We have been taught in schools that the Prophet lived a very simple and humble life. That is he hardly have enough food at home so that it would not last for the day. He would have patches in his clothes, because he was really humble and did not need expensive clothes. But else where recently I read somewhere that the Prophet was actually rich. My question is did the Prophet live a simple and humble life? Did he have limited means and a life poor mans life? Did all of his wives live in one home or had separate home? For short what was his wealth status?
The Prophet (SAW) acquired great wealth but did not hold on to it for himself, rather he (SAW) gave it to the poor, the needy, the tribes to sooth communal relations, to the ones whose hears were inclined towards Islam, for the military, for the beggars, for any who needed or any who asked. He (SAW) lived on what was sufficient, and died with only a few belongings.
"Our property will not be inherited, whatever we (i.e. prophets) leave is sadaqa"
The Prophet Mohammad(sawwas) can be divided into many stages:
- Born: Our prophet born orphaned, his father(as) died before his born and he lived with his mother Amena(a.s.). The economic state was fine because they were living from his father's trade incomes and help from his grandfather Abd-Almotalleb(as).
- Living with grandfather: In the age of 6 his mother died and he grandfather Abd-Almotalleb(as). The economic state was fine. His grandfather was one of the governors of Kuraish.
- Living with his Uncle: In the age of 8 his grandfather died and he went to live with his uncle Abo-Taleb(as). Abo-Taleb(as) was one of kuraish governors but his economic state was not that perfect. So in this stage Prophet Mohammad(sawwas) decided to work with his Uncle(as),so first he went with him at age of 12 in a trade to Syria(Sham), but due to the monk say about him Abu-taleb(a.s.) returned back to Mecca and never take him again because he failed afraid for him,after that he worked in livestock and he started to make his own wealth.
- Trading with KHadijah(a.s.): By age of 25 he shared a trade with Khadijah(a.s.). This stage Prophet(sawwas) began to be one of the wealthy men in Kuraish.
- Marriage with Khadijah(as): Khadijah(a.s.) was one of the most rich women in Arabs, and Prophet(sawwas) had has a reasonable income from his trading.
- Boycott in Abo-Taleb terrain: Kuraish and most of Arabic families decided to boycott Muslims. In this stage Prophet Mohammad(sawwas) spent his wealth and his wife's(as) welath. This was the worst stage in his life.
- The rest of his life: Normally he was just fine, he had a normal life same as other regular Muslims.
Now back to your question, you have to consider that Prophet(sawwas) was able to be the most rich person in the world, but he didn't did that. He just lived normally as any other simple Muslim. This doesn't mean that he was Poor.
ووجدك عائلاً فأغنى
And He found you poor and made [you] self-sufficient.
According to a hadith of Shi'ite Derham (silver coin) comes from Dar-ol-hamm (the house of suffer), and Dinar (Golden coin) comes from Dar-on-Nar (the house of fire), that is, gathering silver and golden coins (or say money in general) without caring for the life of poor people would be like saving suffer and fire for ourselves, and this is what we have been prohibited from. In other words, being rich is not bad but not caring the poor people will be. Having more money to help the others more is by no means discouraged. And the prophet S.A. in Mecca had this situation, he was not a ruler at that time as there was no Islamic society established yet. His wife Khadijeh was a rich woman before she married with Muhammad the trustworthy, S.A., and she dedicated all that he had to his husband. When Muhammad S.A. became a prophet those who were absorbed to him were under restrictions from the atheists of Mecca. In the last three years of his living in Mecca (before traveling to Medina) the Muslims were boycotted by the atheists of Mecca, they became poor and there were days that they had nothing to eat. That was where the holy prophet S.A. spent all that he had for the Muslims and became poor. Then Abi-Taleb and Khadijeh A.S. died in the last year of the prohibition. After the prohibition the Prophet left Mecca to Medina and there he established a society based on Islam, a government, and he was at the top. He could have an easy life as his earns from wars and etc. but he preferred to remain his level of living at the level of the poorest in his society and he also commanded this to his succeeders, the ones Shia Muslims know as Imams.
Ali, A.S., in the times of three first Caliphs was a farmer, his income was just too much, he was perhaps one of the richest of the time, although he always used to live simple (like Soleiman A.S., the prophet, used to live when he was king), an ascetic life. Then he became the fourth Caliph and as the order of his brother Muhammad S.A. switched his life to a simple level again, sitting on the door of his house for people could more easily visit him, the Caliph, and etc.
Once Imam Sadiq A.S. was asked why he is rich and he answered because he is not the ruler. However at the same time he was living an ascetic way.
Umar ibn Al Khattab (the second caliph after Abu Bakr) states that: I visited Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), and he was lying on a mat. I sat down and he drew up his lower garment over him and he had nothing (else) over him, and that the mat had left its marks on his sides. I looked with my eyes in the storeroom of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). I found only a handful of barley equal to one sa' and an equal quantity of the leaves of Mimosa Flava placed in the nook of the cell, and a semi-tanned leather bag hanging (in one side), and I was moved to tears (on seeing this extremely austere living of the Holy Prophet), and he said: Ibn Khattab, what wakes you weep? I said: Apostle of Allah, why should I not shed tears? This mat has left its marks on your sides and I do not see in your storeroom (except these few things) that I have seen; Caesar and Chosroes are leading their lives in plenty whereas you are Allah's Messenger. His chosen one, and that is your store! He said: Ibn Khattab, aren't you satisfied that for us (there should be the prosperity) of the Hereafter, and for them (there should be the prosperity of) this world? I said: Yes. [Book 009, Number 3507]
Also A'isha reported that the pillow on which Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) reclined was of leather stuffed with palm fibre. (See also Saheeh Bukhari, Volume 8, Book Pertaining to Making the Heart Tender, Hadith number 463)
Nearby, rooms reserved for the Prophet's household were built of stones and adobe bricks with ceilings of palm leaves. [Bukhari 1/71,555,560; Za'd Al-Ma'ad 2/56]
So here we observe that the Prophet (peace be upon him) definitely did not live in a palace nor slept on luxurious beds.
Abu Hazim narrated:
I asked Sahl bin Sad, "Did Allah's Apostle ever eat white flour?" Sahl said, "Allah's Apostle never saw white flour since Allah sent him as an Apostle till He took him unto Him." I asked, "Did the people have (use) sieves during the lifetime of Allah's Apostle?" Sahl said, "Allah's Apostle never saw (used) a sieve since Allah sent him as an Apostle until He took him unto Him," I said, "How could you eat barley unsifted?" he said, "We used to grind it and then blow off its husk, and after the husk flew away, we used to prepare the dough (bake) and eat it."
Despite his responsibilities as a prophet, a teacher, a statesman, and a judge, Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to milk his goat, mend his clothes, repair his shoes, help with the household work, (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith number 23606 and declared authentic by Shaykh Albani in Saheeh Al Jaami', Hadith number 4937)
Aisha narrated: The Prophet died while his armor was mortgaged to a Jew for thirty Sa's (about 90 kilograms) of barley. [Sahih Al-Bukhari HadithHadith 5.743]
Think about it, he is a president. But his household does not eat white flour, but barley. Sometimes he cannot find money even to buy barley and he leaves his armor for a pledge.
The Prophet and his family became poor during the BOYCOTT of Muslims in mecca ( during BOYCOTT times , sura 109 was revealed ) and immediately after that , death of Khadija in 619 AD !! That time from 617-619 AD till battle of BADR in march-april 624 AD , the Prophet and his family were Poor !! But after victory in battle of badr , Allah sent down sura 8(anfal) verse 40 which says that : 1/5th of bounty should be for Allah , 1/5th for messenger and his family , 1/5th for poors , 1/5th for orphans , and remaing 1/5th for lost travelers in desert !!
This shows that the Prophet and his family got 20% of the bounties , in the battle of badr ( against meccans ) ! After that, it is highly unlikely to believe that prophet and his family remained poor!!
Moreover, prophet gave mehr of 400 dirhams to each one of his wives whom he married after victory in battle of badr( may be zainab bint jahesh was not give any mehr ) , and he manumitted ( giving money to their original masters) saffiya , juwhariya whch shows that he was not poor
And to daughter of abu sufiyan ( umm habiba , if I am correct) he gave 500 dinars or 5000 Dirhams ( 1 dinar =10 dirhams ) as Mehr !! This shows that Prophet was not Poor!
Prophet Muhammad was not that poor for his grandfather and uncle were the governors of Arab. He used do some odd job because it was customs of Arab. Allah made Hazz compulsory on him and ordered him to give Jakat. Tell me then if Muhammad (peace be upon him) was poor why Allah would ordered him to do that? I hope you got my point. Do not hamper his prestige calling him a poor.
When the Prophet (SAWW) married Khadijah a.s. she was a rich trader woman and dedicated all her wealth for promoting Islam and prophet spent all of her wealth. The Prophet had a very poorly life and spent his money for charity. He did have many things but quickly donated what he had. He had a home with one room for each wife and one roof for himself alone for prayers and meetings. Homes of the Prophet did not had door and roof. But only a curtain and leafs of date trees as roof and rain came into home. One time when the Prophet came back from a Battle saw the relatives of one of his wives had made a door for room of one of his wives. So the Prophet said you should take off this door or I divorce you. My life should remain simple.
Also a speech about life of the Prophet (SAWW) from Ayatollah Mazaheri
Yes. There is no doubt that the prophet s.a.w lived a very simple and humble life. Today we consider that the richness is having a lots of money, a luxurious car and a very big luxurious, house but it is wrong. The real treasure is having eemaan in your heart. The Prophet s.a.w has got eemaan in his heart, so he was the richest man of the universe.