Prophet Muhammad: His Indifference to the World

Islam Today
The best words in their best order in any language cannot adequately depict the way God's Messenger (peace be upon him) looked at the dirham and dinar, wealth and property, and the world and all that it stands for. Indeed, even the disciples who had served their time at the feet of the Prophet's companions (may Allah be pleased with them) or the disciples of such disciples never regarded fortunes and treasures fit enough for the dusthole. Their pure and pious lives, their indifference to wealth and worldly possessions, the way they showered bounty on one and all and preferred others over their own selves, their contentedness with the barest minimum and their heroic selflessness and self-denial take one's breath away. One can only picture to oneself the nobleness of heart and openhanded generosity as well as self-abnegation and unearthly disposition of the great teacher who had enlarged the minds of all the later godly souls.

We shall, therefore, cite here only a few of those authentic reports which have been handed down by the most trust-worthy narrators since the Prophet's (peace be upon him) own words and actions can best illustrate his outlook and sentiments in this regard. Two of the well known sayings of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) which sum up his attitude towards worldly life are: "O God, life is truly the life of the hereafter", and "What have I to do with the world? My only business with it is like that of a rider who, shades himself under a tree, then goes off and leaves it."

'Umar once saw the Prophet (peace be upon him) lying on a reed mat which had left its marks on his body. 'Umar gave way to tears at the frugal living and privation of his mentor. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked, "What's the matter, 'Umar? " He replied, "O Messenger of God (peace be upon him), of all the creatures of God, you are the most venerated, but it is the Caesar and the Chosroes who are rolling in the lap of luxury." 'Umar's reply made the Prophet's (peace be upon him) blood boil in anger and his face became red. He said, " 'Umar, have you any doubt about it?" Then he added, "These are the men who have been given all the pleasures of life in advance here in this world."

The life of ease was rejected by God's Messenger (peace be upon him) not only for his own self but also for his dependents as well. He was heard praying, "O God, make the provision of Muhammed's family sufficient only to sustain life." Abu Huraira says, "By Him in whose hands is Abu Huraira's life, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and his family never had the wheat bread continuously for three days until he departed from this world.'' 'Aisha relates, "We, the members of the Prophet's (peace be upon him) household caught sight of one moon and then the next, but no fire was lighted in our hearth. We had to live only on dates and water. The Prophet's (peace be upon him) coat of mail had been pawned with a Jew but he had not enough money to get it back from him. The Messenger of God (peace be upon him) departed from the world when the coat of mail was still with the Jew.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) proceeded to perform the Farewell Pilgrimage followed by a huge crowd which obscured the horizon - at a time when the entire Arabian Peninsula had acknowledged his spiritual and temporal supremacy. Yet, the saddle of his dromedary was outworn covered with a sheet which was worth not more than four dirhams. The prayer he then sent up to God was, "O Allah, make it a Hajj devoid of all pretensions and show." Abu Dharr reports the Prophet (peace be upon him) telling him on an occasion, "I would hate to possess as much gold as Mount Uhud and then to allow three days to pass with a single dinar remaining with me except that which I may hold back for the cause of religion; rather, I would give it away to God's servants this way and that, on my right and left and in the back."

Jabir b. 'Abdullah says that it never happened that the God's Messenger (peace be upon him) was requested to give anything and he said 'No' in reply. Ibn 'Abbas testifies that in generosity and bountifulness the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was swifter than the wings of the wind. '' Anas says that once when a man asked the Prophet (peace be upon him) to give him something he gave him a flock of sheep enough to fill the space between two hillocks. The man returned to his people and said to them, "O ye people, embrace Islam. Muhammed gives so open-handedly as if he fears not poverty. " Another time, ninety thousand dirhams were presented to the Prophet (peace be upon him). He asked to heap them up on a mat and then started giving it away. Nobody who asked for it was denied until the entire heap of money disappeared.
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