Prophet Muhammad was a perfect model of modesty and humbleness. He never spoke loudly or in an unseemly manner. In the market, he always passed by the people quietly with a smile. Whenever he heard anything undesirable in an assembly, he did not say anything out of respect for the people, but the color of his face showed his feelings and the Companions became cautious. `Aa’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said that she never saw Allah’s Messenger laughing so that she could see his molar teeth, for he only used to smile.
`Abdullaah Ibn Maslamah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: "Modesty is a part of the teachings of the previous Prophets and anyone who lacks it is most likely to do whatever he likes." Zayd, may Allah be pleased with him, reported Allah’s Messenger as saying: "Every religion has a character and the character of Islam is modesty."
The Messenger of Allah lived a simple and modest life, both in Makkah as a trader before his Prophethood, and in Al-Madeenah as the Head of the State after being commissioned as Allah’s Messenger. The change in his social status from that of a trader in Makkah to the Head of the State in Al-Madeenah did not bring any change in his modest living. `Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet said: " Do not extol me as did the Christians extol ‘Eesa (Jesus), the son of Mary; I am only a slave, so say ‘the Slave of Allah and His Messenger’.”
The Prophet did not behave towards others as if he was better than they were, nor did he spurn manual work. `Abdullaah bin Abi `Awfa, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet of Allah, never refrained from going with a slave or a widow to accomplish his or her tasks. Others reported that the Prophet used to tidy up his house, tie the camels, feed the animals, take food with his servants, and help them in kneading dough and bringing provisions from the market. Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet of Allah used to visit the sick, attend funerals, ride a donkey and accept a slave’s invitation for a meal. Jaabir, may Allah be pleased with him, stated that the Prophet used to slow down his pace for the sake of the weak and also prayed for them.
When `Adiyy ibn Haatim, may Allah be pleased with him, came to see the Prophet he called him inside his house. A maidservant brought a cushion to rest on, but the Prophet placed it between him and `Adiyy, may Allah be pleased with him, and sat down on the floor. `Adiyy later said that he had then immediately realized that the Prophet was not a king. A similar incident was reported by `Abdullaah ibn `Amr ibn Al-`Aas, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: “Once when the Messenger of Allah came to my house, I gave him a cushion filled with bark, but he sat down on the floor placing the cushion between me and him.”
Prophet Muhammad was humble in all matters. Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet would accept an invitation even if he was presented barley bread and soup whose taste had changed. He also reported that the Prophet said: "I am Allah’s servant, I eat like a servant and sit like a servant.”
On one of his journeys, the Prophet asked his companions to roast a goat. One said that he would slaughter the animal; another said that he would skin it, while a third said that he would cook it. The Prophet then said that he would collect wood for fuel. Their response was: “O Messenger of Allah! We will do everything.” The Prophet then said: “I have no doubt that you will. But I do not like distinctions to be made, nor does Allah like any one of His servants to assert his superiority over his companions.”
His self-deprecation was such that he once said: “By Allah, I do not know, even although I am Allah’s messenger, what my fate in the next world will be, nor do I know what yours will be.”
Abu Tharr Al-Ghifaari, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that one day he was sitting with another companion of black complexion whom he addressed as: “O black man.” When the Prophet heard of this, he was greatly displeased and cautioned Abu Tharr never to make scornful remarks to anyone, whoever he might be, and to accord equal treatment to all, adding: “No white man has any superiority over a black man.”
The Prophet once saw a wealthy Muslim gathering up his loose garments so that a certain distance would be kept between himself and a poor Muslim sitting close by. He remarked: “Do you fear that his poverty will cling to you?”
The Prophet lived like any ordinary person, and did not assume any superior rights. He once had to borrow some money from a Jew called Zayd ibn Sana’a. The Jew came to demand the immediate return of the loan a few days before the expiry of the stipulated period. Tugging at the mantle around the Prophet’s shoulders, he jibed that the progeny of ‘Abd Al-Muttalib were always defaulters.
`Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, not being able to tolerate this misbehavior on the part of the Jew, started berating him, and was on the point of beating him when the Prophet said to the Jew, smiling: “There are still three days to go before the promise has to be fulfilled.” To ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, he said: “We might have had better treatment from you. You could have advised me to be more careful about the return of loans and you could have advised the Jew to be more courteous in demanding repayment.” He then requested ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, to get some dates so that the loan could be repaid, and to give the Jew an extra forty kilograms for the rebuke he had been given.
We can say that humbleness is seen in every sphere of the Prophet’s life. His way of talking, walking, sitting, eating and every aspect of his life reflected humbleness.