Muhammad (s.a.a.w.) was the most far removed among his people from the love of money or wealth. He encouraged his followers to be industrious, make an honest living and discouraged them from seeking charity. He did not condemn wealth and the wealthy, however, he feared for his followers and encouraged them to not allow it to corrupt them or obsess them.
Muhammad (pbuh) himself could have been the most wealthy man in the history of Arabia, however, he preferred to live simply and use his wealth in that which pleased God. As the leader of the Islamic nation, he received great wealth, however, he hated for this wealth to remain in his home for more than a day without having distributed it in charity. At times he would distribute tens or hundreds of thousands of "dinars" at a time as soon as he received them. He lived according to his sayings:
"O my Lord, indeed, true life is only the afterlife" and "What have I to do with this life? The similitude of me and this life is as a traveler who stopped to take shelter in the shade of a tree and then arose and left it"
Urwah narrated that Aisha (the wife of Muhammad, pbuh) said to me,
"O my nephew! We used to see the crescent, and then the crescent, and then the crescent, in this way we saw three crescents in two months and no fire (for cooking) used to be lit in the houses of Allah's Messenger (pbuh). I said, "O my aunt! Then what use to sustain you?" Aisha said, "[These two]: dates and water." (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)
Abu Tharr narrated that Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said,
"If I had gold equal to the mountain of Uhud, it would not please me that any of it should remain with me after three nights (i.e. I would spend all of it in Allah's cause) except what I would keep for repaying debts." (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)
Jabir ibn Abdullah narrated:
"The messenger of Allah was never asked for something and then he said 'no' (he never refused a request)" (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)
Allah Subhanuhu wa-T'ala says in the Holy Quran:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ يَهْدِيهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ بِإِيمَانِهِمْ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهِمُ الأَنْهَارُ فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ
دَعْوَاهُمْ فِيهَا سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَتَحِيَّتُهُمْ فِيهَا سَلاَمٌ وَآخِرُ دَعْوَاهُمْ أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
Surely those who believe (in the truths revealed in the Book) and do righteous deeds their Lord will guide them aright because of their faith. Rivers shall flow beneath them in the Gardens of Bliss. Their cry in it will be: 'Glory be to You, Our Lord!', and their greeting: 'Peace!'; and their cry will always end with: 'All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe. (10:9-10)
The sequence of ideas presented here is quite significant because answers have been systematically provided to a number of highly relevant basic questions. Let us look at these answers in their sequence. Why will the righteous enter Paradise? The answer is: because they have followed the straight way in their worldly life. That is, in all matters and in every walk of life, in all affairs relating to the personal or collective life they have been righteous and have abstained from false ways.
This gives rise to another question: how were the righteous able to obtain a criterion that would enable them to distinguish, at every turn and crossroad of life, between right and wrong, between good and evil, between fair and unfair? And how did they come to have the strength to adhere to what is right and avoid what is wrong? All this, of course, came from their Lord Who bestowed upon them both the guidance which they needed to know the right way and the succour required to follow it. In answer to why their Lord bestowed upon them this guidance and succour, we are reminded that all this was in consideration for their faith.
It is also made clear that this reward is not in lieu of merely a verbal profession to faith, a profession that is no more than a formal acceptance of certain propositions. Rather, the reward is in consideration for a faith that became the moving spirit of a believer's character and personality, the force that led him lo righteous deeds and conduct. We can observe in our own physical lives that a person's survival, state of health, level of energy, and joy of living all depend upon sustenance from the right kind of food. This food, once digested, provides blood to the veins and arteries, provides energy to the whole body and enables the different limbs to function properly.
The same holds true of man's success in the moral domain. It is sound beliefs which ensure that he will have the correct outlook, sound orientation and right behaviour that will ultimately lead to his success. Such results, however, do not ensue from that kind of believing which either consists of a mere profession to faith, or is confined to some obscure corner of man's head or heart. The wholesome results mentioned above can only be produced by a faith which deeply permeates man's entire being, shaping his mental outlook, even becoming his instinct; a faith which is fully reflected in his character, conduct and outlook on life. We have just noted the importance of food. We know that the person who, in spite of eating remains like one who has not partaken of any food, would not be able to enjoy the healthy results that are the lot of the person who has fully assimilated what he ate. How can it be conceived that it would be different in the moral domain of human life? How can it be that he who remains, even after believing, like the one who does not believe, will derive the benefit and receive the reward meant for those whose believing leads to righteous living?
"...their cry will always end with: 'All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe."
This should remove any misconceptions about Paradise which seem to have been formed by some people of frail understanding. Subtly, the verse suggests that when people are admitted to Paradise, they will not instantly pounce upon the objects of their desire as the starved and hungry are wont to do when they observe food. Nor will they frantically go about giving vent to their lusts, impatiently demanding their cherished objects of enjoyment - beautiful women, wine, dissolute singing and music.
The fact is that the men of faith and righteousness who are admitted to Paradise will be those who, during their life in the world, have embellished their lives with sublime ideas and noble deeds, who have refined their emotions, who have oriented their desires in the right direction, and who have purified their conduct and character. Thus, the nobility which they have developed in their personalities will shine in even greater splendour when they set their feet in the pure and clean environment of Paradise. Those same traits which characterized their behaviour in the world will appear with even greater lustre.
The favourite occupation of such people in Paradise will be the same as during their life on the earth - to celebrate the praise of God. Likewise, their relationships in Paradise will be imbued with feelings of mutual harmony and concern for each other's well-being as had been the case in this world.
Sall-Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam
They were circumambulating the Ka'ba, when Ka'ab bin Ujrah asked Abdul Rahman ibn Abi Lailah: "Shall I not give you a precious gift?" A gift in the middle of that act of intense devotion? Abdul Rahman was a prominent tabayi, i.e. from the generation that came after the generation of the companions. Ka'ab, may Allah be pleased with him, was one of the 1400 Companions who were part of the Covenant of al Ridwan, a covenant to live or fall together to avenge the blood of Uthman bin Affan, Radi-Allahu anhu, who had been feared to have been murdered by the Quraish. To know this background is to get a clue to the special gift.
While Muslims were stationed at Hudaybiyah, where the covenant took place, many delegations of Quraish had visited them. Among them was Urwah ibn Mas'ud al Thaqafi. It was he who reported the extra-ordinary relationship of the companions with the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam : "I have seen Caesar and Chosroes in their pomp, but never have I seen a man honored as Muhammad is honored by his comrades."
The gift that Ka'ab gave to ibn Abi Lailah was the hadith that gives us the salawat (benediction) that we use in regular prayers. The companions asked the proper way of sending the blessings, when the verse requiring them to do so was revealed.
"Lo Allah and His angels shower blessings on the Prophet. O ye who believe! Ask blessings on him and salute him with a worthy salutation." [Al-Ahzab, 33:56].
Then the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam , taught them the exact words, as they themselves were revealed to him by Allah.
A prophet of God is a unique person. He acts as the link between the people and their Creator. He is a human being, yet he speaks for God. The most difficult task for followers of a prophet has always been that of dealing with the prophet as a prophet. It is so easy to go to extremes. Make him divine, God-incarnate, Son of God. Or make him just another man, attributing all human weaknesses and sins to him. Religious literature of major religions in the world is testimony to these tendencies. It is a story of abject human failure in this matter.
One must contrast that with the beautiful and delicate balance presented by Islam. Here the Prophet is the perfect human being, but he is not Divine. He speaks for God but he is not God. He is the object of our gratitude, ardent love and devotion, unswerving allegiance, and deference. But he is not the object of our worship. We ask Allah to send His blessings on him which at once makes two very important statements. First, he needs Allah's blessings. Second, we cannot bless him, only Allah can. It is not possible for those who always invoke Allah's blessings for the Prophet, to degrade him to the level of other human beings, or to elevate him to the level of divinity. The benediction, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam , is a magic formula that fights both tendencies equally effectively. It also strikes at the roots of shirk, the tendency to associate partners with Allah. For we have met the perfect human being, the example to follow. And we found him to be a servant of Allah. Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam .
For centuries Muslims lovingly added the benediction, whenever they mentioned the name of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam . The hadith literature is a good example of this labor of love. For here the name of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam , is mentioned repeatedly. Yet the muhadithun never tired of writing the benediction. That was at a time when every book was written by hand, and all its copies were also made by hand. It was never considered a burden or an unnecessary interruption. A brief recent statement from a professor of hadith at one Islamic religious school captures the spirit. "The merits of studying hadith are innumerable and those interested can read Ibn Abdul Bar's book on the subject," he said. "But it is sufficient to note that through this study we get plenty of opportunities for saying the benediction, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam ."
And so for centuries this practice has continued unabated throughout the Muslim world. Also, realizing the importance of a "worthy benediction" Muslims always used the Arabic expression in other languages, be they Urdu, Farsi, Bangla, or others. For the first time in history, we find a break from this practice, and this spirit, when reviewing the Islamic literature in English.
Initially some one substituted "peace be upon him" for "Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam ." But it is not even a proper translation. Then some one thought of abbreviating it to pbuh. It, of course, did not improve the translation or the readability. Others came up with innovations of their own. One Islamic text book in English notes in the beginning: "After using the name of the Prophet Muhammad, Muslims should write or say the honorific phrase, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam ...Due to limited space this honorific phrase has been omitted.. but should be inserted when reading the book." Another book goes a little further by acknowledging the "long established and cherished tradition", but then announces bluntly: "To avoid interrupting the flow of ideas, especially for non-Muslim readers, I have not followed the customary practice." A majority of recent Islamic books published in the U.S. and U.K. by reputable Muslim organizations, though, do not feel the need for any excuse or explanation, whatsoever. They simply mention the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam , as they would any ordinary person.
It is time we moved beyond our hesitations, confusions, or inferiority complexes. This is the Ummah of the Last Prophet. In every language of the world, our Prophet is Muhammad, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam .