Half of the Testimony

Ashadu an la ilaha illallah wa ashhadu anna muhammadar rasulullah
I testify that there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.

Perhaps the greatest honor and the greatest illustration of the rank of the Messenger of God is that to enter Islam you have to say the testimony of faith and half of that is testifying that the Prophet Muhammad salallahu alayhi wasalam is the messenger of God. Profound because faith can’t even begin until you accept and testify to that reality. You can believe in God, but the Prophet Muhammad salallahu alayhi wasalam is how to believe and how to worship God. He is the perfect slave.  Its like the first part is admitting you are a slave and the second part is the how. The how to be a slave is following the Prophet Muhammad salallahu alayhi wasalam.

I wonder how is it then that we miss the message of Islam. The revelation begins with “Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim, in the name of God the most merciful the most gracious” (1:1) and in its heart Allah tells us that “And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds”. (21:107). When Allah describes the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam further He says “Truly, you are of tremendous character.” (68:4) The Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wasalam) himself emphasized that, “I was only sent to perfect noble character,” (Narrated by Ahmad) and said, “The believers most perfect in faith are those best in character.” (Narrated by Tirmidhi).

What went wrong? Why is it that some people seem void of mercy and good character? Then I remembered the story of the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam and the woman who would put trash and thorns in his path to bother him. One day they were missing and he noticed and went to check on her to see if she had fallen sick. Notice he didn’t sigh due to relief because his dua was answered, because he would never make that dua. He was concerned for a person who we would consider his enemy. He went to visit her and because of the mercy he, salallahu alayhi wasalam had towards her she became Muslim. The example of the Prophet Muhammad is more merciful to his enemies than most of us are to our families, friends, love ones and communities. Meaning He, sallallahu alayhi wasalam is more merciful to people we normally hate (enemies) than we are to the people we love.

We are like that person who marches into Mecca when it was conquered by the Muslims wanting to annihilate its people, but the Messenger of God, salallahu alayhi wasalam announces that the people of Mecca who fought him, humiliated him and killed his family and companions were pardoned.  The people of Mecca were fearful that they’d all be killed for what they had done for the last 20 years of hostility, but the Prophet of God responded to their fear with love and mercy. I remember relearning about this moment as I was getting back in touch with Islam and that hard-hearted person I used to be broke down crying because I knew this was the truth. I cried due to immense gratitude to Allah for making me a person honored to be part of the community of that man, the perfect slave of Allah, sallallahu alayhi wasalam. My heart knew the truth, it knew “Truly, you are of tremendous character.” and it tasted what Allah meant by “And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds” I wasn’t even a good Muslim then. I wasn’t even a decent person. I had a hard heart and bad character, but at least I knew and realized then, that the Prophet Muhammad salallahu alayhi wasalam is the man I want to follow and emulate for the rest of my life. His example is the medicine to my diseases and the ease in my heart in times of hardship.

The Quran is a guidebook and Allah sent us with it a guide. We are blessed to know how to implement each verse in our lives because the world has seen it implemented through the Chosen One, salallahu alayhi wasalam and all the righteous people who have followed him throughout history. I mess up a lot. I make plenty of mistakes. I have many shortcomings, but I just want to stand before Allah and be able to say I tried and hopefully I’ll be able to say I tried my best.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim.

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