The following is by Muftī Mudassir; after-Tarāwīḥ bayān, in ICF, Fremont, California, in the early aughts, translated and turned from Urdu by Mullā Saaleh Baseer.
Translation note: the writer has translated with literary methods offered by Shāh Walīullāh: to understand the genealogy of both the translated and the receiving languages, understanding that to turn words from a post-Mughal civilization into a post-Enlightenment one is frigidly messy and invariably discordant. Nonetheless, rooted in current American poetic models, the translator has engaged in interpretive acts that might edge into the world of transcreation, though never fully sinking in its beds.
In the name of Allah, the Mercy-giving, the Compassion-nurturing.
Joy cradle the exalted of Prophets and creation. And his sacred family, his sacred companions.
Honorable listeners, my mothers of sanctity, my brothers, my sisters:
Nūn! By the pen: what it jots down. By the grace of your Lord, you are not crazed. In truth, you (O Prophet) are the master of supreme values.
Allah has spoken, in truth.
A lettered man once said: (Urdu) ḥusn-i zāhir mein āp ajmal hein. mulk ke bāṭin mein āp akmal hein. be-taḥammul ʿaql yei kehtī hein ke kul khalāiq mein āp afzal hein.
I offer another line of poetry: tamattā rahay terē rōẓa ka manzar. salāmat rahay terē rōẓey ki jālī. humein bhi ʿaṭā hō voh shawq-i bū ẓar. humein bhī ʿaṭā hō voh jaẓb-i bilālī.
(Arabic) yā ṣāḥib al-jamālī wa yā sayyid al-bashar min wajhi-ka al-munīr la-qad nuwwira al-qamar. la yumkin al-thanā kamā kāna ḥaqquh
(Persian) baʿd az khudā buzurg tūīy qissah mukhtasar:
“After God it is just you, O Prophet. And here the story ends!”
balagha al-ʿulā bi-kamālihi ḥasunat jamiʿu khiṣālihi ṣallū ʿalayhi wa ālihi.
In our symposiums, time and time again, the Prophet’s events and the chronicle of his life-stories, life-battles, are documented before us. However, in terms of the outward, the visage, that is, the gorgeousness of the Prophet—I aim to elaborate his beauty. What was his height? The footprint? Hair? The palpable delight of his face? How may we understand them all? This, I reiterate, is not necessarily praxis—i.e., the skin-color of the Prophet, the palm-size of the Prophet—we are not obligated to replicate them. Why? Because physiology is not within our authority to dictate. And (as the Muslim legal theorists inform us) one is not mandated to adopt those attributes which one has no power over (like physical attributes—we are only responsible for cultivating a sunnah-ic interior).
But the message is that the gorgeousness of the Prophet is a stroke of blessing, a godsend for us. When we gaze or meditate on the Prophet, we ought to invoke world-honoring gratitude to Allah, saying: “Thank you so much for gifting us a Prophet of wildly dazzling beauty.”
All Prophets are gorgeous—in truth, we may say that the most beautiful (sarāpā) human in the past epochs would be the appointed Prophet, the one-called-upon. Because the truth any given Prophet champions, his face, in beauty, testifies to his prophethood, to his truthfulness. And that when they would gaze, glance, at the visage of the Prophet, it would be affectively impossible for them to entertain this man is not truthful. ‘Abdullāh ibn Salām, the famed expert on the Torah, who later adopted Islam, said, after witnessing the Prophet: inna wajhahu laisa bi-wajhin kazzāb. “The face of this man is not of a liar.” The Companion Abū Rāfiʿ maintained, again after laying his eyes on the Prophet: Ulqia fī qalbī al-Islam. “Islam was insinuated into my heart.” Another companion testified: Mā raytu aḥsana shayan min wajh Rasūlillāh. “I have never seen anything more breathtaking than the face of the Prophet.” Ka-anna al-Shamsa tajrī min wajhihi. And remember: the Ṣaḥābah were not humans of pretension. They embodied the ordinary in an extraordinary way, confessing: “As if the sun was pouring out (ravān davān) underneath him.”
Aẓhar al-lawn. His face shimmered with light. Kāna ʿarquhu al-lūlū. When heat would swarm him, and sweat would form, the sweat-droplets were as living pearls. Idhā sarra istanāra wajhuhu. “When the Prophet smiled, he would radiate—as if he were light.” Kannahu qiṭah min al-qamar. “As if he were a shard of the moon.” And when soft anger (nārāzgī) would pulsate through him, the aftermath was the redness of pomegranate seeds (anār kī surkhī). A far onlooker would be thunderingly shaken, moved. And as they closed into the Prophet, they became love and love became them. Praise for Allah, that He has made a protective haze over every dimension, every angle, of our Prophet.
So, we show gratitude to God for his beauty.
This is precisely why there is so much cosmic energy (barakah) and raḥmah in his Sunnah, and in embodying his practices: guidance. Wonder, placed by Allah, flashes across his face. In reports documenting the medical impact of his blessed saliva, ʿAlī ibn Abī Ṭālib says his eyes were cindering during the event of Khaybar, and the Prophet pasted his saliva to ʿAlī’s eyes. At once, the burning sensation ended. ʿUtbah ibn Gharqah says that, out of illness, “a seed-like material poured out of my body. I visited the holy-Prophet and he applied his curing saliva. I was healed.” He continues: “But with that. Whenever I would stroll the streets, onlookers could detect a sniff of perfume.” For the rest of his life! Such sensations were the aftermath of the Prophet’s beauty, and such cosmic energy pulsated through the luʿāb of the Prophet.
Muftī Saeed (Pālanpūrī)—who had visited us—has compiled the metaphysical effects of the Prophet’s saliva in a book called Ḥadīth-i Wafā. Jābir, the Companion, says that on the day of Khandaq, he saw the Prophet lapping two stones on his stomach, the Ṣaḥābah having tied one on their bellies. Jābir told his wife. Aisī (shaydāī) thē. The Ṣaḥābah did not seek to console their hearts with false, alleged truths. Dekhē bighayr chēn nahīn ātā.
ʿAbdullāh ibn ʿAbd al-Rabbah was harvesting his fields—when his son came darting to him: “Father, the Prophet of God has exited this world.” He threw his spade (or other harvesting implement) on the dirt, restlessly supplicating: “Oh Allah: snatch my eyesight away! What could the eyes gaze upon after-the-Prophet!” (merī bīnāyī ko salb karāin). The invocation was accepted: for his entire life, he was left blind.
One mother’s child passed away, as the baby was fumbling in her lap. The Prophet led the funeral and told her, “Your baby is being cradled by a paradise-dwelling woman in the heavens—do you wish to see for yourself?” Someone murmured in the air: “Moments like these do not come often (to witness the unseen). Go on and look!” The women silenced the whisperer: “My eyes may see untruth but the voice of the Prophet cannot lie.” (I.e., I do not need to see my baby in paradise, the Prophet’s words are enough conviction to know its truth).
Moving back to the story of Jābir, he asked his wife, mentioning the starved condition of the battle-hardened warriors: “Do we have anything to eat?” A baby lamb and some flour, she said. Jābir, confidante to the Prophet, meandered to the Prophet, whispering: “We have some food.” (He said it quietly because there wasn’t enough for all the trench-diggers). Hearing the words, the Prophet brightly proclaimed: “Today Jābir is hosting a banquet for us all!” When Jābir relayed that the news that more than a thousand were arriving to eat from the meal of one baby lamb and flour, the wife of Jābir pressed: “Is this from the judgement of yours or the Prophet’s? If it is the Prophet, before disgrace Allah will not lay us.”
Jābir said, “How can the decision be mine? I don’t want to disgrace myself!” (By not having enough to eat). The wife retorted: “Then why are you worried! We will be fine.” The Prophet applies his saliva to the steaming pot, ordering that the lid of the pot should not be lifted. All thousand Ṣaḥāba were satiated (by the meal of one lamb). The house was small, and only ten could fit in at once.
If this is the barakah of the saliva, imagine the sacrality of his words, his ethics, his praxis, his sunnah! You don’t think it will leave a trace in your life (taʾthīr)? The supplications before eating, of sitting, of drinking—consider the barakah for a moment!
ʿUbādah ibn al-Ṣāmiṭ, a soldier, a witness, to Badr, finished his meal and began to wash his hands. Anas ibn Mālik provided a towel for him to wash his hands. Afterwards, a servant placed the towel inside of an oven (tannūr), and all the dirt faded, the towel remaining vanishingly clean. ʿUbādah ibn al-Ṣāmit was a witness to this miraculous feat and asked Anas: “What is this!” seeking an explanation. Anas (ibn Mālik) said: “Once the Prophet lunched here and asked for a towel. Ever since he used this cloth, it refuses to become mucky.” So, think! If we enact the words, the everyday acts of the Prophet, do you truly think the blaze of Jahannam may cinder us? This was just the hands of the Prophet! Through the skin of our Prophet’s hands, the grime of kufr is scrubbed away.
Hazrat-i Ṣuhaib (al–Rūmī) is riding in the night, after meeting with his maʿshūq, amongst the dirt-lanes of Mecca. “Ṣuhāib you’re in such ghaflah!” says the Prophet. He then glides his hand on the body of Ṣuhaib, and in the aftermath of this prophetic touch, this prophetic energy, Ṣuhaib enunciated the proclamation of faith, testifying to the unity of God.
Our tongues? They migrate sensations of sweetness, acidity, bitterness—and so forth. But the exalted tongue of the Prophet: it revealed only ḥalāl and ḥarām. Once the Ṣaḥābah and the Prophet were seated for food on a dastārkhān. One mouthful of food neared the mouth of the Prophet, and he spurned it, saying: “Ṣadaqah is unlawful for the family of Muḥammad!” What picked up on this? The flesh-tongue of the Prophet. Look, wonder, at our Prophet—his biological nature was paradigmatic guidance—the sensations of his mubārak tongue: they were distinctions between lawful and unlawful!
Of the anatomy, of the physique of the Prophet, Allah had dressed it, coated it, with sublimity. The sweat dripping down from his hallowed forehead: if a bride had applied it, all the nikāḥ-goers would immediately know the scent was from ḥuẓūr, the fragrance emerging was so pronounced! Beauty and joy on his soul. Um Sulaym would, in fact, dispatch kids to collect the droplets of sweat in bottles as the Prophet would rest, stirring and fusing the sweat with other perfume, heightening the aroma of her perfume.
In the instruction, the intellectual culture, of the Prophet, there crop up overarching guidance, raḥmah, and barakah—we know this from critically valid (ṣaḥīh) prophetic reports. In light of this, we must read the Shamāil of Tirmidhī. Peace and joy upon the Prophet. Come, let us read the Shamāil. It elaborates on the ḥulyah of the Prophet: his teeth, his eyes, his tongue/language (zubān), his hair, his pace and stride—what was his mode of sitting? How would he engage his time between ʿAṣr and Maghrib? From Maghrib until ʿIsha—what were his rituals? All of this was compiled! His favorite sālan? His most adored fruit? What clothes were beloved to him? What were his favorite colors? All of this in one short text. As Allah assigned hidāyah in his teachings, his beauty reserves a spiritual impact, as well. His biography (sīrat)? Well, it was his biography (i.e., of such grandeur). Passers-by would shift to Islam simply by encountering his beauty (ṣūrat). His ṣūrat authored that influence.
(Now let us turn to) His name? The barakah that leaps therein? Cited in Ḥadīth, the Prophet said that whosoever has a boy, and out of unyielding love of the Prophet and to acquire the barakah of the Prophet’s name, he names his son Muḥammad, Allah makes both son and father paradise-dwellers. Also mentioned in the collections of Hadith: whomsoever is named Muḥammad, be sure to honor and exhibit love to that child. Emphasized further to the father is the prohibition of humiliating treatment, of putting to shame that son named Muḥammad. Why? Because his name is a totem of grandeur.
On Resurrection-day it will be proclaimed: Oh Muḥammad! (Joy upon him) Walk into Paradise without any accountability! Listening to this proclamation, many who were named after the Prophet will also awaken, and because of the spreading-sanctity of that name, all those who were named Muḥammad will not be forbidden entry. Go! You enter Paradise, too. How will they wake up? Do you know? On condition that they were Muḥammadī, i.e., those who were sincere to the Prophet. They were Muḥammadī to Muḥammad! (Muḥammad ke sāth Muḥammadī ho). Allah’s grace will be colossal on that day. It will be for those named Muḥammad who acted in accordance with the sanctity of the Prophet’s name.
What grandeur in a name! Akhtar Shīrānī—have you heard of him? A well-regarded poet. In a state of inebriation (nashe kī ʾḥālat mein), he was lounging. Akhtar Shīrānī in a drunken state. In this state (of recital of poetry), what happens? Naturally, they are dawdling around, expressing merriment (tafrīḥ kartē hain). Other (poets?) are reclining on cushions around him. Ab unko lēle. Someone (sardonically) questioned him: “What do you think about Ghālib”? (The late-Mughal poet). Akhtar retorted: “Ghalib was a fool.” (bēwaqūf). “What are your thoughts on Ẓauq?” (These are all (Mughal) poets). “His taste in poetry was poor (bud-ẓauq—a play on the Arabic name of the poet),” scoffed Shīrānī. “What are your thoughts on the poet Inshā-allāh Khan?” Shīrānī said: “His composition (inshā) was awful! How did he become a poet?” Another asked his thoughts on (Mirzā Rafī) Saudā. Shīrānī said: “His drive (saudā-sawār) for poetry was misplaced! If I encountered him, I would have sternly told him: don’t aspire to be a poet.” The discussion was underway. A half-witted oaf, in that gathering, asked Shīrānī: “Ḥuẓūr! What are your thoughts on Muḥammad?” This fool was disadvantaged of any intellect! Shīrānī had a bottle of wine in his hand; he threw it down, cracking it, and struck the questioner, in utter rage: “O worthless one! (kambakht)! How dare you mention such a pure name in this vile gathering? How could you be this shameful?” He slapped him so awfully that the questioner found himself with an open wound. Akhtar Shīrānī, feeling utter graveness that the Prophet’s name was mentioned in this assembly of wine, and that he was responsible for the disrespect of the Prophet, swore off wine until the day he died.
Abū Nuʿāym al-Isfahānī, a celebrated muḥaddith, informs us that, in the nation of Mūsā (ʿalayhis salām), lived a man seen as utterly unfaithful (nāfarmān) to—and by—the laws of Mūsā. When he passed away—do you know what his community did? They cast his body into the waste. In the trash they threw him. Allah commanded Mūsā to lift him out of the trash, wash, shroud, and bury him with reverence. After obeying the order of Allah, after washing, shrouding, burying him, Musā entreated Allah. “O Allah, my people left him out to die. Why did you order me to bury him?” Allah said: “O Mūsā! Every time he sat down with the Torah, and found the name Muḥammad, he would place a kiss on that word.” Peace and joy upon him, and all the Prophets.
This is the modus operandi of Allah’s mercy—his qānūn is something quite different! Remember, this is purely the barakah of his name. In his outward beauty, in his name—even his na’layn mubārak! What are the na’layn? His sandals. Did you know they are the equivalent to two legal witnesses (i.e., the shari’ī requirement of evidence)? This is attested in the prophetic collections. The joy-giving Prophet (said)—narration cited in Mishkāt: “Whosoever declares the unity of God with sincerity, he will step into Paradise.” Abū Hurayrah—he is the narrator—says: “O Prophet of God! Shall I announce this wonderful news (khush khabrī) to the people?” “Tell them,” said the Prophet, “and take these two sandals with you! Whoever asks you for proof, offer these two sandals.” Legal evidence is exactly what in the Sharia? A claim requires two witnesses. Take these two witnesses. And whom did Abū Hurayrah encounter on the road? Hazrat-i ʿUmar. He had to meet Hazrat-i ʿUmar. “Where are you going?” he asked. Abū Hurayrah, in joy, said: “You shall be the first I inform of the wonderful news! Whoever recites the kalima, with sincerity, will step into Paradise.” Hazrat–i ʿUmar said, “Let’s go inside,” bringing Abū Hurayrah to the Prophet, and saying: “Oh Apostle of Allah! Tell him to stop. People will listen to this and abandon righteous actions (ʿamal), relying only on faith.” The Prophet ordered Abū Hurayrah to desist. The Ḥadīth-critics write that lest they be held accountable (wabāl na āye), they essayed on it, further noting that whoever passed away with imān, they certainly will enter paradise. However, those who bedrock their faith with righteous actions will be counted from the elite category and step into Paradise. And if they didn’t scaffold their faith with actions—what will happen to them? Only Allah knows. But they will undeniably be admitted (into Paradise)—eventually. If Allah’s mercy cradles the action-less, then they will prosper with the righteous of the upper-tier; if they are not mercied, then (those who had imān only) will be treated per the qānūn of Allah, i.e., with potential punishment, and be admitted, thereafter.
With respect to the na’layn-i mubarak, ḥazrat Ḥakīm al-Ummah, an exceptional friend of God— have you seen the image of the na’layn? Perhaps one of you chanced upon it. He, Ḥakīm al-Ummah, wrote a book, concerning the sacred-giving effect of the sandals, entitled: Zād al-Saʿīd fī Dhikr al-Ḥabīb. An exceptional book on the biography of the Prophet—a concise, wonderful text.
What is the truth? We have refused to cultivate affability with the friends-of-God (Allāh wāle). To disrespect the people-of-God, the saints, that is, to abandon them, is to foster misfortune for oneself (nuḥūsat). Are you aware of the consequence of this crime, this misfortune? Alienation (maḥrūmī) from Islam! Alienation manifests in two forms—those who dishonor (be-ḥurmatī) the people-of-Allah (buzurgon) are alienated from religion in two ways: either they are lost of the privilege to properly understand, properly access, their religion, or they are unblessed to practice their faith. Why? Because these mystics had cultivated an irreducible relationship with, and to, Allah. And transmitted in Bukhārī is the prophetic report from Allah (ḥadīth-i qudsī): Man ʿādā lī waliyan faqad āthantuhu bi al-ḥarb. “Whosoever inflicts injury (emotional or otherwise) to any of my saints, I have drawn battle lines with them.”
No, I am speaking about the experiential effect of the two prophetic sandals—I am not quoting a Ḥadīth! Allah has placed wondrous power in the image of the prophetic sandals, the mystics say. Quite extraordinary power! They have alluded to their own experience (with the sandals), saying, in no small terms, that, during any ravaging calamity, “We set the image on our chests, and Allah unsnarled those calamities, untied the muṣībat, from our life!” Consider: if the representation of it, the symbol, holds such bright power, what do you think the actual sandals would achieve for you? The hair? Umm al-Amarah says—subḥānallāh!—that the Prophet observed head-shaving (halq), and prophetic hair was distributed. “I, too, was honored with some hair. Whenever anyone was struck with illness, I would set the hair in a cup of water and offer it as a drink to the afflicted. They would be cured!” Khālid ibn al-Walīd. Islam’s exceptional—what shall I say—hero? Two militarily brilliant leaders: Khālid ibn al-Walīd and ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ—they testified to Islam’s truth in the same day, and they were roaringly successful conquerors. Khālid ibn al-Walīd said: “I deposited the miracle-giving hair of the Prophet in my helmet, and wherever I campaigned with that strand of hair, Allah humbled me with conquest.”
What a Prophet Allah has gifted us! This was only his flesh-beauty! We are demanded to gratitude-present to Allah that we follow a thunderingly gorgeous, stunning, and flawless (ḥasīn, jamīl, kāmil) Prophet. Don’t you know—we must feel life-shattering pride that we are the ghulām of the Prophet. Hum ghulām-i Huzūr. Ṣallallāh ʿalayhi wa sallam. Are we not? If anyone’s heart resists conceding this fact, then let us present them beyond-doubt proofs! To be a ghulām is to identify with love. Let us now show to you that the ummah, in her totality, is the ghulām of the Prophet. The demand of ghulāmī is that we bend our will to our Master. Hazrat-i Zāhir, Allah’s pleasure cradle him, he companioned the Prophet. He was a desert-dweller. A village-resident. Whenever he approached the presence of the gorgeous-Prophet, he arrived gift-bearing, hadyah-offering. This Companion would forage an item from the Arab wilderness, and, in return, the holy Prophet would gift him an item from the city. Taḥāddū Taḥābbū. Gift to each other and you will love each other. It shouldn’t be one-way. That you’re only taking presents. No! You should be gifting and taking! Love shoots up, roars up, through this act. The gorgeous Prophet said, with a spray of humorousness: Zāhir is my village, and I am his city. Once, hazrat-i Zāhir was standing upright in the bazār, in the marketplace. The Prophet, walking, took ahold of him—astern. Hazrat-i Zāhir, puzzled (and unknowingly), squirmed to free himself. Haẓrat-i Anas says that, when the holy-Prophet demonstrated his physical strength, the flesh of his palms were softer than silk, finer than marble (marmar). Yei āp kī shān hai. In terms of his tenacity and physical fortitude, you know the story of the wrestler (pahalwān)? (Challenged by this non-Muslim wrestler), the holy-Prophet sent him flying into the ground. The Prophet spoke to the wrestler: Try again! Come, try again, Rukānah! After the third round of being overthrown, the wrestler testified to the truth of Islam. Hazrat-i Zāhir, seeking to release himself, looked behind, thinking, Who is holding me? It’s the Prophet! This moment of him holding me won’t come again. How can I let it slip by? (Realizing this moment wouldn’t offer itself twice), he let himself slide into the grasp of the Prophet. This moment won’t come again. The gorgeous-Prophet announced, boomingly: Who will buy this ghulām? Ḥadīth commentators offer a thoroughgoing analysis of this prophetic report. From the sacred-filled mouth of the Prophet, no lie emerges from it, even during instances of humor. Only, and only, truth can, and will, come out. Yet, everyone knew Hazrat-i Zāhir was free!
From this we, and the dunyā, conclude that the population of this earth are the ghulāms of the holy-Prophet, dignified. Hum sab Ḥuzūr ki ghulāmī ka sharaf ḥāṣil hain. In the spur of the moment when the Prophet announced, Who will buy this ghulām, ḥazrat-i Zāhir began to weep, Prophet-of-God, I would be sold for a paltry price in Madina. Our Prophet, our Prophet of beauty, do you know what he said? Maybe here, Zāhir, you might be sold cheap, but in the presence of Allah, how valuable you are! How valuable you are.
My guests! Please, let us read the prophetic biography (sīrat) in the Shamāil. How many books are out there! What was the beauty of the Prophet? What did he enjoy? In what ethical manner did he arise from sitting—and how would he sit? Learning one mannerism after another, we ought to adopt these life-giving attributes. And hearken back to (my earlier point) and let it sit in your heart: you and I are demanded to embody the mannerisms that are in our capacity to emulate (ikhtiyārī). (I.e., you and I are not asked to mutate our body to the hand-size or the teeth-structure of the holy-Prophet, however much we desire). When we are treated to biographic details of his physical appearance, we ought to experience otherworldly joy (even if we cannot imitate him in this respect).
So, in conclusion, out of the joy of Allah dignifying us with a gorgeous Prophet, the demand of that is we love him, we give our hearts, undyingly, to him. We carry our obedience to him. And in the course of obeying him, we should not experience any frigid restlessness or agitation. Let us cultivate world-defying love in our hearts.
And, so, we weepingly beg Allah that He gifts us providence to obey the Prophet. Ameen.
Photo by Heraa Hashmi
About the Authors:
Muftī Mudassir is a resident lecturer and juriconsult in Fremont, California, Muftī Mudassir is a sanad-holder from Darul Uloom Deoband and Sabil al-Rashad, graduating with distinction, and studying texts as diverse as the logic handbook Sullam al-ʿUlūm to Ḥanafī legal theory in Ḥusāmī to the six-canonical-books in prophetic reports to Saʿdī’s Gulistān. He earned authorization in iftā in Hyderabad, over the course of three years. Known for his literary, Persianized-Urdu lectures and his agility in synthesizing Quranic hermeneutics, Ḥanafī legal theory, Ḥadīth methodology, and vignettes from the salaf in a rigorous fashion, he is widely-acclaimed across state lines.
Mullā Saaleh Baseer completed his Dars-i Niẓāmī in Azaadville, and earned his bachelor’s in History from Columbia University. He is co-terminally completing his iftā in Darul Qasim, and a master’s in the University of Chicago, in Mughal political-legal History.
hifẓ-i quran takmīl kard az zayr-i nigranī-i muftī mudassir dar shahr-i fremont wa bisyār az istafādah dar ūlūm-i shariyya yāftah būd az sar parastī-i īshān-i ʿālī
Disclaimer: Material published by Traversing Tradition is meant to foster scholarly inquiry and rich discussion. The views, opinions, beliefs, or strategies represented in published articles and subsequent comments do not necessarily represent the views of Traversing Tradition or any employee thereof.