The Story of Prophet Muhammad and the Jewish Scholar of Madinah.

Tariq Shaban Balushi's photo.

Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.

The Story of Prophet Muhammad and the Jewish Scholar of Madinah.

Zaid ibn Su`nah was one of the very notable Jewish scholars of Madinah and lived at the time of the prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam – May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) in Madinah. The following story about him is narrated by Abdullah ibn Salaam (may Allah be pleased with him) who was a blessed Companion of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.S.).

According to Abdullah ibn Salaam, Zaid ibn Su`nah reports that once the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.S.) took a loan from Zaid to help other people in the city and promised to pay it on a certain date. Two or three days before the due date, Zaid ibn Su’nah approached the Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.S.) who was accompanying Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman (may Allah be pleased with them), and a number of other companions to offer a funeral prayer. After the prayers, Zaid ibn Sunah came to the prophet (S.A.W.S.), grabbed him by his shirt and cloak, and looked at him angrily and said:

“O Muhammad! Why don’t you pay off my due?! By Allah, I know nothing of your family except deferment [on debts]. I know well of your people.”

At this Umar got extremely angry and said: “O enemy of Allah! Did you actually just say what I heard you say to the Messenger of Allah? Did you really just do to him what I saw? By the One Who holds my life in His hand, if I were not concerned with [the Prophet’s] leaving us, I would have struck your head with my sword.”

The Prophet and Messenger of Allah, who was looking at Zaid ibn Su’nah quietly and patiently, said (even though the due date hadn’t arrived yet): “O Umar! We don’t need this. I was more in need of your advice to pay off his loan well, and your advice to deal with him courteously. Go with him O Umar, pay off his loan, and give him twenty extra saa` (~44 kilograms) of dates because you frightened him.”

Thus, Umar took Zaid ibn Su’nah, paid off his debt, and gave him an extra twenty saa` of dates. Zaid then asked him for the reason of the increase and Umar replied that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) had ordered to give it because Umar had scared Zaid.

According to Zaid, he then asked: “Do you recognize me, Umar?”

“No”, he said.

“I am Zaid ibn Su`nah”

“The scholar of the Jews?”, Umar asked.

“Yes, the same one.”

“Then what made you behave and speak with the Messenger of Allah as you did?” Umar asked.

“O Umar!” I replied.

“I recognized all of the signs of prophethood upon seeing the face of Muhammad except two signs that were not immediately evident: One, that his forbearance would precede his rashness, and that his forbearance would increase upon encountering excessive rashness. Now I have recognized these two signs as well. Bear witness, O Umar! I am pleased with Allah as my Lord, with Islam as my religion, and with Muhammad as my Prophet. Also bear witness that I give half of my wealth – and I have plenty of wealth – in charity to the nation of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).”

Umar and Zaid then returned to the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and Zaid publicly announced: “I bear witness that none is worthy of worship besides Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger and I believe in him.”

Thus, Zaid testified to the Prophet Muhammad’s message and took the pledge of allegiance on his hand. Later, Zaid participated in a number of expeditions along with the Prophet and was martyred in the expedition of Tabuk.

About Prophet Muhammad’s (S.A.W.S.) Character

The above story shows a glimpse of the prophet’s (SAWS) character, In his book Ihya’ ‘Uloom al-Deen, Abu Haamid al-Ghazaali highlighted the prophet’s qualities, some of which are stated as follows –

He was the most forbearing of people, the most courageous of people, the most just of people, the most chaste of people.
He was the most modest of people and would not look anyone straight in the eye.
He would respond to the invitations of slave and free alike, and accept a gift even if it was a cup of milk, and he would reward a person for it.
He got angry for the sake of his Lord but he did not get angry for his own sake.
He would adhere to the truth even if that resulted in harm for himself or his companions. He found one of the best of his companions slain in an area where Jews lived, but he did not treat them harshly or do more than that which is prescribed by sharee’ah.
He would accept invitations to meals, visit the sick, and attend funerals.
He was the most humble and quiet of people without being arrogant, the most eloquent without being long-winded, the most cheerful of countenance.
He would sit with the poor and offer food to and eat with the needy, honoring the virtuous and softening the hearts of people of status by treating them kindly.
He upheld ties of kinship without favoring his relatives over those who were better than them, and he did not treat anyone harshly.
He accepted the excuses of those who apologized to him; he would joke but he only spoke the truth, and he would smile without laughing out loud.
He did not waste time without striving for the sake of Allah or doing that which was essential to better himself. He did not look down on any poor person because of his poverty or chronic sickness, and he did not fear any king because of his power.

Letter sent by Prophet Muhammad to Cyrus Al-Muqawqas (Coptic Vicegerent in Egypt) inviting him to Islam.

The following is the letter sent by Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.s.) to Cyrus Al-Muqawqas (the Coptic Vicegerent in Egypt) inviting him to Islam.

“In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

From Muhammad slave of Allah and His Messenger to Muqawqas, vicegerent of Egypt.

Peace be upon him who follows true guidance.

Thereafter, I invite you to accept Islam. Therefore, if you want security, accept Islam. If you accept Islam, Allah, the Sublime, shall reward you doubly. But if you refuse to do so, you will bear the burden of the transgression of all the Copts.

“Say (O Muhammad : ‘O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), come to a word that is just between us and you, that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partners with Him, and that none of us shall take others as lords besides Allah.’ Then, if they turn away, say: ‘Bear witness that we are Muslims.’ ” [Al-Qur’an 3:64]

Hatib bin Abi Balta‘a was chosen to communicate the message. Muqawqas later said to him: “We are in no position to relinquish our religion except for a better one.” Hatib said: “We invite you to embrace Islam, which will suffice you all what you may lose. Our Prophet has called people to profess this Faith.” He later continued and also said, “…the Christians (have) stood closest to his Call. Upon my life, Moses’s news about Christ is identical to the latter’s good tidings about the advent of Muhammad; likewise, this invitation of ours to you to embrace Islam is similar to your invitation to the people of Torah to accept the New Testament. Once a Prophet rises in a nation, he is eligible for positive response, hence you are subject to the same Divine Law. Bear in mind that we have not come to dissuade you from religion of Christ but rather bidding you to adhere to its tenets.”

Muqawqas meditated over the contents of the letter deeply and said: “I have come to the conviction that this Prophet bids nothing abominable; he is neither a straying magician nor a lying soothsayer. He bears the true manifest seeds of Prophethood, and so I will consider the affair deeply.”

He took the parchment and ordered that it be kept in an ivory casket. He called a scribe to write the following reply in Arabic:

“In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

From Muqawqas to Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah.

Peace be upon you. I have read your letter and understood its contents, and what you are calling for. I already know that the coming of a Prophet is still due, but I used to believe he would be born in Syria. I am sending you as presents two maids, who come from noble Coptic families; clothing and a steed for riding on. Peace be upon you.” It is noteworthy that Muqawqas did not avail himself of this priceless opportunity and he did not embrace Islam.

Letter of Prophet Muhammad to Negus (Najashi) Calling him to Islam.

Late in the six year A.H., on his return from Hudaibiyah, the Prophet Muhammad , decided to send messages to the kings beyond Arabia calling them to Islam. In order to authenticate the credentials of his envoys, a silver seal was made in which were graven the words: “Muhammad the Messenger of Allâh” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 2/872,873]

The following letter was sent to Negus (Najashi)

“In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

From Muhammad the Messenger of Allah to Negus, king of Abyssinia (Ethiopia).

Peace be upon him who follows true guidance. Salutations:

I entertain Allah’s praise, there is no god but He, the Sovereign, the Holy, the Source of peace, the Giver of peace, the Guardian of faith, the Preserver of safety. I bear witness that Jesus, the son of Mary, is the spirit of Allah and His Word which He cast into Mary, the virgin, the good, the pure, so that she conceived Jesus. Allah created him from His spirit and His breathing as He created Adam by His Hand. I call you to Allah Alone with no associate and to His obedience and to follow me and to believe in that which came to me, for I am the Messenger of Allah. I invite you and your men to Allah, the Glorious, the All-Mighty. I hereby bear witness that I have communicated my message and advice. I invite you to listen and accept my advice.

Peace be upon him who follows true guidance.”

When ‘Amr bin Omaiyah Ad-Damari communicated the prophet’s letter to Negus (Najashi), the latter took the parchment and placed it on his eye, descended to the floor, confessed his faith in Islam and wrote the following reply to the Prophet :

“In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

From Negus Ashama to Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah.

Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah! and mercy and blessing from Allah beside Whom there is no god. I have received your letter in which you have mentioned about Jesus and by the Lord of heaven and earth, Jesus is not more than what you say. We fully acknowledge that with which you have been sent to us and we have entertained your cousin and his companions. I bear witness that you are the Messenger of Allah, true and confirming (those who have gone before you), I pledge to you through your cousin and surrender myself through him to the Lord of the worlds.

Sending Blessings on our Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

One of the matters which we Muslims overlook or not implement it as much in our lives is to get in the habit of sending blessings on our prophet Muhammad (SallaAllahWasallam). This matter is of so much importance that in Quran Allah declares doing so Himself along with the angels and then instructs the Muslims to do the same.

In Quran, Allah says:

“Allah sends His Salaah (Graces, Blessings, Mercy) on the Prophet (Muhammad), and also His angels (Angels ask Allah to bless and forgive him). O you who believe! send your Salah on (ask Allaah to bless) him (Muhammad), and greet him with the Islamic way of greeting (salutation, i.e. As?Salaamu ‘Alaykum)” [Quran: al-Ahzaab 33:56]

Sending blessings on the prophet is so vital that in one of the hadeeth, acceptance of our Dua is made dependant on it. According to a hadith by ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (may Allah be pleased with him) who said:

Dua is suspended between heaven and earth and none of it is taken up until you send blessings upon your Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).” (Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi).

Another hadith takes this topic further in that it advises believers to include as much blessings on the Prophet (SAW) part of our dua. It was narrated (in part of the hadith) that Ubayy ibn Ka’b said:

I said: O Messenger of Allah, I send blessings upon you a great deal; how much of my prayer (dua) should be for you? He said: “Whatever you wish.”

I said: One quarter? He said: “Whatever you wish, and if you do more it is better for you.”

I said: Half? He said: “Whatever you wish, and if you do more it is better for you.”

I said: Two thirds? He said: “Whatever you wish, and if you do more it is better for you.”

I said: Should I make all my du’aa’ for you? He said: “Then your concerns will be taken care of and your sins will be forgiven.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (2457); classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi.

About the above hadith, Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said in Jala’ al-Afhaam (79): Our Shaykh Abu ‘Abbaas (i.e., Ibn Taymiyah) was asked about the meaning of this hadeeth. He said: Ubayy ibn Ka’b had a dua that he used to say for himself, and he asked the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) whether he should make one-quarter of it sending blessings on him, and he said … because whoever sends blessings on the Prophet, Allah will send blessings on him tenfold, and if Allah sends blessings on a person He will take care of his concerns and forgive him his sins.

In another hadith by Al-Tirmidhi (484) narrated from ‘Abd-Allah ibn Mas’ood that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

The closest of people to me on the Day of Resurrection will be those who send the most blessings on me.” [Classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Targheeb wa’l-Tarheeb.]

In summary, we should send our salutations to the prophet (SAW) whenever possible or whenever we hear his name mentioned. Let’s remember that Allah Himself does that along with the angels too.

The Quran on Prophet Muhammad (s).

Prophet Muhammad (S) was the last messenger of Allah. History shows that he was known to be truthful and trustworthy even before he received the divine inspiration and became the Messenger of Allah. His actions, decisions, relaying the Divine Revelation, method of inviting people to the straight path and implementing injunctions received from Allah, the Most Wise, are evidence of his absolute honesty, piety and spirituality.

As Muslims, our belief in Islam is not complete until we obey Allah and His Prophet (s). Allah commands us to do so in the same verse in the Quran:

“And obey Allah and the messenger (Muhammad (S))… (Quran, Surah Al-Maeda:92)

Allah also told us about the excellence of the prophet’s (s) character in the following verse:

“And Verily. for you (Muhammad (S)) are on an exalted (standard of) character” (Quran, Surah Al-Qalam:4).

However, we are also not to elevate the prophet (s) to a level beyond the standard that Allah set for him and we are not to overstep the mark with regard to what the Quran states about the message and humanity of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). For example, it is not permissible to describe the prophet (s) (as many mistakenly do) as being noor (light) or as casting no shadow, or to say that he was created from light. Rather this is a kind of exaggeration which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) forbade when he said:

“Do not exaggerate about me as was exaggerated about ‘Eesa ibn Maryam. Say: the slave of Allah and His Messenger.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 6830.)

The following paragraphs highlight some of the Quranic verses where Allah clarifies the role of the prophet (s).

The Prophet was sent as a mercy to all mankind.

We have only sent you as a mercy to the worlds (Surah Al-Anbiya, Verse 107)

The Prophet was sent as a messenger and a warner

“O people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)! Now has come to you Our Messenger (Muhammad SAW) making (things) clear unto you, after a break in (the series of) Messengers, lest you say: “There came unto us no bringer of glad tidings and no warner.” But now has come unto you a bringer of glad tidings and a warner. And Allah is Able to do all things. (Quran, Surah Al-Maida:19)”

Only Allah knows the unseen and decides how much to reveal to His messengers

“(He Alone) the All-Knower of the Ghaib (unseen), and He reveals to none His Ghaib (unseen).”
Except to a Messenger (from mankind) whom He has chosen (He informs him of unseen as much as He likes), and then He makes a band of watching guards (angels) to march before him and behind him. Quran (Surah Al-Jinn:27)”

The Prophet (s) did not have the power to guide anyone – He was only a messenger

Allah says in the Quran:

“Indeed, (O Muhammad), you do not guide whom you like, but Allah guides whom He wills. (Quran, Surah Qasas, Verse 56)”

The prophet’s words were a reminder for all mankind.

And verily, those who disbelieve would almost make you slip with their eyes through hatred when they hear the Reminder (the Quran), and they say: “Verily, he (Muhammad SAW) is a madman!”
But it is nothing else than a Reminder to all the Alameen (mankind, jinns and all that exists). (Quran, Surah Al-Qalam:51-52)”
The Prophet (s) never forged any of Allah’s message

And if he (Muhammad SAW) had forged a false saying concerning Us (Allah),
We surely should have seized him by his right hand (or with power and might),
And then certainly should have cut off his life artery (Aorta),
And none of you could withhold Us from (punishing) him. (Quran, Surah Al-Haqqah:44-47)
Allah also states that it is not up to the Prophet (s) to change Allah’s words in this verse.

“And when Our Clear Verses are recited unto them, those who hope not for their meeting with Us, say: Bring us a Quran other than this, or change it.”Say (O Muhammad SAW): “It is not for me to change it on my own accord; I only follow that which is revealed unto me. Verily, I fear if I were to disobey my Lord, the torment of the Great Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection). (Quran, Surah Yunus:15).

The Prophet (s) did not claim to know anything more than what Allah had taught him

This is made clear when Allah says in the Quran,

“Say (O Muhammad SAW): “I don’t tell you that with me are the treasures of Allah, nor (that) I know the unseen; nor I tell you that I am an angel. I but follow what is revealed to me by inspiration. Say: Are the blind and the one who sees equal? Will you not then take thought? (Quran, Surah Al An’aam, 50)”

The Prophet (s) had no power to pardon anyone

“Not for you (O Muhammad (S), but for Allah) is the decision; whether He turns in mercy to (pardons) them or punishes them…” (Quran, Surah Aal-e-Imran:128).

Allah’s direct command to the prophet (s) about conveying Allah’s message

In fact, we see the Quran’s (Allah’s) stern message when reminding the prophet (s) of his responsibilities. Allah says in the Quran:

“O Messenger (Muhammad SAW)! Proclaim (the Message) which has been sent down to you from your Lord. And if you do not, then you have not conveyed His Message. Allah will protect you from mankind. Verily, Allah guides not the people who disbelieve” (Quran, Surah Al-Maeda:67).

The Prophet (s) was Allah’s last messenger

Obedience of Allah, is what the Prophet exemplified. His (S) character epitomized Quranic teachings. His faith in Allah was pure and absolute. Through his manner of living and fulfilling the obligations of Islam he illustrated Quranic teachings. In all, this he was following the instructions received from his Maker, Allah the Supreme, Who says in the Quran:

“Muhammad (S) is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last (end) of the Prophets. And Allah is Ever All Aware of everything. (Quran, Surah Al-Ahzab:40)”

Prophet Muhammad was sent as a role model for all humanity

Surah Al-Ahzab discusses the important event of the Battle of the Trench (or Al-Ahzab: the Clans), which took place in Shawwal, 5 A.H. In view of the context in which the following verse occurs, the object of presenting the Holy Prophet’s conduct and way of life as a model was to teach a lesson to the people, who had been motivated by considerations of selfish interests and personal safety on the occasion of the Battle of the Trench. The below verse contains an important principle for all Muslims, i.e. to follow the Messenger of Allah in all his words, deeds, etc.

Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.

Quran (Surah Al-Ahzab, Verse 21)

Reflections from this verse

In this verse, Allah presents His Messenger’s life as an absolute model for the Muslims to follow on the day of Al-Ahzab, with regard to patience, striving and waiting for Allah to provide a way out of the challenge that he was in.
Allah sets the Prophet’s example for those who were anxious and impatient and were shaken by feelings of panic on the day of Al-Ahzab.
The verse demands that Muslims should take the Holy Prophet’s life as a model for themselves in every affair of life and should mould their character and personality according to it. This, therefore, means that those who claim to be the believers and Muslims and followers of the Messenger, should see how the Messenger conducted himself on the occasion.
The Holy Prophet set the best example in leadership. He endured along with others every toil and labor that he asked others to endure, and endured better than others; there was no trouble which others might have experienced and he himself did not. He was among those who dug the trench, and endured hunger and other afflictions just as the common Muslims did. He did not leave the battlefront even for a moment during the siege nor retreated an inch.
The Prophet’s own family had also been exposed to danger just as the families of other Muslims. He did not make any special arrangement for his own and his family’s protection. He was always in the forefront to offer maximum sacrifices for the great objectives for which he was constantly asking others to make sacrifices.
The Prophet’s life is a model for him who remembers Allah much and consistently and not occasionally, just by chance.
His life is a model for the person who is hopeful of Allah’s grace and His favors, and who is also mindful that the Day of Judgment will come when his well-being will wholly depend on how closely his conduct resembled the conduct and character of the Messenger of Allah in this world.

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