5 Benefits of Studying the Prophet’s Life and 3 Prophetic Characteristics in Business Transactions
There hath come unto you a messenger, (one) of yourselves, unto whom aught that ye are overburdened is grievous, full of concern for you, for the believers full of pity, merciful. (Quran, Chapter 9, Verse 128. English Translation by Pickthall)
To Muslims all around the world, Prophet Muhammad serves as the greatest spiritual guidance. It is to him that the Quran was revealed to be a compass for all humanity to reach salvation and mercy from Allah. He is considered as the best of creation and the greatest teacher and example for mankind.
There are many ways for us to show our happiness and gratitude to Allah for the birth of the noblest of creation. The best and the most ideal way is to live by his examples. In this article, we will learn about what Prophet Muhammad has exemplified in terms of business transactions, and hopefully we can emulate the Prophet ﷺ in everything that we do.
Why we should study the Prophet’s Life and History
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is perhaps one of the historical figures whose life has been very well-documented and studied. The life and teachings of Prophet Muhammad are written in hadith and sirah.
Hadith are collections of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ’s sayings that are orally transmitted and later collected and written down by Muslim scholars. Sirah, on the other hand, is the biography of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
Both hadith and sirah are extensively studied by Muslim scholars. However, due to the the complexity of hadith studies, the sirah is the relatively easier for the Muslim laypeople to read and study.
As described by an American Muslim scholar Dr. Yasir Qadhi, The word sīrah comes from the Arabic that means to traverse or to journey. In Arabic, the biography of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is called sirah because by reading his biography, it is as if we are walking his path following his footsteps.
Furthermore, Dr. Yasir Qadhi pointed out several benefits of studying the biography of Prophet Muhammad:
Learning from the best role model
Prophet Muhammad is a perfect role model for us Muslims. By studying his biography, we can take so many lessons that we can apply to all aspects of our lives.
“The amazing thing is that no matter what angle you look at the life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), you will benefit from that,” explained Dr. Yasir Qadhi during a sirah class at the Memphis Islamic Center.
Increasing love for the Prophet
As a Muslim, it is obliged for us to love the Prophet ﷺ with all of our hearts. How can we love someone without having much knowledge of the one we love? Likewise, one of the ways for us to show our love for the Prophet ﷺ is by studying his life.
“When you study, your love goes up; In order for your love to go up, you need to study, and if you truly love this man, you will study him; and a sign of loving someone is to want to know more about that person. This is human nature,” added Dr. Yasir Qadhi.
Understanding the Quran
The Quran was revealed gradually for approximately 23 years. Many of its verses are revealed in response to various events within the life of the Prophet. Therefore, by understanding the sirah, we will understand the context surrounding the revelation of these verses.
“So, by studying the sīrah, the Qurʾān gains meaning, profundity. Without the sīrah, the Qurʾān has no context. Without context, you will never be able to truly appreciate the Qurʾān,” added Dr. Yasir Qadhi.
Strengthening our faith in hard times
Allah has revealed in the Quran that the stories of the previous prophets were narrated to Prophet Muhammad in order to make his heart firm.
And each [story] We relate to you from the news of the messengers is that by which We make firm your heart. And there has come to you, in this, the truth and an instruction and a reminder for the believers. (Hud: 120)
Likewise, reading and studying the sirah is a way to make our heart firm and strengthen our faith, hope, and optimism in the midst of difficulties.
“So think about this – when our prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) heard the stories of the earlier prophets, what did it do to him? It gave him more optimism, gave him more īmān. How about us then? Don’t we deserve even more so for our īmān to go up and we study the life and times of the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)?” asked Dr. Yasir Qadhi rhetorically.
When we look at the hardship and persecution the Prophet ﷺ and his companions were dealing with, we will find solace knowing that what we are going through in this life is insignificant compared to what they were going through.
Prophet’s life as a miracle
Within less than a century, the Islamic civilization rose from the barren Arabian desert and spread to the territories of the Byzantine and Persian empires. All began with Prophet Muhammad whom Allah sent to the tribe of Quraish who was mostly illiterate. This shows that the life of Prophet Muhammad was a miracle in itself.
The famous scholar Ibn Hazm from Andalus, says “WAllāhi, if the Prophet ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) had not been given any miracle other than his life and his times, it would have been sufficient to prove that he is a Prophet of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta’āla (glorified and exalted be He),” said Dr. Yasir Qadhi.
Characteristics of Prophet Muhammad in Business Transactions
Prophet Muhammad was born among the people of Quraish who were mostly merchants. As written by Martin Lings in his sirah book Muhammad: His LIfe Based on Earliest Sources, the Quraish sent their trading caravans to Syria during spring and early summer, and to Yemen, sometimes all the way to Abyssinia, during autumn and winter.
Prophet Muhammad was also active as a merchant when he was younger, working for the wealthy Khadijah who later became his first wife. It was because of his excellent characteristics that Khadijah finally decided to marry him. What are the examples that we can take from the teaching of the Prophet when it comes to business transactions? The following are some of the examples from the sirah and hadith that we can learn from.
Honesty and truthfulness
Before Prophet Muhammad was chosen as a Messenger of Allah, he already gained a reputation as Al-Amin or “the trusted one”. This shows the importance of honesty and credibility that Prophet Muhammad maintained before he spread the message of Islam.
Likewise, he instructed his followers to be honest in doing business transactions and to avoid deceptions.
As written in the hadith book of Riyad As-Saliheen, Prophet Muhammad happened to pass by a heap of corn. He thrust his hand in that (heap) and his fingers felt wet. He said to the owner of that heap of corn, “What is this?” He replied: “O Messenger of Allah! These have been drenched by rainfall.” He remarked, “Why did you not place this (the drenched part of the heap) over the corn so that people might see it? He who deceives is not of us.”
Skillfulness and Intelligence
One of the characteristics of the Messengers of Allah is fatanah or intelligence. Despite his young age, Prophet Muhammad’s commercial prowess was seen when he carried out business transactions with Khadijah’s capital. Every time he returned to Makkah to go to Khadijah with her money, he sent her double or nearly double of what she had given him, as narrated in the Prophet’s biography by Imam Al-Baihaqi.
Leniency and Tolerance
Another excellent characteristic of the Prophet that we often miss is his leniency and tolerance when dealing with others in business transactions. Islam teaches us that business dealings must me made consensually among all involved parties.
Coercion is prohibited in Islam because it can lead to enmity and conflicts, and this may harm our relations with others, something which Islam strongly discourages. This is why Prophet Muhammad teaches us to be lenient in our business transactions. In Sahih Bukhari, he even made a special prayer:
“May Allah’s mercy be on him who is lenient in his buying, selling, and in demanding back his money.” (Bukhari, 2076).
Imam Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani said:
In this hadith it is encouraged to be easy-going in transactions and to have the best attitude, and to avoid miserliness, and it is encouraged to avoid putting pressure on people when asking for payment, and to take from them what they can afford.
The above principles are some of the basic principles that we can learn from the life and teaching of Prophet Muhammad.
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