14.2 Mohamed's Indifference to Luxury
The Prophet joined in building the mosque and his home, which were so simple that they required neither much money nor much effort. The mosque consisted of a wide space, fenced in and partly roofed over with palm fronds, and it was only lit for night prayers. The house was much smaller and equally simple, being single-storied with a roof of palm fronds.
The Messenger had little concern for material comforts. All his energy, all his thoughts were directed to helping people to believe in Allah, to bringing them out of darkness into light. Although his peers at that time lived a life of idle luxury based upon the service of many slaves, he was content with his simple and frugal life, and whenever slaves came under his control, he set them free or, with Salman the Persian, showed them how to set themselves free, legally, without rebellion.
What he considered a very great pleasure and a luxury that few could afford was the time to be alone, time to spend in contemplation or calling upon his Lord. A solitary moment away from society, in the mountains, was to him far more precious than silks, gold, or brocade. It is not that Islam forbids the good things in life. The Koran states that they are among Allah's gifts to his slaves. This frugal life on Mohamed's part was a matter of preference rather than divine decree. The Koran does advise moderation however, and those who believe are to be neither niggardly nor prodigal but to steer a course in between.
Years later when the Messenger acquired much wealth, he spent it all upon the poor, in freeing slaves, or in the furtherance of religion generally, and he used to say that the inheritance of prophets was not of this world nor in it, but of the eternal one to come. The men close to him were influenced by his example: Abu Bakr, the first Khalif, Umar, the Amir of the Believers, in whose reign the Arabs were to become extremely rich, Uthman, and Ali ibn Abi Talib, the third and fourth Khalifs, all lived frugally and simply, preferring to give than to take, to distribute rather than to hoard. Khalifs did not start living in luxury except after these early Muslims were gone and the clan of the Umayyads took the leadership of the Muslims. The founder of this dynasty was Abu Sufyan, of whom we shall soon hear more.