Mirroring the Prophet (peace be upon him)

Mirroring the Prophet (peace be upon him)

The good news is that as per the hadith, ‘you are with those whom you love’[1]. So if you love the Prophet (peace be upon him), you will be with him. The more you love him you closer you will be to him. In another hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that those closest to him on the Day of Judgment would be those with the best character.

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleases with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said,

Jabir bin ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with them) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

وعن جابر بن عبد الله رضي الله عنهما أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال‏:‏ ‏ “‏إن من أحبكم إلي، وأقربكم مني مجلسًا يوم القيامة، أحاسنكم أخلاقًا، وإن أبغضكم إلي وأبعدكم مني يوم القيامة، والثرثارون، والمتشدقون، والمتفيهقون‏”‏‏.‏‏(‏‏(‏رواه الترمذي وقال حديث حسن‏)‏‏)‏

“The dearest and the closest of you to me on the Day of Resurrection will be those who are the best in behaviour; and the most hateful and the farthest from me on the Day of Resurrection will be the talkative and the most pretentious and the most rhetorical.” [Tirmidhi]

When you put these two hadith together you see that it is not just about emotion, but our love for the Prophet (peace be upon him) must be accompanied by the responsibility to also follow his footsteps. In the well- known ayah in Surat al Imran in the Quran, Allah Almighty stated:

قُلْ إِن كُنتُمْ تُحِبُّونَ ٱللَّهَ فَٱتَّبِعُونِى يُحْبِبْكُمُ ٱللَّهُ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ ۗ وَٱللَّهُ غَفُورٌۭ رَّحِيمٌۭ ٣١

Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “If you ˹sincerely˺ love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive your sins. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [3:31]

Imam Qushayri (may Allah be pleased with him) commented on this ayah, saying that the Arabic word for love is ‘hub’ which is composed of two letters, ha and ba. The ha is a reflection of the soul, al ruh, and ba is the letter for badan, which is body, so when you love someone you do not spare your body or your soul to please him.

This is what he said in ‘Lataif al Isharat’ which is one of the best commentaries in the Sufi tradition. He is a high-level Maliki scholar in linguistics, shariah and hadith. The first volume of his book has been translated but it is so high brow, it is very hard to translate and when I asked one of the best translators to translate many years ago, she said she could barely comprehend it, let alone translate it.

It is fascinating that while the other prophets’ miracles are mentioned in the Quran, such as the miracles of Eesa and Musa (peace be upon them), the miracles of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are mentioned in the Sunnah, the Quran is silent about them. I believe this is because his character itself was the Quran. The miracle was that he embodied the Quran and it became his character

When Aisha was asked about the Prophet (peace be upon him), she said his character was the Quran[2]. Sometimes this is translated as he was ‘the walking Quran’, but this is not an accurate translation.

In another narration, when asked what the Prophet (peace be upon him) was like, Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) recited the first ten ayahs of Surat al Muminoon and said this is what he was like. His miracle is everlasting.

The miracles of the other prophets ended with them, but the miracle of the Prophet (peace be upon him) continues until today, because every single one of us, from his Ummah, become a walking miracle when we follow his footsteps. This is why we don’t need the Quran to talk about his miracles, because we are the miracle when we emulate him. This is the beauty of following him (peace be upon him). Thus being part of his Ummah is not just an honour but a responsibility.

Imam al Razi (may Allah be pleased with him) gave a beautiful commentary of the ayah:

أُوْلَـٰٓئِكَ ٱلَّذِينَ هَدَى ٱللَّهُۖ فَبِهُدَىٰهُمُ ٱقۡتَدِهۡۗ قُل لَّآ أَسۡـَٔلُكُمۡ عَلَيۡهِ أَجۡرًاۖ إِنۡ هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكۡرَىٰ لِلۡعَٰلَمِينَ

Those are the ones whom Allah has guided, so from their guidance take an example. [6:90]

Imam Razi explored what he is being commanded to follow. Does Allah mean the Prophet (peace be upon him) should follow the belief of the previous messengers? He concluded no, because in theology, there is no acceptance in taqleed in belief and aqeedah. We are not allowed to copy someone’s belief, we have to have our own evidences. Razi then asks, does Allah Almighty mean he should follow their shariah? Again he concludes this is not the case, because each messenger was given their own shariah. So what was it he had to follow? Imam Razi said that every prophet was given certain special character traits and that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had all of these. Therefore he was the embodiment of the best characteristics of all the prophets who preceded him. And this is why Allah said: you have the best character, khuluqin ‘Azeem. Imam Suyuti’s book, Al Khasa’is talks about the Prophet (peace be upon him) and in particular the unique things he has been given[3].

From the beginning of his journey the Prophet (peace be upon him) talked about character (khuluq) and deen. The one who has deen should have character, but they can become separated. For instance you might have someone praying in the front row, but his character is zero.

We have been commanded to follow his character because through this we will shine.

In many verses of the Quran, Allah Almighty said to the Prophet (peace be upon him) that his mission was only to warn people, as Allah guides whom He wills. His mission was not to convert people but to convey the divine message to them – with conviction and love and mercy.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) himself could not convert anyone.

In the account of Abdullah bin Salam who was a Jewish Rabbi, before his name was changed, said:

The moment I saw his face, I knew this was not the face of a liar.[1]

He had firasa (intuition) and he could read faces, which is the practice of physiognomy.  You can tell a great deal from someone’s face – sometimes their entire life story. I have witnessed this. Our Shaykh Yunus (may Allah be pleased with him) was not a scholar, but he was a waliy who was in his 90s and he lived in an old house. He was very jamali (easy going, warm and compassionate), and the scholars in Damascus would visit him. Not everyone has the gift of firasa (intuition), but Abdullah bin Salam had it and the moment he saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) he could see the nur (light) beaming from his face and took seconds to accept Islam. Unlike Abu Lahab and Abu Jahl, who saw him but could not see his light. Abdullah bin Salam was sincere and sincerity can transport you at the speed of light. If you look at those who convert, the core ingredient in their conversion is sincerity.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked his Ummah to follow his blessed footsteps and emulate his blessed character.

People judge Islam by our character, especially if we live in the West. The more we have prophetic character, the more we convey our message without conversion.

This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) was special, because he was the embodiment of all the best characteristics of the prophets and messengers. His Ummah should be the mirror of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and we should mirror each other because Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ‏ الْمُؤْمِنُ مَرْآةُ أَخِيهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُ أَخُو الْمُؤْمِنِ يَكُفُّ عَلَيْهِ ضَيْعَتَهُ وَيَحُوطُهُ مِنْ وَرَائِهِ وقال أبو هريرة الْمُؤْمِنُ مَرْآةُ أَخِيهِ إِذَا رَأَى فِيهَا عَيْبًا أَصْلَحَهُ

“The believer is a mirror to his brother.” [al-Adab al-Mufrad]

In this way, our goodness is reflected by each other. Another concept is that the believer is al mumin, while one of Allah’s name is Al Mumin, so this means, we should reflect Allah’s qualities in your dealings, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) did. This is why we were told to be rabaniyoun, (lordly). When you have pins and needles near a magnet, they become magnetised by being in the magnetic field. This is the reflection of good character. The Quran is like the magnet, the more you rub it the more you follow.

In addition to sincerity we need consistency. Over a few years, a drop can penetrate a rock. He used to love the deeds, which could be maintained, even if they are little – such as reciting two pages or performing two rakahs of nawafil salah. If you dropped a huge amount of water on a rock in one day, it will not have the same affect as the drop over falls repeatedly on the same spot; it will just wash the rock once. Therefore be consistent in your efforts.

You must have a daily wird (habit of doing adhkar and reciting the Quran on a daily basis) as this is the legacy of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and this is Allah’s message to us, so we have to keep reflecting on it. This is why we named Utrujj Foundation after the hadith of the utrujjah fruit.

‘The example of the believer who reads the Quran and applies it is like the ‘Utrujjah’ (a type of orange). It has a nice smell and a sweet taste.’ [Bukhari]

We need the sweetness and the fragrance. So when you read the Quran, pick one ayah and apply that in your life that day. If you do this every day you will see the benefit. If you only recite, you will get the reward but if you want to reach a higher level, you need to implement it in your life. This is how we live the character of the Prophet by living the Quran.

When I was teaching in the Shariah college, there was a young student who would be in the lesson reciting her Quran when I arrived and then she would take our her calculator to count up how many rewards she had earned. Though we want to save up the rewards in our account, we are not just reciting for reward, we want the Quran to transform us and we want to activate it in our life.

To live the Quran is to mirror the character of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as he was the embodiment of the Quran, in his mercy, generosity and wisdom etc. He reflected the Quran like a beautiful mirror which reflects light, beauty and goodness.

When we are in any gathering the angels cover us with their wings and report back to Allah Almighty. And even more beautiful than this is that Allah forgives those in the gathering, even if they just came because they were dragged along by a friend. Abu Hurayrah reported Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) as saying:

Allah has mobile (squads) of angels, who have no other work (to attend to but) to follow the assemblies of Dhikr and when they find such assemblies in which there is Dhikr (of Allah) they sit in them and some of them surround the others with their wings till the space between them and the sky of the world is fully covered, and when they disperse (after the assembly of Dhikr is adjourned) they go upward to the heaven and Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, asks them although He is best informed about them:
Where have you come from? They say: We come from Thine servants upon the earth who had been glorifying Thee (reciting Subhan Allah), uttering Thine Greatness (saying Allah o-Akbar) and uttering Thine Oneness (La ilaha ill Allah) and praising Thee (uttering al-Hamdu Lillah) and begging of Thee. Be would say: What do they beg of Me? They would say: They beg of Thee the Paradise of Thine. He (God) would say: Have they seen My Paradise? They said: No, our Lord. He would say: (What it would be then) if they were to see Mine Paradise? They (the angels) said: They seek Thine protection. He (the Lord) would say: Against what do they seek protection of Mine? They (the angels) would say: Our Lord, from the Hell-Fire. He (the Lord) would say: Have they seen My Fire? They would say: No. He (the Lord) would say: What it would be if they were to see My Fire? They would say: They beg of Thee forgiveness. He would say: I grant pardon to them, and confer upon them what they ask for and grant them protection against which they seek protection. They (the angels) would again say: Our Lord, there is one amongst them such and such simple servant who happened to pass by (that assembly) and sat there along with them (who had been participating in that assembly). He (the Lord) would say: I also grant him pardon, for they are a people the seat-fellows of whom are in no way unfortunate. [Muslim]

This shows us the importance of good company. Abdul Raouf al Munawi commented on this hadith that there are those who will not be disappointed in the company of righteous people, even if they are a dog, as even the dog of the People of the Cave, had a special mention in the Quran, because he was in their company, so do not underestimate the company of righteous people. Be careful who you choose as your companion.

Shaykh Haytham Tamim- WinterSpring Mawlid 21st Sept 2023

[1] In him, came to Medina, the people rushed toward him and it was said, “The Messenger of Allah has come!” I came along with the people to see him and when I looked at the face of the Prophet, I realized that his face was not the face of a liar. The first thing the Prophet said was this, “O people, spread peace, feed the hungry, and pray at night when people are sleeping. You will enter Paradise in peace.” [Tirmidhi]

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ سَلَامٍ قَالَ لَمَّا قَدِمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ الْمَدِينَةَ انْجَفَلَ النَّاسُ إِلَيْهِ وَقِيلَ قَدِمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَدِمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَدِمَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَجِئْتُ فِي النَّاسِ لِأَنْظُرَ إِلَيْهِ فَلَمَّا اسْتَثْبَتُّ وَجْهَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ عَرَفْتُ أَنَّ وَجْهَهُ لَيْسَ بِوَجْهِ كَذَّابٍ وَكَانَ أَوَّلُ شَيْءٍ تَكَلَّمَ بِهِ أَنْ قَالَ أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ أَفْشُوا السَّلَامَ وَأَطْعِمُوا الطَّعَامَ وَصَلُّوا وَالنَّاسُ نِيَامٌ تَدْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ بِسَلَامٍ

[1] Bukhari and Muslim

[2] Qatadah reported: I said to Aisha, “O mother of the believers, tell me about the character of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him.” Aisha said, “Have you not read the Quran?” I said, “O course.” Aisha said, “Verily, the character of the Prophet of Allah was the Quran.” [Muslim]

عن قتادة قُلْتُ لعائشة يَا أُمَّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَنْبِئِينِي عَنْ خُلُقِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَتْ أَلَسْتَ تَقْرَأُ الْقُرْآنَ قُلْتُ بَلَى قَالَتْ فَإِنَّ خُلُقَ نَبِيِّ

[3] عن جابر بن عبد الله رضي الله عنهما أنّ النبيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: «أُعْطِيتُ خمسا، لم يُعْطَهُنَّ أحد من الأنبياء قبلي: نُصِرْتُ بالرعب مسيرة شهر، وجُعِلَت لي الأرض مسجدا وطَهُورا، فأَيَّمَا رجل من أمتي أدركته الصلاة فَلْيُصَلِّ، وأُحِلَّت لي المغانم، ولم تحلَّ لأحد قبلي، وأُعْطِيتُ الشفاعة، وكان النبي يُبْعَثُ إلى قومه خاصة، وبُعِثتُ إلى الناس عامَة». 

[صحيح] – [متفق عليه]

Jābir ibn ‘Abdullāh (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said: “I have been granted five things that none of the prophets before me was granted: I have been made victorious with the awe from a one month distance; the earth has been made a place of worship for me and a means of purification; so, anyone of my Ummah should pray wherever he may be when the time of prayer is due; the spoils of war have been made lawful for me, whereas it was not lawful for anyone before me; I have been granted (the privilege of) intercession; and all the prophets before me were sent to their people in specific, whereas I have been sent to all mankind.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Learn how to communicate from the Prophet (peace be upon him)

The Unique Gifts of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Learn optimism from the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

The Joke of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

The Five Roles of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

Free Booklet on The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ – a Lasting Miracle


Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.