Muhammad’s Life Following His Prophethood
1. If the Messenger Muhammad had cherished selfish aims and intentions, and if he had not been a Messenger chosen by God to guide people into truth, he would not have had to wait until he was forty to emerge with the claim of Messengerhood.
2. Muhammad was unlettered. Until he was forty, no one heard him utter an eloquent speech, talk on religious and metaphysical issues, formulate any laws, and handle a sword. But, this reserved and quiet man, who had never given any indication of political interest or activity before, appeared on the stage of the world, as a greatest reformer expounding the intricate problems of metaphysics and theology, delivering speeches upon the principles of the decline and fall of nations, teaching ethical canons and formulating the laws of social culture, economic organization, group conduct and international relations, the world history has ever known. He turned suddenly into such a brave soldier that he did not even once retreat in the fiercest battles. He changed people’s modes of thought, world-views, and their beliefs, habits and morals.
3. The Messenger Muhammad was not only an undefeatable commander, nor a most eminent statesman, nor a most influential spiritual and moral teacher. He is the only example where all the excellences in all the aspects of life have been blended into one personality. He is a man of wisdom and a seer and also a living embodiment of his own teachings. He is a great statesman as well as a military genius. He is a legislator and also a teacher of morals. He is a spiritual luminary as well as a religious guide. His vision penetrates every aspect of life and there is nothing, which he touches and does not adorn. His orders and commandments cover a vast field from the regulation of international relations down to the habits of everyday life like eating, drinking, sleeping, and cleanliness of the body. On the foundations of his teaching he established a civilization and a culture and produced such a fine, sensitive, and perfect equilibrium in the conflicting aspects of life that there is to be found not even the slightest trace of any flaw, deficiency or incompleteness. What shortcoming and imperfection does he have when compared with other Messengers so that he is not confirmed as a Messenger and Messenger of God?
Muhammad lived as the humblest of all
4. Muhammad lived a very simple life, as the poorest of his community. He spent all the money he had earned by the trade before His Messengerhood to spread his Message. In spite of his greatness, his behavior toward all people was that of the humblest person, that of an ordinary being. In the struggles and endeavors of his whole life he did not seek any reward or profit for his own person, nor did he leave any property for his heirs. He did not ask his followers to earmark anything for him or his descendants, so much so that although he and his family were the poorest of his community, he forbade not only his family but also his progeny from receiving from the benefit of Alms-tax.
Muhammad was extremely merciful toward all the creatures of God
5. Muhammad was extremely merciful toward all the creatures of God. In Mecca, his people inflicted on him every kind of suffering, eventually forcing him to immigrate to Medina, and then waged wars on him for five years. However, when he conquered Mecca without bloodshed in the twenty-first year of his Messengerhood, he forgave all of his enemies. His mercy even encompassed hypocrites and unbelievers. Although he recognized the hypocrites of his time, he never disclosed them so that they could enjoy the rights of full citizenship to which their outward confession of faith and practice entitled them.
The Messenger Muhammad was particularly compassionate towards children. When he saw a child crying, he sat beside him or her and shared his or her feelings. He felt the pain of a mother for her child more than the mother herself. Once he said: I stand in prayer and wish to prolong it. However, I hear the cry of a child and cut the prayer short for the anxiety which the mother praying in the congregation is feeling. He took children in arms and hugged them. Sometimes he bore them on his shoulders.
The Messenger’s compassion encompassed not only human beings, but also animals. We hear from him that a prostitute was guided to truth by God and ultimately went to Paradise because she gave water to a poor dog dying of thirst, whilst another woman was condemned to the torments of Hell because she left a cat to die of hunger.
Muhammad was extremely mild in his relations with people
6. The Messenger Muhammad was extremely mild in his relations with people. He was never angry with anybody because of what was done to him. When his wife Aisha, may God be pleased with her, was made the object of a slander, he did not think to punish the slanderers even after Aisha was cleared. Bedouins often came to his presence and behaved impolitely, but he did not even frown at them.
The Messenger was also the most generous of people
7. The Messenger was also the most generous of people. He liked to distribute whatever he had. After Messengerhood he and his wealthy wife Khadija spent everything they had in the way of God. When Khadija died, they had no money to buy a shroud, and God’s Messenger had to borrow money in order to bury the first person to embrace Islam and his first supporter.
According to the Messenger, the world is like a tree under which people sit to be shaded during a long journey. No one can live forever in the world, so people must make in the world the necessary preparation for the second part of the journey, which will end either in Paradise or Hell. The mission of God’s Messenger was to guide people to truth, so he would spend whatever he had, his life, and his possessions, to this end. Once Omar saw him lying on a rough mat and wept, saying: ‘O Messenger of God! While kings sleep in soft weather beds, you are lying on a rough mat. You are the Messenger of God and therefore deserve more than any other people an easy life.’ The Messenger answered him:
“Do you not agree that [the luxuries of] the world be theirs but those of the Hereafter ours?”
Islam does not approve of monastic life. It came to secure justice and the well being of mankind, but warns people against over-indulgence. It is for this reason that many Muslims have chosen an ascetic life. Although the Muslims generally became rich after the death of the Messenger some like the Caliphs Abu Bakr, Omar and Ali preferred an austere life. This was partly because they felt to live as the poorest of their people and partly because they chose to strictly follow the Messenger’s example.
8. The Messenger Muhammad was the most modest of people. As he attained a higher rank each and every day, he increased in humility and servanthood to God. He preferred being a Messenger-slave to being a Messenger-king.
In the construction of the Mosque in Medina after the Hijra, he carried two sun-dried bricks while everybody else carried one. In the digging of the ditch around Medina to defend the city in the Battle of the Ditch, the Companions bound a stone around their bellies because of hunger, but the Messenger bound two, because he was hungrier than anybody else. Once, a man saw him and, due to his awe-inspiring appearance, began to tremble out of fear. The Messenger calmed him, saying:
“Brother! Don’t be afraid. I am a man, like you, whose mother used to eat dry bread.”
Again, a woman suffering from insanity pulled him by the hand and said: ‘Come with me and do my housework.’ God’s Messenger went with the woman and did the work. As reported by Aisha, his wife, the Messenger patched his clothes, repaired his shoes and helped his wives with the housework.
Whoever attempted to describe Muhammad would say: ‘I have, either before him or after him, never seen the like of him.’
God’s Messenger was the most generous of people in giving out and the mildest and foremost of them in patience and perseverance. He was the most truthful of people in speech, the most amiable and congenial in companionship and the noblest of them in family. Whoever sees him first is stricken by awe of him but whoever knows him closely is attracted to him deeply, and whoever attempts to describe him says: ‘I have, either before him or after him, never seen the like of him.’
Other than conveying God’s Message to people, in other words, performing the mission of Divine Messengership, who bears such an austere life as Muhammad lived, and what else other than a Messenger, can such a man as Muhammad be? And what substantial argument can one put forward against his Messengerhood?
By M. Fethullah Gülen