Prof. Dr. Mahmud Es'ad COSAN
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be with you. I thank you for attending the presentation.
Praise be to Allah. May the peace and prayers be on his beloved Prophet. May Allah place us among those whom He loves. May He grant the intercession of the Prophet on the Day of Judgment.
It would be very difficult, if not impossible at all, for a servant to describe the manners (akhlâq) of the Prophet in a complete sense. It must not be an easy task to describe a person whom was loved and chosen by Almighty Allah to be the best of all men to come to this world from the time of Hadrat Adam to the day of resurrection.
I shall attempt to describe some manners of the Prophet that are shocking for us, interesting for the youth, and amazing for those who grew up in modern cultures.
Akhlâq i.e., the code of conduct, the manners of a person, is a social phenomenon; it occurs in interpersonal relationships in the society. When we study the code of conduct of the Prophet, we learn about his treatment of people around him. That is very important for us because it will be an example for us to follow.
How was the akhlâq of our beloved Prophet? The Mother of the believers, Hadrat Aisha was asked this question. Her response was very brief, but effective: ["His akhlâq was the Qur'an."]
By the way, Hadrat Aisha was a very knowledgeable person. She was one of the greatest scholars. Some older companions of the Prophet would come to her and ask about various matters. She would answer them in details. She was an expert in jurisprudence. Her nephew asked her once: "My Dear Aunt! I am not surprised that you are knowledgeable on Tafsir, Hadith, and Fiqh. What amazes me is your knowledge on medicine. How did you learn about medicine?" Obviously, she had a curious mind and good memory.
The akhlâq of the Prophet had no match. It was excellent and unmatchable. There are verses in the Qur'an about the akhlâq of the Prophet. For instance, at the end of Surah Tawbah there is the following verse: Bismillâhir rahmânir rahîm
(Leqad jâekum rasûlun min enfusikum) "Now there has come to you a Messenger from among yourselves." There are scholars who pronounce the word enfusikum as enfasikum which means 'the best, the excellent, among you." That is true, too. The personality of the Prophet was excellent, yet he was a human being from among us. The pagans would ask time to time, "Why didn't Allah send an angel as a messenger? Why did He send a messenger like one of us, a son of Adam."
The prophet, the messenger is sent to the mankind; the message of the Qur'an is for the mankind. The messenger is to be taken as an example to follow. That is why Almighty Allah has sent messengers who were human beings. The messenger would have a nafs, two eyes, a heart, feelings, happiness, and sadness just as we do. He would eat food, drink water, sleep, work, and get tired as we do. Prophets came to people to show them how to be a good servant to Allah while living a human life.
Many people had a hard time accepting a human messenger. They wanted something extraordinary: "There should have been two angels with him all the time. He should have a magic garden from which he could take various fruits and eat them."
Well, Allah sent you a messenger, a human being just like you. Many people failed to understand the excellence in this natural disposition. Of course there are many who had a good understanding, too.
Some people choose a path with an intention of better servitude to Allah, and they isolate themselves from the society. Could a person be better by staying away from the society and living alone? If everybody lived in isolation, the society would collapse. Everybody would have to tend his own needs. That would be the end of the advancement. That could not be right.
There are such inventions practiced as a form of worship. None has any wisdom in them. What we have to do as human beings is to live a human life in the society utilizing all that Almighty Allah granted for us and try to earn His consent in this life. This is the essence of the matter and many people failed to understand this. We have to make sure that we understand it correctly.
The aforementioned verse uses the expression min enfusikum "from among you" a messenger was sent to you. Azîzun means honorable, valuable, dear; (aleyhi mâ anittum) "whatever makes you sad, would make him sad, too. He would not want you to be sad." If it is pronounced with out any pause, (azîzun aleyhi mâ anittum) "whatever makes you sad becomes a heavy burden on him."
In both meanings, there is an indication that he has high social manners. The Prophet is not selfish; he sympathizes with the problems and sadness of others. This is an important characteristic. Almighty Allah praises the manners of the Prophet in this verse.
(Harîsun aleykum) "He is extremely protective towards you." In other words, he is protective just like a mother protecting her child or like a hen protecting the chicks. He has love and affection for you.
(Bil mu'minîne raûfur rahîm) "He is very soft hearted and merciful towards the believers." These are the praises by Almighty Allah on the social character of the Prophet. Al raûf and al rahîm are the attributes of Allah, yet Almighty Allah uses these attributes to describe our beloved Prophet. This is an important point.
There is a verse(Al-Qalam: 4):
(Wa innaka le-âlâ khuluqul azîm) "And you are upon a mighty morality!" Here is another verse (Al-Ahzab:21):
(Leqad kâne lekum fî rasûlullàhi uswatun hasenetun limen kâne yarjullàha wal yawmal akhirah, wa dhekerallàha kathîrâ) [You have had a good example in the Messenger of Allah for whosoever hopes for Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah often.]
(Le'amruke) (Al Hijr:72) Almighty Allah takes an oath on the life of the Prophet. There are other verses that Allah takes an oath. For instance,
(Wal asri) "By the asr!"(Asr:1)
(Wat-tîni waz-zaytûni wa tûri sînîne ...) "By the fig and the olive and the Mount Sinai ..." (Al Tîn: 1-2)
Like these, Almighty Allah says (Le'amruke) "By your life!" to the Prophet. These are examples from the Qur'an indicating how Almighty Allah loved the Prophet.
There is the Surah Fath (Victory) that starts with the verse:
(Innâ fatahnâ leke fathan mubînâ. Liyaghfira lekallàhu mâ taqaddeme min zanbike wa mâ ta-akh-khara...) [Surely we have given thee a manifest victory, that Allah may forgive thee thy former and thy latter sins, and complete His blessings upon thee, and guide thee on a straight path, and that Allah may help thee with mighty help. (Qur'an 48:1-2)] The Surah ends with the following verse:
(Muhammedur rasûlullàh, wallezîne ma'ahû ashid-dâü 'alal kuffâri ruhamâu baynakum terâhum rukke'an sujjadâ...) [Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are hard against the unbelievers, merciful one to another. You see them bowing, prostrating, seeking bounty from Allah and good pleasure. Their mark is on their faces, the trace of prostration....(Qur'an 48:29)]
All of these verses praise our beloved Prophet. They state that allegiance to the Prophet means allegiance to Allah. This is very important.
In a hadith the Prophet
eddebenî fe ahsene te'dibî) or
(Eddebenî rabbî fe-ahsene te'dibî) "I was educated by my Lord." Almighty Allah educated him, granted him the manners. His father and mother died, so he became an orphan. His uncle Abû Tâlib looked after him, yet Abû Tâlib did not accept Islam. There was nobody around from his family to teach him the good code of conduct. Almighty Allah isolated him from the surroundings and granted him the good character with wisdom. He was recognized as a trustworthy person by his people. He was a different person respected by all.
You must be all familiar with the incident that took place while the Kâ'bah was repaired. People of Makkah tore down the walls of Kâ’bah that had been deteriorated and about to collapse. While they were rebuilding the walls, it was time to place the Hajar-al-Aswad--the Black Stone. The stone was to be placed in its place before the construction of the wall continued. There was a disagreement. One person said:
"I am from an honorable tribe of Quraish. I ought to place the Black Stone in its stage on behalf of my tribe."
Somebody else opposed:
"Not at all! My tribe is more honorable than yours; therefore, I must place the stone in its stage."
The argument grew and they were about to pull their swords. Someone suggested:
"Wait a minute! Masjid al-Haram is not a place for fighting. Wait for the next person who enters through the gate. We would appoint him as an arbitrator and accept his choice."
It was like a drawing: They did not know who would come through the gate, nor did they know whom the person would choose. The next person who arrived through the gate was the Prophet Muhammad SAS.
The gate I am talking about was the gate of the circumambulation (tawaf) area that was around the Kâ'bah and surrounded by a wall. The gate was known as Bâb-us-Salâm. At the present, the wall was moved away and the tawaf area was enlarged moving the gate far away.
As the Prophet entered through the gate, they commented: "Good. Muhammad al-Amîn (The Trustworthy) has arrived. We accept his judgment." They were happy that an equitable person was to be the arbitrator. He was not appointed as a prophet, then. He was an orphan from Quraish. He was not rich, nor did he have a high position in administration. He was trustworthy. People would entrust their valuables with him. Almighty Allah raised him in such way.
They explained the problem to the Prophet: "We have a disagreement on who is to place the Black Stone in its stage. We were about to start a fight. Tell us which one of us should place the Black Stone into its stage. We will accept your decision."
The Prophet said, "Bring me a sheet." They brought him a strong sheet like a tablecloth. He placed the Black Stone on the sheet. He asked them: "Now each one of you should hold the sheet from one side." When they did, he asked them to lift it up. They all lifted the stone with the sheet. Then he picked the stone and placed it into its stage by his hands. The stone was placed by a good person, and nobody got offended with the solution. It was an excellent solution.
This describes the status and resourcefulness of the prophet Muhammad before he was appointed as a prophet. He had such a character. He was known to be merciful. He was known for his clean life. He was famous for not worshipping any of the 360 idols that were kept in Kâ'bah. He was a quiet person. His past was not tainted with idol worship or anything bad. You are familiar with the events that were unrolled after he was appointed as a prophet.
The physique of the prophet was excellent, his face and body was beautiful. You know that among the prophets, Prophet Joseph was known with his beauty. He was a son of Prophet Jacob from Canaan. As a result of the envy of his brothers, Joseph was sold as a slave. Later, he was brought to Egypt. He was a slave in the house of the ruler of Egypt, yet he was extremely handsome. To demonstrate his beauty, the wife of the ruler invited women of the high class in her residence and gave each one a knife and an apple to peel. She called Hadrat Joseph:
(Wa qàletikhrujna 'alahinna) "Come forth attend to them!" (Qur'an 12:31) As Hadrat Joseph entered the room,
(Felemmâ raeynehû akbarnahû wa qatta'ne eydiyehunne ...) "And when they saw him, they so admired him that they cut their hands saying, 'God save us! This is no mortal; he is no other but a noble angel.'" (Qur'an 12:31) They had knives and apples to peel. They were shocked by the beauty of Hadrat Joseph, cried "Allahu akbar" and cut their hands in confusion. Qataa means cutting, qattaa means cutting excessively. They inflicted excessive cuts in their hands.
This is a true story stated in the Qur'an. We can imagine how handsome Prophet Joseph was. Prophet Muhammad was more handsome than Prophet Joseph.
About our beloved Prophet, one Bedouin said: "His face was shiny like a sword." He meant a metallic shine. Somebody objected: "His face was not shiny like a sword, it was bright as moon and sun!"
There have been reports about the physique and appearance of the prophet [which are recorded in hadith books]. Those who had never seen the Prophet inquired from those who had seen him: "How was his face? How did he look like?" There is a famous report to answer that question:
(Men raâhu bedîheten hâbehû, wa men khàletahû ma'rifeten ehabbehû, yeqùlu nâituhû lem erâ qablehû wa lâ ba'dehû mithlehû) "One who saw him for the first time would melt-down before the awe of the Prophet." He was truly awesome for a person who saw him for the first time. The person would shake out of fear. Once a Bedouin came to the Prophet. He entered the door and his hands and feet started shaking. The Prophet had such awe.
However, (wa men khàletahû ma'rifeten) "if a person spent sometime with him, got to know him a little, (ehabbehû) he would fall in love with him. (Yeqùlu nâituhû) To describe him to another person, he would say, (lem erâ qablehû wa lâ ba'dehû mithlehû) 'I have never seen anybody like him before I saw him and after I saw him.'" The Prophet had a truly unmatched beauty.
I would like to read some poems from Yunus and Suleyman Chelebi.
There have been many poems written about our beloved Messenger. Through the centuries, people who were in love with the Prophet produced masterpieces about him. One such poet wrote:
medahtu muhammeden bimaqàletî,
"I am not commending Muhammad with my words, yet I am making my words honorable by mentioning Muhammad."
The following lines are
from Suleyman Chelebi:
müshtâkdurur ins ü melek,
Anxious to see the beauty of his face--not only
mankind and angels,
Here is something from Yunus:
I would give up my life on your path
We all know that he did not have anything at all. His people were against him. They wanted to kill him. He was sent as a prophet into a society that was dominated by ignorance. For instance, having female offspring was considered as a disgrace, so they buried their girls alive. Even Omar ibn-i Khattab committed such a cruel act before he accepted Islam. Once Hadrat Omar talked about it with tears in his eyes. When he was digging a hole to bury his daughter, some dirt came to his face got into his beard. His little daughter tried to clean his face without knowing that she would be buried there.
Can you imagine a little girl being buried alive? Can you imagine how wild people were then? They would worship idols. The Prophet was sent to such a society, yet he managed a social revolution in a short time. There were great changes in people. They became civilized.
I would like to give you an example of this change. Once Hadrat Omar was traveling from Madina to Makkah. He was the president of the Islamic State, the Caliph. Iran had been conquered and the Muslim lands got larger. He was accompanied by a person – not by an army of guards. They stopped at some place for rest. There were a flock of sheep and goats. Hadrat Omar called the shepherd. He requested a lamb:
"Give us one of the lambs."
"I am sorry, I cannot. I am not the owner!"
"Come on now. Slaughter one of them for us. I will pay you the money." They wanted to eat some meat and pay for it. The shepherd responded:
"The sheep do not belong to me. I am not the owner. I am only a shepherd. I cannot sell you any of them."
"You can sell it, then tell the owner it was a wolf that ate the lamb."
Hearing this, the shepherd responded: "Suppose we fooled the owner. How about Allah? Can we fool Him, too?"
This indicates that during the time of Hadrat Omar, even the shepherd who spends most of his time away from people and in wilderness had an excellent character, a good akhlâq.
You must have heard another incident about Hadrat Omar: Once he was patrolling the streets of Madina at night, he heard a woman screaming at her daughter: "O girl, put some water into the milk." The daughter of the woman responded: "Mom, didn't the Caliph have it announced during the day that we shall not add water to the milk?"
"Never mind what the caliph announced. How would he know that we added some water to the milk?"
"Well, Mom, the Caliph would not know, but Allah will see it. How could we do it?"
The girl was aware that she had to obey the Caliph. She had to obey the authorities. It was the awareness of the good citizenship. She opposed to her mother.
Hadrat Omar made sure that he would remember the house. The next day, he came to visit the family: "I want the hand your daughter in marriage for my son." He did not even see the girl. Among the offspring of that girl was Omar ibn-il Abdul'aziz, the most equitable of the caliph of the Umayyad dynasty.
These are some examples of what kind of civilization Prophet Muhammad raised. People were aware that they lived in a society and that they had to obey the rules. The akhlâq of people had been improved. They had a strong belief in Allah and they did everything with sincerity.
The Prophet knew that he was the most honorable of the mankind:
(Ene sayyidi banî âdeme yawmal qiyâmah wa lâ fakhra!) "I will be the master of the children of Adam on the Day of Resurrection, and I do not brag about it! It is the order of Allah. From the time of Prophet Adam (peace be with him), my lineage has been noble; there were no illegitimacy. And, I do not brag about it. There will be many things to be granted to me on the day of Resurrection, and I do not brag about it." He had all the qualities to be proud of, yet he never bragged about them. He lived a humble life. I will give you some examples of how humble he was:
He would wear very simple clothes made out of wool. He would repair his shoes and clothes. He would ride on a donkey while the royal people rode on horses or camels. He would take somebody with him while he rode. We know that Abdullah ibn-i Abbas was one such people who rode with the Prophet.
He would milk the sheep. He would sit down with his servant and eat his meal with him. His words were revolutionary towards the slaves. He would eat food with them and encouraged all to free them.
He would shake hands with rich and poor. He would greet people first. He would attend the invitations when invited. He would say, "I would not refuse the invitation even if it is for a meal out of the trotters, i.e., feet of a camel."
It was the simplest meal, then. It would be put in a pot and boiled for long time. Some fat and jelly would come out. It is not a luxurious meal. He would not refuse an invitation for such a meal.
Once he was served bread and vinegar. He dipped the bread in vinegar and ate it. He praised the vinegar: "Vinegar is a good sustenance." He never refused any type of food.
He never had a loud
laughter, yet he would smile. In our daily reading book, there is
Min ma'dina mantiqin wa muktasabin
Our beloved Prophet was generous, too. His generosity was unmatched. No matter what he received from people or from the spoils, he would give away before the day ended. If he received something in the evening, he would distribute it in that evening.
When he was about to die, he felt that there were about three dirhams of money in the house. He asked them to give it away. He would say, "The prophets would not leave any material things as inheritance." He did not accumulate wealth or property. He never approved piling up wealth.
Once his servant brought him a meal that was from the previous day. He asked the servant: "Why did you keep it? You could have given it to the less fortunate. Almighty Allah would provide for each day." He deemed improper to store food.
When he was sad, he would not sulk. He would not talk much; he would contemplate.
Once, a person saw the flock of sheep that the Prophet was tending. It was a nice flock. The person commented: "What a nice flock, o Prophet of Allah!" The Prophet responded: "Do you like it?"
"Very nice sheep; they are very nice, o Prophet of Allah!."
"Well then, let them be yours."
"Do you mean all of them, o Prophet of Allah?"
"Yes, let all of them
He replied: "Hadrat Muhammad-i Mustafâ gives things away with a giving that there is nothing comparable. He gives things away like a person who has no worry about becoming poor."
He would never store things for the next day. There would be days without a hot meal prepared in his house. His companions said once: "O Prophet of Allah! We have been eating dates for food. It makes us so thirsty. We have nothing to eat but the dates and dates."
"I am like you; I haven't had any meal but dates for the last two months. I eat what you eat."
Out of hunger, somebody tied a rock on his abdomen. The worm rock must have comforted his empty stomach. He showed the rock to the Prophet. The prophet lifted his shirt and showed the people around that he himself tied two rocks to quiet his stomach. The Prophet did not live a life different from his companions.
All of these deprivations were not because he never received anything or he could not be rich. It was his choice. Once the archangel Gabriel told him that Almighty Allah would grant him all kinds of material wealth if the Prophet desired. The Prophet did not choose to be a rich person. He would not accumulate anything because he did not have any worries about tomorrow. He could have been a rich person if he wanted. He chose to give away whatever he received.
Once he was given a comfortable bed. That night he missed the tahajjud prayer because he overslept. In the morning he asked that bed to be removed because it was too comfortable to wake up for the prayer. He did not prefer the comfort, the wealth; he preferred the humble way.
He would look after the widows and protect the orphans. He was merciful towards them. He would not get angry or seek revenge for himself, yet he would get angry if an order of Allah is violated. For instance, when Mecca was conquered, he was in a position to take revenge, yet he forgave them all. Some commanders of army units had made some statements that they would take revenge from those who had inflicted major losses on Muslims. The Prophet removed them from their positions to prevent such actions.
He turned to the Meccans who were shivering out of the fear of their ends and asked: "What do you expect from me?" He implied: "You have tried to prevent me from conveying the message of Allah for so many years. You sent armies on me. You had fights with me. What shall I do to you? What do you expect me to do to you?" He forgave them all. That was the conduct of the Prophet in general.
He was attacked in Taif. People of Taif stoned him and chased him out of the town. His heels got wounded. A man in an orchard house called the Prophet in. He rested there for a while. The archangel Gabriel arrived and said, "O Prophet of Allah, I could destroy this town if you wish."
The Prophet did not want any harm on people. His companions would request: "O Prophet of Allah. The pagans are giving us a hard time. Could you curse on them?" He would refuse:
"I am not a Prophet who curses people. I have been sent as a Prophet of mercy. Be patient. The nations that lived before had to deal with more severe troubles than you are subject to. You be patient."
He never wished anything bad for anybody. This is one of the most important characteristics of Prophet Muhammad.
Zayd RA was the servant of Prophet Muhammad. He said: "I served about twenty years to the Prophet. He never abused me, nor did he question me for the things I did or failed to do." The Prophet was very gentle and soft to his servant. As a matter of fact, Zayd RA was given to him as a young slave man. The father of the young man found him and wanted to pay the ransom of freedom to the Prophet to take his son back. The Prophet told the father: "Ask him. He is free to go. I do not want any money to let him go. The young slave chose to stay with the Prophet: "O Prophet of Allah, I would like to stay with you." The father of the young man insisted that the Prophet send the child to his tribe. The Prophet said: " I cannot tell him to leave if he chooses to stay with me."
Well, it was a good decision on behalf of Zayd RA. He served the Prophet. That was the conduct of the Prophet.
The Prophet used to sleep on an old piece of rag. His life was so simple and humble that his wives had a hard time with the simplicity. There were little cells for the wives of the Prophet by the Masjid of the Prophet. When the Massaged was enlarged during the time of Umayyads, these little cells were demolished. The companions wept: "We wish that everybody saw these rooms to infer how simple a life the Prophet lived."
These rooms had about one yard width and three yards length. You could hardly fit a bed in them. A person could fit well in there, but two persons would not. These were the size of the rooms. The wives had a hard time with the simplicity.
Once Hadrat Omar RA visited the Prophet. He saw the marks of a straw mat on him. There was a clay pot with water and a handful of barley next to him. That was how the Prophet lived. Having seen that, Hadrat Omar sobbed. He also lived in the same society, yet what he had seen must have been below the average life standard of that time. That made Hadrat Omar Ra cry.
The Prophet had established the Islamic State, and he was the president. He would receive ambassadors from neighboring countries, yet he maintained his simple life style. He had the means for a better living because the Muslim land was expanding and goods had been brought to him. The Prophet lived like a slave. He never hurt anybody. He would not eat while leaning on something. He was heard saying, "If I had gold as much as the mountain Uhud, I would spend it all for Allah."
Prophet Muhammad would encourage his companions to spend for Allah. Once he visited his daughter Hadrat Fatima and Hadrat Ali at their residence. One is his daughter; the other one is his son-in-law. Hadrat Ali was the son of Abu Talib who was the uncle of the Prophet. Hadrat Ali was raised by the Prophet. In the residence, the Prophet saw a curtain and turned back. It would worth four dirhams--an amount that can buy several bunches of grapes. Hadrat Ali ran after the Prophet and asked:
"O Prophet of Allah! Why did you turn back? Was it the curtain in the house?"
The Prophet responded: "O Ali! You could have sold it and given the money to the poor."
It was no more than a simple curtain in the house of the daughter of the Prophet.
At another incident, Hadrat
Fatima and Ali showed their hands to the Prophet and said:
The prophet responded: "I will teach you something. After each prayer, say 33 times 'Subhanallah,' 33 times 'Alhamdulillah,' and 33 times 'Allahu akbar.' Almighty Allah will grant you ease. It will be better than keeping a slave."
That is how the Prophet looked at the life and this world and how he lived. For the social interactions, these are some of his advice:
Prophet Muhammad insisted on the respect for the parents. He ordered Muslims to maintain prayers for them even after they die. Once, before delivering his Friday sermon, he said "Amen!" three times. The companions were curious, so they asked after the sermon:
"O Prophet of Allah! Why did you exclaim 'Amen!" three times before delivering your sermon?"
"Angel Gabriel made a prayer: 'Let the nose of a person be rubbed to the ground who lived with his parents --or at least with one of them-- and failed to earn the paradise.' That is why I said, 'Amen!'"
In other words, the Prophet says, "If a person's mother or father is alive, and if a person fails to earn paradise in getting their blessings, it is a shame." The parents must be respected and served.
In another hadith the Prophet said: "If a person has his parents look at him with love and affection, he would receive rewards as though he freed a slave for every look he receives." The companions asked: "O Prophet of Allah! What if they look at him or her many times, for instance 360 times?"
The Prophet responded: "Allahu akbar! If they look at him 360 times, Almighty Allah grants the person the rewards of freeing 360 slaves."
This also means a
recommendation for children to respect and serve their parents.
return, the parents have responsibilities towards their children: "Give
your children beautiful names, raise them with the best manners, the
the Qur'an and with the love of the Prophet."
(Allimû awlâdekumul kitâbata, war rimâyata was sibâhah)
"Teach your children how to read and write, how to use arms (weapons) and how to swim." These are some of the recommendations of the Prophet.
If the parents fail to fulfill their responsibilities, their children will have claims on them on the Day of Judgment. That is why the parents must fulfill their responsibilities, and children must respect and serve their parents. These are the recommendations regulating part of human relationships.
A group of people came to Prophet Muhammad SAS and said: "O Prophet of Allah! Let us prostrate before you!"
The Prophet did not allow it: "In our religion, a person cannot prostrate before another person. It is not allowed."
In fact, there was such a practice in ancient nations. For instance, a person would prostrate out of respect before his father. It is not meant to worship, but a sign of respect. For instance, brothers of Prophet Yusuf prostrated before Prophet Yusuf when they brought their parents to Egypt. They wanted to show their respect and apologize for what they did to him before.
Prophet Muhammad said: "Prostration before a person is not allowed in Islam, yet if it were allowed, I would ask a wife to prostrate before her husband."
With these words and others, Prophet Muhammad ordered women to obey their husbands and described this obedience as an absolute obedience. Whenever a husband says "Come here," the wife should go to him. In return, the husband has responsibilities towards his wife. These were very important developments at the time of the Prophet. Women had no value; men had the absolute domination and power.
It is on man's shoulders to provide his wife with food, clothing and shelter. It is not like that in German society today. In Islam, man is responsible to provide for the family. If a woman does not want to nurse her own child, her husband is responsible to find the child a wet nurse and caretaker.
Some form of a balance is established in the relations and responsibilities. The responsibilities towards one another are stated. Women are protected from the power of men; at the same time, men are not overburdened to allow the women be spoiled.
In the society, we see some injustices today. In Germany, women are spoiled in the name of freedom. It is not like that in Islam: There is a balance.
There are also orders and recommendations of the Prophet about the relationships among siblings. For example, there is a hadith, "The oldest brother is like a father." The oldest brother must be respected like a father. In the society today, I observe that there is no respect left. There is no comparison with Islam.
Our beloved Prophet used to make jokes at home--this could be somehow amazing for us. He maintained a sweet, pleasant, and happy atmosphere in the house. He was not sulky, angry, or sad all the time. He had a pleasant and witty character.
Before changing the subject, I must state that Islam has extremely reasonable and good approaches on sexual matters. First of all, nikah (marriage) is a Sunnah and a good deed. A married person earns more rewards than a single person. For example, the sustenance a person brings to the family is rewarded seven hundred times. It has such a high reward.
The conjugal relationships are good deeds to be rewarded. Once Prophet Muhammad SAS stated that the intercourse was a good deed. The companions were confused: "O Prophet of Allah! That is for our nafs; it is the satisfaction of our lust. Is it a good deed to be rewarded?"
The Prophet responded: "Of course it is! If you were not with your wives, then you would seek illegitimate ways. That is why it is a good deed to be rewarded."
As we can see, the approach on the subject is natural and fitting to the human nature. In a hadith the Prophet said: "If a man does not go to his wife or invite her to his bed for forty days, he would be committing a sin." She, too, has desires and they have to be satisfied, too. The approach is very realistic.
That is why in Islamic societies, in the life of the companions, there were no sexual problems or crimes. The institution of marriage satisfies the needs well and is encouraged. The Prophet said: "Are you incapable of having intercourse with your wife, taking a bath and giving her a bath on a Friday?" He recommends a ghusl bath at least once a week. That takes the pressures off. Today, most of the crimes in the society originate from the sexual matters, and Islam suggests a way to release the pressure.
Additionally, Islam prohibits man to look at a woman who is not a close relative. He may look accidentally, yet a second look is an offense. The eyes would commit adultery by looking at the opposite sex. The hands would commit adultery by holding or shaking the hand of the opposite sex. Our beloved Prophet did not shake hands with women. When people came to him to declare their bay'ah, he shook hands with men but did not shake hand with women. These are some interesting points in Islam.
Once a person came to Hadrat Othman, the third caliph after the Prophet. He looked at the person and said: "I see signs of adultery in your eyes!" Hearing this the person was held back, confused and turned red. He said: "O the Leader of Muslims! Is the prophethood still continuing in you?"
He asked this because Hadrat Othman knew that he had committed adultery with his eyes. On the way, he looked into somebody's house and saw a woman taking a bath. When he arrived in Hadrat Othman's stage, the caliph saw the signs of adultery in his eyes. That means eyes can commit adultery, too.
Our beloved Prophet stated that looking into somebody's house through a window or a door is a sin just as entering the house without permission. There are so many precautions to protect the privacy and honor of individuals. I cannot remember all of the regulations but some. There is the balance. On one hand, getting married is encouraged; on the other hand, looking at the opposite sex is not allowed at all.
Islam also pays utmost importance on the relationships and rights among relatives. It is called sila-i rahim: visiting the relatives and tending to their needs. As you study the ahadith on this matter, you can see that it also means financial or economical support for relatives.
Our beloved Prophet had stated that sila-i rahim increases the lifetime of a person, and improves the places that are inhabited. Spiritually, it erases the offenses. It is recommended. The Prophet practiced sila-i rahim. He maintained good relationships with everybody whom he had some kind of an interaction. He kept sending gifts to a woman who offered something to him during his Hegira. He would also greet her when she came to visit him. When he came to Madina, he stayed in Quba for a while. He would go to Quba every Saturday. He was extremely loyal to persons and places. He would not neglect them.
Prophet Muhammad encouraged brotherhood and friendship among Muslims. He practiced what he preached. He laid down regulations for the interactions between the elderly and the youth.
The Prophet was very merciful towards the children. Once, Hadrat Hasan or Hussain told him: "Grandpa, our neighbors have a camel, we do not. They ride the camel, but we cannot!" The Prophet picked up his grandchild: "Come here! I will let you ride on my shoulders." The child continued: "Their camel would scream like this and that." The Prophet made the camel sound to one side and to the other side, too. Then he put his grandchild down.
The grandchild went outside and told other children what his grandfather did. When it was the prayer time, the children cut in the Prophet's way. They said: "Carry us on your shoulder, too." Our beloved Prophet asked the companion who was with him to go and bring things to give to the children. He used to win the hearts of the children.
There was a child who had caught a bird. The child cried after the bird died. The Prophet used to ask the child about the bird every time he saw him. That was how the Prophet treated the children.
When two Muslims became friends, "brothers for the hereafter," they will be kept in the shade of the throne of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. Our forefathers called it "brotherhood for the hereafter."
On the Day of Resurrection, people will be gathered. They will have no clothes. Hadrat Aisha asked, "O Prophet of Allah! Won't they look at one another?" The Prophet responded: "O Aisha! On that day, people will be in a hurry and worry. They will have no time to think about being naked or other people being naked.
There will be a big crowd: people will sweat, and be scared. On that day, certain people will be at ease in the shade of the throne of Allah. Their face will be illuminated; their seats and clothes will be made of light. They will not be prophets or martyrs. The companions asked the Prophet: "Who will they be?"
The Prophet said: "(Humul mutehàbbîna fillâh) "those are the people who love one another for Allah."
The brotherhood and love for one another for the sake of Allah are encouraged and practiced by the Prophet.
Then there are the rights of neighbors. The Prophet said: "Angel Gabriel came to me and emphasized the importance of the neighborliness so much that I thought Almighty Allah would make the neighbors to be the heirs of a person."
The relations with neighbors are at three levels:
1. You have to carry out responsibilities towards your neighbor.
The Prophet recommends: "Do not raise your build above the neighbors, so that it does not block the air circulation for the neighbor." We have to watch for our neighbor and offer him some of what we cooked for ourselves.
2. If the neighbor is a Muslim, then there are the rights of the neighbor and rights of a Muslim brother.
3. If the neighbor is a relative, his rights are tripled. They have to get along well.
There are so many recommendations of the Prophet on this matter.
The Prophet also had important recommendations on business life. He praised and encouraged trading. He told that a trustworthy merchant would be in the shade of the throne on the Day of Resurrection--just like the people who love one another for Allah. That is why some of our elderly became merchants. For instance, Imam A'zam Abu Hanife was also a merchant--not because he loved money, but because it was praised. The Prophet said, "It is a good deed to bring needed goods from other places." The merchant earns money from the trading, yet he is fulfilling a social responsibility. The Prophet praised trading very much.
Prophet Muhammad SAS also had sayings on the employer-employee interactions. His general advice was the following: "Pay your employee before his sweat dries." He also said, "State the wage before having the employee work." The employer was stopped from doing injustice to the employee. The employee was advised to carry out the work properly.
The Prophet also stated the
conditions of good business transaction. He went to the market place
inspected the goods like a mayor. Once he inspected a sack of
grain. He put his hand in, took some from down below and put it
top. It was dry on top but wet inside. It looked good on
outside, yet it was bad down below. He told them not to do
(Men ghash-shanâ feleyse minnâ) "One who cheats us is not one of us."
There is also a verse of Qur'an about being honest with trading. In fact a whole surah, Mutaffifîn, is about it:
(Waylun lil mutaffifîn. Alledhîne idhaktâlu 'alen nâsi yastewfûn. Wa idhâ kâlû hum aw wezenûhum yukhsirûn. Elâ yezunnu ulâika ennehum meb'ùthûn. Liyawmin azîm.) [Woe to the stinters who, when they measure against the people, take full measure but, when they measure for them or weigh for them, do skimp. Do those not think that they shall be raised up unto a mighty day, a day when mankind shall stand before the Lord of all beings?] (Qur'an 83:1-6)
An imam in Netherlands told me about something that he witnessed. It is on the taking measurements and weighing goods. He said: "I was called for a person who was about to die. At 3 o'clock at night, they took me to the person. He was living his last moments. I started saying 'Lâ ilâhe illallah... Lâ ilâhe illallah... Ashhedu enlâ ilâhe illallah...' slowly so that he could repeat after me. The person said, 'Why are you pushing me? Don't you see that they keep pushing the weight of the scale into my throat?' Then he died."
He asked the wife of the deceased later: "What was that about?" The wife said: "My husband was a grocer. He would use two scales: one for buying, the other one for selling. Both scales were tampered with to display less when he bought it and to display more when he sold it."
The scale would read less than the actual weight when he bought something. The other scale that he used for sales would display, for instance, 1 kg for something that was actually only 800 grams. He cheated everybody. Yet his death was not a pleasant one.
Islam laid down the rules
and principles in
trading. When the Prophet emigrated from Mecca to Madina, he listed the regulations.
These rules are considered to be the First Constitution of an Islamic
There are recommendations of the Prophet on social responsibilities. For example, he recommended every house owner to clean the section of the street close to his house. Another recommendation is for the rich to help the poor for the sake of Allah. It is the zakah. It is a duty on the administrators and the society to care for the poor, orphans and widows.
I have stated that he did not value the worldly things. I must also state that he is not a meek person all the time. There were times that he was hard on people. For instance, he would go in the front during a battle. He was never afraid of the enemy. Once somebody wanted to wrestle with him. He picked the person and put it on the ground like a log. The person wanted to try again, yet he found himself on the ground for the second and third times. The Prophet was physically strong and brave.
As you know, the moral standards in Mecca before the Prophet were extremely low. People of Mecca were unhappy about it. Two Meccans decided to make an agreement: "If any injustice takes places in Mecca, we will try to stop it with our influence." Other people joined the union. The covenant was named Hilful Fudul. It was functional. If somebody was wronged, he would go to the members, then the members would seek justice on behalf of the person.
Once, a Bedouin with his wife came to Mecca to sell goods. The woman was quite attractive. A shameless Meccan of some rank kidnapped the woman. The Bedouin did not know what to do. He was recommended to apply to the members of Hilful Fudul. He went to them and told them the problem. The members of the union picked up their swords and saved the woman.
About the Hilful Fudul covenant, the Prophet said, "If I lived in their time, I would have joined them." That was the approach of the Prophet on social issues.
There are many ahadith pointing to the rewards of guard duty on the borders of the Muslim country. It is called ribat or murabata. There are also ahadith about fighting with the enemy at the battlefield. It is called mujahada or jihad.
The Prophet also had practices and recommendations for people who are leaders or administrators at various levels of the government. There are also recommendations for people who are governed. He recommends people obey the administrators, and administrators obey the orders of Allah.
Whenever the Prophet sent people for an expedition, he appointed a leader for the group. Once something interesting happened. Suppose a group of fifty or one hundred people were to be sent for an expedition. He checked each and every one of them, talked to them. He asked them how much of the Qur'an they have in memory. A young person was among them. The Prophet asked him, too: "Who are you? How much of the Qur'an do you know?" The young person responded: "I know such and such surahs, and the entire Surah Baqara by heart."
The Surah Baqara has 286 verses, two and half juz', about fifty pages long, about 1/12 of the entire Qur'an. The Prophet asked again: "Do you know the Surah Baqara by heart?"
"Yes, I do!" said
the young man. The Prophet said, "(Izheb, fa anta amîruhum!)
Go, you are their leader!" The young man was appointed as the
for the group because he knew the Surah Baqara by heart. This is
principle in the leadership criteria:
(Fal yaummahum aqra uhum) "One who has the most knowledge of the Qur'an and other Islamic matters will be the leader." That is why we named our radio station AKRA, meaning "one who knows the Qur'an well." It is also an abbreviation of AK RADYO ("White" Radio), yet our main purpose was the first one.
In another expedition, the Prophet appointed somebody as the leader. During the expedition, there were some disagreements. Some people disobeyed the leader. The leader got angry. He ordered them: "Go and gather some firewood." They collected twigs, dried plants and alike and piled them up. He ordered: "Start a fire!" They did. When the flames were high, he asked them: "Get into the fire!" Since the leader is to be obeyed, he expected them to get into the fire. People did not obey that command and said: "We are not going to get into the fire. Yet we are going to tell this to the Prophet."
On their return, they consulted the Prophet. The Prophet said: "If you had obeyed him, you would have put yourselves in hellfire. The obedience is only for good things. When there is a sin, you shall not obey the orders."
If we look at the manners of the Prophet and his teachings to learn a lesson, we observe the following: Our beloved Prophet stated the matters as whole and stated rules to balance the issue in all aspects. He did not authorize anybody without limits; he did not let anybody be oppressed. He took precautions for justice. He regulated interpersonal relationships beautifully. He lived what he preached to be good example for us to follow.
If we are to summarize the general characteristics of the Prophet's manner, with his words: "The good code of conduct shall be just for the sake of Allah, for His consent--without expecting anything in return."
Once the Prophet was
asked: "What is a good character, O Prophet of Allah?" He
(Taghfiru 'ammen zalemaka tu'ti men haramaka tasilu men qata-ake) "You forgive one who does injustice to you; you give one who does not give to you, and you keep your ties with one who cuts off the ties."
What we conclude from this hadith is that the good code of conduct is not something done in return to some favor, but it is doing good without expecting anything. It is for the consent of Allah. Even if a person receives bad treatment from somebody, he should continue doing good things for that individual.
There is another saying of the Prophet: "A calamity or something bad that befalls on a person is a grace from Allah. One fails to understand this fact is not a true believer." That is how the Prophet looked at the events--it is not how the way we see things. When a person gets some illness, he should believe that it is his destiny and be patient. That would earn him rewards. Calamities, too, are part of the destiny that Allah prescribed for us.
May Almighty Allah have us equipped with the character of the Prophet. May He have us comply to the code of conduct of the Prophet in our family life, in our relations with our relative, our Muslim brethren, and our neighbors, in our business transactions, and in our social interactions. May He grant you all His consent, happiness, an orderly life, and a happy society in this life. May He grant you all rewards and honor of observing His beauty in His Paradise in the hereafter.
May Almighty Allah be pleased with you.
As-salâmu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh!
October 24, 1995--Hannover, GERMANY