Preferring A Life Of Poverty
Some prophets, such as David and Solomon, combined kingdom with prophethood. They enjoyed the benefits of kingdom with the great privilege of being the recipients of divine revelations. In the case of David, he was given the Psalms, constituting one of the major divine books. Solomon, on the other hand, was granted what he prayed for: a dominion that would not be granted to anyone else. Hence, God made the wind subservient to his command, and granted him mastery over the jinn. Other prophets were given special privileges.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was God’s final messenger. It should be remembered that prophets were of two types: some were only prophets endorsing messages given before their times, and others were given their own messages, making them God’s messengers. Muhammad was of the latter, elite type, but as the last messenger, his message was addressed to all mankind, and guaranteed by God to remain intact for the rest of time.
What effect did this have on his family life? Prophet Muhammad established a state in Madinah, thus combining the two roles of prophethood and head of state. The Muslim community was under siege for the first few years, with the enemies combining their forces to try to crush the Muslim state. However, after the great victory against the allied forces of the Arab unbelievers and the Jews, the situation brightened up for the Muslims and their fortunes vastly improved. The Prophet could lead a life of riches, had he so wished. He, however, preferred a life of poverty. He did not wish to change his life style in any way.
Although jealousy among his wives often surfaced, with two groups emerging among them, they were treated equally by him. No one was ever as fair as the Prophet was in his treatment of his wives. They, however, felt that they should not continue to endure a life of poverty. Therefore, they requested him to give them a better standard of living. They all joined in making this request, feeling that by grouping together they might be able to persuade the Prophet to change his mind.
Again we see here a perfectly ordinary family situation. A woman asks her husband for better provisions after having endured poverty for a length of time. What makes the request more significant, however, is that it was made by several wives at the same time. They all endured the same standard of living. Aishah once said that: “We might go through a month without a fire being lit up for cooking in any of the Prophet’s homes.”
When things were hard, those noble wives of the Prophet endured this type of life with exemplary patience. However, when the situation changed and the Muslim state was no longer poor, they felt that the newly found affluence should be reflected in their standard of living. This was a perfectly understandable request.
Yet the Prophet realized that material affluence counted for little. His mission placed him on a totally different level. Therefore, he was unwilling to change his life style. The request could not be granted.
-by Adil Salahi