Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Speech of H.E in the Celebration of the Birthday of the Prophet Muḩammad

The Speech of H.E in the Celebration of the Birthday of the Prophet Muḩammad

The Speech of H.E. the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in the Celebration of the Birthday of the Prophet Muḩammad (Allah's Peace and Blessings be upon him)


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muḩammad ibn ‛Abdullah, whose birthday is being celebrated, upon his family and upon his companions.

Mr. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, may Allah safeguard you, and the honorable audience!

As-Salāmu ‛Alaykum wa Raḩmatu Allahi wa Barakatuh

     The Prophet’s birthday is not just a celebration of a great Messenger, through whom Allah has guided humanity and redressed the course of history, but is rather a celebration of the birth of a nation raised by this noble Prophet (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him) to observe virtues and noble manners, to call for the good and the right, and to encounter evil and falsehood. By dent of these prophetic teachings, the Muslims have introduced through their civilizational journey all that brought happiness to humanity, broadly provided it with a spacious umbrella of justice, freedom, and equality, and safeguarded it against the pitfalls of other civilizations which incurred vicious evils on humanity in the past and the present.

     Perhaps it is quite unattainable, if not impossible, to offer a fully encompassing overview about the personality of Muḩammad ( pbuh) or to incorporate all the aspects of its greatness within a single speech, lecture or book. As a proof of this fact, Muḩammad Ibn Yusuf Aṣ-Ṣaliḩi, the Levantine, a 10th Hijri century scholar, noted in the introduction to his major encyclopedia entitled Subul ul-Huda wa r-Rashād (Ways to Guidance and Uprightness):

Contemplating this book [referring to his own encyclopedia], you would know that it constitutes the gist of my worldly life and the provision in my life to come.” He adds that he selected it from more than three hundred prophetic biographies which he had thoroughly reviewed; but he included in it only that which is true.

     You might also be surprised to know that the number of pages of this six-volume book added up to nine thousand, all dedicated to the biography of the Prophet (pbuh). It is interesting to note that the biography of the noble Prophet (pbuh) was addressed from several perspectives, which is something unparalleled in addressing the biographies of other Prophets (may Allah's peace and blessings be upon them). These perspectives include the Prophet Muḩammad’s characteristics, attributes, manners, and virtues, all depicting him as a unique human being over history. Therefore, Ash-Shamā’il Al-Muḩammadiyyah (The Muḩammadan Attributes) is now an independent discipline addressing the Prophet’s biography, and registering his most detailed physical and moral characteristics, as well as his personal and societal affairs. These attributes also include his body features, the color of his eyes, the shape of his mouth, nose, and hair, the breadth of his shoulders, the shape of his palms, feet and gait, and how he looked at people. The description even involves a detailed registration of his ring, clothing, sword and shield, his turban and garments, and how he would dress, eat, drink, smile, jest, etc.

     As for his moral characteristics, authors have included forbearance, mettle, patience, clemency, compassion, leniency, generosity, bravery, bashfulness, faithfulness, honesty, fairness, chivalry and magnanimity.

     Such passion to register the details of the noble Prophet’s life was not limited to old historians and biographers, but rather extended to capture historians and biographers at every age and place, almost ending, as far as we know, with Dr. Salaḩuddin Al-Munjid (d. 2010), who authored Encyclopedia of the Writings about the Prophet (pbuh), in which he enumerated two thousand four hundred and eighty-eight books dedicated to the study of the Prophet’s biography in all its aspects.

     Despite this multitude of Muslim and non-Muslim historians who dedicated their lives to the registry of the Prophet’s biography and to unveiling its details, still much of this prophetic biography is unaddressed. Indeed, humanity is now in dire need for such ideal biography to guide them across the intricacies and thorny paths of the present age. Besides, all that has been written about the Prophet (pbuh) is but a token of reverence and appreciation of his unfathomable nobility and greatness.

     In the present age, the radicalness of contemporary political movements and social ideologies imported from abroad are engaging our young generations by feigning that they promote equality and non-discrimination. It has, therefore, become necessary to remind those generations of the example of the Prophet ( pbuh) and the leading Muslim scholars who remain unacknowledged only by the ungrateful. The young generations also need to know that innovation does not necessarily mean total dismissal or denouncement of tradition, and that arrogance and recklessness constitute a plague that inevitably ends disturbing values, concealing the truth and distorting consciousness.

     In his introduction to his book ‛Abqariyyatu Muḩammad (The Genius of Muḩammad)”, ‛Abbās Maḩmoud Al-‛Aqqād rightly observes that a person who fails to perceive the greatness of the great people is actually valueless. He also notes that the society in which the rights of the illustrious dignitaries are disregarded is naturally more disregarding of the rights of the lower ones. “What value can a person possibly gain when s/he fails to perceive the value of the great notables? Really, when people disregard the makers of glory, those lower than them are most likely disregarded.” Likewise, in his laudatory poem celebrating the glories of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Shawqi—Prince of Arab Poets, hails Al-Azhar for safeguarding the Muslim heritage, the splendid heritage shared by the entire humanity whose rich treasures continue to inspire great minds from the east and the west until today. Then, he goes on to forewarn us against the “delusive band” which denies the past insomuch that they could deny their own forefathers and ancestors just because they belong to the past. This delusive band is fond of destroying the tradition though they still have nothing new to introduce. They introduce nothing novel but emptiness, shallowness and valueless gossip. Shawqi says,

Follow not the delusive band, denying the past

Were they to disclaim their dead forebears in dust,

They would have done it in fact

Preoccupied by diminishing the past

Yet, when building they fall short!

Weak in skills and poor in knowledge,

but have big mouths!

Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen,

     Celebrating the birthday of Prophet Muḩammad (pbuh) is actually an act of honoring human greatness in one of its highest and noblest exemplary figures. He was great in birth, great in life, great in polity and administration, great in speech and rhetoric, and great in presidency and leadership. He has proved his historic greatness even in all social roles as a father, a husband, a master and a man. It is but very little to write about him as well as about other great human examples lengthy voluminous books celebrating their histories and biographies. They are deservedly worth of celebrating their births and of dedicating long times for reflections and writings about them. Here, I feel it necessary to announce my advice to all common Muslims and leaders as well. Unfortunately, the Prophet (pbuh) who “had an irresistible inward impulse to announce the truth for which he risked his life and suffered daily persecution for years” is no longer the today ideal for the Muslim life and the Muslim main battles against poverty, ignorance, diseases and scientific and cultural decline. The Muslims have gained nothing from turning away from the guidance of the Prophet Muḩammad (pbuh) but bitter fruits and unbearable humility. His birthday has hopefully been expected to invigorate goodness in the hearts of the Muslims, being—to use the Qur᾿ānic term, the most charitable nation: “You have been the most charitable nation brought out to humankind”. (Qur᾿ān, 3:110)

     Surely, Muslims are undertaking a variety of major battles aiming for scientific and technological progress and civilization after years of heteronomy to other civilizations with greater powers and larger scientific progress. It is most significant for Muslims, undertaking these battles, to reflect on the birth of the Prophet (pbuh) as a maker of civilization and adopt his ideas for renaissance and his determinate heart and challenging patience in the face of crises. Indeed, he has left us an enormous legacy of matchless teachings and guidelines in his statements, practices, decisions, and behaviors. Muslims are expected to avail themselves of this precious treasure on ethics and beliefs in their current battles against inability, backwardness, subordination and humility. Conversely, reflecting on the Prophet's heritage and the status quo of Muslims could move a careful researcher to suffer encephalic vertigo. Muslims are hugely graced with sources of powers and means for urbanity and progress, whereas their realities have been modestly humble for long times until humility has become a Muslim main feature and characteristic.

     We, Allah knows, never intend to impart disappointment or cry for the past glories, but the current reality is too difficult to ignore or overlook. Thank God, I am limitlessly full of hopes and trust in the Muslim Nation. Despite sickness and weakness, the nation will never die or melt into other nations. Rather, it will again bear the flame of truth and freedom and remain the most charitable nation as the Qur᾿ān describes it.

     Hopes are first placed in Allah, then in young people whose eyes reflect delightful news and vivid anticipations backed with resolute determination to save this nation from idleness and decline. They are the vigorous builders of civilization, progress, and advancement inspired by the infallible revelation and the guidance of Prophet Muḩammad—may Allah's peace and blessings be upon him and upon all other prophets and upon their families and companions.

Mr. President,

     I deeply appreciate your due care for Egypt's youth and advise myself, first of all, as well as all executive officials to pay their utmost attention for the youth, being the real treasure of Egypt and the originators of its renaissance. Egypt, our dear country, is really laden with worries and pains but also full of hope and trust in God.

     To conclude, I would like to congratulate you and the Egyptians as well as all the Arabs and the Muslims on the commemoration of the honorable prophet, beseeching Allah to help you achieve the best for the people and the land in our beloved nation. Thank you for listening.

As-Salāmu ‛Alaykum wa Raḩmatu Allahi wa Barakatuh

Rabī‛‘ ul-᾿Awwal 9, 1438 AH/Dec.8, 2016

Dr. Ahmad At-Tayyeb,

Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar

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