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Prophet Muhammad’s Assertiveness

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was an assertive person.

Assertive people are balanced, calm, polite, and respectful. They are able to reach their goals without hurting or insulting others. They love for others what they love for themselves and do their best to turn a win-lose situation into a win-win situation.

Assertiveness is not a single attribute, but a collection of complementary traits that constitute a healthy personality. Some of these traits are psychological, while others are social skills, while still others are proficiencies that a person develops.

There are two other personality types: passive and aggressive. Aggressive people are selfish, harsh and violent. They do not care who they hurt in reaching their goals. They are willing to perpetrate injustices to get what they want.
The opposite of an aggressive personality is a passive one. Passive people give in to others. They do not stand up for themselves or their rights.

The Prophet’s Assertiveness

Prophet Muhammad was a loving man. He had considerable love for friends and strangers alike. His home was a loving one. This does not mean that he declared his love every time he entered his home. However, he would always do something to show his wife how much he loved her. He would enter his house as a husband, not as a prince or a commander. Sometimes, his wife would be in a certain mood and want to be left alone. He would not get upset, but would be considerate of her feelings.

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Once, `Umar criticized Umm Salamah. She replied to him:

“The Prophet would, in just being himself, exhort us far more effectively than you do. However, we treated him the way we learned from him to behave. Had he prevented us from doing so, we would have desisted.”

The Companions used to compete with each other for a place in the Prophet’s heart. They would ask him:

“Who is the most beloved person to you?”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) once took up his grandchildren Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein and offered the following prayer:

O Allah! I truly love these two, so love them.

He also declared:

Love is from Allah.

Winning Hearts

Through such love, he could change the hearts of his opponents and enemies. As Safwan declared:

“Muhammad used to be the most hated man on Earth to me, but he continued to show me generosity until he became the most beloved of all people.”

Generosity is a way to win the love and respect of one’s enemies and opponents, not to mention one’s friends. This does not just mean material giving, but also spiritual and emotional giving. The prophet engaged with everyone in an active positive manner. It is no surprised that some of his worst enemies became his most ardent supporters, willing to sacrifice everything for him.

The Prophet Muhammad loved his disbelieving uncle Abu Talib, due to the very close family relationship they had. He strove and hoped for Abu Talib’s guidance until his uncle passed away. Then Allah revealed the following verse of the Quran:

You do not guide whoever you love, but Allah guides whom He pleases. (28:56)

Winning the people’s hearts was his chief concern. He would spend of his wealth and emotional reserves to achieve this goal. He would forgive and forget any wrong to his person.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was an expert at the art of social networking. Indeed, the Quran gives us sufficient reason to develop this skill, since Allah declares in the Quran that people are supposed to get to know each other, saying:

O humankind! Indeed, we created you from a male and female and made you into nations and tribes so you could get to know each other (and not despise each other). Indeed, the best of you with Allah are those who are most God-fearing. (49: 13)

The success of any human relationship, whether personal, social, or societal, requires the excellent interpersonal skills. This was critical for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) whose mission was to convey Allah’s message to all humanity. The story of his life was a succession of interpersonal dealings, wherein he exhibited impeccable conduct and the best of manners with everyone near and far, whether friend or foe.

He began by greeting everyone with the salutation of peace, a smiling face, and a handshake. When someone sat with him, he would always give him his cushion, preferring that person’s comfort over his own. He would always give people his full attention when they spoke, and speak clearly and openly to them in return. He would gladly repeat himself if he had to.

These were his speaking habits. Aisha would later recall:

Allah’s Messenger did not drone on in speaking the way you do today. His speech was clear and concise, and everyone who heard it would remember it.

Anas Ibn Malik would recall:

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) would repeat what he said three times to allow someone to understand him.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) would visit the sick, attend funerals, attend to his companions’ needs at their homes, participate in their celebrations and happy occasions like the birth of a child. He would even participate in the naming ceremony and sometimes had the honor of choosing the child’s name. He would look after someone who was absent and everyone in the community knew that he was particularly concerned for their individual welfare.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was equally conscientious in his dealings with his enemies. He wrote to a number of leaders and governors who were hostile to him. When he learned that their habit was not to read letters that were not officially sealed, he respected their custom and had a signet ring made embossed with the words “Muhammad, Allah’s Messenger”.

He wrote the Emperor of Persia, the King of Ethiopia, and the Governors and Kings of the lands, inviting them all to Islam. And he maintained communication with the pagans of Makkah, sending `Uthman to them to negotiate the treaty of Hudaybiyah. He received their messengers as well, and established the principle of diplomatic immunity that is a principle in international relations today.


About Salman al-Ouda
Muslim scholar. Al-Ouda is a member of the International Union for Muslim Scholars and on its Board of Trustees. He is a director of the Arabic edition of the website Islam Today and appears on a number of TV shows and authors newspaper articles.