What happens when the meaning of Muhammad ﷺ is reduced to an empty name brand, that even those who were raised wearing it, stop buying?
Let’s face it, many within and outside the faith don’t get the obsession with the man, and masculinity in general due to the looming specter of toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity does not refer to masculinity as a whole, but a kind of false masculinity, characterized in particular by those blaming victims in physically, emotionally, sexually, and spiritually-abusive crises. Between what some call romanticizing, and others demonizing, the spearhead of the fastest growing religion, the man we know to be Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, remains a target.
What inclines many to love The Prophet ﷺ is his inner reality. That is, his exceptional character. It’s said that while Jesus and Joseph (Allah be pleased with them) were archetypes for the more jamaal (beautiful) and feminine qualities of The Divine, Prophet Moses (may Allah be pleased with him) was a manifestation of the necessary polarity of jalaal (rigorous) qualities of God; a masculine principle. Muhammad kamaal (complete) is the embodiment of both.
Moreover, the Prophet’s ﷺ relationship with femininity, the oppressed, and the oppressors alike, certainly add to that endearment. For this, while many may not love him, they have to respect him. Returning to the sincere understanding of the meaning of Muhammad ﷺ versus an empty name brand fills us in a way no materialistic politics can. It is for this reason that it is said “If you don’t have a shaykh (spiritual guide), sending blessings on the Prophet ﷺ will be your shaykh.” In prophetic love, we find all we thought we lost. As in the testimony of our father Abraham, the shahada, we must define what prophetic love is:
Prophetic Love is not…
- Abusive in any form, whether physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.
- Liberalism, or any kind of “-ism”.
- Unfair. This covers a wide umbrella of issues, such as having to pray outside the mosque because the woman’s side is locked, or not being able to see the khateeb (one giving the sermon, a requirement) because of being so extremely separate, an antithesis to the core of Islam, or having to justify being in circles of knowledge as not “shopping for a husband, or even being excluded from community leadership.
- Having to justify intelligence.
- Forcing someone’s habits. This only creates hypocrites and remember, those are worse than outright kufar.
- Denying a women pleasure.
- Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
- Body-shaming. Hyat – honoring of the body temple by adhering to prophetic tradition is a gift that is hard to appreciate in the face of compulsion.
Prophetic Love is…
- Unequal, arguably in a women’s favor.
- The flavor of many Muslim marriages.
From finance to politics, the pushback we see against our Nabi ﷺ and Islam is a result of taking extreme liberalism as an idol. In fact, mere mention of law, however sacred, is discounted as ancient dogma, verbatim to what Allah warns us of in the Quran in countless places. “Freedom” is also typically associated with an extreme form of liberalism, but how “free” is an individual that’s bound to their whims, with no Divine guidance?
The good news is, there has been a shift toward spirituality. The essence of spiritualism and religion is universal: transcending the lower self to become (be, and it will come) a higher whole.