The Exemplary Life of the Prophet (saas)
Every moment of the Prophet's (saas) life is a splendid example for the faithful to follow. With his conversations with the faithful, the way he addressed them, his sense of humour, his affection for and interest in children, the just way he treated women and his affection and concern, he was a model protector, both for his family and for all Muslims. That, by his smiling face, joyful countenance, and his consideration and affection for the faithful, he is an important example of proper morality and an ideal model of humanity. This chapter will comprise examples of the Prophet's (saas) life which was so pleasing to Allah.
The Prophet (saas) Smiled Often, and Advised Others to Be the Same
Although the Prophet (saas) bore a heavy responsibility, and despite all the difficulties he faced, he was a most humble and peaceful man, submissive to Allah. He lived the joy and ardour of belief every moment of his life. Thanks to that joy of belief and his high morality, he was always smiling and tenderhearted. His companions describe his state of being:
Ali (ra): "His smiling face and kind treatment of everyone made him literally a father to the people. Everyone was equal in his sight."152
"He was always cheerful, gentle and mild."153
"He was the softest and most kind of all people..."154
The Prophet (saas) also advised his companions to smile, and said:
"Don't entertain the people with your wealth, but entertain them with smiling face and good conduct."155
"Allah loves those making things easier and those having smiling countenance."156
The Prophet’s (saas) Relations and Conversations with His Companions
The Prophet (saas) took the greatest interest in the Muslims around him. He kept a close eye on the faith, behavior, cleanliness, happiness and health of each one of them. He noticed what each one lacked and needed, and ensured that they were provided for. In every conversation he had with them, he was pleasant towards them and won their love. When his companions left him, they would be full of joy and contentment.
Ali (ra), one of the closest of those to him, describes his relations with his companions and the atmosphere during their talks:
"His hand of charity was spread to its utmost and his tongue was the most truthful. His conduct was the most modest. Awe struck one who saw him first. Whoever mixed with him loved him. One who praised him said: I have never seen like him before and after him. Once a man begged something of the Prophet (saas) and it was given to him."157
"He would take an interest in everyone he sat with, and gave no impression of treating anyone differently. He was always patient with those sitting with him or keeping him standing, and would never leave that person until that person moved away from him.158
"He missed his companions, and asked after them (when he could not see them). He would ask how people were, and how their businesses were faring. He would call beautiful things beautiful, and ugly things ugly."159
"He was always in favor of honest men, and would receive no-one else. They would come to his side for a short time, and when they left, they would leave as their hearts satisfied. They left his side as living proofs and guides."160
"He was patient in the face of extreme or illogical behavior from strangers. They would sometimes grow angry, and he would calm them, saying, 'Guide them when you see anyone like that.'" 161
"He would never interrupt, but would always wait for people to finish."162
"… He always spoke words that would cause people to love another and come together. He would never frighten or chase them away. He attached great importance to the leaders of all tribes, and was hospitable towards them…"163
His grandson Hassan (ra) has this to say about the Prophet (saas):
"His looks were very meaningful … He spoke briefly and to the point. There was nothing unnecessary in his words, and nothing lacking." 164
"He spoke in the same way to leading notables or ordinary people. He concealed nothing from them..."165
This is how Abu Zar (ra) describes the Prophet's (saas) most affectionateness towards his companions:
"I came to him (the Prophet (saas)) and found him sitting on a cot. He got up from it and embraced me. This shows that embracing is good."166
Abu Huraira (ra) describes the Prophet Muhammad's (saas) consideration and humaneness:
"The Prophet (saas) did not withdraw his hand from another till the latter withdrew his own hand."167
The Prophet (saas) also took the greatest interest in his companions' health. He advised the thin among them to put on weight, and the overweight among them to go on a diet and be careful what they ate.168
In some cases of sickness, he would advise his companions to take a drink made out of honey.169
Abu Huraira (ra) apparently fainted one day, and the Prophet (saas) lifted him to his feet, took him home, and gave him some milk to drink when he realized he was hungry.170
The Prophet (saas) Would Laugh and Joke With His Companions
It appears from what has come down from his companions that the Prophet (saas) would frequently joke with his family and companions, as well as laugh at their jokes, and give them friendly names or nicknames. As always, however, the Prophet (saas) also behaved very prudently, considerately and in accordance with the demands of good conscience when it came to joking. We can summarise the advice the Prophet (saas) gave his companions about joking in this way:
"I will joke, but I only speak the truth."
The Prophet’s (saas) Advice on the Subject of Love
One of the most important subjects that The Prophet (saas) dwelt on was that the believers should love one another sincerely and with no thought of personal interests, and that they should not harbour thoughts of hatred, anger or jealousy for one another. The Prophet (saas) was both the best possible example to the believers, but also frequently gave them advice on the subject.
In the Qur'an, Allah says of the matter:
That is the good news which Allah gives to His servants who believe and do right actions. Say: "I do not ask you for any wage for this—except for you to love your near of kin. If anyone does a good action, We will increase the good of it for him. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Ever-Thankful." (Surat ash-Shura: 23)
These are some of the hadiths that touch on the Prophet's (saas) qualities of love, friendship and brotherhood:
"A believer loves for others what he loves for himself."172
"Allah's Apostle (saas) used to accept gifts and used to give something in return."173
"He who is presented with a flower of sweet basil should not reject it, because it is light in weight and pleasant in odour."174
"Don't hate one another, don't envy one another don't sell over the sale to another, don't dispute with one another and don't back-bite one another. The servants of Allah are brethren to one another."175
"The habits of earlier generations have attacked you–envy and hatred. Hatred is shaving. You will not enter Paradise till you believe. You will not believe till you love one another. Shall I not inform you what thing will establish you on it? Spread peace among you."176
The Prophet’s (saas) Interest in and Love for Children
The Prophet Muhammad's (saas) compassion, mercifulness and consideration for the believers can also be seen in his attitude towards children. The Prophet (saas) took a close interest in his own children and grandchildren, as in those of his companions. In regards to them, he made suggestions about everything, from their birth to choosing names for them, from their health to their education, from their clothes to the games they played, all of which he played an active role in.
For example, shortly before his daughter Fatimah gave birth to his two grandchildren, he told her: "When there is a birth, do nothing to the child without informing me."177 After the babies had been born he instructed on how they were to be fed, looked after and protected.
The Prophet (saas) also prayed for new-born babies, for his children and grandchildren, and for the children of his companions. As he held them on his knee or watched them playing, he would ask Allah to give them long and prosperous lives, as well as wisdom and faith. At every opportunity he would pray for his grandchildren Hassan and Hussein, saying that the prayer he used was the same as that Abraham used for Isaac and Ishmael.178
Ibn Abbas (ra), one of his companions, relates how when he was a child, the Prophet (saas) said, "Allah, teach him wisdom." During the childhood of Anas bin Malik, another of his companions, he prayed to Allah to give him much wealth, many children and a long life, and that these would be auspicious for him.179
The Prophet (saas) attached great importance to children's play, and sometimes even joined in with them. He recommended parents to play with their children, saying, "Let he who has a child be as a child with him."180 He suggested that children play such games and sports as swimming, running and wrestling, and encouraged his own grandchildren and the children of those around him to do so.
Many of his companions have described how the Prophet (saas) loved children, and took an interest in and played with them. Here are a number of examples:
Anas bin Malik (r.a):
"The Prophet was one of the foremost people when it came to playing and joking with children."181
Al-Bara 'ibn Azib (r.a):
"I saw Hassan (ra) upon the shoulders of Allah's Messenger."182
Anas bin Malik (ra) said:
"The Prophet (saas) kissed and smelled (his son) Ibrahim."183
Abu Huraira (ra) describes the Prophet's (saas) love of children and how he used to play with them:
I went along with Allah's Messenger (saas) at a time during the day but he did not talk to me and I did not talk to him until he reached Bazar of Banu Qunaiqa. He came back to the tent of Fatima and said: Is the little chap (meaning Hassan) there? We were under the impression that his mother had detained him in order to bathe him and dress him and garland him with sweet garland. Not much time had passed that he (Hassan) came running until both of them embraced each other, thereupon Allah's Messenger (saas) said: O Allah, I love him; love him and love one who loves him (Hassan)..."184
According to Anas bin Malik (ra), the Prophet (saas) used to often call his grandchildren, Hassan and Hussein, over to him and cuddle them.185
Ibnu Rebi'ati'ibni Haris (ra) says:
"My father sent al-Fadl the son of Abbas and me to the Prophet (saas). When we came into his presence, he sat us down on his right and left, and embraced us more strongly than we had ever seen before."186
The Prophet (saas) would often caress the heads of children and pray for them. For example, Yusuf 'Ibn Abdullah 'Ibn Selam (ra) says the Prophet (saas) would often call him by name and pat his head. Amr Ibnu Hureys (ra) describes how his mother took him into the presence of the Prophet (saas), and how the latter would pat his head and pray that he would always receive his daily bread. When Abdullah Ibnu Utbe (ra) was five or six, he also recalls the Prophet (saas) patting his head and praying he would have many descendants and live in plenty.187
Abu Huraira (ra) provides the following examples of the Prophet Muhammad's (saas) interest in and love for children:
"When the people saw the first fruit (of the season) they brought it to Allah's Apostle (saas). When he received it he said: "O Allah, bless us in our fruits; and bless us in our city; and bless us in our sa's (a measurement unit) and bless us in our mudd (a measurement unit). He would then call to him the youngest child and give him those fruits."188
"Whenever he came back from a journey, the children of his household would be taken out to meet him." He (saas) used to hug them close to him, as 'Abd-Allah ibn Jafar (ra) said:
"Whenever the Prophet (saas) came back from a journey, we would be taken out to meet him. One day we met him, Hassan, Hussein and I. He carried one of us in front of him, and another on his back, until we entered Madina."189
'Once the Prophet (saas) went out during the day… then he sat in the compound of Fatima's house and asked about the small boy (his grandson Hassan). After a while the boy came out running and the Prophet (saas) embraced and kissed him'."190
Jaabir bin Samurah (ra) has this to say on the subject:
"I prayed along with Allah's Messenger (saas) the first prayer. He then went to his family and I also went along with him when he met some children (on the way). He began to pat the cheeks of each one of them. He also patted my cheek and I experienced a coolness or a fragrance of his hand as if it had been brought out from the scent bag of a perfumer."191
The Prophet Muhammad (saas) was sent at a time when female babies were still killed at birth, but stressed that girls should not be discriminated against in favor of boys, and that it was a sin to kill them. By demonstrating equal love for and interest in both, he set an excellent example to the whole of the society. The followoing is an example of what the Prophet (saas) said about female children:
"A daughter is a lovely child; affectionate, eager to help, mild and full of sacred feelings of motherhood."192
The Prophet (saas) demonstrated his love in word and deed. He would tell children how much he loved them.193
The Prophet (saas) never favored one child over another. He showed the same affection and compassion to the children of the faithful that he did to his own children and grandchildren. When Halid bin Said (ra) visited the Prophet (saas), there was a little girl by his side. The Prophet (saas) showed her special affection because she had been born in Abyssinia. On one occasion, the Prophet (saas) had a piece of embroidered fabric in his hands. He called the girl over and gave it to her, making her very happy.
Jemre (ra) was a small child at the time. Her father would bring her into the presence of the Prophet (saas) and ask for him to pray to Allah to make her prosperous. The Prophet (saas) took Jemre (ra) in his lap, placed his hand on her head, and prayed.
Usama (ra), the son of the Prophet's (saas) assistant Zaid (ra), had this recollection of the Prophet (saas):
"Allah's Apostle (saas) used to put me on (one of) his thighs and Al-Hassan bin 'Ali on his other thigh, and then embraced us and said: 'O Allah! Please be Merciful to them, as I am merciful to them'."194
Some people were unable to understand why the Prophet (saas) played with children and took such an interest in them. On one accasion, Akra bin Habis (ra) saw the Prophet (saas) kissing Hassan (ra), and said:
" 'I have ten children and have never kissed one of them'." The Prophet (saas) looked at him and said, 'Those who show no mercy will be shown no mercy'."195
The Prophet's (saas) venerable son Ibrahim (ra) would frequently visit the house of his wet nurse, show her love and affection, and stroke her head. Anas bin Malik (ra), the servant of the Prophet (saas), has another recollection:
"I never saw anyone who was more compassionate towards children than the Messenger of Allah (saas). His son Ibrahim was in the care of a wet-nurse in the hills around Madinah. He would go there, and we would go with him, and he would enter the house, pick up his son and kiss him, then come back."196
Our Prophet (saas) also warned the faithful to treat their children justly, and said:
"Fear Allah and treat your children with equal justice."197
The Prophet (saas) also placed great emphasis on children's education and their being brought up with a proper morality, and showed the way by giving a great deal of advice on the matter. Some of the things he had to say are as follows:
"The best things that a man leaves behind after his death are a virtuous child who invokes Allah for him, a perpetual charity, the reward of which reaches him, and a beneficial knowledge which remains useful after him."198
"One of a child's duties to his father is to make his name and behavior fitting."199
"Be hospitable to your children and raise them to be well-behaved ..."200
As in all subjects, the Prophet Muhammad (saas) was an excellent model to the faithful as far as taking an interest in children and showing them love and affection. He communicated the importance of showing love to children in the words, "He does not belong to us who does not show mercy to our young ones...."201
The Prophet’s (saas) Wives Are the Mothers of the Believers
The Prophet's (saas) wives are the mothers of all believers, models for all Muslim women, possessed of true godliness. There is a considerable amount of information about the behavior and faith of the Prophet's (saas) wives, the way they cared for him, their own wisdom and their excellent morality, to be found in the Qur'an, the hadiths, and accounts about the life of the Prophet (saas).
One of the facts about the Prophet's (saas) wives in the Qur'an is that they are the mothers of all the believers:
The Prophet (saas) has closer ties to the believers than their own selves, and his wives are their mothers... (Surat al-Ahzab: 6)
In another verse, Allah forbids the believers to marry his wives after he has passed on:
… It is not right for you to cause annoyance to the Messenger of Allah or ever to marry his wives after him. To do that would be a dreadful thing in Allah's Sight. (Surat al-Ahzab: 53)
Other verses of the Qur'an reveal that the wives of the Prophet (saas) are not like other women, and describe how they ought to behave. The description reads:
Wives of the Prophet! You are not like other women provided you heed Allah. Do not be too soft-spoken in your speech lest someone with sickness in his heart becomes desirous. Speak correct and courteous words. Remain in your houses and do not display your beauty as it was previously displayed in the Time of Ignorance. Establish prayer [salat] and pay welfare tax [zakat] and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah desires to remove all impurity from you, People of the House, and to purify you completely. And remember the Signs of Allah and the wise words which are recited in your rooms. Allah is All-Pervading, All-Aware. (Surat al-Ahzab: 32-33)
The behavior of the godly wives of the Prophet (saas), as revealed in these verses, in other words, their goodwill, intelligence and conscientiousness, their dignified behavior, their modesty, the care they took over their religious observances, and their obedience of the Prophet (saas), and their knowledge of the Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet (saas), should set an example for all Muslim women.
Wives of the Prophet! If any of you commits an obvious act of indecency she will receive double the punishment. That is an easy matter for Allah. But those of you who are obedient to Allah and His Messenger and act rightly will be given their reward twice over; and We have prepared generous provision for them. (Surat al-Ahzab: 30-31)
The first of the wives of the Prophet (saas) was Khadija (ra). She was also one of the very first Muslims. When the Prophet (saas) received his first revelation he immediately told her of it. Khadija (ra) is known for her intelligence, perceptiveness, foresight and wisdom, and she immediately believed, offering the Prophet (saas) enormous support in the days that followed and expending great physical and spiritual effort to help spread the morality of the Qur'an.
Other wives of the Prophet (saas), such as Sauda, Aisha, Hafsah, Umm Habiba, Umm Salama, Safia, Moyomuna, Zainab bint Jahsh, Juwairya (ra) are also mentioned for their self-sacrifice, patience, and loyalty to the Prophet (saas), and were also excellent role models for the faithful.
The Prophet (saas) displayed great interest in his wives as well as children, and was a means whereby their faith, health, happiness and knowledge were all increased. It is reported that the Prophet (saas) would play with his wives and run races with them. His companions described the Prophet's (saas) great interest in his wives in the words, " The Prophet (saas) used to joke with his wives..."202
According to Aisha (ra), "I have never seen a man who was more compassionate to his family members than Muhammad (saas)."203
Another characteristic the Prophet (saas) is known to have possessed is his great justice towards his wives. It is reported that he divided his visits between them equally.
Anas bin Malik (ra) says:
"Allah's Apostle (saas) had nine wives. So when he divided (his stay) with them, the turn of the first wife only came on the ninth (day). They (all the wives) used to gather every night in the house of the one where he had to come (and stay that night)."204
Many of the words of the Prophet (saas) make it clear just how valuable devout women are. For instance, one of his sayings was as follows: "The whole world is a provision, and the best object of benefit of the world is the pious woman."205
The Prophet (saas) also told his companions how they should treat their own wives:
"The most perfect believer in faith is one who is the best of them in good conduct. The best of you is one who treats best with his wife among you."206
"The best of you, is the one who is best to his wives, and I am the best of you toward my wives."207