This aspect of his character is very difficult for an arrogant person like me to practice.
The most amazing aspect of his humility was that he was a Prophet and not just any Prophet but the final prophet. The one who bore the great Quran and transmitted the speech of Allah to us. Yet he was never arrogant or haughty about his lofty station. He continued to deliver the message of Islam to the people without a change in his personality that may reflect the level of his greatness.
In fact this increased him in gratitude towards Allah; he would pray all night and when asked by Aisha (may Allah be pleased with him) asked him why he was praying all night when Allah had forgiven his previous and future errors. He said, "Shall I not be grateful slave?" (Bukhari 21, Number 230)
Snippets of his life (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) such as this are a reminder to his character. One of the names that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) loved was slave or servant because of this Quranic passage:
“Praised is he who took his slave during the night from the sacred prescient to the furthest mosque.” The Night journey 40:50
Essentially, this is the story of the night journey followed by the heavenly ascent. Notice the name used here slave which can also be translated as servant.
Here are some prophetic narrations that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) calls himself a servant or slave.
Umar narrated, "I heard the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) say, "Do not praise me as the Christians praised Isa of Mary, for I am only a slave; call me the slave of Allah and His Messenger." (Bukhari 3445)
Imam Ahmad relates in book of abstinence that someone brought the Prophet a nice pillow to sit on and gave him bread on a nice platter. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "I am slave; I eat like a slave eats and I sit as a slave sits.”
This narration really is amazing, is this how you imagined a Prophet would sit? It was said that he removed the bread from the platter onto the floor and moved the pillow to one side so he could sit on the floor. The following two narrations explain that he used to sit on the floor and he did not consider himself as a king even though all of Arabia was in his control, just prior to his passing.
Ibn Abbas states the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would eat and sit on the ground. (At-Tabarani in Mujam Al-Kabir)
Ibn Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that a man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), he spoke trembling so he said, “Be calm, I am not a king, I am only the son of a woman of Qureshi who ate dried meat.” (Ibn Majah 3312, Ibn Sa’d At-Tabaqat 1/23, At-Tabarani in Al-Awsat)
How many of us eat off sitting on the floor? How many can make others calm with a few words?
The next narration shows us the extent of his sacrifice; he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) spent many days and months without cooked food surviving on just water and dates.
Once the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon) was sat on the mountain of Saffa, next to the angel Gibreal. He said to him, "I have not eaten for three days except for some dates and water." A large explosion was heard in front of them. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked, "What was that?" The Angel replied, "Allah has heard what you said to me and he has sent Israefel onto you." Israefel had descended faster that the speed of light. "Allah has ordered me to transform the mountains of Mecca into Gold and place it into your hands. Would you like that? So you live like a Prophet king not as a Prophet man." The Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) turned to Gibreal who looked back then he indicated with his wing downward. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to the angel Israfel, "I am a Prophet servant, a Prophet servant, a Prophet servant." Reported by Imam Ahmed with a sound chain.
Someone could ask, did he have something to be humble about? Yes, please read the next two narrations which explain this point further.
Narrated Abu Hurayra that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "When I was asleep I saw that the keys of the treasures of the earth; they were brought to me and put into my hand.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
It is related in the collection of at-Tirmidhi from Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “My Lord (the Mighty and Majestic) gave me the choice of the valley of Makkah filled with gold, but I said, “No, O Lord. However, grant food to me one day, and hunger the day after. So when I am hungry I humble myself before You and remember You, and when I am full, I am grateful to You.”
He could’ve had a luxurious life but instead chose a life of humbleness. This is something that we should reflect upon in our money hungry environment. The following narration came towards his final period before he passed away.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Allah gave the servant the choice between the splendors of the world and that which is with Him; and the slave has chosen that which is with Allah.” Abu Bakr wept and said, "May my forefathers and foremothers be your ransom." (Bukhari 2382, At-Tirmidhi 3661 and 3660, Imam Ahmed 3/18) Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) knew that the choice meant imminent death.
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) knew what he meant because he knew him like others did not. He called himself a slave. Sometimes I think why he was happy with this title. Then the answer came; he was happy with this title because a slave does not have a will, its will is the will of his master. It shows that the master is complete control. The slave has do to the masters bidding and cannot do as the slave likes. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon) had attained a level of slavehood or servitude that was unrivalled.
There are many facets to the amazing character of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that are not explained, his character deserves that we look again, once, twice and three times because the point of sending a human being to lead human beings is so that they do what a human being does! Not so they get excited and start screaming; it is in order that people look into themselves and rectify themselves in line with his (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) character.
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Was the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) sent to all nations?