The short answer to your question is yes, Rasulullah (the apostle of Allah) did everything he taught his ummah to do. He was a leader who lead by example.
The long answer to your question is, it's complicated. Very complicated. Therefore, permit me to indulge in a sample of the complexity belied by your question.
Perhaps the best and simplest basis to answer your question is this ayah:
Translation: There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern (example) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the
Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often. Surah Al-Ahzaab, verse
There is also a long hadith in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, the beginning of which states:
Yazid ibn Yabnus said, "We went to 'A'isha and said, 'Umm al-Mu'minin,
what was the character of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him
and grant him peace, like?' She replied, 'His character was the
Qur'an. (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad by Imam Bukhari)
Both of these sources make it very, very clear that Rasulullah did everything he was commanded. He examplified the very methodology of the Qur'an through his actions; that is why hadith have such a lofty and elevated status in Islam. They prevent people from just interpreting verses any way they desire; they lock down the meaning with concrete examples.
As for being hardcore, Aisha narrates:
'A'isha reported: Never did Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him)
make a choice between two things but adopting the easier one as
compared to the difficult one, but his choice for the easier one was
only in case it did not involve any sin, but if it involved sin he was
the one who was the farthest from it amongst the people. (Saheeh
This exhibits one of the most interesting characteristics of Rasulullah: he wanted ease for the ummah. He knows the practicality of our human existance. Islam is a very humane religion; it deals with people on their reality, not just on someone's ideas of what people should be like. And note, that he always chose the easier permissible alternative; he never chose a haram route. He never said "I can't pray five times a day, I have to work," or other statements that people make today, claiming that Islam is "too hard."
As to the fiqh, you ask a question which can be rewritten as: how can there be a hadith saying rasulullah prohibited X, but he did it himself? This is a very deep question. As I've already shown, he's our living example. We turn to the books of usool ul-fiqh, the science of deriving fiqh, for our answer.
There are many reasons that, although a hadith or ayah may say something, we do not implement it exactly. These reasons can include:
- A text is specific to Rasulullah only. This includes things like Allah permitting him to marry seven women simultaneously, although the norm for the rest of us is up to four.
- A text may be for a specific case only. In the case of Rasulullah urinating standing, the context of the hadith tells us that this is because he was in an area that was essentially a trash dump. In many other ahadith, we see him urinating while squatting.
- A text may be superseded/abrogated. There are two ayaat in Surah Baqarah about a woman's 'iddah from being widowed. The earlier ruling indicates one year, while the second ayah, which was the final ruling until the Day of Judgment, indicates four months and ten days.
- A text by itself may not be enough to derive the ruling. For example, the Qur'an says, pray morning and evening. It does not indicate when and how to make takbeer, rukoo', sujood, etc. To determine these things, you need to collect a wealth of different ahadith, and sort through them.
No doubt, these are a small set of reasons which may contribute to us not apparently following a text indicating some ruling; there are many, many more reasons. Ultimately, Allah says:
Translation: And We sent not before you except men to whom We revealed [Our message]. So ask the people of the message if you do not
know. (Surah An-Nahl, verse 43)
We don't try to derive fiqh or necessarily understand ahadith about rulings ourselves. When in doubt, ask a scholar or imam who you believe has taqwa and whom you can trust.
And Allah knows best.
- Usool ul-Fiqh class (live and recorded), circa 2006-2010
- Fiqh of Salah course, circa 2007
- Adab and akhlaaq course, circa 2008