By Dalia Salaheldin
For a Muslim woman like me, it is really difficult to specify "10 reasons to fall for the Prophet". When I was asked by Reading Islam staff to write down an article that would sum up ten reasons to love Prophet Muhammad, I felt really lost.
I kept thinking and wondering, which ten of the million reasons should I mention? I was lost around his great human-prophetic character. It is really impossible to narrow my love to the great man in ten reasons. He is a man whose love my heart and mind have absorbed since my childhood days, as my skin has absorbed the rays of the Egyptian sun.
Just like any other Muslim, his love penetrates my life, as gentle as you inhale your breaths in and then out. His love became part and parcel of my inner self to the extent that I no longer can put my hand on it clearly. It is just there, always there, in the background of my inner soul.
But, why do I love him that much and in that way? This must be the reader's question now. Is it because all Muslims "should" love him? Or, is it because my parents told me to love him when I was young? But, my parents never told me to love him. They never spoke it. You can never tell anyone to love any other person or any other thing.
Also, on personal basis, I do not always like or appreciate the way many Muslims love Prophet Muhammad. Some of them — not all — are simply very passionate about a man they hardly know or follow.
Prophet Muhammad was sent to all mankind as a brilliant example and a role model. He was the most patient, the most decent, the most devoted and the most well mannered man of the human history.
Not all Muslims act according to his role model, but they simply say: "we love him the most". Love should be reflected in actions, not in some words muttered. Well, to do my assignment, I decided to simply mention ten points related to Prophet Muhammad. They are definitely not the only reason I love this great man for, but they are simply ten reasons that have always stopped me in awe and respect.
My ten points are:
1. His Human Self
He was never distant from humanity. He smiled, loved, cried and felt pain. He walked, moved, ate and showered. He was a human prophet, not an angelic prophet, so it is really applicable to follow him as a role model.
When I make a mistake or become a bit lazy about being good, Prophet Muhammad's real model takes me back to the right track. I tell myself: "He was human, to make it easy for us. It was also difficult for him, but he made it. So, I will try again, and I will make it as he did."
2. His Fatherhood
His fatherhood , to Lady Fatimah, has always amazed me. In a society that degraded women and rejected the birth of females to the extent that they would bury them alive, he cherished all his daughters, and specially Lady Fatimah.
She was the closest to his heart. Whenever she would drop in on one of his meetings, he wouldn't ever ask her to leave, because he was busy. But, he would stand up in "cherishing respect" and move to welcome her, so she wouldn't be embarrassed. Then he would kiss her on her forehead and have her seated next to him.
3. His Loyal Love to Lady Khadijah
The way he continued to love and cherish Lady Khadijah after her death has always been an expression of devotion in my eyes. During her life, they lived in a society that accepted multiple marriages for men, which would extend to endless numbers of wives for one man. Though she was much older than him, for 25 years, he never went for another marriage with any another woman.
He respected and loved his wife dearly. He cherished her days dearly after her death and expressed his longing to her days by cherishing her friends. He would sit around with her best friend for long hours chatting about "Khadijah's good old days".
4. His Patience at the Deaths of his Children
His children's deaths have always caused my heart to ache. We might theorize a lot or preach a lot about the patience of prophets, but do we really feel it? I keep on wondering how this lovely tender man tolerated the death of all his children, all except one, in his lifetime. How would any father feel, when he reaches his sixties and finds himself burying a child after the other?
Prophet Muhammad's patience never contradicted his sadness and grief. He grieved and experienced deep sadness. When his babyson Ibrahim died, he grieved deeply. He held him in his arms at his death-bed and cried. He uttered only words that expressed his patience that was mixed with his sadness.
His words reflected that, when he uttered his famous words: "The heart grieves, the eye tears, and for your departure, Ibrahim, we are sad. But the tongue never utters an objection that wouldn't please God." How sad!
5. He Was Such a Tender Grandfather
That has always taken my heart! Whenever I think of how busy and important a man he was, and yet had time space and emotions to spare for his grandchildren. The idea that when he stood on the podium, giving the Friday sermon, he simply interrupted his speech in front of the Muslim nation audience — at the time — and went down the podium to pick up his grandson, is always startling from my point of view.
The fact that he would keep carrying this grandson throughout his speech is again startling. I mean, he was the spiritual, social and political leader of the nation! What would any of our grandfathers have done if we simply burst into any of their meetings? I wonder.
6. His Sincere Appreciation of the Feelings of Others
The way he honestly shared feelings with others has always stopped me. In particular, the way he dealt with the feeling of a child. That child used to have a pet bird. Whenever Prophet Muhammad passed by the child, he would ask him about his pet bird.
One day, the Prophet passed by the child and found him crying because of the death of his pet. Prophet Muhammad simply interrupted his journey to whatever errand he was going to, and sat with the child to offer his condolences. It was reported that he stayed with him for a long time to soothe him.
If he was not Prophet Muhammad, again I would fall for him for this incident. What a sweet-hearted man, who simply neglects his important errands or meetings to sit around a child who lost a pet. He didn't actually lose his mother, but he simply lost a bird. But Prophet Muhammad didn't see it to be a simple loss. He understood what this loss meant to the child and felt for his pain.
7. The Prophet's Smile & Sense of Humor
On a personal basis, I really love this. Maybe it is because personally I love to smile, and to wipe away tears and pain by lots of smiles and spreading the spirit of happiness and cheerfulness around. It is a characteristic that my inner self reconciles with in the character of Prophet Muhammad.
All mankind encounters pain and agony, just as he did. Some people face our worldly troubles by crying their tears out. Others are always expressing objection and un-acceptance of their destiny. A third party would simply frown in the face of the world and neglect its feeling. But Prophet Muhammad never did.
He was the most agonized person. He was an orphan. He was poor. He lost his beloved wife Khadijah. He was loaded with the responsibility of the divine message and with the responsibility of running a newly established state. Let alone his personal human sufferings.
Yet, he never frowned in the face of the world. He never objected to what God destined for him. He simply kept his smile and tender care for others, no matter what he went through. I pray I can keep up with him. I am not sure I can, but at least I should keep trying.
8. His Role Model as a Servant of God & Worshipper
Prophet Muhammad's role model as a servant of God and worshipper is an aspect of his character that any human who wants to serve God can reconcile with. He was a man who fasted most of his days, prayed most of his nights and spent all what he had for the sake of his beloved Creator.
Yet, when some of his Companions wanted to fast all days and never eat during daylight, pray all nights and never sleep at night, or abstain from marriage and lawful relations with women, he objected to that. He explained to his Companions that he fasted some days and broke his fast on other days, he prayed much of his night time and yet he slept at night, and that he simply — like any other man — married and enjoyed marital life.
I think this is a much easier and a more practical example to follow, if we want to be good. The examples of complete self-denail and inhumanly extreme attitudes by some complete self-denial and saints and good ones isn't really practical for all mankind. But any person, man or woman can follow the steps of Prophet Muhammad; be a spiritual worshipper and a good human simultaneously.
9. His Tenderness & Mercy Towards Animals
Again, a very personal characteristic that has always touched my heart, was his tenderness and mercy towards animals. He treated them as communities that had social ties, just as humans are to be treated.
Once, when he was travelling, some of his companions caught two young birds. Then the mother flew above their heads wailing for her two children. Prophet Muhammad immediately reacted and asked who had hurt this mother by taking her children? He ordered the two birds given back to their mother on the spot.
Thinking sincerely and deeply of animals as creatures who feel emotions, not only physics, he banned the slaughtering of any animal in front of the other. He ordered a quick death with a sharp knife away from the other animals, so that the living ones would not feel fear or panic.
He also ordered that hunting or slaughtering animals should always be for the sake and need of nutrition. He completely abandoned learning hunting or shooting by taking innocent animals as trial preys.
As an animal lover and friend who has experienced the closeness of animals, I understand what this attitude means to animals. I love animals and those who are good to animals, what about a prophet who is that good to animals? He was a prophet who cared for animals' feelings and psychological states, and never regarded them as un-feeling bodies or unemotional creatures.
10. His Romantic Love for Lady Aishah
Last, but not least, his romantic love for Lady Aishah has always amazed me. Honestly speaking, I find this relation much more romantic than many love stories that were famous throughout history and literature of love. I mean, they were real! Many of the famous stories are novels, tales, and simply stories.
But, Prophet Muhammad and Lady Aishah's love was real. They lived it, cherished it and practiced it, down to earth in their daily life. He loved her dearly and passionately, and she loved him back.
She — like any normal, loving woman — felt jealous for him and expressed that obviously. He also felt jealous —like any normal, loving man — and expressed it obviously. They were human in their love, not angelic.
I always recall his habit of drinking after her and I pause to smile at this habit of his. He used to search for the part that touched her lips from the utensil she used in drinking. Then, he would specifically touch the same part with his lips when he would drink. He simply enjoyed feeling her warmth.
Yet, despite his deep love to her, and his genuine passion towards her, he never permitted this love to make him neglect his duties or role as a prophet and worshipper. He would leave her warm side in the middle of the night and take her permission to pray. He would tenderly ask her: "Let me stand for my God an hour in prayers." And, she would let him willingly and lovingly.
They lived love in their daily moments and they practiced it in every action. Their story of love did not stop at their lively moments, but continued till they departed.
Again, it has always amazed me and touched my heart deeply the moment of the Prophet's death. It was when he chose to depart the world from her house. He chose to go there when he felt death approaching.
And, then, at the moment of death, he chose to lean his head between her arms and to depart from there. Her hugging arms were the last he encountered in our world.
Having said so little in the love of the man who deserves much more, I am not at all satisfied. Yet, I have to sum up my words.
Ten, I was asked to write, and ten I have written. But, I have written so little, I know, in a man who I should write down hundreds of reasons to fall for. But history has written hundreds and thousands of books about the great man. And history will keep writing.
He is a man who does not need me to write about him. I was the one who needed to write, about the man who clearly showed me the way. Maybe this is really why I love him that much. Peace and blessings be upon you, my beloved Prophet.
Dalia Salaheldin is a bilingual writer, proem poet and consultant ReadingIslam website.She is a local activist who has traveled widely throughout the world and has studied Islam at length in Egypt for the last sixteen years. She currently teaches Arabic and Qur'anic language to non-Arabs at the American University in Cairo and is specialized in intercultural and interfaith affairs.She holds a BA in Journalism and Mass Communication and an MA in Teaching Arabic as a Foreign Language from the American University in Cairo. She can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org