Prophet Muhammad and Wealth: Did Muhammad make up Islam for Wealth and Money?
    Ehteshaam Gulam

One of the arguements from the Orientalists is that the reason why Prophet Muhammad made up Islam was so he could become wealthy or as time went on he became
more money hungry and fabricated Islam in order to get rich. However if we look at the Prophet's life we see that this arguement doesn't hold up.

One argument that opponents put forth is the fact that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had several houses and they would quote Quran 33:53 in order to demonstrate this. However, just because one has several houses this does not necessarily imply that the houses are luxurious or are filled with luxurious possessions.

It is a fact that Prophet Muhamamd lived poor and died as a poor man.

The Prophet's house was not built of any precious stones just like the Kings of the past:

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 it's not like the Prophet was living in big houses. Moreover if you examine the life of the Prophet, you can see he lived a poor life. In the hadith colletions, Muslim
Hadith #3507, it shows the extreme poorness and poverty of the Prophet.

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. (Muslim Book 009, Number 3507)

Others argue that Allah made the Prophet (peace be upon him) wealthy through conquests and they put forth the following narration:

Narrated Abu Huraira:Whenever a dead man in debt was brought to Allah's Apostle he would ask, "Has he left anything to repay his debt?" If he was informed that he had left something to repay his debts, he would offer his funeral prayer, otherwise he would tell the Muslims to offer their friend's funeral prayer. When Allah made the Prophet wealthy through conquests, he said, "I am more rightful than other believers to be the guardian of the believers, so if a Muslim dies while in debt, I am responsible for the repayment of his debt, and whoever leaves wealth (after his death) it will belong to his heirs." (Bukhari Volume 3, Book 37, Number 495)

They would also state that the Qur'an says that the Prophet would receive a fifth of the war booty and cite verses from the Qur'an, such as Quran 8:1 and 41:

They ask thee concerning (things taken as) spoils of war. Say: "(such) spoils are at the disposal of Allah and the Messenger: So fear Allah, and keep straight the relations between yourselves: Obey Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe." (Quran 8:1)

And know that out of all the booty that ye may acquire (in war), a fifth share is assigned to Allah,- and to the Messenger, and to near relatives, orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer,- if ye do believe in Allah and in the revelation We sent down to Our servant on the Day of Testing,- the Day of the meeting of the two forces. For Allah hath power over all things.  (Quran 8:41)

However, as we can see the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not take this money in order to live luxuriously. He used to take that money and give it away in charity instead of keeping it for himself. The following can be found in the Hadith:

Umar ibn Al Khattab says "So this property was especially given to Allah's Apostle, but, by Allah, neither did he take possession of it and leave your, nor did he favour himself with it to your exclusion, but he gave it to all of you and distributed it amongst you till this property remained out of it. Allah's Apostle used to spend the yearly expenses of his family out of this property and used to keep the rest of its revenue to be spent on Allah's Cause. Allah's Apostle kept on doing this during all his lifetime." (Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 53 Number 326)

"The properties abandoned by Banu Nadir were the ones which Allah bestowed upon His Apostle These properties were particularly meant for the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him). He would meet the annual expenditure of his family from the income thereof, and would spend what remained for purchasing horses and weapons as preparation for Jihad." (Shaih Muslim Book 19 Number 4347) 

The Prophet (peace be upon him) would use whatever wealth (which was very little) was necessary in order to take care of his family.

Prophet Muhamamd also gave away a lot of war booty to chairty and towards others as this hadith states:

Narrated Anas: The Prophet gathered some people of Ansar and said, "The People of Quraish are still close to their Pre-lslamic period of ignorance and have suffered a lot, and I want to help them and attract their hearts (by giving them the war booty). Won't you be pleased that the people take the worldly things) and you take Allah's Apostle with you to your homes?" They said, "Yes, (i.e. we are pleased with this distribution)." The Prophet said, "'If the people took their way through a valley and the Ansar took their way through a mountain pass, then I would take the Ansar's valley or the Ansar's mountain pass." (Bukhari Volume 5, Book 59, Number 623)

In Mecca, Prophet Muhammad used to preach the worship of One God which annoyed the Meccan leaders. The Meccan leaders used to resort to offering the
Prophet lots of money to stop preaching Islam. The Meccans offered the Prophet (peace be upon him) wealth and fame in return for him to stop preaching Islam, but he refused. To this offer he replied:

By Allah, if they put the sun on my right and the moon on my left to leave this matter, I would not, until Allah shows me otherwise or I die trying for its sake. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah, Volume 1, page 265)

If his motive really was making up Islam just so he could be wealthy then he would have taken the Meccan's offer of money, women, etc and stopped preaching Islam.
But he didn't do that. He refused to take up the Meccan offer and continued to preach Islam in Mecca and was persecuted because of it.

Also, it's not like the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his wives were living luxuriously:

Narrated Abu Hazim: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." (Muslim Volume 7, Number 324)

Narrated 'Aisha: The bed mattress of the Prophet was made of a leather case stuffed with palm fibres. (Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, Number 463)

Moreover the Prophet and his family were so poor that the Prophet would pray for food:

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "O Allah! Give food to the family of Muhammad." (Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, Number 467)

Narrated 'Aisha: A complete month would pass by during which we would not make a fire (for cooking), and our food used to be only dates and water unless we were given a present of some meat. (Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, Number 465)

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)

Prophet Muhammad was poor and even made a prayer (a dua in Arabic) to remain poor as this hadith demonstrates:

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: "O God, grant me life as a poor man, cause me to die as a poor man and resurrect me in the company of the poor." His wife asked him why he said that, and he replied: "Because (the poor) will enter Paradise (before) the rich. Do not turn away a poor man even if all you can give is half a date. If you love the poor and bring them near you God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection." (Tirmidhi, Hadith Number 1376)

Prophet Muhammad died without anything. The following can be demonstrated by these two hadith:

Narrated 'Amir bin Al-Harith: Allah's Apostle (Prophet Muhammad) did not leave a Dinar or a Dirham or a male or a female slave. He left only his white mule on which he used to ride, and his weapons, and a piece of land which he gave in charity for the needy travelers. (Bukhari Volume 5, Book 59, Number 738)

Narrated Amr bin Al-Harith: (The brother of the wife of Allah's Apostle. Juwaira bint Al-Harith) When Allah's Apostle died, he did not leave any Dirham or Dinar (i.e. money), a slave or a slave woman or anything else except his white mule, his arms and a piece of land which he had given in charity . (Bukhari Volume 4, Book 51, Number 2)

It is also said that Prophet Muhammad encouraged giving in charity and to the poor, needy, orphans, etc:

Prophet Muhammad encouraged others and women to give alms. The following Hadith show that Prophet Muhammad was very Generous towards people.

Narrated Haritha bin Wahab : I heard the Prophet saying, "O people! Give in charity as a time will come upon you when a person will wander about with his object of charity and will not find anybody to accept it, and one (who will be requested to take it) will say, "If you had brought it yesterday, would have taken it, but to-day I am not in need of it." (Bukhari Volume 2, Book 24, Number 492)

Narrated Ibn Abbas: The Prophet offered a two Rakat prayer on the Day of Id ul Fitr and he did not pray before or after it. Then he went towards women along with Bilal and ordered them to pay alms and so they started giving their earrings and necklaces (in charity). (Bukhari Volume 2, Book 15, Number 81)

Narrated Ibn Abbas : I am a witness that Allah's Apostle offered the Id prayer before delivering the sermon and then he thought that the women would not be able to hear him (because of the distance), so he went to them along with Bilal who was spreading his garment. The Prophet advised and ordered them to give in charity. So the women started giving their ornaments (in charity). (The sub-narrator Aiyub pointed towards his ears and neck meaning that they gave ornaments from those places such as ear-rings and necklaces.) (Bukhari Volume 2, Book 24, Number 529)

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:  "Allah's Apostle was the most generous of all the people, and he used to reach the peak in generosity in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel met him. Gabriel used to meet him every night of Ramadan to teach him the Qur'an. Allah's Apostle was the most generous person, even more generous than the strong uncontrollable wind (in readiness and haste to do charitable deeds).  (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Revelation, Volume 1, Book 1, Number 5)"

Narrated Ibn Abbas:  "The Prophet was the most generous of all the people, and he used to become more generous in Ramadan when Gabriel met him. Gabriel used to meet him every night during Ramadan to revise the Qur'an with him. Allah's Apostle then used to be more generous than the fast wind.  (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Virtues and Merits of the Prophet (pbuh) and his Companions, Volume 4, Book 56, Number 754)"

Narrated Abu Huraira:  "Allah's Apostle said, The example of a miser and a generous person is like that of two persons wearing iron cloaks from the breast up to the neck When the generous person spends, the iron cloak enlarges and spread over his skin so much so that it covers his fingertips and obliterates his tracks. As for the miser, as soon as he thinks of spending every ring of the iron cloak sticks to its place (against his body) and he tries to expand it, but it does not expand. The Prophet pointed with his hand towards his throat.  (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Divorce, Volume 7, Book 63, Number 219i)"

Narrated AbuSalamah ; AbuHurayrah:  "The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: The believer is simple and generous, but the profligate is deceitful and ignoble.  (Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, General Behavior (Kitab Al-Adab), Book 41, Number 4772)"

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: "I went to the Prophet in the mosque (the sub-narrator Mas'ar thought that Jabir had said, "In the forenoon.") He ordered me to pray two Rakat. He owed me some money and he repaid it to me and gave more than what was due to me.   (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 8, Number 434)"

Narrated Jabir ibn Abdullah: "The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) owed me a debt and gave me something extra when he paid it.   (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 22, Number 3341)"

Narrated Abu Huraira: "The Prophet owed a camel of a certain age to a man who came to demand it back. The Prophet ordered his companions to give him. They looked for a camel of the same age but found nothing but a camel one year older. The Prophet told them to give it to him. The man said, "You have paid me in full, and may Allah pay you in full." The Prophet said, "The best amongst you is he who pays his debts in the most handsome manner."  (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 41, Number 578)"

Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported: "Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) owed (something) to a person. He behaved in an uncivil manner with him. This vexed the Companions of the Holy Prophet (may peace be upon him), whereupon Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) said: He who has a right is entitled to speak, and said to them (his Companions): Buy a camel for him and give that to him. They said: We do not find a camel (of that age) but one with better age than that. He said: Buy that and give that to him, for best of you or best amongst you are those who are best in paying off debt. (Sahih Muslim, Book 010, Number 3898)"


We can see that Prophet Muhammad lived a very poor life. His family at points wouldn't even have food to eat for several days. His family would only have dates and water for food. (See Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, Number 465-- the above hadith). For Prophet Muhammad worldly things, money, wealth, comforts had no attraction for him.

Further Reading: