Anecdotes from the Life of the Prophet Muhammad

by Mumtaz Ahmad Faruqui

Jews and the Prophet

Due to his generosity and hospitality, the Holy Prophet sometimes had to borrow money or provisions from Jews who were the traders and money-lenders in Medina. When the Prophet came to hold the position of a virtual ruler in Medina, it so happened that a Jew, whom he owed some money, came up to him and addressed him very harshly and rudely and demanded his dues.

“You, Bani Hasham,”

he said tauntingly,

“never pay back when you once get something out of another person.”

Umar, a bosom friend of the Prophet, was much enraged at the insolence of the Jew, and wanted to teach him a lesson in good manners. But the Prophet reprimanded him by saying:

“O Umar, it would have been best for you to have advised both of us… me, the debtor, to repay the debt with gratitude, and him, the creditor, to demand it in a more becoming manner.”

Then he paid the Jew more than his due, and the latter was so much impressed with the Prophet’s sense of justice and fairness that he accepted Islam.

Once the Prophet was sitting by the side of a road, engaged in a discourse with his Companions. They saw a funeral procession approaching from a distance and it appeared to be that of a Jew. When the procession came near, the Prophet stood up at attention out of respect for the dead and the Companions followed his example. After the procession had passed, someone asked the Prophet why he had shown reverence for the deceased Jew. The Holy Prophet was displeased upon hearing this, and told him that they must show respect to the deceased, irrespective of their religion or the community to which they belonged; the case of the deceased rested with Allah.