What is the reason why Allah mentions the Prophet Hz. Muhammad as "Habibullah" (Beloved of Allah)? Is this phrase used in the Quran and hadiths?

Details of the Question
What is the reason why Allah mentions the Prophet Hz. Muhammad as "Habibullah" (Beloved of Allah)? Is this phrase used in the Quran and hadiths?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The word "habib (beloved)" is not directly used for the Prophet. However, there are expressions showing that he is a beloved slave of Allah. For instance, this issue is emphasized in the following verse:   

“And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character.” (al-Qalam, 68/4)

For, to like something means to love it. It means you love the person whose character you like. Accordingly, it is necessary to understand from the verse above that Allah loves the Prophet.

"Say: 'If ye do love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you.'" (Aal-i Imran, 3/31)

It is emphasized in the verse above that it is necessary to follow Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) in order to attain Allah's love. It is understood that Allah loves the ethics, character and lifestyle of Hz. Muhammad (pbuh).

“Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct).” (al-Ahzab, 33/21)

In the verse above, Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) is presented as an example to follow. Allah definitely loves him since He shows us his ethics as an example to follow.  

As a matter of fact, the Prophet (pbuh) stated the following:

“Ibrahim is khalillulah (Allah’s friend); Musa is safiyyullah (Allah’s distinguished slave); I am habibullah (Allah's beloved slave).” (see Darimi, Muqaddima, 8; Tirmidhi, Manaqib, 1)

Allah gave the Prophet (pbuh), who is the most comprehensive mirror for His names, such a title. That man is the perfect fruit of the tree of the universe in terms of his creation and that Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) is the perfect man among people make him receive that title and position.  

It is suitable for an artist to love his work, praise it and appreciate it. Allah created man in the best way and superior to other beings. It is normal for Him to love His work of art (man).

Hz. Prophet is a human. He ate, became sad and happy like other people. However, he is a unique person in terms of worshipping Allah. There is nothing missing or wrong in his worshipping. It is natural for our Lord to praise and love such a person who is free and away from sins and who turns to Him with all of his body and faculties.   

Everything was in the darkness of non-existence before this realm was created. Allah Almighty ended this darkness with His grace and created the first being that would be the seed of all beings. It was the light of Muhammad.

“The first thing Allah created is my light.” (see. Tirmidhi, Tafsir Surah 68; Hakim, II/492)

It is necessary to analyze the hadith above a bit because there are some wrong interpretations or groundless objections regarding the issue.

As it is known, all of the characteristics of the living beings are recorded in their genetic codes. This recording is a divine program written by the pen of qadar (destiny). You cannot see the shape of the tree, the hardness of its trunk, the greenness of the leaf or the flavor of the fruit in a seed. All of these characteristics are recorded in DNA in the form of sequence of bases, but that program is neither hard nor soft, neither green nor red.  They all exist in that code as a program but it is an unnecessary effort to try to find all of the characteristics of that tree in that code. A person who thinks that the creation of all beings is based on the light of Muhammad without taking the point mentioned above into consideration tries to make an analogy between stars, forests, seas and this light.

The plans we make are like that too. A plan includes all parts of a house but you cannot cook in the kitchen in the plan.

“Just as among the Names there is a Greatest Name, so too among the impresses of those Names there is a greatest impress, and that is man.” (see Nursi, Sözler (Words))

The greatest name includes all names; similarly, all of the names that are manifest in the universe become manifest in man, who is the greatest impress. According to the rule “When something is mentioned without any limitations, its best or perfect form/type is understood”, when man is mentioned, the best individual of the mankind and the sun of the sky of prophethood, who is Hz. Muhammad, is understood.  

All of the divine names became manifest in the light of Muhammad first. For instance, the manifestation of the name Muhyi (the Giver of Life) is manifest in him and that light has a life. All of the lives to be created in the phases to come later are different manifestations of this name became manifest in him first. That luminous light is the starting point and nucleus of all lives. However, it is obvious that it is wrong to try to establish a relationship between all kinds of lives and the clean spirit of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).

Another example: to preserve, to keep is a divine deed. The name Hafiz (the Preserver) is manifest in the light of Muhammad an it became like a seed of "lawh al-mahfuz (the Preserved Tablet)", "seeds", "eggs", "nutfahs (semen drops)" and "memories".

“Wisdom requires that the tree of creation also, be formed from a seed. And such a seed that contains the essentials and principles of other worlds besides the corporeal world.”(Nursi, Sözler (Words))

According to Muhyiddin Arabi, who is the founder of the way of Wahdah al-Wujud (Unity of Being), all of the natures of beings (ayan ath-thabitah: fixed potentials) to be created until the Doomsday were existent in the form of a luminous seed in the knowledge of Allah. Muhyiddin Arabi  calls this first degree of taayyun (determination) “haqiqah al-Muhammadiyyah (the reality of Muhammad)”, “alam al-wahdah (the realm of oneness)”, “wujud al-ijmal (summary of existence)”, “nur al-Muhammadiyyah (the light of Muhammad)”.

Accordingly, Nur al-Muhammadiyyah is the common name of all natures; and these natures were transferred from the circle of knowledge to the circle of power with the creation of things.    

Imam Rabbani states the following:

“As for the sentence that means, "Development occurred from the reality of Muhammad" written by me, what is meant by this reality is the shadow of that reality described as "it consists of the summary of the knowledge"; the term "wahdah (oneness)" was used for it." (Mektubat, Vol. 2)

Alam al-wahdah (the realm of oneness) is one of the four names given to the level of taayyun (determination) by Muhyiddin Arabi.

As it is known, "wahdah" means oneness and "kathrah" means multiplicity. There is oneness in a seed and multiplicity stems from it. Tens of branches, hundreds of fruits and thousands of leaves show this multiplicity and they stem from oneness, one thing. The sky where there are infinite stars, the earth where there are infinite living beings and the realm of angels whose numbers we do not know show multiplicity; and all of them stem from the realm of oneness, the light of Muhammad.  

An important clue from Risale-i Nur Collection is as follows:  

“The heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of Creation), before We clove them asunder.”After various interpretations of the verse above are mentioned, the following statement is given:

“The meaning inferred by those with a higher level of understanding is: The sun and planets were separated from the matter that was created from the light of the Chief of all creation (the Prophet Muhammad) and [that matter] could assume any shape, like dough.” (Nursi, Mesnevi-i Nuriye)

As it is understood from the statements above, the realm was created in phases from the light of Muhammad, which is the seed of the creation of this realm of wisdom.  The creation of the physical world, the skies and the earth took place in accordance with this principle. A “dough-like matter” was created and this essential dough, this encoded creature, was used as a basis in the creation of the skies and the earth.

The hadith “The first thing Allah created is my light” goes on as follows, stating the phases of creation: qalam (pen), lawh (tablet), arsh (thrown),angels carrying the throne, kursiy (chair),the other angels, skies, the earth.... In the phases before the creation of the skies and the earth, the creation may have taken place directly from the light of Muhammad; then, an essential matter was created from the light of Muhammad and this seed was used as a basis in the creation of the skies and the earth. In this world of wisdom, everything is based on a cause; in terms of divine wisdom, the beginning of this visible earth probably took place like that. 

The fact that matter was created from light should not be found strange. As a matter of fact, it is known that matter is actually condensed energy. That atom is transformed into energy when it is broken up shows that power is in question at the basis of creation. It is not condensed and material, but luminous and spiritual.

“Angels were created out of light. Jinn were created from smoky flame.” (Muslim, Zuhd, 10/60)

The hadith above tells us that jinn were not created directly from the light of Muhammad but that they were created in another way or in another phase.

“There not a thing but celebrates His praise.” (al-Isra, 17/44)

According to the verse above, everything knows, praises and glorifies Allah. It is understood from the first essence of the universe in divine knowledge and the name “the Light of Muhammad” being given to the essential being (seed) in the creation of the visible realm that the highest degree in knowing, praising and glorifying Allah belongs to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). The highest degree of the divine names are manifest in him. He is the real purpose of the creation. All of the worshipping deeds by the other beings, all of the knowledge they attain and all of their love are like a shadow compared to him.

“The Divine effulgence which the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), who manifested the Greatest Name, received in a single verse, may have been as much as the whole effulgence one of the other Prophets received.” (Nursi, Sözler(Words))

That is, the loftiness, brightness and lucidity of the Light of Muhammad in the first creation surpassed all of the other things and the first essential being (seed) was given the name the Light of Muhammad.

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