The Miracles of the Birth of the Prophet (SAWS)
Yesterday the BBC aired the first of a three part documentary ‘The Life of Muhammad’. As we speak, bloggers and opinionists up and down the country are writing about their thoughts and feelings on Rageh Omaar’s documentary.
Personally I cannot give an opinion because there are still two more parts to be aired, and in any case this faqir’s opinion is of no consequence for anything. But one thing that stood out for me from Omaar’s presentation was how he talked about the birth of the Prophet (SAWS). He travelled to Mecca and stood in front of the library next to the Haram which marks the spot on which the Prophet (SAWS) was born. He exclaims ‘Muhammad is believed to have been born in a spot close to here…What’s interesting was at the time there was no sense of the coming of a Messiah…in fact barely anyone noticed and no one really cared…And yet today there is nothing to mark where Muhammad was born, no shrine, no museum, not even a plaque on a wall.”
I was left perplexed and stunned that a Muslim could make such a statement. Given that Omaar would have (one would hope) carry out extensive research before embarking on his endeavour. The first thing that was absolutely ridiculous about his statement was that he said it in front of the building that stands on the spot where the Prophet (SAWS) was born. Before the Saudis invaded Mecca, the library was the shrine marking the spot of his (SAWS) birth, and it had stood there for centuries. It seems Omaar has bought into the modernist interpretations of the coming of the Prophet (SAWS) and not looked into the traditional sources, a common symptom amongst western Muslims who do not largely have access to the Arabic sources and have to rely on largely biased half-shod English translations of classical works. This further becomes apparent when one reads Emel magazine’s review of the programme. It is largely critical of his work, but actually lauds him on his segment regarding the birth of the Prophet (SAWS): “We are treated to the normality and humanness of the Prophet through the exploration of his birth. There was no star to mark it, no kings bearing gifts and no extraordinary event symbolising the moment – and the Arabs do not celebrate it”. The last statement is particularly preposterous as this link shows.
So what I am going to do? Nothing. I’m going to let the rightly guided scholars of Islam and our traditional sources tell us the miraculous time of when the Greatest of Creation and the Mercy of the Worlds was sent to us:
Hast thou not seen how thy Lord dealt with the owners of the Elephant?
Did He not bring their stratagem to naught,
And send against them swarms of flying creatures,
Which pelted them with stones of baked clay,
And made them like green crops devoured (by cattle)? – Surat al-Fil (The Elephant)
All of the writers of the biographies of the Prophet (SAWS) are unanimous that he (SAWS) was born in the year of the event this Surah talks about. The Yemeni king Abrahah sent an army to destroy the the Ka’ba and Allah sent an army of birds to destroy them. Before and after the Prophet (SAWS) the Ka’ba had been destroyed and rebuilt many times. But this time, it was a sign of things to come, it was the year of the arrival of the beloved (SAWS).
Qadi Iyad mentions in al-Shifa’a:
The proofs of his prophethood and the signs of his messengership include mutually complementary traditions from the monks, rabbis and scholars of the People of the Book regarding his description, his community, his names, and his signs…There is the contents of the poems of earlier Unitarians – the poetry of Tubba, al-Aws ibn Haritha, Ka’b ibn Lu’ayy, Sufyan ibn Mujashi, and Quss ibn Sa’ida, and what is mentioned abut Sayf ibn Dhi Yazin and others.
There is also Zayd ibn ‘Amr ibn Nufayl, Waraqa ibn Nawfal, ‘Athkalan al-Himyari and the Jewish scholar Shamul. There is what the Torah and the Evangel say about him, which has been compiled and clarified by the ‘ulama and transmitted by reliable people who became uslim – like ‘Abdullah Ibn Salam, the sons of Sa’a, Ibn Yamim, Mukharyria, Ka’b and other Jewish scholars who converted, and Christians such as Buhayra’ and Nestor from among the Ethiopians, the chief of Bosra, Daghatir the Bishop of Syria, al-Jarud, Salman, the Negus, the Christians of Ethiopia, the bishops of Najran, and other Christian scholars who converted to Islam.
Qadi Iyad goes on to mention about his (SAWS) actual birth:
He lifted his head when he was born, looking skywards. A light issued with him when he was born. Umm ‘Uthman ibn Abi’l-‘As saw the stars lowering themselves and a light appeared when he was born so that she could see nothing but light.”
The midwife, ash-Shifa’ Umm ‘Abdu’r-Rahman ibn ‘Awf said, “When he dropped into my hands and sneezed, I head someone say, ‘May Allah have mercy on you!’ and the entire horizon was illuminated for me so that I could see the castles of the Greeks [Abu Nu’aym].
There are wonders that took place the night he was born when the arcade of Chosroes shook and its balconies fell down, the waters of Lake Tiberias ebbed, and the flame of Persia, which had not been put out for a thousand years, was extinguised.
It is also narrated on the authority of Imam at-Tabari in his Tarikh, Abu Nu’aym, Ibn Hisham in his seerah, and Ibn Sa’d:
When Lady Aminah conceived the Prophet (SAWS) she saw light that illuminated for her the palaces of Syria.
One clearly see the miraculous nature and the wondrous event that was the birth of the Beloved (SAWS). It’s ironic that Omaar made his statement to show the humanity of the Prophet (SAWS), though one can understand his intention, the fact that he is making a so-called ‘groundbreaking’ documentary about a man, who in the space of the third of his life, took a bunch of barefoot camel herding barbarians into the conquerors of the world, shows he was anything but ‘just’ a man (as he declares). As I’ve said previously, the Prophet (SAWS) was not just a man, he was the best of men – “A pearl among stones”.
And to Him is our return.