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Lessons in humility

It so happened that the death of Prophet’s son, Abraham, coincided with a solar eclipse. From ancient times, in Arabia, people believed that solar and lunar eclipses were caused by the death of some important person. Thus, the people of Madinah began attributing the eclipse to the death of the Prophet’s son. This caused the Prophet immense displeasure, for it contradicted a human being’s humble position in the world. He collected the people and addressed them as follows: “Eclipses of the sun and moon are not due to the death of any human being; they are just two of God’s signs. When you see an eclipse, then you should pray to God.”

On one of his journeys, the Prophet asked his Companions to roast a goat. One volunteered to slaughter the animal, another to skin it, and another to cook it. The Prophet said that he would collect wood. “Messenger of God,” his Companions protested, “we will do all the work.” “I know that you will do it,” the Prophet replied, “but that would amount to discrimination, which I don’t approve of. God does not like people to assert any superiority over their companions.”

One day Abu Dharr al-Ghafari was sitting next to a Muslim who was black. Abu Dharr addressed him as “Black Man”. The Prophet was very displeased upon hearing this. “Whites are not superior to blacks,” he said. As soon as the Prophet admonished him, Abu Dharr became conscious of his error. He cast himself to the ground in remorse, and said to the person he had offended: “Stand up, and rub your feet on my face.”


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