Slave of God

The Prophet (pbuh) served as a model for his ummah regarding servitude and worshipping as he did regarding other issues; his prophethood did not eliminate the fact that he was a human being; nor did it exempt him from the obligation of worshipping his Creator. Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) was responsible for all kinds of orders and prohibitions of the religion just like the other members of the ummah; he was even obliged to do more things than the other people like tahajjud prayer, which is sunnah for us but fard for the Prophet, and given more responsibilities.


Do not Exceed the Boundaries When You Praise me

The Prophet never had any attitudes indicating that he was a privileged person because of being a prophet; he said,

“Do not exaggerate in praising me as the Christians praised the son of Mary, for I am only a Slave. So, call me the Slave of Allah and His Messenger.”[1]

Thus, he set a good example showing the consciousness of being a slave.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) sometimes corrected the expressions that the Companions used in order to show respect to him; once a Companion called him,

“O the best person of the universe!” He turned to him and said,

“It was Ibrahim (Abraham).”[2] In another narration, he said,

“Do not regard me as superior to Jonah. Do not say some prophets are better than others. Do not regard me as better than Moses. I am weaker than Abraham in terms of having doubts. If I had stayed in prison as long as Yusuf did, I would have accepted the call of the king at once.”[3]

Thus, he prohibited people from showing too much respect to him.


Should I not be a slave that thanks?

Hazrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates: The Prophet  worshipped at night until his legs swelled. I said to him, 

“O Messenger of Allah! Your sins in the past and in the future were forgiven by Allah; so, why do you pray so much and get tired?”He said,

“O Aisha! Should I not be a slave that thanks Allah?” [4]

Through those words, the Prophet (pbuh) stated that he worshipped Allah due to his love of Allah and pleasure not due to his fear of Allah as some people think. That was the reason why the Prophet (pbuh) said he received great pleasure while performing prayers. He even said the following about the two-rak’ah sunnah of the morning prayer: “Those two rak’ahs are lovelier than anything else in the world for me.”[5]


Lover of Prayer

The attitude of the Prophet (pbuh) toward prayer is virtually like love. He expressed it in many of his statements:

"Allah gave a desire and lust to every prophet. My lust is to perform tahajjud prayer."[6]

The meaning of that sentence is as follows: "You pursue various pleasures related to your body closely; the signals that reach you related to those pleasures attract you and you follow those pleasures. As for me, when I hear the voice of my conscience say, 'Get up! It is time to pray!', that signal attracts me so much that I become entranced and I cannot help praying. The moments when I do not or cannot get up at night for tahajjud prayer are my saddest and most distressing moments. The most enjoyable and gladdening moments for me are the moments when I perform prayers."[7] In another hadith, the Prophet says,

"I was made love three things: Women, scents and prayer (the comfort of my eye)."[8]

Hazrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) said the following about his prayer: "He stood in qiyam in such a way that it is impossible to describe; he bowed down in ruku in such a way that it is impossible to describe; he prostrated in sajdah in such a way that it is impossible to describe!"[9] ; thus, she expressed her inability to describe the beauty of his prayer.

He represented his slavery in prayers so profoundly that there was no prayer in which he did not shiver and cry. The Companions say his heart produced sounds like a mill when he was performing prayers.[10] The yokes turning inside him and the heavy obligations of the slavery turned him to a boiling cauldron. That state originated from his efforts to be able to fulfill his slavery in the best way.


Long Tahajjud Prayers

It is understood from narrations that the Prophet recited long chapters while standing in tahajjud prayers and prolonged the bowing down and prostration, that he meditated on the deep meanings of the prayers, that prayed (dua) after prayers, that he mentioned the names of Allah and that he asked for forgiveness from Allah.

Ibn Masud (may Allah be pleased with him) says,

One night,I decided to perform tahajjud prayer with the Messenger of Allah. I decided to spend the night with him and to worship as he did. He started to perform a prayer. I did, too. However, he did not bow down though a lot of time passed. He finished the chapter of al-Baqara. I thought, "He will bow down now" ; however, he continued. Then he read the chapters of Aal-i Imran and an-Nisa; then, he bowed down. I got so tired during the prayer that, at some point, some bad thought came to my mind.

(What could that bad thought be? Did he think that the Messenger of Allah died while standing like Hazrat Sulayman (pbuh)?) One of the people listening to him asked, “What did you think?” Ibn Masud answered:

 "I thought of stopping the prayer and leaving him alone in prayer."[11]

Hazrat Aisha narrates:

"When I woke up one night, I could not see the Messenger of Allah next to me. I thought he might have gone to one of his other wives. I felt around with my hand. My hand touched his foot. Then I realized that he was praying. He was in prostration. I listened. He was crying and begging:”

"O Allah! I take refuge in your consent from your wrath. I take refuge in your forgiveness from your torture. O Allah! I take refuge only in you from you. (I take refuge in your beauty from your majesty, in your compassion from your grandeur) I confess that I cannot praise you as much as you praise your being."[12]"Being near you is great (a person who is your neighbor is a great person). It is great to praise you. Your army cannot be defeated. You never break your promise. There is no god but you; there is no deity but you."[13]

Hazrat Abu Dharr narrates:

"One night, the Prophet performed prayers until the sunrise. (When the Messenger of Allah read the verses of supplication, he repeated those verses insistently; he turned his prayer to a mosaic of respect, awe and worshipping. There were many long supplications that he read while prostrating, bowing down and standing in supererogatory prayers.) That night, he recited the following verse until the sunrise and cried: ‘If Thou dost punish them they are Thy servants: if Thou dost forgive them, Thou art the Exalted in power the Wise’ [14]."[15]

He never felt it sufficient to perform prayers; he could not reach a saturation point.

Abdullah b. Amr narrates:

“One night, I started to pray behind the Messenger of Allah. He continuously recited the following verse and cried, sobbing [16]: “O my Lord! They have indeed led astray many among mankind: he then who follows my (ways) is of me, and he that disobeys me, but thou art indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."[17]


The Prophet Who Became Integrated with Fasting

His worshipping had integrity. He performed prayers perfectly but he did not neglect other forms of worshipping, for instance, fasting. He definitely fasted one or two days every week; he sometimes fasted so much that people thought he never stopped fasting. [18] Sometimes, he did not fast and ate like other people. However, the days he fasted were more than the days he did not fast.[19]

He sometimes fasted a few days on end without eating anything (sawm wisal). The Companions wanted to be like him and imitate him but it was very difficult. Once during the last days of Ramadan, the Prophet intended to fast a few days without eating. Some Companions decided to do the same. However, they all felt very weak because of fasting a few days without eating. Fortunately, Eid al-Fitr started and they all ate and became happy. If Eid al-Adha had started one day later, they would all have been ill. When the Messenger of Allah saw their state, he smiled and said,    

"I would have continued fasting if Eid al-Fitr had not started."

Then, he told them that they could not fast as he did and added,

"because Allah makes me eat and drink in a way that you cannot understand."[20]

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) worshipped all day especially on the last days of Ramadan.[21] He spent especially the last ten days of Ramadan in itikaf (staying in the mosque with the purpose of worshipping Allah); he broke off all relations with the world and virtually became like an angel.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) fasted during the hottest days of the summer, too. He fasted in many battles. Sometimes, the battle became so intense that in one of those battles only the Prophet and Abdullah b. Rawaha continued fasting; the others broke their fast.[22] The Prophet said,

"Fasting is an armor that protects man from sins."[23]

He put on the strongest armor and protected himself.


Far from Going Extreme

He stated that people should not undertake heavy burdens with the intention of worshipping and that people should not take up wrong worshipping habits leaving his applications. He prevented the attempts of priesthood (abandoning the worldly affairs and working for the hereafter only).

For instance, three Companions asked the wives of the Prophet (pbuh) about how he worshipped (Allah). His wives informed them about his worship. They considered this worship insufficient and said,

“Where are we and the Messenger of Allah? His past and future sins have been forgiven.” One of them said,

“I will perform prayers throughout the night forever.” Another one said,

“I will fast throughout the year and will not break my fast.”The third one said,

 “I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever.” After a while the Messenger of Allah came to them and said,

"Are you the people who said so-and-so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you. However, I fast and break my fast. I pray and sleep at night.I also marry women Know it very well that he who does not follow my tradition in religion, is not from me."[24]


I am a Slave among the Slaves!

Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) preferred being a modest slave of Allah and being mentioned as a slave though he received unmatched bounties and grants from Allah; he stated his preference in various occasions.

“Do not stand up for me as Persians stand up for each other to show respect. I am a slave that eats like a slave and sits like a slave.”

The statement above and the Companions’ following statement and similar statements about him indicate his modesty: “He rode donkeys, gave a ride on the donkey, visited the poor, sat next to the poor, accepted the invitation of the slaves; when he sat among his Companions, he sat in an available place without disturbing anybody when he entered a place.” [25]


“What Relationship can I Have with the World?”

He lived in the world like a guest. When he died, he did not hand down anything to his inheritors. He knew the real nature of the world and lived in the world as if he lived in a guesthouse.

“What relationship can I have with the world? I am like a traveller that rests in the shade of a tree and then leaves that tree and continues walking.”[26]


The Prophet whose every moment is full of Dua and Dhikr

Hundreds of people brought the duas (prayers, supplications and invocations) of the Prophet (pbuh) and compiled dua books. Those who have a look at those books will see that it is not possible to catch up with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) even in duas. It looks as if he spent every moment of his life reciting duas. If a person did not do anything but recite duas, only his duas that filled his life could be as many as the duas of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) that reached us. The Messenger of Allah distributed his duas in his life and always walked on those luminous crystals. Dua was his word that he never abandoned and his invocation that was always in his heart. He never passed a moment without dua; he never put down that glass filled with kawthar that wetted his lips. He was a man of action and reason but he was matchless in terms of worshipping and dua.  

The Prophet (pbuh), who set an example of unmatched modesty, never stopped asking for forgiveness though his past and future sins had been forgiven; he fulfilled the duty of pioneering in both asking for forgiveness and repentance for his ummah fully. His repentance and asking for forgiveness were not due to his sins but an indication of his servitude to his Lord and his serving as a model for his ummah.

Abdurrahman b. Awf (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:

“One day, the Prophet (pbuh) left his home and headed toward his private room. He prostrated by turning to the qiblah. He prolonged his prostration so much that I thought he was dead. I approached him and sat next to him. He raised his head and asked, “Who are you?” I said, “Abdurrahman.”He asked, “What do you want?”I answered,“O Messenger of Allah! You prolonged the prostration so much that I thought you died and I was worried.The Messenger of Allah said,

“Jibril came to me and gave the glad tiding that Allah said, ‘I will mercy any person who sends salawat to you. I will wish salvation for any person who greets you.’ I prostrated in order to thank Allah.[27]

Hazrat Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) narrates:

The Messenger of Allah(pbuh) often said, ‘Astaghfirullaha wa atubu ilayh (I ask forgiveness from Allah and repent to Him).’[28]

Huzayfa (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates:

“I said to Messenger of Allah (pbuh) complaining about my sharp tongue, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I have a sharp tongue; I speak strongly to my family. I fear that it will send me to Hell.’ The Messenger of Allah said,

“Why do you not ask for forgiveness? I ask for forgiveness one hundred times a day.”[29]


The Chapter of Hud Made Me Grow Old!

Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) worked very hard to fulfill what is commanded by the following verses: “Therefore stand firm (in the straight path) as thou art commanded!”[30] He said, “The chapter of Hud made me grow old.” Hazrat Prophet (pbuh) acted very meticulously in fulfilling the orders he was given and avoiding the prohibitions stated by the Quran.

Hazrat Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) asked the Messenger of Allah (pbuh),

“O Messenger of Allah! I see white hairs on your head. You grew old suddenly. Do you have a problem?”The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) answered,

“The chapters of Hud al-Waqia and al-Mursalat made me grow old.”[31]  He was addressed as follows in the chapter of Hud:

“Therefore stand firm (in the straight path) as thou art commanded!”[32]

The straightforwardness mentioned in the verse was the straightforwardness imposed by God Almighty. He was asked to maintain that straightforwardness. In the chapter of al-Mursalat, it was stated that Paradise and Hell were separated for people and that people were terrified and bent double. In the chapter al-Waqia, those groups were described. What is described in those chapters terrified the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and made him grow old. 


[1]Bukhari, Anbiya 48.
[2]Muslim, Fadail 43.
[3]Bukhari, Anbiya, Kitabu’t Ta’bir.
[4]Tirmidhi, Shamail 44.
[5]Muslim, Kitabu Salati'l-Musafirin, 14.
[6]Tabarani, al-Mu'jamu'l-Kabir, XII//84; Daylami, Musnad, I/172; Haythami, Majmau'z-Zawaid, II/271.
[7]S. Nur, II/494.
[8]Nasai, Ishratu'n-Nisa 1; Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, III/128, 199, 285.
[9]Bukhari, Tahajjud 16; Muslim, Musafirin 125.
[10]Abu Dawud, Salah 161; Nasai, Sahw 18.
[11]Bukhari, teheccüd 9; Muslim, Musafirin 204.
[12]Muslim, Salah 221-222; Abu Dawud, Salah 148.
[13]Tirmidhi, Daawat 90; Abu Dawud, Adab 97; Haythami, Majmau'z-Zawaid, X /124.
[14]al-Maida, 5/118.
[15]Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, V /149.
[16]S. Nur, II/497.
[17]Ibrahim, 14/36.
[18]Abu Dawud, Sawm 53; Tirmidhi, Sawm 43; Ahmad b. Hanbal, al-Musnad, II/91.
[19]Bukhari, Sawm 53; Muslim, Siyam 178.
[20]Bukhari, Sawm 49; Muslim, Sawm 59.
[21]Bukhari,Laylatul-Qadr 5; Muslim,I'tikaf 7.
[22] Muslim, Siyam 108-109; Abu Dawud, Siyam 45.
[23]Bukhari, Sawm 2; Tawhid 35; Muslim, Siyam 162-163.
[24]Bukhari, Nikah, 1.
[25]Abu Dawud, Adab 152
[26]Tirmidhi, Zuhd 44; S. Nur, II/230.
[27]Ahmad bin Hanbal, II/334
[28]Bukhari, Adhan 123, 139; Muslim, Salah 218-220.
[29]Abu Nuaym.
[30]Hud, 11/112; ash-Shura, 42/15.
[31]Tirmidhi, Tafsir 57.
[32]Hud, 11/112.

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