The question addressed in this article is central to our understanding of ourselves and Muslims. It is the second in a series taken from the On Demand Course: Who Am I? Understanding Muslim Identity in Light of the Prophet’s Way.
The question of, “Who am I?” is one of the most important questions. Scholars of the spiritual path say, “Whoever knows himself or herself knows their Lord.”
“So where do you get by rejecting its truth?” [Quran 81:26]
Allah also says:
سَنُرِیهِمۡ ءَایَـٰتِنَا فِی ٱلۡـَٔافَاقِ وَفِیۤ أَنفُسِهِمۡ حَتَّىٰ یَتَبَیَّنَ لَهُمۡ أَنَّهُ ٱلۡحَقُّۗ أَوَلَمۡ یَكۡفِ بِرَبِّكَ أَنَّهُۥ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَیۡ شَهِیدٌ
“We shall unfailingly show them Our signs in all the far-flung directions and in their very selves until it becomes unmistakably plain to them that it is the Truth: Or does your Lord not wholly suffice that He is an ever-present witness over everything?” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 41:53]
This question of, “Who am I?” intersects with the time we live in. Where am I? When am I? How am I?
It is said that a person is a product of their time. You have circumstantial realities based on where and when you are.
Faith, belief and connection to God Almighty always bring us back to timeless universals. When we understand timeless universals, we can deal with the particulars.
The Prophets and Messengers were sent to remind people of these universals.
Al-Sayyid Muhammad Naqeeb Al-Attas in a short paper entitled, “The Concept of Education in Islam,” touches on how knowledge is supposed to get you to meaning.
Knowledge is using one’s intellect to find proper meaning from creation. This leads one to realize that Allah is the Supreme and that everything is in service to Him. That is true knowledge.
Someone with true knowledge can see the wisdom, beauty and signs within creation. As Ibn Ataillah al-Sakandari says, “The unintelligent person wakes up in the morning and says, ‘What am I going to do today?’ But the person of insight wakes up in the morning and says, ‘What is Allah going to do with me today?’”
Knowledge requires reflection as well as positive and productive ways of utilizing the intellect.
Some may attempt to make use of their intelligence merely to fulfill a desire. Whether that be wealth, fame, lust or otherwise. This abuse is simply veiling oneself from realizing the proper order of creation.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is reported to have said:
اَلْمُؤْمِنُ مِرْآةُ اَلْمُؤْمِنِ
“The believer is a mirror to another believer” [Bulugh al Maram]
The Prophetic Mirror makes you look even more beautiful than you are.
ٱللَّهُ نُورُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَ ٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِۚ مَثَلُ نُورِهِۦ كَمِشۡكَوٰة فِیهَا مِصۡبَاحٌۖ
“Allah is the Light of the heavens and earth: The likeness of His light in hearts guided by these verses is as a great niche” [Quran 24:35]
Many of the classical Quran commentaries say the likeness of His light is either revelation or the Prophets and Messengers (upon them be peace) because they are reflecting the lights of guidance that Allah is sending upon them to creation.
Knowing The Prophet
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is the embodiment of all virtue and he is the embodiment of what it means to be a refined, beautified and educated human being.
Some may assume that “back in the day” is backwards, and what is forward in time is progress. We still have a lot of problems in today’s world. But, when we look at the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and we see his purification process and what he came with, it is profound. It is truth.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) taught us how to treat children with dignity, how to even interact in a dignified manner with one’s enemies, as well as how to be merciful in every situation.
He (Allah bless him and give him peace) taught us how to treat women with dignity, how to have healthy, cohesive and loving families and to avoid behaviors and things that bring about us greater harm.
Do not be of those who do not have a good sense of who the Prophet Muhammad (Allah bless him and give him peace) was. Invest some time in knowing who your Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) is. You will not find greater progress than you will in him.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) provides us with a complete model of the perfected human being.
قُلۡ إِن كُنتُمۡ تُحِبُّونَ ٱللَّهَ فَٱتَّبِعُونِی یُحۡبِبۡكُمُ ٱللَّهُ وَیَغۡفِرۡ لَكُمۡ ذُنُوبَكُمۡۚ وَٱللَّهُ غَفُور رَّحِیم
“Say, ‘If you all love Allah, then faithfully follow me, and Allah will greatly love you, and forgive you your sins, and Allah is all-forgiving, all-compassionate.’” [Quran 3:31]
Many people seek redress what they understand as wrongs. Often they adopt misguided ideologies and extreme viewpoints.
If you know Allah, His Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace), and yourself then by following the guidance you will be someone whose soul is harmonized even if you face difficulties. Harmony does not mean that everything is easy but that there is balance.
The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) reportedly said:
لَا يُؤْمِنُ أَحَدُكُمْ حَتَّى يَكُونَ هَوَاهُ تَبَعًا لِمَا جِئْتُ بِهِ
“None of you truly believes until your desires are in line with what I have come with.” [Nawawi’s Forty Hadith]
Then, you will recognize the whole picture. Although you may not have all of the pieces, you will see enough to know. You will get a sense of peace. Allah says:
أَلَا بِذِكۡرِ ٱللَّهِ تَطۡمَىِٕنُّ ٱلۡقُلُوبُ
“Verily by the remembrance of Allah do hearts find peace.” [Keller, The Quran Beheld 13:28]
Internal peace will not be achieved without Allah. The way that we achieve it is through beautiful character. It is not complicated and it is acquired from the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace).