Prophetic Pabulums

Sheltered from Worldliness

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We, the family of Muḥammad ﷺ, would go an entire month without lighting a fire. It was only dates and water. [ʿĀʾisha]

When their eyes settled on him ﷺ, they saw a humble man, meager in his meals, modest in his dress-—a harsh contrast to the kings and leaders of neighboring nations. They enjoyed their silks and servants and grand palaces, while there he was, Muḥammad ﷺ, reclined on a handful of nut fibers that scraped his skin, leaving imprints of poverty. ʿUmar ibn Khaṭṭāb entered upon him one day and his eyes welled with tears. “What brings you to cry, Ibn Khaṭṭāb?”

“O Rasulullāh, why shouldn’t I cry? The fibers of your cot have left marks on your body. This is a small room carrying all your furniture-—I can see what there is. The Byzantine and Persian emperors enjoy luxurious living while you, the Messenger of Allah, the chosen one above His creation, live like this?” Our Prophet shifted in his cot and replied, “Ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, don’t you like that they chose this world and we have chosen the eternal `ākhirah?”

That’s the beauty of stories: they travel with you wherever you go. Like little smiley-reminders tucked in your pocket, they give you solace at any moment. So take this story with you. You’ll need it one day. Because there are people we meet whose mere presence convinces us that “we have it less,” that the quality of our lives are “lacking” because they own a bigger home, or a more generous spouse, finer clothing and fancy nick-knacks that fling them into the upper crust of privilege. Then, when our eyes cling onto glimpses of their blessings, a dark pulse in our hearts seethes with envy. “That could have been me.”

Perhaps, like Ibn Khaṭṭāb, we forget for a moment that material bliss flares and dies in time; that its glitters dim during next year’s new trend and new vacation hot spot; that this material bliss draws in only materially-driven eyes; and that the hearts of people flock first toward the pure-hearted, even if his food is dates and his back is laced with fiber scars.

/ his companions adored him
sweat dripping from his ﷺ skin
caught in glass flasks-—a perfume
for their Friday grooming

So at that moment of forgetfulness, pull out his ﷺ stories, and remember: “When Allāh wishes good for a servant, He shelters him from worldliness.”

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