Answered by Ustadh Ali Ataie
Question: I always wished that I could be alive in the time of Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) or that I was born a Syed so I could be close to him. I feel bad that, because of something I have no control over (the time period I was born in or not being a Syed), I am prevented from having a special bond with Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that others are born with.
My love and thoughts for Rasulullah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) only remind me of my low station, and gives me intense fear of not being close to him in this world and/or the hereafter. I can’t sleep at times, so I spend part of the night praying hoping I can be close to him (Sallallahu ‘Alayhi wa Alihi wa Salim). I cry because of my state, and I wonder why Allah would prevent people from reaching a beloved station by something which they can’t control.
Please advise me.
Answer: Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
I hope you are well, insha’Allah.
There is no reason why you cannot have a special bond and intimate relationship with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). This special bond is indicated in a hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “I would have loved to have seen by brothers.” The Sahabah (may Allah be well pleased with them) asked, “Are we not your brothers?” The Prophet continued to explain that by “brothers” (ikhwan), he meant those who will come after him who never saw him yet longed to see him. You seem to be in this category, so be of good cheer.
Also, those who are born in the lineage of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are also expected to cultivate a bond with him through adherence to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of our Master (peace be upon him). Imam al-Haddad (d. 1720 CE), in a beautiful quatrain, warned his fellow Sadaat (descendants of the Prophet) not to “lean” on their lineage (nasab) and forsake their taqwa, “for verily Islam exalted the Persian Salman, and idolatry debased the noble born Abu Lahab;” Abu Lahab was the uncle of the Prophet (peace be upon him) from Bani Hashim.
When the Ansar and Muhajirin were debating the status of Salman, the Prophet said, “Salmanu minnaa ahlil’ bayt,” (Salman is from us, the Ahl al-Bayt)! From this we understand that you too can be beloved to Allah and His Messenger, even more than those who have prophetic blood in their veins.
The next step: Make yourself beloved to Allah and His Messenger. Learn about him (peace be upon him) by consistent study; engage teachers in the genres of Sirah, Khasa’is, and Shama’il. The way to love (mahabbah) is through gnosis (ma’rifah). In other words, if you knew the Prophet, you would necessarily love him.
You are not being prevented from attaining nearness to him (peace be upon him); this is not Hinduism – your birth and ethnic circumstances do not take away from your potential of becoming beloved to the Prophet (peace be upon him). You must cease having those types of opinions. When Thawban cried because he was afraid that he would not be near to the Prophet in the hereafter, the verse was revealed:
“All who obey Allah and the messenger are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah,- of the prophets (who teach), the sincere (lovers of Truth), the witnesses (who testify), and the Righteous (who do good): Ah! what a beautiful fellowship!” (4:69).
Also, be with the people of Allah. Attend classes, gatherings, majalis, mawlids, etc, where scholars are present and just be in their presence. Although you may not see the point of this initially, in time the effects of their states upon you will be palpable and you will begin to “taste,” or experience your faith. You will learn to have good opinions of Allah; He will not let your good go to waste. Trust Allah and continue to strive in His path. And Allah knows best.