Rasulullah’s salla Llahu `alayhi wa sallam attitude towards his Household

Accuracy and preservation of the Qur’an
August 6, 2015
Miraculous Guidance continued
August 6, 2015

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Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam attitude towards his Household


The second condition we had set forth for a universal religion claiming to revolutionise and improve the morals and manners of the entire humanity was that its founder should not feign piety and self-abnegation for establishing a dynastic rule, like the kings and conquers of the old. In other words, he should endeavour to neither promote the interest of his near and dear ones nor foist them upon the people in anyway.

Viewed in this light, we come across a miraculous aspect of the character of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who has being guided from on High to answer the description thus expressed in the Qur’an:


وَ اِنَّكَ لَعَلٰی خُلُقٍ عَظِیْمٍ

You are of a sublime nature.[1]


This was the characteristic feature of the prophetic morality emphasised by all the prophets of Allah. Each of them has warned his people thus:


وَمَآ اَسْـَٔلُكُمْ عَلَیْهِ مِنْ اَجْرٍ ۚ     اِنْ اَجْرِیَ اِلَّا عَلٰی رَبِّ الْعٰلَمِیْنَ

I ask you no wage for this, for none can recompense me except the Lord of Creation.[2]


The significance of this prophetic mark was well understood by Emperor Heraclius (610-641) who was versed in the Christian Scripture and also knew the ways of the Kings. On receiving the letter addressed to him from Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, Heraclius decided to satisfy himself about the sincerity of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. He sent for Abu Sufyan radiya Llahu ‘anhu, the Qurayshi chief, who happened to be there on business. He asked several questions to Abu Sufyan, one of which was if there had been any king in the family of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. On getting a reply in the negative, he observed that the purpose of his inquiry was to ascertain that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was not trying to recover his lost kingdom.[3]

Now let us examine this index of nubuwwah from another angle, for it will afford proof that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam never wanted to wrest power from the Sassanid and Byzantine Emperors, for the Arabs, let alone for the Banu Hashim and Banu Muttalib or the Quraysh. Even the ordinary Sahabah had no doubt about this aspect of the mission of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The answer given by Rabi’ ibn ‘Amir radiya Llahu ‘anhu to Rustam, the Persian general, clearly illustrates this point. On being asked by Rustam why the Arabs invaded Persia, Rabi’ radiya Llahu ‘anhu replied:


Allah has appointed us that we liberate the creatures of Allah from the bondage of their fellow being and make them submit to the One and only Allah.[4]


Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam attitude towards his relation and the members of his family was rather different or rather contrary to that usually adopted by worldly-minded leaders and rulers. Those who were nearest to him were made to face great trials and tribulations, but were always allocated the smallest share in the spoils of war and emoluments. When ‘Uqba ibn Rabi’, Shu’bah ibn Rabi’ and Walid ibn ‘Utba stepped forward in the Battle of Badr to challenge the Qurayshi Muslims, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ordered Hamzah, ‘Ali and ‘Ubaidah radiya Llahu ‘anhum to face those celebrated warriors. There were numerous Meccan Muslims present who were equally eager as well as competent to face the enemy’s combatants, while the three persons called up by Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam not only belonged to Banu Hashim, but were closely related to him, as well as held dear by him. But he did not summon anybody else to fight the enemy, in order to save those who were nearer to him from the impending danger. They also succeeded in the task allocated to them; Hamzah and ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhuma came back unhurt while ‘Ubaidah radiya Llahu ‘anhu was grievously wounded, but all three dealt a deathblow to their opponents.

Contrarily, when Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam proclaimed the levy of zakat (a duty incumbent on every Muslim to pay a part of his savings; an institution for social welfare of the believers for all times to come), he disqualified his own clan of Banu Hashim to derive any benefit from it. Again, when usury was declared impermissible, he made a beginning by asking his own uncle ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al Muttalib to forgo the interest due to him on the loans advanced by him. When he abolished all claims of blood-vengeance pertaining to the pagan past, he also declared that the reprisal of his own cousin Rabi’ ibn al Harith ibn ‘Abd al Muttalib stood remitted with the announcement.

All these measures were announced by Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam during his Farewell Pilgrimage when he said in his sermon:


The usury of the days of ignorance is abolished, and the first usury I abolish is that of my uncle, ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al Muttalib. Lo! The claims of blood-vengeance belonging to the pre-Islamic period have been abolished. The first claim on blood I remit is that of Rabi’ ibn al Harith who was suckled among Banu Layth and was killed by the clan of Hudhayl.[5]


The Last to receive any favour

Unlike the kings, rulers and political leaders, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam always kept his kin and kindred in the background, and preferred others in giving out gifts and rewards. ‘Ali radiya Llahu ‘anhu relates that Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha had to work hard in grinding corn. When she got news that some slave-girls have been brought to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, she requested one be given to her. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, however, was not present in the house.

Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha mentioned the matter to ‘Aisha radiya Llahu ‘anha who talked to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam about Fatimah’s radiya Llahu ‘anha difficulty. ‘Ali says: “Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam visited our house when we had retired to our beds. We were about to get up but he told us to stay where we were. He then sat down so close to me that I felt the coldness of his feet on my chest. Then he said:


Let me guide you to something better than what you have asked. When you go to bed, recite Subhan Allah (Glory be to Allah) thirty three times, Al hamd lillah (Praise be to Allah) thirty-three times and Allah Akbar (Allah is the Greatest) thirty-four times. This is better than what you had asked of me.[6]

In another report of the same incident handed down through another source, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is reported to have added:

By Allah, I cannot give you anything at the time when the bellies of my companions of Suffah[7] have been hollowed by hunger. I have nothing to meet their expenses and I will sell these to provide for them.[8]


Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam used to visit his daughter Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha whenever he went out of Madinah and always saw her first on return. When Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam came back from the expedition of Tabuk he went to see Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha following his usual practice. Fatimah had purchased, a little while ago, a scarf for headwear and dyed it in saffron and hung a curtain on her door or spread a mattress on the floor. Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saw this and turned back to his masjid without going inside her house. Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha sent for Bilal radiya Llahu ‘anhu to enquire why her father had gone back from her door step. Bilal radiya Llahu ‘anhu enquired from Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who told him about the things he had seen at Fatimah’s house. Bilal radiya Llahu ‘anhu reported it back to Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha who tore down the curtain at once, threw away the decorative pieces and replaced the new scarfs with her usual one. Bilal radiya Llahu ‘anhu again returned to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to tell him about it. Thereupon Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam went to see Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha and said:

Daughter, you ought to live like this.[9]


Another report says:


Once Fatimah radiya Llahu ‘anha made Hassan and Hussain radiya Llahu ‘anhuma (then still children) put on a silver bracelet. When Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam saw them, he was annoyed and did not enter into her house. Perceiving the cause of her father’s annoyance Fatimah took off the bracelets. The children felt disconsolate and went weeping to Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam who took the bracelets from them and said: “Thowban! Take these to such and such (destitute) person. They belong to my household and I would not like them to enjoy these pleasures in this very life.”[10]


This has been the mental outlook of all the prophets of Allah, which was pronounced in the utterance of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam when he said:

No one is heir of the prophets; that which we leave is to be treated as alms and belong to all the Muslims.[11]


Always indifferent to pleasure of the worlds, Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam himself lived a frugal life, and desired the same for the members of his family. Once he beseeched Allah:

O Allah, give sustenance to the progeny of Muhammad only to make the two ends meet.[12]


Key to Salvation

How can it be presumed, in these circumstances, that Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam would have thought of bequeathing a dynastic rule, dominion and command of the khilafah or Imamah[13] to his kinsman.[14]

On the contrary, the ideal of human equality and brotherhood as preached by Islam was expressed in the maxim:

Verily, nobility lies in virtuous deeds.


It was necessary for upholding this doctrine that Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam kinsmen and descendants were urged for striving eminence and distinction, like all other followers of Islam, by giving the proof of their superior knowledge and virtuous deeds, self-sacrifice and service to people. This was in harmony with these Qur’anic dictums:


وَسَارِعُوْٓا اِلٰی مَغْفِرَةٍ مِّنْ رَّبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمٰوٰتُ وَالْاَرْضُ ۙ   اُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِیْنَ

And vie with one another, hastening to forgiveness from your Lord, and to a garden whose breadth is as heaven and earth, prepared for the God-fearing.[15]


Qur’an clearly states that every man is his own redeemer; his success and failure in this world and the next, depends on his own endeavour.


وَ اَنْ لَّیْسَ لِلْاِنْسَانِ اِلَّا مَا سَعٰی ﴿39ۙ﴾ وَ اَنَّ سَعْیَه  سَوْفَ یُرٰی ﴿40﴾ ثُمَّ یُجْزٰىهُ الْجَزَآءَ الْاَوْفٰی

And that a man shall have to his account only as he has laboured; and that his endeavour shall surely be seen, then he shall be recompensed for it with the fullest recompense.[16]


And nobody will be called to bear the burden of others; everybody will be responsible for his own omissions and commissions.


وَلَا تَكْسِبُ كُلُّ نَفْسٍ اِلَّا عَلَیْهَا ۚ   وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِّزْرَ اُخْرٰی ۚ

Every soul earns only to its own account; no soul laden bears the load of another.[17]


Once Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam addressed his nearest kin calling them by name, to tell them that they could have anything they desired from his possessions but he would be of no help for them in the obligations they owed to Allah. He said:


O Banu ‘Abd Manaf, I would not be of help to you in obligations owed to Allah; O Safiyyah, aunt of Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, I would be helpless in affairs that relate to Allah; O Fatimah bint Muhammad, ask whatever you want from that which I possess but in matters relating to Allah, I would be helpless.[18]


Indeed Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam settled the matter for all time to come by declaring that: “Whosoever trails behind in actions cannot get ahead by his lineage.”


Order of Khilafah

The precedence of the first four khulafaʼ is really indicative of divine wisdom. That Abu Bakr belonging to Banu Tamim, was elected as the first Khalifah by the Muslims, in preference to any one belonging to Rasulullah’s salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam household or his family or even Banu Hashim or Banu Muttalib, was not by mere chance or nor was it brought about by intrigue or crafty manoeuvring. It came to happen in order that there should remain no doubt that Islam does not favour dynasty rule. Whether it be Khilafah or Imamah, the succession depends on one’s capability, service rendered to the community and the opinions of the masses. It was also adventitious that for many centuries to come Banu Hashim were treated in a like manner by Allah as well as the body-politic of the Muslims.

They were held in esteem by the entire community but only because of the knowledge, piety, self-abnegation and service to the community. Muslims loved and revered them as their leaders; whenever Islam was in danger, they came forward to defend it; and the Muslim society was always rejuvenated, given a new life by them through setting an example — an example of their own perfection of spirit and morals. Such is the ordaining of Allah, the Mighty, the All Knowing.[19]


NEXT⇒ Accuracy and preservation of the Qur’an

[1]  Surah al Qalam: 4.

[2]  Surah al Shu’ara: 109, Nabi Nuh, Nabi Hud, Nabi Salih, Nabi Lut, and Nabi Shu’ayb Q repeat this to their people in order to convince them of their sincerity. See verses 127, 145, 164 and 180 of the same surah.

[3]  Muhammad Ismail al Bukhari, Al Jami’ al Sahih al Bukhari, Kitab-al Wahi, (matba’ Mustafa Al Babi al Halabi, 1953), Vol. I, p.7.

[4]  Ibn al Kathir, Imad al Din ‘Abd al Fidaʼ Ismail ibn ‘Amr, Al Bidayah wa al Nihayah (Egypt, 1966), Vol. VII. p. 39.

[5] Sahih Muslim, Kitab al Hajj (Beirut, 1960), Vol. II, p. 889; Abu Dawood on the authority of Jabir ibn ‘Abdullah.

[6]Bukhari, op. cit.,Kitab-al jihad

[7] A raised platform in the masjid at Madinah where lived the poor companions desirous of remaining in attendance upon Rasulullah salla Llahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

[8]  Ibn Hajar, Fath-al Bari (Cairo, 1348 A.H.), Vol. VII, pp. 23-24.

[9]  Hammad ibn Ishaq ibn Ismail (199-267 A.H.), Taraktum al Nabi, Madinah, 1984; Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abi Dawood.

[10]  Ibid. p. 58; Abu Dawood; Musnad Ahmed.

[11]Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abi Dawood.

[12] Sahih Bukhari; Sahih Muslim.

[13]  Imamah has a wide connotation vested with the absolute and wide powers according to Shia theology which will be dealt with later on.

[14]  According to the Shia doctrine, Imamah and Khilafah devolved on ‘Ali who was divinely appointed as the first successor and was impeccable. The Imam should descend from the apostolic line and the world cannot last without him, it is also incumbent on all to acknowledge his leadership in all temporal and spiritual matters.

[15]  Surah Al ‘Imran: 133

[16]  Surah al Najm: 39-41

[17]  Surah al An’am: 164

[18]Sahih Bukhari

[19] The martyrdom of Hussain and those of his progeny who fought against those tyrants and endeavoured for the revival of true faith is too well-known and their efforts find an honoured place in the annals of most of the Islamic countries, and are still a source of inspiration to all Muslims.