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Ideal Model for Mankind - The Life of the Prophet Sallallahu`alaihi wasallam
by Shaykh Ahmed Abdul Mujeeb Qasmi Nadvi (translated by Muhammad Owais Jafrey)
Allah (SWT) defines Prophet (SAW)’s life as the ideal model for us to follow. If we cast even a cursory glance on his companions, we will find that their life was dedicated to fulfill the commands of Allah (SWT), and His Messenger. Graduating from his (SAW)’s academy, they sacrificed their time, energy and what ever means they had to help others. Their hearts were pure and they had no interest in this material world. When such companions and those who came after them had such a puritan approach towards life, one can well imagine the life style of our beloved Prophet (SAW). The first 13 years of his early life in Makkah were extremely hard and full of oppression, but after migration to Madinah and especially after the treaty of Hudaybiah, the continuous conquest of Islamic ideology over heathenism and polytheism established Prophet (SAW) authority over the entire Arabian Peninsula and beyond. Peace and justice brought prosperity and affluence, but it did not change the life style either of Prophet (SAW), of his family or his companions. Prophet (SAW) did not like to associate with materialism. He (SAW) practiced on the philosophy of life he himself mentioned:
Anas (RA) reported that Prophet (SAW) said: “Ya Allah, there is no true life but the life of the Hereafter. [Bukhari & Muslim]
Abdullah bin Masud (RA) narrates that Prophet (SAW) said: “What I have to do with the world? I am like a rider who had sat under a tree for its shade, then went away and left it.”
Once Prophet (SAW) said that Allah (SWT) gave him the choice between the two life styles: 1. Combination of a king and prophet and 2: The combination of a prophet and a slave. Prophet (SAW) chose the life a prophet and a slave. [Kitab-ul-Zuhd]. Sulayman and Dawood were both prophets as well as kings. Prophet (SAW) did not want to give an impression to his Ummah that comfort and worldly power is necessary to practice Deen.
Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal (RA) quotes Ummul Momineen Aa’isha (RA) that an Ansari lady visited her. When she saw that a rough blanket serves as a bed for Prophet (SAW), she sent a thick woolen cushioned bed which was not only soft but very beautiful. Prophet (SAW) having noticed asked about it. Ummul Momineen told him the whole story. Prophet (SAW) asked her to return, but she did not want to return it because she herself liked it much. Prophet (SAW) told her that if he wanted Allah (SWT) could have left mounts of gold and silver at his disposal. Listening to this Ummul Momineen returned the bedding. [Ktiab-ul-Zuhd].
Ummul Momineen Hafsa (RA) had once folded Prophet (SAW)’s bed sheet in four layers to soften it. Prophet (SAW) was unhappy when woke up the next morning. [Shamayel-e-Tirmidhi]
According to one tradition, Allah (SWT) asked Prophet (SAW) if he wanted Makkah to be turned into a valley of gold. Prophet (SAW) replied that he wanted to have food on one day and without food the next day. The day with food to his heart’s content, he wanted to spend in thanking and glorifying Allah (SWT), and the day without food, wanted to spend in Allah’s remembrance. (Al-Wafa; 479].
One of (SAW)’s supplication was: “Ya Allah keep me alive in the state of the meekness, I may leave the world as meek and raise me in the Hereafter with the meek people. [Tirmidhi]
Prophet (SAW) also said: “Ya Allah, make the provisions of family of Muhammad (SAW) bare subsistence.” [Bukhari & Muslim].
Prophet (SAW) felt restless unless any thing that was given as gift was not distributed. Once, the chief of Fadak sent a gift of 4 camels’ load of grain to Prophet (SAW). First of all, Bilaal (RA) paid the debt of a Jew and then informed Prophet (SAW) about the remainder. Prophet (SAW) told him that he wouldn’t go home until the left over grain was distributed among the needy. Bilaal (RA) submitted that he couldn’t find any needy person. Prophet (SAW) spent that night in the Mosque, and when the next day Bilaal informed about the disposal of the grain, Prophet (SAW) thanked Allah (SWT) and then went home. [Bukhari]
Ummul Momineen Ummey Salma (RA) says that once Prophet (SAW) came home and his face reflected strain. She asked if Prophet (SAW) was feeling well. He (SAW) replied that the seven Dinars which were delivered a day before were still there and not given away. [Bukhari] Similarly once having prayed Asr, Prophet (SAW) went home in haste and came back. It was unusual and people got anxious to know the reason. Prophet (SAW) said: “there was some gold at home and I was concerned for its distribution before the nightfall, so I went and asked it to be given away. [Bukhari]
Prophet (SAW)’s food and drink was simple to the core. Ummul Momineen Aa’isha (RA) reported that the family of Muhammad (SAW) never had the bread of barley to eat for two successive days until he (SAW) died. [Bukhari & Muslim]
Anas (RA) reported that Prophet (SAW) neither ate on a dining cloth, nor ate soft bread through out his life. [Bukhari]
He (SAW) was always gracious in accepting invitations. He obliged the rich, the poor, the indigent, the chief, and the slave. [Az Zuhd]. If per chance some one joined him on his way to a reception, he allowed his company subject to the approval of the host.
Once Abu Shu’aib Ansari (RA) visited Allah’s Messenger, and found him sitting among five of his companions. Prophet (SAW) seemed to be hungry. Shu’aib came home and had the food prepared for five people, and then invited Prophet (SAW)
along with his companions. While on his way another person joined him. Prophet (SAW) told Shu’aib that an additional person had joined him without permission. He would let him come subject to his approval. Shu’aib submitted to take him along. [Bukhari]
Prophet (SAW) always used simple dress, though at times he used fine dress too, but that was neither his preference nor it suited his taste and nature. He (SAW) used to say that the son of Adam (AS) needs not to have claim over any thing except a place to live, cloth to cover his body, and simple food to fill his stomach. [Tirmidhi] Ummul Momineen Aa’isha (RA) said that he (SAW) did not have a spare dress that could be kept folded. [Life of Prophet 2: 208] The dress that he (SAW) was wearing at his deathbed had patches all over. [Life of the Prophet].
Ummul Momineen Aa’isha (RA) says: “The mattress of Messenger of Allah (SAW) was a piece of tanned skin stuffed with palm fibers. [Bukhari].
Prophet (SAW) identified simplicity as a sign of Iman (faith) and said: “Simplicity (in life) is part of Faith.” [Abu Daud]
Prophet (SAW) preferred simplicity in every aspect of life, and left simple living as a model to be followed by his Ummah. He directed his Ummah to look for eternal comforts of the Hereafter and not the temporary comforts of this life. Allah (SAW) says in Aayah 17 of Surah Al-Aala:
“…the Hereafter is much better and much more durable.”
Though at the zenith of his power, in fact more power, loyalty, and obedience than any king or emperor could ever dream, he (SAW) ruled the hearts and having a vast area under the banner of Islam, he (SAW) led an exemplary humble and simple life. A life, which in Allah (SWT)’s words is an ideal model for us to follow. Please find time to read and familiarize yourself with Prophet (SAW)’s biography.
SWT = Subhanahu Wa Ta'Ala
SAW = Sallallaho Alaihe Wasallam
RAnha= Radhiyallaho anha
The Friday Khutbahs are published to enhance your knowledge of Islam. The references of Quran and Hadith are the approximate translation of the Arabic text. The editors have not verified the accuracy of the the English translation. The scholarly reader is encouraged to refer to the original Arabic script if there is any doubt. Kindly notify us if the translation can be enhanced.