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How Simple Was Prophet Muhammad’s Life?

09 October, 2021
Q As-salamu `alaykum. I would like you to shed some light on the the simplicity of d by Prophet Muhammad's life (peace be upon him) before and after his being honored with messengership. What about his life as a human being?


Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

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In this fatwa:

1- Prophet Muhammad’s life is full of examples that show his simplicity before and after he was called for Prophethood.

2- Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was a prophet, a teacher, a statesman, and a judge.

3- He used to milk his goat, mend his shoes, and visit poor people when they got sick. His life was an amazing model of simplicity and humbleness.

Elaborating more on how Prophet Muhammad’s life was simple, we cite for you the following:

Prophet’s life before mission

If we compare Prophet Muhammad’s life before his mission as a prophet and his life after his mission, we will notice that Muhammad can never be a person who falsely claimed prophethood to attain material gains, greatness, glory, or power.

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Before his mission as a prophet, Muhammad had no financial worries. As a successful and reputed merchant, Muhammad drew a satisfactory and comfortable income.

Prophet Muhammad’s life after mission

After his mission as a prophet, there is a sharp decline as regards his financial status.

To clarify this more, let us reflect on the following saying of his wife Aishah describing their simple life.

She addressed her nephew Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair (may Allah be pleased with him) saying: “O my nephew, we would sight three new moons in two months without lighting a fire (to cook a meal) in the Prophet’s houses.”

Her nephew asked, “O Aunt, what was your foodstuff then?” She said, “The two black things, dates and water, but the Prophet had some Ansar neighbors who had she-camels and they used to send the Prophet some milk.”

Amr ibn Al-Harith (may Allah be pleased with him) said that when the Prophet died, he left neither money nor anything else except his white riding mule, his shield, and a piece of land which he left to charity.

The Prophet led this hard life till he died despite that the Muslim public treasury was at his disposal, the greater part of the Arabian Peninsula had entered into the fold of Islam before his death.

Did Prophet Muhammad claim prophethood to attain status, greatness, and power?

Is it possible that Muhammad 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? 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 used to milk his goat, patch his clothes, mend his shoes, help his family with the household work, and visit poor people when they got sick.

He also helped his Companions in digging a trench by moving sand with them. His life was an amazing model of simplicity and humbleness.

Muhammad’s 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 (may Allah be pleased with him) said that there was no person whom they loved more than the Prophet Muhammad yet whenever he came to them, they would not stand up for him because he disliked such manner adopted by other people in showing respect to 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 and his followers, he received an interesting offer.

A great offer was rejected

An envoy of the pagan leader, Utbah, 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 any matter without your approval. If you want a kingdom, we will crown you king over us.”

Only one concession was required from Muhammad in return for this offer: 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 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, “By Allah! If they are to place the Sun in my right hand and the moon on my left that I give up this matter, I will never do so until Allah makes me victorious or I die therein.”

Muhammad and his few followers did not only suffer from persecution for thirteen years but the unbelievers even tried to kill him several times.

On one occasion, they attempted to kill him by dropping a large boulder, which could barely be lifted, on his head.

Another time, they tried to kill him by poisoning his food. What could justify such a life of suffering and sacrifice even after he was made fully victorious 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? Of course, not.

Allah Almighty knows best. 

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.