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How to respect the messenger of God

From time to time God has chosen prophets and messengers among us to guide us in His path. Some of us we followed them but most of us we did not follow them, and even those of us we followed them did not do it in a right way as commanded by God due to arrogance or misunderstanding of His commands. When God has ordered us to follow, support and respect His last prophet many times in the Quran but these orders have been misinterpreted without realizing the need at time as well as being unaware of the consequences. Let us examine English translations along with Arabic text of the verses containing such orders for better understanding of the verses to protect us from falling into idol worshiping, which is an unforgiveable sin (4:48, 4:116) if maintained until death (39:53).

[3:31] Say: “If you love God, then follow me; God will love you and He will forgive your sins.” And God is Forgiving, Most Merciful.
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Note: There should not be any doubt that this order from God for the believers to follow the prophet for the message what has been sent down to him i.e., the Quran when he had a direct contact with the people as well as for the believers of the subsequent generations when he is no more among them. Hence, the order for us now to follow the message (Quran) what he left for us but none can find any logic to interpret it to be an order from God for the believers to follow his sayings or how he had led his family life.

[33:56] GOD and His angels help and support the prophet. O you who believe, you shall help and support him, and regard him as he should be regarded.
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Note: This order is for the contemporary believers to support the prophet as well as to respect him as he should be respected at his lifetime. As we all know that the sole mission of the prophet was to deliver the message (3:20) and he had to face strong opposition to deliver the God’s message. Even he had to migrate from Mecca to Medina and had fought many battles in his lifetime. As such, both physical and financial support was required in spreading of God’s message. History indicates that the role of many early Muslims including his first wife Khadija, Abu Bakr, Omar and Ali et al is mention worthy for the sake of Islam. We also know that Muhammad was a messenger of God as well as a prophet. If the relevant verses are clearly examined , it clearly indicates that the word “prophet” is used in reference to Muhammad in the Quran, which invariably refers to him during his life not after his death. Additional examples are found in 3:161, 9:73, 33:53, 33:59, 49:2 and 66:3. The order from God how to respect the prophet is found in 49:1, 49:2, 49:3, 49:4 as detailed out below. So the interpretation of the Arabic word, “Salloo” to “send blessings” for the prophet instead of “help and support” is obviously a misinterpretation. Hence, the order for us now is to follow the message (Quran) what he left for us.

[49:1] O you who believe, do not place your opinion above that of GOD and His messenger. You shall reverence GOD. GOD is Hearer, Omniscient.
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Note: Since the messenger delivered the God’s message and he strictly followed His commands, the believers should not have any opinion and plan other than God and His messenger.

[49:2] O you who believe, do not raise your voices above the voice of the prophet, nor shall you shout at him as you shout at each other, lest your works become nullified while you do not perceive.
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[49:3] Surely, those who lower their voices at the messenger of GOD are the ones whose hearts are prepared by GOD to become righteous. They have deserved forgiveness and a great recompense.
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Note: In 49:2-3 God has taught the contemporary believers how they should behave with the messenger during his lifetime. Obviously, they could not possibly raise their voices above the prophet’s voice. In addition, respecting the prophet helps outsiders and visitors in coming to God’s message.

[49:4] As for those who call on you from outside the walls, most of them do not understand.
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Note: It is also a God’s teaching for the contemporary believers to respect the messenger when he was alive. As the prophet was a fatherly figure among the believers, it was not befitting for them to call him from the other side of the wall.

The prophet was a leader and a commander-in-chief. He had dealt with war plans, captives and the distribution of war spoils as he had to fight many battles. As such, It was required for the contemporary believers to carry out his plans and commands to support the prophet to maintain discipline among the believers as well as to make success of his plans for the spreading of God’s message against strong opposition. What should be the answer of the question “Would it be the same manner to respect the prophet when he was alive and when he is no more among us?” The answer is “No” as God has clearly mentioned in the Quran how the contemporary believers should respect the prophet. Thus, some of the commands are not equally applicable to the believers of the later generations. Now he is dead and we can respect him just to follow the message what he left for us. So any order from God in the entire Quran to follow and obey the prophet or messenger is to follow the message (Quran) not prophet’s sayings or sunnah as claimed to make us idol worshippers (3:79) as he had no other mission beside to deliver and follow what was revealed to him from his Lord (3:20, 6:50, 7:203 &10:15).

Tafazzal