How could the Prophet be patient and humble while facing criticism?

Islam Contributor
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Muhammed Prophet of Islam, Quran in background © Kitti Kahotong |

Criticism can be very tough to handle for even the most humble person, particularly if it is unfair or lacking intact. Like a knife, criticism often causes deep, festering wounds and divides the closest of friends.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was incomparable not only for his patient in the face of criticism for the establishment of the religion but also for his positive response.

With a Jewish scholar

One day the Prophet (peace be upon him) bought some wheat from a Jewish scholar, Zaid ibn Sunan and said, “I will give you this amount of dates in exchange for wheat after six months.” Zaid agrees and provides the wheat. But surprisingly, he arrived three days before six months. Then he said, “Pay my debt”.

See the humility of the Prophet! He did not talk about the agreement. But against the law, with his great character traits, he bowed his head in shame and said,

“Now I have nothing to give you. I will give you if arrangements are made.”

The Jews then began to behave harshly. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was insulted in the name of his parents and clan. Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) could not control himself after seeing such indecent behavior of the Jews and appeal to the Prophet),

“O the Messenger of Allah! Allow me I blow the neck of this infidel. I can’t stand seeing such rude treatment of you.”

Your attitude can change others

Surprisingly, the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not get angry with the Jewish scholar but expressed his displeasure with ‘Umar. Then he said Umar to repay the debt and give Zaid 20 measures in excess of that which was owed to compensate for his threatening attitude towards him. After this incident, the Jewish scholar, Zaid was fascinated by the behavior of the Prophet. Zaid realized the truth of his being a prophet and then accepted Islam.

The Prophet’s wife, Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her), reflected this character and said, “The Prophet (peace be upon him) never took revenge for his personal matters. But if it was a religious matter, he would take revenge for the sake of Allah.” (Al-Bukhari)

By not allowing the issue with Zaid to become personal, he was able to rationally evaluate the criticism. He affirmed his responsibility for paying back the debt in a timely manner.

Even though he was not late in paying back the debt, his reaction resolved the issue. And it also achieved a result that would have never been achieved, if he reacted aggressively.

With a Group of the Ansar

The Battle of Hunain was the most significant battle led by the Prophet (peace be upon him), where the spoils of war were the highest gains. The rule of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the distribution of booty was to deposit one-fifth in the exchequer and distribute the rest among the participants in the battle.

But the spoils of war, Hunain were distributed with some exceptions. Because most of the leaders and deputy leaders of Makkah had then converted to Islam. Until then, their faith was not fulfilled. So he donated more to the new Muslims, contrary to the traditional custom. Some of the Ansar were offended by this.

Some of the young Ansar from Madinah said,

“The Prophet (peace be upon him) gave more to the Quraysh and deprived us; However, the blood of the Quraysh is still flowing from our swords. We came earlier in times of danger; And the spoils of war were given to them.”

Giving guidance to the misguided

When these words reached the ears of the Prophet (peace be upon him), he gathered all the Ansar of Madinah and asked them about it. The Ansar also accepted the words. Hearing this, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Is it not true that you went astray at first, then Allah has guided you through me? You were separated, didn’t Allah unite you through me? You were poor and destitute, didn’t Allah enrich you through me?”

The Ansar heard this and said in unison, “Yes, Messenger of Allah.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) again said,

“Yes, on the other hand, it is also true that when everyone denied the religion of Muhammad, you accepted my religion as true. When my countrymen and my people abandoned me, you gave me refuge by the command of Allah. I was destitute, you helped me with my life.”

The Prophet (peace be upon him) then said in an emotional voice, “Are you not happy that the people of Makkah will return with their flocks of camels, goats? And will the Ansar of Madinah take the Messenger of Allah with them? ”

When the Ansar heard this, they shouted together, “By Allah, your decision is correct, we do not want wealth, we want to take the Messenger of Allah with us.”


Being a Prophet, he had not to give an explanation to anyone. However, his foresight guided his manner of addressing the situation.

Rather than punishing them for doubting his justice in distributing the booty, he realized their human need to understand the reasons behind his distribution. And he understood the cause for their anger which is their feeling of rejection.

Although on the surface it appeared that the reason for their criticism was the inequality in the distribution of the booty, the Prophet (peace be upon him) assumed the best of his Companions. He also realized that they needed reassurance of his love and care for them, and not that they actually believed that he was unjust.

Muslims today can benefit from the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in his manner of dealing with criticism. His manner teaches us to always assume the best, be humble and patient in all situations, and only become angry for the sake of Allah.

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