Faqr (austerity) of the Holy Prophet


Hadith & Seerah, The Noble Traits of His Character, The Ways of the Prophet (SAWS) / Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Imam Qastalani (Mercy of ALLAAH be on him) narrated in his Mawahib. On the one hand it occurs in the traditions that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and his Companions carried on without meals for successive days; sometimes they subsisted only on dates, at others if they could not get even these, they contented themselves with a drink of water. On the other hand it is also mentioned in the traditions that he gave his wives their maintenance expenses for the whole year all at one time. He distributed forty camels among his companions. It is also reported that he sacrificed one hundred camels on the occasion of Hajj and Umra or presented a whole flock of sheep to a villager. A large number of instances are also reported about some of his companions who were well-to-do persons – Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddique (the Truthful), ‘Uthman Ghani’ (the Independent) and Abdur Rehman bin ‘Auf (Radi Allaahu Ta’ala Anhum) and they helped the Muslim Community with their wealth on many occasions. If there was such prosperity and ease, what was the meaning of remaining without meals for days on end and that even kitchen fire was not lit in their houses for months. And if there was such indigence that they could often get nothing to eat, what was the meaning of this generosity? This is something which creates confusion in the minds of people.

Imam Tabari (ALLAAH be merciful to him) has explained this. It is related in Fathul Bari, that these austerities of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and the noble Companions were not due to the fact that they were really destitute, and helpless. The number of such Companions was small, who passed their days in really extreme hardship and indigence. In reality the self imposed famishment and abstention for choice foods by the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) and the noble Companions was only sometimes caused by lack of means, otherwise he and his Companions suffered hunger and thirst by their own choice in order to create in themselves feelings of self denial and sacrifice for others, to express abhorrence and aversion of worldly comforts and luxury, for these make men forgetful of ALLAAH and struggle for truth. [Fathul Bari]

According to Hafiz lbn Hajar (Mercy of ALLAAH be on him) the fact is that most of the Companions led hard lives so long as they were in Makkah and when they came to Madina, the Ansars cooperated with them in every respect. They accommodated them in their own homes and made them partners in their business. Then Jihad (holy war) began. Other territories were conquered and booty began to pour in. This brought ease and prosperity to all the Companions. But they did not spend their riches for their own comforts and luxuries; instead, they used all their financial resources for the general welfare of the Muslims.

Abu Umamah (Radi Allaahu Ta’ala Anhu) narrated that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa SalIam) told him, “My Lord told me that he could transform the valley of Makkah into a valley of gold, if I so desired. But I said, “No, my Lord! I prefer to remain without meals for one day and eat to my fill the day next, so that the day on which I remain hungry, I may shed tears before Thee and remember Thee, and the day on which I eat my fill, I offer thanks to Thee and praise Thee from the core of my heart”. [Fathul Bari. Madarij-un-Nubuwah]

The Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) has said: My preceding Prophets also had to face poverty and hunger. Of all the favors of ALLAAH (The Most High) I like this the most. Hadrat Aishah (Radi Allaahu Ta’ala Anhu) narrated the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) never ate his fill and he never mentioned that to anyone, for he loved poverty more than riches and hunger more than satiation. Very often he would be restless the whole night because of hunger, yet this could not hold him back from fasting the next day. He would fast without eating and drinking anything at night, although had he so desired, he could have prayed to ALLAAH to favor him with all the riches, affluence and comforts of the world, but he always preferred poverty and hunger to luxurious living. Seeing this condition of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam), I would start weeping while my own condition was no better, and I would say to him, would that we had even barely enough to eat and drink! Be there no ease and luxury, but would that we had at least enough for a simple living. Hearing me speak thus, he said, O, Aishah! What have we to do with the world? Before me, many of my brothers who were Prophets of high determination came to this world. They suffered many hardship but remained patient till they met their Lord and were favored with high position and diverse comforts. I do not like that I am given ease in this world at the cost of infinite bounties in the Hereafter. I love nothing better than to meet my friends and brothers in this very state. Hadrat Aishah adds that the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) survived hardly more than a month after this dialogue and left us to meet his real Master.

Surely we belong to ALLAAH and to Him we return.

May ALLAAH bless him and grant him peace infinitely. [Kitabush-Shifa, Madarij-un-Nubuwah, Shamail]

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