By SHAIKH MUHAMMAD AL-GHAZALI
Published: Nov 4, 2010 21:28 Updated: Nov 4, 2010 21:28
The unbelievers in Makkah wondered about the status of Muhammad (peace be upon him) as Godâs messenger. They could not understand that God should assign the delivery of His message to a human being. The Qurâan quotes their questioning: âWhat sort of messenger is this, who eats food and goes about in the market-places?â (25: 7) That is a stupid line of questioning. All Godâs messengers and prophets were ordinary human beings, and people need to eat and drink in order to live. The real point here is to know what did the Prophet eat and how he approached the need to eat.
Those who aspire to great achievements tend to attach little importance to their material and essential needs, focusing their attentions on what they wish to achieve. What they aspire for may cause them to be oblivious of even the most enjoyable of pleasures. Today we find ourselves part of a materialist civilization that covets instant pleasures. Yet noble people in this civilization may be willing to make some sacrifices in order to achieve something greater, but they do not set that as the ultimate objective of life. By contrast, Muhammad and his companions set a different pattern of noble aims.
Consider the following report: âThe Prophet met Umar once who was wearing something that looked decent. He asked him whether his garment was new or had just been washed. Umar said that it was washed. The Prophet replied with the following prayer: âMay you wear new clothes, have a comfortable life and die a martyr.ââ To be killed striving for Godâs cause and earning martyrdom was one of the elements of happiness the Prophet requested God to grant to his close companion, Umar. It was added to new clothes and lifeâs comforts. Thus, happiness in the life to come became intertwined with present happiness in the minds of the Prophetâs companions. Would they then place luxurious banquets among their priorities?
As Muslims, we recognize that food is required for every living person. It is everyoneâs right to enjoy what satisfies natural needs in a decent and pleasant way. Yet this does not mean overeating and pursuit of luxurious comforts. It must not make us unwilling to put up the necessary efforts to strive for Godâs cause.
Muhammad (peace be upon him) was able to endure poverty and tough living, surviving on meager amounts of simple food. It was not reported of him that he sought delicious, sumptuous and expensive types of food. Yet he never told anyone to prefer a life of poverty, nor did he prohibit eating any type of food unless it was forbidden by God. Yet he appreciated Godâs bounty, recognizing its value and giving thanks for it. He indeed treasured the fact that God has granted it. He taught us to be grateful for whatever food we have to eat. He said: âWhen any of you starts to eat, he should mention Godâs name at the beginning. Should he forget to do so at the start, then he should say: âIn Godâs name at the beginning and at the end.ââ
When the Prophet finished his meal, he would say: âThanks are due to God who has given us food to eat and water to drink, and has guided us to be Muslims.â He also said: âGod is pleased with any servant of His who thanks Him whenever he has something to eat or something to drink.â
There are people who fill their bellies with food and drink, then go about their business totally oblivious of the fact that it is incumbent on them to offer thanks to God for what they had. Their behavior is not much different from that of an animal having its full of food. Yet such an approach is unworthy of anyone who believes in God. ¬
-- Arab News