Who is Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam ? (The Mawlid Address)
by Shaykh Muḥammad al-Māhī bin Sayyid ʿAlī Cissé
We give thanks to Allah and we greet all Muslims wherever they may be, and we also greet all creatures because Allah swt created Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam to be a mercy to all of creation.
“And we have not sent you except as a Mercy to the entirety of creation.” |Qurʾān 21:107
In fact, the Universe is composed of all that exists except Allah swt Himself. This ayah is part of the evidence showing that Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam is not only the Best of creation, but also the first because one cannot show mercy to something that is not within its time nor realm. In other words, Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam even “preceded his predecessors” as he was a mercy for them, as well. Thus, to gather to celebrate theMawlid al-Nabīʾ amounts to gathering to remember Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam and to rejoice in the Divine Mercy of Allah sallahu alaihi wa salam. Allah swt says:
“Say, ‘In the Bounty of Allah and in His Mercy, let them rejoice therein.’ That is better than what they amass.” | Qurʾān 10:58
If we have reason to rejoice, let us revel in the benefits of Allah’s mercy. This is a better reason than any other matter or cause for gathering.
So we gather to celebrate the birth of the Seal of Humanity, Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam, the man whose birth was a catalyst for the release of the slave of Abū Lahab, the Prophet’s sallahu alaihi wa salam uncle, whom Allah swt curses for criticizing the Revelation:
“Perish the hands of Abī Lahab! Perish!” | Qurʾān 111:1
Suhaybah, Abū Lahab’s slave, was the one who informed him of Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah‘s sallahu alaihi wa salam birth. Out of sheer joy, he granted her emancipation. After Abū Lahab died, ʿAbbās saw him in a dream and inquired about the condition in the Hereafter. He replied that every Monday he is taken out of the Fire and favoured with suckling milk from middle finger as a reward for the joy and good he expressed on the day of the Prophet’s sallahu alaihi wa salam birth.
One scholar put forth this argument, “As it was that this disbeliever was a source of unmitigated distress, him and “his hands” will be destroyed in Jaḥīm for eternity. Yet every Monday, he is singled out and given relief from his punishment, out of the elation he expressed for Aḥmad sallahu alaihi wa salam. So what do you think the reward would be of the slave who delights in the Prophet ﷺ all their life, and strives to affirm the Divine Unity in their belief and actions?”
This is an illustration to show that the Mawlid may very well be a source for obtaining forgiveness from Allah swt. Shaykh Ibrāhīm Niāsse said that the Mawlid (Wolof colloq.Gamou) is clearly endorsed and necessitated in the Qurʾān. He argues that Allah swt says in the Book to Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam:
“And all that We relate to you of the news of the Messengers is so that by them We may make strong and firm your heart by them…” | Qurʾān 11:20
Shaykh Ibrāhīm said that if the Best of Prophets sallahu alaihi wa salam can strengthen his faith from some references in the lives of those who preceded him, it is obvious that we can cultivate our faith from some of the passages in the life of the Best of Prophets, Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam.
The Mawlid is nothing more than an opportunity to learn about the path of Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam and extoll praises on him as the believers have been commanded to do. So I hope that no one is ignorant enough to suggest that learning is not a duty. Despite Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah‘s sallahu alaihi wa salam comprehensive and balanced knowledge of the outward and inward matters, Allah swt still addresses him in the Qurʾān and says:
“And say, ‘My Lord! Increase me in knowledge!” | Qurʾān 20:114
We acknowledge this momentous occasion and to learn about Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam, whom Allah swt has showered with praise and special favour, and to improve our knowledge of His Dīn. Shaykh Ibrāhīm said, “The Prophet sallahu alaihi wa salam received his first praise from Allah swt, so we are not wrong if we imitate Allah swt in this action.” Likewise, we commemorate the Mawlid to give mutual respect to one another [ziyār] with the intention of seeking Divine blessings and revitalising our friendships.
Allah swt praises the character and behaviour of the Prophet sallahu alaihi wa salam where He says:
“And assuredly you are upon immense character.” | Qurʾān 68:4
He ﷻ even praises Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah‘s sallahu alaihi wa salam eyes during the Night Journey and Ascension:
“His sight did not waver nor exceed limits.” | Qurʾān 53:17
This is to say that even when beholding all the Signs and wonders of the heavens and seeing His Lord, he did not even blink. Allah swt has exalted his heart, saying that he ﷺ did not reject the Reality of the journey:
“Nor did the heart deny what it saw.” | Qurʾān 53:11
He swt even assigns His own Names to Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam when describing his sallahu alaihi wa salam inward disposition:
“Indeed a Messenger has come from amongst yourselves; It grieves him that any injury or difficulty should befall you. He is eager for you; for the believers [he is] full of pity, kind, and merciful.” | Qurʾān 9:129
Allah swt gives Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam two of His Most Beautiful Names, al-Raʾūf andal-Raḥīm. Although He created him sallahu alaihi wa salam, he attaches great importance to him and never abases him sallahu alaihi wa salam.
According to Shaykh Ibrāhīm Niāsse, this reverence towards the Prophet of Allah swt is a sign showing us the way in which we must behave towards him ﷺ at al times. In his poem “He The Prophetic Seal”, found in Majmuʿ al-qasāʾid al-mawlid al-nabawī, the Shaykh wrote:
“He who sealed the Prophets | Led all of them by the letter ‘Yā’”
Never in the entirety of the Qurʾān does Allah swt directly address Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam with “Yā Muḥammad”, as he does with other prophets. He swt only addresses him sallahu alaihi wa salam as “Yā ayyuha ʾn-Nabī” or “Yā ayyuha ʾr-Rasūli”.
Sayyidinā Muḥammad sallahu alaihi wa salam is called by name only four times in the Qurʾān:
“And Muḥammad is but a messenger…” | Qurʾān 3:144
“Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allah…” | Qurʾān 48:29
“…and those who believe in what was revealed to Muḥammad…” | Qurʾān 47:2
“Nor is Muḥammad the father of any of you…” | Qurʾān 33:40
I must reiterate that if Allah swt the Creator respects the Prophet sallahu alaihi wa salam so much that he does not hail him by name, it is a subtle invitation to us to love an respect him sallahu alaihi wa salam in like fashion. Shaykh Ibrāhīm added:
“If the people knew the meaning of Muḥammad | Knowing the Reality they would honour and glorify him.”
As for us, we gather to understand this dimension of the Prophet sallahu alaihi wa salam because to know the true immensity of him sallahu alaihi wa salam will cause us to love him totally. When we love him sallahu alaihi wa salam, we will certainly follow him sallahu alaihi wa salam. Following him sallahu alaihi wa salam grants us forgiveness from Allah ﷻ. However, none of the disciples [muridīn] will benefit from salvation except the ones that follow Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam. Shaykh Ibrāhīm Niāsse, in his lessons during theMawlid, said that he read the Qurʾān from beginning to end and has noted seven groups of disciples who followed their masters well. But the only group that benefitted from the salvation of Allah swt is the group that followed Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam.
“Say: Indeed if you love Allah, then follow me and Allah will love you and forgive you your wrongdoings.” | Qurʾān 3:31
Allah ﷻ calls those who followed their own instincts “deeply regretful”, as was the case with the brothers Abel and Cain, the sons of Adam:
“Then he persuaded himself to kill his brother; so he then killed and realised he was of the losers.” | Qurʾān 5:30
Following Iblīs and the shayṭān also leads to Hellfire and eternal contrition:
“As for My slave, you will have no authority over them except for the one who follows you from the evil-doers.” | Qurʾān 15:42
Regarding those who give in to whims and desires, Allah swt says that their actions are “carnally canine”:
“…he followed his base desires; so his similitude likens to that of a dog, whose tongue lolls out when attacked or left alone…” | Qurʾān 7:176
“And after them came the unworthy successors who abandoned prayer and pursued their own wants; they will soon come to know the Ghay (the deepest level of Hell).” | Qurʾān 19:59
Those who submitted to Pharaoh did not receive positive benefit from their guidance, either:
“…But they followed the command of Firʿawn, and the command of Firʿawn was not [at all] discerning.” | Qurʾān 11:97
“Then would those who are followed distance themselves of those who followed (them); they would see the penalty, and all relations between them would be cut off. Those who followed will say, ‘If only we had another turn so we could disassociate ourselves from them as they have disassociated themselves from us.’ Thus will Allah show them their deeds as regrets upon them. And they are never to emerge from the Fire.” | Qurʾān 2:166-167
All in all, the only group that has benefitted from Divine salvation is the one who followed Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam. Then the primary indication that proves our love for something is the dedication we show in following it. Such were the teachings of ShaykhIbrāhīm at the Mawlid.
Indeed, Shaykh Ibrāhīm Niāsse was not only one to call and point people towards Allah swt, but he was also a teacher who gained and mastered guidance from Allah ﷻ, and then reciprocated it to his disciples. When discussing the theme of love for the Prophet sallahu alaihi wa salam, he said in a poem:
“When the Best of Creation ﷺ is walking, I am stepping behind him so closely | As soon as he sallahu alaihi wa salam stops, I stop.”
Such a walk will never cease because the Prophet sallahu alaihi wa salam is ever en route returning to Allah swt. Any way that is not of the Prophet sallahu alaihi wa salam, Baye Niāsse regards it as stagnant water. How unhappy the one will be who, when faced with an ocean is concerned with a stale puddle! Baye Niāsse said:
“O you! Go and drink at the ocean | and turn away from the stagnant water that cannot satisfy your thirst.”
Anything which is of consequence after the arrival of Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam owe its importance to the latter. I present the lessons of Shaykh Ibrāhīm “Baye” Niāsse as the reasons we are gathered here together from all different backgrounds and walks of life. Even if we confine ourselves only to mutual respects, there is good in such because we gain from learning and helping each other. Moreover, Baye exhorts us to glorify Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam, to send copious amounts of ṣalawāt upon him sallahu alaihi wa salam, and spend out of our wealth and provision for him sallahu alaihi wa salam. Baye said, “For all I know, I do not see anything more important than working with an open heart for Sayyidinā Rasūluʾllah sallahu alaihi wa salam on the night of the Mawlid, and relating his sallahu alaihi wa salam noble habits to the believers for them to emulate and remain steadfast in.”
Shaykh Muḥammad al-Māhī bin Sayyid ʿAlī Cissé
-Saliou Niang (trans. WOL-FRA-ENG) [©2010 Medina Baye – Kaolack, SN]
©2011 سهول الفيضة | FLOODPLAINS