Sadaf Farooqi eloquently portrays the superhuman ability of the Prophet (sa) to forgive those, who wronged him
A bearded face and turbaned head with its tip ignited, passing for an ignited bomb; a scary-looking, long-bearded man dressed in white, waving a sharp sword. The world witnessed a chain reaction to these depictions and an outcry condemning this distorted imagery of a man, who was sent by Allah (swt) as a mercy to the mankind.
On the contrary, Prophet Muhammad (sa) was an exemplary human being, who returned the nasty actions carried out against him with lofty kindness. Today, he is alleged to having enforced barbaric punishments, such as having thieves’ hands amputated or adulterers flogged. How could it be that he forgave his personal enemies time and again, yet punished others publicly? The answer is twofold: as a Prophet, he had to enforce Islam’s judicial and legal system, as revealed to him by Allah (swt). When people transgressed Divine laws and limits, it was his duty to execute Divine justice. No legal system in the world lets off criminals, who commit heinous crimes. Once convicted, they have to pay the price. The same was true for establishing Islamic law enforcement in society.
Conversely, when dealing with his personal enemies, who constantly plotted vindictive actions against him, our Prophet (sa) never exacted revenge. He chose to forgive unconditionally. A total of seventeen attacks were made on his life, yet, in spite of knowing the perpetrators’ identities, he never took revenge against them although was able to.
It was narrated that Aisha (rta) said: “A spell was put on the Prophet (sa), until he imagined that he had done a thing, when he had not done it. One day, he made Dua and then said: “Do you know that Allah has shown me in what lays my cure? Two men came to me, and one of them sat at my head and the other at my feet. One of them said to the other: ‘What is ailing the man?’ The other replied: ‘He has been bewitched.’ ‘Who has bewitched him?’ asked the other. To this, the other responded: ‘Labeed ibn Al-Asam.’ ‘With what?’ continued the inquirer. To which came the response: ‘With a comb, the hair that is stuck to it, and the skin of pollen of a male date palm.’ Again the other asked: ‘Where is it?’ And the other revealed the place saying: ‘In the well of Dharwaan.’
The Prophet (sa) then went out to the well, came back, and said to Aisha (rta): ‘Its date palms are like the heads of devils.’ I said: ‘Did you take it out?’ He said: ‘No. Allah has healed me, and I feared that it might bring evil upon the people.’ Then the well was filled in.”(Bukhari and Muslim)
This Hadeeth indicates that the Prophet (sa) clearly knew, who had practiced magic upon him; yet, he turned only to Allah (swt) for cure and sought no revenge. Also, out of concern for the people, he did not extract the items used to execute the magic, lest their evil could affect others.
“Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow…” (Al-Ahzab 33:21).
In Taif, the Prophet (sa) first met the chiefs, whom he invited to accept Islam. They responded insolently, sending gangs to harass him. These youths followed the Prophet (sa) and ganged up on him. They proceeded to abuse him and throw stones at him, until his feet were covered in blood. They continued, until he was compelled to take refuge in an orchard. Downhearted, he turned to Allah (swt) in earnest Dua. Allah (swt) sent the angel of mountains, who sought the Prophet’s (sa) permission to fuse the two hills, between which Taif was located. The Messenger of Allah (sa) replied: “No, I hope Allah will bring forth from their loins a people, who will worship Allah alone, associating nothing with Him.” (Muslim)
“And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted (standard of) character” (Al-Qalam 68:4).
Anas (rta) reported that a Jewess came to Allah’s Messenger (sa) with poisoned mutton, and he ate from it. When he felt the effect of poison, he called for her and asked her about it, whereupon she said: “I had intended to kill you.” Thereupon, he said: “Allah will never give you the power to do it.” He (the narrator) said that they (the Companions of the Prophet (sa)) said: “Should we not kill her?” Thereupon, he said: “No.” He (Anas (rta)) said: “I felt (the effects of this poison) on the uvula of Allah’s Messenger.” (Muslim)
Despite the pain in his throat, as a result of her lethal action, and the subsequent confession of the Jewess herself, the Prophet (sa) did not have her executed for her crime.
These incidents are eye-openers for us. When our relatives do us even the slight of mischief out of enmity or jealousy, such as public insulting, backbiting, slandering, or cutting us off, we harbor a permanent grudge against them. More often than not, we return their actions with the same, if not ruder and more antagonistic behavior.
If a passerby gives us an involuntary shove, we turn around with glaring eyes and sharp rebuke ready to fight it out. Cursing and abusing others has become the norm in the face of any damage done unto us by fellow Muslims.
As a role model, Allah’s Messenger (sa) is a guiding light for us, despite the fact that mirroring his lofty conduct is unthinkable. It takes superhuman effort to extinguish the pain and anger, which flame in our heart after being wronged; to nip the Nafs that push us for ‘sweet’ revenge; to forgive and to meet the wrongdoer the next time, as if nothing happened. This is the lesson that our benign Prophet (sa) left behind for us. He proved that it really is possible to forgive bloodthirsty archenemies in the blink of an eye.
“And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) not but as a mercy for the ‘Alamin (mankind, Jinn and all that exists).” (Al-Anbiya 21:107)
A scary face wearing a turban, pictured as a ticking bomb meant to kill innocents? I don’t think so.