PROPHET Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a family man with several children by the time he received the first Divine revelation. Well-rounded in his personality, he was wise and balanced in his dealings with all kinds of people, from children to elders, which was one of the main reasons for his success in all the roles that he played in his life, especially after being appointed Allah’s Messenger.
Study of his life is extremely important as part of gaining knowledge of Islam, because the events that he lived through and his dealings with others in their wake can impart to us the potent “hikmah” that enabled him to succeed in gaining love and respect without relinquishing his practice and propagation of Deen; a rare blessing that evades most of us today.
We often find ourselves juggling many balls in the air: studies, marriage, career, parents and elders, children, home and self. At any time in life, we usually end up neglecting one of these aspects to give the remaining their due. At times, our relationships endure stress when people do not treat us with respect, or understand our point of view.
All these spheres of life require us to maintain a delicate balance, which can be done successfully only when we employ “hikmah”; and there is no better place to go to acquire this hikmah than the Sunnah and Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Outwardly, a narration of an incident in his life might appear to be an average sequence of actions and dialogue. However, reflection and analysis can reveal much for the ardent seeker of knowledge-based, positive practical change, especially improvement in interpersonal skills.
Take the following incident from the Prophet’s family life, for example:
Narrated Ali Bin Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him): “One night Allah’s Apostle came to me and Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet (pbuh) and asked, “Won’t you pray (at night)?” I said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Our souls are in the hands of Allah, and if He wants us to get up, He will make us get up.” When I said that, he left us without saying anything and I heard that he was hitting his thigh and saying, “But man is more quarrelsome than anything (18.54).” [Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 2, Book 21, No. 227] There are several interesting points in this Hadith from which we can learn:
Humility: An elder
visiting his offspring
At the time of the Prophet (pbuh), it was the norm for married offspring to live in separate homes. Regardless, elders did not always insist that only their sons and daughters pay them visits. They did not consider it against social etiquette to visit their adult offspring in their home. The Prophet’s down-to-earth-ness and humility becomes obvious.
Concern for benefit
of family’s akhirah
Elders’ concern for their adult children nowadays revolves mostly around careers, marriage or home acquisition. Whereas this in itself is not blameworthy, it is sad how seldom today’s elders urge their grown-up sons and daughters to race forward in supererogatory worship, Qur’an recitation, charity or other good deeds.
The fact that the Prophet (pbuh) asked his daughter and son-in-law during a visit to their home, whether they prayed qiyaam late at night or not, shows his genuine, sincere love and well-wishing for their eternal benefit – that of the akhirah – over that of this temporary stay in the world.
No immediate reprimand
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) never missed praying late night prayer. Having benefited from its limitless bounties, it is understandable that he wanted his family and descendants to also adopt it as a habit. However, on their initial response, which indicated that they were not tenaciously regular in praying these night prayers, he did not reprimand or scold them – despite being in the position to do so.
Instead, he left without saying anything to them. His departure subtly and non-verbally expressed his disapproval.
This shows us that elders should not scold or shout at their adult, married offspring regarding supererogatory acts of worship, no matter how ardently they want them to observe them. Rather, they should express their disapproval through their body language.
An esteemed elder’s silence and aloofness is a more effective corrective measure, especially when children have grown up, gotten married, and become independent. This especially applies to elders who are in-laws.
events to the Qur’an
The fact that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) recited a part of a verse of Surah Al-Kahf to himself as he was leaving, striking his hand on his thigh, indicates how he associated people’s behavior and attitudes to the wisdom and knowledge imparted in the Qur’an.
It is also possible that he knew that his son-in-law, Ali, was within earshot and hence listening to him, which is why he recited a part of a verse of the Qur’an to indirectly reprimand him.
His reciting the Qur’an indicates the praiseworthy level of his “tafakkur” (deep pondering), which Allah grants to those who are near and special to Him. As a Prophet, he was always in the process of propagating the Qur’an through word and deed; therefore, it is no surprise that he related his family’s response to his question with a human behavioral trait mentioned by Allah in His Divine Book.
The Qur’an says, “Verily, in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example for the one who looks unto Allah and the last Day, and remembers Allah much.” [33:21]
Whoever wants to earn the pleasure of Allah should emulate the conduct of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh), especially in the way he dealt with people, both young and old, during his life. Studying his Sunnah and authentic books of prophetic narrations with the intention of gaining this knowledge opens new horizons, granting the ardent student of knowledge deep insight into the secrets of success in interpersonal skills – a realm that all contemporary thinkers regard as the make-or-break constituent of all-around human success.
– Saudi Gazette