When a family of high status experiences hard times and loses much of its wealth, it either works hard to maintain its social standing through observing fine values and moral standards, or it may be unscrupulous in attempting to regain its material losses. Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) family was of the first type. It continued to attach much importance to all the fine qualities all human societies approve, such as sincerity, truthfulness, fidelity, courage, kindness to others, readiness to help in any good cause. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) followed this line from his early years and developed a keen sense of upright behavior. Hence, his community gave him the nickname Al-Amin, which means ‘the trustworthy’. They always declared that they never experienced him telling a lie in any situation, for any reason.
This quality enhanced Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) standing with all those who were close to him. His paternal aunts loved him dearly. They always tried to help him achieve the best in life. His uncles recognized in him a young man of great potential. None more so than Abu Talib, his uncle who took him into his own home after Abd Al-Muttalib’s death. Hence, we see Abu Talib taking his teenager nephew on a trip to Syria. A few years later, he arranges for him to work as a shepherd, then as he approaches adulthood, he encourages him to work as a trade agent, traveling with a trade caravan.
The upright attitude and moral code of behavior that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) adopted from an early age endeared him to all around him, and earned him a high standing among his people. Hence, when they had a dispute concerning the replacement of the Black Stone at the corner of the Kaabah, after it had been renovated, they could find no way of preventing the dispute from developing into a bloody fight other than arbitration. They agreed to put their dispute to the first person entering the Sacred Mosque. When it was Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that came forward, they were delighted and readily declared their acceptance of his judgment. His ruling showed maturity and recognition of the considerations that led people to take extreme measures. Hence, he was keen to ensure that no hard feelings remained and everyone was satisfied. He gave them a method of replacing the Black Stone in which they all shared that honor, and none could feel left out. He told them to bring a sheet of cloth and place the Black Stone on it. Then a man from each clan held the edge of the sheet and they all lifted it at the same time, bringing the Black Stone close to its position. He then helped them to put it in place.
Although this incident took place several years before Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) started to receive divine revelations, his ruling shows a keen sense of justice. The people in dispute placed no condition on the process of arbitration. They declared their acceptance of his ruling in advance. Had he wished, he could have argued that since the exercise of putting the Black Stone back in place was an exercise of honor, it belonged to the most honorable family or clan in Makkah. That would have given it to his own family. He, however, did not wish to exploit the situation in order to give his own people some advantage. Instead, he was keen to keep the whole community happy. Hence, he ruled that they all should share in the honor and he provided the way to ensure that.
Needless to say, when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) started to receive his revelations, and became a Prophet and a messenger of God, his sense of justice was placed on a much higher level.