ahmad loved the Messenger:
I will always call you Lord since you are beloved of the Lord
there is no ‘mine’ and ‘yours’ between the beloved and the Lover.