The Prophet's munificence and charity towards the poor was reinforced by Zuhd (renunciation of worldly pleasures). They followed one another in his character as night follows day.
He (Pbuh) willingly gave up whatever he (Pbuh) had and generously shared it with the poor. He (Pbuh) even shared their want and need. Abu Talhah narrated that they complained to the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) of hunger, lifting up their clothes to show their stomachs, each tying a stone on it (to alleviate hunger), whereupon the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) lifted up his clothes to show two stones.
He (Pbuh)chose to live as the poorest of his people. Poverty was superior in his eyes to worldly richness. The Prophet (Pbuh)said, “My Lord offered to make Al-Batha’ (a valley between Makkah and Mina) gold for me, but I said, ‘No my Lord, I would rather be satisfied one day and hungry one day. When I am hungry, I will supplicate You and remember You. When I am satisfied, I will thank You and praise You.’”
Allah U says, “Whoever humbles himself for Me like this,” – Zaid (the sub-narrator) directed the palm of his hand towards the earth and brought it close to the ground – “I will exalt him like this,” – and he (Zaid) directed the palm of his hand towards heaven and raised it towards it.
The Prophet (Pbuh) humbled himself, although he (Pbuh)could have lived like a king. Abu Hurairah narrated, “Jibril was sitting with the Prophet (Pbuh) when he looked towards heaven, and behold, an angel was descending. Jibril said, ‘Indeed, this angel has never descended before this hour since the day he was created.’ When the angel had descended, he said, ‘O Muhammad, your Lord has sent me to you to inquire whether He should make you a Prophet-King or a Slave-Messenger.’ Jibril said, ‘Humble yourself to your Lord, O Muhammad!’ He (Pbuh) said, ‘Rather, a Slave-Messenger.’”
The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) preferred being a Prophet-slave to a Prophet-king and chose what is with his Lord. He (Pbuh)said, “Allah has given a slave the choice between this world and what is with Him, and that slave chose what is with Allah.” Allah U says: (Whatever is with you will end, and whatever is with Allah is everlasting.)
In the life of this world the Prophet (Pbuh) lived as a wayfarer who was soon to depart and return to his true abode. ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud t narrated, “The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) slept on a mat. When he (Pbuh) awoke, the mat had left its imprint on his side. We said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, can we make for you a bed?’ He (Pbuh) said, ‘What have I to do with worldly life? In worldly life I am but a rider who sought shade under a tree, and then departed and left it behind.’”
His provisions from this world were no more than that of a traveler. He (Pbuh) exhorted his Companions to tread the same path. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar t narrated, “The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) took hold of my shoulders and said, ‘O ‘Abdullah, be in this world as if you were a stranger or a wayfarer, and count yourself one of the dwellers of the grave.’”
The life of this world is no more than a bridge crossed over to the Hereafter, which is the true life that one must strive to attain. (The life of this world is only amusement and play. Verily, the home of the Hereafter, that is the life indeed, if they but knew.)
Worldly life cannot be an end; its time is limited, its enjoyments are little, and leaving it is inevitable. (Are you more pleased with the life of this world rather than the Hereafter? But little is the enjoyment of the life of this world as compared with the Hereafter.)
This is the truth of life, uncolored, which the Prophet (Pbuh)laid bare before people’s eyes. Jabir bin ‘Abdullah t narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh)passed by the marketplace, coming through a passage of Al-‘Aliya with people surrounding him. There he (Pbuh)passed by a dead sheep with cut ears. He (Pbuh)took it and held its ears and said, “Who among you would like to have this for a dirham?” They said, “We would not like to have it for anything. What would we do with it?” He (Pbuh)said, “Would you like to have it (for free)?” They said, “By Allah, even if it were alive, still there is a defect in it. Its ears are cut; all the more now that it is dead.” He (Pbuh)said, “By Allah, this world is even more worthless in the Sight of Allah than this is to you.”
He (Pbuh)compared this world to the Hereafter, saying “This world compared to the Hereafter is only like one of you dipping his finger into the sea; let him see with what (how much water) it returns.”
He (Pbuh)contrasted what lasts with what perishes, “He who loves his worldly life will harm his afterlife; and he who loves his afterlife will harm his worldly life. Give preference to what lasts (the Hereafter) over what perishes.”
In order to have lasting companions, he (Pbuh) exhorted, “Three things follow a dead person (to his grave), two of which return and one remains with him. His family, wealth, and deeds follow him. His family and his wealth return, and his deeds remain.” And of man’s true belongings, “Son of Adam says, ‘My wealth, my wealth.’ Do you gain anything (of benefit) from your wealth except that which you ate and consumed, or you clothed yourself with and you wore it out, or gave as charity and thus kept in store (for the Hereafter)?”
According to his guidance, richness is not having or saving more, but rather seeing one’s portion as sufficient, “Richness is not having many possessions. True richness is contentment of the soul.”
Sufficiency is the key the Prophet (Pbuh)gave for satisfaction in this world, “Whoever among you wakes up in the morning healthy in his body, secure in his house (or his family), and has his day’s food (for himself and his family), it is as though the world has been brought into his possession.”
Poverty is not the threat. The Prophet (Pbuh)said, “By Allah, it is not poverty that I fear for you. I fear lest the life of this world be lavished on you as it was lavished on those who came before you, and you compete with one another over it as they competed over it, and it destroys you as it destroyed them.”
Without a doubt, the threat is hoarding without giving. The Prophet (Pbuh)said, “The ones having much are the ones having little (least reward) on the Day of Resurrection except him whom Allah gives good (wealth), and he freely bestows it to his right and to his left, and to his front and to his back and does good with it.”
- Sunan At-Tirmidhy, Book of Az-Zuhd, Hadith no. 2293.
- Abu Umamah, Sunan At-Tirmidhy, Book of Az-Zuhd, Hadith no. 2270.
- Divine Hadith: Musand Ahmad Book of Al-‘Ashrah Al-Mubasahrin Bil-Jannah (The Ten Given the Glad Tidings of Entering Paradise), Hadith no. 292.
- Musnad Ahmad, Book of Al-Mukthrin, Hadith no. 6863.
- Abu Sa‘id Al-Khudri, Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Al-Manaqib, Hadith no. 3381.
- Translated meanings of An-Nahl 16: 96.
- Sunan At-Tirmidhy, Book of Az-Zuhd, Hadith no. 2299.
- Sunan Ibn Majah, Book of Az-Zuhd, Hadith no. 4104.
- Translated meanings of Al-‘Ankabut 29: 64.
- Translated meanings of At-Tawbah 9: 38.
- Sahih Muslim, Book of Az-Zuhd wa Ar-Raqa’iq, Hadith no. 5257.
- Mustaurid (brother of Banu Fihr), Sunan At-Tirmidhy, Book of Az-Zuhd, Hadith no. 2245.
- Abu Musa Al-Ash‘ary, Musnad Ahmad, Book of Kuffans (Kufis), Hadith no. 18866.
- Anas bin Malik,Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Ar-Riqaq, Hadith no. 6033.
- ‘Abdullah bin Ash-Shakhir, Sahih Muslim, Book of Az-Zuhd wa Ar-Raqa’iq, Hadith no. 5258.
- Abu Hurairah, Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Ar-Riqaq, Hadith no. 5965.
- ‘Abdullah bin Muhsin, Sunan Ibn Majah, Book of Az-Zuhd, Hadith no. 4131.
- ‘Amr bin Awf, Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Al-Magazi, Hadith no. 3712.
- Abu Dhar, Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Ar-Riqaq, Hadith no. 5962.