Muhammad: Study in simplicity

It is reported of the Prophet that he once said: “I am like a traveller on a journey, and the life of this world for me is like the short rest that this traveller takes under a tree before he is on his way again.”

In spite of the phenomenal success his mission achieved in his own lifetime, the constant austerity of the Prophet is stated thus by Prof K S Ramakrishna Rao in his book, ‘Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam’: “After the fall of Mecca, more than one million square miles of land lay at his feet. Lord of Arabia, he mended his own shoes and coarse woollen garments, milked the goats, swept the hearth, kindled the fire and attended to the other menial offices of the family. The entire town of Medina where he lived grew wealthy in the later days of his life… and yet in those days of prosperity, many weeks would elapse without a fire being kindled in the hearth of the king of Arabia, his food being dates and water.”

His family went hungry for nights together because there was little to eat in the evening. It was on no soft bed that he slept, for a palm mat sufficed for his needs. And this, too, only for him to spend most of the night weeping before his creator for the strength to discharge his duties. His only possessions on the day he died were a few coins a part of which went to satisfy a debt and the rest to a needy person who came for charity. Many a patch adorned the clothes in which the Prophet passed away.

The simplicity of his life notwithstanding, his powers of persuasion and control were matchless. It was not without reason that the reverend Bosworth Smith remarked thus about Muhammad: “Head of the state as well as the Church, he was Caesar and Pope in one; but, he was pope without the pope’s claims, and Caesar without the legions of Caesar. Without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue - if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by a right divine, it was Mohammad, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its support. He cared not for dressings of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life.”

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