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Some Distinguishing Characteristics of the Prophet

Saturday 27/03/2010

Allah The Almighty gifted exclusive characteristics to the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), which no one before him or after him enjoyed. Little wonder then that he is the most honored and celebrated human in the sight of Allah and the best Messenger Allah The Almighty has sent to all humanity.

 
The distinguishing characteristics of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), cannot be elaborated on in a book, let alone in an article. It is sufficient, herein, to touch upon some of his features as stated in the authentic Hadeeth. It was narrated that the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), said: "I have been given five favors which were not given to any prophet before me: I have been made victorious thanks to the awe [that overwhelms my enemies], even if they are at the distance of a one-month journey. The earth has been made for me [and for my followers] a proper place for performing prayer and a proper substance to perform dry ablution with, therefore a Muslim can pray anywhere when the time of a prayer is due. The spoils of war have been made lawful for me to take, whereas they were not made so for any other prophet. I have been given the right of intercession [on the Day of Resurrection]. Every prophet was sent to his nation exclusively, but I have been sent to all mankind."  [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
 
Allah made the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), victorious over his enemies by making them feel dread, even if he was supported neither by men nor arms. Is it possible that such a favor could be extended to his nation? Ibn Hajar, may Allah have mercy on him, expressed two possibilities. It is, however, the predominant opinion that his nation could enjoy it because the characteristics that the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), enumerated were for him and his nation in general. 
 
The Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), was also characterized by having the earth as a suitable place for performing prayer and a means of purification. The Muslim nation enjoys this favor by virtue of the text of the above-mentioned Hadeeth. Therefore, any Muslim may pray wherever he is, whereas the other divine laws dictated observance of acts of worship at specified places only.
 
Another feature that was exclusive to the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), was that he was permitted to take the spoils of war. No other prophet had been permitted to take these - they would be accumulated and then burned or left until consumed by a fire from heaven. However, Allah The Almighty honored His finest Messenger by allowing him and his nation to benefit from the spoils of war.        
 
Yet another favor bestowed on the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), is that he will be permitted to intercede with Allah for his nation on the Day of Resurrection, so that he may relieve them from the utter terror and long standing in the place where they will gather to await reckoning. This will be after all the other prophets apologize for not being able to intercede.
 
The honor of the Great Intercession, which is referred to as Al-Maqaam Al-Mahmood (the Praised Position), is authentically established as exclusive to the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), in many Mutawaatir (successively widespread) Hadeeths. One of them is one in which the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), said: "I will be the master of humans on the Day of Resurrection, the first one to be resurrected, the first intercessor, and the first one to be granted intercession.” [Muslim]
 
Intercession, as the scholars mentioned, will be for different purposes: for salvation from the sheer terror experienced in the place of gathering on the Day of Resurrection; for some people to enter Paradise without being reckoned; for raising degrees in Paradise; and for taking some people out of the Fire. All of these are supported by textual evidence which will not be mentioned here for the sake of brevity.
 
In addition to all these favors, the message of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), is for all humans, while the preceding Messengers were sent to their peoples only. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {And We have not sent you except comprehensively to mankind as a bringer of good tidings and a warner.} [Quran 34:28]
 
In a narration by Muslim, may Allah have mercy on him, the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), was reported to have said: "I was sent to the red and the black." The wording of another narration says: "I was sent to all humans."
 
Contemplating the five favors exclusive to the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), we find that they completely agree with the Islamic Sharee‘ah which the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), came with. Islam is the eternal message and is common to all humans. It is moderate, not encouraging excessiveness or negligence. Moreover, the Muslim nation will be a witness over all humans on the Day of Resurrection.
 
Despite the greatness of these five qualities, they certainly do not constitute all the distinguishing qualities of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ). Ibn Hajar, may Allah have mercy on him, counted seventeen (17) qualities exclusive to the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), and his nation. More details can be found in Seerah books, such as Zaad Al-Ma‘aad by Ibnul-Qayyim and Shamaa’il At-Tirmithi, may Allah have mercy on them
 
In sum, certain qualities distinguish the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), from the other prophets and from his own nation, such as the fact that he will be permitted to intercede with Allah on the Day of Resurrection. Other qualities distinguish him and his nation from the other prophets and nations, like being permitted to perform prayer at any place on earth and being able to perform dry ablution using earth.
 
May Allah The Almighty help us all to adhere to the guidance of the Prophet,  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ), until the Day of Judgment.

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