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Prophet Muhammad... The Best of Friends

By Adil Salahi
Researcher and writer - UK
medinah
When Prophet Muhammad realized that Jabir was newly married, he was keen to make the whole community share in the celebration.
Madinah Mosque

Following the setbacks of Uhud, many victorious expeditions took place. In a decisive chapter of six months after the Battle of Uhud no traces of weakness or failing could be detected in their side when all hostile forces assuredly came to know how they underestimated the strength of the Muslims.

Dhat Ar-Riqa’” (the Expedition of rags) was one of those expeditions that casted fear into the hearts of anti-Islam coalitions rendering them too powerless to antagonize the Muslim community boosting the Muslims’ morale as well. In “Dhat Ar-Riqa’” (the Expedition of rags)-named so on the fact that the Muslims had to wrap their feet in pieces of cloth to relieve the pain as they walked over rocky areas- two Arabian tribes of Muharib and Tha’labah who, on the basis of the outcome of Uhud, were gathering to attack the Muslims in Madinah, felt very fearful although the Muslims’ lacking in numerical strength.  Although almost close to each other, no fighting took place that neither party was keen to attack as the Arabians agreed to go in reconciliation with the Muslims.

 

The Prophet of Mercy

Many greatly significant events are with regard to humanitarian, spiritual, social and political lessons from that period. One such incident casting light on comprehensive fatherhood and all-times humanity of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is related to Jabir ibn Abdullah, a young companion of the Prophet who went on this expedition. Riding a weak camel which could hardly walk, Jabir ibn Abdullah kept falling behind. When the Prophet noticed him and learnt how the exhausted camel was a poor one, he asked Jabir to sit him down. When he did, the Prophet said to him: “Give me the stick in your hand, or cut a stick for me from a tree.” The Prophet pricked the side of the camel with the stick several times and asked Jabir to mount the camel. Jabir says: “By Him who sent the Prophet with the message of truth, the camel was then as fast as any.”

The Prophet, then chatting to Jabir, he asked him: “Would you sell me this camel of yours, Jabir?” Jabir replied: “It is yours as a gift.” The Prophet said: “No, but sell it to me.” Jabir said: “Make me an offer then.” The Prophet said: “I will give you one dirham [the silver currency at the time] for it.”

Jabir declined the offer and said: “Then you would give me an unfair price.” The Prophet said: “What do you say to two dirhams?” Jabir declined again. The Prophet kept increasing the price of the camel and Jabir kept declining, until the Prophet offered him an ounce of silver. Jabir then said: “Would you be happy to pay this price, Messenger of God?” The Prophet answered in the affirmative and Jabir accepted the price. The Prophet asked Jabir whether he was married and Jabir answered that he was.

The Prophet then asked him about his wife and whether she was a virgin getting married for the first time or a woman who had been married before. Jabir’s wife was of the latter type. The Prophet said: “Would it not have been better if you had married a young virgin with whom you can play and have fun?” Jabir who was perhaps less than 20 years of age at that time said: “Messenger of God, my father was killed at Uhud, leaving me my seven sisters to look after. I therefore married a woman who could look after them and keep the family together.” The Prophet replied, “Then you have done the right thing, God willing. When we arrive at Sirar, we will have some camels slaughtered and we will celebrate. Your wife will then hear that we have celebrated her marriage and she will put her cushions.” (Putting up cushions was apparently a sign of celebrating a happy occasion.) Jabir said: “But we have no cushions, Messenger of God.” The Prophet said, “But you will have. When you arrive at Madinah you should arrange a good feast.” With the Muslim army arriving at Sirar, which was only about five kilometers from Madinah, the Prophet had a number of camels slaughtered and cooked. The whole army shared in the celebration of the recent wedding of one of its soldiers. When the sun went down, the Prophet and his companions went into Madinah.

The Prophet was after no glory for himself but he wanted to be informed about the affairs of his companions so that they would feel much closer to him.

Telling his wife about his talk with the Prophet, Jabir’s wife advised him to do as the Prophet told him. The following morning Jabir took his camel and sat him down outside the Prophet’s mosque. Jabir then went into the mosque. When the Prophet came out, he asked about the camel and was told that Jabir had brought it. He asked for Jabir to be called and when he arrived the Prophet said: “Take your camel, my nephew; it is yours.” He then called Bilal (who acted as treasurer) and told him to go with Jabir and to give him an ounce of silver. Bilal did as the Prophet bade him and gave Jabir a fraction more. Jabir said that the camel stayed with him a very long time.

 

All-Time Generosity

This incident is one of numerous that shows the degree of care and compassion the prophet used to show to his companions. These were taken by his companions as signs which consolidated their belief in him as a Messenger of God. It is not that they had any doubts, but miraculous acts like his treatment of the camel’s weakness tended to confirm for them what they already knew to be true. It is the fact that the Prophet asked a young companion of his about his family affairs in such a way, as happens between intimate friends, serves to show that the Prophet really cared about every individual among his companions. He was not like a leader who viewed his troops as people whom he could utilize to achieve his personal glory. The Prophet was after no glory for himself but he wanted to be informed about the affairs of his companions so that they would feel much closer to him.

When Prophet Muhammad realized that Jabir was newly married, he was keen to make the whole community share in the celebration. Obviously the Prophet did not need to buy the camel but realizing that Jabir was poor and he knew that he was supporting a family, he did that out of caring and mercy. Buying the camel and giving it as a gift to its previous owner was highly characteristic of the prophet (peace be upon him). The best example of generosity in reality; when asked to buy the camel, he intended all the time to give it back to Jabir as a gift, but he wanted Jabir to name his price so that he felt that the matter was serious. According to one report, the terms of the deal stipulated that Jabir could utilize the camel until they had arrived in Madinah. Throughout the journey, then, Jabir was convinced that he had sold the camel. But what better wedding gift could he have hoped for than having his camel as well as its price.

Related Links:
Lessons from the Battle of Uhud
A Test Beyond Expectations
The Power of Consultation
Badr Battle: A Lesson to Remember
Arrival in Madinah… A Wave of Change
Adil Salahi is the Executive Director of Al-Furqan Heritage Foundation. He teaches Islamic Studies at the Markfield Institute of Higher Education, Leicester, England. After working for the BBC Arabic Service for several years, he worked for the Arabic daily, al-Sharq al-Awsat. He continues to publish a column, "Islam in Perspective", in its sister publication, Arab News, an English daily published in Saudi Arabia. He has produced an English translation of several volumes of Sayyid Qutb's commentary, In the Shade of the Quran (Leicester, Islamic Foundation), as well as several other books on Islamic subjects.

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