وَ ما أَرْسَلْناكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِلْعالَمِين
Wa mā arsalnāka illā rahmatan lil‘ālamīn
We did not send you but as a mercy to all the nations.
(Sūrat al-Anbiyā, No.21, Āyat 107)
If we look back in history, each prophet sent as a guide for the people came with a unique story and manifested Divine attributes to help with their mission. What happened during the time of Prophet Nuh ‘alayhis-salām, or Prophet Ibrahim (a), or Prophet Musa (a) and so forth, did not repeat for any other prophet. Although there is much to learn from each of their stories, amongst all the prophets and messengers, the last Prophet sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam is the most preferred and highest in rank with Allah ‘azza wajall. These are the apostles, some of whom We gave an advantage over others: of them are those to whom Allah spoke, and some of them He raised in rank (Q 2:253)
There are several proofs of how Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā has raised His last prophet above others. For instance, the Quran considers obedience to Prophet Muhammad (s) equal to the obedience of Allah (swt): Indeed, those who give pledge to you, they are giving pledge to Allah (Q 43:10). In addition, Allah elevated the name of Prophet Muhammed to be declared after His name in Adhān and Iqāmah, and answering the call of the Prophet (s) is equivalent to answering the call of Allah (swt), the satisfaction of Prophet Muhammed is coupled with the satisfaction of Allah (swt), and one of the most beautiful signs of his high rank is as described in this verse above. The Almighty Allah sent Prophet Muhammad (s) as a mercy for the worlds, exemplifying his virtue above that of all creation.
In the tafsīr of this verse, the mercy of the Prophet (s) is likened to that of the service of a hospital. The doors of hospitals are open to anyone and all who wish to seek medical guidance. The mercy of our Prophet (s) is far and wide reaching, for all ages, in all regions, and for all human beings. So much so that the Prophet is a mercy even for the divine angels. The Prophet asked Jibra’īl: Did anything of this mercy reach you? Jibra’īl answered; Yes. Surely, I was frightened about the end of my affair. But because of a verse revealed to you I became certain. Allah praised me with His word, (saying): he is in a high position with Allah, the Creator of the ‘Arsh (Q 81:20) (From Al-Amthal fí Tafsīr Kitāb Allah al- Munzal). In the world that we live in today, so full of corruption and injustice, this mercy of our Prophet (s) present the values and teachings of Islam which if practiced correctly would put an end to such failures and miseries.
Not only is our Prophet (s) a mercy to mankind, he exemplified this Divine mercy so beautifully in his conduct to all of creation during his lifetime: And you possess an exalted character (Q 68:4). As followers of his teachings, we too must exemplify such mercy and make it a part of our lifestyle. The Prophet (s) said: The All-Merciful, Blessed and most High, has mercy on those who are merciful towards others. Have mercy on the dwellers of the earth and the Lord of the Heavens will have Mercy on you. (Mīzān al-Hikmah, h. 717)
Some ways in which we can demonstrate such mercy include:
· Forgive others even when we can seek revenge
· Always choose kindness; towards creatures of Allah (swt) including animals, and our environment
· Speak often of the Prophet (s) and his mercy with our friends and family
· Show mercy to our own soul by refining it and controlling it against that which will take it away from Allah (swt).
As we approach the birth anniversary of our beloved Prophet (s) what better way to honour him than to strive to become like him, the most perfect human to walk on this earth.
Sources: Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī, Al-Amthal fí Tafsír Kitáb Alláh al- Munzal, Sh. Mansour Leghaei, Prophet Muhammad (S), a Divine Mercy for the Worlds