The month of Rabiul Awwal once again dawns upon an ummah that is plagued and beleaguered by difficulty and hardships in almost every corner of the world. There seems to be no place on earth where there are Muslims and there is no trouble. The message of Rabiul Awwal is simple and clear. If heeded it has the power to deliver us from our miserable and debilitating plights and carry us to honour and dignity which rightfully belongs to this esteemed ummah.

 Rabiul Awwal is indeed a special month for every believer for it was in this month that the true and real saviour of Mankind, the final and last messenger of Allah Ta’ala, Nabi Mohammad Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam was born. His birth and subsequent Prophethood saw the dawn of a new era in the civilisation of not just the Arab world but the whole world at large. His Prophethood was nothing but a revolution for humankind. By it, honour and dignity was once again restored to human kind who before this was reduced to states even below that of the animal kingdom.

Hadrat Umar Radiyallaahu Ta’ala anhu’s words very strongly convey this. He said:

“We were the most despicable and humiliated of people. Then Allah gave us honour through Islam. Now should we seek honour and dignity in anything else besides Islam then Allah will surely return us to our former states of humiliation and disgrace”!

However it must be borne in mind that this restoration and reformation of humankind was no easy task. The Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa sallam together with his beloved household and his illustrious companions made great sacrifices of time health, wealth and lives too. Islamic history is replete with incidents where the blood of the latter ummah was shed so that the future Ummah could live Islam. Today when we proudly call ourselves Muslims and are grateful to Allah for this gift of Imaan we cannot forget the sacrifices of those whose tireless and unwavering efforts have made this possible.

A beautiful story which I once read and reproduce below can be used to illustrate the role of our beloved Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam in our lives as Muslims.

There was once a bridge which spanned a large river. During most of the day the bridge sat with its length running up and down the river paralleled with the banks, allowing ships to pass through freely on both sides of the bridge. But at certain times each day, a train would come along and the bridge would be turned sideways across the river, allowing a train to cross it.

A switchman sat in a small shack on one side of the river where he operated the controls to turn the bridge and lock it into place as the train crossed. One evening as the switchman was waiting for the last train of the day to come, he looked off into the distance through the dimming twilight and caught sight of the train lights. He stepped to the control and waited until the train was within a prescribed distance when he was to turn the bridge. He turned the bridge into position, but, to his horror, he found the locking control did not work. If the bridge was not securely in position it would wobble back and forth at the ends when the train came onto it, causing the train to jump the track and go crashing into the river. This would be a passenger train with many people aboard. He left the bridge turned across the river, and hurried across the bridge to the other side of the river where there was a lever switch he could hold to operate the lock manually. He would have to hold the lever back firmly as the train crossed. He could hear the rumble of the train now, and he took hold of the lever and leaned backward to apply his weight to it, locking the bridge. He kept applying the pressure to keep the mechanism locked. Many lives depended on this man’s strength.

Then, coming across the bridge from the direction of his control shack, he heard a sound that made his blood run cold. “Daddy, where are you?” His four-year-old son was crossing the bridge to look for him. His first impulse was to cry out to the child, “Run! Run!” But the train was too close; the tiny legs would never make it across the bridge in time. The man almost left his lever to run and snatch up his son and carry him to safety. But he realized that he could not get back to the lever. Either the people on the train or his little son must die. He took a moment to make his decision.

The train sped safely and swiftly on its way, and no one aboard was even aware of the tiny broken body thrown mercilessly into the river by the onrushing train. Nor were they aware of the pitiful figure of the sobbing man, still clinging tightly to the locking lever long after the train had passed. They did not see him walking home more slowly than he had ever walked: to tell his wife how their son had brutally died.

Now if we comprehend the emotions which coursed through this man’s heart, we can better begin to understand the feelings of our beloved Nabi Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa sallam as one after another of his beloved companions laid down their lives for Islam only so that the gap between us and our eternal lives could be bridged. We can better understand his hurt and pain as he witnessed His beloved companions Radiyallaahu Anhu being mercilessly and savagely beaten. His very own blood was shed in Taif as the street urchins were set upon him, pelting him with stones as he was driven out of the town. In the battle of Uhud the beloved Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa sallam lost his mubaarak tooth. For the course of Islam his beloved daughters were divorced and his beloved companions were sometimes brutally slaughtered. The list of hardships borne by this great Messenger of Allah Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam could go on covering many pages but the intent of this article is different.

Through every hardship and difficulty no matter how unbearable and painful it was the Prophet Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam stood firm and undeterred in his mission. He could not give up! The takes were definitely too high. He suffered back then so that those who would come after him would reap the fruits of the garden of Deen which had been nurtured and irrigated by his and his companions Radiyallahu Anhum Ajmaeen’s sweat, blood and tears. The bridge keeper in the above story sacrificed his own flesh and blood so that those in the train could journey safely. This is precisely what our beloved Nabi Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam did.

Today as we commemorate Rabiul Awwal let us bear in mind the above story. Our Deen’s protection and preservation lies in sacrifice. Should we wish for us to leave this world as Muslims and those coming after us to live as muslims we need to sacrifice everything that poses a threat to our Deen.

The gap between us and the eternal life has widened so much that it is frightening. It seems this is the only life we all know and there is no Aakhirah! This Rabiul Awwal let us bridge this gap by becoming true followers of Nabi Sallallaahu Alaihi Wa Sallam. Once we do this the light of Islam will begin to shine upon the Ummah once again driving away the darkness’s that we’ve become so accustomed to lately.

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