31.8 The Prophet's Insight into Character
The Messenger had deep insight into the characters of the men and women around him. He never made a remark about someone that did not prove absolutely and accurately true either during his lifetime or after it. He called Abu Bakr “the True”, and how often this epithet proved the essence of Abu Bakr's character whether during the Prophet's lifetime or after it. He called Khaled “the Sword of Allah” and after the Messenger passed away, Khaled did earn this title with merit, and of Zaynab he said that she was the most charitable.
Several years after the Prophet died, in the reign of Umar ibn Al-Khattab, great wealth accrued to the Muslims through the wars with the Persians. The treasures of Chosroes fell into their hands and when Umar sent Zaynab a pile of gold as her share of the treasure, she called her maid and bade her take a handful and give it to so-and-so, naming one of the poor of Medina. She named one after another of the poor, until all the poor she knew had been provided for, while her maid kept observing that she was leaving nothing for herself. The pile began to diminish quickly. When all the poor had taken a share, she ordered her to uncover the pile. All that was left was eighty dinars. She accepted this as her portion and thanked Allah for it, but believing Umar's distributing so much money to be a temptation, she prayed that she might never witness another such distribution. By the same time next year when Umar came to distribute money again to the Mothers of the Believers, she had passed away.
All the wives of the Messenger were generous, useful, and frugal. Although they came from noble houses, and were used to every luxury before Islam (the daughter of Abdul-Muttalib, Mohamed's aunt, gave forty of her slaves their freedom in a single day). After accepting Islam, when given the choice by Mohamed, they accepted living as frugally as he did. They could have had all the luxuries they desired or they could be the Messenger's wives, but they could not have both at the same time. After having been waited upon hand and foot, they vied with each other to do good, help those in need, and study the Holy Book.
The Messenger taught more by deed than by words. Aisha says of him,
"He used to help out his family, he milked the goat, mended his clothes, repaired his sandals, swept the floor, tied the camel, and fed the cattle. He ate with the servant and made the dough with her and he carried what he bought from the market himself."
He used to teach his wives and Companions,
"Your servants are your brethren whom Allah has placed under your care. He who has a brother under his care, let him feed him of what he eats and dress him of what he wears. When a servant comes in with food, let him sit and eat with you. If this is not possible, then hand him some of it. Let none of you say, ‘My slave,’ for you are all the slaves of Allah, but say rather, 'my boy' or 'my woman'."