The Messenger (peace be upon him) as a master

The Messenger (peace be upon him) as a master

The Messenger (peace be upon him) had many slaves and servants

The Messenger (peace be upon him) freed many of them after he started to receive revelation. This act raised the status of the slaves and encouraged other people to free their slaves. All those around the Messenger (peace be upon him) were pleased with his manners, and the ones who received most of this good treatment of the Messenger (peace be upon him) were those who were the nearest to him. These included Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) and his slaves and slaves. Anas ibn Malik’s testimony is sufficient in illustrating this point. Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

«I served the Messenger for ten years, and, by Allah, he never swore at me at all!! And he never said any word of contempt towards me. Moreover, he never asked me about anything I had done, ‘Why did you do this?’ Or about anything I had not done, ‘Why did you not to this?’» [related by Ahmed].

The Messenger (peace be upon him) had very noble manners with his servants and slaves:

Anas ibn Malik referred to how the Messenger (peace be upon him) dealt with his servants, saying,

«While travelling or when resident, the Messenger (peace be upon him) never asked me why I did something the way I did and he never asked me why I did not do it another way» [related by Al-Bukhari].

The Messenger (peace be upon him) treated his servants well

There is no better proof of how good the Messenger (peace be upon him) was with his servants than the report of Zayd ibn Harithah (may Allah be pleased with him). Zayd used to serve the Messenger (peace be upon him), but when Zayd’s father and family asked him to return to them, he refused to leave his work of serving the Messenger (peace be upon him). He preferred to keep serving the Messenger than to return to his family! Zayd stayed with the Messenger to have the honour of serving him. The Messenger (peace be upon him) rewarded him by adopting him, until Allah prohibited adoption. Zayd (may Allah be pleased with him) took this stance when his family asked him to return to them due to the Messenger’s good treatment with him. Becauses of this treatment, the hearts of the slaves who worked for the Messenger (peace be upn him) were drawn towards him.

From what you have read of the Messenger’s biography, what are the manners and character traits of one who is good to his servants and workers?

The Messenger (peace be upon him) being easy with his servants

Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

«One of the young girl slaves of Madinah used to take the Messenger by his hand and bring him wherever she wanted»

[related by Al-Bukhari].

The Messenger (peace be upon him) encouraging others to free slaves

The Messenger (peace be upon him) was sent to the people when there were many slaves in the world. The Messenger (peace be upon him) brought the idea of equality, brotherhood and respect; as a result, the Messenger freed slaves, reformed the arrogant character of masters, and also encouraged and commended the people to free slaves, making this a means of being saved from the hell-fire. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said,

«Whoever frees a slave, Allah will free every limb of his from the hell-fire for every limb of the slave he freed»

[related by Muslim].

The Messenger (peace be upon him) encouraged others to free slaves at a time when there were many slaves. What is the proof that indicates this fact?

Raising the servant to the position of brother and establishing their rights

The Messenger (peace be upon him) improved the relationship between the slave and his master, and between the servant and his employer, giving the slave and servant their rights, ordering the master to be generous to them with regards to food, clothes and other needs, and explaining that treating them badly, even verbally, was a characteristic of the period of ignorance [before Islam]. An example of this is clear in his reply to Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) when Abu Dharr harmed his servant. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said,

«Oh Abu Dharr, did you insult him by referring to his mother?! You still have traces of the period of ignorance in you! Your brother slave is very close to you, although Allah has given you authority over them. Whoever has authority over his brother should feed him from what he eats, clothe him in the same manner he clothes himself, and do not burden him with more than he can bear. But if you do ask him [to do such difficult tasks], help him with it»

[related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) related that the Messenger (peace be upon him) said,

«If any of your slaves make food and he brought it to you, wishing to eat from it and having smelt it, tell him to sit and eat with you. If there is only a small amount of food, then give him one or two mouthfuls of it»

[related by Muslim].

In recent years, organizations have tried to ensure workers received their rights and have laid down new rules that ensure these rights. Have they reached the noble example the Messenger (peace be upon him) left for us to ensure people’s rights?

The Messenger (peace be upon him) encouraging people to forgive and pardon errors slaves may have made

The Messenger (peace be upon him) ordered the people to forgive servants, no matter what errors they may have made. Abdullah ibn Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

«A man went to the Messenger (peace be upon him) and said, ‘Oh Messenger, how many times should I forgive a servant?’ But the Messenger (peace be upon him) did not reply. Therefore, the man asked again, ‘Oh Messenger, how many times should I forgive a servant?’ So the Messenger (peace be upon him) replied, ‘Seventy times every day’»

[related by At-Tirmidhi].

Abu Masoud Al-Ansari (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

«I was hitting my young servant who I had when I heard a voice behind me say, ‘Know, Abu Masoud, that Allah has more power over you than you have over him [the servant].’ So I turned around and saw the Messenger (peace be upon him), and then I said, ‘Oh Messenger, I have freed him for Allah’s sake.’ The Messenger (peace be upon him) replied, ‘If you had not done that (freed him), hell-fire would be your final abode» [because of what you did]

[related by Muslim].

The Messenger (peace be upon him) being merciful to servants and treating them well

The Messenger (peace be upon him) advised his followers to be merciful to their servants, and he laid down rights for them that would enable them to live a humane life and be treated well. Abu Dharr (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger (peace be upon him) said,

«They are your brothers which Allah has given you authority over. Whoever Allah has given authority over his brother has to feed him from what he eats, clothe him with similar clothes to what he wears, and not burden him with more than what he can bear. However, if he does ask him to do more than he can bear, he should help him with it»

[related by Al-Bukhari].

In fact, the Messenger (peace be upon him) ordered any master to give the slaves some of the food that had been prepared for him.

The Messenger (peace be upon him) ordered his followers to be good with the servants and slaves… do you consider this to indicate that one should be good to all people, irrespective of their social level in society?

The Messenger (peace be upon him) kept advising his followers to be good to their servants during the last day of his life

Even when the Messenger (peace be upon him) was on his death bed, he warned us concerning the rights of the slaves one owns. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said,

«(Be careful of) the prayer , the prayer, and your slaves who you own»

[related by Ahmed].

Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

«The advice the Messenger gave when he was dying concerned the prayer and the slaves you own, even when his death rattle was clear and when he was barely able to speak»

[related by Ahmed].

Um Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) said,

«(Be careful of) the prayer, the prayer, and your slaves who you own,’ saying it even when his death rattle was clear and when he was barely able to speak»

[related by Ahmed].

What does the fact that the Messenger (peace be upon him) kept advising his followers to look after the servants, even during the days of his life, indicate?

How can you follow the Messenger’s example?

1.Deal well with your servants, as the Messenger (peace be upon him) used to do. Beware of burdening them with more than they can bear.

2.All people are the same, just like the teeth of a comb, so follow the Messenger’s example and do not act as though you are better than who Allah enabled you to have authority over.

3.Follow the Messenger’s example when dealing with your servant or workers, and forgive and pardon their errors.

4.Be generous to your servant and workers, treat them well, and win their hearts.

5.Be careful not to oppress those under your authority, and be careful of not giving them their rights or of treating them badly.

6.Send prayers on the Messenger (peace be upon him) and remember to always deal with servants in a noble manner.