Every year, Muslims around the world celebrate the coming of the blessed month of Ramadhan. More than a billion people worldwide refrain from eating and drinking during the day and devote themselves to reading the Quran and performing night prayers together at the mosque. We are taught since young that Ramadhan reminds us to be grateful of one of the most necessities that we have – food and water. Whenever we feel hungry or thirsty, we remember the people who go to bed hungry every single day. But did it ever occur to you that our blessed Prophet (peace be upon him) was one of them?
When we think about Rasulullah and his Companions, we always remember the grand battles that happened when the Muslims were at unfavourable odds but came out triumphant. We recall moments like the Treaty of Hudaybiah when the Muslims in Medina were finally recognised and were able to practice their religion publicly, or the Conquest of Mecca when 10,000 Muslims entered the Holy City with little to no resistance. We can also recount the many stories we were told as kids about the Prophet’s mannerisms with the people in his lives. But perhaps the collection of hadiths is too great for us to focus on all the details of the Prophet’s life – in this case, how he lived a frugal life.
Ibn Abbas narrated that The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) would spend many consecutive nights and his family did not have supper, and most of the time their bread was barley bread.
In another hadith, Saiyidatina ‘Aisyah said that the family of Muhammad (peace be upon him) never ate their fill of barley bread until he was taken (i.e. passed away).
Bread is a staple food in many communities in different parts of the world, and is made from different types of cereal grains, the cheapest of which is barley. Even having just bread itself to eat can cure the hunger pangs that plague a starving person. But imagine never having your fill of bread for your entire life, let alone the cheapest of breads.
Let us ask ourselves: How many times have we found ourselves feeling full from a dinner gathering? Or ordering so much food for Iftar that we end up throwing away the leftovers? Or perhaps you were just feeling peckish and craved for some desserts but ended up eating just a tiny portion of it? This is not to say that we cannot eat good food or that we cannot enjoy or indulge in fine dining. Rather, it is an opportunity for us to reflect on our attitudes towards food.
In the case of Prophet Muhammad and his Companions, it was not that they could not provide for their families, or that they viewed wealth negatively. Islam teaches us to be the best providers for our family, and having wealth means we are better able to help ourselves and help others in the community too. What is striking is that these great men were content with this frugal lifestyle so that they could better appreciate the gifts that Allah had bestowed upon them.
In fact, our Beloved Prophet enjoyed many times of ease where he would be able to store food for his family. Whenever a guest came over, he would serve them and honor them such that anyone who came would find the Prophet to be the most generous man. This should be a reflection for us that even as we accumulate wealth, we should remember that it is not an end but a means for us to help others too.
Having read this, how do we increase our love for our Prophet?
We all love our Prophet and find different aspects of his life that each of us relate to; his kindness towards others or maybe his patience in dealing with hardships. We each see in him a trait that we resonate with and try to emulate in our daily lives. The whole point of sharing the Prophet’s humble lifestyle was for us to see the human aspect of him, how the man who was loved by Allah and all His Creations suffered something so common and so relatable to us, especially in the month of Ramadan – hunger. This was a person described as the best of Creations and reached Sidratul Muntaha where no other being, not even Saiyidina Jibril, had been.
The Prophet reminded his Companions of the verse “Then, on that Day, you shall be asked about the delight (you indulged in in this world)” (At-Takathur: 8)
On the Day of Judgement, Allah will question us about the food that we received – What did we do with it and were we grateful and give thanks? This Ramadhan, let us all appreciate the food and drinks spread on the table for Iftar and Suhoor, and more importantly, appreciate the sacrifices that our Prophet and countless of our blessed predecessors made for the sake of Allah, knowing that what awaited them was eternal and far beyond compare.
Contributed by Ustaz Mizi Wahid of Safinah Institute as part of #SalamTodayRamadan series with SalamToday and SalamWeb.