Prophet Muhammad in richness and poverty

Prophet Muhammed in poverty and wealth

The Messenger (peace be upon him) was not only a good example for traders, but he was a good example for the rich and poor. One day,

«Gibrael (peace be upon him) sat with the Messenger (peace be upon him) and looked towards the sky, where an angel was descending. Gibrael said to the Messenger, ‘That angel has not descended to earth since he was created until now.’ When the angel came, he said, ‘Oh Muhammed, your Lord sent me to you. Shall I make you a Prophet-king or a slave-Messenger?’ Gibrael said to the Messenger, ‘Be humble in front of your Lord, Oh Muhammed.’ The Messenger (peace be upon him) said, ‘A slave-Messenger’» [related by Ahmed].

During the Messenger’s life, his circumstances changed from poverty to wealth. Therefore, the Messenger (peace be upon him) gave the poor a wonderful example and role model for any circumstances of poverty and the patience that is needed in such a state. Simlarly, the Messenger (peace be upon him) gave a wonderful example and role model for wealthy circumstances and the thanks, liberality and generosity that are appropriate in such a state. The Messenger (peace be upon him) chose to live in a state of slavery to Allah and with a lack of luxuries. Consequently, he used to be hungry sometimes and satisfied other times; this was in order for him to be an example for the hungry in how to face the Lord and supplicate Him, and an example for those who are satisfied in how to praise and thank Allah. Then Allah (Glorified is He) destined for him to die when he was poor in order for him to receive the reward of being ascetic in this worldly life.

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) said, «The family of the Messenger did not feel satisfied, not wanting food, for three consecutive days [anytime] up until he died» [related by Al-Bukhari].

The Messenger (peace be upon him) when he was poor

The Messenger (peace be upon him) lived a poor life and experienced what the poor experience of hunger and the need for food, drink and clothes. How many times was he hungry, not finding anything to eat, although he was the Messenger (peace be upon him), the best of Allah’s creation!!

«Sometimes, due to lack of food, the Messenger (peace be upon him) used to even tie a stone on his stomach due to hunger».[Graded as authentic by Al-Albani].

Moreover, his daughter Fatima (may Allah be pleased with her) came one day with a piece of barley bread to give it to him to eat. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said,

«This is the first [piece of] food your father has eaten in three days» [related by Ahmed].

We also have Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), who entered upon the Messenger (peace be upon him) one day when the Messenger was in his house. Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) saw the Messenger lying down on a mat which had left marks on the Messenger’s side. Moreover, his stores were empty. Umar was greatly moved by all this, so the Messenger (peace be upon him) said to him this well-known saying, «Oh Ibn Al-Khattab! Do you not want us to have the next life, leaving them with this life?» [related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

The Messenger (peace be upon him) chose not to have worldly luxuries, so he used to be hungry sometime and satisfied other times. This was in order to be a role model and example for the poor of how to be patient in this life and look forward to Allah’s reward when they are in their state of poverty.

The Messenger (peace be upon him) was patient with hunger, poverty and difficult circumstances in life, although he was able to own both this life and the next. Why did he choose this?

The Messenger (peace be upon him) when he was rich

Allah (Glorified is He) says,

{Did He not find you poor and enrich you?} [Surah Al-Duha: 8].

After the Messenger (peace be upon him) immigrated to Medinah and the Islamic call spread, the treasures of the earth were laid open for the Messenger (peace be upon him) and his Companions after the different countries were liberated and prosperity spread. Due to all that Allah (Glorified is He) gave him, the Messenger’s responsibilities towards his nation and the interests of both the general public as well as those of specific individuals became heavier. His amount he gave and the money he spent was more than what he kept for himself. Moreover, the Messenger (peace be upon him) used to give like one who did not fear poverty, as the Bedouin described him to his people, praising him. Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said about this,

«There was nothing the Messenger (peace be upon him) was asked that would make the one who asked enter Islam, but he gave it. A man came to him and the Messenger gave him all the cattle which was between two mountains. The man returned to his people and said to them, ‘Oh people, enter Islam. Muhammed gives like one who does not fear poverty’» [related by Muslim].

It has also been reported that

«Some people from the Ansar asked the Messenger (peace be upon him) for some goods, so the Messenger gave them. Then they asked him again, and the Messenger (peace be upon him) gave them [again]. Then they asked him and the Messenger gave them [again], and this continued until everything that was with him had gone. As a result, the Messenger (peace be upon him) said, ‘Whenever I have any goods, I will not spare them from you’» [related by Ahmed].

The Messenger (peace be upon him) used to pay off the debts and fulfill the needs of the family of the deceased, taking care of all their affairs and expenses. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said,

«I am closer to the believers than their own selves. Whoever of the believers dies leaving a debt, I will repay it for him. And whoever leaves money, this money will be for his inheritors» [related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Muhammed was merciful to all the weak and needy

[He proved himself to be very merciful with all the weak and all those who needed help. Muhammed was truly merciful to orphans, the poor, wayfarers, those [slaves] who wanted to buy their freedom, the weak, manual workers and those were in difficulties. I dearly wish and long to send prayers upon him and those who follow him]

[Jean Leek] Spanish orientalist

The Messenger (peace be upon him) was a role model and an example to follow in how he was generous and spent in Allah’s cause. Explain this point referring to the Messenger’s biography.

When the Messenger (peace be upon him) was rich, he was generous and open-handed. He was not asked anything that would make the one who asked enter Islam, but he gave it. Explain how generous the Messenger (peace be upon him) was with his wealth.

The Messenger (peace be upon him) used to not pray over his Companions who died leaving a debt. The Messenger (peace be upon him) used to say,

«Pray over your Companion.> But when Allah (Glorified is He) gave him booty, the Messenger (peace be upon him) used to say, [related by Al-Bukhari].

The Messenger (peace be upon him) lacking money was not because he was poor. In fact, it was due to his open-handedness and him being generous. In this state of wealth, the Messenger (peace be upon him) was a role model and a good example of how to be generous and spend in Allah’s cause, following the example mentioned in Allah’s saying,

{And in their wealth, the poor and the destitute had a due share} [Surah Ath-Thariyat: 19].

A sacred hadith states,

«Allah (Glorified is He) said, ‘Spend, oh son of Adam; I will spend on you’» [related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Muhammed never desired wealth

[Muhammed was never, at any time, desirous for wealth. His increase in wealth was for the benefit of others. If he had a choice in the matter himself, he would prefer to live in calm and peace, and being fully satisfied with his circumstances]

[William Muir]. Scottish orientalist

The Messenger (peace be upon him) said, «I looked at paradise and saw that most of its inhabitants were the poor» [related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]. What does this hadith mean?

Muhammed was born as an orphan who loves the poor and needy

[Muhammed, that inspiring man who established Islam, was born into an Arab tribe that used to worship idols. He was born as an orphan who loves the poor and needy, the widow, the orphans, the slaves and the weak]

[James Michener]. Well-known American writer and author

The Messenger (peace be upon him) lived the life of the poor and experienced what the poor experienced of hunger and being in need, freely choosing such a state and hoping for a reward from Allah for his patience. What does this indicate?

How can you take the Messenger (peace be upon him) an example to follow?

1. Praise and thank Allah (Glorified is He) when you are wealthy, and know that such wealth is a blessing from Allah to you. Consequently, give charity, spend the money [in good ways], and help the poor and needy.

2. When you are wealthy, spend on your household to make life easy for them and make Allah’s blessing of wealth clear on you. Allah (Glorified is He) loves to see the affect of His blessings on His slaves.

3. Give more charity when you are wealthy and be generous as the Messenger (peace be upon him) used to be, but do not waste money and do not be a spendthrift.

4. Praise Allah when you are poor and patiently withstand hunger and the straightened circumstances as the Messenger (peace be upon him) used to patiently withstand such difficulties. And know that this is good for you and raises your status with Allah (Glorified is He).

5. Oh you who have been tried with poverty, know you are like the Messenger (peace be upon him). And know that the poor, due to their quick account, will enter paradise before the rich. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said,

«‘The poor will enter paradise before the rich by half a day, which is equivalent to five hundred years.’ Another narration states, ‘Forty autumns’»

[related by Ahmed].

6. Know that the circumstances of life change, and be pleased with what Allah (Glorified is He) has allotted for you, whether it is wealth or poverty. Both of them are trials. Therefore, be like the Messenger (peace be upon him) and follow the Messenger’s example in order to pass this trial and test, and be happy in your life.