- Honoring the Prophet at the beginning of creation
- Honoring the Prophet before his birth
- Honoring the Prophet with the noblest ancestral lines
- Honoring the Prophet in the vocative case
- Love and obedience of the Prophet
- Allah’s Defense of His Prophet
- Universality of the Prophet’s Mission
- His mission is a universal mercy
Allah conferred the noblest honors on his Prophet Muhammad since the beginning of creation before his birth, in his life and after his death. At the beginning of creation, Allah honored his Prophet since the first generation of humankind. Each prophet gave his pledges to believe in the mission of Prophet Muhammad as confirming the truth with which all prophets were sent:
“Allah took a covenant from the prophets: “For what I have given you of the Book and wisdom, a messenger will come to you confirming what is with you; you shall believe in him and support him.” He said, “Do you testify, and agree to this duty?” They said, “We testify.” He said, “Then bear witness and I am with you bearing witness” (the Quran, 3: 81).
The early prophets gave good news about the Prophet as cited in the narration of al-ʿIrbāḍ ibn Sariyah (may Allah be pleased with him) that he heard the Prophet saying:
“I am the supplication of my father Ibrāhīm (Abraham) and the glad news promised by my brother ʿIsa (Jesus) and the true vision of my mother Aminah, who saw a light coming out from her to light the palaces of Czar” (Ahmad, Musnad).
The Quran affirms the supplication of Ibrāhīm: “Our Lord, and send among them a messenger from among themselves, that he may recite to them Your revelations and teach them the Book and the wisdom, and purify them. You are the Noble, the Wise” (the Quran, 2: 129). Likewise, the Quran mentions the good news of ʿIsa: “When Jesus, son of Mary, said: “O children of Israel, I am a messenger of God to you, authenticating what is between my hands of the Torah and bringing good news of a messenger to come after me whose name will be ‘most acclaimed.'” But when he showed them the clear proofs, they said: “This is clearly magic” (the Quran, 61: 6).
Allah also honored his prophet before birth as he had the name of Muhammad. His mother Aminah Bint Wahb told that she used to hear some divine whispering telling her: You will give birth to the master of this nation; when you give birth, say I supplicate for his protection with Allah’s Providence from the envious. Call him Muhammad, for his name in Torah is Ahmad i.e. the praised one, who is praised by the inhabitants of heavens and earth. Likewise, his name in the Gospel is Ahmad i.e. the praised one, who is praised by the inhabitants of heavens and earth and his name in the Quran is Muhammad i.e. the praised one” (al-Bayhaqi, Shuʿab al-Imān).
Similarly, he has the noblest blood linage; Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “Your frequent transmission through the prostrating ancestors” (the Quran, 26: 219). For Ibn ʿAbbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father), it means that he moved through the dorsa of noble fathers: Adam, Noah and Ibrāhīm until he emerged as a prophet. He was born to the noblest ancestral line and the most honorable of Arab families. Shielded from pre-Islamic illicit relations, he moved through the pure dorsa of lofty fathers to the chaste mothers. His best ancestors were chosen from each generation; Kinanah was chosen from the children of Ismaʿīl, and Quraysh from the children of Kinanah, and Banu Hashim from Quraysh (Muslim, ṣaḥīḥ).
Allah also highly honored his Prophet in mention; no one mentions the Name of Allah but s/he also mentions the name of His Prophet. Allah (may He be Exalted) says:
“We have raised your remembrance” (the Quran, 94: 4).
Abu Saʿīd (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated from the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) that Gabriel asked him how has our Lord raised you remembrance. In response, the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Allah know well.” “When He is mentioned, you are also mentioned” Gabriel responded as related from Allah (al-Haythami, Majmaʿ al-Zawaʾid).
His name is associated in several contexts with the name of Allah; when someone declares his/her testimony of faith, his faith is not right until s/he testifies to the mission of Prophet Muhammad following the declaration of belief in Allah’s Oneness. Ḥassan Ibn Thabit (may Allah be pleased with him) said,
God’s Name is associated with the Prophet’s name whenever the muezzin declares the testimony five times a day
His name was derived from the same root of God’s attribute; the Companion of the throne is Maḥmūd and His Prophet is Muhammad
The Prophet’s name is frequently repeated in the two testimonies of faith, in the first and second calls to prayers and in sermons and Quranic verses (the Quran, 4: 80).
Ibn ʿAbbas affirmed that three meanings are firmly associated together in the Quranic verses and are only accepted when jointly observed; they are the prayers and obligatory charity (the Quran, 2: 43), thanksgiving to Allah and to one’s parents (the Quran, 31: 14) and obeying Allah and his messenger (the Quran, 4:59).
It is unacceptable to obey Allah and disobey the Messenger, since obeying the Prophet signifies the submission to Allah: “Those who pledge allegiance to you are in-fact pledging allegiance to Allah” (the Quran, 48: 10). Obeying Allah and his messenger is the sign of success and salvation (the Quran, 33: 71).
According to the narration of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said,
“All my followers will enter Paradise except those who refuse.”
They said, “O Allah’s Messenger, who will refuse?”
He replied, “Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise and whoever disobeys me is actually refusing it” (al-Bukhari).
When ʿUmar (may Allah be pleased with him) visited the Black Stone, he kissed it and said, “I know that you are just a stone; you can neither do any harm nor give any benefit; had I not seen the Prophet kissing you, I would not have kissed you” (al-Bukhari)
Right obedience to Allah is only affirmed by obeying His Prophet. It is also a sign of honoring the Prophet that Allah makes his love a requisite for true faith and following his example a sign of Allah’s love to a servant :
“Say [O Prophet]: “If you love Allah then follow me, so Allah will love you and forgive your sins. Allah is Forgiver, Merciful” (the Quran, 3: 31).
It is the duty of each Muslim to love Allah. Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said,
“None of you is a perfect believer until I am dearer to him than his child, his father and the whole of mankind” (al-Bukhari and Muslim).
More to the point, one’s faith is not perfect until he gives precedence to the Prophet’s love to the love of one’s soul, children and all people. ʿAbdullah Ibn Hisham (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “We were in the company of the Prophet while he was holding the hand of ʿUmar Ibn Al-Khattab. ʿUmar said to Him, “O Allah’s Messenger, you are dearer to me than everything except my own self. The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “No, by Him in Whose Hand my soul is, (you will not have perfect faith) until I am dearer to you than your own self.” Then ʿUmar said to him, “Now, by Allah, you are dearer to me than my own self.” The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Now, O ʿUmar (you are a perfect believer)” (al-Bukhari).
It is enough merit and honor for lovers of the Prophet that they would accompany him on the Last Day. No grace can anyone earn beyond that. Anas Ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said while the Prophet and I were coming out of the mosque, a man met us outside the gate. The man said, “O Allah’s Messenger, when will be the hour?” The Prophet asked him, “What have you prepared for it?” The man became afraid and ashamed and then said, “O Allah’s Messenger, I have not prepared for it much of fasts, prayers or charitable gifts but I love Allah and His Apostle.” The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “You will be with the one whom you love” (al-Bukhari).
Furthermore, Allah never called him in his name as He did with other messengers whom Allah called in their names:
- “O Adam, reside you and your mate in the paradise,” (the Quran, 2: 35)
- “O Jesus, I am terminating your life, raising you to Me” (the Quran, 3: 55)
- “O Noah, descend in peace from Us and blessings upon you” (the Quran, 11: 48)
- “O Moses! Verily, I am Allah, the Sustainer of all the worlds!” (the Quran, 28: 30)
- “O Moses, I am your Lord” (the Quran, 20: 12).
- “O John, take the Book with confidence” (the Quran, 19: 12).
- “O Abraham, “You have acknowledged the vision” (the Quran, 37: 104-105).
- “O Zachariah, We give you glad tidings of a son whose name is John” (the Quran, 19: 7).
In his address to Prophet Muhammad, Allah used the honorable epithets of prophethood and mission saying:
“O prophet, We have sent you as a witness, and a bearer of good news, and a warner” (the Quran, 30: 45).
He also called him saying,
“O messenger, deliver what was sent down to you from your Lord, and if you do not then you have not delivered His message; and Allah will protect you from the people. And Allah does not guide the disbelieving people” (the Quran, 5: 67).
Allah even forbade Muslims to call the Prophet in his name as past nations did and warned those who violate this command lest they shall taste painful punishment:
“Do not let the calling of the messenger between you be as if you are calling each other. Allah is fully aware of those among you who slip away under flimsy excuses. Let those who oppose his command beware, for an ordeal may strike them, or a painful punishment” (the Quran, 24:63).
Honoring His Prophet, Allah commands the believers to follow his example: “Indeed, in the messenger of Allah a good example has been set for you for him who seeks Allah and the Last Day and thinks constantly about Allah” (the Quran, 33: 21). This verse sets the rule for the duty of following the example of the Prophet in statements, practices and conditions. We shall thus adopt his example in all affairs. Allah and His angels send his blessings on the Prophet encouraging the believers to do the same:
“Allah and His angels bless the Prophet: [hence,] O you who have attained to faith, bless him and give yourselves up [to his guidance] in utter self-surrender!” (the Quran, 33: 56).
Allah, Himself, also defended his Prophet against false accusations whereas all other prophets used to defend themselves against such claims. The following examples prove that fact:
- When the people of Noah said, “Verily, we see that you are obviously lost in error!”, Noah defended himself saying, “O my people! There is no error in me, but I am an apostle from the Sustainer of all the worlds. I am delivering unto you my Sustainer’s messages and giving you good advice: for I know [through revelation] from God what you do not know” (the Quran, 7:60-62).
- When the people of Hūd accused him of foolishness, insanity and telling lies: “We see you in foolishness, and we think you are one of the liars” (the Quran, 7:66). He then defended himself saying, “My people, there is no foolishness in me, but I am a messenger from the Lord of the worlds, to deliver to you the messages of my Lord, and to you I am a trustworthy advisor” (the Quran, 7: 67-68).
- However, when they accused the Prophet of falsities and lies, Allah defended him. When they accused him of being a poet, Allah said, “They said: “No, these are just bad dreams; no, he made it up; no, he is a poet. So let him bring us a sign like those who were sent before” (the Quran, 21: 5) but Allah replied to them saying, “We have not taught him poetry, nor has he needed it. This is a reminder and a clear Qur’an” (the Quran, 36: 70).
- When they accused him of being a soothsayer, Allah (may He be Exalted) said, “Therefore, you shall remind. For by the grace of your Lord, you are neither a soothsayer, nor crazy” (the Quran, 52: 29). Allah even swore in affirmation of his defense and the truth of revelation he brought to refute their claims: “I do swear by what you see and what you do not see, this is the word of an honorable messenger. It is not the word of a poet; rarely do you believe. Nor the word of a soothsayer; rarely do you take heed; [it is] a revelation from the Lord of the creation” (the Quran, 69: 38-43).
- When they said he was a magician, Allah refuted their false claims and reminded of the past claims made against prophets, saying: “Likewise, when a messenger went to those before them, they said: “A magician, or crazy”(the Quran, 51: 52). Similarly, when they accused him of being bewitched, Allah refuted their claim saying: “The wicked said: “You are but following a man bewitched! See how they put forth examples for you; they fall badly misguided that they cannot find a path” (the Quran, 25: 8-9).
- They also accused him of being crazy, then Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “Have they decided that he is crazy? Indeed, he has brought the truth to them, but most of them hate the truth” (the Quran, 23: 70). Allah also says, “Nun, the pen and what they write, you are not, by the blessing of your Lord, crazy. Yet, you will have a reward that will not end. And you are of a high moral character” (the Quran, 68: 1-4).
- When they accused the prophet of misguidance and deviation, Allah defended his prophet saying, “By the star falling away, Your friend was not astray, nor was he deceived, nor was he speaking out of personal desire; It is but a divine inspiration” (the Quran, 53: 1-4).
- Allah guaranteed the protection and safety of his prophet saying, “O messenger, deliver what was sent down to you from your Lord, and if you do not then you have not delivered His message; and Allah will protect you from the people. And God does not guide the disbelieving people” (the Quran, 5: 67).
- It is also a sign of Allah’s honor of his prophet that his message is for all humankind in all times and generations. Before Prophet Muhammad, each prophet was sent to a specific people but the Prophet was sent to all humankind: “We have sent you to all people to be a bearer of good news, and as a warner; but most of the people do not know” (the Quran, 34: 28). Jaber Ibn ʿAbdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said,
- “I have been given five things which were not given to any of the prophets before me:
- Allah made me victorious by awe (frightening my enemies) for a distance of one month’s journey.
- The earth has been made for me (and for my followers) a place for praying and a means to purification. Anyone of followers can pray wherever the time of a prayer is due.
- The booty has been made lawful for me (as it was not lawful for any previous prophet)
- Every Prophet used to be sent to his nation exclusively but I have been sent to all humankind
- I have been given the right of intercession (on the Day of Resurrection)” (al-Bukhari).
Allah also preferred his Prophet over all other honorable prophets; the Quran tells, “Such messengers, We have preferred some over others; some of them talked to God, and He raised some of them in rank,” (the Quran, 2: 253). For the well-versed scholars and exegetes, “He raised some of them in rank” refers to Prophet Muhammad, as he is the one endowed with the highest rank, the eternal miracle (the Quran) and the universal divine message containing all merits of past divine message. According to the narration of Muslim and al-Tirmidhi, the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “I have been sent to all the creation and have been made the last of all prophets.”
Allah never swore by the life of any human being except the life of His Prophet. The act of swearing means affirmation using many things of various kinds including inanimate matters, animals, angels, places, times and cosmic phenomena. In this regard, Allah never swore by the life of any human being except the life of his prophet: “By your life, they are in their heedlessness, blundering” (the Quran, 15:72).
He swore by his prophet’s life that they are entirely misguided in confusion knowing no way to the right and guidance. When the polytheists claimed that Allah left his prophet, Allah swore that He never left or abandoned him: “By the late morning and by the night when it falls, Your Lord has not left you, nor did He forget you. Yet, the Hereafter is better for you than the first. And your Lord will give you and you will be pleased” (the Quran, 93: 1-5).
After the Prophet’s death, Allah also honors him with the major intercession on the Last Day. Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said:
“I shall be the leader of the children of Adam on the Day of Resurrection; I will be the first to be resurrected and the first intercessor and the first whose intercession will be accepted (by Allah).”
It is one of the greatest signs of honor that Allah made his prophet a mercy to humankind. Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “We have not sent you except as a mercy to all creations” (the Quran, 21: 107).
Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “I am a mercy presented” (al-Ḥakim in his Mustadrak). According to another narration, “I have been sent as a mercy presented.”