Chapter 4: Social Policies of Prophet Muhammad
The Messenger of Allah remained constantly on the road, touring the districts of Medina, visiting domiciled tribes, meeting with people, providing them with guidance, leading them in prayers at their mosques and at his own mosque, visiting their sick, walking behind their coffins during their funeral processions and delegating the responsibilities of the state and the nation, to whoever he wanted from among his companions.
He appointed for the women a virtuous lady named Omm Waraqah to lead their prayers. Women who wanted to offer prayers used to go to the house of Omm Waraqah to pray with her. He also built in Medina about fifty other mosques. He paid a great deal of attention to construction in Medina after it became completely Muslim, urging people to build and to construct.
He invited the Bedouins surrounding Medina to migrate and settle there and to abandon their migratory habits. Many Bedouins went and resided in Medina, becoming members of the Islamic nation. Their settlements became the center for migrants and they made alliances with whomever they wanted from among the tribes of the Ansar. Many of them entered into an alliance with the Messenger of Allah and with Bani Hashim.
Medina expanded and its population increased. People started cultivating the vast lands in the valley without anyone to deter them or to stop them, and there was no tax on construction or agriculture. Historians have mentioned that the number of the Muslims from among the residents of Medina increased by a third before the battle of the Khandaq (moat) and doubled thereafter.
The Messenger of Allah wrote a document for the Muhajirun and the Ansar making the residents of each quarter responsible for their quarter in particular and for the security of the city in general. Thus, it was a popular government whose reins were in the hands of the people themselves, and the settlement of anyone who migrated to Medina was done upon that basis. The Messenger of Allah used to distribute to the Muslims whatever he obtained of the charity, zakat, khums, donations and occasionally booty.
The Prophet also made large quarters in his Mosque where homeless people could stay. According to some historical records, the number of those residents reached four hundred. They formed part of the army of the Prophet during war time, stood in rows behind him whenever he led the congregational prayers, sat under his pulpit whenever he delivered sermons and conveyed his orders to other Muslims as needed. The Messenger of Allah used to gradually help them get married and get them to acquire housing and means of earning a living and the like. People sensed the bliss of Islam, so they remained on its path.
Medina enjoyed a measure of prosperity that no other area of the Arabian Peninsula had ever known before, nor did the world ever before come to know such a government. Chosroe and Caesar's governments and the like were distant from people, arrogant towards them, not mixing with them. They used to levy huge taxes, rule the people as despots, plundering their wealth, causing poverty, diseases, ignorance and chaos prevailed in their lands.
However, the government ruling Medina and its suburbs was an ideal one. Although historians have documented the events taking place during the Prophet's time, we never heard about crimes or disputes except rarely. The role model of the Prophet was present in people's minds, and they used to emulate it; so, there was no need for a police force or an executive power, usury, monopoly, or taxes other than zakat1 or jizya2 or khiraj3. Everything was administered very well; therefore, we do not find in the history of Medina that there were complaints about chaos or the absence of law and order.
The Islamic legislative system benefits everyone and equates everyone, giving the nation true power, peace of mind, stability, firmness and progress. People's belief in lofty Islamic ideals, represented in the person of the Prophet, prevailed on everything.
It is obvious that in such an environment, personal problems and disputes are minimized, and people are overwhelmed by the spirit of togetherness, adopting the trend of giving, generosity, avoiding falling into prohibitions and sins such as theft, rape, adultery, murder, sodomy, backbiting and other such crimes. People demonstrated beautiful manners, which had hitherto never been known, whether throughout the Arabian Peninsula or anywhere else then.
People used to favor others over their own selves in giving in the cause of Allah Almighty. One favored his friend over himself as far as wealth was concerned. The incident involving the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali and his family, wherein the verse saying -
And they feed the poor, the orphan and the captive, for the love of God, (saying,) We feed you for the sake of God alone: We desire no reward from you, nor thanks. We only fear a Day of distressing Wrath from our Lord (76): 8-10
is a glorious example.
One would inquire about the wellbeing of his neighbor and his family before inquiring about their own, and wealthy people used to provide aid and food for those who needed it without being asked for help. The Prophet did not need to force or coerce anyone nor did he confiscate anyone's wealth, nor did he kill anyone arbitrarily. News of the new community continued to reverberate throughout the Arabian Peninsula and throughout surrounding countries, which claimed to have deeply rooted civilizations – this was the community about which the Holy Quran said:
You are the best nation sent to people (3): 110
Everyone felt that a new era had dawned, so all hearts were attracted to Islam and people rallied behind it willingly and obediently. Thus, tribes, countries and groups hostile to Islam yielded before the Messenger of Allah on account of the popularity of his government and the freedom of the people, blended with conviction, virtue, piety, cooperation and love for everything good.
As part of his socio-economic policy on welfare and inheritance the Prophet used to say, “He who dies and leaves poor family behind, then they should come to me for I am responsible for them and their welfare.” Then he went further with monetary policy and said, “One who dies and leaves a bequest, it belongs to his family. And whoever dies leaving a debt behind, I am responsible for it.”4
The Prophet was extremely humble, a man who mended his own sandals, patched his clothes, milked his she-camel, served his family lovingly. He loved the poor and the indigent, sat with them, visited their sick, and never insulted anyone who fell into poverty on account of his poverty nor venerated anyone wealthy on account of his wealth. He always accepted another's excuse, never dealt with anyone in a way which the latter did not like, walked with widows and with slaves, never feared kings nor rulers, and never despised the weak. He always walked behind his companions saying, “Let me turn my back only to the angels”, and sometimes he walked in their midst.
He always responded to whoever invited him, accepted any present, even if it were a trotter meal, and he rewarded the giver. He would only become angry with regards to the breaches of the commands of his Lord but never for himself. He was easygoing, lenient, neither harsh nor rough, nor was he boisterous, nor profane, nor pointing out people's faults, nor was he a flatterer.
He overlooked whatever he disliked and always gave hope to whoever asked him for something. Nobody feared evil as coming from him, but everyone expected good to come from him. One of his servants has narrated saying, “I was in the service of the Messenger of Allah for ten years. Never did he ever complain to me, nor did he ever ask me why I did or did not do this or that.”
It was his habit to respond to those who called upon him with the very best of response. Whoever called him, he would respond with the words “At your service”
Jurayr ibn Abdullah is quoted as having said, “The Messenger of Allah never put a barrier before me since I accepted Islam. Whenever he saw me, he smiled. He used to joke with his companions, socialize with them, talk with them, tease their children and seat them in his lap, and he used to respond to anyone who invited him, visit the sick even if they lived in distant parts of the city, accept everyone's apology and never put himself above anyone, including his servants, be it with regard to what he ate or wore.”
He used to ride the camel, the mare or the mule, and used to tie a stone on his stomach on account of the pangs of hunger. He always initiated whoever he met with his greeting of peace, prolonged his prayers whenever he prayed alone, but whenever he led others in the congregational prayers, he shortened it out of his concern for the convenience of those whom he led. He used to make his sermons on Fridays and on other occasions brief so that the people would not be bored.
He used to be a friend of men of dignity, dealing generously with those of distinction, being humorous and never saying anything but the truth. Whenever he was assaulted and exposed to hardships because of the ignorant people, he used to say, “Lord! I plead to You to guide my people, for they do not know.” He did not invoke the Almighty's wrath against them.
When his molar teeth were broken and he was wounded in the face, it was extremely hard for his companions to see him in that state, so they said, “O Messenger of Allah! Why don't you pray against them?” he said, “I was not sent to curse; rather, I was sent as a Caller – to call people to God and as a Mercy. Lord! I plead to You to guide my people, for they do not know!”
Thus, he did not content himself by simply remaining silent while facing their mischief but forgave them, demonstrated compassion towards them, prayed for them and sought an excuse for them when he said that they did not know any better, just like a kind and compassionate father.
Some of his companions narrated saying that he was once wearing a mantle with coarse edges and a Bedouin pulled him very hard, so much so that the edges left their marks on his shoulder. Then the Bedouin said, “O Muhammad! Load for me on these two camels of mine with the wealth of Allah which you have for you will not be loading for me anything of your own wealth nor the wealth of your father.”
The Prophet remained silent for a moment then said, “The wealth belongs to Allah and I am His servant; O Bedouin! Shall I seek retribution for what you have done to me?” The Bedouin said, “No.” He said, “Why not?” The Bedouin said, “It is so because you do not reward evil with evil.” The Prophet smiled then ordered barley to be loaded for him on one camel and dates on another.
The Prophet’s people harmed him in many ways; they spat on his face, emptied sheep's stomach over his head, knocked him to the ground and trampled on his back, put thorns in his path, confiscated his property, exiled him, conspired against him, killed his uncle, step-daughter, step-granddaughter, ridiculed him, called him a wizard, possessed, insane, a poet, a priest upon whom the wrath of some of their gods had befallen. This was in addition to causing other types of harm, so much so that he said, “No prophet has been harmed as much as I have been.”
Yet he remained patient in the face of such hardships till Allah granted him the upper hand over them, placing him in charge of their affairs while they had no doubt that they would be uprooted, their community annihilated, and their wealth confiscated.
After the fall of Mecca, he did not go beyond forgiving and overlooking the harm dealt to him by the Meccans to whom he said, “What do you think I am going to do to you?” They said, “You will deal with us with kindness. You are a gracious brother and the son of a gracious brother.” The Prophet said, “I shall say to you just as my brother the Prophet Joseph had said: 'No harm upon you; go, for you are free'”. Thus he forgave all of them, including the most bitter of his enemies such as Abu Sufyan and Hind.
He forgave men like Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl who was similar to his father in his harming of the Messenger of Allah and in his animosity, spending a great deal on fighting him, like Safwan ibn Omayyah ibn Khalaf who was very cruel to the Prophet and who used to finance the armies of the polytheists – he was a man who could be called in today's terminology the “Minister of Defense” for the infidels.
The Prophet forgave men like Habbar ibn al-Aswad who terrorized Zainab, his stepdaughter, causing her to miscarry, and consequently died after falling ill. The Messenger of Allah had permitted anyone to kill him.
When the man came to know that the Prophet was used to forgiving criminals, he went to him seeking his forgiveness, apologizing for his ill deeds. He said, “We, O Prophet of Allah, used to associate partners with Allah, but Allah Almighty guided us through you, saving us from perdition; so, do forgive my ignorance and forgive what you are told about me, for I do admit the evil of my actions and confess my sins.”
The Messenger of Allah said to him, “I have forgiven you, and Allah has fared very well with you since He guided you to Islam, and Islam cancels whatever precedes it.”
The Prophet also forgave Wahshi, killer of Hamzah - the beloved uncle and partisan of the Prophet. It is narrated that Wahshi, embraced Islam and then went to the Messenger of Allah after feeling secure from his wrath. The Prophet said to him, “O Wahshi!” He said, “Yes!” The Prophet said, “Tell me, how did you kill my uncle?” Wahshi told him how, and he wept, then he forgave him.
He also forgave Hind despite her numerous crimes.5 The Prophet forgave men like Abdullah ibn al-Zubari who used to lampoon the Messenger of Allah, speaking ill of him and of the Muslims. When Mecca fell in the hands of the Muslims, he fled, and when he came to know that Muhammad was a merciful and humane Messenger of Allah, he returned to him and apologized. The Messenger of Allah accepted his apology, so the man accepted Islam and composed the following poetic verses:
I apologize to you for what I did
When in misguidance I aimlessly was lost,
So forgive me, may both my parents be
For your sake be offered as a sacrifice.
Forgive my slippage for you give mercy
And upon you did mercy descend,
And I have already testified that your creed
Is truly the right creed and that you are
Among God's servants, great indeed.
Amongst the several assassination attempts made on the Prophet's life, a Jewish woman made one. However, the Prophet forgave the Jewess who served him with poisoned sheep's meat. The Prophet sought her, and she admitted it.
Imam Baqir has said, “The Messenger of Allah summoned the Jewess who served him poisoned meat from sheep and said to her, 'What prompted you to do what you did?' She said, 'I said to myself that if he truly is a Prophet, it would not harm him, but if he seeks authority, I would relieve people of him.' The Messenger of Allah, then, forgave her and let her go.
The Prophet used to say, “Allah taught me good manners and I taught Ali. My Lord ordered me to be generous and kind and forbade me from being miserly or mean. There is nothing Allah hates more than miserliness and bad manners which ruin one's good deeds just as vinegar ruins honey.” He used to spend everything he had by way of charity till he and his family would be bitten by hunger.
Imam Sadiq has narrated saying that the Messenger of Allah went to al-Jirana and distributed the booty of Honain there, which was quite large. People kept asking him, and he kept giving them until they pushed him against a tree, stripped him of his garment and caused the tree to severely scratch his back. They still kept asking him for a share until they had removed him from there. He then said to them, “O people! Give me back my garment for by Allah, had I any wealth, I would have distributed it among you, and you know full well that I am neither a coward nor a miser.”
He said the following to his uncle Abbas during the time when he was sick and shortly before his demise, “O uncle of the Messenger of Allah! Do you accept to carry my will, make all preparations for my funeral and pay my debts on my behalf?” Abbas said, “O Messenger of Allah! Your uncle is an old man who has many dependents to take care of and you compete with the wind in your swiftness of generosity and open-handedness and you have a debt which is beyond your uncle's means.”
The Messenger of Allah, as historians have recorded, used to give whenever he was asked, and when he did not have anything to give, he would make a promise of payment. Since his uncle refused to accept to carry out his will, he asked Ali to do that instead, and Ali assented and carried out the will of the Prophet.
Jabir ibn Abdullah al-Ansari has said, “The Messenger of Allah never said 'No' to anyone who made a request of him.”
There have been quite a few incidents narrated when a man would approach him requesting something and he would say to him, “I do not have what you are asking me for, but if we get something, we shall give it to you.”
A man once asked him for something, and he did not have anything to give him, and some of his companions were present. The latter said, “O Messenger of Allah! Allah never required you to do what you cannot.” Another companion responded to this comment and said, “O Messenger of Allah! Spend of what there is with you and do not fear that the One Who has the Throne will ever disappoint you.” The Prophet smiled and signs of pleasure were seen on his face.
It is related that Imam Jaffar Sadiq said: 'Never was the Apostle of God asked by anyone for some worldly thing without him giving it. Once a woman sent him her son and said to him: 'Go to him and ask from him. If he says I have nothing then say to him: 'Give me your shirt.' The boy did what his mother had ordered him. The Apostle of God took off his shirt and gave it to him.'6
The Commander of the Faithful is reported to have said, “The Messenger of Allah owed a Jew some money that came one day to collect them. The Messenger of Allah said to him, 'O Jew! I do not have it.' The Jew said, 'O Muhammad! I am not going to part with you till you pay me back.'
The man confined the Messenger of Allah there and then till the Prophet had performed the noon, afternoon, sunset and evening prayers and went beyond that until he prayed the morning prayer of the following day as well. The companions of the Messenger of Allah kept threatening that Jew. The Messenger of Allah looked at them and said, 'What are you going to do to him?' They said, 'O Messenger of Allah! How dare a Jew to confine you like that?' He said, 'My Lord, the most Exalted and the Greatest, did not send me to oppress anyone with whom I have entered into an agreement nor anyone else.'
Some half of the day had passed away, when the Jew said, 'I testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger; and half of my wealth I shall give away in the way of Allah.'”
Since the Prophet was always moving around, checking about the different quarters of the city, he used to assign someone to succeed him in performing the prayers at the Mosque whenever he went elsewhere. It seems that the above incident took place at one of the quarters, which he was checking.
He never ignored anyone's need even if she were a bondmaid, nor did he sit leaning on some support, nor did he ever gaze at anyone, and he always accepted presents, even as little a present as a drink of milk.
Some of his companions have narrated that if he missed any of his brethren for three days, he would inquire about him; so, if he was away, he prayed for him; if he was present, he went to visit him; if he was sick, he would pay him a visit. He did not let anyone walk with him if he himself was riding till he let him ride with him. If the man refused, he would say to him, “Go ahead of me and join me at the place which you seek.”
He used to help his companions as if he was one of them without reflecting an attitude of superiority to them in anything small or big. He was once travelling, when He ordered a sheep to be prepared for food. A man said, “O Messenger of Allah! I shall undertake slaughtering it.” Another said, “I shall skin it.” Another said, “I shall cook it.” He said, “And I shall gather the firewood.” They said to him, “We all can spare you the trouble.” He said, “I know that you can spare me the trouble, but I do not want to have any distinction over you, for Allah hates to see His servant receiving a special treatment from his companions,” then he went and gathered some firewood.
He was once on a trip when he alighted to perform the prayers, but then returned. It was said to him, “O Messenger of Allah! What do you wish to do?” He said, “I want to tie my she-camel.” They said, “We will tie it for you.” “No,” he said, “None of you should exploit others, not even for a small piece of a tooth stick.” (short lengths of twigs used as toothbrushes.)
An envoy sent by the Negus visited the Prophet in Medina; so the Prophet stood up to personally tend to them. His companions said to him, “O Messenger of Allah! We can spare you the trouble!” He said to them, “They showered our folks with their generosity, so I would love to reward them likewise.”
Whenever Prophet listened to someone, he would never turn his face away from him till the person himself did so. Whenever he shook hands with someone, he would not pull his hand away till the other person did. He never stood up after having sat with someone till the latter himself stood up, and would initiate anyone who met him with his greeting, including the children and the women, and he was the one to initiate shaking hands with his companions.
He used to shower his generosity on whoever visited him, so much so that he would even spread his outer mantle for him to sit on, or offered him to sit on his mat instead. He used to choose nicknames for his companions in order to honor them, calling them by the names, which they loved the most. And he would never interrupt anyone.
Salman7 narrated once saying, “I entered once the house of the Messenger of Allah and found him leaning on a pillow. He placed it for me saying, 'O Salman! No Muslim receives a Muslim brother, and places a pillow for him out of respect, except that Allah forgives him. ' ”
If Prophet was performing his prayers and someone came to see him, he would shorten his prayers so that he could finish quickly and help the man. Once he was through with helping the man, he would go back to his prayers. He used to smile the most and his breath was surely the very best of all.
Those who used to serve the residents of Medina used to go to see the Messenger of God during early morning prayers, taking their pots of water with them to him so he might dip his hand in the water and thus bless it. He used to dip his hand in each pot, and someone could even bring a pot of very cold water, yet the Messenger of God did not mind and he would still dip his hand in it.
Usually a small child would be brought to him so that he could bless him. He would pray for him to be blessed, or he would choose a name for him or recite the Adhan (call to prayer) in his ears. He would take the child and place him in his lap as a sign of respect for his family. Occasionally a child would urinate on him, causing some of those present to rebuke the child. But he would say, “Do not thus hurt the feelings of the child.” He would leave the child till the latter had fully relieved himself, then he would then finish his prayers for him, or choose a name for him or recite the call to prayer in his ears. All of this caused the child's family to be very happy when they noticed how he was not offended. Once they were gone, the Prophet would wash his clothes.
If anyone sat near him, he would move a little to make room for him. Once a man said to him, “O Messenger of Allah! There is plenty of room in the place.” He said, “Yes, but a Muslim is obligated, when another Muslim sits near him, to move a little as a sign of respect for him.”
Prophet Mohammad never left anyone without pleasing him. It has been recorded that a Bedouin once came to ask him for something. He gave it to him then said, “Have I done good to you?” The Bedouin said, “No, you have not, nor have you done anything nice for me.” The Muslims present there were very angry with that man, and they stood up to warn him, but the Prophet asked them to stay away.
Then he stood up and entered inside his home and called the man to him, giving him some more. Then he asked him again, “Have I now done something good for you?” The Bedouin said, “Yes, may Allah reward you goodness that encompasses your family and tribe.” The Prophet said to him, “What you have said earlier, has resulted in something from inside in hearts of my companions; so, if you like, go back to them and tell them what you have just told me so that what is in their hearts against you will go away.” The Bedouin assented.
Later on, the Prophet came and said, “This Bedouin said what he said, so we gave him an increase till he has felt pleased. Is not that so?” The Bedouin said, “Yes; may Allah reward you goodness that encompasses your family.”
Then the Prophet said to his companions, “My example and that of this man is one whose she-camel fled away from him, so people pursued her, causing her to be more rebellious, so her owner called upon them to leave him and his she-camel alone, since he was more kind to her than them. He went to her, took her back and mounted on her. Had I left you alone to deal with this Bedouin on account of what he had said, he would have been dead by now.”
If anyone misbehaved towards him, he used to respond to him in a beautiful way. Al-Ala ibn al-Hadrami has been quoted as having asked the Prophet saying, “I have a family whose members, when I am good to them, they reward me with evil, and when I maintain good ties with them, they sever their ties from me.” The Messenger of Allah, reciting a Quranic verse, said,
Repel (evil) with that which is fairer and behold, he between whom and thee there is enmity shall be as if he were a loyal friend (41): 34.
It is related that Imam Jafar Sadiq said: 'One of the companions of the Apostle of God was in dire circumstances. His wife said to him: 'If only you would go to the Prophet and ask from him.' So the man went to the Prophet and when he saw him the Prophet said: 'Whoever asks from us then we will give to him and whoever seeks independent means then God will make him independent.'
The man said to himself: 'He means none other than me.' So he went to his wife and told her. She said: 'The Apostle of God is surely a human being so let him know of our circumstances.' So the man went to the Prophet once again and when the Prophet saw him he said: 'Whoever asks from us then we will give to him and whoever seeks independent means then God will make him independent.'
The man did this for a third time after which he went and borrowed an axe and went to the mountains. There he climbed and began to cut firewood which he brought down and sold for half a measure of flour. He took this home and ate it. The next day he brought down even more firewood and sold it. He continued to do this until he was able to buy an axe.
Then he kept gathering until he was able to buy two young camels and a servant after which he became rich and his life became easy. He went to the Prophet and told him how he had come to ask from him and how he had heard the Prophet speaking. The Prophet said: 'I said to you: 'Whoever asks us then we will give to him and whoever seeks independent means then God will make him independent.' 162
A narrative states that a Bedouin from Banu Salim came to the Messenger of Allah, stood in front of him and called upon him saying, “O Muhammad! O Muhammad! You are a lying sorcerer, more lying than any other that there is under the shade or in the plains! You are the one who claims that in this green land you have a God Who sent you to the black and to the white! I swear by the idols of Lat and Ozza that had I not feared my folks describing me as rash, I would have hit you with this sword of mine one blow that will kill you, thus making myself the master of the first generations and of the last!”
One of the companions leapt up to hit him, but the Prophet said to the companion, “Sit down; a clement person is almost as good as a prophet.” Then the Messenger of Allah turned to the Bedouin and said, “O brother of Banu Salim! Is this how Arabs behave?! They approach us at our place of meeting and then assail us with such rough language?! O Bedouin! I swear by the One Who sent me as a Prophet with the truth, anyone who harms me in the life of this world shall be tomorrow in the fire, being tormented.”
The Bedouin, who expected a similar rash response from the Prophet, was moved by the latter's clemency and the overlooking of his own harsh words. He paused and contemplated on the manner and behaviour of the Prophet in response to his words, and upon his reminder of the hereafter, and the values that he held dear. The Bedouin began to realize the virtue and magnanimity of the Prophet of Islam.
After some soul searching, the man accepted Islam and thereafter started inviting his tribesmen to Islam, until the Muslim population amongst his tribe numbered more than five hundred.
The Quraysh kept admitting the Prophet’s truthfulness, trustworthiness and every virtue. Even when al-Akhnas met Abu Jahl8 during the battle of Badr and said to him, “O Abu al-Hakam! Only you and I are here; nobody hears our dialogue, could you please inform me about Muhammad, is he truthful or a liar?” Abu Jahl said, “By Allah! Muhammad is truthful; never has Muhammad ever told a lie.”
Heraclius9 asked Abu Sufyan, who was one of the Prophet's archenemies, about him saying, “Did you all accuse him of telling lies even before his claim that he is what he says he is?” Abu Sufyan answered with a simple “No”.
One of his wives has narrated saying that a Jew entered the house of the Messenger of Allah and said, “As-Samm Alaik (death be upon you)!” Another Jew entered and repeated the same. The wife became angry and responded, “Alaikumis-Samm wal Ghadab wal Laana (death be upon you, and Divine Wrath and Curse)”. The Messenger of Allah then said to her, “Had verbal abuse been an example, it would have been a bad example; never was kindness placed on anything except that it beautified it, and it was never removed from anything except that it stained it.”
When his foster sister, whose name was Shayma, came to visit him once, he spread his outer mantle for her and seated her on it. Then he said to her, “If you wish, you can stay with me surrounded with honors and love, or I can provide you with rations and you may return to your people.” She chose to return to her folks; therefore, he gave her some money and she returned very pleased.
He was sitting once when a woman came and got close to him. He stood up for her, spread his own outer mantle for her, so she sat on it. His companions asked each other who that woman was. They said that she was the woman who had nursed him.”
It has been narrated that he was once sitting when his foster father came, so he put his own outer mantle for him to sit on. Then his foster mother came, so he seated her on it too. Then his foster brother came, so the Messenger of Allah seated him in front of him.
Out of to his kindness and loyalty, he used to send some money and clothes to Thawbiyya - bondmaid of Abu Lahab - the woman who had nursed him when he was a baby. When she died, he asked, “Who from among her relatives is still alive?” He intended to send something to her relatives, but he was told that she had no living relatives.
He quite often remembered Khadijah10 165 after she had died, slaughtered a she-camel then send the meat as presents to her friends out of his devotion to her.
Khadijah had said to him once, “O Messenger of Allah! Good news! By Allah, Allah shall never expose you to shame; for you always visit your relatives, are generous to your guest, and you offer solace during calamities.”
Whenever he entered a gathering, he would sit in the nearest available space, and he used to sit on the floor and eat on the ground. As he did, he would say, “I am a slave of Allah; I eat as slaves do, and I sit as a slave sits.”
A woman with a sharp tongue once saw him sitting at a mountain's foot, so she said to him, “O Muhammad! By Allah! You eat as slaves eat and you sit as a slave sits.” The Messenger of Allah said, “Is there a more dedicated slave of Allah than I am?”
Imam Sadiq said the following in his description of the Messenger of Allah: “He used to prefer to ride on the donkey without a saddle, eat while sitting on the most modest of all types of flooring in the company of the slaves, handing something to the beggar in his own hand. He used to ride a donkey and seat his slave or anyone else behind him. He used to ride a mare, a mule or a donkey without any hesitation.”
On the day the Muslims scored a victory over Bani Quraydha, he was riding a donkey whose reins were made of cable made of leaves of a date-tree. It was possible for the Prophet to ride the best of the horses, for hundreds were available to his forces, but he opted for a humble way of life and preferred to be like the majority of people at that time who could not afford more than a donkey as a means of transport.
In an incident, Imam Baqir is quoted as having said, “The Messenger of Allah walked out seeking to take care of an errand. He saw al-Fadhl ibn al-Abbas so he said, “Let this youth ride behind me,” then the Messenger of Allah rode on with his hand behind the youth. Then he said to the youth, “Young man! Fear Allah, you will then find Him before you. O young man! Fear Allah and He shall make you independent of anyone else.”
Whenever he went home, he kept busy doing home chores, helping his wife, cutting the meat, and sitting most humbly to eat his meal. He used to lick his fingers but never belched. He milked his sheep, patched his torn shirt, mended his sandals and took care of his needs.
He used to feed and tie his camel, feed his animals, take a bath by himself at night, give company to the poor, eat with the indigent, handing food over to them in person. He used to judge justly, make decisive decisions, so both his foes and friends loved him. And he was trustworthy, loyal, truthful, so much so that prior to his prophetic mission, his people used to call him “al- Amin,” the trustworthy one.
It has been narrated that when the Prophet wanted to migrate from Mecca to Medina as a result of the persecution at the hands of the Quraysh, he left Imam Ali behind him to pay his debts and to return the trusts with which he had been entrusted with by his foes. He did not say that he was fleeing away from those people's evil because they sought to kill him, so their wealth was lawful for him to take because they were infidels who were fighting him.
Prophet Mohammad had these qualities since before the start of his prophetic mission. It is reported that, in the pre-Islamic times, when they completed the reconstruction of the Kabah, the various tribes of Quraysh disputed with each other with regard to who would put the Black Stone in its place. They decided that the first person to enter their meeting place would be the one to do it.
It was then that the Prophet entered, and this took place before the mission of Prophethood. They, therefore, said, “Here is Muhammad, the Trustworthy one! We accept his arbitration!” In order to please everyone involved and that no one would be left out, Muhammad instructed them to bring a large cloth, spread it on the ground, place the Black Stone on the cloth, and invited one member of every tribe to grab a corner of this cloth and lift it to the level of the place of the Black Stone, and thus he positioned it in its place.11
An incident testifying to his fulfilment of his promise says that Ammar12 said, “I used to tend to cattle before the advent of Islam, and so did Muhammad. I said once to him, 'O Muhammad! Would you like to go to Fakhkh to let the cattle graze there, for I left it when there was lightning in the sky - a harbinger of rain and, thus pasture?' He agreed. So I went there the next day, only to find Muhammad already there, trying to keep his flock away from the pasture. He said to me, 'I had promised you to be there, so I hated to give my flock access to the pasture before you.'”
Prophet Mohammad was lenient, always looking for the best ways to reach reconciliation, and peace. In the process of signing the peace treaty of Hodaybiyah, the Messenger of Allah invited Ali ibn Abu Talib and said to him, “Write: In the Name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful.” Quraysh's envoy, Suhayl, objected saying, “As for 'the most Gracious,' by Allah, I do not know who He is. Rather, you should write: 'In Thy Name, O Lord!' instead.”
The Muslims said, “By Allah! We shall not write it except In the Name of Allah, the most Gracious, the most Merciful.”
The Prophet said to Ali “Write: 'In Thy Name, O Lord.'” Then he went on to say to Ali, “Following is what Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, has decided.” Suhayl objected again by saying, “Had we recognized you as the Messenger of Allah, we would not have kept you away from the House of Allah, nor would we have fought you. Rather, write your name as Muhammad son of Abdullah.”
The Prophet said, “I am the Messenger of Allah even if you accuse me of lying.” Then the Messenger of Allah asked Ali to erase the phrase saying “the Messenger of Allah”, but Ali refused to do so, so the Prophet took the sheet and erased the phrase himself. Then Ali replaced it with “Muhammad son of Abdullah” instead.
The Messenger of Allah had come to the enlightened city of Medina as one who was pursued, immigrant, indigent, and had nothing. When he arrived there, he built his mosque and built chambers around it for his wives and companions. He himself used to live in that mud and baked clay chamber.
Those chambers were so small that even ten people standing beside each other could hardly fit in. After the death of the Prophet, when people came to offer prayers for him, a maximum of ten could squeeze in to face the coffin and offer the prayers.
His circumstances changed after reaching Medina. He became the head of a state, and funds were brought to him from all over that expanded state. Yet, his chamber did not change to become a huge house, nor did his simple furnishings change to become luxurious.
Prophet was the most generous of all people, the most patient, the most truthful, the trustworthiest, the most kind, and the best companion. Whoever saw him would be in awe of him; whoever associated with him would love him. He used to unite people together rather than make them shun each other; he was generous to everyone, known to be honorable among his people and he was granted authority over them. He used to say, “If a man is held by his folks as honorable, you, too, should honor him.”
He used to always enquire about his companions. He distributed his attention fairly among those in his company, so much so that none of them would think that someone else was better than him. If someone kept his company and he had something, which he wanted, the Prophet would be patient with him until he himself would be the one to part. If anyone asked him for something, he would respond by giving it to him, or else he would give him sufficient assurances in its regard.
He used to say, “Respond to whoever asks you even with a little, or say something beautiful to him.” And he also used to say, “The best of rulers is one who unites the disunited folks, and the worst is one who disunites those who are united.”
There are many such incidents which all point out to the Prophet Muhammad's wide popularity, great manners, humility, loyalty and wise government - the like of which history had never known before him nor knew after him - with the exception of the time of Imam Ali.
Hence rulers should use him as their role model, if they wish to be near to Allah and to win the best of the Hereafter. Imam Ali has said, “Whoever seeks a role model, let the Prophet be his role model; otherwise, he shall have no safeguard against perdition.”
- 1. Zakat is the generic term for the tax Muslims pay under the Islamic government, and it consists of two categories, the Zakat that is levied on certain categories of goods, and Khums that is levied on annual income surplus.
- 2. Jizya is the tax the non-Muslims pay under the Islamic government.
- 3. Khiraj is the income the gets government from land letting.
- 4. Based on this precedence, it is the duty of the leader of the Islamic State to do the same in these respects
- 5. Amongst her many crimes, Hind had commissioned Wahshi to kill Hamzah. She then cut open Hamzah's abdomen and ate his liver out of her hatred.
- 6. Bihar al-Anwar; vol. 16, chap. 9, p. 271, Hadith 90.
- 7. Salman al-Farsi was from Persia and a monotheist (some reports indicate that he had been following the teachings of the Prophet Jesus peace be upon him, before embracing Islam) and he knew of and was seeking the final Messenger of Allah before he arrived in Arabia. Salman became one of the most devout companions of the Prophet Muhammad. Given his sincere devotion and piety, the Prophet said about him, “Salman is from us the Ahl al-Bayt”, and thereafter the Prophet said he should be called Salman al- Muhammadi.
- 8. Abu Jahl was one of the Prophet's archenemies.
- 9. The Caesar of the Roman Byzantine Empire was a contemporary of Prophet Muhammad. Reports indicate that Heraclius embraced Islam as a way of life, but had to refrain from publicizing this due to the reactions of some of his court's clergy.
- 10. Lady Khadijah, peace be upon her, was the Prophet's most beloved and loyal wife.
- 11. al-Kafi, vol. 4, p. 217.
- 12. Ammar was one of the Prophet's devout and loyal companions. At the outset of the Prophetic mission, Ammar's elderly parents, Yasser and Somayyah, who had also embraced Islam, were tortured in a bid to force Ammar to renounce Islam. His mother died under torture. Somayyah was the first woman martyr in Islam.