The five roles of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
In two verses of Surat al Ahzab, Allah Almighty mentioned that he sent the Prophet (peace be upon) with five roles:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ شَاهِدًا وَمُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا
O Prophet! We have sent you as a witness, and a bearer of good news, and a warner. (33:46)
وَدَاعِيًا إِلَى اللَّهِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَسِرَاجًا مُّنِيرًا
And a caller towards God by His leave, and an illuminating beacon. (33:46)
وَبَشِّرِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ بِأَنَّ لَهُم مِّنَ اللَّهِ فَضْلًا كَبِيرًا
And give the believers the good news that for them is a great reward. (33:47)
These five functions – being a witness, a bearer of good news, a warner, a caller to God and an illuminating beacon (sirajan muneera) encapsulate his mission. As corporations have mission statements, this was the mission statement of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
1. The Witness (Shaheedan)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) will be a witness for those who believed and accepted his message, and against those who rejected his message. The Ummah will be the Ummah as-Shahada – witnesses that the Prophet (peace be upon him) delivered the message of God when other nations will deny that they were ever sent a message and deny their messengers. Their messengers will call upon the Ummah of Muhammad to testify that they were prophets and delivered their message, because the Prophet (peace be upon him) told us this.
وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا ۗ
Thus We made you a moderate community, that you may be witnesses to humanity, and that the Messenger may be a witness to you. (2:143)
2. The Bearer of Good News (Al Mubashshir)
This is the great title of the Prophet (peace be upon him) as he has brought the good news that those who believe and do good deeds will be rewarded with paradise. During Rabi al Awwal we reflect more on the life of the blessed Prophet (peace be upon him), when we read his biography and description in Shamail at Tirmidhi and Qadi Iyyad’s book, Ash Shifa, it is clear that the Prophet (peace be upon him) loved good news.
He loved good news.
How do we activate this quality of bearing good news in our lives? Loving the Prophet (peace be upon him) is not merely about nodding our heads when we hear his name, or feeling warmth in our heart, but about following his footsteps as the bearer of good news. We do so by demonstrating mercy and kindness to all creation.
3. The Warner (An Nadheer)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to warn people about the punishment of hellfire using a kind and merciful approach. His nature was gentle and approachable. As Allah stated in Surat al Imran:
فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍۢ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ
So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. (3:159)
He rewarded kindness more than any other quality and he recommended kindness in our dealings.
Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“Make things easy and do not make them difficult, cheer the people up by conveying glad tidings to them and do not repulse (them).” (Bukhari and Muslim)
4. A Caller to God (Da’eean)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) guided people towards the best choices and called to Allah Almighty with clarity. As all prophets and messengers, the Prophet (peace be upon him) disseminated the message with absolute clarity. Unfortunately, we have many misconceptions about our message and misrepresentations within our community as well as by our enemies. We can expect this from our enemies but what is more upsetting is when people from our own community give the wrong impression about him and project a bad image of him, and twist his mercy to harshness and claim this is what Islam is about. Yet he was a mercy for all humanity.
‘A’isha, the wife of Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said:
‘A’isha, verily Allah is kind and He loves kindness and confers upon kindness which he does not confer upon severity and does not confer upon anything else besides it (kindness). (Muslim)
5. An Illuminating Beacon (Sirajun Muneera)
Allah Almighty described the Prophet (peace be upon him) as an illuminating light – his brightness was like the sunlight, you cannot deny it unless you close your eyes. Those who deny the clarity of his message need to be educated. He tolerated the Quraysh for 13 years, during which they bullied and persecuted him and his followers.
We need to reflect his character in our actions and be the bearers of good news to people, not make people shun away from Islam or hate Islam because of our actions. Make people love Islam because of your good character.
Deliver the good news
We have to pass on this good news (bishara) that we were given to others: we are not born sinful but we make our choices and we can choose paradise with the right choices or reject it with the bad.
We ask Allah to enable us reflect on and project the character of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in our lives. Ameen.
Shaykh Haytham Tamim Khutbah 30th Sept 2022
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