Posted on Nov 26, 2019
By Danah Shuli
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that someone as special in the eyes of Allah (S) and as dear to our hearts as Muslims actually was a human with his own set of flaws and strengths, just like you and me. Studying the life of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) through narrations of those around him and reading his own accounts shows us that his life, while miraculous and guided by divine intervention, was also filled with countless trials and tribulations, sorrow and grief as well as happiness and love; much like many of us.
One of the main things that has allowed me to feel such a strong connection to and immense love for him is the fact that he was so relatable. We often put prophets and messengers on such a high pedestal that we forget Allah (S) created them human, just like us. There are so many lessons learned through the character and patience of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (saw) that we can all apply to our day to day.
A Loving Husband
Of the many hats the Prophet Muhammad (saw) had to wear throughout his lifetime, one of the most significant was his role as a husband. There are countless narrations and accounts on how his relationship with his wives was embodied with love, tenderness and mercy. We all know the infamous story of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and his wife Aisha (rah) racing together, which is a simple example of how playful he was with his wife.
Aisha reported: She was with the Prophet (saw) while on a journey. Aisha said, “I raced him on foot and I outran him, but when I gained some weight, I raced him again and he outran me. The Prophet said: This is for that race.”
Aisha (rah) has also narrated that the Prophet (saw) would give her nicknames and call her by them. Take a moment to really soak that in. The Prophet calling his wife by a special name he picked out just for her. How sweet is that?! Just think of how special you feel when your own spouse or loved one calls you by your nickname they handpicked for you. There’s something heartfelt and so very relatable about the fact that the Prophet used to do this very thing – that we do with our own spouses – with his wife.
“O ‘A’ish, this is Gabriel saying peace be upon you.” She replied: ”And may peace and Allah’s mercy and blessings be upon him. You see what I don’t.” (Al-Bukhari)
Even after his first wife, Khadijah, passed away, the Prophet continued to show his love for her. For example, he made sure to keep close relations with those that were dear to Khadijah to keep any trace of physical connection with her.
Anas ibn Malik reported: When the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was given something, he would say, “Go to such person, for they were a friend of Khadijah. Go to the house of such person, for they were loved by Khadijah.”
Masjid Nabuwi in Madinah (this photo and the one above).
He Made Errors
Every time I read Surah Abasa (Chapter 80 of the Quran) I am reminded of the humanness of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), and that even he had flaws and human tendencies. The surah starts off by narrating the incident in which the Prophet was in the company of the highest members of the tribe of Quraish, speaking to them about Islam in hopes that they would embrace the religion.
While in the midst of his speech, a blind man, who was actually one of the believers and a sahabi (companion of the Prophet), asked the Prophet to teach him from the knowledge that was given to him by Allah (S). In that moment, the Prophet asked the sahabi to wait until he was done addressing the chiefs of Quraish while also frowning in the face of the blind man due to his interruption.
It’s hard to believe that someone as noble and of high stature as our beloved Muhammad (saw) would do something like this, but to know that he did is also somewhat reassuring to me personally. It makes the character of the Prophet that much more human and shows me that he is indeed merely a Prophet and Messenger of the divine, not the divine himself. He was capable of making mistakes and learning from them.
He Loved Children
There are countless accounts and narrations on how much Prophet Muhammad (saw) loved children and was patient with them. While some individuals in our communities ridicule or lose patience with children who are playful in the mosque, the Prophet was always inviting and even allowed them to interrupt his prayers.
It was narrated by Abu Qutaadah (RAH), “I saw the Messenger of Allah (saw) leading the people in prayer, with Umamah bint Abi Al-'Aas on his shoulders. When he bowed he would put her down and when he stood up from prostrating he would pick her up again.”
There is something to be learned about being merciful with children and showing them affection, kindness and love, even while in an act of worship. In another account, the Prophet even waited for one of his grandchildren to finish playing before he continued on with his salah.
It was narrated from AbdulAllaah ibn Shaddaad that his father said, “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) came out to us for one of the evening prayers (Maghrib or ‘Isha’), carrying Hasan or Husayn. The Messenger of Allah (SAW) came forward, put the child down and said Takbeer (“Allahu akbar”) to start the prayer. Then he prostrated during the prayer and his prostration lasted for a long time. My father said: I raised my head and saw the child on the back of the Messenger of Allah (saw), so I went back to my prostration. When the Messenger of Allah (saw) finished praying, the people said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah, during your prayer you prostrated and it took a long time, until we thought that something had happened, or that you were receiving Revelation.’ He said, ‘Nothing happened, but my son was riding on my back and I did not want to hurry him up until he had had enough.’” (Sahih al-Nasa'i, 1093).
It is no secret that the Prophet Muhammad (saw) suffered great many losses in his lifetime. Before his own birth, he had already lost his father. He lost his mother at the young age of six. He lost his support system – his dear wife Khadijah and uncle Abu Talib – in the same year. It didn’t stop there; he also lost six of his seven children at young ages.
In the story of the death of his son Ibrahim, we are reminded of how the companions of the Prophet were shocked to see him mourn the loss of his son. This shows me that even the sahabah, who interacted with him face to face, would forget that at the end of the day, Muhammad (saw) was also human and expressed the same emotions as anyone else.
When the Prophet saw Ibrahim, at only 18 months of age, take his last breaths in his own arms, he started to cry.
Abdul Rahman bin Auf said, “O Allah’s Messenger (SAW), even you are weeping!” The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, “O Ibn Auf, this is mercy”. He continued to cry and said, “The eyes are shedding tears and the heart is grieved, and we will not say except what pleases our Lord; inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon (To Allah (S) we belong, and to Him we shall return).
Through these examples alone, I am reminded of just how – in the midst of all that is extraordinary – ordinary our Prophet really was. There are countless hadith on his life that prove to us that he was indeed a man sent to relay the message of Allah (S); not a magician or son of God, but a human just like you and me. The more I read about the life of the Prophet and study his character/traits and his encounters with those around him; the more I find myself grow fonder of him. I am able to connect with him on a deeper, and more personal level.
I ask Allah (S) to make you and I of those who will join the Prophet Muhammad (saw) in the highest levels of jannah (heaven).
Danah is wife to Kareem and mama to two children. She was born and raised in Charlotte, NC, and loves all things food, fashion, photography and home decor. After having Kinzah, she created her blog, Mother of Pearl, where she shares a glimpse into her life as she navigates motherhood and hopes to build a safe space for other mamas to connect. You can follow her on Instagram.
All images are from Unsplash.