To most people, their parents and children are the most beloved people to them. If anyone was to try and harm any of them, it is expected that they would get upset and immediately jump to the defense of their honor. We get rushed into action.
For Muslims, the Beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is dearer than anyone else even ourselves. In fact, there are people nowadays that would trade everything just to see him visit them in their dreams. But then, how we honor him?
He is the one who we believe was sent as a Mercy. He is the one who we are indebted to for the message of peace that he came with. Yet, somehow his speech, more notably the hadith has been misused by some people.
People read the Quran and read the hadith, but all too often they read it selectively, taking phrases out of context. People just use it for whatever point they want to make. They come to it with their own mind and look for the verses (ayah) or hadith to confirm what they want to hear.
The Quran was not a shopping list for the good of life. Muslims need to stand back for a panoramic view of the text. Furthermore, hadith, which contains many Prophets speech and action, should not be misused, i.e. taking the phrase out of the real context . These two (Quran and hadith) linguistically are different as a whole.
The Prophet ﷺ speech were used in his specific time, including the language and culture. There is remarkable consistency in his style of speech if we observe closely. One of the research nowadays concludes that Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used certain language which structurally different with the Quran. This research counts specific words that were used in hadith, how the structure is, etc, and later compare these findings with the Quran.
The end result from this research is the two book (Quran and hadith) are coming from two different sources!
Regarding the style of his speech, Prophet ﷺ often used hyperbole in hadith . He used the words best and worst to describe something. “The best deeds are….. The worst from people is….” In each of hadith, the description may or may not the same! This is how Prophet ﷺ said. The possibility is that it depends on the objects, with whom the Prophet ﷺ talked to? Or these things is the most amongst you can do, at least.
Another point of the Prophet ﷺ language is when he making a point, he used the language of Zajr (Rebuking). The Prophet was once said to burn the house for someone who did not come to Masjid, the question is did he burn the house?
لَيَنْتَهِيَنَّ رِجَالٌ عَنْ تَرْكِ الْجَمَاعَةِ أَوْ لأُحَرِّقَنَّ بُيُوتَهُمْ
‘Let men desist from failing to attend the congregation, otherwise, I will burn their houses down.’ (Sunan Ibn Majah )
Sometimes also Prophet ﷺ says a thing like, “Whoever does this and that are not amongst us…” Does it mean that kind of activity will remove our Muslim identity? No, of course not.
Muslim scholars define that as Kufr al-Asghar action. It means that only the action itself represents the kufr activity. It is a different term from “Kufr” as in disbelievers. This approach should not be in a literal meaning.
Honoring our Messenger is not only about our action, it is also about our attitude. What is the Quran do to adjust the attitude of believers to the Prophet ﷺ?
The Quran gave him a rank nobody had not been enjoyed, he was honored so much, that there was a danger that people might end up worshipping him . In order to counter that act the Quran needs to say:
Say, “I am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one God. So whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord – let him do righteous work and not associate in the worship of his Lord anyone.” [QS. 18:110]
In our daily life, when you are close to someone, the more casual you will be. Imagine the life of Prophet ﷺ when he was appointed as The Messenger of Allah. All of the people, including the people who are close to him, is hold respect to him by saying this word: “قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ” not “قَالَ فلنٌ” or any casual saying when narrated his speech. All of these things are recorded as we learn our hadith tradition. This is our attitude in order to honor our messenger ﷺ.
In conclusion, the nature of our Prophet’s legacy is fiercely contested by a vast majority of Muslim and non-Muslim, each of those sides was impacted greatly.
It is as the famous philosopher in the early 20th century, Muhammad Iqbal says: “You can deny God, but you cannot deny Muhammad.”
It depends on our attitude in honoring him. صل على محمد
Check out this song and its lyrics: محمد نور
- Power, Carla, If the Oceans Were Ink: an Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran, Holt Paperbacks, 1st ed, 2015.
- From one of the lectures of Dr. Jonathan A.C. Brown, author of the book: Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenges and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy
- Sunan Ibn Majah Book 4, Hadith 61.
- From the history, many prophets and great men being worshiped as God.