In Makkah the home life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was generally comfortable, because his wife ensured that he had all what he wanted. She was rich and conducted her own trade, sending her merchandise with the traditional trade caravans the Quraysh used to send in summer and winter to Syria and Yemen. When he emigrated to Madinah, he was not accompanied by any servant. Khadeejah had died three years earlier, and the Prophet traveled with only his close companion, Abu Bakr. For the first few months after arriving in Madinah, the Prophet stayed in Abu Ayyub’s home, where he was served by people around him. He never asked any of them for anything.
One of the Ansars, the Prophet’s companion from Madinah, felt that the Prophet needed a personal servant. He took his stepson, Anas ibn Malik, to the Prophet and told him: “Messenger of God! Anas is an intelligent lad. Let him serve you.” The Prophet accepted. This was the beginning of a 10-year association for Anas, who was then only 10 or 12 years of age. Anas accompanied the Prophet to the last day of his blessed life, realizing that he could not have hoped for a better position. The Prophet’s household was such that no servant was at the receiving end of any abuse, physical or verbal.
As a young lad, Anas could be excused if at times he was negligent of what was assigned to him. The Prophet once sent him on an errand, but on the way he saw some of his friends playing. Joining them was so attractive, and the boy could not resist. He forgot his errand and was fully engaged in the play. Sometime later, he felt someone pulling him by his robe. Turning back, he saw the Prophet beaming with a smile. He told him endearingly: ‘Unays! (This is a short form of Anas) Go where I sent you.’ That was all the rebuke Anas received on this occasion. We can imagine how masters react if they see a servant playing in the street instead of attending to the business they are told to do. Yet the Prophet just smiled and told Anas to do what he was told.
This was the Prophet’s attitude throughout his life, with all those who served him. Anas reports: “I served the Prophet (peace be upon him) for ten years, on his journeys and at home. He never said to me as much as ‘Ugh!’ He never said about something I did, why I did so, nor did he ever say about anything I left undone, why I did not do it. Never did he say to me that I did something badly, nor did he ever criticize anything I did. If I slackened in doing what he ordered, he never reproached me. If anyone of his family criticized me, he would tell them: ‘Leave him alone. Had it been possible for that thing to happen, it would have happened.'” (Related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).