"We have sent you but as a mercy to the worlds." [Al-Qur'an 21:107]
As we enter the Islamic calendar month of Rabi al-Awwal, we welcome and honor the blessing of one of the most powerful and dynamic individuals to impact humanity: the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Usually around this time of year we hear amongst Muslims the debate of whether the Milad-an-Nabi is a bidah (innovation) or if it is permissible. However, I will not delve into the permissibility or the impermissibility of it. What is most important about this event is the legacy of Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
As Muslims we believe in a concept of sadaqah jariyah (charity that continues to benefit others even after one is deceased). Sadaqah Jariyah includes the dissemination of knowledge, the building of a house for a traveler or a well people continue to benefit from according to the hadith:
"Among the actions and good deeds for which a believer will continue to receive reward after his death are knowledge which he taught and spread, a good son whom he left behind, or a copy of the Qur'an which he left as a legacy, or a mosque he built, or a house which he built for the traveller, or a stream which he caused to flow, or a sadaqa which he gave from his property when he was alive and well, for which he will continue to receive reward after his death." (Ibn Majah and Baihaqi)
Now the question becomes how does this hadith relate to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)? The lessons we can learn from his life (and if not his birth) are lessons which all of humanity can learn from regardless of which faith you believe in. Much like the building of a well, we continue to benefit from the lessons, teaching and life of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
In a world full of turmoil and instability we find lessons from the time of Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) from which we can learn from.
In a world lacking mercy, from the average person to the politician and celebrity, we see a beacon of light in the life of Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). From his personal to his public life we see instances of his mercy prevailing over seemingly human emotions. He would treat his family with love, caring and mercy. He would give out of his own wealth to the point where he wouldn't have enough for himself to eat. He would refrain from fighting or cursing anyone and would pray for their guidance. He would fight for the oppressed and the needy and support the orphans. He elevated the status of women and forbid the cultural practice of infanticide and many other cultural practices that were detrimental to society.
In a world lacking the softness of the heart and caring for others, we have much to learn from Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). His message of economic and social justice, equality, and freedom for all still resonates today. We see others who worked similarly for what Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) strived for: Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Mother Teresa and many other great figures in the world's history.
Imagine if we were to emulate this mercy in every aspect of our lives. We showered mercy upon our children, parents, friends and our community. We have the power to overcome the problems we face today. The issues and problems of racism, bigotry, hatred, greed, jealousy, violence, poverty, war, etc. can all be solved by showing mercy, love and caring to our fellow human being, just as the Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) did. The Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) cared about people of all faiths, social statuses and ages.
A funeral procession once passed in front of the Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) and he stood up out of respect. When he was told the person in the coffin was Jewish and not Muslim, he said: "Was it not a living (soul)?" (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 399)
Let us be beacons of hope, mercy, love, justice and freedom in dark times. Be the light of hope in a sea of darkness. Let us all leave a legacy of mercy on this earth, just as Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) did.
"God has mercy on those who are merciful. If you show mercy to those who are on the earth, He Who is in heaven will show mercy to you." (Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith 2322) -- Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)