Poverty – Part 1 – Examples from Muhammad’s ﷺ Life

Poverty – Examples from Muhammad’s ﷺ Life

Author: Ms. Seen Noon

A lot can be learnt from the life our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, who was Allah’s messenger, but lived a life without any luxuries or comforts. He can be seen as a great role-model for the entire world because of his simplicity, humility, generosity and also due to his lack of materialistic desires of this world.

Umar ibn al-Khattab (RZA) reported:

I entered the room of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, while he was lying on his side over a mat. I sat down as he drew up his lower garment and he was not wearing anything else. The mat had left marks on his side. I looked at the Prophet’s cupboard and I saw a handful of barely in a small amount, the same of mimosa leaves in the corner, and a leather bag hanging to the side. My eyes started to tear up, and the Prophet said, “What makes you weep, son of Khattab? I said, “O Prophet of Allah, why should I not cry that this mat has left marks on your side and I see little in this cupboard? Caesar and Khosrau live among fruits and springs, while you are the Messenger of Allah and His chosen, yet this is your cupboard.” The Prophet said, O son of Khattab, are you not pleased that they are for us in the Hereafter and for them in the world? I said, “Of course.”

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1479, Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Muslim

Subhan Allah, just imagine, Allah’s beloved Prophet ﷺ, whom we are to love more than our lives, lived a life that was deprived of any kind of comforts or luxuries. He ﷺ walked hand in hand with the poor folks of his time, embedding in the history which was penned down, that the worldly riches are not his goal, rather, his aim is Allah’s pleasure and his desire to dwell in Paradise.

In numerous Ahadeeth we are able to find that our Holy Prophet lived in a house which was too small, at times he had to ask his wife to move so he could prostrate. He ﷺ could have very easily acquired a bigger house, but he was at peace with less material gains of this world. At times our dear Prophet ﷺ had to tie rocks to his stomach in order to subside his hunger, it was a norm that days passed by without any proper meal, settling for dates and water. What a life, wow, and still we don’t take heed, cribbing over our ‘average’ lifestyles and lack of wardrobes and fancy meals.

Ayesha (RZA) reported:

We in the household of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, used to live for a whole month without cooking anything over a fire. We would have nothing to eat but dates and water.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2792, Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Muslim

Abu Huraira (RZA) reported:

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ went out of his home at an odd time of the day or the night. It was a time that the Prophet ﷺ wouldn’t come out of his house. So, it can be assumed that it was between dhuhr or asr, or a time in the night. When he walked out, he noticed two men sitting in the masjid; Abu Bakr and Omar (RZA), so he said to them: What is it that brought you out of your homes in this odd hour? They said: “Starvation O Messenger of Allah! We’re hungry”. We came out of hunger. The Holy Prophet says to them: And I too by the one in whose hand is my soul. I only was brought out of my home because of that which brought you out of your home.

The Prophet ﷺ said: Get up and let’s go find some food. They come to the house of an Ansari man, as Ansaris were a generous group of people. The lady of the house greeted them and the Prophet ﷺ greeted her back. They asked about the husband, found that he had gone to fetch water. When he got back with the water, he was surprised at the sight of these amazing men in his house, wondering, what privilege do I have to have these types of guests in my home? He started to look at them and recognized their need, offered water and then went out and collected dates of all types; ripe, dry. He hurried back to the Prophet ﷺ, Abu Bakr and Omar to provide them with dates and water. After that he picked up his knife and slaughtered a sheep for them, cooked and served it to them.

The Prophet ﷺ looks at both his companions and says: “I swear by him in whose hand is my soul. You will be asked about this night, about this blessing at the day of judgement that what got you out of your homes was hunger and Allah but you are not returning to your homes without having been touched by the blessings of Allah, you better be grateful for your blessings. Subhan Allah!”

Umar (RZA) reported:

I saw the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, spend the entire day suffering from hunger. The Prophet could not find even the worst dates with which to fill his stomach.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2978, Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Muslim

Ibn Abbas (RZA) reported:

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ would spend several nights in a row with an empty stomach, and his family would not find anything for dinner. Most of their bread was made from barley.

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhi 2360, Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Al-Albani

Abu Huraira (RZA) reported:

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ left this world while he had never ate to his fill of barley bread.

Source: Sahih al-Bukhari 5098, Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to al-Bukhari

Ayesha (RZA) reported:

The family of Muhammad ﷺ never ate to their fill of wheat bread for three consecutive nights ever since they came to Medina, ever since he passed away.

Source: Sahih al-Bukhari 6089, Sahih Muslim 2970, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi (authenticity agreed upon) according to Bukhari and Muslim

Hazrat Fatima’s (RZA) Lifestyle

The beloved Messenger of Allah ﷺ loved his daughter Hazrat Fatima (RZA) greatly. She was the only daughter of Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ who was with him through all the thick and thin of his life. The Prophet ﷺ loved her so much that he would visit her before and after a trip, showing deep affection and attachment towards her. Once the Prophet ﷺ was invited at a companion’s house for a meal, he picked up some meat for her, saying:

‘Send this to Fatima the daughter of Muhammad, she has not eaten in three days.’

Hazrat Fatima (RZA) lived a life full of hardships and had to work real hard for a living, at times not having enough to eat, for days. But even in those tough times, she wouldn’t turn a needy soul empty-handed. One time it’s mentioned, that the couple were exhausted from enduring the hard times, as Hazrat Ali (RZA) said: “My chest has become exhausted from carrying water,” and Fatima said “My hands have become blistered from using the stone hand mill.” then Hazrat Ali asked Hazrat Fatima to go to her father to request for a servant. That time, Hazrat Muhammad ﷺ advised her to recite 33 times Subhan Allah, 33 times Alhamdulillah, 34 times Allahu Akbar before sleeping, as the best form of aid.

We, as believers, need to make these golden Sunnah an essential part of our daily routine in order to reap the benefits of supplications advised by the Prophet ﷺ For these ensure the ever-lasting barakah in our meals and assist us in dealing with the hardships in life which might be making us feel weak.

Our beloved Prophet ﷺ would send needy and the poor to the doors of his wives and Hazrat Fatima (RZA) in hopes of them getting their needs answered through the family of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ. Often times, the needy would get the reply from the household of the Prophet ﷺ that there hasn’t been any item of food in the house for days, let alone a cooked meal.

Hazrat Ayesha (RZA), as a Supporting Wife

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ loved Hazrat Ayesha (RZA) dearly, and so did she. They supported each other a great deal, handling the day-to-day issues of hunger, poverty, insufficiency with a heart of a true believer, living their lives as content as one can be, ever so grateful while always counting the blessings, the Almighty, had blessed them with.

Hazrat Ayesha (RZA) reports: “I used to weep of sorrow for him, and I would put my hand on his tummy because I saw how hungry he was. I would say to him: I would sacrifice my life for your sake! If you would only have a reasonable standard of living so that you would not go hungry.” He replied: “Ayesha! What care do I have for the life of this world? My brothers, God’s messengers who were most resolute in their dedication endured a much harder life and patiently persevered.”

Imagine, the head of Medinah, living barely on dates and water, costing next to nothing to the state, walking shoulder to shoulder with the poor of the state, showing to everyone that he feels their pain and understands the hardships of their lives. If the Messenger of Allah ﷺ ever wished to live a life fulfilling his and his family’s basic rights, none would have questioned it. But our beloved Prophet ﷺ chose to sleep hungry for months, never desiring the riches of this world. Allah’s Messenger ﷺ conveyed to us all that the riches, luxuries of this dunya are short-lived, whereas the blessings in the Hereafter are far greater in magnitude, if Allah wills.

ALLAH tests you by giving you or taking away from you

Being poor and having less than needed was a lifestyle of choice for Muhammad ﷺ, showing it to us that Allah looks at the deeds of His creations. The luxuries and bounties of this world are not a guarantee that we are chosen by Almighty to be living a life of comfort here and in the next. Rather, they are a test for us all to be shared with those who are less privileged in order to maintain the balance between the rich and the poor. What matters are the gains in the hereafter, for we are to live there for eternity, so to focus all our worldly motives towards planting fruitful seeds of piety, humility, submission and faithfulness towards the Supreme Creator.


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