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9:128 Now there has come to you a Messenger from among yourselves; what troubles you is

difficult for him; eagerly desirous is he for you, clement and ever-merciful toward the faithful.

He is in contact with you through mortal nature, but he is different from you in an election. “O Muḥammad, keep on saying, ‘I am a mortal like you’ [18:110]. I will keep on saying, ‘Did He not find thee an orphan and shelter thee?’ [93:6]. You are the orphan pearl, the like of whom is no other. How can a mortal reach the forefront of the Real’s acceptance such that He puts up with his disdain? By thy life! [15:72]. How can a mortal be worthy for the grasp of the attributes to explain the polish of his heart’s mirror by virtue of solicitude? Did We not expand for thee thy breast? [94:1]. How can a mortal be such that the auditor of the beginningless and endless register turns over the acceptance and rejection of the creatures to his threshold? Whatever the Messenger gives you, take; whatever he prohibits you, forgo [59:7]. O Muhammad! You are something different, and your work is different!”

It has been said that friendships are both separation and union. In the era of the Beginningless, when love was apportioned, the wail of separation’s pain rose up from the house of Abū Jahl, and the glitter of union’s sun shone from the chamber of Muḥammad the Arab. From that separation was created hell in the heart of the estranged, and from this union was affirmed a paradise in the breast of the friends.

After the sun of union shone on that paragon, the world’s folk were bewildered in his work. The wish for his beauty and for following him rose up in the prophets. Moses the Speaking Companion said, “Lord God, make me one of his community!” Jesus the Spirit of God said, “Lord God, make me the door-keeper of his threshold!” [Abraham] the Bosom Friend said, “Lord God, make my mention flow on the tongue of his community!”

More wonderful than all this is that the paragon himself became bewildered in the steps of his own path. This is just like Majnūn and Laylā. He said, “The means of my knowledge are lost in the ends of your tresses!” She said, “O Majnūn, that is not such a great claim, for my tresses are themselves lost in my work!”

Ibn ʿAṭāʾ said, “His soul was in conformity with the souls of the creatures in created nature, but different from them in reality, for it was hallowed by the lights of prophecy, confirmed by the contemplation of the Haqiqah, and fixed in the closest locus and the highest station: The eyesight did not swerve, nor did it trespass [53:17].”

Take care not to say that his pure soul was like the souls of others. If one speck of his soul’s shining were to shine forth on the spirits and hearts of all the sincerely truthful, they would all go forth to the world of holiness and settle down in the seat of truthfulness [54:55]. Despite all this, he used to say in supplication, “‘Do not entrust us to our souls for the blink of an eye!’ Lord God, lift up this curtain of the soul from before our heart and lift this burden of selfhood away from us, for it is our veil in the road of the Haqiqah.”

The command came, “O Muhammad, unasked We put you beside Us: Did We not expand for thee thy breast, and lift from thee thy burden? [94:1-2]. O Muḥammad, We put aside that burden of you from you. Our desire took care of your work, Our solicitude lit up your lamp. You did not come for yourself, nor did you come by yourself. You did not come by yourself because We brought you: Who took His servant by night [17:1]. You did not come for yourself because you came as a mercy for the creatures: We sent thee only as a mercy to the worlds” [21:107]. Just as a bird takes its chick under its wing and nurtures it, in the same way, the perfection of Muḥammad the Arab’s generosity, clemency, and mercy nurtures his community under its wing: And lower thy wing to the faithful who follow thee [26:215].

Jaʿfar al-Ṣādiq said, “God knew that His creatures were incapable of obeying Him, so He made them recognize that so that they would know that they would not reach the limpidness of serving Him. He set between Him and them a creature of their own kind in form and said, ‘Now there has come to you a Messenger from among yourselves.’ Then He clothed him in His attributes of clemency and mercy and sent him out to the creatures as a truthful emissary. He made obeying him and companionship with him, for He says, ‘Whoso obeys the Messenger has obeyed God’ [4:80].”

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