لَقَدْ جَآءَكُمْ رَسُولٌۭ مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ حَرِيصٌ عَلَيْكُم بِٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَءُوفٌۭ رَّحِيمٌۭ
There has certainly come to you an apostle from among yourselves. Grievous to him is your distress; he has deep concern for you and is most kind and merciful to the faithful.
(Sūrat Al-Tawbah, No. 9, Āyat 128)
Amongst the greatest blessings of Allah ‘azza wajall upon humankind is the sending of the Prophet Muhammad sallal-lāhu ‘alayhi wa-ālihi wasallam to us. He is a guide, a father, a bringer of truth, one who takes us out of darkness into light, one who frees us from the shackles of this lowly world (Q 7:157) – all of it selflessly, without expecting anything in return (Q 26:145). Can any religion or community claim to have a better leader?!
This is the second-last āyat of al-Tawbah, and, according to some scholars, the second-last verse to be revealed upon the Prophet (s). In this verse, Allah subhānahu wata‘ālā reminds the people that He has sent upon them a messenger who is from amongst themselves, who grieves for their difficulties, who wants what is best for all whether they be believers or disbelievers, and who has special mercy towards the believers; so how is it that you still disobey him?! The use of the phrase ‘min anfusikum’, i.e., from your own selves, instead of the briefer ‘min kum’, i.e., ‘from you’, highlights the extreme closeness of the Prophet with the people, as if he is part of our very own body and soul. He feels our pain as if it’s his own. He is intensely concerned with our spiritual prosperity and wants to see us reach the highest of perfections.
It is beautiful to note that this deep concern for the physical and spiritual well-being of the believers isn’t limited to the Prophet (s) but extends throughout his holy progeny (a) as well. Imam Mūsā al-Kāzim ‘alayhis-salām has said: There isn’t anyone from amongst our Shī‘ah who becomes sick except that we become sick with his sickness, nor becomes saddened except we are saddened by his sadness, nor becomes happy except we are made happy by his happiness, nor is [the state of] any one of our Shī‘ah hidden from us wherever he might be, be it the east or the west. (Shaykh al-Sadūq, Sifāt al-Shī‘ah, p. 4).
It is particularly striking that this verse appears at the end of Sūrat al-Tawbah, emphasizing that the seemingly harsh commandments and judgements put forth in this sūrah, such that, according to some, the severity of the chapter is the reason why the basmalah is not to be recited at its beginning, stem in reality from the love and compassion of the Prophet (s) towards humankind. Even the difficult parts of our religion such as jihād (on the battlefield and within our own souls) are for our own benefit, for us to ascend towards the Almighty. Truly understanding this point allows us to accept the hardships of living a Godly life wholeheartedly and, indeed, not consider them to be a burden at all. We see therein opportunities for our perfection. And within this understanding lies one of the secrets to the blessed verse of Sūrat al-Inshirah: inna ma‘al-‘usri yusrā – Indeed, ease accompanies hardship (Q 94:6).
For those who realize the true blessing that was given to us in the form of the Prophet Muhammad (s) and the Sharī‘ah he brought, all difficulties on the path to Allah (swt) are accompanied by the ease of knowing that one is heading towards ultimate felicity.
As we approach the end of the holy month of Rajab and specifically the Day of Mab‘ath which marks the beginning of the Prophetic mission, let us reflect on how immensely fortunate we are to be amongst the ummah of the Holy Prophet (s), bring within us the spirit of gratitude towards the Almighty for this greatest of blessings, and renew our determination to aid this beautiful mission and its current divine leader, Imam Muhammad Al-Mahdī ‘ajjalal-lāhu farajah.
Sources: ‘Allāmah Muhammad Husayn Tabātabā’ī, Tafsīr al-Mīzān; Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; Āghā Muhsin Qarā’atī, Tafsīr Nūr.
Sponsored by a Medical practice of a Mu‘min in Barrie, ON for isāla-e thawāb of all Marhūmīn. Please recite al-Fātiha for the benefit of their souls.