Rafed English

The Prophet's Dealings with the People

It is related that H{usayn son of Imam Ali, peace be upon them both, said: 'I asked my father about how the Apostle of God, may Allah bless him and his family, would spend his time indoors. He said: 'When he sought the refuge of his house he would divide his time into three parts; one part for God, one part for his family, and one part for himself. Then the part that was for himself he would divide between himself and the people; both those close to him and the general public, and he would spare all the time that he could for them. It was his policy regarding the time he set aside for the Muslim community to favour the virtuous with his manners and he divided his time according to their virtue in the religion. Among them were those who had a single need, those who had two needs, and those who had a number of needs. He would concern himself with them and occupy them with what would benefit both them and the community by asking about them and getting them to inform him of what was needed. He would say: 'Let those present inform those who are absent and whoever is not able to inform me of his needs then let someone else do it on his behalf.' 29

Imam H{usayn relates: 'Then I asked my father about how the Apostle of God spent his time outside the house. He said:

'The Apostle of God, may Allah bless him and his family, would guard his tongue except in matters which concerned him. He would work to unite the people and not divide them. He would honour the nobles of every people and place them in authority over them. He would warn the people against discords. He would be on his guard with the people at all times but would never withhold from them his smile or good manners. He would miss those of his companions who were absent and would ask the people about the affairs of the people, and would encourage what was beautiful and good and discourage what was ugly and bad.

He was balanced and did not go to extremes and would never become heedless for fear that the people would become heedless and divert from the right path. He was prepared for every situation and would not fall short of the truth nor go beyond it. It was the best of the people who followed him. In his view the best of them were those who gave the best counsel and the highest in station were those who gave the best solidarity and support.' 30

Imam H{usayn relates: 'Then I asked my father about his gatherings. He said: 'Whenever the Apostle of God sat down to a meeting or stood up from one he would always be in remembrance of God, glory be to His name. Whenever he sat with some people he would always stay until the end of the gathering and would order others to do the same. He would give each of those present his due so that everyone would think that they were the most honoured person present. Whenever he sat with someone or stood with him regarding a matter, he would wait patiently until the other person was satisfied and left. If anyone asked him for anything he would either give him what he asked or speak to him some kind words. His openness and good manners enveloped the people and he was to them as a father and to him they all had equal rights. His gatherings were gatherings of kindness and modesty, patience and trust, where voices were not raised and sanctity was not trampled upon. There the people vied with each other to be the most just and the most virtuous and God- conscious. They would respect the elders and treat the young with mercy and give preference to those in need and protect the stranger.' 31

Imam H{usayn also relates that his father said: 'The Apostle of God was constantly smiling, and very easy to get along with.

He was not uncouth or hard-hearted, loud voiced or immodest. He would not seek to find faults with people nor to flatter people.

He would ignore and avoid that which he did not like, but [no one] would lose hope from him nor would he disappoint anyone.

He forbade himself three things: showing off, excess in anything and [interfering in] those things which did not concern him.

He held back three things from the people: he would not condemn or rebuke anyone, nor would he seek out another's secrets, and would only speak in matters in which he sought a divine reward.

When he spoke his companions lowered their heads as though birds had landed upon them 32 and when he fell silent they spoke. They would not vie with each other to speak, and when he spoke they would pay attention until he had finished. They spoke with him as they spoke normally; he would laugh with them when they laughed and be amazed when they were amazed. He would bear the uncouth language and questions of a stranger with patience.

He would say: 'If you see someone in need then aid him'. He would not accept praise except from his equals. He would never interrupt another person when he was speaking until he asked permission or until the speech had ended or the other person stood up to leave. 33

It is related that Zayd ibn Th"bit said: 'When we sat with the Prophet and we began to talk about the afterlife he would join in with us. If we began to talk about worldly affairs he would also join in with us. If we began to speak about food and drink he would also join in with us.' 34 It is related that Imam Ali said: 'The Apostle of God, may Allah bless him and his family, whenever he saw that one of his companions was dejected he would joke with him to delight him.' 35

Anas said: 'Whenever the Apostle of God he passed by some children would always greet them.' 36

Asm"' daughter of Zayd relates: 'The Prophet passed by some women and greeted them.' 37 Whenever any of his companions or anyone else called him he always said: 'At your service.' 38 He would always call his companions by their kunyas 39 to honour them and win their hearts over and would always give a kunya to those who did not have one after which that person would be known by this kunya. He would also give kunyas to the ladies who had children and those who did not. He would also give kunyas to youngsters to soften their hearts.' 40

The Apostle of God was among the most courteous of people. He would not hold back on cold mornings from going to a male or female servant or a child and washing their face and hands for them. Whenever someone asked him something he always paid attention and would always wait until the other person left so that he himself would not be the first to leave. Whenever someone offered him his hand he would accept it. 41


29. sunan al-nab:; p.14

30. mak"rim al-akhl"q; p.13

31. ibid; p.14

32. A figure of speech, depicting their motionlessness and attentiveness

33. mak"rim al-akhl"q; p 14

34. bihar al-anwar (Oceans of Lights); vol.16, p.235

35. sunan al-nab:; p.60

36. mak"rim al-akhl"q; p.16

37. bihar al-anwar; vol.16, p.229, 9ad:th35, chap.9.

38. sunan al-nab:; p.52.

39. Agnomens. Usually of the form AbY' or Omm' so-and-so, the father or mother of so-and-so. Translator

40. sunan al-nab:; p.52.

41. bihar al-anwar; vol.16, p.228, Beirut edn.

Adopted from the book : "The Prophet Muhammad; a Mercy to the World" by : "Ayatullah Muhammad Sadiq al-Shirazi"

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