Remembering the poverty of the Prophet

I delight in it.

Perhaps nothing has more consistently demonstrated its existence to me than failure. From grandfathers who lost it all (not just sisters) in population transfers benevolently called partitions, to a father who bet everything for the sake of coming to America only to find himself discriminated and thrown out of his profession, all the way to me, who played by the rules all his life only to have the rule breakers break me.

In this triad of loss nothing has sustained us more than the abject poverty that afflicted the Prophet Muhammad. Here was a man who was subjected to such a long series of painful episodes, and survived them all so miraculously, that it was almost if God put him here on earth to disprove despair.

That you could lose your parents within your first eight years and still become a man; that you could lose your family and their protectioin and still become a leader; that you could lose numerous sons in that age in which children are the most innocent and still be compassionate; that you could have stones thrown at your head till pools of blood accumulated in your shoes and still not give in to vengeance; that you could have your uncle impaled upon spears and his heart literally eaten and still forgive the killers; that you could sleep on mats of hay and still be regal; that you could be so lonely that rather than sitting in the city circles you had to withdraw to caves and yet still come down with a book like the Quran; in this survival, no, affirmation of life, is a miracle that underlies Islam.

To me, Muhammad is the final of God’s chosen, not merely because his extra-worldly book says so, but because since that time I have not seen a man bear so much pain with so much pulchritude. I am not ashamed to say that in all my times of turbulence I look to Muhammad and behold the immensity of his troubles and feel satisfaction that I have not felt anything near to his suffering. Yes, in that comparison I exhibit my weakness because I concede that I am unable to affirm my suffering unless I take a schadenfreude pleasure in his suffering. So what? He was given the Quran for his patience. I will never be given anything remotely as impressive.

I have thus no qualms in delighting in the poverty of the Prophet.



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