prose// tender archives

I have written before, about my longing for a prophet, for The Prophet ﷺ, for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. The weight of the path, the millions of micro-decisions, and the hundreds of large and consequential ones, that we each make as we traverse along our spiritual journeys, overwhelm me. I just want to have a clear guide.

I know that by studying the life of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ we can gain that guidance. It is through knowing and loving him that we are able to see the path to Allah ﷻ laid out before us. But it isn’t that easy! There are hundreds of different classes, books, and teachers of Seerah and the Shamail. There are so many different perspectives, narrations, and versions of the same stories. Each scholar has their own unique interpretations, and when it comes to bringing his ﷺ model into the world we are living in, there are as many opinions as there are people. The blessing of intellectual diversity can also become a gnawing tribulation, leaving one at risk for spiritual paralysis altogether.

I feel lost often, floating along, following the currents I know and hoping that is enough. Usually, it isn’t. I feel the sensation of longing radiating through me even in my sleep. I wish for guidance no teacher can give me. I need my prophet to tell me what to do! What class to take, what friendships to pursue, what dreams are worth retiring, and which of my many faults needs the most urgent attention. How to live! How to be!

Today, something opened up for me. I attended the Miftaah Institute seminar with Shaykh Yasir Qadhi and other local scholars. As I listened to Shaykh Yasir describe the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ as a husband, father, brother-in-law, grandfather, cousin, son-in-law, friend, teacher, leader, and son, I was moved to tears. 

Most of the stories he shared are stories I have heard time and time again throughout my life. But something new struck me as I sat there as he retold them. I felt, so clearly in my heart, how blessed I have been to be able to recognize the attributes, habits, and practices of the Prophet ﷺ in the people in my own life, and in particular, my parents. 

As he described the gentleness of the Prophet ﷺ with his family members when they were upset, I thought of the times I have reacted out of strong emotions and my parents patiently listened and forgave me for my shortcomings. 

When he described the Prophet ﷺ laughing and joking with our Mother A’isha RA as a way to settle and calm tensions, I thought of the many times I was brought out of my sadness and frustration with the kind word or humor of my father. 

As he spoke about the Prophet ﷺ showing care and affection to his family despite jahiliya culture’s discomfort, I thought of all the times my father especially, hugged me and maintained a space of safety and comfort with him no matter who is around.

When Shaykh Yasir spoke about the dissent and disputes between the Prophet ﷺ and his family and even his companions, I thought about all the times my parents allowed me to voice an alternate opinion, even expressing my childish and ignorant frustration with them and their own perspectives. They were always patient with me, allowed me to speak my mind, and encouraged me to think out loud with them. 

When he spoke about the Prophet ﷺ laughing and playing with his family, I thought of all of the laughter I have shared with my parents, the way my sisters and I compete on the phone to tell them the funniest stories, the joyful and playful memories I continue to create with my father whenever we are together. 

When he spoke about the Prophet ﷺ maintaining ties with our Mother Khadijah’s family after her death and going out of his way to care for her friends as an act of love, I thought of my parents, and how they maintain good relationships with the elders in the community, how my father visits the sick and give comfort to those in times of grief, even when it is difficult, as an act of love for those whom he loves, his community, the people around us who have become a second family. 

And when he spoke about the Prophet ﷺ, teaching his wives and children, reminding them of Allah, and maintaining his role as their Messenger ﷺ, I thought of all of the times my parents have woken me up to pray, the advice and admonishments they have given me when I have fallen short, the expectations they have held me to and the support they have granted me in any and all endeavors which brought me closer to Allah ﷻ. 

At that moment, I sat there with myself, and felt, for the first time, that I understood perhaps what so many have told me. To learn about the Prophet ﷺ is how we access his guidance. It is through learning about him, over and over and over again until we have memorized the stories, that we begin to see them manifest in our own lives. The Sunnah is alive and thriving, moving and growing, pulsing and shimmering all around. It sounds a bit magical, perhaps too romantic. But I see it now. I cannot hug the Prophet ﷺ in this life, but I can hug my mother. I cannot converse with the Prophet ﷺ in my waking state, but I can call my father. I cannot weep in the presence of the most beloved of Allah ﷺ and ask him ﷺ to tell me what to do, to heal me, to console me. But I can find the traces and reflections of him in real people in real-time, and Allah’s ﷻ Hidayah to arrive in whichever vessels He chooses.

And Allah ﷻ knows best.

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