The Empathetic Example Muslim Men Should Take from the Life of Muhammad, The Prophet

The Empathetic Example Muslim Men Should Take from the Life of Muhammad, The Prophet

Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah you have an excellent example 

for whoever has hope in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah often.

(Quran 33:21)

There have been many books written about the life characteristics of Prophet Muhammad, God’s peace and blessings be upon him. As Muslims we are reminded of his actions and deeds in the collection of Hadith which are meant to serve as real life examples for human interaction. The human being is a creation of habit, and as such can fall into both good and bad habits. It is a wonderful habit to speak and refer to the life example of the Prophet, and to implement the precedent set by him in our daily lives.

We often focus on teaching our children about the life of Rasul Allahand even encouraging Muslim women to study his life and the life of his wives for guidance.  Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, should be foremost in the lives of all human beings and as Muslims as we seek to be obedient and serve Allah. As a man, Rasul Allah therefore serves as the ultimate example of how a man should be for other men to follow. His life example is one full of empathy that should be studied and emulated.

His Early Skill Development

Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, as young person, served as a shepherd. He then began to travel with his uncle. Both of these activities are things that develop the character of a person and are careers that both require and enrich the development of empathetic qualities. A shepherd’s main duty is the safety and welfare of his flock. This requires the shepherd to be observant of his flock and to recognize and respond to potential dangers. These are skills that men benefit from developing because the extra strength afforded to them by Allah, The Most High, places men in the position of being protectors.

In addition, the Prophet was a businessman. The skills to be a successful businessman involve problem solving, negotiations, and understanding finances. A businessman who travels as a merchant develops the skill of recognizing, appreciating, and successfully interacting with people of different ethnic groups and cultures. A businessman learns to build a rapport with those he works with. Most importantly, a businessman makes money – again a skill that men benefit from developing because Allah, The Most High, has tasked men with providing the financial maintenance for their families. For Muslim men, it is ordained that taking care of their families financially is most pleasing to Allah.

His Exemplary Family Life

There have been many articles and books written about how Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, behaved toward his wife and later wives. There is no question that he treated his wives and children with kindness and grace, the very definition of empathy. For Muslim men, who often live in cultures with predominantly Muslim populations, if the life example of Rasul Allah was practiced extensively, the accusations of sexism and female oppression would not exist.

Surely, the Prophet went against the norms of the society at that time by marrying a woman who was not only older than himself when he married Khadijah, may Allah be pleased with her, but also a woman who initiated the proposal and was twice married and twice widowed. Our dear beloved Prophet appreciated the true worth of this woman as a wife and mother for his children. His behavior increased the value of widowed and divorced women as well as acknowledged that women in these circumstances are still full of life.  Indeed, she went on to be very prolific and delivered heirs for herself and her husband. In a Muslim society following and implementing the example of the Prophet, there should never be a problem with older, widowed, or divorced women obtaining husbands or positions of respect in the society. Indeed, Khadijah’s initiation of a proposal removes all doubt that women are not pawns for others to manipulate and decide their futures, but that they can and should make their own life decisions.  May Allah be pleaded with her. The Prophet’s vision and comprehension of the status of women was truly revolutionary, and it took empathy on his part to realize the need to uplift and change the position of women in the society.

His Bravery And Steadfastness

Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, faced many hardships. In the history of his life, he was beaten, starved, chased out of the city, boycotted, and endured constant threat of war. Indeed, one of the most heartbreaking trials was when he visited Taif and the mobs pelted him with stones and cursed him. But even with these challenges, he did not break. He did not resort to fits of anger or destruction. He did not himself hurl foul insults or take hostages in revenge. When his condition changed, he did not serve as a despot, subjugating all who had ever opposed him. As the Muslims developed coalitions and strength, he did not attempt to disrespect, discredit or imprison. Indeed, it takes an extreme strength of character to have and hold a position that one firmly believes in and not crack under pressure.

But the key to the compassion and insight of the Prophet was his ability to stay the course while not being so unbending or unreasonable that the opposing viewpoint is subjugated. Many Muslim men in positions of authority or even as Imams or serving on boards of area Islamic centers, could benefit from remembering that holding firmly to a position is fine, but a Muslim is always safe from injustice from another Muslim, and our disagreements must be settled in a manner keeping with the life example of the Prophet. Surely, this is what Allah would expect for the believer.

The world we live in today is one that seems to have little empathy for other human beings. The Muslim community is guilty sometimes of a lack of empathy from the smallest things, from giving the Salam to someone not of our tribe or ethnic group, to welcoming a new believer into our home and circle of friends, to engaging with our neighbors experiencing hardship. But the example of how to act in all of these situations was given to humankind more than 14 centuries ago. Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, may have described himself as just a man submitting to Allah, The Most High, but he is definitely a man that men should look to for a definitive example of manhood.  The responsiveness of Rasul Allah to the people around him is the most excellent example for all of us to follow and will surely help us as we seek to behave in a manner that is most pleasing.

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