The Greatest Book
The Prophet (SAW) is not only the ideal man but the ideality of every man
MUHAMMAD MAROOF SHAH
The pen and ink have been created to write the praise of Muhammad (SAW) who is peace and blessing in the world of lovers as he is the First and the Last (nigahe-ishq-o-masti maei wahi awwak wahi aakhir). (Are not all endeavours of all men of all ages for moving closer to the ideal of peace and blessedness? This is what the poet of “Zouq-o-Shouq” means: Aayi kai’naat ka maini-e- daeryab tu/Niklae teri talash mei kafla hai-e-rang-o-bu). More pens and writers are created because no one pen can exhaust the praises of Muhammad (SAW). Even in heaven the job of praising Muhammad (SAW) shall continue as is implied by one of his names Salam which is on the lips of its dwellers. Today I write of what is dearest to me in the real world and the world of books. I write about the Greatest Book, the book that is the Mother of Books, the book of Life or Self, the Quran-i-takweeni that Quran-i-tadweeni seeks to speak about.
The most fundamental question of metaphysics is: why is there anything and not simply nothing. None knows the answer to this mystery but Sufis call this mystery that made possible the transition from nothingness to manifestation Muhammad (SAW) and advocate not approaching it in rational or conceptual terms but with love. Loving it with all one’s heart, mind and soul one finds the meaning of life in the peace and joy that passeth understanding and finds all the answers that one seeks. In loving what Iqbal calls the First and the Last all questions get dissolved. Love is the answer to riddle of life.
To a tricky theological question what is God doing now or shall do tomorrow a Sufi has an answer. He is blessing the Prophet (SAW). Put in less symbolic terms it means God who is the Principle/Ground of Life celebrates itself as the Prophet (SAW) is the one who unveils God (we know God through the Prophet (SAW) as all Muslims believe). God is seeing himself in the mirror of man – the Perfect Man. What better job than contemplating oneself behoves God as Aristotle said and that is the deepest meaning of durood.
The most important book to be read by every person, whether literate or illiterate is the book of one’s own life or self (what Ahad Zargar calls maen chi sipar). Knowing oneself is a prerogative that we can postpone or ignore only at the cost of hell. Hell is ignorance of the treasure within. The Life symbolized by the life of Prophet (SAW) is what we all seek on pain of hell. The Prophet (SAW) is not only the ideal man but the ideality of every man. Not in his unique role of Prophet (SAW)hood but in the role of perfect man he is the best model that we have been asked to emulate. So all of us must seek the ideal image of man imprinted in the heart of all of us. So reading about life of the Prophet (SAW) is the first commandment of any education. We need to read nothing if we read correctly this book and we have read nothing if we have not learned to read this book. As the Sufis see it, human body is shaped on the pattern of the name Muhammad (SAW) in Arabic with our head representing meem. Muhammad (SAW) is also the name of a subtle centre in the depth of our being. He is the self luminous light of consciousness.
Seerah literature attempts an impossible task: Praising the Praised one, the one praised by God, the one who grounds all praise, the one who made it possible for you and me to be here on earth out of the nonexistence (adm) and have the good fortune of writing and reading about the thing to which all words point when we care to see things and words in their symbolic or metaphysical depths.
The Prophet (SAW) is Logos, the Pole of existence, the principle of manifestation. Were it not for this principle things would still be inexistent or there would be nothing. The world is a shadow of the Light called Muhammad (SAW)(SAW). As God is metaphysically veiled Essence or Hidden Treasure and the wish to get unveiled is what the idea of messengership expresses in its deepest sense. Seen in this light we can assert that life as it expresses itself in countless forms and in fact existence as such is by virtue of Muhammad (SAW)(SAW). When life is blessed, as it is by God as otherwise it would cease to exist, it is in theological language, blessing Muhammad (SAW) (SAW) or reciting durood. Every flower that blooms, every bird that chips, every child that smiles, every blade of grass that grows proclaim the grandeur of God and manifests the Light of Muhammad (SAW)(SAW). Life is a supreme value and so is freedom and the Prophet (SAW) is the metaphysical ground of life and its essential transcendence, its freedom. All our endeavours, whether we know it or not, are ultimately directed to affirm and promote life and thus praise God. Our breathing, despite us, goes on and thus we go on blessing the Prophet (SAW) who is the positivity of Manifestation. Why do we love life? Because life is a symbol of higher reality we call Muhammmad(SAW). Simply analyze 99 names of the Prophet (SAW) and we see how everything grand and noble in life is appropriated in them. The very meaning Muhammad (SAW) means the praised one. What is praised is Life, Beauty, Truth, Goodness, Joy. The closer we are to these ideals we are praising Muhammad (SAW)(SAW). Understood in this sense we can say all great literature is a species of seerah literature.
From Ibn Hasham to Shibli Nomani and Martin Lings seerah literature is an attempt to communicate something of the grandeur and beauty of Muhammad (SAW)(SAW). We shall always need to be seerah readers if we feel there is still something more to be done to perfect ourselves and to beautify life and world. Let us learn to be seerah readers if we mean to be truly educated.
Sufi poetry is largely a passion for and tribute to the beauty and light called Muhammad (SAW)(SAW). It can be read by one and all for its aesthetic qualities. In fact Sufism is little more than contemplation on the Face of the Beloved manifested in Master who represents the Prophet (SAW) through an authentic chain. The best na’t poetry has been written by Sufis. In fact Sufi scholars have written comprehensive works on seerat of which latest examples is a voluminous work by Tahir Qadri (I don’t want to comment on his political self) of which one volume is devoted to Jamal-i-Nabi and that is its special attraction for me. Back home we have Rashid Nazki’s two volume Zikr-i-Habib which is the first Seerat work in Kashmiri. With Hafiz, and Rasul Mir (whom I see as Hafiz of Kashmir) I happen to see the question of life or existence in aesthetic terms (in fact Sufism and all traditional religions and philosophies do see it this way) and can’t but be moved deeply by any tributes to the beauty called Muhammad (SAW) (SAW) which is in fact the beauty and sweetness and joy of Life itself.
It would be a great fortune if one could learn the alphabets for writing a praise of the Prophet (SAW). All education is to make us work towards that end. Love of the Prophet (SAW) is the greatest treasure that we could lay our hands on. The best praise for the Prophet (SAW) is the prerogative of God only as Ghalib has so well said. All education (including so-called secular one) is for learning the art of beautifying life. All praise is of the Prophet (SAW) and for the Prophet (SAW). Every flower has the perfume of Muhammad (SAW) (SAW). Every lover is really a lover of Muhammad (SAW) though only few fortunate lovers know it. (SAW)
Lastupdate on : Wed, 23 Jan 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 23 Jan 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 24 Jan 2013 00:00:00 IST
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