Imagine the city of the Prophet ﷺ, illuminated by him ﷺ, by his Companions and by the love they all had for each other. Shaykh Hamdi Ben Aissa gives us a glimpse.
Every morning, the whole city would wait, impatient to hear the blessed sound of the footsteps of the Prophet ﷺ as he left his house to sit in his corner for spiritual retreat – a sound that announced to them that the prayer sanctuary was now open. And then, swiftly, the mosque would fill.
Who made the call to that night prayer (tahajjud)? It was Abdullah ibn Mas’ud. He was he who had the honor of announcing this prayer throughout his life. Abdullah ibn Mas’ud was the first to witness the spiritual Sun – our Prophet ﷺ – rise every morning before the physical sun rose.
One day, the beautiful Apostle ﷺ suddenly fell ill. He ﷺ went to visit his living Companions and the martyrs of Uhud. He ﷺ wept, saying, “I miss my brothers!” He ﷺ was referring to his buried brothers before anything. But he ﷺ was also talking about you.
A Companion who was present asked the Prophet ﷺ, “Are we not your brothers?” He ﷺ said, “Yes, you are my brothers by companionship, but I speak of those who accepted the good news, even though they never met me. It is they who I speak of now. How I miss them!”
Not long after, the Prophet ﷺ developed a fever, similar to the one he ﷺ experienced upon the first revelation of “Iqraa.” He ﷺ asked to be covered, just like the first time. This time it was Sayyida Ayesha who had the honor of covering him ﷺ. For seven days, he ﷺ couldn’t leave his house. The Companions anxiously awaited his recovery: there were those who raised tents in the streets, others in the mosque’s yard. No one thought this would be the illness that would bring the end of life as they knew it.
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, the close Companion who welcomed the first glimpse of the Prophet ﷺ each morning would be the one to witness the very last look, before the curtain fell – never to be raised again. After many days of sickness, the Prophet ﷺ lifted the curtain between his home and the sanctuary, and addressed his Companions, ‘I give you peace.’ The Companions were in prayer at the time, and were seized by the desire to run to their Beloved ﷺ. Heﷺ told them to stay in prayer. But Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said: ‘The prayer could be repeated, but that look I couldn’t miss. I looked at his face and it was like a page of the Qur’an.’
It’s clear that Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud was not talking about the physical page upon which the Qur’an was transcribed. What physical resemblance would the Prophet’s ﷺ countenance have with the leathers or papyrus which hosted the Word of God at that time? Rather, he was talking about the light of the Qur’an, that light that emanates from the Word of God, and is visible to those who have clear vision. That light was the light he saw on the Face of his Beloved ﷺ.
The light of Qur’an is the light of eternity, not of black-inked letters. Light is light. Abdullah ibn Mas’ud was an expert of that light as well – the Qu’ranic light. It was Abdullah ibn Mas’ud who recited the Qur’an for the Prophet ﷺ: for, even though the letters of God were engraved in his ﷺ heart, the Beloved ﷺ would ask to hear the Word of God recited in the voice of someone else, in order to experience its beauty in yet another way. And that someone else was Abdullah ibn Mas’ud. The Prophet ﷺ would say: “Recite to me the last thing you learned.” Abdullah ibn Mas’ud said that one time, in response, he started reading from Surah al-Nisa (The Chapter of Women) [in another narration it was al-Nahl (The Chapter Bees)], until he reached the verse: “and when we will call from each nation their witness, and we will call you as a witness for that nation.” Hearing these words, the Messenger ﷺ wept. His tears flowed, flowed, flowed. Everytime he ﷺ recited or heard the Qur’an, he ﷺ lived a new experience of Revelation.
In this love between the Prophet ﷺ and Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, we witness the way in which the Qur’an that is recited is a rope connected to the Qur’an that is revealed.