Prophets Life and
Mission as a Messenger
Mission as a Messenger
Prophetic responsibilities are greater
In order to answer this question we need to understand the status and position of a prophet in Islam. The rules in Islam for a prophet are different from those given to a believer in the sense that they have more responsibilities and that is due to their ability and capacity to do more. For instance the question why Allah ﷻ allows only four wives to a believer? The permission to marry up to four wives for a believer is more of a responsibility rather than pleasures and this is confirmed by the fact that Allah ﷻ has burdened him with financial responsibilities and has exempted women from such. Also while keeping those two or three or four together, a believer has to make sure to dispense equal justice and treatment which is not very easy. Therefore while Allah ﷻ allows a believer to marry up to four He does remind him: “if you fear that you shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then (marry) only one.” What is necessary to understand about a Prophet is that they have capacity to treat them all justly and therefore the mission given to them allows them to carry responsibilities in relation to their capacity. In one of his answers to the same question, one of the modern leading scholars Sheikh Gibril Haddad mentions that there are certain rules permissible for the Prophet ﷺ only and the scholars of Islam have referred to them under Khasa'is al- Nabawiyya (الخصائص النبوية) or "Exclusive Prophetic characteristics." Great Imams such as Jalaaluddin Suyuti and Qadi Iyad have mentioned them in their books. Some of those fall in the category of wajib (obligatory); others in the mustahabb (recommended); others in the mubah (permissible); others in the makruh (dislike); and others in the haram (forbidden). (S. G. Haddad 2003). I have listed these characteristics from the Sheikh’s article with sources from Quran and prophetic hadith to explain each.
Tahajjud (Late Night Prayer)
An example of a Prophetic wajib is tahajjud or late night praying for most of the night. This was made obligatory for him, he never missed it. This same prayer is a Sunnah for the remaining believers i.e. non-obligatory and not wajib (obligatory).
Eating garlic and onions
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “Whoever eats from offensive plant let him stay away from the mosque, for the angels are harmed by the same things that harm people.” In this, he merely informed them to be away from masjid in case on consumption but did not made it haraam (forbidden) for us. For himself it was Haram (forbidden) and he never consumed it.
Zakat (Obligatory Charity)
Another example of the Prophetic haram (forbidden) is the acceptance of zakat (obligatory charity), one of the five pillars of Islam. Zakat on Prophets is haram and in fact, it is haraam on his true descendants, the Syeds. On the other hand, Zakat is mubah (permitted) for the entire Ummah.
No Property Inheritance
Another example is that it is haraam (forbidden) for Prophets to leave any inheritance other than sadaqa (charity) for poor. While anything any Muslim leaves is obligatorily inheritance and their property is distributed to the heirs as specified in Islamic Law i.e. Shariah. This is obviously due to Prophetic hadith that: “Indeed the scholars are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets do not leave behind Dinar or Dirham. The only legacy of the scholars is knowledge, so whoever takes from it, then he has indeed taken the most able share.”
More than four Wives
An example of the Prophetic mubah (permissible) is his having more than four wives while it is haram (forbidden) for the ummah (his nation) to have more than four. Another example is that he could marry any man's widow while it is haram for the entire Umma to marry any of his widows after him because they are literally like our mothers, and some said, because his life in the barzakh is literal. (Please read for more info my post Dearer Than Our Own Parents)
Drinking or urinating while standing
Certain acts were mubah (permissible) for the Prophet such as sitting or standing while drinking water or urinating. It is makruh (disliked) for the believers.
Congregational tarawih (night prayers during holy month of Ramadaan) and itikaaf (seclusion in Ramadaan)
These acts are sunnah and not wajib (obligatory) for the ummah but they were to be strictly observed by the Prophet of Allah ﷺ as he himself said: “I saw what you were doing and the only thing that prevented me from coming out to you was that I feared that it would become obligatory (fard) for you.” These were obligatory on him only.
Another example of the Prophetic mustahabb (recommended) was fasting without breaking fast for longer than one day and night. Fasting so rigorously was the habit of our Prophet, peace and blessing be upon him. While such type of continuous fasting is Haraam (forbidden) or Makruh (disliked) for the Ummah. It is recorded that the Prophet fasted for days continuously; the people also did the same but it was difficult for them. Therefore, the Prophet forbade them (to fast continuously for more than one day). They said: “But you fast without break (no food was taken in the evening or in the morning).” The Prophet replied, “I am not like you, for I am provided with food and drink (by Allah).” This was mustahab (recommended) for the Prophet because he used to receive spiritual sustenance from unseen, something not every other believer can access except in the case of some saints and sufis in Islam.
Battle on a Mule
There are other rulings that only the Prophet (sallAllahu alaihi wassallam), did such as going into battle on a mule when no one had the courage to use a mule but used either a horse or a camel. For other believers its mustahabb (recommended) to use camel or horse and not a mule. It is also a fact that companions would sometimes hide behind the Prophet during battle due to fact that he was divinely assisted.
Enjoyments of life
Eating delicious foods and living luxuriously is mubah (permissible) for the ummah but haraam and makruh (disliked) for the Prophet ﷺ. It is due to this reason he was always the poorest among all his followers and would go without food for days while he was someone who held such a great status that with one ishara (sign) the companions were ready to sacrifice themselves for him. It was such hardships and difficulties that the Prophet including his eleven wives went through that Allah ﷻ reminded them of their status: “O Prophet! Say to your wives: If you desire this world's life and its adornment, then come, I will give you a provision and allow you to depart a goodly departing. And if you desire Allah and His Apostle and the latter abode (hereafter), then surely Allah has prepared for the doers of good among you a mighty reward.”
Allah ﷻ gave all his eleven wives the option to leave or stay but they chose to stay! Thus, the exclusive characteristics of the Prophet in Islam are many and differ from those given to other believers and this is due to the status the Prophet had with Allah ﷻ and His nearness. Therefore, this needs to be kept in mind when understanding why he married eleven wives while others were not burdened as much.
 Al Quran 4:3
 Haddad, Sheikh Gibril. 2003. "Sex with slaves and women's rights." Living Islam Islamic Tradition. 06 02. Accessed 02 26, 2019. https://www.abc.se/home/m9783/ir/f/Sex_w.slaves.a.women.html.
 Jalaluddin Al-Suyuti 1445–1505 AD – one of the greatest Islamic scholars during Middle Age period. He was adherent of the Shafii Madhhab.
 Iyad ibn Musa (1083-1149 CE) – A famous Qadi in Emirate of Granada and author of well-known Ash-Shifa.
 Sunan ibn Majah - Vol. 1, Book 5, Hadith 1016 – Sunnah.com
 Jami` at-Tirmidhi 2682 – Sunnah.com
 Muwatta Malik - Book 6, Hadith 1 – Sunnah.com
 Sahih al-Bukhari 1922 – Sunnah.com
Al Quran 33:28–29