Was Wealth A Motive For the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) To Fabricate Islam?
There are those that try to claim that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) might have possibly had wealth as a motive to fabricate Islam and his Prophethood.
However, when one examines the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) one would see that this does not seem at all to be plausible.
One argument that opponents put forth is the fact that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had several houses and they would quote Surah 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.
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], cited here)
Umar ibn Al Khattab (arguably, the second greatest companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and is also the second caliph after Abu Bakr) states that:
Book 009, Number 3507
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.
So here we observe that the Prophet (peace be upon him) definitely did not live in a palace nor slept on luxurious beds.
Others argue that Allah made the Prophet (peace be upon him) wealthy through conquests and they put forth the following narration:
Volume 3, Book 37, Number 495
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."
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 Surah 8, Verses 1 and 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. (See Saheeh Bukhari, Volume 4, Book of One-fifth of Booty to the Cause of Allah, Hadith number 326, where 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.")
The Prophet (peace be upon him) would use whatever wealth was necessary in order to take care of his family. Now one may argue that the Prophet (peace be upon him) used this (i.e. fabricating Islam) as a means to take care of himself and family.
However, this doesn't seem to be very convincing. Couldn't the Prophet (peace be upon him) find an easier way to earn a living? Why did he go through years of persecution in Mecca and endure humiliation and ruin his reputation amongst his friends and relatives for this purpose?
The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to actually be wealthy before his Prophethood (while he was trading with his wife Khadija). Thus, why the need to fabricate a religion?
Also, 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 for wealth then he would have taken the deal.
Also, it's not like the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his wives were living luxuriously:
Volume 7, Number 324
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."
Book 024, Number 5185:
A'isha reported that the pillow on which Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) reclined was of leather stuffed with palm fibre. (See also Saheeh Bukhari, Volume 8, Book Pertaining to Making the Heart Tender, Hadith number 463)
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)
Opponents would cite the following verse from the Qur'an:
Did He not find you (O Muhammad (Peace be upon him)) an orphan and gave you a refuge? And He found you unaware (of the Qur'an, its legal laws, and Prophethood, etc.) and guided you? And He found you poor, and made you rich?
They would then argue that this refers shows that Allah made the Prophet (peace be upon him) wealthy.
However, we have to put into consideration that this Surah was revealed early in Mecca and that is why Ibn Abbass was of the opinion:
And he also said: (Did He not find thee) O Muhammad (destitute) poor (and enrich (thee)) with the wealth of Khadijah; and it is also said this means: and made you content with that which He gave you? The Prophet (pbuh) said: "Yes, O Gabriel!" (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ?Abbâs, Commentary on Surah 93:8, Source)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) married Khadija who was wealthy. However, the Prophet married Khadija way before he became a Prophet. So it's not like the Prophet (peace be upon him) used Islam to gain wealth.
Or it could simply mean that Allah made him rich in a spiritual sense:
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And Ibn Attaa' said: And He found you poor in spirit, so He enriched your heart. (Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 93:8, Source)
Furthermore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) could have easily stolen the goods of the Meccan Kuffar that he had in his possession (since one of his jobs was being a caretaker of people's goods) while migrating to Medinah. Rather, he ensured that their property was fully returned to them despite their ill treatment of him. (This also goes to show how the Kuffar still trusted him with their property even though they accused him of fabricating Islam):
On the night of the Hijrah, Muhammad confided his plan to 'Ali ibn Abu Talib and asked him to cover himself with the Prophet's green mantle from Hadramawt and to sleep in the Prophet's bed. He further asked him to tarry in Makkah until he had returned all things left with Muhammad to their rightful owners. (Muhammad Husayn Haykal, The Life of Muhammad, Chapter: Al Hijrah or the Prophet's Emigration, Source)
This event is also recorded by Al-Bayhaqî in As-Sunan Al-Kubrâ Volume 6, page289 and Sheikh Al-Albânî declared it to authentic (hasan) in Erwaa Al Ghaleel, Hadith no.1546.
In conclusion, the argument that money could have been a motive for the Prophet (peace be upon him) to fabricate Islam does not really hold any water. If he was really in it for the money then we would expect to have seen him living a lavish life, yet this is far from reality. Just because the Prophet (peace be upon him) had much wealth in his possession, that doesn't mean that he spent it on himself. Rather, he used it for the benefit of society (e.g. helping orphans).
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