Book Review: A Journey of Loving Hearts to the Master of Divine Envoys

A Journey of Loving Hearts to the Master of Divine Envoys

Title: A Journey of Loving Hearts to the Master of Divine Envoys – A Guide to Visiting the Messenger of God and his Blessed Mosque
Publisher: Visions of Reality Books
Authors: Khalid Ismail Sulayman and Majdi Imam
Translation and Editing: Dr. Mostafa al-Badawi
Pages: 107

This is a book which describes the manners and courtesies to be observed when visiting the Best of Creation, the Leader of the God’s Messengers, The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This book is of critical importance for anyone visiting the Illuminated City of Madinah, and one who is looking to increase their love for the Messenger of God (peace be upon him). The back cover of the book briefly describes the contents of the book:

This is the definitive guide to visiting the Messenger of God, may peace and blessings be upon him, with high adab and courtesy, the book takes the visitor to the Radiant City of Madina, and the Blessed Mosque of the Messenger of God, and onwards through to presenting oneself in front of the Best of Creation – may blessings and peace be upon him.

En route the authors dedicate chapters to The Merits of the Possessor of the Tremendous Character, the Shariah position of visiting him, Attributes of the City of the Messenger of God and his blessed Mosque, Recommendations for the Visitor of Madina the Radiant, Names of the Chosen One, The Good Manners in Standing in the Presence of the Chosen One, How to Visit the Beloved, may God Exalted be He, bless him and give him peace.

This is a tremendous work which will be a valuable addition to the traditional Islamic literature in the English language.

The Publisher’s Note also offers more insight into the book:

It is therefore, an immense pleasure that we publish this excellent book – dedicated to guiding people on visiting the Master of all Divine Envoys Sayyiduna Muhammad, God’s eternal peace and blessings be upon him. The number of works dedicated to this subject in English are few indeed and it is our hope that not only will this work be a valuable companion to any traveller venturing forth to visit the Messenger of God but also that this book will be pivotal in encouraging further works.

The Preface, written by Khalid Ismail Sulayman, also offers additional insight into the contents of the book:

The book begins with a mention of the rank and worth of the Beloved Chosen One – may God’s blessings and peace be upon him – in the sight of the Lord of Might. We shall quote the Qur’anic verses that honour he whose character is tremendous, then follows an exposition of why to visit him is considered an essential Sunna and the good manners and courtesies that pilgrims should observe, whether they are on Hajj or Umra,once they arrive to the land of light, the land of the Two Sanctuaries. Then, having dealt with the special qualities of Madina the Radiant and what its visitors should do, we shall undertake a journey through the Noble Mosque and live with the names and attributes of the Chosen One – May God’s blessings and peace be upon him – that are inscribed on the Qibla wall to one’s right hand side as one enters from Bab al-Salam, the Gate of Peace. These names are written in beautiful calligraphy, radiating with light, starting from Bab al-Salam and ending at the other end of the mosque, just before Bab al-Baqi, the Baqi Gate. It is axiomatic that the more numerous the names, the more honourable the named.

Then, before we stand in the presence of the Chosen One – may God’s Blessings and peace be upon him – the visitor should learn about the required courtesy and good manners and share in the experiences of the passionate lovers of the Muhammadan presence. These we shall glean from the statements of some of our virtuous ancestors who were sincere scholars as well as pious Knowers of God. May God reward them amply on behalf of all Muslims.

Following this the visitor shall live in the lights and ambience of the Noble Rawda, learning about its historical pillars, the Mihrab or Prayer Niche of the Messenger of God – may God’s blessings and peace be upon him -, his Minbar or pulpit, and learn of the defining limits of the Rawda as studied by our scholarly ancestors according to the textual evidence in their possession.

The visitor will also see the houses of the Messenger of God – may God’s blessings and peace be upon him – and of his daughter, al-Zahra and her husband, Imam Ali – may God be pleased with them. Then we shall turn to some of the places that loving hearts enjoy seeing, such as the place of the People of the Shelter, Ahl al-Suffa, the place of the night prayer, the Passageway, the location of the old Qibla that was directed toward Jerusalem, the different limits of the Sanctuary over the centuries, and other such historical details that arouse the pangs of longing in the soul, lift the spirits up to soar in the Malakut, and fed the heart with constant love for the Beloved – may God’s blessings and peace be upon him.

In the section Recommendations for the Visitors of Madina, the following sincere and practical advice is given:

First: Those who visit Madina should not concern themselves with what does no concern them. They should concentrate on the purpose they have come for, spending so much money to reach the two Noble sanctuaries. It may be that this is their last visit and they are never to return again. Therefore, they should concentrate on what is useful and occupy their time with acts of worship.

Second: They should respect the sanctity of the place in all possible manners, avoiding loud voices, noise, crude conversation and unseemly behaviour.

Third: They should honour the inhabitants of the two Sanctuaries, simply disregard anything wrong they see them doing, and endure patiently any treatment they receive at their hands. This is because God – Exalted be He – has chosen them to be His Noble Prophet’s neighbours and this choice should be properly respected.

Fourth: They should keep the flames of their yearning alive, as well as their fear of committing any contravention or sin. They should not take Sharia rulings lightly, but should abide by it meticulously and work hard at not returning home before being fully purified from sins.

Fifth: They should observe utter courtesy when visiting the Prophet – may God’s blessings and peace be upon him – and his two companions – may God be pleased with them. They should not run to compete for places in the Rawda, nor scream, nor raise their voices.

This book is also unique in that it has a section on the names of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) which briefly describe the meanings of each name, and how the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) encompassed those meanings. Some of the similar names in meanings have been grouped for the sake of brevity and ease. There are numerous pictures of these names, inscribed into the walls of the Prophet’s Mosque. The author writes:

Look to your right after you enter from the Door of Peace and you shall see shining with light on the Qibla wall all the way to the Baqi Door the names of the Prophet – may God’s blessings and peace be upon him.

The following excerpts are from this section:

He is ‘Aqib (Concluder): Sayyiduna Aqib salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

In another version reported by Mu’thim ibn Jubayr – may God be pleased with him-, he said – may God’s blessings and peace be upon him, I have names, I am Muhammad and I am Ahmad, and I am the Eraser with whom God erases disbelief, and I am the Musterer, behind whom the people are to be mustered, and I am the Concluder following whom there shall be no Prophet.

He is Ghawth (Succour), Ghayth (Rain), Ghiyath (Rescuer), salla’llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

By him does God, August and Majestic be He – save people who are drowning in error. His is the succour and rescuer of all beings and the rain of mercy that is sent down upon them to save them.

In the last sections of the book, there is a comprehensive greeting both in Arabic and English, of how to visit the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), give salutations, and supplicate in his presence. The salutation and supplication is according to Imam Habib Abdal Qadir ibn Ahmad Al-Saqqaf – may God be pleased with him and it includes the greetings to the Commanders of the Faithful Abu Bakr and Umar, may God be pleased with them both. An excerpt of this salutation is below:

Oh God! You have said in your noble Book: We sent no Messenger but that he should be obeyed by leave of God. If, when they wrong themselves, they come to you and ask God for forgiveness and the Messenger asks forgiveness for them, they would surely find God Relenting, Compassionate (Qur’an 4:64)

Oh God! We have come in obedience to Your command, in the wish to draw nearer to You and him, carrying burdens of sins that are too heavy for us. O God! forgive our sins and our injustice to ourselves, make our feet firm give us victory over ourselves and our devils, and let us not leave this place where we now stand without You having shown us generosity and mercy, helped us against ourselves, drawn us near, brought us together with this Beloved, and looked at us while we are in his presence.

There are so many treasures in this book which I have utterly failed to draw your attention to. I pray that you find this book beneficial in your travels, and find the propensity to pray for the individuals who made this publication possible. Ameen. The Publisher ends his note, at the beginning of the book, with the following request:

We hope that the reader be blessed with an opportunity to visit the Beloved of God most High in the Radiant City of Madina and we graciously request the visitor to convey the salams of all involved in the publication of this book to the Master of all Divine Envoys – may God’s blessings and peace be upon him. And we pray that this book will find a place on the bookshelves of those whose continuous aspirations are to be close to the greatest of God’s creation both in this life and the life hereafter. And success is from God Exalted be He alone.

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