Why is the Prophet Muhammad known as the modesty and humble of humanity?
In social life each man has a window called status through which he looks
out to see others and be seen. If the window is built higher than his real stature,
he tries, through vanity and giving himself airs, to stretch himself up to be
seen taller than he really is. If the window is set lower than his real stature,
he must bow in humility in order to look out, to see and be seen. Humility is
the measure of a man�s greatness; just as vanity or conceit is the measure of
God�s Messenger had a stature as high as to touch the �roof of heavens�,
so he had no need to be seen. Whoever �travels� in the �realm of virtues�, he
sees him before every created being, including angels. He is, in the words of
Said Nursi, the noble aide-de-camp of God, and he lowers himself to stay in
the world for a while so that people might find the way to God. Since he is
the greatest of mankind, he is the greatest in modesty � the greater one is,
the more modest he is.
God�s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, never regarded himself
as greater than anybody else. No one could distinguish him among his Companions
except for his radiant face and attractive person. He lived as the poorest of
them, dressed like them, sat among them and ate with them, as he did with slaves
and servants. Once, a woman saw him eating and remarked: �He is eating as if
he were a slave.� God�s Messenger responded to her, saying: Could there be a
better slave than me? I am a slave of God.61 He was once serving his friends,
when a Bedouin came in and shouted: �Who is the master of this people?� The
answer of God�s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, was such that, besides
introducing himself, it also expressed a substantial principle of Islamic leadership
and public administration: The master of the people is the one who serves them.
In the words of �Ali, �among people, he was one of them�. When he reached Quba
accompanied by Abu Bakr during Hijra, some people of Madina who had not seen
him before, tried to kiss the hands of Abu Bakr because, outwardly, there was
no sign to distinguish the Prophet from Abu Bakr.62
In the construction of the Mosque in Madina after the Hijra, he carried two
sun-dried bricks while everybody else carried one.63 In the digging of the ditch
around Madina to defend the city in the Battle of the Ditch, the Companions
bound a stone around their bellies because of hunger, but God�s Messenger himself
bound two, because he was more hungry than anybody else.64 Once, a man saw him
and, due to his awe-inspiring appearance, began to tremble out of fear. The
Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings, calmed him, saying: �Brother, don�t
be afraid! I am a man, like you, whose mother used to eat dry bread.�65 Again,
a woman suffering from insanity pulled him by the hand and said: �Come with
me and do my housework.� God�s Messenger went with the woman and did the work.66
As reported by �A�isha, mother of believers, God�s Messenger patched his clothes,
repaired his shoes and helped his wives with the housework.67
Although his modesty elevated him to �the highest of the high�, he regarded
himself as an ordinary servant of God. Once he said: No one can enter Paradise
by his deeds. When asked whether he could not either, he answered: I cannot
either, but for the Mercy of God.68
His Companions attempted to do nothing without consulting him or getting
his permission or approval. Once, �Umar came to him and asked his permission
to go for minor pilgrimage. God�s Messenger, upon him be peace and blessings,
gave him permission and made this request: Brother, include me in your supplications.
�Umar rejoiced so much at that that one day he was to say later: �If the worlds
had been granted to me that day, I would not have felt the same happiness.�69
In addition to the other virtues of the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings,
his humility was one of the greatest qualities. As he attained a higher rank
each and every day, he increased in humility and servanthood to God. His servanthood
is prior to his Messengership, as we mention in the declaration of faith: I
bear witness that there is no god but God; I also bear witness that Muhammad
is His servant and Messenger. He preferred being a Prophet-slave to being a
He was once sitting with the Archangel Gabriel, and said to him: For days,
I haven�t eaten anything. No sooner had he uttered this than an angel appeared
and asked: �O Messenger of God, God greets you and asks: �Do you wish to be
a Prophet-king or a Prophet-slave?� Gabriel advised him: �O Muhammad, be humble
towards your Lord!� Humility was in fact indispensable to the character of God�s
Messenger, and he answered: I wish to be a Prophet-slave.70
God praises his servanthood and mentions him as a servant in several verses
of the Qur�an:
When the servant of God stood up in prayer to Him, they (the jinn) were well
nigh upon him in swarms (to watch his prayer). (al-Jinn, 72.19)
In challenging unbelievers to bring the like of only a single sura of the
Qur�an; God also mentions him as a servant:
And if you are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down on Our servant,
then bring a sura of the like thereof, and call your witnesses beside God if
you are truthful. (al-Baqara, 2.23)
After the death of Khadija and Abu Talib, God�s Messenger, upon him be peace
and blessings, became convinced that he could no longer stay in Makka with any
hope of victory or security. Before things became too critical, he went to Ta�if
in search of a new base for his faith, but he received there the worst kind
of welcome. At a time when he felt himself without support and protection, God
manifested His Mercy perfectly and honored him with the Ascension, raising him
to His Presence. While narrating this incident in the Qur�an, God mentions him,
again, as His servant to show that God�s Messenger deserves Ascension through
Glory be to him, Who carried His servant by night from the Holy Mosque to
the Furthest Mosque, the precincts of which We have blessed, that We might show
him some of Our signs. He is the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing. (al-Isra�, 17.1)
Humility is the most important aspect of the servanthood of God�s Messenger,
Whoever is humble, God exalts him, and whoever is haughty, God abases him.71
�Ali describes the Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings:
God�s Messenger was the most generous of people in giving out and the mildest
and the foremost of them in patience and perseverance. He was the most truthful
of people in speech, the most amiable and congenial in companionship and the
noblest of them in family. Whoever sees him first is stricken by awe of him
but whoever knows him closely is attracted to him deeply, and whoever attempts
to describe him says: �I have, either before him or after him, never seen the
like of him, upon him be peace and blessings�.72
60. Said Nursi, Letters 2,315.
61. Haythami, Majma�, 9.21.
62. I. Hisham, 2.137.
63. Buhari, 1.111; Muslim, 2.65; Semhudi, Wafa�, 1.237; I. Sa�d, 1. 240.
64. Tirmidhi, �Zuhd,� 39.
65. I. Maja, �At�ıma,� 30; Haythami, 9.20.
66. Qadi �Iyad, al-Shifa�, 1.131, 133.
67. Tirmidhi, Shama�il, 78; I. Hanbal, 6.256.
68. Bukhari, �Riqaq,� 18.
69. Ibn Ma�ja, �Manasik,� 5; Tirmidhi, �Da�awat,� 109; Abu Dawud, �Witr,�
70. I. Hanbal, 2.231; Haythami, 9.18.
71. Hindi, Kanz al-�Ummal, 3.113; Haythami, 10.325.
72. Tirmidhi, Hadith No. 3880.