A sheikh recently visited our community, blowing us away with narrations of the Prophet’s ﷺ life. One thing that stood out however, was the fact that after he would give his talks, he would wait around for people to come ask him questions. He would stop and counsel anyone who needed it until we were fully satisfied before getting up to leave. A brother pointed this out to him asking why, and the sheikh responded with another gem to bring us closer to the beloved Prophet ﷺ. He said that this part – the one-on-one time – was one of the most important parts of bringing people closer to Islam, because our beloved Prophet ﷺ was not just a preacher; he was a counselor as well.
Looking at the way the Prophet ﷺ dealt with each individual shows us the wisdom and humbleness that he possessed. One of my favorite narrations is that of when a young boy came to the Prophet ﷺ and requested that fornication be made halal (lawful) for him! Simply reading over this without thought can strip it of its brilliance. Rather, take this and personalize it. Imagine yourself sitting in a masjid or at home and watching this young man walk up to a respected member of the community and shamelessly saying, ‘Please make this act of fornication that Allah has forbidden, permissible for me.’ What do you imagine the elder would say? What would the look be on his face? You can guess there would be yelling, screaming, taunting, or maybe looks of sheer disgust too. And now imagine what that reaction would do to the questioner. Would it bring him closer to the way of Allah? Would it convince him not to do the act that he is yearning for? Maybe. But most likely, it would just push him farther away.
Our beloved Prophet ﷺ understood this young man’s psychology, and instead of reacting as many of us would do by default, he acted with wisdom and embraced the role of a counselor. He came down to this boy’s level, trying to help him understand the wisdom behind not indulging in acts he thought would be fun. Instead of making him feel like an absurd and bad Muslim, he ﷺ asked some simple questions: ‘Would you like someone to do that to your mother?’ The boy replied in the negative. ‘Would you like someone to do that to your sister?’ Again, having the issue personalized he replied in the negative. ‘Would you like someone to do that to your Aunt?’ No. So, having made a personal connection, and convincing the boy logically and emotionally of why we should stay away from the forbidden act, the Prophet ﷺ then placed his hand on his chest and made du`a’ that Allah help the boy to remain chaste. Not only was this a genuine du`a’, but it also served as a reminder that no matter how convinced we are of our will to not disobey Allah, obedience is not possible without His blessings. It reminded the boy that whenever he felt the urge to commit any sin, he should turn to the One and the Only that can make it easy for him.
The Prophet of God ﷺ was more than just a preacher of ‘halal and haram’. He was the ultimate counselor, helping to replace the low feelings within the hearts of the community with a seed that, by the will of Allah, could sprout roots of loving Allah and Hoping for his aid and mercy. The Prophet ﷺ individualized his advice to people, making sure that each person was answered in the most relevant way. He made it clear that Islam is not a religion for robots – typing in a command and expecting immediate results. Rather, it is a guideline for humanity, and as humans sometimes we need encouragement and counseling to help us through the difficult times.