Friday Sermon: Reflection of the Divine attribute of forbearance (Al Haleem)

March 21st, 2008

Huzur gave a discourse on the most supreme reflection of the Divine attribute of forbearance Al Haleem as exuded by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).

Huzur said Allah has commanded those who believe Him to imbue His Divine attributes on a human level and His Prophets are granted the greatest capacity for this. The life of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), who was the most excellent exemplar of Divine attributes, is replete with instances of forbearance. Huzur related a few of these.

Once a man came in the presence of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and repeatedly touched his blessed beard. Hadhrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was annoyed at the impertinence of the man and kept removing his hand with his sword. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) stopped Hadhrat Umar from doing so and told him not to be harsh to the man.

Zaid ibn Su`nah, a great Jewish scholar of Madina, relates the story of when Allah willed to guide him, ‘I recognized all of the signs of prophethood upon seeing the face of Muhammad save two signs that were not immediately evident: That his forbearance would precede his rashness, and that his forbearance would increase upon encountering excessive rashness.’ Zaid ibn Su`nah reports: ‘One day, a Bedouin, riding his camel, came to the Prophet and said, 'O Messenger of Allah! A group of my people of such and such a clan have accepted Islam. I used to tell them that if they embraced Islam, there would be great abundance in their provision. Now, however, they are facing famine due to lack of rain. I fear that they will leave Islam out of greediness as they embraced it out of greediness. If you think it proper, send something that would suffice them.'

The Prophet looked to Hadhrat Ali (may Allah be pleased with him), who informed that there were no provisions that could be given.

Zaid ibn Su’nah approached the Prophet and said, 'If you desire, rent me such and such garden of dates for a fixed period of time.'

He replied, 'No, but I'll rent you a certain amount of date [palms] until such and such period without specifying the gardens the dates would be from.' A pact was thus agreed on whereupon date palms were rented to Zaid, and he opened his purse and paid for the particular dates for a fixed period. The Prophet handed the payment to the man and instructed him, 'Help them through this and distribute it justly.'

Two or three days before the fixed period was to end Zaid ibn Su’nah went up to the Prophet and grabbed him by his shirt and cloak, and looked at him angrily and said, 'O Muhammad! Why don't you pay off my due?! I know nothing of your family except deferment [on debts]. I know well of your people.'

Saying this he looked at Hadhrat Umar who are extremely angry and said, 'O enemy of Allah! Did you actually just say what I heard to the Messenger of Allah? Did you really just do to him what I saw? By the One Who holds my life in His hand, if I were not concerned with [the Prophet's] leaving us, I would have struck your head with my sword.'

The Messenger of Allah, who was looking at Zaid ibn Su’nah quietly and patiently, said, 'O `Umar! Rather than be angry you should say let us pay off his loan well. Go with him Umar, pay off his loan, and give him twenty extra saa` (44 kilograms) of dates because you frightened him.’ Hadhrat Umar complied. This is when Zaid ibn Su’nah revealed his identity to Hadhrat Umar, who was surprised and asked what had made him behave and speak with the Messenger of Allah as he had. Zaid ibn Su’nah replied ‘I recognized all of the signs of prophethood upon seeing the face of Muhammad save two signs that were not immediately evident: That his forbearance would precede his rashness, and that his forbearance would increase upon encountering excessive rashness. Now I have recognized these two signs as well. I am pleased with Allah as my Lord, with Islam as my religion, and with Muhammad as my prophet. Also bear witness that I give half of my wealth to the nation of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him).’

Huzur said there are not just one or two such incidents; in fact there are numerous incidents, thousands of which have not even reached us.

Hadhrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) related that once she cooked for the Prophet and his guests and Hadhrat Hafsa (may Allah be pleased with her) also cooked at the same time. Hadhrat Aisha told her maid to go and drop Hadhrat Hafsa's food. The maid did that. The pan in which Hadhrat Hafsa had brought the food also fell down and broke. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) collected the broken bits of the pan, picked up Hadhrat Hafsa's food and ate it and sent Hadhrat Aisha's pan and food as compensation to Hadhrat Hafsa without showing any sign of annoyance on his blessed face.

Huzur said the blessed model that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) set forth was not just for the people of that time. It is an example for us to follow for the rest of the time to come, not just to listen to or read about and enjoy and overlook when it is time to put it in practice.

Huzur said many complaints come to his notice where people are cruel to their servants and some to their wives. Some women end up in hospital. In Europe the police get involved. In some instances even the mother-in-law and the sister-in-law beat up the poor wife. Huzur said the teaching of the kind and gentle treatment is for putting in practice.

Huzur related the incident at the victory Mecca when Safwan bin Umaiya fled. Pardon was sought for him which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) granted. When he was contacted and informed he asked for a specific token that would assure him of the pardon. He was given the turban that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) had on at the time he entered had Mecca triumphant and was assured of the forbearance of the Prophet. When Safwan bin Umaiya asked for a respite of two months, the Prophet granted him four months.

Indeed the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) had said that the real champion is not one who thrashes an opponent, rather a real champion is one who controls himself when angered. Once the Prophet saw two furious men fighting and said he knew saying what would make their condition dissipate and that was ‘I seek refuge with Allah from the accursed Satan’. Huzur said the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) did not ever feel anger on anything of personal nature but only on matters of Allah’s religion.

Once a man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and said that he did nothing but good to his relatives whereas they were always bad to him in return. The Holy Prophet told the man that his actions covered the malice of the relatives and that as long as he was firm on his way Allah’s help would be with him. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said that Allah liked two qualities; one was forbearance and the other dignity.

Huzur said as he has explained before forbearance connotes compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, kindness and suppressing anger. All these qualities are essential for the betterment of society as well as for spirituality and should be adopted by each Ahmadi.

Huzur related a few incidents from the life of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) who, in subservience of his master, also demonstrated great forbearance.

He once said:

‘With the exception of indecency all weaknesses and petulant behaviour peculiar to women should be tolerated. It is shameful that a man should fight a woman. (Malfuzat vol. 1 p. 307) Essence of Islam vol. III p. 313

A Khadim of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that his high morals and courtesy were unmatched and all his life he did not ever tell him off or spoke harshly, although he was inefficient and would delay the tasks. During his ailments the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) never exhibited any of the usual irritation ailing people feel. He would not even ask people around him to quieten if he suffered from severe headache. His temperament during ill health would be consistent with his usual affable self. Many opponents would come by and use extremely crass and rude language with the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) which he would simply hear out without any response. Thus demonstrating civility of high order. Indeed the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) said that his nafs (self) had become a Muslim and that no matter how vulgar a tone was used in addressing him, it could not undermine his nafs.

Once in response to some vulgarity printed in a newspaper about him the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) counselled patience and said that people were rude to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) as well and the Prophet would say that what could he do about people’s abuse Allah had given him the name Muhammad (the praised one). The Promised Messiah added that Allah had also revealed to him that ‘Allah glorifies you from the heavens’.

Huzur quoted an Urdu poetic verse by the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) which broadly translates as:

In response to their abuse I pray for these people
My compassion is keen, subdued have I rage

Citing further incidents from the life of the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) to elucidate the matter Huzur said the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) would say that even the abuse of a guest should be tolerated as he was not among one’s followers. The Prophet had said that one who is visiting (a holy person) has a right on the person visited. The Promised Messiah said to incur displeasure of a such a guest was sinful.

Concluding Huzur said the most supreme reflection of the Divine attribute of Al Haleem was indeed the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) and in this age the Promised Messiah (on whom be peace) had acted in the footsteps and in subservience of his master and demonstrated these blessed models for our reformation. May Allah enable us to imbue Divine attributes.