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PROPHET MUHAMMAD’S ﷺ ASCETICISM


Asceticism means self-denying and to live a very simple life. Asceticism does not mean renouncing the world, but asceticism here is controlling your worldly desires and submitting yourself to Allah completely by leaving a simple life. The Prophet said, ‘Lead an ascetic life by loving Allah; Turn away from what the people have by loving the people’. Muhammad, Allah’s blessing and peace be upon him, was the most ascetic person to the extent that asceticism became one of his virtuous characteristics. The Prophet(S), had the ability to enjoy worldly pleasures for he was the most honorable person in the sight of Allah The Almighty and if he wished, Allah could have turned mountains into gold and silver for him. Despite this the Prophet(S), was the most ascetic of all people and had the least desire for this worldly life, since the basic necessities were sufficient for him and he was satisfied with tough circumstances. [1] [2]

 

Table of Contents

 

Qur’an

Allah said: And do not extend your eyes toward that by which We have given enjoyment to [some] categories of them, [its being but] the splendor of worldly life by which We test them. And the provision of your Lord is better and more enduring}Quran Surah Taha 20:131

 

Imaam ibn Katheer narrated in his book of Tafseer on the authority of Khaythamah(R  that it was said to the Prophet: "If you wish, We will give you the keys to the treasures of the earth, more than we gave any preceding prophet or would give anyone after you, and your reward in the Hereafter will not be affected." However, the Messenger of Allah, said:"Save it all for me in the Hereafter."Thereupon, Allah The Almighty revealed the ayath which says (what means): {Blessed is He who, if He willed, could have made for you [something] better than that - gardens beneath which rivers flow - and could make for you palaces} Quran Surah Furqan 25:10. The Prophet(S), was asked to choose whether to be a Prophet and a king or a slave and a Messenger - he chose the latter. [2]

 

Hadith

What is truly amazing is the life of the Prophet, and his way of living. Abu Tharr  said: "While I was walking with the Prophet  in the Harrah of Al-Madeenah, the mountain of ’Uhud came into sight. The Prophet  said:"O Abu Tharr!"I said, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah!"He  said:"I would not like to have this mountain turned into gold for me, unless nothing of it, not even a single Dinaar of it, remained with me for more than three days [i.e. I would spend it all in Allah’s cause], except something that I would keep for repaying debts. I would distribute all of it amongst the slaves of Allah The Almighty here and there."The Prophet  pointed with his hand to his right, left, and back [in order to illustrate]. He continued to walk and said:"Those with much wealth [in this worldly life] are those with little reward on the Day of Resurrection - except those who spend their wealth here and there [in Allah’s cause],”then he pointed to his right, left and back [in order to illustrate] and said:“but the people who would do so are few."”[Al-Bukhaari]

 

Amr’ b. al-Haarith said: "The Messenger of God (pbuh) did not leave any gold or silver currency, or a slave, male or female, after his death. He only left behind his white mule, his weapons and a piece of land which he declared as Charity." ((Bukhari #2588)

 

More incidents

The following more incidents show that great disposition and confirm it:

 

Incident 1

He said in the Books of Traditions, ‘If I had like so and so gold, it would not please me to keep it at my home for three nights but if it is a debt, then it is all right’. This is the strongest sign of the Muhammadan asceticism.

 

Incident 2

When Omar entered Muhammad’s house and found him lying on a mattress of fiber, he (Omar) said, «O Messenger of Allah! Kisra and Ceaser sleep on so and so and you sleep on so and so?» The Prophet said, ‘O Omar! I have nothing to do with this life world. I am like a traveler who sits in the shadow of a tree to rest, then he leaves it and goes on his way’. That was the strongest sign of the Muhammadan asceticism. Or  The bedding of the Prophet, was made of leather stuffed with palm-tree fibers. One day ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattaab  approached the Prophet, and saw him lying on sand and a mat of reeds. There was no bedding beneath him so the reeds left marks on his side. ‘Umar said, "I took a glance around his house and by Allah, I could not find anything of value so I said, 'O Messenger of Allah! Supplicate to Allah to make your followers rich, for the Persians and Romans have been made prosperous and have been given [the pleasures of the world], though they do not worship Allah.’” Thereupon the Prophet,  said:“Are you in any doubt, O son of Al-Khattaab? These are the people who have wasted the rewards for their good deeds in this worldly life.”

 

The Prophet, would also say:"What have I to do with this world? In this worldly life I am but a rider who sat under a tree for its shade, then went away and left it."

 

Incident 3

His Lord proposed to turn al-Akhshabain (two well- known mountains in Mecca) to gold and silver for him (for the Prophet). That proposal was after the Prophet’s return from at-Ta’if when he was so sad, wounded and oppressed. But, the Prophet said, ‘No my Lord. When I am satisfied I thank and praise You. When I am hungry, I call and beseech You’.

 

Incident 4

The greatest sign of the Muhammad(S) asceticism is his repeated request: ‘O God! Make the food of the family of Muhammad subsistence (the minimum necessary to support our life)’ or O Allah, make the sustenance of the household of Muhammad the bare subsistence. By subsistence he means without increment or decrement. He also said, ‘Little amount that suffices is better than much which diverts. The little which suffices is better than the numerous which diverts and deluges’.

 

Incident 5

When the Messenger of Allah, God’s blessing and peace be upon him, died, A’i’sha(R) said, «When the Messenger of Allah died, there was nothing in my house to be eaten except one loaf of barely in one of my roofs. Besides, when he died, his armor was pawned (pledged) to a Jew in return for thirty measures’.

 

Incident 6

There are many examples in the Prophet’s life which prove that he had no concern for the pleasures of this life. Abdullah b. Masood said: "The Messenger of God (pbuh) went to sleep on a mat. He stood up and he had marks on his side due to the mat that he had slept on. We said: ‘O Messenger of God, shall we not make [a proper] bedding for you?’ He said: ‘What do I have to do with this world? I am only like a wayfarer upon a mount that stopped to take shade and rest under a tree, and then leaves it behind and continues on the journey." (Tirmidthi #2377) [1]

 

Conclusion

To think of these incidents, the truth becomes clear and that the true asceticism is the real nature of the beloved Muhammad(S). He is the one who said, ‘This life world is the house of the one who has no house. It is money of the one who has no money. It is for it that the one who has no mind gathers his money».

These traditions will remain as truthful witnesses affirming that he was a true prophet and ascetic who preferred the reward of Allah- The Almighty to any worldly pleasure. They will also remain as a call to this Ummah (Muslim Nation) and the believing generations to renounce this world and guard against its temptations, because had enjoying worldly pleasures been a sign of the love of Allah The Almighty for His slave, then the Prophet, who was the most honored and the best of men in the sight of Allah The Almighty, would surely have enjoyed it. [2]

 

References

[1] http://www.alsiraj.net/English/sfat/html/page06.html

[2] http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/index.php?page=articles&id=157312

 

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