Why do Muslims love the Prophet (saw)?
Because despite being the busiest man in his community, he had time to be friends with its children.
Oftentimes as we grow older and busier our attentions shift from “having fun” in social gatherings to “hustling” in our work related endeavors. This is especially true when young people are “on the grind” doing everything it takes to become successful. I can express first hand at the amount of times I have forgotten to return missed calls, reply to e-mails, or missed family gatherings as a consequence of my schedule.
Yet in the Prophet Muhammad (saw) is the best example. He shouldered the responsibility of bringing the word of Allah to all of humanity, leading a community, standing up against the oppressors of his time, raising a family, teaching his companions, leading the prayers, standing alone in the quiet of the night in prayer, and much more.
Despite his hectic schedule, the Prophet (saw) still befriended the children of his community. Anas ibn Malik (ra) narrates:
“Allah’s Messenger (saw) had the sublimest character among mankind. I had a brother who was called Abu ‘Umair. I think he was weaned. When Allah’s Messenger (saw) came to our house he saw him, and said: “Abu ‘Umair, what has the sparrow done?” He (Anas) said that he had been playing with that. (Sahih Muslim: Book 25 Hadith 5350)
The term “sparrow” used in the narration in Arabic is “nughayr.” What is lost in the translation is the play on words the Prophet (saw) cleverly makes, as he playfully rhymes the nickname “Abu Umair” to the name of the bird: “Nughayr.” (“Ya Abu ‘Umair, ma fa’ala Nugahyr?”)
Genuine concern for the emotions of children is often overlooked in our society. We often hear phrases such as “don’t be a cry baby” or “man up” to sometimes cover up real emotional pain felt by children.
The Prophet (saw) however, showed us a different example.
In another narration, Anas (ra) narrates:
“The Messenger of Allah (saw) used to come to visit us. I had a younger brother who was called Abu ‘Umair by Kunyah (surname). He had a sparrow with which he played, but it died. So one day the Prophet (saw) came to see him and saw him grieved. He asked: “What is the matter with him?” The people replied: “His sparrow has died.” He then said: “Abu ‘Umair! What has happened to the little sparrow?” (Sunan Abu Dawud Book 42, Hadith 4951)
When was the last time we consoled a child over a dead goldfish- or any pet for that matter? How about when they lose something they loved and are grieving over it? Who of us is busier than the Prophet (saw)? The often mundane activities of children may seem silly to us, but the Prophet (saw) felt they were important enough to warrant attention; and so in his mercy he consoled the child over his bird.
Muslim’s love the Prophet (saw) because his mercy extended to everyone around him. He was able to give time to each and every one of his community who needed it. His genuine concern for the welfare of his people, physically and emotionally, made him easy to love as a human being. The Prophet (saw) had the most important mission of any man who ever lived, yet he never allowed his status to prevent him from being the friend of children.