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The Humility of the Prophet

Auther : Shaykh Hishaam Muhammad Sa‘eed Barghash
8051 2011/06/01 2022/06/26
Article translated to : العربية Español

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was the humblest of people. He would behave and abide by the saying of Allah the almighty (which means): 

{That home of the hereafter we assign to those who do not desire exaltedness upon the earth or corruption. and the [best] outcome is for the righteous} [Quran 28: 83]

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was the peak of humility in all its forms.

He, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would hate praise and forbade people exaggerating about him saying: 

“Do not exaggerate about me as the christians have exaggerated about the son of Maryam, for I am no more than his slave, so say, (that I am merely) the slave of Allah and his Messenger.” [Al-Bukhaari]

It was also narrated that Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, said that a man said to the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam“you are our master and the son of our master, the best of us and the son of the best of us.'' the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: 

“Oh people! say what you have to say, but do not allow the devil to trick you. I am Muhammad the son of ‘Abdullaah, the slave of Allah and his Messenger. By Allah, I do not like that you elevate me above the rank that Allah has granted me.”

[Ahmad and An-Nasaa’i; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

How, then, could some of those who claim that they love him most turn a blind eye to what he enjoined and warned about concerning praising him unduly?

It was also narrated that Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, said that a man said to the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, “you are the best of creation.” The Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: 

“(Rather), that is Ibraaheem, may Allah exalt his mention.” [Muslim]

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Jibreel came and sat next to the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He looked at the heaven and saw an angel descending therefrom. Then he said‘this angel has never descended since he was created until this time.’ when he (the angel) descended he said, ‘Oh Muhammad! Your lord sent me to you to ask you: would you like Allah to make you a king and Prophet, or a slave and Prophet?’ Jibreel said. ‘Oh Muhammad! Humble yourself to your lord.’ so the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: ‘a slave and a Prophet.’”  [Ahmad; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would say: 

“I eat as a slave eats and I sit as a slave sits.” [Ibn Sa‘d and Al-Bayhaqi; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would sit on the ground and on reed mats and on carpets. It was narrated that ‘Abdullaah Ibn Busr, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, had a bowl called gharraa’. Four men would carry it. When the sun rose, high and they performed the forenoon prayer, this bowl, in which thareed (broth, bread and meat) was prepared, would be brought, and the people gathered round it. When they were numerous, the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, sat with them on his knees. a bedouin said, ‘what type of sitting is this?’ the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, replied: ‘Allah has made me a noble slave, not an obstinate tyrant.’” [Abu Daawood and Ibn Maajah; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, said, “the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would sit on the ground and eat on the ground and milk the sheep.” [At-Tabaraani; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

When the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, saw a man trembling with fear when he saw him, he said to him:

 “relax. I am not a king; I am the son of a woman from Quraysh who would eat jerked meat.”  [Ibn Maajah and Al-Haakim; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would invoke his lord saying: 

“Oh Allah! Make me live humbly and make me die humbly, and gather me among the humble on the day of resurrection.”  [At-Tirmithi; Al-Albaani: hasan]

His humility with his lord the almighty was manifest in his character. He was ever humble and submissive before his lord:

It was narrated that Abu Sa‘eed Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I saw the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, prostrating in mud and water such that I saw the marks of mud on his forehead.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

It was narrated that Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, said describing the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, while he was going out to the istisqaa’ (rain-seeking) prayer, that the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, went out wearing old clothes in a humble and modest manner. He was making supplications and walking unhurriedly. [Abu Daawood, An-Nasaa’i and Ibn Maajah; Al-Albaani: hasan]

When Allah the almighty made him successfully conquer Makkah, he, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, entered it in much meekness, modesty, humility and thankfulness reciting the chapter of al-Fat’h and repeating it. [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

His humility with his companions was really of a marvelous kind. There were numerous examples of this attribute for it was a natural trait of his character.

He would accept the invitation of the freeman, the slave, the poor, and the rich, and visit those who were ill in the most distant parts in Madeenah, and he would accept the apologies of those who offered them. This was the tradition of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, whether he was traveling or resident. It was narrated that ‘Uthmaan Ibn ‘Affaan, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “We have accompanied the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, while he was traveling and not traveling. he would visit our sick people, follow our funerals, fight alongside us in battles, and give comfort to us with little or much.”  [Ahmad; Sheikh Ahmad Shaakir: saheeh (authentic)]

It was also narrated that the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, did not disdain walking with a widow or needy people would assist them. [An-Nasaa’i; Al-Albaani: Saheeh (authentic)]

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used to come to weak Muslims, visit them, visit the ill among them, and attend their funerals.” [Al Haakim; Al-Albaani: Saheeh].

It was narrated that Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “a woman who was afflicted with partial derangement in her mind said, ‘Oh Messenger of Allah! I want something from you. He said: ‘see on which side of the road you would like (to stand and talk) so that I may help you.’ He then stood aside with her on the roadside until she got what she needed.”  [Muslim]

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was so humble that he would accept any meal invitation, even for barley bread, and he would accept.

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: 

“if I were invited to a meal of a sheep’s leg I would accept, and if I were given a sheep’s leg as a gift, I would accept it.” [Al-Bukhaari]

It was narrated that Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would be invited to eat barley bread and rancid fat and he would accept it.” [At-Tirmithi; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would accept the invitation of slaves to eat barley bread. [At-Tabaraani; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

It was narrated that Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “my grandmother, Mulaykah, invited the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to a meal that she had made for him, and he ate some, then he said: ‘get up and let me lead you in prayer.’”  Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, added: “I went and got a reed mat of ours that had become blackened from long use and sprinkled it with water. Then, the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, stood, and the orphan and I stood behind him, and the old lady stood behind us, and the

Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, led us in praying two rak‘ahs (units), then he left.”  [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

What fine manners! Who would accept an invitation to eat bread only? Who would accept the invitation of a slave or worker who works for him?

From the humility of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, was that whenever he rode his mount, he would let someone ride behind him on it if possible, otherwise, they would take turns in riding. It was narrated that the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, once rode a donkey with a saddle underneath where there was a thick soft fadakiyyah (velvet sheet). He let Usaamah Ibn Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him, ride behind him while he was going to pay a visit to Sa‘d Ibn ‘Ubaadah (who was sick) at the dwelling place of Banu Al-Haarith Ibn Al-Khazraj.  [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

It was narrated that Ibn Mas‘ood, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “on the day of (the battle of) Badr, every three men rode a camel. Abu Lubaabah and Ali ibn Abi Taalib were the co-riders of the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. When it was the turn of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to walk, they said, ‘we will walk instead of you and you keep riding.’ the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: ’No, you are not stronger than I, and I am not in less need of reward than you.’” [Ahmad and Ibn Hibbaan]

A person would hardly ever find the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, riding his camel without a co-rider, or riding by turns. This was because of the humility of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Was there ever a great man in this worldly life who would accept having a co-rider of whatever social status next to him on his mount other than the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam? That was the tradition of the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He was always humble and modest with the believers, giving help to the old, the distressed and the weak, visiting sick people, showing kindness to the needy, playing with children, joking with the members of his family, speaking to slave women, eating with others, and sitting and sleeping on the earth, sand, and reed mats.

As for his humility in his house, one would be amazed at it in view of his great status and position:

It was narrated that ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, was asked about what the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would do in his house, and she said: “he would serve his family and when the time for prayer came he would go out and pray.” [Al-Bukhaari]

As we have observed, that was the noble Prophet of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, the finest of all human beings; he would serve his family while we see many people who claim to love the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, looking down upon helping or serving their families.

‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “he would stitch his own clothes, mend his own sandals and do whatever ordinary men do in their houses.”

 [Ahmad and Ibn Hibbaan; Al- Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

It was also narrated that ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, was asked about what the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would do in his house, and she said, “he was a human being like all other human beings. He would search his clothes for fleas, milk his sheep, and serve himself.”

 [Ahmad; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

He gave the finest example of humility in how he dressed, even though he was certainly able to wear the finest and the most beautiful clothes if he so wished. And how could this not be the case when it was him who said: “Whoever gives up wearing elegant and expensive garments out of humility before Allah, when he can do so, Allah will call him on the day of resurrection and before all creation, he will give him the choice to wear whichever garment of Emaan (faith) he would like to wear.”  [Ahmad and At-Tirmithi]

Let my mother, father, my son and myself be sacrificed for you, Oh Messenger of Allah! sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam!

He, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, also said: “wearing simple clothes is a part of Emaan (faith).” [Abu Daawood and Ibn Maajah; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would wear whatever clothes were available. He, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would often wear a cloak, a rough garment and a thick mantle.

It was narrated that Abu Burdah, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “‘A’ishah showed us a patched garment and a thick lower garment and said to us, ’the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, died while wearing these two.’”  [Al-Bukhaari, Muslim, and At- Tirmithi]

The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, loved the qamees (long shirt) the most. It was narrated that Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “out of all garments, the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, liked the qamees the best.” [Abu Daawood, At-Tirmithi and Ibn Maajah; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

He would keep the buttons of his qamees unfastened. it was narrated that Qurrah Ibn Iyaas, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “I came to the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, with a company of (the tribe of) Muzaynah and we swore allegiance to him. The buttons of his qamees were open.” 

[Abu Daawood and Ahmad; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

The incidents reported in these hadeeths indicate the modesty and humility of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in his dress. Being proud due to beautiful clothing and adornment is not of the traits of manly honor and dignity as they are feminine qualities. Rather, men’s clothes should be clean and simple, as was the tradition of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

Although the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, would wear simple and humble clothes, he paid much attention to its cleanliness, good appearance, and a nice scent.

It was narrated that ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “I made a black cloak for the Messenger of Allah, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and he put it on; but when he sweated in it and noticed the odor of the wool, he discarded it.” She added, “He liked to have a nice sent”  [Abu Daawood and Ahmad; Al-Albaani: saheeh (authentic)]

Along with the humility of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, in dress, he would wear beautiful clothes for the Jumu‘ah (Friday prayer) and the two ‘Eids and also while receiving delegations, [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim] Because such dress befits these ceremonies and occasions. In fact, all the aforementioned indicate the perfection of the traditions of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

Allah the almighty the most truthful says describes him: 

{and indeed, you are of a great moral character} [Quran 68:4]

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