The Life of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ)
The general outline of the life of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), outside the home
The text describes how the life of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), outside of his home was wholly devoted to the word of God. His focus was on spreading the message of Islam to both believers and non-believers, establishing the Islamic system of governance, expanding the influence of Islam both within Arabia and beyond, and solving the social, communal, and economic issues faced by Muslims. All of these endeavors led to the creation of an environment where everyone who entered it would become fully committed to the Prophet and his teachings, willingly sacrificing everything for the sake of their faith.
The text further elaborates that the Prophet’s work was not just in words but was exemplified by his actions, creating a complete and effective character in front of the entire community. This exemplary character was so powerful that it was endorsed by God Himself in the Holy Quran, setting it as the standard for others to follow in their lives.
لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِى رَسُولِ ٱللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌۭ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلْيَوْمَ ٱلْـَٔاخِرَ وَذَكَرَ ٱللَّهَ كَثِيرًۭا
There is indeed a good model for you in the Messenger of Allah – for the one who has hope in Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah profusely. (33:21)
The purpose is to highlight that the external responsibilities of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) were so diverse and extensive that taking out time for his family and ensuring their rights, especially in today’s era, was an extremely challenging task. However, upon studying his blessed life, it becomes clear that whether it was his wives, children, servants, relatives, or friends, he took great care in fulfilling everyone’s rights. He gave so much love and importance to each individual that they felt he loved them the most, never neglecting them at any turn in life. Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was always concerned about everyone’s rights; as a result, he emerged as a loving husband, a compassionate father, a kind master, and a sincere friend.
Outside of home life, he was seen leading prayers in the mosque, at times appearing as an excellent guide and counselor for those seeking guidance. In the battlefield, he was a brave and wise commander, also fighting fearlessly in the front lines. He was a just ruler and a visionary teacher, constantly working for the betterment of his community. For the sake of his people avoiding hellfire and entering paradise, he not only worked hard for his community but also humbly prayed in the presence of Allah at every opportunity. His life shows attributes of constant thoughtfulness and continuous sorrow.
General Layout of Life Inside the Home
However, within the home, the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) did not appear as a strict, quarrelsome husband, father, or brother. Instead, he was extremely cheerful with his wives, endearing to them, mingling with them, sharing housework, participating in their sorrows and joys, and treating all of them equally. When with children, he was like a child himself, not just feeding them but also playing with them.
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) dealt with his family with extreme kindness, won their hearts, and treated all household members equally. His domestic life, like his life outside the home, was filled with all sorts of qualities and was attractive. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) slept and stayed awake, ate and remained hungry—meaning all aspects of life that could possibly exist were present in his domestic life. There was no imbalance in his domestic life; everything was organized. His home was free from all sorts of formalities and worldly pomp and show but presented a beautiful view of simplicity and cleanliness.
In the home, you divide the times of the Prophet (ﷺ)
Explaining the daily routines of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) domestic life, Hakeem-ul-Ummat Hazrat Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi (رضي الله عنه), who was authorized by his spiritual mentor, Hazrat Dr. Abdul Hayy (رضي الله عنه), writes in his book “Aswah-e-Rasool Akram (ﷺ) with reference to Shama’il Tirmidhi” that Hazrat Hasan (رضي الله عنه) narrates from his illustrious father Hazrat Ali (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (ﷺ) would allocate time for his personal needs (food and sleep) in his home and was authorized by Allah for this. So, when the Prophet (ﷺ) would be at home, he would divide his time into three parts:
- One part for the worship of Allah Almighty
- One part for fulfilling the social obligations towards his family (which included talking and laughing with them)
And a portion for the comfort of one’s own self
Then they divide their share between themselves and the people (meaning they also dedicate much time to the community’s work and spend the time of this portion for the benefit of common people through their close associates. In other words, during this time, common people could not come, but special people would be present and would convey religious matters to the public. In this way, common people also share in the benefits.)
The Nature of Prophet Muhammad’s (ﷺ) Prayer at Home
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) used to offer optional prayers at home, including the night-time Tahajjud prayers and Witr prayers during the time of Tahajjud, all within his household. Often, he would perform the Sunnah prayers of Fajr at home before going to the mosque. [Sahih al-Bukhari, Number: 626] Narrated by Ibn Abbas, he said, ‘I once spent the night at my aunt (Mother of Believers) Hazrat Maimunah’s house. I noticed that when only a little bit of the night remained, the Prophet (ﷺ) woke up. He quickly and briefly performed ablution from a hanging water skin. Then he stood up and began to pray. I also performed ablution in the same manner he did. Then, standing to his left, I joined him. The Prophet (ﷺ) moved me to his right side. He prayed as much as Allah willed. Then he lay down and fell asleep, even to the point of snoring. Then the muezzin arrived and informed him of the prayer. The Prophet (ﷺ) went with him for prayers. He did not perform ablution again (because, according to Hadith, the Prophet’s eyes would sleep, but his heart did not).’ [Sahih al-Bukhari, Number: 138]
The Nature of Reciting the Holy Quran at Home
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) used to recite the Holy Quran during the night, both within and outside of his prayers. [Sahih Muslim, Number: 770] Sometimes he would recite it in a loud voice and sometimes softly. Hazrat Afeef bin Harith said that he asked Hazrat Aisha, ‘Did the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) recite the Quran in a loud voice or softly?’ She replied that he would sometimes recite it loudly and sometimes in a soft voice. [Sunan Ibn Majah, Number: 1354]
Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) would also recite the Quran while lying down at times. Narrated by Hazrat Aisha, she said, ‘The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would place his head in the lap of one of his wives who was menstruating and would recite the Quran.’ [Sahih al-Bukhari]
Making Duas (Supplications) at Home
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) often spent long periods at night, particularly during the Tahajjud prayers, making supplications. He would make duas both for himself and for his Ummah (community). During the recitation of Quranic verses, he would pray for mercy when coming across verses of mercy, and seek refuge from punishment when reading verses about torment. He would become so emotional during his supplications that his blessed beard would become wet with tears. [Sahih Muslim, Number: 772]
The Prophetic Way of Entering the Home
1. The Prophet (ﷺ) would never enter his home suddenly, potentially disturbing his family. Instead, he would enter in such a manner that his family would already be aware of his arrival. [Sahih al-Bukhari, Number: 1501] This has been narrated by Hazrat Jabir bin Abdullah.
نَهَى رَسُولُ اللهِ صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم أن يَطْرُقَ الرَّجُلُ أَهْلَهُ لَيْلًا يَتَخَوَّنُهُمْ أَوْ يَلْتَمِسُ عَشَرَاتِهِمْ
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) has forbidden the act of a person suddenly showing up at their family’s home at night, suspecting them of betrayal (as a husband might suspect), and looking for their weaknesses. [Sahih Muslim, Number: 4969]
This is because, firstly, it involves having bad assumptions which are prohibited in the Islamic law. Secondly, it causes emotional distress to the woman and involves moral indecency. Especially when someone returns from a journey, even greater care has been recommended that they should not suddenly appear in their home; rather, they should inform in advance. As narrated by Jabir bin Abdullah, ‘We were with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) on a journey. When we returned to Medina, we started heading to our homes. Then Allah’s Messenger said:
حَدَّثَنِي إِسْمَاعِيلُ بْنُ سَالِمٍ، حَدَّثَنَا هُشَيْمٌ، أَخْبَرَنَا سَيَّارٌ، ح وَحَدَّثَنَا يَحْيَى بْنُ يَحْيَى، – وَاللَّفْظُ لَهُ – حَدَّثَنَا هُشَيْمٌ، عَنْ سَيَّارٍ، عَنِ الشَّعْبِيِّ، عَنْ جَابِرِ بْنِ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، قَالَ كُنَّا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فِي غَزَاةٍ فَلَمَّا قَدِمْنَا الْمَدِينَةَ ذَهَبْنَا لِنَدْخُلَ فَقَالَ “ أَمْهِلُوا حَتَّى نَدْخُلَ لَيْلاً – أَىْ عِشَاءً – كَىْ تَمْتَشِطَ الشَّعِثَةُ وَتَسْتَحِدَّ الْمُغِيبَةُ ” .
It has been narrated on the authority of Jabir b. ‘Abdullah who said: We accompanied the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) on an expedition. When we came (back) to Medina and were going to enter our houses, he said: Wait and enter (your houses) in the later part of the evening so that a woman with dishevelled hair may have used the comb, and a woman whose husband has been away from home may have removed the hair from her private parts. (Sahih Muslim 715w)
When you would enter, you would usually inquire about something. Often you would ask, ‘Is there anything to eat?’ [Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Number: 2470] And often you would remain silent until something is presented before you. It is also narrated that when you would enter the house, you would recite a prayer.
الحمد لله الذي كَفَانِي وَاوَانِي وَالْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي أَطْعَمَنِي وَ سَقَانِي وَالحَمدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي مَنَّ عَلَيَّ أسْأَلُكَ أَن تُجِيرَنِي مِنَ النَّارِ
All praises are for Allah Almighty who has fulfilled all my needs, provided me shelter, and all praises are for Allah Almighty who has fed and nourished me, and all praises are for Allah Almighty who has been gracious to me. O Allah! I request you to save me from the torment of the fire.
Behavior with Wife and Children at Home
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was very kind and courteous with his family members and servants, never scolding or treating anyone harshly. [Muslim: 2309] The Prophet (ﷺ) took great care to ensure that no one in the family was disturbed or inconvenienced. [Muslim: 2055] When he was with his wives, he was gentle, caring, and would speak and laugh in a very pleasant manner. [Sunan al-Tirmidhi, Number: 1162]
There are many Hadiths that reflect the Prophet’s (ﷺ) concern for the prayers and worship of his wife and children. He would involve his family members in worship and would often turn their attention towards the worship of Allah. He would not sleep more than necessary and would not stay awake more than required. When needed, he would rest on his right side while remembering Allah, until sleep overcame him. [Sahih al-Bukhari, Number: 247] At that time, he would not be full-stomached, nor would he lie flat on the ground. His bed would be made of leather, filled with palm fiber. He would place a pillow under his cheek or sometimes under his hand, and the best sleep is on the right side.
The Sleep of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was Moderate
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) neither slept more than necessary nor stayed awake more than needed. In other words, he would both sleep and stand for prayers, as was his noble habit. Sometimes he would go to sleep at night and then wake up to pray, and after praying, he would go back to sleep. In this way, he would sleep and wake up several times during the night.
The Style of Rest of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)
Hazrat Baraa says that when the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) would rest, he would place his right hand under his cheek and recite this prayer:
اللّهُـمَّ قِنـي عَذابَـكَ يَـوْمَ تَبْـعَثُ عِبـادَك .
Allāhumma qinī `adhābaka yawma tab`athu `ibādak.
O Allah,1 save me from Your punishment on the Day that You resurrect Your slaves.2
Reference: 1 “When the Prophet (ﷺ) wanted to lie down to sleep, he used to place his right hand under his cheek and say. (Hisn al-Muslim)
بِاسْـمِكَ اللّهُـمَّ أَمـوتُ وَأَحْـيا
Bismika Allāhumma amūtu wa aḥyā.
In Your Name, O Allah, I die and I live.
Reference: Here, dying and living are metaphors for sleep and wakefulness. This explains why the normal order of these words has been reversed in this Hadith. In other contexts the living is mentioned before dying. (Hisn al-Muslim)
الحَمْـدُ لِلّهِ الّذي أَحْـيانا بَعْـدَ ما أَماتَـنا وَإليه النُّـشور
Alḥamdu lillāhil-ladhī ‘aḥyānā ba`da mā ‘amātanā wa ‘ilayhin-nushūr.
Praise is to Allah Who gives us life after He has caused us to die and to Him is the return. (Hisn al-Muslim)