Originally published in January 2017
The month of Dhul Hijjah heralded a great spiritual journey. Hajj in Arabic means qasd — aim, intent, orientation. Some of us journeyed with our bodies and hearts to the Blessed House. Those that remained lived vicariously through the pilgrims but they also travelled with spiritual works and remembrance through the ten blessed days of Dhul Hijjah, culminating in an ‘Eid celebrated with Ibrahim’s (‘alayhi salam) sacrifice of the base self for the pleasure of the Divine and a resultant deeper, more profound, more permanent, happiness and tranquility.
Then came Muharram, the start of the new year, whose root letters connote a beginning that is a sacred and sanctified avoidance of all that displeases the Divine: in haram, we have a sanctuary; in haraam, we have the prohibited and forbidden; in hurmah, we have the sacred and sanctified. Our Islamic new year is a celebratory right of passage that connects us to the Divine and to sacred hopes and resolutions of personal change.
Next came Safar, one of whose root meanings denote emptiness. Sifr al-yadayn is one who is empty handed. Musfir al-yadd is one without any possessions, destitute. The immediate passage of time from one month to another teaches us to be sacredly aware of our poverty and need for Allah. The Qur'an says: O Humankind, you are truly destitute and in dire need of Allah. And Allah is the Independent, the Praiseworthy. It is only Allah’s merciful-love that sustains, nourishes and protects us. And it is that merciful-love that we seek and need.
Rabiul Awwal is the birth-month of the Beloved ﷺ, who is not only described by Allah with the attributes of being rahim or merciful, and ra’uf or compassionate, but the very quintessence of merciful-love and kindness: rahmah. Allah describes him ﷺ as a merciful love for the worlds — rahmatan lil ‘alamin. He is merciful-love in its most permanent and dynamic form, personified and realized.
Rabiul Awwal is the first springtime. Even though the Islamic lunar calendar moves throughout the year, the coming of Rasulullah ﷺ always heralds springtime and life.
When he ﷺ was born, we are taught that a light emitted from his blessed mother and illuminated the East and the West. He is al-Siraj al-Munir — the light that reflects the Divine Light and illuminates meaning, truth and virtue. He ﷺ is the light that dispels the darknesses in me. Were it not for his mission and his very person, I would be lost in the Winter of my caprice and confusion. It is through his light that I can live, be, see, know, walk, journey, and grow. I am indebted to him for the warmth of each and every goodness; for he ﷺ was the chosen medium of Allah for every goodness to the worlds, beginning with the revelation revealed from his heart to ours.
As a child, the Meccans used his purity and innocence to seek rain, successfully, as related in Bukhari. And the moment his nursemaid Halima (Allah be pleased with her) took him under her care, she was blessed with abundant milk; her stricken animals became strong and hardy; their udders became rich and filled; her drought-afflicted land turned verdant and she experienced only the springtime of abundance upon abundance.
If the material manifestations of his ﷺ barakah are so immediate and definitive, what are the spiritual graces of his largesse?
And if the manifestations of his physical presence ﷺ are so immediate and definitive, what are the spiritual graces of his being?
It is with sadness that we see this month depart, a month when so many of our brothers and sisters celebrate with happiness the coming of this Perennial Spring ﷺ. And countless men and women — now and throughout our history — have experienced the spring that comes from nearness to him (sallalaho ‘alayhi wa sallam) and remembrance of him. Lives altered. Character transformed. Difficulties removed. Calamities averted. Mercy showered. Forgiveness attained. Hopes realized. Happiness renewed. Strength returned. Hearts resuscitated. All, of course, by the permission of Allah.
But even as the days dwindle and the celebrations of the Month of First Spring inevitably pass, Allah has ensured that his ﷺ merciful-love will forever remain. For there is no end to the first spring. After Rabiul Awwal comes Rabiul Thani — the second spring. The first spring is his ﷺ birth into this world; the second is his birth into your heart.
May he ﷺ be the springtime of our hearts, revived over and over, forever more.
O Allah, send your salutations upon our Master Muhammad
The physician of the hearts and their remedy
The well-being of the bodies and their cure
The light of the sight and its illumination.
And upon his elect family and companions.
By Riad Saloojee , 20 Dec 2017