Along with the external beauty, the Prophet (ﷺ) lived a frugal lifestyle. We start with the famous Hadith of Umar Ibn Khattab (RA) which shows his simple lifestyle.
Umar bin Al-Khattab (RA) said:
"I entered upon the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) when he was (sitting) on a reed mat. I sat down and (saw that) he was wearing a waist wrap, and there was no other barrier between him and the mat but his waist wrap, and the reed mat had made marks on his side. I saw a handful of barley, nearly a Sa', some acacia leaves in the corner of the room, and a skin hanging up. My eyes flowed with tears, and he said: 'Why are you weeping, O son of Khattab?' I said: 'O Prophet of Allah, why should I not weep? This mat has made marks on your side, and this is all you have accumulated. I cannot see anything other than what I see (here), while Chosroes and Caesar live among fruits and rivers. You are the Prophet of Allah and His Chosen One, and this is what you have accumulated.' He said: 'O son of Khattab, does it not please you (to know) that (these things) are for us in the Hereafter and for them in this world?' He said: 'Yes.'"
(Sunan Ibn Majah 4153 : Book 37, Hadith 54)
Umar Ibn al-Khattab (RA) entered the small compartment of the Prophet (ﷺ) in the Masjid. This was his own compartment, and he did not have any wives living there. There was nothing there but a jug of water and a bed on which he would lie down. The bed was made not out of the leaves of the date palm tree but out of branches. So when Umar (RA) comes in, he (ﷺ) sits up to greet him. When he sits up, Umar (RA) can see the reddish marks left by the branches. Seeing this, Umar Ibn al-Khattab (RA) begins crying. This happened around the 7th or 8th year of Hijrah when the Prophet (ﷺ) was the undisputed leader of a large region of Arabia. As such, he has the wealth coming in. So Umar cannot control himself and begins to cry. He says, how can we allow you to live like this? Look at the Kings of Rome and Persia, look at the Caesar, look at the Shah-in-Shah, look at these people, look at how they live. Indeed, you deserve better.
Instead of saying, maybe you are right, or I will think about it, he (ﷺ) said to Umar, you should be happy that they have the Dunya and we have the Akhirah.
It was narrated that 'Aishah said:
"The bed of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was made of leather, stuffed with fibers of date-palm trees."
(Sunan Ibn Majah 4151 : Book 37, Hadith 52)
As narrated by Aishah (RA), the bed that the Prophet (ﷺ) would sleep on was a leather skin sometimes stuffed with date palm leaves. Leather is not something people sleep on; it is something you put on the saddle. So she sometimes would put some date palms to make it softer.
Ja'far ibn Muhammad reported that his father said:
"Aishah (RA) was asked: 'How was the mattress of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) in your home?' She said: 'It consisted of tanned hides stuffed with fibers.' Hafsa (RA) was also asked: 'What was the mattress of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) in your home?' She said: 'Coarse woolen fabric that we folded in two to sleep. Then one night, I said: 'If two folds were four, it would be softer for him,' so we folded it for him in four-folds. Then, when he woke up in the morning, he said: 'What did you spread out for me tonight?' She said: 'We said: 'It is your mattress, except we folded it four times. We said it would be softer for you.' He said: 'Restore it to its original condition, for its softness prevented me from performing my ritual prayer tonight!'"
(Ash-Shama'il Al-Muhammadiyah 328 : Book 46, Hadith 2)
So when one of his wives made the bed a little bit more comfortable, he (ﷺ) slept longer than usual. He did not like it and asked her to revert back to how it was. He did not want to miss the Tahajjud prayer because of the softness of the bed. On the contrary, he wanted the bed a bit hard because it allowed him to pray Tahajjud.
Sometimes the Prophet (ﷺ), as Aishah (RA) says, would not taste meat for six weeks. Even by the time of the Tabiun, this was unbelievable. So Urwa ibn az-Zubayr, 40 years later, is saying, oh, my mother, (Urwa is her nephew, but calls her mother because she is the mother of the believers), how did you live for six weeks without such food. She said, by eating Al-aswadan, the two dark things, dates and dark water, because they didn't have clean filtered water. They got their water from the well, and there is no purification system. So she said, we subsisted off of these two.
Aishah (RA) narrated:
"We, the family of Muhammad (ﷺ), would go for a month without kindling a fire, having only water and dates.
(Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2471: Book 37, Hadith 57)
Narrated Aishah (RA):
An entire month would pass by during which we would not make a fire (for cooking), and our food used to be only dates and water unless we were given a gift of some meat.
(Sahih al-Bukhari 6458 : Book 81, Hadith 47)
Narrated Aishah (RA):
The Prophet (ﷺ) died when we had satisfied our hunger with the two black things, i.e., dates and water.
(Sahih al-Bukhari 5383 : Book 70, Hadith 11)
It is narrated that Aishah (RA) will begin to cry when good food is given to her.
"I entered upon Aishah (RA), and she invited me to eat. She said: 'Whenever I eat my fill of food, I want to cry and begin crying.' He said: "I said: 'Why?' She said: 'I remember the circumstances under which the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) parted from the world. By Allah! He would not eat his fill of bread and meat twice in a day.'"
(Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2356: Book 36, Hadith 53)
Aishah (RA) lived until 40 years after the death of the Prophet (ﷺ). By then, wealth began to come in, and she would get a stipend from the government and gifts from people. She would be generous with the poor. Sometimes people would gift her large items of good food. It is narrated multiple times that she would begin to cry when she saw all of this food. She would say the same thing, that the Prophet (ﷺ) never ate hard bread to his fill, even one day in his life.
We all know the famous story of the Prophet (ﷺ), Abu Bakr (RA) and Omar (RA), when they did not have anything to eat.
Abu Huraira (RA) reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) went out (of his house) one day or one night, and there he found Abu Bakr and Umar also.
He (ﷺ) said:
What has brought you out of your houses at this hour? They said: Allah's Messenger, it is hunger. He said: By Him in Whose Hand is my life, what has brought you out has brought me out too; get up. They got up along with him. and (all of them) came to the house of an Ansari, but he was not at home. When his wife saw him, she said: Most welcome, and Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said to her: Where is so and so? She said: He has gone to get some water for us. When the Ansari came, and he saw Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and his two Companions, he said: Praise be to Allah, no one has more honorable guests today than I (have). He then brought them a bunch of ripe dates, dry dates, and fresh dates and said: Eat some of them. He then took hold of his long knife (for slaughtering a goat or a sheep). Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said to him: Beware of killing a milch animal. He slaughtered a sheep for them. After they had eaten of it and of the bunch and drank, and when they had taken their fill and had been fully satisfied with the drink, Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said to Abu Bakr and Umar: By Him in Whose Hand is my life, you will certainly be questioned about this bounty on the Day of judgment. Hunger brought you out of your house, then you did not return until this bounty came to you.
(Sahih Muslim 2038a: Book 36, Hadith 187)
There are many stories of this nature. Sahaba lived a very tough life in the early Medina period before the conquest began and wealth poured in. Medina was a tough place to live in. When you do not have dates, you live a harsh life in the middle of the desert. Dates are there only during one season of the year.
When they finished their meal, Prophet (ﷺ) reminded Abu Bakr and Umar that they had left their houses hungry and Allah had given them this meal. Allah is going to ask them on that day about this food. What did you do with it? And did you thank me enough for it?
ثُمَّ لَتُسْـَٔلُنَّ يَوْمَئِذٍ عَنِ ٱلنَّعِيمِ
"Then, on that Day, you will definitely be questioned about ˹your worldly˺ pleasures."
We do not even think about Allah's blessings for three meals a day. However, the Prophet (ﷺ) is so conscious that Allah is going to ask you about this pleasure.
During the Battle of Badr, the Prophet (ﷺ) had to distribute the camels amongst people. As we know, there were around 314 people in Badr. But there were only about 75 camels. Some people had horses. So each camel had to be shared by around 3 people. So the Prophet (ﷺ) was assigned Ali and Abu Lubaba to share a camel.
‘Abdallah b. Mas’ud said:
At the battle of Badr, there was one camel to every three men of us. Abu Lubaba and 'Ali b. Abu Talib were the traveling companions of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ), and when his turn to dismount came, they would offer to walk instead of him, but he would reply, "You are not stronger than I am, and I am not more able to dispense with the reward* than you are."
* i.e., the reward in the next world for walking part of the way.
It is transmitted in Sharh as-sunna.
(Mishkat al-Masabih 3915: Book 19, Hadith 127)
Put yourself in the shoes of Ali and Abu Lubaba. You are supposed to share a camel with the Prophet (ﷺ). What are you going to do? So Ali says, Ya Rasulullah, both of us are young men, you go ahead and ride the camel. He is trying to make him feel as if they are not doing him a favor.
There are many things the Prophet (ﷺ) could have said. He is the leader, and the leader deserves extra protection. He is the commander and should be treated like a regular person. So he could have said, okay, fine, and nobody would have said anything, or he even could have said, no, let's all share it. But he did not want to make them feel that he is doing them a favor by doing this. He smiled back at them and he said that neither are the two of you any stronger than me. And nor am I in any lesser need of the reward than you two. I also need the reward of walking.
He could not challenge the fact that they are younger than him, so he says, neither are the two of you any stronger than me. You might be younger, but in terms of physical health, yes, I am just as strong as you. And nor am I in any lesser need of Allah's rewards for walking and struggling. So we're going to share the camel. And so he was a man of his word, and he shared the camel, even though, it was not necessary at all, as he was their leader and Messenger of All. And yet he shared the camel with them.
Anas Ibn Malik (RA) reported:
My mother Umm Anas came to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ). And she prepared my lower garment out of the half of her headdress and (with the other half) she covered my upper body and said: Allah's Messenger, here is my son Unais; I have brought him to you for serving you. Invoke blessings of Allah upon him. Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: O Allah, make an increase in his wealth and progeny. Anas said: By Allah, my fortune is huge, and my children and grandchildren are now more than one hundred.
(Sahih Muslim 2481b: Book 44, Hadith 206)
Anas' (RA) mother wanted the dua of Prophet (ﷺ) for Baraka. Anas was one of the longest living of the Sahaba. He lived until he was over 110 years old because the Prophet (ﷺ) made dua for him. He was one of the last of the Sahaba to pass away at a time when the average lifespan was around 30 years.
As for wealth, they used to say that if Anas (RA) turned a rock over, he would find gold underneath it. He was so rich that anything he did, as they say, turned gold. People loved to make him their business partner, do enjoy the Baraka. He amassed a large fortune at the end of his life.
As for his progeny, he had so many grandchildren and great-grandchildren that he could not even count them during his own lifetime.
Anas ibn Maik (RA) said:
"I served Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) for ten years, and he never said "Uff!" to me. He never asked me about something I had done, saying: "Why did you do it?" nor about something I had left undone, "Why did you leave it undone?" Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) was the finest of human beings in character. I never felt any silk, or anything at all that was softer than the palm of the hand of Allah's Messenger (ﷺ). I never smelled any musk, nor any perfume, more fragrant than the sweat of the Prophet (ﷺ)!"
(Ash-Shama'il Al-Muhammadiyah 344: Book 48, Hadith 3)
Anas ibn Malik (RA) says that he served the Prophet (ﷺ) for ten years. He did not just visit him but lived with him for ten years, and not once did Prophet (ﷺ) rebuke him. Not once did the word "Uff" come from his mouth, which is not even a word of anger; it is a word to express irritation. Anas (RA) continued and said Prophet (ﷺ) never asked, "why did you do this? Why did you not do that?". That is an example of the perfection of the Prophet's (ﷺ) manners.
There is another beautiful narration involving Anas (RA).
Anas (RA) reported that Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) had the best disposition amongst people. He sent me on an errand one day, and I said:
By Allah, I would not go. I had, however, this idea in my mind that I would do as Allah's Apostle (ﷺ) had commanded me to do. So I went out until I came across children who had been playing in the street. In the meanwhile, Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) came there, and he caught me by the back of my neck from behind me. As I looked towards him, I found him smiling and he said: Unais, did you go where I commanded you to go? So I said: Allah's Messenger, yes, I am going. Anas further said: I served him for nine years, but I know not that he ever told me about a thing which I had done, why I did that, or about a thing I had left as to why I had not done that.
(Sahih Muslim 2310a, 2309e: Book 43, Hadith 74)
When the Prophet (ﷺ) sent Anas on a chore, he saw some kids playing, and he joined in as well. He finds some kids playing and completely forgets what he was supposed to do. Then when the Prophet (ﷺ) came out to find out what happened, he finds Anas playing with the kids in the street. Anas says he held onto his ears and picked him up, and when turned around, the Prophet was smiling at him. He was not even getting irritated at him.
Even when people showed him the utmost contempt and disrespect, he maintained his dignity and composure. Once a group of Jews came, and they wanted to mock him.
Narrated Aishah (RA):
A group of Jews came to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and said, "As-samu' Alaika" (Death be on you), and I understood it and said to them, "Alaikum As-Samu wa-l-la'na (Death and curse be on you)." Allah's Apostle said, "Be calm! O `Aishah, for Allah loves that one should be kind and lenient in all matters." I said. "O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ)! Haven't you heard what they have said?" Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, "I have (already) said (to them), 'Alaikum (upon you).' "
(Sahih al-Bukhari 6256: Book 79, Hadith 30)
The Prophet (ﷺ) maintained this composure and replied Alaikum (upon you as well). Aishah (RA) got so angry hearing that from behind the curtain, she screamed out, May you be cursed, and may Allah cause you to perish. The Prophet rebuked Aishah and said, Calm down, O Ayesha. Don't you know that whatever is gentle is beautiful? Whenever gentleness is in something, it makes it beautiful, and whenever harshness is in something, it makes it ugly.
After they left, she said, Ya Rasulullah, how could you have controlled your temper? They came, and they cursed you. And they said, Assamu alaikum. So he responded, didn't you hear my response? Wa Alaikum. He maintained his dignity and composure even when they tried to mock him.
اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ
O Allaah, send prayers upon Muhammad (ﷺ) and upon the family of Muhammad (ﷺ) as You sent prayers upon the family of Ibraaheem (AS), and send blessings upon Muhammad (ﷺ) and upon the family of Muhammad (ﷺ), as You sent blessings upon the family of Ibraaheem (AS), You are indeed Worthy of Praise, Full of Glory.
The Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), the life and times of the greatest human being who ever lived and walked on the face of this earth, series is based on the lectures by Dr. Sh. Yasir Qadhi.