The Consideration of Prophet and Sunna within Mawlana Thought


Friday, March 19, 2010

The Consideration of Prophet and Sunna within Mawlana Thought

Maulana, who took the fine morality of Prophet Muhammad as his measure, attempted to show in all his works the paths of virtue and skill. When we look at the works of Maulana, in particular the Masnavi we see that he examines the blessing inherent in the sending of a prophet by Allah. In this respect, he likens life in this world to a dungeon and emphasizes that the prophets are the only people who can redeem humanity, saying: "Who other than the Prophets, the messengers with laws, can save people from this dungeon?"[1]

Maulana also says, "The prophets have arrived in order to lead the servants towards Allah."[2] The prophets taught people about Allah throughout their lives, as well as about the necessity and importance of believing in Him, His names, how to be servants to Him and how to gain His consent; yet they faced a multitude of difficulties. This was their primary task. "If every ordinary person was able to gain access to the virtue and wisdom of Allah, Would He have sent so many prophets?!"[3] There is no doubt that the sending of prophets by Allah is a blessing.[4] Another important factor about the sending of prophets is that if no prophets had been sent, people would have attempted to acquire knowledge on religious issues with their own reason, yet in that case would they have gained the consent of the Creator? According to Maulana this would not have been possible.[5] In addition, Maulana states that no matter how informed a person is, they need a guide on religious issues; a person is not able to continue on the path without a guide, nor thus, indulge in games or entertainment. In parallel with this, Maulana attributes the fact that the prophets were sent as humans to create an effective invitation, but he emphasizes that they were not ordinary people.[6]

Maulana stresses that the prophets had affection for Allah and says that no discrimination should be made among the prophets; he often mentions their struggles and their moral characteristics as well as the nature of their patience. Maulana mentions nearly all the prophets who are mentioned in the Quran. He most frequently mentions Prophet Adam, Prophet Moses, Prophet Solomon, Prophet Joseph, Prophet Abraham, Prophet Jesus and Prophet Muhammad.

While depicting Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Maulana mostly relies on the Quran, hadiths (sayings of the Prophet), historical events and accounts and evaluates this material with a rich narration that includes poetic expressions of his love. When doing this, Maulana sometimes mentions the miracles of Prophet Muhammad and depicts these elaborately with a strong poetic narration.[7]

Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi was very devoted to Prophet Muhammad and acknowledges him as the Last Prophet and as a messenger who was sent by Allah to all of humanity.[8] We see that in this respect he spends most of his life in worship, dhikr (praising Allah) and sending salaat to Prophet Muhammad who is Allah's Messenger.

Acknowledging Prophet Muhammad

According to Maulana, since Prophet Muhammad is a lover and a sultan towards whom the people feel gratitude his people or soldiers must submit to the Messenger and obey him.[9] For Maulana, the Prophet is the one whom Allah has ordered people to comply with. Despite all this, Maulana denounces those who do not acknowledge Prophet Muhammad or who hesitate to appreciate him and do not follow his path; Maulana invites these people to the path of righteousness.[10]

The Necessity of Following the Prophet's Path

Since the Prophet Muhammad is the most perfect human being, it is necessary for Muslims to follow his path and live his sunnah (practices of the Prophet). The sunnah is a way of life that includes the studies of others on religion, the world and the afterlife; there are provisions concerned with trade and economic issues and all the things that are included in this, such as lending, leasing, charity, foundations, marriage and divorce. What is meant by following the path and sunnah of Prophet Muhammad is the fulfillment of the orders of Allah that are mentioned in the verses of the Quran. Prophet Muhammad was the one who understood the Quran in all its aspects and who applied it perfectly to his life.

According to Maulana, Prophet Muhammad should be obeyed. He redeemed people from polytheism, idolatry, ignorance, tyranny and he introduced justice.[11] Maulana is aware that in order to acquire the affection of Allah one has to be subjected to Prophet Muhammad. Maulana conveys the following hadith: "I am like the ship caught up in the ancient typhoon; my Companions and I are Noah's ark. Whoever steps onto this ark and enters it will gain redemption." Maulana also mentions the necessity of obeying the Prophet and following his path to ensure eternal salvation.

According to Maulana, love is necessary if one is to follow the path of Muhammad and to attain the blessings that he did.[12] Maulana persistently states that a love of Prophet Muhammad only through words and actions cannot be proven, and thus states that it is vitally important to follow the Prophet's path.[13] All of this reveals that Maulana, like Sufis before him, thought that obeying the Prophet, following his path and complying with his orders is the task of all of humanity, whether they lived at the time of the Prophet or not.

Maulana never tires of mentioning the name of Prophet Muhammad.[14] In the works where Prophet Muhammad is mentioned, we see that the style of Maulana becomes different and is full of sensitivity. When treating the Prophet's life and rhetoric, Maulana always acts with dignity and affection towards him.[15] Due to the many beautiful aspects and characteristics of the Prophet, Maulana disparages those who are aware of Prophet Muhammad but still are not happy.

            If a person does not become cheerful upon seeing you,

            May his head become smashed under a rug, and turn constantly! [16]

For those who truly understand Prophet Muhammad and follow his path, there is an abundance of aid, charity and blessings.[17] Despite all this, Maulana complains that nobody can truly perceive the Prophet[18] and he suggests that one has to abandon ignorance, prejudice, vanity, greed and incorrect judgments in order to do so.[19]

According to Maulana, Prophet Muhammad is a prophet with a great reputation as well as great respect before Allah. Many people were created from the earth, but Prophet Muhammad is the most superior among those created. His prayer is accepted in both worlds and his name is sacred and blessed. Those who mock or underestimate the name of Prophet Muhammad will be punished and wretched and they will regret their actions. He is the most beautiful person in terms of both physical appearance and morality.

The Prophet came to show the people the right, the truth, the beautiful and the good, and to advise them to practice these virtues. One of the main sources of Islamic discipline to be consulted after the Quran is the sunnah and hadith of Prophet Muhammad. The sunnah and hadith are important from the aspect of Prophet Muhammad's position vis-à-vis the Quran and his status as a Messenger of Allah who conveys, defines and practices His messages. Therefore, the Prophet and his sunnah are important both theoretically and practically for Maulana and the people who share his ideas, as well as everyone who is interested in religious sciences.

Every Sufi has an experience that comes from the education given to them by earlier Sufis; it is believed in Sufi circles that this experience originally came from the religious experiences of Prophet Muhammad. According to Sufis, the basis of Sufi life is comprised of the spiritual life of the Prophet and his words on this issue. This kind of understanding can be seen in the works of Maulana and his followers. The fact that Sufi life and thought appeal to the sunnah, namely the words, advice and lifestyle[20] of Prophet Muhammad, after the Quran, primary source, has caused Sufis to become interested in the sunnah while searching for the foundations of the teachings referred to in their works, and they mention many hadiths in their works.[21] In this respect, in the works of Maulana and his followers the hadiths are referred to as the foundation of many concepts, thoughts and ideas.[22]     


[1] Masnawi, 1,477.

[2] Masnawi, 1,477.

[3] Masnawi, IV, 463.

[4] Dilaver Gurer, "Mesnevi de "Peygamber Kavramı ve Peygamberler" (The Concept of Prophethood and Prophets in the Masnawi), p. 104.

[5] Dilaver Gurer, "Mesnevi de "Peygamber Kavramı ve Peygamberler" (The Concept of Prophethood and Prophets in the Masnawi, p. 104.

[6] Dilaver Gurer, "Mesnevi de "Peygamber Kavramı ve Peygamberler" (The Concept of Prophethood and Prophets in the Masnawi, p. 104-105 (summary).

[7] Ibrahim Emiroglu, "Mevlana'nın Hz. Muhammed'e Sevgisi ve Bagliligi" (The Love and Devotion of Maulana to the Prophet),  Islam Felsefesi Sorunları, (Texts of the Symposium held on November 8-9, 2202), Ankara 2003, p. 273

[8] See. Eflaki, Ahmet, Ariflerin Menkibeleri (Menaqib al-Arifin, translated by Tahsin Yazici, Istanbul, 1995)

[9] See. Mevlana Celaleddin er Rumi, Divan-ı Kebir, translated and prepared by. Abdulbaki Golpinarli, Ministry of Culture Publications, Ankara, 1992, V, 297, b. 3536.

[10] See. Masnawi, I, 18, b. 225, 227-228. For further information see: Ibrahim Emiroglu, "Mevlana'nın Hz.
Muhammed'e Sevgisi ve Bagliligi" (The Love and Devotion of Maulana to the Prophet), p. 276-277.

[11] See. Masnawi, H, 29, b. 366-368

[12] See. Divan, IV, 278, b. 2681

[13] See. Divan, C. VII. p. 31, b. 419-420; p, 509* b. 6685; C. V, p. 270. b. 3159. For further information see
Ibrahim Emiroglu, "Mevlana'nın Hz. Muhammed'e Sevgisi ve Bağlılığı" (The Love and Devotion of Maulana to the Prophet), p. 276-277.

[14] Eflâki, Ariflerin Menkıbeleri, 1,580.

[15] See. Maulana Jalaladad Din Rumi. Rubais, translated by Nuri Gencosman, MEB Yay . Istanbul. 1974.

C. I. p. 76, Rubai: 364; Letters, p. 111. Letter: LXXIÎI; p. 55.

[16] Mecalis, p. 64-65, Meclis; IU.

[17] See. Masnawi, IV, 307, b. 3443-3444.

[18] See. Masnawi, I, 315, b. 3957-3959.

[19] See. Masnawi, I, 315, b. 3957-3959.

[20] For the fact that sunnah is also a source for tasawwuf, see: Yusuf al-Kardavi, "Sunneti Anlamada 40 Yontem" (40 Methods in Understanding the Sunnah), p. 81-85.

[21] See Bilal Saklan, "Kutu'l-kulab'taki Tasavvufi Hadislerin Hadis Metodolojisi Acisindan Degeri" (The Value of the Sufi Hadith in ‘Kutu'l-kulab' in terms of Hadith Methodology), p. 155

[22] As an example; Ayse Gultekin, "Ismail Ankaravi'nin Mesnevi Serhi Mecmuatu'I-Letaif ve

Matmuratu'I-Mearif'te Hadis" (Sixth Volume), Konya, 2005, (Unfinished PhD thesis);

Fikret Karapinar, Mesnevi/Ankaravi Serhi, Ilk 100 Hadisin Tahrici, Konya 2001 (PhD Seminar).

عَنْ أَبِي مَسْعُودٍ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏"‏ إِذَا أَنْفَقَ الرَّجُلُ عَلَى أَهْلِهِ يَحْتَسِبُهَا فَهُوَ لَهُ صَدَقَةٌ ‏"
Narrated Abu Mas'ud: The Prophet said, "If a man spends on his family (with the intention of having a reward from Allah) sincerely for Allah's sake then it is a (kind of) alms-giving in reward for him.” (Bukhari, Belief, 41)

Title: Tracks from Neyzen Sadreddin Özçimi's album, Sufi Rhythms - Sultan-i Ask Artist: Sadreddin Özçimi