By Dr. Muhammad Salma
24 May 2013
FEARING Allah is a positive trait that once properly settled into the heart changes one’s life considerably to be in conformity with divine injunctions. Therefore, as once said by one of the early pious predecessors, when fearing others, you flee from them, but when fearing Allah, you flee to Him.
Practically, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) perfectly embodied the true fear of Allah. His very words rightfully proclaimed: “I am the most knowing of Allah and the most fearful of Him among you.” (Authenticated by Al-Albani)
The more you know about Allah and His perfect attributes and all-wise acts, the more veneration and awe you have for Him; and the more you know about your humble and sinful soul, the stronger becomes your fear of Him.
Therefore, the Quran explicitly states that “None truly fears Allah among His servants but those filled with knowledge [of the word and the way of Allah].” (Al-Mu’minun 35:28)
The Prophet’s fear of Allah was very obvious in his lifestyle. He was always conscious of Allah’s watchfulness and his heart was constantly vigilant to be in total submission to Him. His fear and love of Allah dominated all his heart and hence he set the perfect example for humanity in every aspect of life as minutely recorded by His loving companions.
His heart was so soft that he would weep at the recitation of the Qur’an, the Word of Allah, reacting to its overpowering admonitions. When asked about the gray hair in his head, he answered that Surat Hud and its sisters, which portray the events and horrors of the Day of Resurrection, had caused his hair to turn gray.
Fearing Allah left no room for boastfulness in his heart and rendered it so modest before his Lord. Hence, he forbade his followers to exaggerate in praising or overestimating him saying: “Do not go to the extreme in praising me as Christians did with the Son of Mary. I am only a servant [of Allah], so say: [He is] the servant of Allah and His Messenger.” (Al-Bukhari)
Even with his fellows he behaved modestly and said: “I am only a servant [of Allah]. I eat as servants eat and sit as servants sit.”
He would help his family in their housework and would do as any kind and helpful man does in his house.
Moreover, he was in full control over his words and deeds. He spoke only the truth and was always a man of his word. He never wronged a person or beat a woman, a servant, or any other person except in the cause of Allah and never took revenge for himself but only when the limits set by Allah were encroached.
Fear was reported to have been conspicuously recognized in his face when noticing such seemingly natural occurrences as a blowing storm, gathering clouds, or solar eclipse and he would in response hasten to supplication, as an expression of fear, awe, and veneration to the Lord of the universe; since such phenomena would remind him of the destruction of old disbelieving nations that were destroyed by devastating natural disasters.
Fear of Allah, nevertheless, fuelled his heart with patience and diligence that were necessary and significant factors in the success of his call taking into consideration all the troubles he went through and all physical and psychological sufferings he experienced since he began his mission.
The Prophet’s fear of Allah was never a sign of a weak or a coward heart. He (peace be upon him) was the most courageous among his companions to the extent that he would be the closest one to the ranks of the enemies in fighting and they would take shelter in him.
Moreover, his ideal fear of Allah did not cause him to lead a strictly monastic life as monks do, he even forbade his followers to do so. He had a number of wives and children; he liked perfume and had favourite meals, though in general he and his family never fully satisfied their hunger with wheat bread for two consecutive days and so often few months would pass before a fire was kindled for food in his houses.
In this context, we may recall the account of three men who came to the Prophet’s house to inquire about his diligence in worship. Having been informed about his moderate approach, they thought they should be more austere because they did not have the privilege of having their sins forgiven as he (peace be upon him) had.
Therefore, one of them declared that he would keep vigilant at night in prayer and would not sleep; another one forbade himself to marry; and the third declared that he would observe continuous fast.
On knowing this, the Prophet (peace be upon him) condemned their way of thinking asserting that he was the most God-fearing among them and, nonetheless, he would fast and break fasting, pray at night and sleep, and marry women. Indeed, the best way of guidance is his.
The above glimpses of the lifestyle of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) demonstrate a wonderful balance that marked his sublime character- an example to be followed to the end of time.