The Prophet (salalaahu alaihi wasalam) was a man of humble means and good character. Though he had boundless riches at his disposal, he chose to adopt a simple and modest lifestyle.
Despite having gained power after conquering most of the Arabian Peninsula, he was a man of few possessions. Amr Ibn Al-Harith (radiyallahu anhu) said that when the Prophet (salalaahu alaihi wasallam) died, he left neither money nor anything else except his white riding mule, his arms, and a piece of land which he left to charity (Bukhari).
Such was his desire for the reward of the hereafter. There are valuable lessons that we can learn from the prophet’s household that can help us be more content.
1: Choose simplicity as a lifestyle
Many times I have come across people who think that because you live a simple life, you are either poor, or just plain cheap. What many fail to understand is that a person can have all the wealth of the world and yet choose to live a humble, simple life. They may place more value with the simplicity of their life, as it allows them not to lose sight of what is really important.
The Prophet (Salaalahu Alaihi Wasalam) was a successful merchant before his prophecy and once he became a prophet he attained great wealth but did not hold on to it for himself, rather he gave it to the poor, the widows, orphans, those who needed it and those who asked for it. Jabir (radiyallahu anhu) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) never said “no” to anyone who asked him for anything. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
2: Make the most of what you have
Many people believe that they can make their life easier by buying more stuff. They also would rather buy replacements for broken or old things, instead of cleaning or fixing it. Rarely do they think of recycling the stuff they already have by reusing or repurposing it.
Despite all the responsibilities the prophet (salalaahu alaihi wasallam) had, as a leader, teacher and judge, he (salalaahu alaihi wasallam) made the most out of the few possessions he had, and used to milk his goat, mend his clothes, repair his shoes, and help with the household work. (Musnad Ahmad, Hadith number 23606 and declared authentic by Shaykh Albani in Saheeh Al Jaami’, Hadith number 4937)
3: If you don’t need it, donate!
Most of us know what and how much we “need” in order to live a comfortable life; everything beyond that just becomes “stuff” we have laying around. We also know the difference between a need and a want. However most of the time when we see something we like, we tell ourselves we will keep it without asking ourselves if we really need it, and if we don’t we should really donate it or give it away as a gift.
‘Â’ishah – Allah be pleased with her – gave seventy thousand (dirham) in charity, while her own skirt used to be patched.
4: Don’t be distracted by short lived amusements
This consumerist lifestyles everyone races each other to, is only short enjoyment. Consumerism becomes too much when it extends beyond what is needed. The shop till you drop or retail therapy that promises you will feel happier doesn’t actually make anyone happier. All we are left with is the desire to want more, because when we start consuming more than we need, boundaries start being removed. In the process, we slowly start losing time, money, energy, in order to keep up.
“And the life of this world is nothing but play and amusement. But far better is the house in the hereafter for those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious). Will you not then understand?” (Quran, Al-An’aam: 32)
5: Be driven and focused
Focus on what gives you energy, what makes you happy, and what really matters. The idea is to not be limited or distracted by material possessions but to be focused on the hereafter. The prophet’s (Salallaahu Alaihi Wasalam) household lived on what was sufficient, and led the simplest of lives. The prophet (Salallaahu Alaihi Wasalam) died with only a few belongings because he would rather build his home in the hereafter, than in the dunya. As such, he invested his time in doing good deeds, helping others, and spreading and teaching the message of Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala).