Teachings and Defeat – In the Footsteps of the Prophet

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In this chapter, we read about the Prophet’s gentleness and respect in his daily life: with the poor, with his daughter Fatima, with his wife Aisha, with the Najran Christians… The author also recounts the battle of Uhud, the defeat and the Prophet’s reaction.

Despite all the political turmoil, the Prophet never lost his gentleness and spirituality. The Prophet intensely worshiped God although he knew that his sins are already forgiven. He, however, refused excessive worship in which one denies or despises his human nature (fasts all days, refrains from sexual intercourse…). He always called for moderation in life, with regards to worship and worldly matters. Here also comes the fact that in Islam, many seemingly worldly affairs such as smiling, eating can be considered a good deed. The Prophet also hated pointless feelings of guilt. He always stressed the fact that God loves repentance and that “all people sin, and the best of sinners are those who repent.”

Once, a man came to the Prophet saying he was lost because he slept with his wife during the fasting hours of Ramadan. The Prophet said that he should give charity. The man said he was too poor and sat a short distance from the Prophet. The Prophet later received a dish of food as a gift. He gave it to the man so that he gives it away for charity. The man exclaimed that how can he give it away when his children are hungry at home. The Prophet said with a smile, “Well, then, eat it yourselves.” Those were the qualities of the Prophet: gentleness, clemency and forbearance.

The Christians of Najran from Yemen: a delegation that came to Medina to ask the Prophet about Islam. The Prophet sat with them in the mosque, answered their question while making clear honest distinction between the two faiths, gave them permission to pray in the mosque, sent back Abu Ubaydah Ibn al-Jarrah with them to answer any future questions (upon their request). He treated them with respect: knowledge, sincerity and humility.

Around the mosque, lived ahlul suffah, poor (some out of a desire to detach from the worldly life) homeless people surviving off charity and gifts. The Prophet always gave them special attention. So did his daughter Fatima.

To his daughter Fatima, the Prophet expressed his love, affection and care even publicly, despite the remarks he received. He confided in her and she in him. He however refrained from giving her special treatment when it came to charity. The poorer were still the priority, not his daughter.

 … all of his wives and daughters, were present in his life, were active in public life and never confused modesty with disappearing from the social, political, economic, or even military sphere.

His Persian neighbor once invited the Prophet for a meal. The Prophet asked, “What about her?” pointing at Aisha. The Persian refused to invite her and the Prophet refused to go. This happened 2 more time. During the fourth invitation, the opposite happened. The Prophet was reforming the customs and practices among the Arabs and Bedouins without attacking their conventions.

A revelation was revealed regarding woman’s dressing. Women at that time used to cover their heads with a cloth (khimar) and throw its ends on their backs. The verse stated that the women should also cover their chests and throats with the khimar. Two years later, a verse was sent to address the Prophet’s wife specifically stating that they shouldn’t address men except from behind a hijab. 

Meanwhile, Quraysh had prepared an army of three thousand men to attack Medina. The Prophet heard of this, asked his companions whether they should stay in Medina or meet the army some place else. He was among the ones who thought they should stay. So was Ibn Ubayy, the hypocrite. Most of the companions said they should go, and that happened. Midway through the journey to Mount Uhud, Ibn Ubayy and 300 men turned their back on the Muslims’ army and went back to Medina. Details about the battle:

  • A non-Muslim led them towards the battle sight.
  • Two women stood out among the fighters. One was Ansariya Nusaybah and the Prophet praised her and prayed for her. He however, never asked women to participate in battles.
  • Four kids were sent back to Medina for their young age (twelve to fourteen). The Prophet insisted that kids be kept away from battle fields.
  • Khaled Ibn Walid was the one to ambush the Muslims and cause their loss.
  • Upon seeing his uncle Hamzah’s distorted corpse, the Prophet, out of anger, expressed the wish to mutilate thirty enemy corpse in a later encounter. A revelation reminded him to have patience, and then he called to respect human bodies, dead or alive, regardless of faith.

After returning from the battle, the Prophet set off again with all the warriors and camped in Hamra. He ordered his men to light 10 fires each, giving the illusion that their is a big army there. He then sent an envoy (a pagan) to Abu Sufian telling him about extraordinary deployment of Muslim troops. Abu Sufian who was considering attacking Medina, changed his mind and went back to Mecca.

As far as the archer’s disobedience is concerned, Revelation points out that the Prophet’s qualities of heart were what enabled him to overcome the situation and keep his Companions around him. He was neither brutal nor stern, and he did not condemn them for being carried away by reflexive freed stemming from their past customs.

Favorite Quote:

O Muadh, by God, I love you. And I advise you, O Muadh, never to forget to say, after each ritual prayer: “O God, help me remember You, thank You, and perfect my worship of You.”