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Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) - 37: Turning Away From Luxuries

Islamic Perspectives - Muslim Journals

Arab News & Information - By Adil Salahi

Umar ibn Al-Khattab, a very close companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him), once saw him reclining on a straw mat, which left its mark on his side. He felt very sorry for the Prophet whom he loved more than anyone on earth. He said to him: “Messenger of God, I see how this straw mat has left its mark on you, while the Byzantines and the Persians live a life of affluence even though they do not worship God.” The Prophet sat up suddenly and said: “Are you entertaining doubt, Umar? These people are having their share of goodly life in this world.”

We mentioned a couple of weeks back how the Prophet led a life of poverty, and the Hadith we have just quoted shows that the Prophet did not have a settee or a cushion to recline on. It was only natural that Umar should make his remark and draw the comparison with the two superpowers of the time. The Prophet’s answer put the whole question in its proper perspective.

What we learn from this Hadith and similar reports is that the Prophet did not dislike or disdain the comforts of this life, but chose not to indulge in them. To him, the life of this world was simply a passing stage. It is the life to come that is the one to work for and to enjoy. Yet richness is not a reason to deprive anyone of achieving a good position in the next world. A rich person should only use some of his resources to bring happiness to his family, relatives and community so that he would attain a high position in God’s sight and ensure admittance into heaven.

The Prophet’s choice meant that he wanted nothing in this life to distract him from his diligent work for his message. All he wanted was to fulfill the task assigned to him by God. Concentrating on the task in hand and on providing guidance for his companions and future followers meant that he should rise above any attraction or tempting comfort. He did not look at what people might say if he had a good standard of living. They would certainly have accepted that as normal. Some earlier prophets were kings, such as David and Solomon. Muhammad himself was the head of the Muslim state. He did not wish to entertain any feeling that comfortable life in this world was something to aspire to. He wanted his faith in God and in the truth of his message to be absolutely pure, uncolored by any desire for comfort or luxury. Thus, he added his disinterestedness in life’s comforts to his untiring, dedicated work in order to ensure that his faith was his supreme motivator. Nothing should detract from that goal, the goal of letting his faith be the epitome of his life.

His scruples in this area were unique. Had he given us the message with which he was entrusted, and showed us God’s guidance, while leading a life of comfort, he would have feared that some people might think that such comfort was one of his goals. Therefore, he made sure that no one would ever entertain such thoughts. If providing guidance was the crux of his message, he made sure that this was fulfilled while his own share of this life would be minimal. He will have his full share in the life to come.

 

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