THE HOLY PROPHET
His Days And Nights
By Abu Umer Zaid
Imam Tirmizi has narrated on the authority of Hazrat Ali (R.A.) that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) had divided the twenty fours hours of his day and night into three distinct spans. Each span of time was devoted respectively to -
(i) worship and remembrance of Allaah;
(ii) service of fellow beings; and
(iii) attention to personal and domestic needs.
From the time the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) entered Yathreb, his life
stands out in the minutest detail. Thenceforth he was chief, lawgiver, and supreme magistrate, and his history became merged in the history of the commonwealth which constituted itself around him. The noble designation of Ansaar became the common title of all who had helped Islam in its hour of trial. The faithful band which had forsaken their beloved birth place and every tie of home received the name - and a noble name it was -Muhaajireen (Emigrants or Exiles).
Yathreb changed its ancient name, and was henceforth styled Medina-tun-Nabi, the City of the Prophet, or shortly, Medina, the city.
It was usual with the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) that after the morning prayer, he sat in the mosque till full sunrise. During this time the people assembled around him to receive words of counsel and wise admonition.
Likewise Imam Bukhari has told us that spoils of war, gifts and present from non-Muslim rulers were distributed among the Muslims during the morning hours. When the sun was between 45o and 50o, the Holy Prophet offered the "Chaasht Salaat" (forenoon optional prayer.)
After the 'Asr (late afternoon) prayer, Holy Prophet visited his wives, one by one, staying for a short while with each. The inmates gathered round him and conversation went on till it was time for the Maghrib (evening) and 'Isha (night) prayers when the Holy Prophet left for the mosque and the wives retired to their respective rooms. Before the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.), men were encouraged to take innumerable wives; Qur'aan Majeed limited them to four only, with the rider that husbands who are unable to maintain strict equality between two or more wives must confine themselves to one.
It was the Holy Prophet's practice to go to bed very early, immediately after the 'Isha (night) prayers. While lying in bed, he recited a portion of Qur'aan Majeed from among the following Chapters:-
"Bani Israeel" (Chapter No. 17 - The Israelites),
"Zumar" (Chapter No. 39 - The Crowds),
"Hadeed" (Chapter No. 57 - Iron),
"Al-Hashr" (Chapter No. 59 - The Gathering),
"Saff" (Chapter No. 61 - Ranks)
"Taghabun" (Chapter No. 64 - Mutual Loss and Gain)
"Juma" (Chapter No. 62 - Friday).
Finally he recited the words: meaning:
"O Allaah! With Your name I die (go to sleep) and I become alive (wake up)."
While in bed the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) always lay on the right side with his right hand palm under his right cheek.
Immediately on rising from bed, he would say:
"All praise be to Allaah Who has given us life after death and to Whom we have to gather eventually."
It was usually by mid-night or by three fourths of the night that the Holy Prophet got up. The first thing which he did upon rising was to cleanse his teeth with his tooth stick which he kept close to him. Then he performed ablution, and engaged himself in prayer with great concentration of mind. It is narrated on the authority of Hazrat 'Ayesha (R.A.) that with the revelation of the opening verse of Surah "Muzzammil" (Chapter No. 73 - Folded in Garments), the Holy Prophet took the devotional night prayers as obligatory and so much prolonged his prayers, night after night, that his feet used to get swollen.
It is related by Ibn Abbaas (R.A.) that one night when the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) sat up before rising for Tahajjud (mid-night prayers), he first recited the last 10 verses of the third Surah (Chapter Aali-'Imraan) of Qur'aan Majeed (Bukhari).
According to another Hadith the Holy Prophet is reported to have said that whoever recites these verses and still does not ponder and reflect is a great loser.
After devotional night prayer, he again went to bed and relaxed till the Call (Azaan) to the morning prayer was made from the mosque. He got up and started his day with the praises of Almighty Allaah.
It was Prophet's practice that he often delivered sermons for the instruction, guidance and welfare of his people. Sermons by the Holy Prophet were not a daily feature, but the Friday sermon was a regular feature. As he entered the mosque on Fridays, he greeted the gathering with the Islamic greetings of Assalaam-u-Alaikum (peace be on your). Going straight to the pulpit, he ascended it, and turning his face towards the audience, he greeted them a second time. After the Call (Azaan) to Friday prayer had been made, the Prophet's sermon followed immediately. His sermon was invariably short but eloquent. He used to say:
"A long prayer and a short sermon point towards the rich understanding of an individual."
The sermon started with profound praises of Almighty Allaah. Peace and tranquility were the essential elements in which the Holy Prophet delivered his sermon. If an urgent affair demanded the prompt attention of the Prophet he would leave the pulpit to attend to the business demanding his attention, and then resume his speech with undisturbed peace of mind. Once in the course of a sermon from the pulpit, a stranger interrupted the Prophet saying:
"O Apostle of Allaah! I am a stranger, having come to you from quite a long distance, to get instructions in religion."
The Holy Prophet responded to the call and came down from the pulpit. A chair was placed for him at the foot of the pulpit. Having seated himself on it, he taught the stranger till he was satisfied. Thereafter the prophet returned to the pulpit and completed the sermon.
The Holy Prophet liked to commence his journeys on Thursdays in the small hours of the morning. Expeditions of military nature were also sent in early hours.
When a steed was brought to him for riding, he put his foot in the stirrup and recited:
"In the name of Allaah (I ride)."
When he was well seated in the saddle, he thrice repeated "Allaah-u-Akbar" - "Allaah is the Greatest of all." This was followed by the verse of Qur'aan Majeed:
"All praise be to Allaah who hath made this (animal) subservient to us, whereas we could not have (without Allaah's help) overpowered it. Most assuredly we have to return to our Lord." (43:13).
This was followed, by yet another prayer for the particular journey. He said:
"O Allaah! In this journey of ours we seek from you virtue, piety and praise-worthy deeds.
"O Allaah! Make this journey easy for us, and comfortable; and bring it to an early close."
"O Allaah! You art our good Companion in this journey and to You we entrust all affairs of our family which we have left behind."
"O Allaah! I invoke Your protection from hardships of the journey and from unpleasant developments in the family on my return home."
On the culmination of his return journey he said the above prayer with the following addition towards its end -
"We have returned."
"We return in repentance to our Lord."
"We adore our Lord; We sing praises of our Lord!"
While ascending a height, it was the Prophet's practice to recite and repeat "Allaah-u-Akbar" in a loud voice, his companions joining him. Similarly, in the course of a descent, Allaah's praises were offered.
On reaching a place of halt or sojourn, the Holy Prophet addressed the particular place of landing in the following manner -
"O (plot of) land! My Lord and your Lord is Allaah. I invoke the protection of my Lord from your evil as well as from the evil (hidden) in you, and the evil related to you, and the evil of every thing which walks on your surface.
"O my Lord! I seek Your protection from lions, snakes and scorpions and the evil of the dwellers of this locality."
On returning to Al-Medina, the first place the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) visited was his mosque: and the first thing which he did was to offer prayer in gratitude for Allaah's favour in bringing him back safely to his home town. There was a general caution for all the followers not to enter their houses immediately on reaching the town so that the women folk might prepare to receive them in a befitting manner.
It was usual with the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) that, on the eve of the dispatch of any army, he particularly counselled its chief to be -
o pious and righteous in his personal conduct, and
o gentle and considerate towards the soldiers.
Thereafter he addressed the entire force thus -
"In the name of Allaah, fight the infidels for the glorification of His cause. Never kill their children."
Thereafter the Prophet explained to the force the terms and conditions of fighting in considerable detail. Then he would send off the army with these words -
"I entrust to Almighty Allaah, your faith, your sense of duty, and the results of all your efforts."
On the occasion of his personal participation in a campaign, he had made the practice of reaching the target for attack during the darkness of night; and the attack was launched in the morning twilight. If the attack was not possible in the morning hours, the order to attack was given in the after-noon.
When victory was achieved, the Holy Prophet would stay on in the place of victory for full three days. During this period he heard complaints of the vanquished people and dispensed justice according to the Laws of Shariah. It was the Prophet's habit invariably to prostrate before Allaah on hearing the happy news of a victory. In the midst of actual fighting, he would be heard repeating the following prayer -
"O Allaah! You are my arm and my strength. And You indeed are my Helper. Placing my whole trust in You, I defend, I launch an offensive, and I fight."
As a successful General, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) left many traditions regarding decent conduct in war: for instance -
"Faithfully carry out all covenants and agreements."
"Avoid treachery and do not disfigure the enemy dead."
"Do not slay children, women, old men or persons dedicated to the service of religion."
"Do not destroy sacred objects, orchards or crops."
To visit the sick was the habit of the Holy Prophet. He advised his companions to enquire after the health of their brothers-in-faith. When he visited a sick person, he always spoke to him words of hope, sympathy and cheerfulness. It was his habit that he placed his hand on the forehead and the pulse of the patient, prayed for his recovery, and said:
"Allaah willing, you will be all right."
He disliked and discouraged any ominous utterance by the side of a sick person.
He preached that -
- slaves should be set free,
- parents should not kill unwanted baby girls,
- those oppressed by society will inherit the earth.
- peace is better than war.,
- justice is sure to prevail.
There is ample proof that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) hoped for the
day when all who shared a common belief in God would live together in peace.
During the first years of the Prophet's life at Medina, it was his constant practice to visit a dying man during the period of death-pangs, to pray for his departing soul, and to remain by his side till it was all over. Thereafter he conducted the funeral prayer and accompanied the bier to the burial ground.
It was his supreme courtesy which made the Holy Prophet always take the initiative in offering greetings and/or shaking hands. If someone spoke in whisper, the Holy Prophet readily lent such a one his ear and remained patient in that position until the man himself withdrew. The same sort of patience was displayed during the hand-shake.
In the observance of the rules of courtesy, the Holy Prophet was more strict than anyone else. Once he visited the house of Hazrat Sa'ad bin 'Ibaadah. Standing at the threshold of the house, the Holy Prophet thrice sent in his greetings of Assalaam-u-Alaikum-wa-Rahmat-ullaah (Peace and Mercy of Allaah be on you) but no reply seemed to come from the inmates of the house. Thereupon he departed. Sa'ad at once ran after him and brought him in his house with profuse entreaties and apologies, saying:
"I did hear the Apostle of Allaah sending his blessed greetings on us. But I replied in an inaudible voice so that we might get more and more of his blessings."
When the Holy Prophet visited a house, he tried to avoid sitting at a place of prominence. Once he went to visit Hazrat Abdullah bin Umar (R.A.) who offered him a leather cushion to sit upon. But the Holy Prophet quietly sat down on the bare floor, and the cushion was placed between the Prophet and Hazrat Abdullah.
By the force of his extraordinary personality, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) revolutionized life in Arabs and throughout the lands where the Muslims set their foot.
The Holy Prophet used to begin Mustahab (commendable) things with the right side. He put on his right shoe before his left shoe, entered the mosque with his right foot first and distributed things from his right hand side. However, the Holy Prophet would step out of the mosque with his left foot first. Similarly he used his left hand to remove impurities. In the case of bath room, he entered with his left foot and stepped out with his right foot.
In all things Muhammad (S.A.W.) was profoundly practical. When his beloved son Ibrahim died, an eclipse occurred, and rumours of God's personal condolence quickly arose. Whereupon Muhammad (S.A.W.) is said to have announced:
'An eclipse is a phenomenon of nature. It is foolish to attribute such things to the birth or death of a human being'.
On one occasion the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) saw a donkey being branded on the face. When asked why this was being done, the herdsmen said:
'The Romans taught us this to prevent theft'.
The Holy Prophet reflected a moment and said:
'An animal's face is the most sensitive part of its body. If you must brand, then do it on the flanks, where the flesh is thicker'.
And the custom spread.
His definition of charity embraced the widest possible circle of kindness:
"Every act of virtue" he would say, "is charity."
"Your smiling in your brother's face is charity;"
"An exhortation addressed to your fellowmen to do virtuous deeds is equal to almsgiving."
"Putting a wanderer in the right path is charity;"
"Assisting the blind is charity;"
"Removing stones and thorns and other obstructions from the road is charity;"
"Giving water to the thirsty is charity."
Further, he said -
"A man's true wealth in the hereafter is the good he does in this world to his fellow men. When he dies people will ask, 'What property has he left behind him?' But the angels, who examine him in the grave, will ask, 'What good deeds hast thou sent before thee?'"
Abu Jariya, an inhabitant of Basrah, coming to Medina begged of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) some great rule of conduct.
"Speak evil of no one,"
answered the Prophet.
Intense faith and conviction on the part of the followers of the Holy Prophet is the noblest testimony of their love for him.
The satires, the ill-names his enemies heap upon the Holy Prophet make his words more extensively known, and his followers more devoted to him.
No Muslim worships the Holy Prophet Muhammad. It is God that they worship. Muslims submit to the Will of Allaah.
(Courtesy: Yaqeen International)