“I mean I know he’s the final messenger and all, but why do I HAVE TO love him? To be honest, forcing me to love Prophet Muhammad, just because I’m Muslim, makes the whole belief system a bit sketchy!”
I’ll never forget this day. It was Ramadan and my teen client had prepared a whole debate, to which her final verdict was: “I love Allah but I don’t like His Prophet very much.”
I swear I felt the ground shake under my feet. You see I come from a generation born and raised loving the Prophet from the heart with no questions asked. Like a second nature, I didn’t think it was debatable, until that mini earthquake drove me to see how so much has changed. And from a neutral, objective perspective, my client had a point (don’t mind me clenching my jaws when I say that). In fact, if you think about it, I was the rigid one with all the bias.
Who do you love?
“Have you ever loved someone you’ve never met?” I must have asked this question a hundred times, and the answer is usually a name of some celebrity. And even though many of my teen clients gush over famous people, I look at their pictures and feel nothing.
I witness the obsession; how their admirers copy their fashion styles, scream and faint at their concerts, and know even the minutest details about their lives. I watch fans turn to wannabe certified lawyers defending a celebrity’s controversial opinion or action. Some fanatics consider it downright blasphemous if you don’t agree that so and so The Queen of this genre or The Best at whatever. Why? They’re just normal people.
I wouldn’t dare make a comparison between Muslims’ love for their Messenger and celebrity worship. I’m just trying to see if there’s a pattern in these human behaviors. Because if you think about it, whomever you admire, whether a celebrity or public figure, ends up influencing your thoughts, habits, goals and even your dreams. Even if it is someone you’ve never met, they are very much a cherished part of your life and it doesn’t really matter if others don’t get why. Your ‘idols’ are important to you.
Why do you love?
The truth is, deep down, we all need someone to look up to. There’s an existing necessity in society for role models; people we can relate to and be inspired by. We fall in love with influencers who’ve done something remarkable with their talents and used their powers for good. Having a role model fills a psychological need – it restores our faith in humanity. It gives us a sense of identity, direction and fills up a very real emotional void. The more you can relate to this ‘star’, the more you’re filled with hope that maybe you too can overcome your struggles and make your dreams come true. Through idolizing we get to live out a sort of true love the way it’s meant to be: deep, pure and unconditional.
What is love?
None of you will have faith till he loves me more than his father, his children and all mankind.” -Prophet Muhammad (Al-Bukhari)
Our Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) was taught by Allah himself, so suffice to say he completely understood how the human mindsets operate. But why would he possibly command us to love him when true love can only be felt, never imposed?
Because it’s true, we might come across famous people, whom everyone thinks are successful, talented, kind, generous, honest and ready to stand up for what they believe in, yet we’ll look at their pictures and feel – nothing!
Unless you find them relatable, you’ll never really make a connection or love them for who they are. So the question is, how did the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) expect you to love him more than anyone else when he has been gone for over a thousand years? How can you relate to someone you know very little about?
The answer is quite simple: you can’t!
How do we love?
They say ‘Love Doesn’t Ask Why’ but I’m pretty sure it asks ‘How?’ How do you know you truly love someone?
For starters, they’re always on your mind, right? You want to find out everything about that person. If he or she loves a certain movie, you’ll find out. If they’ve visited a certain place, you’ll go there too. You’ll want to almost become them, or at least like them. You’ll want to make them like you, to be proud of you.
When our messenger said those words, he perfectly acknowledged love isn’t just words. Love is a verb. It’s not only something you feel, it’s something you work and sacrifice for with all your heart.
To love Muhammad is to remember him constantly. To truly love him is to find out everything there is to find out about him. Study him. Memorize his words. Feel his presence within you and keep it alive. Ask yourself, which is more important? Him or your friends? Him or your sleep? Him or provocative outfits and sleazy innuendos?
Let’s face it, no one can force you to love him, just like no one can force you to find peace in prayer or joy in charity. It’s a privilege that only benefits you, no one else.
Whether you love him or not, it won’t change his status, but it will definitely change yours.
A man will be with those whom he loves.” -Prophet Muhammad (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
So tell me. When your 70 or 80 years on earth are over, where do you want to spend your eternity and beyond? Because maybe, even if you haven’t done enough, your true love for Muhammad could be your ticket to the highest level of Paradise. How?
Find that part of you that was born and raised to love him, or has been encouraged to do so after you converted. And the best way to do that is imagine your life without him and all what he did for mankind.
– Would you even be Muslim?
– Would you know ‘inner peace’?
– Without Muhammad, whose perfect character would you emulate?
– Who would you look up to for guidance when everyone else lets you down?
– Who would be worthy enough to be your role model? To influence your thoughts, habits, goals and dreams?
Close your eyes and feel it for a minute.
If Prophet Muhammad walks through those doors right now. Would you feel nothing? Or feel everything at once? I know you know the answer to this question. It’s why we call him ‘The Beloved.’ He is where you will find the best kind of beautiful, ‘relatable’ person.
First published: February 2019