The Prophet Muhammad (SAW)- The Great Father and Grandfather
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) possesed humanity’s greatest personality. In his position as the leader of the ummah, he needed to be versatile with all aspects of his life. In addition to being a historically great leader, he was a commander in chief, reformer, politician, counselor, judge, and business man. Perhaps most importantly however, he was an examplary son, father, husband, and grandfather. In this article we will focus on his role as a family man.
The Children of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)
In order to better understand the prophet’s family life, it is important to review his family history. The prophet had 6 children with his first wife Khadija, the first of whom was named Qasim, who tragically died in his infancy. Zainab (RAW) was the second child and first daughter born to the prophet (SAW) . She eventually married Abu Al-Aas in Makkah. Ruqayyaa was the 3rd child and eventually married Usman Ghani. After Ruqayya came Umm Kulthum who then married Usman Ghani after the premature death of her sister Ruqayya. Upon the passing of Ruqayya the prophet (SAS) told Usman that Gibreel revealed to him that, “It was the order of Allah that I give a second daughter to you (Usman)” (Hakim). Because of this Usman (RAW) was given the title of Dhul Noorain (the 2 lights). The 5th child, and second son’s name was Abdullah, who was also known as Tahir and Tayyab. Abdullah was the first child born after Muhammad (SAW) received the revelation. Abdullah also passed away in his infancy. The 6th child was Fatima who was the Prophet’s 4th daughter and last child born to Khadija. Fatima was married to the prophet’s cousin Ali (RAW) The prophet’s 7th and final child and 3rd son was named Ibrahim who was born to Maaria Qibtia in Madinah very late in the prophet’s life. Ibrahim also unfortunately died as a very young child.
The prophet also had several step-children. The first was named Habiba, whose mother’s name was Umm Habiba. He also had 3 step-daughters with Umm Salamah: Dhurra, Zainab, and Umm Kulthum as well as 2 step-sons Omar and Salamah. He treated all of his children and step-children with great compassion and loved them and treated them tenderly but did not allow them to neglect their religious duties or become spoiled. His ultimate goal was to lead them to a prosperous existance both in this world and the afterlife.
The Prophet’s Methods of Raising Children
The prophet loved all of his children and often kissed them and allowed them to ride on his shoulders. Once, his grandson Hasan was sitting on his shoulders when a passing sahaba jokingly remarked “What a nice ride,” To which the prophet responded, “The passenger is also good”.(Abdullah ibn Abbas- Tirmidhi) In another instance the prophet (SAW) was in a long prostration and Hasan climbed on his back. When a sahaba asked whether there was any significance to the length of the prostration, the prophet responded only that he wanted his grandson to have a good time and did not want to interrupt his play. Similarly another grandson named Hussain would grab onto the prophet’s legs whilst he was praying and the prophet would widen his stance so Hussain could pass through. He also especially loved his granddaughter Umamah bint Zainab and he would often carried her and lead salah (Abu Dawood) In Madinah, Umm Salamah’s young daughter Zainab came upon the prophet bathing, to which the prophet responded by splashing her face with water. It was said that after this, her face looked especially fresh and beautiful and remained that way for the rest of her life (Abu Dawood).
Children grow to lead more fulfilling lives when they receive love from their parents. As they grow older and have children themselves they are inspired to show the same love to them. The Sahabah were amazed by the prophet’s love for his children. One even remarked “I have 10 children and I have never embraced or kissed any of them myself” Anas ibn Malik reported that he had never seen anyone so compassionate with their family (Sahih Muslim) The prophet loved all of his sons and daughters and showed affection to them equally. This was a change from the culture the prophet was raised in, where daughters were neglected and oftentimes buried alive in their infancy. Nowadays mothers often make an excuse that they are busy and seldom have time to complete their prayers, and some even discourage others from bringing young children to the masjid. How can they say this when the prophet himself carried children while leading salah and allowed them to climb on top of him without scolding or punishing them. He was full of extraordinary affection towards his family members and others and we should learn from his example.
The prophet was also a very patient man. He saw 6 children pass before his time, and as he saw his 3rd son Ibrahim pass his eyes filled with tears. Abdur Rahman bin Awf asked, “Oh Allah’s Messenger even you weep?” to which the prophet replied, “Oh ibn Awf, this is mercy, the eyes shed tears and the heart grieves and we will not say except what pleases our lord. Oh Ibrahim indeed we are grieved by your separation” When his pregnant daughter Zainab accepted Islam and was migrating to Madinah, a kafir named Hibaar hit her camel with a spear causing her to fall and lose her unborn child. After some time she also died. The prophet said, “she is the best of my daughters, and she was hurt only because of me and my deen,”
In desperate times such as these people fall into depression and lose faith in Allah SWT and even question Allah SWT’s intentions during their grief. Whenever confronted with the death of a loved one we should look at the prophet’s example and show the same levels of patience. While sadness and grief are natural we should try not to ask any questions that displease Allah SWT and remain steadfast in our faith.
The Prophet was an amazing father and along with showing his children love he taught them good manners. Soon after birth in one ear he would recite the adhaan and in the other he would recite the iqama in order to instill the oneness of Allah from the very beginning. In that time there were no formal schools or universities, but the gatherings of the prophet supplied his followers both young and old with knowledge encompassing a wide variety of topics including art, history, medicine, manners, foreign languages, sciences of Quran, and other important life skills. Whatever he taught in these gatherings he would reinforce by leading with his example. As a result youth often became mature and intelligent beyond their years. Once, his grandson Hussain was sitting next to the prophet in the masjid and began to eat some dates that were given as sadaqa. The prophet stopped him and told him to spit out the date, saying that taking sadaqa as a family member of the prophet was forbidden. Hussain spit it out and never ate without taking permission from his family members again. In another instance Umm Salamahs son was eating in front of the prophet and ate using both hands, taking from several scattered plates. The prophet told him to eat only using his right hand, to say bismillah, and to only eat what was in front of him. We should take the prophet’s example and teach our children what is permissible to eat and the correct etiquettes of eating at an early age. Because youths who eat haraam food and have poor manners as children develop other bad habits as they grow older if not monitored by their parents. Hussain spent a lot of time with the prophet Muhammad (SAW) , and one day the prophet asked him who of the two of them was higher in status. The young Hussain replied, “With all due respect, I think I am higher.” The prophet asked him to expain himself, to which Hussain replied, ” my father is Ali (RAW) whom you said was like Haroon was to Musa, and he loves Allah and his messenger and Allah and his messenger love him in return. My mother is Fatima who you said was like part of your body and was Sayyad-an-Nisal-Al-Alameen (leader of the women of the world) . And my grandfather is you, who is the last of the prophets and the best of the humans on Earth, can you say the same about your parents and grandparents?” The sahaba were shocked to hear such brashness from such a small child while. After hearing this audacious response, the prophet did not become angry or scold him, instead the prophet stayed quiet and smiled. The prophet’s high status as the best of men and leader of the prophets gave him enough confidence to not be affected by these claims.
Advice to his Married Daughters,
The prophet said people marry their spouses based on 4 qualities: Beauty, Wealth, Status, and Faith, and you should especially choose a spouse based on their deen. His daughter Fatima received many proposals from many rich suitors. The prophet married her to his cousin Ali (RAW) who was very poor at the time. His posessions consisted only of one piece of armor, which he sold and brought the money to the prophet (SAW) for the dowry. He advised Fatima not to be sad about Ali’s lack of wealth, saying that Ali was the best that he knew and, “If Ali is poor in this world then think of the Akhira, because he will be very rich there.”
One day Fatima became angry with Ali and went to her father to complain. The prophet told her to return to her husband and ask for his forgiveness. He said that if she were to suddenly die while Ali was mad at her, then he would not perform her janazah prayer. He then said tenderly, “Which couples do not quarrel sometimes, it’s not necessary for the husband to do everything the wife wants and never say anything in anger,” Fatima left and went home and told Ali what happened. Ali told her that he was sorry and he wouldn’t ever do anything to hurt her or make her sad. Parents should know to inform their married children not to flee to their parents’ house and thereby escalate marital problems.
Fatima was used to a hardworking daily life. She used to grind the wheat into flour before making it into bread causing calluses to form on her hands. Carrying water long distances caused her back and shoulders to scar as well. Ali told her to ask her father for some slaves to assist her in her work, but upon going she became shy and left without asking. The next day the prophet visited and asked why she came the previous day. Ali told the prophet that he told her to ask the prophet for one of his slaves. The prophet told Fatima to fear Allah and fulfill her household chores in addition to her religious obligations, and before going to sleep to say Subhanallah 33 times, Alhumdullah 33 times and Allahuakbar 34 times, saying, “this will be better for you than a few slaves.” We can learn from this that doing household chores is not a disgrace for women, and that remembrance of Allah makes it easy. These are principles that can make married life like a paradise.