The month of Rabi’-ul-Awwal, is both the month in which the Prophet Muhammad; the greatest benefactor to humanity, was born and the month in which he passed away. His life-example is what is commemorated.
If we are to fully appreciate the Prophet’s mission then we need to understand that Islam is more than mere dogma or ideology and far more than a routine of robotic rituals. It is rather a comprehensive way of life, with a revelation that has been preserved in its entirety and a Prophet who lived in the full bloom of history; whose legacy serves as a holistic model worthy of emulation.
Allah affirms; “We have not sent thee (O Muhammad) except as a herald of glad tidings and a warner to all humanity. [Qur’an 25:56] The Messenger also brought to conclusion the mission of prophets (peace be upon them), "Today I have perfected your religion for you, completed my favors upon you and am content with Islam as the way of life.” [Qur’an 5:3].
Sunnah of Mercy
The Almighty further confirms, We have not sent thee (O Muhammad), except as a mercy unto the worlds”. [Qurán 21:107] As Muslims we acknowledge the Revealer as Ar-Rahman (Most Merciful God), Messenger Muhammad as rahmatan-lil-‘aalimin (mercy unto all the worlds) and Message of the Qur’an/hudaw wa rahmah (guidance and compassion); are all overwhelming expressions and embodiments of mercy. The biggest sunnah we oberve emanating from the prophetic example is the sunnah of compassion;
Imam ‘Ali bin Abi Tālib describes the Prophet as; "The Seal of Prophets, the most generous and the bravest of people. His speech was the most reliable. He was the keenest and the most attentive to people’s trust and was very careful to pay people’s due in full. He was the most amenable and the most yielding companion, seeing him unexpectedly you respect him and venerate him. He who has acquaintance with him will like him. He who describes him says: ‘I have never seen such a person.’ " [Ibn Hisham; Jami' At-Tirmidhi].
The poet Moulana Altaf Husayn Hali wrote;
The Prophet bore the title of “the merciful one” among Prophets,
Who realized the aspirations of the distressed,
Helped those in adversity,
Showed compassion to the unfortunate despite his own difficulties;
Helper of the needy, supporter of the weak,
Guardian of orphans and the refuge of slaves. [Musaddas]
Reflecting the Prophetic Spirit
We can only reflect the prophetic mercy if we imbibe the prophetic spirit. His noble mission to humanity was the teaching of submission to the Supreme, of globally applicable values, of adherence to the Straight Path; the combating of immorality, impropriety, injustice, ignorance and oppression; and the manifestation of justice, peace and compassion; all of which is so needed in the world today.
To reflect the Prophetic spirit, we have to imbibe the sunnah as tariqah al-Mahmudah al-Mustaqimah; commendable upright way of behaviour; implying model conduct and exemplary manners; emanating from the Prophet’s deep-rooted piety, noble humanity, compassionate spirit and high morals. In reflecting on the Prophetic legacy we find indeed that his life example reflects uswatun hasanah, a model of pertinent excellence.