Hazrat Zaid ibn Su`nah (ra), a great Jewish scholar, says a time came in his life when, “I recognized all of the signs of prophethood upon seeing the face of Muhammad save two … That his forbearance would precede his rashness, and that his forbearance would increase upon encountering excessive rashness.”
Hazrat Zaid (ra) says that one day a Bedouin asked Prophet Muhammad (saw) for some supplies due to a famine. Hazrat Zaid (ra), standing nearby, offered Prophet Muhammad (saw) a loan of 80 mithqaal (350 grams) of gold to give to the Bedouin, which was to be repaid on a fixed date. A few days before the repayment date, Hazrat Zaid (ra) saw Prophet Muhammad (saw) offering janaza prayer, along with Hazrat Abu Bakr (ra), Hazrat Umar (ra) and Hazrat Usman (ra) and numerous other companions. Following the prayer, Hazrat Zaid (ra) grabbed Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) shirt and cloak and angrily said, “O Muhammad! Why don’t you pay off your due?! By Allah, I know nothing of your family except deferment [on debts]. I know well of your people.” Saying this, Hazrat Zaid (ra) noticed Hazrat Umar (ra), whose eyes were whirling like a boat in a storm. He said, “O enemy of Allah! Did you actually just say what I heard to the Messenger of Allah?! Did you really just do to him what I saw?! By the One Who holds my life in His hand, if I were not concerned with [Prophet Muhammad (saw)] leaving us, I would have struck your head with my sword!” Prophet Muhammad (saw), who was looking quietly and patiently at Hazrat Zaid (ra), said, “O Umar! We don’t need this. I was more in need of your advice to pay off his loan well, and he with your advice to deal courteously. Go with him Umar, pay off his loan, and give him 20 extra saa` (44 kilos) of dates because you frightened him.”
Hazrat Umar (ra) did as instructed. Soon after, Hazrat Zaid (ra) explained that he had behaved this way because he wanted to see the two remaining signs of prophethood mentioned above. Hazrat Zaid (ra) then professed that he had become a Muslim and, along with Hazrat Umar (ra), went to Prophet Muhammad (saw) and publicly declared Shahada (Tabarani).
Of the many lessons that can be taken from this story, one is the value of controlling one’s anger. It proved to be the final step before the conversion of Hazrat Zaid (ra).
And corroborating Hazrat Zaid’s (ra) statement, Prophet Muhammad (saw) exhibited this behavior throughout his life. On another occasion, a Bedouin grabbed Prophet Muhammad (saw) cloak and yanked it so hard that it bruised Prophet Muhammad (saw) neck. The Bedouin then demanded, “O Muhammad! Give me out of Allah’s wealth that you possess.” Prophet Muhammad (saw) response is striking, as he turned, smiled and instructed Hazrat Anas bin Malik (ra) to give the man something (Bukhari, Muslim).
And we see even in the presence of Prophet Muhammad (saw), anger can be overpowering. On one occasion, two men abused each other in front of Prophet Muhammad (saw), one becoming so angry that his face became swollen and changed. Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, “I know a word the saying of which will cause him to relax if he does say it.” Someone then approached the man and informed him of Prophet Muhammad’s (saw) statement and said, “Seek refuge with Allah from Satan.” But the man, despite standing before Prophet Muhammad (saw), was so angry that he yelled, “Do you find anything wrong with me? Am I insane? Go away!” (Bukhari).
Thus, a spiritually fit Muslim reminds himself of the Qur’an’s love for people described as
وَالْكَاظِمِينَ الْغَيْظَ وَالْعَافِينَ عَنِ النَّاسِ
“and those who suppress anger and pardon men” (3:135).
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