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The Simple Life of Muhammad

6421 2010/07/06 2024/06/17
Article translated to : Español


if we compare the life of muhammad (pbuh)  before his mission as a prophet and his life after he began his mission as a prophet, we will conclude that it is beyond reason to think that muhammad (pbuh) was a false prophet, who claimed prophethood to attain material gains, greatness, glory, or power.

before his mission as a prophet, muhammad (pbuh) had no financial worries.  as a successful and reputed merchant, muhammad (pbuh) drew a satisfactory and comfortable income.  after his mission as a prophet and because of it, he became worse off materially.  to clarify this more, let us browse the following sayings on his life:


- aa’isha, muhammad’s wife, said, “o my nephew, we would sight three new moons in two months without lighting a fire (to cook a meal) in the prophet’s (pbuh) houses.”  her nephew asked, “o aunt, what sustained you?”  she said, “the two black things, dates and water, but the prophet (pbuh) had some ansar neighbors who had milk-giving she-camels and they used to send the prophet (pbuh) some of its milk.”1

-  sahl ibn sa’ad, one of muhammad’s (pbuh) companions, said, “the prophet of allah (pbuh) did not see bread made from fine flour from the time allah sent him (as a prophet) until he died.”2

-  aa’isha, muhammad’s (pbuh) wife, said, “the mattress of the prophet (pbuh), on which he slept, was made of leather stuffed with the fiber of the date-palm tree.”3

-  amr ibn al-hareth, one of muhammad’s (pbuh) companions, said that when the prophet (pbuh) died, he left neither money nor anything else except his white riding mule, his arms, and a piece of land which he left to charity.4

muhammad (pbuh) lived this hard life till he died although the muslim treasury was at his disposal, the greater part of the arabian peninsula was muslim before he died, and the muslims were victorious after eighteen years of his mission.

is it possible that muhammad (pbuh) might have claimed prophethood in order to attain status, greatness, and power?  the desire to enjoy status and power is usually associated with good food, fancy clothing, monumental palaces, colorful guards, and indisputable authority.  do any of these indicators apply to muhammad (pbuh)?  a few glimpses of his life that may help answer this question follow.

despite his responsibilities as a prophet, a teacher, a statesman, and a judge, muhammad (pbuh) used to milk his goat,5mend his clothes, repair his shoes,6help with the household work,7and visit poor people when they got sick.8  he also helped his companions in digging a trench by moving sand with them.9  his life was an amazing model of simplicity and humbleness.

muhammad’s (pbuh) followers loved him, respected him, and trusted him to an amazing extent.  yet he continued to emphasize that deification should be directed to allah and not to him personally.  anas, one of muhammad’s (pbuh) companions, said that there was no person whom they loved more than the prophet muhammad (pbuh), yet when he came to them, they did not stand up for him because he hated their standing up for him,10as other people do with their great people.

long before there was any prospect of success for islam and at the outset of a long and painful era of torture, suffering, and persecution of muhammad (pbuh) and his followers, he received an interesting offer.  an envoy of the pagan leaders, otba, came to him saying, “...if you want money, we will collect enough money for you so that you will be the richest one of us.  if you want leadership, we will take you as our leader and never decide on any matter without your approval.  if you want a kingdom, we will crown you king over us...”  only one concession was required from muhammad (pbuh) in return for that, to give up calling people to islam and worshipping allah alone without any partner.  wouldn’t this offer be tempting to one pursuing worldly benefit?  was muhammad (pbuh) hesitant when the offer was made?  did he turn it down as a bargaining strategy leaving the door open for a better offer?  the following was his answer: {in the name of allah, the most gracious, the most merciful}  and he recited to otba the verses of the quran 41:1-38.11  the following are some of these verses:

 a revelation from (allah), the most gracious, the most merciful; a book whereof the verses are explained in detail; a quran in arabic, for people who know, giving good news and warning, yet most of them turn away, so they do not listen. (quran, 41:2-4)

on another occasion and in response to his uncle’s plea to stop calling people to islam, muhammad’s (pbuh) answer was as decisive and sincere: {i swear by the name of allah, o uncle!, that if they place the sun in my right-hand and the moon in my left-hand in return for giving up this matter (calling people to islam), i will never desist until either allah makes it triumph or i perish defending it.}12

muhammad (pbuh) and his few followers did not only suffer from persecution for thirteen years but the unbelievers even tried to kill muhammad (pbuh) several times.  on one occasion they attempted to kill him by dropping a large boulder, which could barely be lifted, on his head.13  another time they tried to kill him by poisoning his food.14  what could justify such a life of suffering and sacrifice even after he was fully triumphant over his adversaries?  what could explain the humbleness and nobility which he demonstrated in his most glorious moments when he insisted that success is due only to allah’s help and not to his own genius?  are these the characteristics of a power-hungry or a self-centered man?


(1) narrated in saheeh muslim, #2972, and saheeh al-bukhari, #2567.

(2) narrated in saheeh al-bukhari, #5413, and al-tirmizi, #2364.

(3) narrated in saheeh muslim, #2082, and saheeh al-bukhari, #6456.

(4) narrated in saheeh al-bukhari, #2739, and mosnad ahmad, #17990.

(5) narrated in mosnad ahmad, #25662.

(6) narrated in saheeh al-bukhari, #676, and mosnad ahmad, #25517.

(7) narrated in saheeh al-bukhari, #676, and mosnad ahmad, #23706.

(8) narrated in mowattamalek, #531.

(9) narrated in saheeh al-bukhari, #3034, and saheeh muslim, #1803, and mosnad ahmad, #18017.

(10) narrated in mosnad ahmad, #12117, and al-tirmizi, #2754.

(11) al-serah al-nabaweyyah, ibn hesham, vol. 1, pp. 293-294.

(12) al-serah al-nabaweyyah, ibn hesham, vol. 1, pp. 265-266.

(13) al-serah al-nabaweyyah, ibn hesham, vol. 1, pp. 298-299.

(14) narrated in al-daremey, #68, and abu-dawood, #4510.  



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