Living his message
He preached the importance of the rights of neighbors and he was the best to his neighbors. He preached about the rights of women and he gave the world a law that gives women rights that they don’t have in many other modern legal jurisprudential systems even today, 14 centuries later. He preached the value of truthfulness and was himself called ‘Al Sadiq ul Ameen’: the Truthful & Trustworthy One, even by his enemies, the Quraysh. He demonstrated Islam in every aspect of his life. And he taught his companions to do so, themselves. The result was that Islam spread far and wide, not by warfare and conflict with other religions but by ordinary Muslims living by the code of behavior that he taught them. Applied Islam has more power to convince people than any other method of preaching or propagating. Rasoolullah(SAW) demonstrated this to perfection.
Indeed in the Messenger of Allâh you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allâh and the Last Day and remembers Allâh much.
Al Ahzab 33:21
The famous Muhaddith, Imaam Az-Zuhri said, “Islam spread so fast after Fatha-Makkah because for the first time the non-Muslims were able to see the life of an ordinary Muslim up close.” It is interesting to note that he mentions the normal life of the ordinary Muslim as the best means of convincing others about the goodness of Islam. People ‘listen’ with their eyes. They are only convinced that a way of life is good when they see its proponents living it. No amount of preaching or talking will convince people about the method when they see that those who preach it don’t follow it themselves.
This destroys all credibility in the message. Rasoolullah(SAW) and his companions never allowed that to happen.
Rasoolullah(SAW) preached a message of human rights and social responsibility. He emphasized the rights of neighbors irrespective of whether they were Muslim or not. Rasoolullah(SAW) once asked the Sahaba, ‘Do you know what the rights of the neighbor are?’ He then said:
1. Assist him when he asks for assistance. 2. Give him a loan if he needs it.
3. Help him if he is needy.
4. Visit him when he is ill.
5. Accompany his funeral when he dies.
6. Congratulate him on happy occasions.
7. Console him in adversity.
8. Do not build your house higher than his without his permission lest his ventilation is obstructed.
9. If you buy fruit, send some for him as a present. If you cannot do so, take the fruit into your house concealed so that he cannot see it. Don’t allow your children to take it out and eat openly in case his children see it and become grieved.
10. Don’t let the smoke from your house get into his house causing him annoyance.
These are the rights of the neighbors.” Thereafter Rasoolullah(SAW) declared, “By Allah(SWT), no one will ever understand these rights unless Allah(SWT) has mercy on him.”
In another Hadith it is mentioned that Rasoolullah(SAW) took an oath thrice saying, “By Allah he is not a Believer, By Allah he is not a Believer, By Allah he is not a Believer.” Someone asked, “Who is not a Believer?” Rasoolullah(SAW) said, “The person who causes suffering to his neighbor.” Another Hadith mentions that such a person will never enter Jannah.
At the end of the day it hardly needs to be emphasized that a picture is worth a thousand words but an action is worth a million. Imagine a world that lives by these values. People listen with their eyes and so it is essential for the leader to walk his own talk if he wants others to follow him. That is his test.