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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The Prophet as a Man-Caring for Women and Children

Edited by Adil Salahi

No one was more caring for women and children than the Prophet
(peace be upon him). There are many Hadiths that tell of this care, and
shows how the Prophet was keen to let children feel that he welcomed
them and was pleased to see them at all times.

Anas ibn Malik served the Prophet for ten years, starting at an
early age. Hence, he was the source of a large number of Hadiths, many
of which were his own reports on what the Prophet did and how he behaved
in different situations.

In a particular Hadith, he tells us about the Prophet's travel to
Khaybar, a large concentration of Jews in Arabia, when they were
preparing to marshal forces for an attack on Madinah. The Muslims led siege
to Khaybar, which was composed of numerous forts, some of which were
practically impregnable. However, the encounter ended in a resounding
victory for the Muslims.

Anas ibn Malik reports: "The Prophet said to Abu Talhah (Anas's
stepfather): 'Find me one of your lads who will serve me on my travel to
Khaybar.' Abu Talhah took me on his mount when I was a young man,
having attained puberty. I served God's Messenger whenever he dismounted. I
often heard him praying: 'My Lord, I seek refuge with you from stress
and grief, disability and laziness, miserliness and cowardice, the heavy
burden of debt and men's oppression.'

We arrived at Khaybar. Then God gave him victory and the
fortified city fell to him. He was then told of Safiyyah bint Huyayy ibn
Akhtab's beauty, whose husband was killed shortly after being married to her.
The Prophet chose her for himself. We marched back until we reached
Sadd Al-Sahba' when she completed her waiting period.

The Prophet then married her. He then had a dish of dates blended
with ghee in a small pan. He said to me: 'Call those around.' This was
the dinner party the Prophet gave for his marriage to Safiyyah. We then
marched to Madinah. I saw the Prophet preparing her place for her on
his mount, using a top garment. He would sit by his camel and put his
knee forward so that Safiyyah could place her foot on his knee in order to
be able to mount the camel. We marched until we approached Madinah. He
looked at Mount Uhud and said: 'This mountain loves us and we love it.'
He then looked at Madinah and said: 'I consecrate the area in between
its two volcanic rock areas in the same way as Abraham consecrated
Makkah. May God bless their measures for them.'" (Related by Al-Bukhari,
Muslim, Ahmad and Al-Nassaie.)

There are plenty of things to note in this Hadith. Perhaps the
first should be the supplication the Prophet used to say frequently. He
sought refuge with God from several things that can easily weigh anyone
down. Stress, grief, disability, laziness, miserliness and cowardice
can bring anyone much misery and prevent him from enjoying life.

Some of these are attitudes of choice, while others are often
brought about by external factors. Regardless of the cause, they can make
life a series of miseries. Avoiding them can become easy with God's
help. Therefore, a prayer to God with an appeal for help to rid oneself of
such qualities and their causes is very useful. Furthermore the Prophet
appealed for God's protection against the effects of debt and
oppression. Indeed, debt can become very oppressive, if the creditor is keen to
recover his debt and presses hard on the borrower, the situation can
become very difficult. Hence, the Prophet is appealing against any such
situation. His prayer teaches us to steer away from debt as much as we
can.

The Prophet's marriage to Safiyyah was surprising to many. Her
father was a dedicated and uncompromising enemy of Islam. He had
marshaled forces and forged alliances with unbelievers to attack Madinah and
annihilate Muslims. He was executed together with the traitors from the
Quraydhah Jews. Now the Prophet married her after giving her the choice
to become a Muslim and marry him. He wanted to demonstrate that in
Islam people are held to account only for their own deeds. Her father's
misdeeds could not be blamed on her. This marriage in fact reconciled many
of the Jews to Muslims and allowed for the re-establishment of proper
relations with them.

What is remarkable is the way the Prophet treated Safiyyah. He
himself would prepare her place of mounting for her, and allowed her to
put her foot on his knee to mount. Needless to say, he could have
ordered that a chair or stool should be brought for her to step on, but he
would place her knee for her instead. This remarkable humility from the
Prophet who had just achieved a final victory over the very people to
whom she belonged.

What the Prophet said about Mount Uhud represents the attitude
Islam lays down toward nature and its forces. They are all creatures of
God, and as such they are friendly to man, giving what they can for the
benefit of human life. It is man who either benefits by them or treats
them ill. Then the Prophet gave Madinah the same status as Makkah,
making it forbidden for non-believers, and prayed for its inhabitants.

With children, the Prophet was very kind, showing them love and
compassion, particularly those that belonged to his immediate relatives.
Abdullah ibn Jaafar ibn Abi Talib reports: "When the Prophet came back
from a travel, the children of his household would receive him first.
Once he was back from travel, and I was the first to be brought to him.
He carried me in his arms. Then one of Fatimah's two sons, either Hasan
or Husayn, was brought to him, and he placed him to his rear on his
mount. We then entered Madinah, all three of us on the same mount."
(Related by Muslim, Ahmad, Abu Dawood and Ibn Majah.)

In this Hadith we see the Prophet's treatment of the children of
his own family. The reporter of this Hadith is the son of Jaafar, the
Prophet's cousin who was sent on a long mission to Abyssinia. He speaks
of a time when he was still young, shortly after his father's return
from his mission. He was the first child to be brought to the Prophet as
he approached Madinah, and he carried the child and placed him in
front. Although one of his own grandchildren was brought up to him a short
while later, he placed his grandchild behind him. He would not change
the position of the one who came first, even though that child was dearer
to him because he was the son of his own daughter, whom he dearly
loved.

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