Prophet King Or Slave Messenger

Author: Al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab al-Hanbalee

Source: Al-Khushoo' fis-Salaah (pp. 57-62)

Published: Saturday 11th July, 2015

The Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam chose the station of al-Ubudiyyah (slavery and servitude) over and above the station of kingship. Once - on the day of the conquest of Makkah - a man stood-up (out of reverence) for the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam, who, being shocked, said to him:

“Do not trouble yourself! Indeed, I am not a king. Rather I am merely the son of a Qurayshi woman who eats dry meat.” [Ibn Maajah (no.3312) and al-Haakim (3/47)]

It has also been authentically reported from the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam that he said:

“Do not over praise me as the Christians over-praised Eesaa son of Maryam. Indeed, I am only a slave. So call me the Slave of Allaah and His Messenger.” [Related by al-Bukhaaree (6/345), ad-Daarimee (2/320) and others]

Imaam Ahmad - rahimahullaahu ta’aala - reports from Muhammad ibn Fudayl, from Amaarah, from Abu Zur’ah who said: I do not know this except from Abu Hurayrah - radi-Allaahu ’anhu - who said:

“Jibreel was sitting with the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam looking towards the sky, when he saw an angel. So Jibreel - ’alayhis-salaam - said to him: Indeed, this angel has never descended before today. So when the angel had descended, he said: O Muhammad! I have been sent by your Lord (to inquire) whether He should make you a Prophet-King or a Slave-Messenger.” [Related by Ahmad (2/321), al-Bazzaar (no.4262) and al-Haythamee in al-Majma’ (9/18-19)]

And in a mursal narration from Yahyaa Ibn Katheer – rahimahullaah, that the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam said:

“I eat as a slave eats, and I sit as a slave sits. Since indeed I am a slave.” [Related by Ibn Sa’d in at-Tabaqaat (1/371)]

There is also a narration related by Abu Ma’dhr from al-Maqburi from Aa'ishah - radi-Allaahu ’anhaa - that the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam said:

“An angel came to me and said: Allaah sends blessings upon you and says: If you wish you may be a Prophet-Kin or a Slave-Messenger. So Jibreel - ’alayhis-salaam - indicated to me that I should humble myself: So I said: A Prophet-Slave.” So ’Aa'ishah said: So after that day, the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam never ate whilst reclining, saying: “I eat like a slave eats and I sit like a slave sits.” [Related by al-Baghawee in Sharhus-Sunnah (no.4683)]

And from the mursal narrations of az-Zuhree -rahimahullaahu ta’aala - who said:

We were informed that an angel came to the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam, who had never come to him before. Accompanying him was Jibreel - ’alayhis-salaam. So the angel spoke, and Jibreel - ’alayhis-salaam - remained silent, so he said: Your Lord inquires whether you wish to be a king or a Prophet-Slave. So the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam looked towards Jibreel - ’alayhis-salaam - as if he was seeking his advice. So Jibreel indicated that he should be humble. So Allaah’s Messenger sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam said: “A Prophet-Slave.” Az-Zuhree said: So it is said that from that day onwards, the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam never ate whilst reclining, until he departed from this world. [Mursal narration, supported by narrations that have preceded]

And it is related in the Musnad, or in the Sunan of at-Tirmidhee, from Abu Hurayrah radi-Allaahu ’anhu , from the Prophet sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam who said:

“My Lord - the Mighty and Majestic - gave me the choice that the valley of Makkah be filled with gold, but I said: No! O Lord. However, grant food to me one day, and hunger the day after. So when I am hungry I humble myself before You and remember You, and when I am full, I am grateful to You.” [Related by Ahmad (5/254) and at-Tirmidhee (no.2348)]

Some of the knowledgeable people have said: Whoever claims al-ubudiyyah (slavery and servitude to Allaah), but desires still remain with him, then he is lying in his claim. Indeed, al-ubudiyyah will only be true for the one who annihilates his desires and establishes the will of his Master, where his name is what He called him (i.e. ibaadur-Rahmaan: the Slaves of the Most Merciful).

Al-Haafidh Abu Nu’aym - rahimahullaahu ta’aala - relates in the book: Asmaa‘us-Sabaabah, by way of Shaykh Abu Sulaymaan ad-Darani (d.215H) - rahimahullaahu ta’aala - who related from ’Alqamah ibn al-Haarith al-Azdi, from his father, from his grandfather who mentioned the saying of Luqmaan the wise when he said to his son:

“I have gathered my wisdom for you in six sentences: Work for this world in proportion to how long you shall remain in it, and work for the Hereafter in proportion to how long you shall remain in it. Commit acts of sin in proportion to how much you can endure it. Act for Allaah in accordance to how much you are in need of Him. Commit acts of disobedience in accordance to how much you can endure the punishment. Do not ask except from the One who is in need of no one. And when you intend to commit a sin against Allaah, then do it in a place where He cannot see you.”

Ibraaheem al-Khawwaas - rahimahullaahu ta’aala - said:

“The cure for the hearts is in five things: reciting the Qur‘aan with reflection and contemplation; emptying the stomach (i.e. frequent fasting); praying at night; humbling oneself in the early hours of the morning; and being in the company of the saaliheen (righteous).”

Ibraaheem ibn Adham (d.160H) - rahimahullaahu ta’aala - said in an admonition, when he was asked (by some people) about the saying of Allaah - the Most High -:

“Call upon Me and I will respond to you.” [40:60]

(They said): “We call upon Him, but He does not respond to us.”

So he said to them:

“You know Allaah, yet you do not obey Him. You recite the Qur‘aan, but you do not act according to it. You know Shaytaan, but still agree with him. You claim to love Allaah’s Messenger sal-Allaahu 'alayhe wa sallam, yet you abandon his Sunnah. You claim to love Paradise, yet you do not work for it. You claim to fear the Fire, yet you do not stop sinning. You say: Indeed death is true, yet you have not prepared for it. You busy yourselves with the faults of others, but you do not look at your own faults. You eat the sustenance that Allaah provides for you, yet you are not grateful to Him. You bury your dead, but you have not heeded its lesson.”

We ask Allaah to grant us the ability to please Him and to bestow upon us His mercy.


Return to “The Prophetic Biography”