Communication

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The third attribute of Prophethood is communication of Islamic truths, otherwise known as “enjoining good and forbidding evil.” We say Islamic truths because every Prophet came with the same Divine Religion based on submission to God, and had as his sole mission the communication of this Message.

Just as God manifests His Mercifulness through the sun’s warmth and light, He manifested His Mercy and Compassion for humanity through Prophets. He chose Muhammad, whom He sent as a mercy for all worlds, to establish eternally the Message of compassion and mercy. If he had not been sent to revive and revise the Messages of previous Prophets and then spread that knowledge throughout the world, we would be wandering in a terrifying desert of unbelief, misguidance, and ignorance.

Philosophers, sociologists, and psychologists always have sought answers to such vital questions as: “Who am I?” “Where do I come from?” “What is my final destination?” “What is the purpose of life?” “What does our dying mean?” and “Is death absolute non-existence or only a door to a new, eternal life?” All of us wrestle with such questions. But only through the enlightenment of the Prophets we can find true satisfaction and peace of mind. Through them, we understand that this earthly life is just a way station on our perpetual journeying from the world of spirits to the world of eternity, a field to be planted with seeds for harvesting in the eternal world. This world is reached through the intermediate realm of the grave. With this realization, we are relieved of our anxieties, and the world is transformed into a flowery garden of recreation and a gathering place of friends.

Prophets were sent to convey this Message and to illuminate the path to happiness in this world and the next. Now we will discuss three essential points regarding how a Prophet conveys the Divine Message.

A comprehensive invitation to God. The Prophets dealt with people and life in a holistic manner, appealing to each person’s intellect, reason, spirit, and all outer and inner senses and feelings. They never ignored or neglected any human faculties.

The position of a Prophet in relation to Divine Revelation is similar to that of a corpse in the hands of a mortician: The individual can do nothing of his own volition. [1] God directs and guides a Prophet as necessary so that he can lead his people. Without this Divine direction, he would be unable to guide anyone. If he neglected their intellects, the end result would be a community of poor, docile mystics. If he neglected their hearts or spirits, a crude rationalism devoid of any spiritual dimension would be produced. As each individual is comprised of intellect, spirit, and body, each must be assigned its due part of the Message.

Human beings are active. Therefore, they should be led to those activities that form the real purpose of their lives, as determined by God and communicated by the Prophet. God did not create people only to have them to become passive recluses, activists without reason and spirit, or rationalists without spiritual reflection and activism. Only when the intellect, spirit, and body are harmonized, and people are motivated to activity in the illuminated way of the Divine Message, can they become complete and attain true humanity. All Prophets sought this goal, and those who seek to follow them should strive for it: Say (Muhammad): “This is my way: I call (people) to God with wisdom and insight, I and those who follow me” (12:108).

A Prophet is totally dedicated to his mission, and thus is an altruist who lives for the happiness and good of others. His happiness lies in seeing people devote themselves to God in the hope of salvation, not in expecting some great reward for his services. He knows that his reward is with God alone. This indispensable fact is emphasized in the Qur’an: O my people! I ask of you no wealth for it; my reward is from none but God (11:29).

The Prophets were charged with conveying the Divine Message. They did their best, patiently faced many misfortunes and even torment, fulfilled their responsibilities, and then left the result to God. They knew with full certainty that only God brings about the desired result. These three fundamentals set the principles for all those who wish to call others to Islam.

The method. Constant striving is an essential feature of delivering he Message, as well as an important element of the Prophetic method. A Prophet is, so to speak, obsessed with how to perform his duty. With that goal always uppermost, he considers all circumstances and does everything permitted. As he is not responsible for the results, he leaves them to God. He knows that he cannot cause anyone to accept the Message, for he is only sent to convey it as effectively as possible: You [O Muhammad] guide not whom you like but God guides whom He wills. And He knows best those who receive guidance” (28:56).

Many Prophets lived with no one accepting their Message. However, they did not lose heart, weaken, or resort to such improper means as violence, terror, or deception even when faced with relentless hardship and torture. When the Last Prophet was severely wounded at Uhud, some Companions asked him to invoke God’s curse on the enemy. Instead, he prayed for them, saying: “O God, forgive my people, because they don’t know.” [2] He made this supplication while his face was bleeding profusely, since he had once said: “It is as if I were seeing a Prophet who, while his face was bleeding, prayed for his people: ‘O God, forgive my people, because they don’t know.'”

All Prophets reacted in the same way to the torments and false accusations they had to endure. For example:

The leaders of Noah’s people said: “We see you in clear deviation.” He said: “O my people, there is no deviation in me. I am a Messenger from the Lord of the Worlds. I convey unto you the messages of my Lord, and give sincere advice to you. And I know from God that which you don’t know.” (7:60-62)

The leaders of Hud’s people, who were unbelievers, said: “We see you in foolishness; and think you are a liar.” He replied: “O my people, there is no foolishness in me. I am a Messenger from the Lord of the Worlds. I convey unto you the messages of my Lord, and am a trustworthy adviser to you.” (7:66-68)

Nothing changed during the history of Prophethood. The Prophets conveyed the Message of their Lord for the sole purpose of God’s pleasure. A Messenger was sent to every people, as explicitly stated in the Qur’an: Whoever goes right, then he goes right only for his own soul’s benefit. And whoever goes astray, then he goes astray only to his own loss. No laden soul can bear another’s load. And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (17:15), and: And We have sent among every people a Messenger (saying): “Worship God (alone), and shun all false deities.” (16:36)

After he received the first Revelation, God’s Messenger returned home in a state of great excitement. While wrapped in his cloak, God ordered him: O you wrapped up in your cloak, arise and warn! Magnify your Lord. Cleanse your garments, and keep away from all pollution. Do not show favor, seeking worldly gain. Be patient for the sake of your Lord (74:1-7). He also was told: O you folded in garments! Keep vigil the night long, except a little; half of it, or a little less, or a little more, and recite the Qur’an in slow, measured rhythmic tones. We are about to address to you words of great gravity (73:1-5).

Every Prophet conveyed God’s Message to his people without becoming wearied or daunted. Their people’s harshness did not deter them. For example:

[Noah] said: “O my Lord! Day and night I have called my people. But my call has only added to their aversion. Every time I call on them to seek Your pardon, they thrust their fingers in their ears and cover themselves with their garments, persisting in sin and magnifying themselves in insolent pride. Further, I have called to them aloud. Further, I have spoken to them in public and in private, saying: ‘Ask forgiveness from your Lord: for He is Oft-Forgiving.”‘ (71:5-10)

When a people rejects the Prophet sent to them and persists in unbelief and corruption, God’s wrath usually falls upon them. The Qur’an contains accounts of several devastated peoples, and we see their ruins all over the world.

Consistent effort. Communicating the Divine Message was the most essential characteristic of God’s Messenger. We are worried when we are hungry or thirsty or have trouble breathing; he was worried if a day passed during which he could not convey the Divine Message to someone. He was so concerned about guidance and so pained by unbelief, that God advised him to take care of his health: [O Muhammad] it may be that you will kill yourself following after them, with grief that they do not believe in this Message (18:6).

God’s Messenger invited all Makkans, both publically and privately, to God’s path. He called some extremely stubborn people, among them Abu Jahl, at least fifty times. He particularly sought his uncle Abu Talib’s conversion, for he had brought him up and protected him from the Makkan polytheists. In the eleventh year of his Prophethood, when Abu Talib was on his deathbed, God’s Messenger again invited him to belief. However, the Makkan chiefs surrounded him in order to prevent this.

God’s Messenger was so grieved at Abu Talib’s unbelief that he said: “I will ask forgiveness from God for you as long as I am not forbidden to.” [3] A verse was revealed some time later, forbidding him to do this: It is not fitting for the Prophet and those who believe to ask (God) to forgive polytheists, even though they be near of kin (to them), after it has become clear to them that they are companions of the Fire (9:113).

Abu Bakr, the Prophet’s closest Companion, knew how much God’s Messenger desired his uncle’s belief. He took his aged father, who converted on the day of the Conquest of Makka, to God’s Messenger and wept bitterly. When asked why he was sobbing, he explained: “O God’s Messenger, I so desired my father’s belief, and now he believes. But I desired Abu Talib’s belief even more, for you desired it. However, God did not grant him belief. That is why I am weeping.” [4]

One of the best examples of the Messenger’s concern for everyone to believe was his invitation to Wahshi, who had killed his uncle Hamza at Uhud. After the conquest of Makka, God’s Messenger sent for him to accept Islam. Wahshi returned the invitation with a letter, including the following verses:

Those who invoke not with God any other deity, nor kill a soul that God has forbidden, except for just cause, nor commit illegal sexual intercourse-whoever does this shall receive the punishment. Their torment will be doubled on the Day of Judgment, and they will abide therein forever in disgrace. (25:68-69)

After the verse Wahshi added: “You invite me to accept Islam, but I have committed all the sins mentioned therein. I have lived immersed in unbelief, had illegal sexual intercourse and, in addition, killed your uncle, who was most beloved by you. Can such a person really be forgiven and become a Muslim?”

God’s Messenger sent him a written reply, containing the following verse:

God forgives not that partners should be associated with Him, but He forgives save that (anything else) to whom He wills. Whoever associates partners with God has invented a tremendous sin (4:48).

Wahshi returned the letter with the excuse that the forgiveness promised in the verse depended on God’s Will. Upon this, God’s Messenger sent him a third letter, in which the following verse was included:

Say: “O My servants who have transgressed against their souls! Don’t despair of the Mercy of God. God forgives all sins. He is the Oft-Forgiving, the Most Compassionate” (39:53).

Through this correspondence, God’s Messenger opened Wahshi’s heart to belief, and Wahshi could see himself included in the verse mentioned in the last letter. This correspondence enabled Wahshi to repent sincerely and become a Companion. [5] Nevertheless, Hamza’s martyrdom had affected God’s Messenger so deeply that he whispered to Wahshi: “Try not to present yourself to me too often. I might remember Hamza, and thus be unable to show you the proper affection.”

Wahshi did his best to comply with this request. He would stand behind a pole and try to catch a glimpse of God’s Messenger in the hope that he might be allowed to present himself. When God’s Messenger died soon thereafter, Wahshi set out to find a way of atonement for his act. When the war of Yamama broke out against Musaylima the Liar, he hastened to the front lines with the spear he had used to kill Hamza. At the most critical point, he saw Musaylima trying to flee. Immediately, he threw his spear at the impostor and killed him. After this, Wahshi prostrated before God. [6] With tears flowing from his eyes, he was as if saying: “Will you now allow me to show myself to you, O God’s Messenger?”

We cannot but wish that God’s Messenger was present in spirit at Yamama and embraced Wahshi to show his pardon and full admission into his noble company.

Another fine example of God’s Messenger’s nobility and altruism, as well as his love for humanity and concern about people’s guidance, is his acceptance of Ikrima as a Companion. Ikrima was one of the staunchest enemies of Islam and the Messenger, and an active participant in all plots to defeat him. He fled to Yemen with his wife on the day Makka was conquered, while many of his comrades chose conversion. His wife, Umm Hakam, convinced him to go to God’s Messenger and ask forgiveness. Despite his previous hostility, Ikrima was welcomed by God’s Messenger with the compliment: “Welcome, O emigrant rider!” After the conquest of Makka, there was no “emigration” in the true sense; God’s Messenger was alluding to Ikrima’s long journey from Yemen to Madina.

Ikrima was deeply affected by such nobility, and requested him to ask God’s pardon for his sins. When the Messenger did so, Ikrima felt exhilarated and promised to spend for the sake of Islam double what he had spent fighting it. Ikrima fulfilled his promise at the Battle of Yarmuk, where he was wounded. Seeing his wife crying beside him in the tent, he told her: “Don’t weep, for I won’t die before I witness the victory.” Some time later, his uncle Hisham entered and announced the Muslims’ victory. Ikrima asked to be helped to stand up, and when they did so, whispered: “O God’s Messenger, have I carried out the promise I gave you?” Then, he recited: Make me die as a Muslim and join me to the righteous (12:101), and submitted his soul to God. [7]

Throughout his life, God’s Messenger grieved for the misfortunes of humanity. He ceaselessly called people to God’s way. During his years in Makka, he walked the streets and visited the nearby annual fairs, always hoping to gain a few converts. Insults, derision, and torture did not deter him even once. When: Warn your tribe of the nearest kindred (26:214) was revealed, he invited his nearest relatives over for a meal. ‘Ali later narrated the incident:

God’s Messenger invited his relatives to his house. After the meal, he addressed them: “God has commanded me to warn my nearest relatives. You are my tribe of the nearest kindred. I will not be able to do anything for you in the Hereafter unless you proclaim that there is no deity but God.” At the end of his speech, he asked who would support him. At that time, I was a boy with puny legs and arms. When no one responded, I put aside the pitcher in my hand and declared: “I will, O Messenger of God!” The Messenger repeated the call three times, and each time only I answered him. [8]

God’s Messenger persevered, enduring relentless and increasingly harsh derision, degradation, beatings, and expulsion from the fairs. He was actually stoned by children in Ta’if.

Only in the twelfth year of his mission was he able to meet some Madinese at ‘Aqaba (located outside of Makka). He told them of Islam, and they accepted it. The following year, 70 Madinese became Muslims at the same place. They swore allegiance to God’s Messenger and promised to support him if he emigrated to Madina. He appointed Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr to teach them Islam. This was the beginning of a new phase in his life. By the time he emigrated to Madina the following year, every household had at least one convert. [9]

Further remarks. An important point to note is that while communicating the Message, the Prophet set an excellent example of ardor in guiding people. The Companions did their best to imitate his technique. For example, Mus’ab ibn ‘Umayr’s technique was so effective and sincere that even the most stubborn Madinese, such as Sa’d ibn Mu’adh, became Muslims. Sa’d’s initial reaction to Mus’ab’s activity was harsh. But when the latter asked him politely: “First sit and listen. If you are not pleased with what I tell you, feel free to cut off my head with the sword in your hand,” Sa’d’s anger subsided. He parted from Mus’ab as a new Muslim.

God’s Messenger continued to send Companions to neighboring cities. He sent Talha to Duwmat al-Jandal, and Bara’ ibn A’dhib to Yemen. If a Companion was not successful, although this was rare, he sent another in his place. When Khalid and Bara’ could not capture the Yemenis’ hearts, God’s Messenger sent ‘Ali. Shortly thereafter, almost all of them became Muslims. [10]

Another important point is his conduct after the Treaty of Hudaybiya. Some of the Companions considered various conditions dishonorable (to the Muslims). However, in the ensuing atmosphere of peace, which followed years of disruption and war, many enemies of Islam reconsidered the Message. Eventually, even such leading opponents as Khalid and ‘Amr ibn al-‘As accepted Islam. [11]

God’s Messenger welcomed Khalid with a compliment: “I was wondering how a sensible man like Khalid could remain an unbeliever. I had a strong conviction that you would one day accept Islam.” [12] He comforted ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, who asked him to pray for God’s forgiveness of him, and said: “Don’t you know that those who accept Islam are cleansed of all their previous sins?” [13]

After the Treaty of Hudaybiyah, God’s Messenger sent letters to the rulers of neighboring countries. He wrote to the Negus, king of Abyssinia:

From Muhammad, God’s Messenger, to the Negus Asham, King of Abyssinia. Peace be upon you! On this occasion, I praise God, the Sovereign, the Holy One free from all defects, the Giver of security, the Watcher over His creatures. I bear witness that Jesus is a spirit from God, a word from Him, whom He bestowed upon Mary, who was chaste, pure, and a virgin. I call you to God, One with no partner. [14]

The Messenger urged the Negus to convert by first greeting him with peace. Since the Negus was a Christian, God’s Messenger expressed his belief in the Prophethood of Jesus and affirmed Mary’s virginity and purity, thus emphasizing the point of agreement between them.

The Negus received the letter, and, kissing it, put it to his head as a sign of respect. After reading the letter, the Negus accepted Islam without hesitation and dictated to his secretary the following answer:

To Muhammad, God’s Messenger, from the Negus. I bear witness that you are the Messenger of God. If you command me to come to you, I will do it, but I am not in a position to make my subjects Muslim. O God’s Messenger, I testify that what you say is all true. [15]

The Negus was so sincere that one day he told his confidants: “I would rather be a servant of Muhammad than a king.” When he died, God’s Messenger performed the funeral prayer for him in absentia. [16]

The following letter was sent to Heraclius, emperor of Byzantium:

From Muhammad, the servant of God and His Messenger, to Heraclius, the greatest of the Byzantines. Peace be upon him who follows the guidance. I invite you to Islam. Embrace Islam and secure salvation, that God may give you a double reward. If you turn away, you will be burned with, besides your own, the sins of all those who turn away (among your people). Say: “O people of the Book. Come to a word common between us and you that we worship none but God, that we associate nothing in worship with Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside God. If they turn away, say: ‘Bear witness that we are Muslims.'”(3:64) [17]

The Emperor was moved by the letter. He summoned Abu Sufyan, who was then in Syria leading a Makkan trade caravan. The following dialogue took place between them:

– What is this man’s family status?
– A noble one.
– Did any of his ancestors claim Prophethood?
– No.
– Was there a king among his ancestors?
– No.
– Do the elite or the weak mostly follow him?’
– The weak.
– Has anyone apostatized after conversion to his religion?
– So far, nobody has.
– Do his followers increase or decrease?
– They increase daily.
– Have you ever heard him tell a lie?
– No.
– Has he ever broken his promise?
– Not yet, but I don’t know whether he will in the future.

Although Abu Sufyan was at that time a ruthless enemy of God’s Messenger, he told the truth about him except in his last words, which might raise doubts about the Messenger’s future trustworthiness. The Emperor was inclined to acknowledge the faith, but seeing the reaction of the priests near to him, only concluded: “In the very near future, all these lands I am resting upon will be his.” Imam Bukhari narrates that the bishop of the area accepted Islam.

God’s Messenger sent letters to other kings, among them Muqawqis, the ruler of Egypt, who responded with some presents. [18] Chosroes of Persia tore up the letter, an incident predicting his empire’s end, which took place during ‘Umar’s caliphate. [19]

When God orders Muhammad to communicate the Message, He addresses him as Messenger to show that he has the highest rank among the Prophets. All other Prophets are addressed by name; Messenger demonstrates that he is the foremost in conveying the Message. Islamic civilization, based upon the principles he conveyed, has attracted and astounded many, so much so that an interesting incident is recorded in Mizanci Murad Tarihi (History by Mizanci Murad): Auguste Comte, the atheist French philosopher, after visiting the remains of Islamic Spain, made a brief study of Islam. When he learned that Prophet Muhammad was unlettered, he said: “Muhammad was not a god, but he was not just a human being either.”

However, quoting al-Busiri, we say: “The conclusion which we draw after all the information we have gathered about him is that he is a human being, but the best among God’s creation.”

Other important points. The following three points are important in conveying the Message of Islam: intelligence, practicing what they preach, and asking for no reward.

First, intelligence must be used to reach people on their own level. A Prophetic Tradition states: “We, the community of the Prophets, are commanded to address people according to their level of understanding.” Those seeking to spread Islam should know how to approach and gain non-Muslims’ attention. This point can be illustrated by many examples from the life of God’s Messenger. Here are two of them:

God’s Messenger won ‘Umar’s heart by appreciating his good sense. He told ‘Umar: “I can’t understand how a reasonable man like you can expect anything from inanimate objects like stones, wood, or soil.” He also inspired confidence in ‘Umar through his good conduct. His committed worship of God so influenced ‘Umar that at last he came to God’s Messenger, and was as obedient and reverent before him as a well-mannered child before a respected father.

One day, a young man (whose name apparently was Julaybib) asked God’s Messenger for permission to fornicate, since he could not restrain himself. Those who were present reacted in various ways. Some scoffed at him, others pulled his robe, and still others readied themselves to hit him. But the compassionate Prophet drew him near and engaged him in conversation. He began by asking him: “Would you let someone do this with your mother?” to which the young man replied: “My mother and father be your ransom, O God’s Messenger, I don’t agree with that.” The Prophet said: “Naturally, no one agrees that his mother should be a party in such a disgraceful act.”

He then continued asking Julaybib the same question, but substituting daughter, wife, sister, and aunt for mother. Every time Julaybib replied that he would not agree to such an act. By the end of this conversation, Julaybib had lost all desire to fornicate. But God’s Messenger concluded this “spiritual operation” with a supplication. Placing his hand on Julaybib’s chest, he prayed: “O God, forgive him, purify his heart, and maintain his chastity.” [20]

Julaybib became a model of chastity. Some time later he married through the intermediation of God’s Messenger. Not long after that he was martyred in a battle after killing seven enemy soldiers. When his corpse was located, God’s Messenger put his hand on his knee and said: “This one is of me, and I am of him.” [21]

God’s Messenger was so competent and successful in educating people that it constitutes a conclusive proof of his Prophethood. The most uncivilized, crude, illmannered, ruthless, and ignorant people of that time were transformed into the most praiseworthy guides of humanity in a very short period. I wonder whether even the largest, best-equipped group of professional educators, modern pedagogues, sociologists, psychologists, teachers and the like could achieve in 100 years anywhere in the modern civilized world even a hundredth of what God’s Messenger accomplished in 23 years in the uncivilized desert of Arabia fourteen centuries ago. The modern efforts and techniques applied to remove so insignificant a bad habit as smoking with almost negligible success, when compared to the Prophet’s lasting success in eradicating so many bad habits and views, prove that Prophet Muhammad was without parallel or equal when it came to educating people.

Second, those who want their words to influence people must practice what they preach. If they do not, how can they expect to succeed, for it is well known that actions always speak louder than words. The Qur’an is very explicit in this matter: O you who believe, why do you say that which you do not do? Most hateful it is in the sight of God that you say what you do not do (61:2-3).

God’s Messenger was the living embodiment of his mission. He was the foremost in practicing Islam, devotion to God, and servanthood to Him. It was not uncommon for those who saw him to require no other proof to believe in his Prophethood. For example, ‘Abd Allah ibn Salam, the renowned Jewish scholar of Madina, believed in him at first sight, saying: “There can be no lie in this face. One with such a face can only be a Messenger of God.” [22]

‘Abd Allah ibn Rawaha, a famous poet of that time, expressed this fact in the following couplet:

Even if he had not come with manifest signs,
A single look at him suffices to inspire belief in him.

Those who believed in him were not foolish or unreasonable people. Among them were such people as the first four caliphs (Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman, and ‘Ali), all of whom administered a very great state. They were so profound in spirituality and deep in belief that ‘Ali, for example, once said: “If the veil (between this material world and the immaterial world) were raised, my certainty (of the Unseen) would not increase.” [23]

One reason why Prophet Muhammad is still loved deeply by hundreds of millions of people, regardless of unending hostile and negative propaganda, and why people all over the world embrace Islam daily, is that he practiced what he preached. For example, he invited people to worship God sincerely, and is himself the best example of such worship. He would spend more than half the night in prayer, crying and full of humility. When asked why he went to such lengths that his feet would swell, and did so even though he was sinless, he would answer: “Should I not be a thankful slave of God?”

‘A’isha narrated that one night he asked her permission to get up and pray. He was so sensitive to the rights of his wives that he would seek their permission to perform supererogatory prayers. He prayed until daybreak and shed tears. He frequently recited the following verses:

In the creation of the Heavens and the Earth, and in the alternation of day and night, are signs for those of understanding. Those that remember God standing, sitting, and lying down, and meditate upon the creation of the Heavens and the Earth. “Our Lord, You have not created this in vain. Glory be to You. Protect us from the punishment of the Fire. Our Lord, those whom You will admit to the Fire You have abased; for wrongdoers there are no helpers. Our Lord, we have heard a caller calling to faith: ‘Believe in your Lord!’ So we believed. Therefore, Our Lord, forgive our sins and erase our evil deeds. Take our souls in death in the company of the righteous. Our Lord, grant us what You promised to us through Your Messengers, and do not abase us on the Day of Resurrection. You never break the promise.” (3:190-94)

Again, ‘A’isha reports: I woke up one night and could not see God’s Messenger beside me. I was jealous, lest he had gone to another of his wives. As I just got up from bed, my hand touched his feet. I noticed that he was prostrating, praying: “O God, I seek refuge in Your pleasure from Your wrath, and in Your forgiveness from Your punishment; I also seek refuge in Yourself from You. I cannot praise You as You praise Yourself.”

His life was so simple that once ‘Umar, upon seeing him, said: “O Messenger of God, kings sleep in soft, feather beds, while you lie on a rough mat. You are the Messenger of God and thereby deserve an easy life more than anyone else.” God’s Messenger answered: “Don’t you agree that the luxuries of the world should be theirs and those of the Hereafter ours?” [24] God’s Messenger lived for others. He desired a comfortable life for his nation, provided that his community would not be led astray by world attractions, but himself lived a very simple life.

Third, God’s Messenger, like all Prophets, expected no reward for performing his mission. He suffered hunger, thirst, and every other hardship. He was forced into exile and made the target of many assaults and traps. He bore all of these simply for the good pleasure of God and the good of humanity. Abu Hurayra once saw him praying in a seated position and asked if he were sick. The Messenger’s reply caused Abu Hurarya to cry: “I am hungry, Abu Hurayra. Hunger has left me no strength to stand up for prayer.” Hunger was a common feature of Muslim life. One night, God’s Messenger, Abu Bakr, and ‘Umar met each other unexpectedly outside. When they asked one another why they were outside, they all replied: “Hunger.”

Even though most of his Companions became wealthier in later years, the Messenger and his family never changed their very simple lifestyle. Fatima, his only surviving child, did all of the housework for her family by herself. Once when captives were distributed in Madina, she asked her father for a maid. He replied:

O my daughter. I can give you nothing before I satisfy the needs of the people of the Suffa. However, let me teach you something that is better for you than having a servant. When you go to bed, say: “Glory be to God, All praise be to God, God is the Greatest” 33 times each. [Some Traditions say that the last phrase should be recited 34 times.] This is better for your next life.

One day he saw her wearing a bracelet (or a necklace, according to another version) and warned her: “O my daughter, do you want people to say of my daughter that she is wearing a ring of Hellfire? Take it off immediately!”

In addition to receiving no worldly benefit, God’s Messenger bore many tortures. He was beaten many times and left on the ground covered with dust, and only Fatima would run to his aid. Once he was being beaten at the Ka’ba, Abu Bakr ran to help him, shouting to those beating him: “Will you kill a man because he says: ‘My Lord is God?'”


[1] This simile is coined with respect to the Prophet’s submission to Revelation. He fulfils whatever he is commanded by Revelation.
[2] Qadi Iyad, Shifa’ al-Sharif, 1:105; Bukhari, Anbiya’, 54; Muslim, Jihad, 105.
[3] Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya, 3:153.
[4] Ibn Hisham, Sira, 4:48; Ibn Hanbal, 3:160; Ibn Hajar, Al-Isaba, 4:116.
[5] Haythami, Majma’ al-Zawa’id, 7:100-1.
[6] Bukhari, Maghazi, 21; Ibn Hisham, Sira, 3:76-7.
[7] Hakim, Mustadrak, 3:241-3; Ibn Hajar, Al-Isaba, 2:496.
[8] Ibn Hanbal, 1:159; Haythami, 8:302-3.
[9] Ibn Hisham, Sira, 2:73.
[10] Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya, 5:120-1.
[11] Ibid., 4:272.
[12] Ibid., 4:273.
[13] Ibid., 4:271.
[14] Ibid., 3:104.
[15] Ibid., 3:105.
[16] Bukhari, Jana’iz, 4:65; Muslim, Jana’iz, 62-67.
[17] Bukhari, Bad’u al-Wahy, 6.
[18] Ibn Kathir, Al-Bidaya, 5:324.
[19] Bukhari, ‘Ilm, 7:1; Ibn Hanbal, 1:243.
[20] Ibn Hanbal, 5:256-57.
[21] Muslim, Fada’il al-Sahaba, 131.
[22] Ibn Hisham, Sira, 163-4.
[23] ‘Ali al-Qari, Al-Asrar al-Marfu’a, 286.
[24] Bukhari, Tafsir, 287; Muslim, Talaq, 31.

 

 

Gulen, Muhammed Fethullah. “The Messenger of God” Tughra Books Press, Inc. May 2005.