This year, the birthday of Prophet Muhammad, popularly known as Id Milad-un-Nabi, falls on December 24. According to the Hijri calendar, it is celebrated every year on the 12th day of Rabi’ al-Awwal, the third Islamic month. In the blissful Milad gatherings, spiritual devotees of the Prophet enumerate numerous moving accounts from his life in which he is personified as “mercy for all the worlds” (rahmatul lil a’alamin), “epitome of truthfulness and trustworthiness” (al-amin wal sadiq) and, most notably, an ardent advocate of tolerance and respect for adherents of all faith traditions. The soft-spoken milad khwans (the traditional reciters of Milad) beautifully explain how gently Prophet Muhammad treated all people. They recount glorious examples of the Prophet’s humane behaviour with people of other faiths, especially the Jews of Medina, Christians of Najran and Habsha (Avicenna), the pagans of the Mecca and even those who professed no conventional belief.
Every year on Id Milad-un-Nabi, I am reminded of a beautiful and motivating story: Once, as Prophet Muhammad sat with his companions, a Jewish funeral passed by. The Prophet stood up to show veneration to the deceased. At this some Muslims who had recently embraced Islam asked him, “O Messenger of Allah, why did you stand up for the funeral of a Jew who used to live in denial of your message?” The Prophet replied, “Wasn’t he a human soul?” As a matter of fact, the Prophet rejuvenated the teachings of all previous messengers of God and therefore honoured them all and gave them equal importance with regard to their collective message. He emphasised that he was sent to the world to reiterate the same sacred message that was conveyed by the earlier prophets. According to a hadith, the prophetic saying, all the prophets of Allah were sent to mankind to disseminate the one and only eternal truth: “God is only one”. Hence, they shared a strong bond of fraternity and brotherhood in prophet-hood.
In this hadith, Prophet Muhammad beautifully described the prophets’ brotherly relationship with one another: “The messengers are brothers. Their mothers are different but their faith is one. So, both in this world and in the hereafter, I am the closest of all the people to Jesus, the son of Mary.” The most meaningful thing we could do on this occasion is to reclaim the all-inclusive spiritual legacy of the prophets from the xenophobic narratives of religions.
Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi is an alim (classical Islamic scholar) and a Delhi-based writer. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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