Muhammad the last Prophet and Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is the exemplary character that all Muslims must emulate. His way is the straight path that a Muslim has to follow in order to succeed in this world and in the hereafter.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) despite being the Messenger of Allah, was a human being, and therefore he did and said things which even ordinary people can easily understand and follow. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had exemplary patience, a capacity to bear hardship and ability to forgive the erring people, especially the ones who ever ‘wronged’ him in one way or the other.
He also had the ability to be steadfast and resolute in the face of persecution. He kept his promises, fought bravely when attacked, was generous in giving, content with what he had, honest, clean-hearted, kind and compassionate. He always worshiped Allah in sincerity, behaved with people in a humane manner, loved children and respected the womenfolk. In sum, in him was Uswa Hasana, the exemplary character: The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the finest human being.
Men are judged in many ways. But the best scale to judge the character of a man is to see how good he is to the members of his family, especially to his wife. Because husband and wife know each other in a way that others, even parents cannot. A wife knows even those aspects of man’s personality that he can hide from others. This is the reason that a wife’s testimony about her husband’s character is regarded as the most authentic.
When the Prophet (peace be upon him) received the first revelation in the Cave of Hira, he naturally became a bit apprehensive. In such a state of mind he went to no one but to his wife. And what Khadijah told him enumerating his good qualities is remarkable indeed. Imam Bukhari has narrated this story in the beginning of his magnum opus, Sahih, because it contains Khadijah’s testimony about the character and personality of the Prophet (peace be upon him). And this testimony has come from a woman who was witness to even those aspects of the Prophet’s life that others were not in a position to know.
It would, therefore, be rewarding to know as to how the Prophet (peace be upon him) behaved with his wives? It just so happens that people forget the real message or miss the spirit of the message and take their cultural habits as real things, even give them precedence and superiority over matters which are more essential. This is truer about our attitude towards women than anything else. Over the centuries, we have developed an attitude which deprives women even of the rights that the Holy Qur’an had given them. Women have all the rights to get educated and contribute to the welfare of the Ummah in befitting manners.
But we, the Muslims, have confined them within the four walls of their homes and do not do enough for their proper education. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had made it compulsory for both Muslim men and women to acquire knowledge. The Ummah must introspect and think what it has done so far for educating half of its population.
When we study the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) we discover to our amazement that he was as much eager to teach women as he was about his male companions. Women were free to approach the Prophet (peace be upon him) and seek guidance from him. He never thought of them as a source of evil as some people think so today, and consequently deprive them of the opportunities that they deserve to have as a matter of right.
Some Muslims are harsh even toward their wives despite clear Islamic injunctions against such a treatment of women. Some think that being lenient to one’s children and wife is tantamount to spoiling them, and hence they never have fun or play with them. It would be advisable here to recount how the Prophet (peace be upon him) lived and behaved with his wives.