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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A Life Marked by Modesty in All Situations

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a model of modesty. Most
certainly, he was the best person to have ever walked on earth, but he did
not press his position in any way other than to emphasize that his task
was merely to deliver God's message to mankind. He did not seek for
himself any privilege or special treatment. On the contrary, he was keen
to always appear among his companions as one of them who had no special
privilege. A stranger who found him sitting with them would not know
which of them was God's Messenger until he had been informed by them. In
manners, appearance and behavior, the Prophet was not distinguishable
from his companions, except in always choosing the better, easier and
more beneficial option.

Qudamah ibn Abdullah reports: "I saw the Prophet as he performed the
duty of stoning the Jamrah (during his pilgrimage) on the day of
sacrifice. He was riding a camel of normal color, which was neither too pretty
nor bad looking." (Related by Ahmad, Al-Tirmidhi, Al-Nassaie and Ibn
Majah.) This took place during the Prophet's pilgrimage, which was in the
last year of his mission, when his authority as head of state was
universally acknowledged throughout Arabia. At that time, rulers gave
themselves magnificent appearance wherever they went. This has been a
tradition everywhere. Today, when a ruler moves from one area to another in
his own capital, he rides in a huge procession. In some countries, the
streets along the route a ruler moves are blocked to all traffic until he
has reached his destination. The Prophet chose a very ordinary camel
and went among his people as one of them.

This was his habit, because we read several descriptions of how he went
about. Needless to say, in each description the Prophet's companion
concerned speaks about what he saw. Thus, Usamah ibn Zayd says: "I saw the
Prophet (peace be upon him) riding a donkey with a saddle placed over
an article of clothing made in Fadak. He got Usamah to ride behind him
when he went to visit Saad ibn Ubadah who was ill in his home in
Al-Harith ibn Al-Khazraj's quarters." (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and
Ahmad.) Usamah, who was riding behind the Prophet on this occasion,
describes how the Prophet went far to visit one of his companions because he
was ill. There is nothing remarkable about the Prophet's riding and
appearance, other than its being very modest. It is the type of mount that
was available to all at the time. Not only so, but he also took Usamah
behind him.

The Prophet was indeed most caring. If on this instance he visited one
of the chiefs of the Ansar, he would visit anyone who was ill, as we
can easily deduce from the following Hadith narrated by Anas: "A Jewish
lad used to serve the Prophet. He fell ill and the Prophet went to visit
him. He sat by the patient, near to his head. He then said to him:
'Embrace Islam.' The lad looked up to his father, who said to him: 'Do as
Abu Al-Qasim is telling you.' The lad declared himself a Muslim. When
the Prophet left him, he said: 'All praise be to God who has saved this
lad from the fire.'" (Related by Al-Bukhari, Ahmad and Abu Dawood.)

We note how the Prophet went to visit a servant of his, a young chap
who did not believe in his message. Nothing stopped him from showing his
care for the lad. The boy and his family were highly appreciative of
the fact, as they well knew that he was the master and ruler in Madinah.
When the Prophet told him to embrace Islam, he only did so because he
cared for the boy. He did not wish the lad to meet his Lord as a
non-Muslim, having known about Islam. No doubt when the Prophet asked him to
embrace Islam, he was only concerned for the lad and his position in the
life to come. He wanted for him what is best and this could only be
achieved through his embrace of the Islamic faith.

The boy's father was also fully aware of the Prophet's feelings. Hence,
he told his son to obey him. The boy had known the Prophet and his
honesty, and he must have reported to his family on the Prophet's exemplary
conduct at home and with his community. Hence, the father did not
hesitate to order his son to follow the Prophet's guidance. When the boy
declared himself a Muslim, the Prophet was delighted for his salvation.

It is when things are difficult that a leader's character appears at
its clearest. When the Prophet and his companions marched to intercept
the trade caravan belonging to the Quraysh, hoping to take it in
compensation for their property the Quraysh had confiscated when they
immigrated to Madinah, they were very badly equipped. They were over 300 people,
but they had only seventy odd camels and two horses. They realized that
they might have to confront a much bigger force, as they eventually did
when the Quraysh raised an army and the two sides fought the Battle of
Badr. How did they manage to march with such little amount of
equipment? Abdullah ibn Massoud reports: "When marching for the Battle of Badr,
every three of us were assigned one camel.

Abu Lubabah and Ali ibn Abi Talib shared one camel with the Prophet.
When it was the Prophet's turn to walk, both of them said to him: 'We
will walk instead of you.' The Prophet said to them: 'Neither of you is
stronger than me, nor am I less in need of God's reward than
you.'(Related by Ahmad and others.)

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