Throughout history, though people have and continue to idolize the rich and famous for their worldly success and whose lives are eagerly scrutinized, Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam (SAW), Peace and Blessings be upon him) is the one person who deserves the utmost admiration for everything he said and did in every detail and in every aspect of life. Instead of hoping to vicariously live through those who have achieved great material success, people should focus their energy on emulating even just a few of the noble characteristics and deeds of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). People should utilize everyday as an opportunity to reflect on Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) life and teachings. When discussing his (SAW) life, two people who are among the most significant are discussed very briefly. The reason is likely that they spent either no time with him (SAW) or little time with him (SAW). However, their existence and role signifies a very great lesson. They are Abdullah and Amina, the parents of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
Abdullah died before their son (SAW) was born and Amina died when their son (SAW) was eight. Being orphaned at a young age is one of the greatest disadvantages that a human can experience. Ironically, being an orphan specifically established the foundation of the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), the greatest human being that ever and will ever live. Only one without knowledge of our Creator Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala (SWT), Glorified and Exalted is He (Allah)) has difficulty comprehending how one at such great disadvantage became the most successful person in the history of humanity.
Similarly, people’s thoughts sometimes exist like a mirage in that they base their lives on a specific way of thinking that is not correct. However, the Quran and Sunnah always provide clarity in order for people to correct their thinking and improve their dunya (worldly life) and Akhirah (afterlife).
One misguided way of thinking is taking great pride in one’s child’s achievements usually secular solely for the sake of those achievements. The Quran in Sura Kahf states that, “Wealth and sons are allurements of the life of this world: but the things that endure, Good Deeds, are best in the sight of thy Lord, as rewards, and best as (the foundation for) hopes” (The Qur’an 18:46). Parents often are consumed with the upbringing of their children with the aim for their children to achieve success particularly in this life. Parents often compromise religious and even secular principles to help their children succeed. In Islam, the upbringing of children is of great importance, but such care falls within the framework of one’s obedience, submission, and devotion to Allah (SWT) which is of primary concern.
This concept is summarized in one of the most profound duas (invocations, supplications) that Prophet Ibrahim (Alaihi Wasallam (AS), Peace be upon him) made in which he (AS) asked Allah (SWT) for a righteous son. One should be living in this dunya for the sake of one’s Akhirah with the primary goal of pleasing Allah(SWT). Though always ready to sacrifice everything for Allah (SWT), tirelessly working to establish the Oneness of Allah (SWT), and holding the great distinction of being considered a friend by Allah (SWT), Prophet Ibrahim (AS) exemplified perfect understanding that the outcome and success of everything is solely determined by Allah (SWT).
Furthermore, parents usually ask for specific things for their children such as achievements, success, health, long life, and generally material things whereas Prophet Ibrahim (AS) asked for the most important quality which is righteousness. And Allah (SWT) always grants greater success than His (SWT) servant asks. He (SWT) granted him (AS) not one, but two of the most righteous people in the history of humanity as sons. Not only did He (SWT) grant Prophet Ismail (AS) and Prophet Isaac (AS), but Allah (SWT) ordained that this most esteemed familial line, the line of Prophets and Messengers, would culminate with the greatest and most righteous person, Prophet Muhammad (SAW). And that is how Allah (SWT) answers a dua of the righteous!
Within an astonishingly short period of time of approximately two decades, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) established Islam as a way of life that soon led at least half the world in complete obedience, submission, and devotion to Allah (SWT) and by doing so, lifted people from being the most uncivilized, shallow, and selfish to being the most sophisticated, principled, and selfless. From this indomitable foundation, Muslims pioneered every field including, but not limited to medicine, mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, architecture, chemistry, and geography and in so doing, lifted the entire world out of ignorance and darkness. Furthermore, from even purely secular standards, he (SAW) is the greatest leader who exerts the greatest influence to this day and who had the opportunity for the most wealth, but willingly sacrificed everything to completely improve humanity for Allah (SWT)’s sake. Yet, not even an actual expression, let alone a shadow of personal satisfaction ever entered his mind or heart, or escaped his breath for even a miniscule fraction of just one of his (SAW) flawless deeds in his entire blessed life.
One would be proud if their child achieved 0.000001% of the shadow of this. Parents eagerly hope to see the results of their efforts in the form of success of their children. Yet, Abdullah and Amina did not live to see their son (SAW) become the greatest person who ever lived and who selflessly completely improved the nature of how humanity should function for Allah (SWT)’s sake; but also, they did not live to see that he (SAW) accomplished the ultimate goal which is being the dearest to Allah (SWT). Knowing this, is it of any importance that we see the “fruits of our labor” when raising children? It is nice to have that opportunity, but the primary goal should always be working to please Allah (SWT).
Though Abdullah and Amina did not live to see their perfect son grow to become the perfect man, Allah (SWT) specifically honored and chose them to be Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’s parents. Not only did Abdullah and Amina come from the most noble families, but they also were the most honorable and principled in a society that had become corrupt. Fittingly, Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’s parents and ancestors are the elite of the elite. By worldly standards, being orphaned early was one of the greatest disadvantages to start one’s life. However, because of his perfect obedience, submission, and devotion to Allah (SWT), Allah (SWT) ensured his (SAW) status as the most successful in dunya, though he (SAW) sacrificed wealth, and ultimately as the most successful in Akhirah for eternity. Ironically, though parents hold their children most dear to them and earnestly long for their success; Allah (SWT), in reality, made Prophet Muhammad (SAW) dearer to us than our own children, parents, and any other person because only by following his (SAW) perfect example can one achieve success in this life and the next.
Dr. Sarah Syed is an Internal Medicine Physician in Tampa, Florida.