The Prophetic Forbearance

History reveals that ‘Abdullah Ibn Salaam was Jewish before he embraced Islam in the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). After becoming a Muslim, ‘Abdullah tried to convince Zaid Ibn Sa’nah, a Jewish friend, to accept the religion of Islam. Despite ‘Abdullah’s effort in explaining the essence of Islam, Zaid insisted in his faith, Judaism, and he refused to become a Muslim.

‘Abdullah narrates that one day he entered Masjid al-Nabi (the Prophet’s Mosque) where he saw Zaid sitting among Muslims in line for performing prayer. ‘Abdullah said “being overcome with joy, I approached Zaid to inquire the reason why he accepted Islam”. Zaid responded “one day while I was reading the Torah, I reached the verses that explain the attributes of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). I paid a close attention to capture his characteristics described in Torah. I said to myself it is better that I sit in the Prophet’s presence to see if he possesses these attributes, among which there was forbearance. I observed his behaviors and choice of words for several days and I found all the attributes in his personality. There was only one left unseen, forbearance; so I attempted to continue my quest for I read in Torah that, “Muhammad’s forbearance and patience supersedes his anger. Although ignorant people treat him with disrespect and bad manner, they will not see anything in return from him except forbearance and patience.”

Zaid continued “following my search I went to the mosque again. I saw a Bedouin Arab man from desert while riding his camel entered the mosque. He got off his camel when he saw the Prophet and said that he was from some tribe who were struck by famine and therefore they were in need of food and sustenance. He said that the people of the tribes were Muslims and they hoped for help from the Prophet. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HP) turned to Imam Ali (PBUH) and asked, “Is there any money left from the previous savings”. The response was negative and sad for the Prophet.” Zaid said, “I then interfered and mentioned to the Prophet, O the Messenger of God, if you wish I would participate in a trade with you. I lend you some amount of money until the time of harvest when I will accept dates for the same amount in return. The Prophet received my offer and the trade, accepted the money and gave it to the Bedouin Arab.”

Zaid said “I was waiting until a week before the harvest. One day I went to the desert where I found the Prophet sitting in the shade of a tree, surrounded by his companions. I approached him impolitely, grab his color and told him, “I know you well, you take money from people and fall short in return. Do you know there is not much left to our mutually agreed time mentioned in our trade?”

Zaid proceeded, “I treated the Prophet furiously with great ignorance, although there was still a week left to the harvest. Suddenly I heard an aggressive voice; Umar Ibn Khattab drew his sword and asked me to leave with a rude call. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) prevented him with patience and said to him there was no need for quarrel. The Prophet said I should be recommended to maintain forbearance. Then he asked Umar to give me certain amount of special dates. Umar followed the order and added 20 extra units of dates to the original amount. I was curious why he gave me extra dates; Umar said that the extra dates were the result of Prophet’s forbearance. Since I suffered from Umar’s anger, the Prophet ordered him to add 20 extra units to the original amount, so that I would be satisfied.

After seeing such manner and great patience, I have fallen in love with Islam and the Prophet’s behavior. I have embraced Islam by testifying that Allah is one and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

There exist hundred of such examples in the lifestyle of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), each is just a drop from the great ocean of his manners to which Allah Almighty refers as sublime manners in  “Indeed you possess the sublime manners”(1), and indeed this is one of underlying reasons why Islam is growing fast.

we congratulate on the 17th of Rabi’ al-Awwal, for the blessed anniversary of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH&HP) birthday, the owner of great moral sense and blessing for all the world and also we congratulate on blessed anniversary of his pure son, Imam Sadiq (PBUH).

(Selection taken from “The Role of Ethics in the Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP)” by Hujjat al-Islam Muhammadi Ishtihardi)