Glimpses of the Holy Prophet s Conduct
Compiled By: Sayyid Ali Shahbaz
“Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah, an Excellent Exemplar…" (Holy Qur’an 33-21)
Perfect Family Man
The multi-dimensional personality of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) shows us that he was a paragon of virtue in all fields including manners, etiquette, sincerity, generosity, forbearance, courage, wisdom, worship, magnanimity, simplicity of daily life, state affairs, family life, etc.
A brief glance at his personal life shows the Prophet to be the Perfect Family-Man. He was a faithful husband, who never took any other spouse as long as the loyal wife, Khadija (Omm al-Momineen or the Mother of all True Believers), was alive and shared life with him for over 25 long years.
This is ample proof that the nine other women the middle aged Prophet had to marry in the last ten years of his life, were not for pleasure, but a practical demonstration of the tenets of Islam for humanitarian purposes in order to guide Muslims in every age and generation to cope with social problems and issues.
In the case of Sawda, Umm Salama and Zainab bint Khuzaima, it was to take care of poor and helpless widows well in their middle-ages, while the marriage to Juwairiyah was to grant her freedom from captivity. Other marriages such as those to Umm Habiba, Safiya, A'isha, and Hafsa were meant for uniting some prominent tribes, who were often at loggerheads with each other, and also to safeguard the internal political status of the new-found Islamic State. As for Maria Qabtiya (Mary the Copt), she was sent as a gift from the ruler of Egypt to the Prophet who honoured her with marriage and she became the only woman, after the Omm al-Mominin Khadija, to bear a child for him, since all his other wives were barren. The son of this marriage, Ibrahim, died in infancy. And the marriage to Zainab bint Jahsh was for enacting a new law, because she was the divorcee of his adopted son Zaid bin Hareth. As the Holy Qur'an testifies, the Prophet married her in order to put an end to the then prevalent belief that adopted sons were like real sons and that wives or widows of adopted sons were like daughter-in-laws. In short, the philosophy behind his marriages was entirely revolutionary and ushered in positive changes in ignorant Arabia.
The Prophet was an affectionate father and a loving grandfather. He was deeply attached to his only surviving child, daughter Fatema az-Zahra (SA), who as the noblest lady of all time was dearer to him than life. His famous saying: "Fatema is a part of me, and whoever annoys her (in fact) annoys me," stands as a firm testimony to this fact. History is a witness that he used to stand up to greet his daughter whenever she entered his presence.
Many prominent and wealthy Arabs had approached him for her hand, but he politely refused them, and according to divine commandment, married her to his faithful ward and cousin, Imam Ali (AS), who a decade later on God’s explicit order was proclaimed by him vicegerent at Ghadir-Khum.
Thus Fatema (SA) and Ali (AS) were the parents of his two grandsons, Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS), through whom the continuity of the Prophet's noble progeny has been ensured. The two were the apples of his eyes. They used to play with him and accompany him to the mosque. Once when the two grandsons were seated on his shoulders, a companion remarked: "What an excellent mount." to which the Prophet retorted: “What excellent riders too.”
It was not the doting of a middle-aged grandfather, but Divine Will, since the Prophet does not do or speak anything by himself, as is borne out by several ayahs of the holy Qur’an that make love and affection for the Prophet’s progeny (not his wives and certainly not his companions) an article of faith for the ummah.
Accordingly, the Prophet explained and expounded to his Sahaba, for the benefit of all future generation of Muslims, the God-given virtues, merits and leadership after him of his Infallible Ahl al-Bayt, as the Hadith-Thaqalayn and other sayings bear testimony.
Our society could never be an Islamic one unless we sincerely tread the footsteps of Allah's final Messenger to mankind, heed his sayings, observe his glorious actions and attitudes, and most important of all follow them, as the faithful among his companions did.
In short, Allah the most Glorious enjoins upon us to take the Prophet's behaviour as an example, because he guides us to virtue and righteousness.
Modesty and Simplicity
He was the finest embodiment of modesty, and deeply abhorred arrogance and haughtiness. Almost all of his companions in the early days were poor and oppressed people, as he was the champion of the downtrodden and the defender of the deprived masses.
His house was simple and modest, built of clay bricks, palm leaves and trunks. His food was simple like that of the poor, consisting mostly of barley bread. There were occasions when he might skip that meagre meal too. He socialised with his companions as one of them: talking, listening, smiling and displaying a sense of humour. Sometimes he might join in their laughter to cheer their sprits up. He would visit them when they fell sick or accept an invitation for a meal irrespective of whether the person concerned was poor, a slave or any other. In case a companion of his died, he used to participate in the funeral procession, walking alongside the bier.
Owing to his great modesty, he normally preferred riding a mule while moving around, using a saddle made of date-palm fibre. Sometimes he also rode his she-camel. If he was riding and somebody wished to accompany him on foot, he would ask him either to mount behind, and if the man declined out of respect, he would ask him to go ahead and await him at the fixed place, because he did not like the sight of people following him on foot, while he himself was mounted.
So modest was he that he hated to see people rising to their feet when he entered an assembly. And on entering he used to sit at the nearest vacant spot, so that his companions might not think that he was sporting an air of superiority over them. His magnetic personality drew love and respect from all. He used to sit on the ground, even while eating, and slept on the ground with a simple mat serving as his bed. He greeted even small boys, as well as women. If some man shook hands with him, he would not unclasp his hand till the other did it first.
Once, a Christian chieftain named Adi bin Hatim al-Ta'i, came for an audience with the Prophet of Islam, who happened to be sitting on a cushion. On seeing the visitor he took the cushion from underneath and offered it to his Christian guest, himself preferring to sit on the ground. This admirable display of modesty by the great Prophet so deeply affected Adi bin Hatim al-Ta'i, that the Christian chief immediately embraced Islam.
This is how Prophet Muhammad [s] taught us best of morals and excellent manners. By living a simple and ordinary life and treating everybody alike with courtesy and respect, he was able to spread the light of Islam. His immaculate personality and lofty character, coupled with his honesty and wisdom, attracted multitudes of people towards truth and justice.