Eid Mubarak to you all. On this special occasion of Eid-ul-Adha, I wanted to give you all a special gift. It is a secret that very few people know of – even the people of Cairo!
As you visit the grave of the great scholar Imam Al-Shafi’, you find a tremendous peace and tranquility in the mosque. On this particular occasion, a group of locals were sitting reading Qur’an together in one of the most beautiful voices I’ve heard. Here was the grave of a man whose scholarship saw led establishment of one of the great schools of Islamic law and who many great scholars after have followed in the footsteps of, a man whose dedication to knowledge is legendary and whose ability for memorisation is the thing of legend. A man whose brilliance cannot be described in pages of books, never mind a few lines in a blog!
This humble mosque is the final resting place of this great scholar. The pillar that you can see besides the grave is where he would lean to deliver his lessons to eager students from all over the Muslim world. As a sign of love for the messenger ﷺ, he would have a slab which bore the prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ footprint placed next to him when he would teach his classes. This slab would be taken everywhere with him on his travels, one of the few remaining artefacts of the messenger ﷺ himself.
This dedication and love would be carried with him to the grave. A strange fact that very few seem to be aware, hidden beneath the carpet of the masjid, lay the slab bearing the footprint of the messenger ﷺ is still in the masjid today, and here it is:
It’s hard to describe the feeling when seeing this for the first time. My gut reaction was to kneel down and kiss it, completely taken by what I was seeing. As I did so, I smelt the sweetest fragrance better than anything I had smelt before. What was mysterious was that the smell was solely confined to the footprint itself as the slabs around it were completely ordinary and no sign of any perfume being used for it. This, of course, is the legacy of our messenger ﷺ – a sweet fragrance which remained in everything he touched, both physically and metaphorically.
Having taken upon this path to pursue a path of knowledge, I find a literal footprint of the man whom all men aspire to emulate – the greatest of creation.
As I saw this, I stood and reflected upon the legacy his message has left behind for us; a teaching which brings meaning and purpose to our lives and an example which we aspire to follow, live by and pass on. How sad it is that so many Muslims have strayed so far from what the messenger brought. We have lost the essence of what this faith is about, emphasising the rules and practice and neglecting entirely its significance and intent.
As I stood there, I was filled with sadness as I realised this was the closest I would get to the messenger ﷺ was this. Indeed, the time for seeing the messenger ﷺ in flesh has passed, but know that the opportunity to know him through his legacy and story is still.
Friends! If the beloved and his people are far-off
And meeting him is out of reach, and his home is distant,
And you have lost the chance to see him with your eyes:
You have not lost the chance to hear his description
أخلاي إن شط الحبيب وربعه
وعز تلاقيه وناء تمنازله
وافاتكم أن تنظروه بعينكم
فما فاتكم بالسمع هذي الشاْئل
Please pray upon the messenger ﷺ, his family, his companions and all those who follow him! Ameen