My dear brothers and sisters. Last week much of the world celebrated one of the prophets of Allah, Isa bin Maryam, allayhi salaam. Allah tells us in the Quran
qolo ‘aamannaa bi- ‘allaah wa- maa unzila ‘ilay -naa wa- maa unzila ‘ilaa ‘ibraahem wa- ‘ismaa’el wa- ‘ishaaq wa- yaqob wa- al- asbaat. wa- maa ‘otiya mosaa wa- isa- maa ‘otiya an- nabeyon min rabb -him laa nufarriq bayna ‘ah.ad min -hum wa- nah.nu la- -hu muslimon
Say “We believe in Allah and the revelation given to us and to Abraham Isma`il Isaac Jacob and the Tribes and that given to Moses and Jesus and that given to (all) Prophets from their Lord we make no difference between one and another of them and we bow to Allah (in Islam).”
And by this Allah (swt) is telling us his desire, his command for us and a reminder that one of the things we believe in as Muslims, as servants of Allah (swt) in peace surrendering to Him, is that we believe in all the books and the prophets of Allah (swt) and make no distinctions between them
And indeed Allah (swt) says further:
wa- ‘alladhena ‘aamano bi- ‘allaah wa- rusul -hi wa- lam yufarriqo bayna ‘ah.ad min -hum ‘olaa’ika sawfa yu’te -him ‘ujor -hum wa- kaana ‘allaah ghafor(an) rah.em(an)
To those who believe in Allah and His Apostles and make no distinction between any of the Apostles We shall soon give their (due) rewards: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.
Brothers and sisters, the mercy of Allah is upon those who make no distinctions. We can learn from each of Allah’s (SWT) apostles and when we do we get the reward of Allah’s mercy.
During the time that the prophet (SAW) was still in Mecca before the migration to Medina, he sent some of his companions to Abyssinia to escape the religious discrimination they were facing in Mecca. When they got there the king of Abyssinia, who was a Christian, asked them questions about this faith they ascribed to. Specifically he asked them questions about Mary and about Jesus (Allahi salaam). He did this because some of the people of Mecca had arrived before them and had told the king that he should not shelter the companions because they did not believe in Jesus. He asked them about the virgin birth and they told him that Allah (SWT) says in the Quran
That an angel, Jibreel/Gabriel came to her in her seclusion and told her
qaala ‘inna-maa ‘anaa rasol rabb -ki li- ahab la- -ki ghulaam(an) zakey(an)
“Don’t be afraid, I am merely a messenger from your Rabb to tell you about the gift of a holy son”.
And then, in confusion she asks Jibreel
qaalat ‘annaa yakon li- -y ghulaam wa- lam yamsas -ne bashar wa- lam aku(n) baghey(an)
She said: “How shall I bear a son, no man has ever touched me nor am I unchaste?”
qaala ka- dhaaliki qaala rabb -ki huwa calay -ya hayyin wa- li- najcal -hu ‘aayah li- an- naas wa- rah.mah min -naa wa- kaana ‘amr(an) maqd.ey(an)
The angel replied: “So shall it be – Your Rabb says: `It is easy for Me. We wish to make him a Sign for mankind and a blessing from Us’ – and this matter has already been decreed”.
And after hearing this and other things from them, the king drew a line in the sand with his stick and said that the differences between them were less than the width of that line. And so he gave them refuge.
Surely there is an example of the mercy of Allah (swt) right then and their, they were given refuge and because they upheld the Quran and the Apostles of Allah (swt) without distinction they were protected. I have no doubt in my heart who was doing the protection, Allah (swt) showed the king of Abyssinia, through the words of the Quran as quoted by them his message of unity.
And if we look and listen to what Allah says in that last ayat he says A sign (ayat) and a blessing to mankind. This is the mercy of allah. He causes Muhamma (saw) and all the prophets to come into the world for the purpose of being a sign and a mercy for people and indeed.while he is still in the cradle and the people are questioning Mary about his birth Isa (as) tells them
Whereupon the baby spoke out: “I am indeed a servant of Allah. He has given me the Book and made me a Prophet. His blessing is with me wherever I go. He has commanded me to establish Salah and give Zakah as long as I shall live. He has exhorted me to honor my mother and has not made me domineering, hard to deal with. Peace be upon me the day I was born, the day I shall die and the Day I shall be raised to life again”. And he finishes by saying:
wa- ‘inna ‘allaah rabb -e wa- rabb -kum fa- ucbudo -hu haadhaa s.iraat. mustaqem
Isa declared, Verily Allah is my Rabb and your Rabb: therefore serve Him. This is a Right Way.
Isa (AS) declared himself a servant of Allah. Just as Ibrahim and Musa had done before him (as) And just as Muhammad (saw) was to do after. They drew their faith from Allah (swt) and asked those around them to do the same. To obey those things which were commanded to be done and to avoid those things which were put aside as haram. They each came bearing this same message, in a way that was understandable to the people of their time. They are each of them a sign for us and a mercy for us. We might go astray in our lives except for these books, these angels, these prophets which Allah (swt) has, in his rahma, sent down for us.
And for the mercy, they all came as mercy to humankind, and showed us how to act with one another. But what do we do with each other? How do we treat each other? We are unjust and greedy and etc, and we need a constant reminder to treat each other well. How can we show mercy unless we are given examples of it? Isa and the other prophets (as) were sent as a mercy. It is merciful to give us examples of how to act. To exemplify mercy. Isa says he was made not to be domineering or hard to deal with, other translations say not arrogant but it means the same thing, he showed people how to treat each other with mercy, just as all the prophets were.(as)
What are we to take from this. For one I think we can see that over and over again through the grace of Allah (swt) he has sent us messengers with instructions from him as to how he wants us to live. For those came to us as human beings to live amongst us and give us the signs and the mercy.
We can soften our hearts to these messages all from Allah (swt). In a hadith related from Malik Ibn Anas in the Muwatta it is said that Rasul Allah (swt) said that Isa (as) said
“Do not speak much without the mention of Allah for you will harden your hearts. A hard heart is far from Allah, but you do not know. Do not look at the wrong actions of people as if you were lords. Look at your wrong actions as if you were slaves. Some people are afflicted by wrong action and some people are protected from it. Be merciful to the people of affliction and praise Allah for His protection.”
Do we not want to be among those that are protected from affliction? The protection we are seeking is only available from Allah (swt) and true faith in his uniqueness and his power and refuge. I say each week here, “La howla wa la quwete ‘illa billah” There is no power and no protection except in allah. So surround yourself, immerse yourselves in this power and protection and practice mercy just as you have seen your rabb and Rasool Allah (swt) doing.
Brother and sisters I remind myself as I remind you, if there is a message in this, if there is a message in prophethood at all some of it may be in this, that Allah (swt) is arahmanir raheem. He is compassionate and merciful and wants to guide us on the straight path. And he has sent these books and these prophets to help us.
We are not here on this earth to do anything other than find this. To avoid what we are told to avoid and to do what we are told to do.
Isa specifically mentions two things he is bound to do establish prayers and to pay zakat. These two acts of worship, which we consistently find mentioned together in the Quran are practices of purification. Through Salat we purify our hearts and our actions and through zakat we purify our possessions and our wealth. And he declared Allah to be his rabb, making sure that we understand that these actions come from Allah (swt) that our possessions and our life and our death come from Allah (swt)
Brothers and sisters let us go from here today, remembering the meaning of these prophets of Allah (swt) coming to this world as a sign and a mercy for humanity. And let us also remember that we should follow their examples, follow the examples of all the anabiyya the prophets of god, treat each other with the compassion and mercy we are shown and remember Allah (swt) in all we do.
Wa allahu alim.