For Younger Readers: The Holy Prophet’s [Muhammad (pbuh)] Great Example
by Nur Muhammad, Ph.D.
The Islamic Guardian (UK), April to June 1981 Issue (Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 21–23)
God tells us in the Holy Quran that He sent Muhammad [pbuh], the Holy Prophet, to teach people to act rightly and stay away from doing evil. The Holy Prophet gave his teachings not only in words but also by acting and living as he wanted his followers to do. Muslims are fortunate in that they have detailed and accurate records of how the Holy Prophet lived and behaved, so that they can still try to follow his example.
The Holy Quran describes the Holy Prophet, not as someone out of this world or having superhuman powers, but as a mortal human being like other people. And this was the way he acted — like an ordinary, humble man, even though he was the leader of a community and later became the head of a state. When seated with his followers, he would mix in with them as just one of them. Strangers could not pick him out in the gathering as the leader. He would join others in laughing and enjoyed simple jokes with them. In fact, he always met one with a smiling face.
The Holy Prophet used to do all kinds of work with his own hands: patching his clothes, mending his shoes, cleaning the house, looking after animals, and other household tasks. He would share work, digging trenches or doing building labour, with his followers. He did not think of any job or work as low or dirty.
As the Ruler of Arabia which he later became, the Prophet lived, not in a luxurious palace surrounded by generals and soldiers, but in a small house made of mudbricks with just a bed for furniture. For days on end, he and his family would have to make do with dates and water for food. The Holy Prophet would give away any money, or even food, that he had to the poor, and go hungry himself.
In fact, from his youth the Prophet did all he could to help widows and orphans, the poor, the helpless, and the slaves. He treated them with respect and courtesy. Slavery was common in his day, yet he got freedom for as many slaves as he could. The Prophet appointed some slaves and freed-slaves to very high jobs where the rich and the noble had to serve under them. He cared even about animals, and forbade treating them cruelly. It was a very good deed, he declared, to help animals in distress.
Since his youth, the Holy Prophet Muhammad was famous for being a truthful, faithful, and sincere person. Even his enemies, the people who opposed and persecuted the Muslims, knew and admitted this. They used to deposit their valuables for safe-keeping with the Prophet because they knew that he was honest even with those who fought him. Once the Holy Prophet gave his word or made an agreement, with a friend or with a deadly enemy, he always kept it even if he had to suffer to do it.
In the whole history of the world there has been no one more gentle, generous, kind, forgiving, and merciful than was the Prophet Muhammad. He never used a harsh word, even in reply to abuse. He treated his followers with great love and affection, and overlooked their faults. Once in a battle some Muslims made a serious blunder by ignoring the order the Prophet had given them. This mistake caused great losses to the Muslim army, and the Prophet himself was wounded. But after the battle the Holy Prophet did not even rebuke the offenders who had disobeyed him!
The enemies of the Muslims had been persecuting, torturing, and murdering them, and had tried often to kill the Holy Prophet himself. Yet once when they wounded him in a battle, he prayed for them:
“O Lord! Grant guidance to my people, for they know not.”
After some years the Muslims defeated their enemies and they were brought before the Holy Prophet for judgment. But he forgave them all their brutal crimes against himself and his followers, and did not take the slightest revenge.
The Holy Prophet was also a very courageous and brave man. When the persecutors of the Muslims used to plan to kill him, he would still move about the city fearlessly and be concerned only about the safety of his followers. In fact, he often risked his own life to ensure their security.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad was just a human being, and he showed by his life that a person can live a thoroughly virtuous and good life. This should encourage us to follow his example. There are many qualities which the Holy Prophet possessed, and a vast number of events showing his goodness in action.