THE UNPARALLELED STATUS OF THE UNLETTERED PROPHET

“…one ought to reflect: who was this ocean of wisdom and divine understanding, and this fountain of divine light revealed upon? The very same Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who on the one hand is known as unlettered, but on the other hand, from whose mouth flowed such sublimities and verities that have no parallel in the history of the world…”

“Since our Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, came for the spiritual development of all the people of the world, this characteristic was present in the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, to the point of utmost perfection. It is this very status of the Holy Prophet(sa) to which the Holy Qur’an bears witness in numerous places. The attributes of Allah the Exalted are expounded in parallel to, and in the same manner, that the attributes of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, are described. For example, Allah the Exalted states:

Maa arsalnaaka illaa rahmatan lil’aalamiin

We have sent thee not but as a mercy for all peoples.

Similarly, He states:

Qul yaa ayyuha al-naasu innii rasuulullahi ilaykum jamii’aa

Say, ‘O mankind! Truly I am a Messenger to you all.

A study of other places in the Holy Qur’an reveals that Allah the Exalted has referred to the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, as ‘unlettered.’ This is because the Holy Prophet(sa) had no other teacher except for Allah the Exalted. However, even though the Holy Prophet(sa) himself was illiterate, nevertheless, philosophers and scholars of the highest calibre were to enter his fold, in addition to the uneducated and those of average learning. Allah the Exalted states:

Qul yaa ayyuha al-naasu innii rasuulullahi ilaykum jamii’aa

Say, ‘O mankind! Truly I am a Messenger to you all.

There is a very subtle meaning alluded to in this verse that one may grasp. The word jamii’aa has two connotations: firstly, all of mankind or creation in general; secondly, people of all classes, i.e. human beings of every intellectual level, be they of average learning, the uneducated, or even philosophers of the highest calibre. In short, an individual at any intellectual level or of any disposition can develop a relationship with the Holy Prophet(sa).

When a person reads the Holy Qur’an, it is astonishing to note that this very unlettered person not only informed us of the Book and Wisdom, but enlightened us as to the ways that one can purify the soul, elevating people to the rank expressed in the following verse:

Ayyadahum biruuhim-minhu

Whom He has strengthened with inspiration from Himself.

Observe and reflect deeply over the fact that the Holy Qur’an conveys a seeker of any disposition to their objective and satiates all those who are thirsty for virtue and truth. However, one ought to reflect: who was this ocean of wisdom and divine understanding, and this fountain of divine light revealed upon? The very same Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, who on the one hand is known as unlettered, but on the other hand, from whose mouth flowed such sublimities and verities that have no parallel in the history of the world. This is the perfect grace of Allah the Exalted so that the people may comprehend the level to which man can develop a relationship with Allah the Exalted. The purpose of this discourse is to expound that the relationships of Allah the Exalted reach an immensely subtle degree. Divinity becomes so intertwined with the elect of God that those who are inclined to worship God’s creatures consider such human beings to be God Himself. It is absolutely true and correct to say:

“The men of God are not God Himself; Yet they are not parted from God either”.

The relationship that they enjoy with God Almighty is such that even without their supplications, He supports them. In short, the highest station among the various states of man is the soul at rest, which I discussed earlier in this discourse. In this state—rather in their every condition—people of such calibre, become so closely intertwined with God that their relationship with Him surpasses normal bounds and becomes a relationship that is truly special; this relation is no worldly or superficial one, it is a bond of the highest, heavenly nature. The purport is that this comfort can also be described as a prosperity (falaah) and steadfastness (istiqaamat), and has been alluded to in the following verse:

Ihdinas-siraatal mustaqiim

Guide us in the right path.

It is this very path that one has been taught to seek in prayer. This path of steadfastness is the path of those upon whom Allah has bestowed His blessings; they are those who receive the grace and favour of Allah the Exalted. The path of those upon whom Allah has bestowed His blessings has been mentioned so as to explain that though the ways of steadfastness are numerous, that steadfastness, which is synonymous with the paths of prosperity and success, are the paths of the Prophets, peace be upon them. Another point to note is that the prayer ‘ihdinas-siraatal mustaqiim’ (Guide us in the right path) is made by the tongue, heart and action of man. Now, when a person supplicates the Divine to become righteous, they feel embarrassed, but it is the prayer iyyaaka na’budu waiyyaaka nasta’iin i.e. Thee alone do we worship and Thee alone do we beseech for help, which eases the difficulty of this embarrassment”.

(Malfoozat Vol. I, pp. 117-120)
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