By Zainab Chaudry
Being a Muslim activist can easily harden your heart. The constant pressures and challenges – they wear a person down if you’re not careful.
I can digest the personal attacks against me though. Using the block and delete functions and having supportive family and friends helps.
What’s hard to process are the attacks on our beloved Prophet Muhammad, sallallahu alayhe wa’alayhi wasalam. May Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon him and his family.
When people say or post terrible things about him, I tell myself that they don’t understand. They can’t appreciate why he was a mercy to mankind because they haven’t studied his life in context; they can’t relate. I remind myself that they speak from a place of ignorance.
The pain diminishes to a dull ache, but it is still there. It hurts, because the depth of love in the hearts of ones who understand knows no bounds.
The most difficult part is when people — especially youth — look for guidance when they’re upset about something they’ve heard about our prophet. As someone who’s seen as a community leader, you have to weigh your words carefully because there’s a certain trust placed in you.
Calmly, I explain that it’s a test, that we have to remember that their hate is not greater than our love for our prophet. I tell them that we have to ask ourselves what would he do if he were in our place. I advise them to not engage with haters, because it only encourages more hatred and that is a poison that pollutes our minds and seeps into our hearts if we don’t protect ourselves from it.
And all the while, my heart feels like it is being squeezed and tears burn behind the eyes, straining to be released. Their words and actions don’t hurt our prophet because they can’t touch him, but they still affect us.
Many Muslims believe last Wednesday was Mawlid An Nabi in the United States –– the day when our beloved prophet was born. I worked from home that day — struggling to meet pressing deadlines — but found myself constantly distracted by this beautiful, geometric design of our beloved prophet’s sandal on the wall of our study.
The prophet’s companions were so enamored of him that they didn’t just try to emulate his character and behavior; they also took great interest in his physical appearance and dressing habits.
His sandals that he wore received particular attention, because they inspired the utmost humility and love for him in their hearts.
Imagine feeling that kind of deference and devotion towards someone: That their shoes that they wear to walk on the ground inspires such deep abiding respect and love in your heart. It’s almost inconceivable in today’s society plagued by egos and pride.
But this was his character. He was the noblest of mankind, and his humility, concern, patience and consideration for others – not just Muslims – was unparalleled. It’s no coincidence that ‘Muhammad’ is the most popular boys’ name in the world today.
Our ummah is in turmoil. Syria and Yemen are witnessing the worst humanitarian crises of our time. Terrorist organizations have hijacked Islam to peddle their agendas. Muslims continue to be persecuted by oppressors who have relative impunity in Myanmar, Palestine, Central African Republic. Sectarian strife is rampant in Muslim majority countries. But still – even as Muslims experience challenging times – our troubles don’t hold a candle to the trials our beloved prophet encountered.
Let us honor his legacy by trying to follow his example. Even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, he never wavered. He kept his dignity in tact and exhibited patience and courage, wisdom and humility. His example is a reminder that can benefit us all in our daily lives.
Let us show mercy to those who harm us. Forgive those who insult us. Be patient with those who annoy us. Remain humble and grateful for our blessings. Reach out to neighbors, feed the hungry, help the poor.
We may define success differently, but by opening our hearts and minds, studying his character, and following in his sandaled footsteps, we can’t help but succeed. Ya’Allah, shower your mercy upon him, and guide us on this journey, accept our efforts, and keep us in your protection.
Allaahumma salli’ala Muhammad wa’ala aali Muhammad kama salayta’ala
Ibraaheem wa’ala aali Ibraaheem innaka hameedun majeed. Allaahumma
baarik’ala Muhammad wa’ala aali Muhammad kama baarakta’ala Ibraaheem
wa’ala aali Ibraaheem innaka hameedun majeed.