Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is a matchless personality whose reality only Allah Ta’ala knows. We will never be able to comprehend what his true status and power is. However, we must make sure that we never utter words, which to us might not seem insulting due to our lack of understanding, but in reality would be an insult to Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).
The Prophets generally presented themselves as ordinary men so that we may know how to live our lives properly. If they simply acted on their knowledge without explaining anything (the way Hazrat Khidr (Alaihis Salaam) did with Hazrat Moosa (Alaihis Salaam)), what would we have learnt?
If Allah Ta’ala were to send an angel instead of a man, then the followers would have legitimate reasons not to follow his example. They could claim that angels are made from divine light and are immune from sins, and therefore using them as a role model is impossible. Hence, Allah ensured that all Prophets and Messengers were men so the disbelievers would have no reason not to follow them.
Some misguided people refer to the verse “Say, I am a man like you” to argue that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was simply “a man just like us”. There is a paramount difference between Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) saying it and others saying it. Firstly, by using the command “say” it is hinted that in terms of expressing humility only you Oh Beloved Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) can call yourself human, no one else has the permission to call you in this way. For example, if a king says to his subjects that I am your servant, he does so out of humility, but if one of his subjects tells him, “you are my servant”, the same words becomes an insult and he becomes worthy of punishment in the court of the king. The same principle applies to referring to Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) as a man. When the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) himself said that he is a man, then this is seen in a virtuous manner. But if someone else calls him a man, it becomes a form of disrespect.
Allah Ta’ala states in the Holy Qur’an, “Make not the summoning of the Messenger amongst yourselves, like one calls the other amongst you.” [Surah 24, Verse 63] If Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) was “just like us” then why did Almighty Allah prohibit us from summoning him like how we summon each other?
Secondly, the whole verse has to be read to fully understand what is being said. Allah Ta’ala says, “Say, I am a man like you, I receive revelation that your God is one God, then whosoever hopes to meet his Lord, he should do noble deeds and associate not any one in the worship of his Lord. [Surah 18, Verse 110]. Do we receive revelations? No! So how can Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) be like us?
Once, Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) started to keep continuous fasts, where he did not eat anything for days. When the companions found out they began to do the same, but due to not eating or drinking at all they became extremely weak after a few days. When Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) heard about this he forbade the Companions from keeping such fasts and asked them, “Ayyukum Misli?” (Who amongst you is like me?) [Bukhari Shareef ]
From this we firstly learn that if the Sahaabah, who are the highest in status after the Ambiya, cannot be like Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), how can anyone today claim that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is just like us, and is like our big brother? Ma’azallah!
Secondly, let alone being like him, we cannot even fathom the true reality of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). This is why Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) himself said, “O Abu Bakr! Oath on He Who has sent me with the Truth, no one knows my reality besides Allah.” [Mataali’ul Musarraat]
Lastly, our beloved Rasool (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) proved in his perpetual fasting that he did not have to eat to survive. But instead of him explaining to us all of the etiquettes of eating, he simply ate himself and provided in this way a detailed, visual example for us to follow.
The Holy Qur’an says that the people of Hazrat Nuh (Alaihis Salaam) said to him, “We see you a man like us” [Surah 11, Verse 27]. Obviously these people were not complementing but insulting him and soon earned the wrath of Allah when the flood came.
This tells us that to call a Prophet an ordinary human being is a root to infidelity and a step towards misguidance. This was the very cause of Shaitaan going astray because he only looked at Hazrat Adam (Alaihis Salaam) as an ordinary human being. It should be remembered that the word ‘Bashr’ (human being) in respect of the Prophet has either been used by Almighty Allah, the Prophets themselves or the infidels. Thus the one who now refers to Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) as “a man like us” is definitely not Allah, nor is he a Prophet, so he must be an infidel. [Tafseer Noorul Irfaan]
The disbeliever’s in the time of Hazrat Saaleh (Alaihis Salaam) remarked “You are indeed a man like us” [Surah 26, Verse 154]. Another group of disbeliever’s remarked “He is not but a man like you, he eats of what you eat, and drinks what you drink” [Surah 23, Verse 33]. This tells us that to regard the Prophets as humans like us and to assess them on just their eating and drinking without understanding their hidden mystical nature, has been the work of the infidels from earliest times. Abu Jahl did not become a Companion, but Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) did. Although both looked at Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), Abu Jahl looked at the human side of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) while Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddiq (Radiallahu Ta’ala Anh) saw the light enveloped under human form. [Tafseer Noorul Irfaan]
It is important to understand that Allah Ta’ala speaks to His Beloveds the way He wants, and they present themselves in His Court the way they want. Sinners like us have no right to speak about the Prophets in the same way Allah Ta’ala speaks to them, just as how a person would not like his children to speak to him in the same way he is spoken to by his elders.
We share our quality of humanity with the Prophets, but within that category, they and we are worlds apart. Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is a human unlike any other human, just like how a diamond is a stone unlike any other stone. Even though he said he is a human, he is one of a kind, unmatched and unparalleled, just like how a diamond is a stone, yet its characteristics place it in a league of its own.
May Allah Ta’ala grant us the Taufeeq to have true love and utmost respect for our Beloved Master, Muhammad Mustafa Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam, Ameen.