[size=3]The Prophet & His Grandchildren [using large font size is not allowed]
Sheikh HÃ¢tim al-`AwnÃ®, professor at Umm al-QurÃ¢ University
Buraydah b. al-Husayb was present at one of the Prophet's sermons. He relates to us the following account that illustrates to us the depth of fatherly feeling that the Prophet (peace be upon him) possessed. He says:
The Prophet (peace be upon him) had begun to address us when his little grandchildren al-Hasan and al-Husayn approached him. They were both wearing red shirts. They were tripping over themselves and getting up again.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) came down from the pulpit, picked them up, and then carried them up onto the pulpit with him. He then said: "Allah spoke the truth when He said: 'Your wealth and your children are but a trial.' When I saw these two, I couldn't resist."
Then he commenced to deliver the sermon.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was very attached to his grandchildren. If we consider this hadÃ®th carefully, we realize the depth of his fatherly feelings and just how compassionate a man he was.
We know very well that delivering a sermon is a demanding activity. A person who is engaged in demanding work has little time for extraneous sentimental thoughts, especially when those thoughts are about normal, everyday things like being a parent. Usually, only something quite out of the ordinary can distract a person who is preoccupied and hard at work.
Think about a preacher on the pulpit today. He is standing in front of a crowd of people delivering his sermon. Everyone's eyes and ears are on him, and he is speaking in utmost earnest about a weighty topic. He is employing every ounce of his oratory skill to move his listeners. His mind and his heart are equally involved in conveying his message, so his meaning comes across through the timbre of his voice, the expressions of his countenance, and through every gesture that he makes.
Does a person who is so preoccupied have any opportunity for an affectionate glance at the kids or for thoughts of humoring small children? Certainly not. His immediate concern is with delivering his sermon.
When we consider that the preacher in question is none other than Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him), we realize how significant his action was. His burdens were far greater than those of any other speaker in history, since his concern was to guide all of humanity, and the message he was entrusted to deliver was Allah's final message to Creation until the Day of Resurrection. Indeed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) conveyed that weighty message in the most complete and perfect manner.
We must consider the devotion of Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him), the depth of his faith, and the incomparable awe in which he held his Lord. We must also consider his asceticism and his disinterest in the trappings of the world and his longing for nearness to his Lord.
We must also consider his status. He was the founder and leader of the nascent Muslim state, the state that he was establishing to endure throughout time. During his life, the Muslim community was like a ship surrounded in all directions by a sea of belligerent enemies. No nation had ever before been established in such precarious circumstances, and none with such great aspirations, and no single person had ever before had so much responsibility on his shoulders. He was in charge of everything from its foreign policies, its treaties and covenants, and its day-to-day administration, down to the welfare of its poorest citizens. Concerns like these are more than enough to preoccupy any mortal heart.
Here is Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) standing on his very own pulpit â€“ the most distinguished pulpit in all of history â€“ and in these circumstances, in the middle of giving a sermon, he cannot resist going down to collect his grandchildren when he sees them coming towards him with their faltering little steps.
The few moments that it took for him to get down from the pulpit, collect his grandchildren, and ascend it again â€“ we can only imaging how those present must have perceived it. It must have seemed to them like time had stopped, like the Sun had halted in its path across the sky.
The fatherly feelings of Allah's Messenger were great indeed. He interrupted his sermon which the people were all there to hear. If any of them ever missed one of his sermons, they were heartbroken. So here he was interrupting his sermon right in front of all the esteemed Companions â€“ and why? Simply to hug his grandchildren.
We can scarcely describe this event in words. It is difficult for us to imagine or relate to our own experience. This is the mercy of a father, when that father has a capacity for mercy that extends to all humanity.
Allah says: "And we but sent you as a mercy to all Creation." [SÃ»rah al-AnbiyÃ¢': 107]
This expression of fatherly affection was made in front of everyone. It became a lesson in compassion, tenderness, and love for all to see. Te Prophet (peace be upon him) was showing us that mercy and love must be with us at all times. These feelings should never vacate our hearts, not even for an hour, no matter how serious our affairs, and no matter how busy we might be.
We have discussed matters of the heart. Now we should now turn our attention to the verse the Prophet (peace be upon him) quoted: "Your wealth and your children are but a trial." [SÃ»rah al-TaghÃ¢bun: 15]
What does he mean here by mentioning this verse that says our wealth and our children are a "trial"? Should we understand that the Prophet's behavior on this occasion was an example of him succumbing to a trial that Allah has warned us against?
This certainly cannot be the case. The Prophet (peace be upon him) is far above succumbing to that which incurs Allah's displeasure. Anyway, what negative consequence came about because of the Prophet's behavior? None at all. Did he fail to deliver the message properly? Did he corrupt the people or compromise their welfare? Did the country suffer? Did the Prophet (peace be upon him) even break off his sermon without resuming it? Nothing of that sort took place.
We are compelled to see that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was presenting us with a good example for us to follow. His behavior was a sign of his impeccable prophetic character and his humanity. He was truly the best of people and the most beloved of people to Allah.
Therefore, the Prophet's conduct on this occasion was Islamic conduct, and it can be used as evidence for questions of Islamic law. It shows us that people in important positions and those who hold high office are not permitted to let their hearts harden. They are not allowed to let their human feelings die. They should not lose sight of their humanity for even a moment. Our humanity is our salvation when we are faced with serous and stressful situations. Otherwise, our difficulties will make us hard-hearted and cruel.
The reason why the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited that verse on this occasion is to show that there are different kinds of trials that come to us through our children, and we should understand that not all of the feelings we have are being prohibited by the verse. There is a difference between the feelings of a father that try him and make him show kindness to his children â€“ feelings that should certainly not be suppressed â€“ and the partiality that makes a father fail to distinguish right from wrong when it comes to his children.
Another way to understand his quoting this verse is to see it as an admission that his heart, like any human heart, is changeable, and he needs Allah to preserve and guide his heart just as much as the rest of us. He would often make the following supplication: "O, He who turns the hearts, turn my heart to Your religion."
We should not be surprised that the pious heart of the Prophet (peace be upon him) would feel dread at the possibility of it changing for the worst due to the trials and tribulations of life. The Prophet (peace be upon him) put his trust wholly in Allah, never in himself. Only Allah possesses strength and might. Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) recited this verse on this occasion to communicate his need for his Lord to preserve him. He recited it simply to remind himself that his love for his grandchildren must be kept within proper bounds, and not lead him to distraction from his duty to his Lord.