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Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) - 36 : Choosing A Life Of Poverty

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi

Even in the poorest of countries, government leaders live a life of affluence, even when they manifest a superior degree of integrity and do not use their positions to make unfair advantage. The head of the state is even regarded to have a special status. He lives in a palace, and all his needs are provided at the state’s expense. People accept this as normal. We are not questioning here whether this is appropriate or not. We are merely drawing attention to the special status a head of state has.

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not only a messenger of God. He established a state in Madinah and was its head for 10 years. Although it started only as a city state, where there were other communities that did not believe in him and his message, its geographical are steadily grew, until it comprised the entire Arabian Peninsula, which today includes seven independent states. It is appropriate to wonder about the lifestyle of the Prophet and how much did he cost the state for his personal living.

Prophet Muhammad steered away from all aspects of affluence. He preferred to live at the same level as the poorest in his community. His wife, Aishah, mentions that he never had his fill of food for three consecutive days. He knew that there were poor people in his community and they did not have enough to eat. He did his best to alleviate their poverty and shared in their life. Aishah reports: “I used to weep of sorrow for him, and I would put my hand on his tummy because I saw how hungry he was. I would say to him: I would sacrifice my life for your sake! If you would only have a reasonable standard of living so that you would not go hungry.” He replied: “Aishah! What care do I have for the life of this world? My brothers, God’s messengers who were most resolute in their dedication endured a much harder life and patiently persevered.”

Another wife of his, Umm Salamah, described what she found in his home on her wedding night: “I saw a container with some barley in it, a millstone, an earthenware pot, a cooking pan and a wooden cup. I ground the barley and made a dough in the pot and mixed it with what was in the wooden cup. That was the food the Prophet and his bride had on their wedding night.”

There are many reports that tell us that the Prophet led a life of poverty. Yet had he wished, he would have lived like any head of state, and nobody would have questioned his right to do so, even though his people were poor. Or at least he could have had a reasonable standard of living, ensuring that his family had whatever they needed. He would not have let them suffer hunger. This means that his poverty was a matter of choice. What is the reason for that? Why should anyone choose to be poor when he can have a better standard of living?

First of all, the Prophet wanted to demonstrate to all his followers, in all generations, what Islam stresses in every possible way: that this present life is worth very little. Its comforts are fleeting; its happiness is short-lived. Moreover, one’s position in God’s sight has nothing to do with what standard of living he can lead. Many devout and truly pious people were poor. Their poverty did not prevent them from acquiring a high position in God’s sight. On the other hand, rich people may be pious and God-fearing, or may be arrogant and have a low position with God. It is true belief and goodly action that can raise one’s position with God.
 

 

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