A Man of Truth and Lofty Morals
By Dr. Fazlur Rahman

"Nay by God, it would never be so! He would never sadden you. You have always been kind to your relatives. You speak truth. You clear the debts of others. You help the poor. You are hospitable. You assist your fellow men. You bear the afflictions of those in distress."
These words of solace came impulsively, without least hesitation, from the mouth of a lady who had known him inside out, experienced him through thick and thin, for fifteen years as his wife.
This was Khadijah comforting her husband, Muhammad (PBUH) when he returned from the cave of Hira, exhausted and terrified, fearing for his life, after the first ever encounter with the arch-angel Gabriel and receiving the first Divine Revelation.
She adduced as her witness his past career when though he was not a prophet yet was reputed far and wide as al-Sadiq al-Ameen, the truthful, the trustworthy, the faithful.
"A man of Truth and Fidelity, true in what he did, in what he spoke and thought," (Carlyle). How could such a noble soul, bearing such lofty morals, be forsaken, left uncared-for, by God! She related what she had observed, experienced, felt and heard.
The approach was rational, the argument convincing, the reasoning sound. And what testimony could be more reliable, more dependable than one's own wife's. So this was the man Muhammad, prior to when the mantle of prophethood adorned his shoulders. And what after that?
Ali was the nearest and dearest of all his blood relations. He had been with the Prophet since his childhood. It was he who as a lad had stood up out of all the kinsmen, whom the Prophet had called at the mount of Safa in compliance with the Divine commandment "Admonish the nearest of your kinsmen" (Q:26:214), and declared fearlessly, when others had refused to believe in the prophetic call, his belief in his prophethood.
He describes the Prophet (PBUH) that he was benevolent, extremely generous, truthful and very kind-hearted. It was a pleasure to be in his company. A man was over-awed by his first contact with him but came to love him after remaining in constant touch with him.
Ayesha, his next beloved wife after Khadijah expired, who remained with him for nine years, in his advanced age till death, thus acknowledged his graceful manners and high morals: He did never cast reflection upon anybody.
He never spoke ill of any one. He was never revengeful. Instead he forgave those who offended him. He never turned down any seemly request. He was always miles away from unjust behavior.
Anas bin Malik, who as a boy had been appointed by his mother to attend upon the Prophet (PBUH) just after his arrival in Madinah, and who remained attached to him for ten years, informs us that during this long period the Prophet did never so much as scold him or find fault with him, nor he ever reprimanded him for any lapse which he happened to commit.
These are the impressions of some of the many persons who had the opportunity to have long and most intimate connection with him. But far more eloquent and emphatic is the testimony of Allah Himself, Who, calling to witness all the historical records written and preserved, or to be penned down at any time, by human hand declared: "Verily there is in store for you a great reward unfailing, never-ending, beyond expectations. And you, for certain, stand on the most exalted pedestal of morality," (Q: 68:4).
At another place his virtuous character is extolled in the following words. "It is by virtue of Allah's compassion alone that you deal with them gently and leniently. Had you been gruff or harsh-hearted they would have certainly broken away from about you," (Q3:159).
This was the practical manifestation of the Prophet's own teachings. He had instructed the faithful, "Do not envy one another. Do not hate one another. Do not turn away from one another. Be you O! servants of Allah brothers. A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither lies to him nor does he hold him in contempt. It is evil enough for a man to hold his brother Muslim in contempt. Every thing of a Muslim is inviolable for another Muslim: his blood, his property, and his honor." And this was how he acted upon his own advice.
The Qur’an has been revealed to enable mankind to differentiate between good and bad, right and wrong, virtue and evil, and to guide it to the right path which leads to the eternal bliss, the real success in this life and the hereafter.
Prophet Muhammad through whom this Divine message has been communicated is at the same time commissioned with the task of putting it into practice, enacting its instructions, presenting his own self as the paragon par excellence of its teaching.
He preached and practiced and rose to the heights of being the role model for humanity at large. "Verily there is in the person of the Messenger of Allah the best of the patterns of conduct for every one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day and who deeply engages in the remembrance of Allah," (Q:33:21)
The life-blood of religion is the remembrance of Allah. The Qur’an's Olul-albab, Men of deep understanding, are those "Who remember Him standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides," (Q:3:191).
The Prophet (PBUH) has also instructed that "your tongue should always remain wet with the remembrance of Allah." We are told that there was no moment when he was not engaged in the remembrance of Allah.
The supplications of the Prophet (PBUH) which have been handed down to us, preserved in the Hadith books and also found in several independent works show that on every possible occasion and in all positions he maintained communion with his Lord and that at no time he was lost in forgetfulness.
He told the people to be ever vigilant in asking forgiveness from Allah for their sins and shortcomings or substandard performance of their duties. What he himself did was to ask forgiveness from Allah seventy or hundred times in just one sitting.
He said that every Muslim had to offer his prayers five times a day. He himself offered prayers at least eight times a day. The night-prayer, Tahajjud, which was optional for every one else was offered compulsorily by him. While offering night prayers he stood for such a long time that his legs became swollen.
When once Ayesha remarked that why did he take so much trouble when Allah had already redeemed him, his modest reply was, "Should I not act as a thankful servant!" He did never miss his congregational prayers. He was so particular about it that even during his last illness which ended in his departure from this world he attended the mosque while reclining on his two companions.
Fasting during the month of Ramadan was made incumbent upon every believer. The Prophet (PBUH) himself fasted during Shabaan and Ramadan. He also fasted on Mondays and Thursdays as well as on the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth of every month. During the month of Shawwal he fasted for six days after Eid-ul-Fitr. He also fasted during the first ten days of Muharram.
It was enjoined on the well-to-do Muslims to spend a fixed portion of their wealth as Zakat, (Q:2:215,254). It was made optional for any one to give in charity as much as he could afford after satisfying his needs (Q:2:219). None was required, however, to give away all of that which he possessed.
"Make not your hand tied to your neck (be niggardly), nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach so that you become blameworthy and distressed," (Q:17:29). The Prophet also explained that the best act of charity was that which did not result in destitution. The Prophet's life was however that of giving preference to other's needs, sacrifice, generosity, magnanimity and self-denial.
Extremely frugal concerning his own needs he gave away whatever he had to the poor, the destitute, the needy and the have-nots. Though he himself led a life of privation and bare subsistence for others he was magnanimous beyond imagination.
According to Ibn Abbas, "More generous than all of us was the Apostle of Allah who gave away freely especially during Ramadan. He never said 'no' in reply to any request, and never took his food alone. No matter in what small quantity the food was available, he invited all those present to share it with him.
He had asked us to inform him if any Muslim died without clearing his debt, for he always took the responsibility to get it repaid. The legacy of the deceased, evidently, devolved on his heirs."
Abu Dhar, a companion of the Prophet, relates that once he said to him, "Were the mountain of Uhud turned into gold for me, I would not like three nights to pass with a single dinar in my possession except whatever I may keep for clearing away somebody's debt."
The greatest and the most common weakness of those in power and high position is that they are prone to fall an easy prey to the onslaught of nepotism. They are tempted to oblige their incompetent relatives and undeserving friends by appointing them to responsible posts where they could enjoy power and pelf, or out of public exchequer they squander money upon those who have no right to it. According to the Qur’an it is a criminal breach of trust, (Q:4:58). It has been condemned by the Prophet (PBUH).
Once his companion Abu Dhar, about whom the Prophet (PBUH) said that he was the most truthful of all those who walked on earth, requested him to appoint him on an administrative post. The Prophet declined to oblige him saying he was too weak to shoulder the responsibilities of that office.
On another occasion his beloved daughter Fatimah, much distressed by the hardships of continuously drawing water from the well and grinding the hand-mill, requested him to provide her with a maid-servant; he very politely turned down the request saying, "No provision has yet been made for the poverty-stricken people of Suffah. Moreover, the orphans of Badr have already made a request before you."
It is easy to say, "Love thy enemy" but very difficult to practice, especially when the enemy is in your grip. The life of the Prophet abounds with examples of showing mercy, compassion and forgiveness when the deadliest and lifelong enemies were on their knees.
General amnesty for Abu Sufyan, the lifelong enemy, to his wife Hind who had chewed the liver of his uncle Hamzah, and to his killer Wahshi, to the Makkans after the conquest of Makkah with the words "Go your way, you are the freed ones,” forgiveness to Abd Yalail, the stone-hearted chief of Taif who nearly killed him, are only a few examples of his humane and merciful attitude towards his enemies. His entire lifespan is an eloquent testimony to the undeniable reality that he practiced what he preached. (Courtesy Dawn)


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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