Utter Devotion

Allāh told the Prophet ﷺ at the beginning of Prophethood ‘Read by the name of your Lord.’ [Sūrat ul-ʿAlaq].

We look at this verse and think look how much the Qurʾān has emphasised learning and education. It is true. But, has the the Qurʾān focussed on, and emphasised, learning and education purely for the the sake of reading, or learning for the sake of learning? Or is there a greater purpose?

If we think the Qurʾān has emphasised learning and reading, for the sake of learning itself then we have misunderstood the verse. Following revelation of this verse, Sūrat ul-Muzzammil and Sūrat ul-Muddaththir were revealed. In Sūrat ul-Muzzammil, Allāh says

Oh one wrapped in a shroud. Rise at night except for very little. [Sūrat ul-Muzzammil, 73:1-2]

(meaning spend as much of the night in prayer as possible leaving only a little time not spent in prayer).

Later Allāh says:

And Remember the name of your Lord and devote yourself unto Allāh with an utter devotion. [Sūrat ul-Muzzammil, 73:8]

The purpose even for the Prophet ﷺ was not reading for the sake of reading, or learning for the sake of learning . The Prophet ﷺ did not have to learn anything. Allāh taught him everything.

Hence, for the Prophet ﷺ the meaning of reading here is not reading a script for the purpose of learning. Reading here is recital of what Allāh gave him . Of course the duty of the Prophet ﷺ was rising and warning the people and conveying the message of Allāh (as mentioned in Sūrat ul-Muzzammil and Sūrat ul-Muddaththir). We know about that duty.

But, what about his personal relationship with Allāh? Of that, Allāh says ‘Remember the name of your Lord and devote yourself to him with an utter devotion.’ That was right at the beginning of his Prophethood, long before he had a band of followers, long before Hijrah and before he had a position of power , influence, or authority.

[This short except is based on the talk ‘The Spirituality of the Prophet ﷺ’ which was delivered by Shaykh Riyadh ul Haq on 17th December 2017]

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