Describing a short slice of twenty-four hours, or a day, in the life of a person who lived a normal life would be seriously inadequate for getting to know that person. For almost no day is lived the same as another. Moreover, if that person is an exceptional person like our Prophet, the task becomes even more difficult. In spite of this difficulty, by dividing a day into certain periods, I tried to take into consideration tasks that are generally done within that time period, even if not the same day, in the light of sound references.
Due to days during the Age of Happiness and immediately later periods passing around a mosque and being centered on prayer, I divided the day into the number of prayer times which is five. Because nighttime had a special significance for our Prophet and those following his path, I also added that as a distinct period of time.
Daily life on the planet begins in the morning before sunrise. From the formation of dew to the opening of blossoms, from the singing of birds to the gentle blowing of the wind, all creatures sit together at a circle of dhikr in their own unique language before the sun rises. Man also consciously participates in this circle of dhikr and begins his day with different dhikr and activities, salat in particular.
Muhammad (pbuh) also started the day with salat. However, after the morning adhan was called by Abdullah ibn Ummi Maktum, (1) one of the Companions, our Prophet would make the sunnah prayer in his room and then go to the masjid to lead the fard salat. With the exception of those who had a serious excuse for not coming to the masjid, all Muslims in Medina tried to pray every fard salat behind the Prophet.
Every day after salat he would first make tesbihat (litanies of praise) and recite scripture appropriate to that time until the sun reached a certain height. Then the Prophet would turn his face towards the Companions, sit cross-legged and talk with the Companions. Many issues related to human needs were discussed during these talks from daily topics to historical memoirs, from interpretation of dreams to service to the faith, and from questions and answers to solutions for people's problems. In other words, immediately after the circle of worship, there was a circle of knowledge and culture. (2) What this at least one hour of "Prophet Talk' gained for its listeners everyday during the most productive time of the day could only be understood by those who lived it. The superiority of the Companions should be sought here.
If he had no other place to go after performing the forenoon salat, the Prophet would return home and ask if there was anything to eat there. If there was, he would have breakfast; otherwise, he would say, "then I'm fasting" (3) and he would fast for the day. When there was something to eat, it generally was milk, dates, a few slices of dry barley bread, etc. He would eat whatever he found at home; he did not make distinctions among food.
Unlike today, the Prophet's eating a meal was not central to his life: daily life was not shaped by mealtimes, not much time was spent on eating, it was not a problem when there was no food, elaborate dinner tables were not laid out, varieties of food were not constantly mentioned during conversation, kilometers of road were not traveled to get better food, yearly food needs were not stored, tables were not set, etc. Under these circumstances, contrary to today, more time and money was available for other important things.
Prophet Muhammad would rest for a while before noon. There was sleeping and resting during the day in addition to the night due to not resting enough because of night worship and similar activities, a lack of concentration due to heavy work and stress, and the body feeling tired due to a hot climate. This is called kaylule in Islamic literature. It is possible to call this a noon nap or forenoon nap.
Noon is a time when the day reaches perfection and tends towards decline; daily tasks are brought to a certain level; a need is felt to leave work aside and rest a little; and the spirit needs a recess from the heedlessness and tiredness brought about by this transient world's passing and heavy work. The human spirit feels a great excitement and need to perform the noon prayer in order to escape from the constricting atmosphere; to ascend to the presence of our Lord on High and, folding our hands, to show gratitude and praise for blessings and to ask for help; and to put forth helplessness and bow before majesty and grandeur --especially if this salat would be performed behind the Prophet...
Yes, the Prophet would lead the noon prayer in the middle of the day for the Companions who ran to the mosque with ardent desire. If that day was Friday, then salat was gotten ready for in an entirely different way -in an enthusiastic, holiday spirit. Nails would be cut, a bath taken, new clothing put on, fragrances rubbed on, the mosque would be attended earlier than usual, the Prophet's sermon would be listened to and then salat would be performed. In particular, women and children would attend this prayer more than the other prayers.
A noon meal is not mentioned regularly in reference sources. Amounts to be paid for fitr charity or some acts of atonement are calculated according to two meals a day, which shows that there is no third meal in addition to the morning and evening meals. Thus, it is better understood how easy it is to fast for someone who eats his morning breakfast at the time of suhoor. Actually, sufficing with two meals today is a sunnah (practice of Prophet Muhammad) to not only be recommended, but practiced in that it gains time, balances budgets and is healthier. Of course, diabetes cases, etc. are exceptions.
Occasionally, Prophet Muhammad would visit the Companions, undertake daily tasks, see to issues of interest to the public as ruler, dictate revealed verses to scribes of revelation, inform the people of urgent commands by means of proclamation and attend to guests. For example, after the eighth year of the migration, there was heavy visiting by ambassadors. Part of the day passed in meeting and hosting them, answering their questions and requests and seeing them off.
The afternoon is a time when daily work begins to wind down and when the fruit of health, peace and good works that materialized during the day is gathered.
With a sign from the Quran, (4) our Prophet would give this prayer a distinct value and Bilal would call the community to prayer with his moving voice. Because the afternoon prayer is known as one of the times of changing of the guard of the night and day angels who have the duty of protecting believers, the tesbihat after the prayer would be made longer. In fact, this topic is related in one hadith as follows: "One group of angels is beside us during the night and one group during the day. They come together at the times of morning and afternoon prayers to change guard. Although our Lord knows best the state of his servants who have prayed, still He asks the angels, ‘How did you leave my servants?' They say, ‘We left them praying and we were next to them when they prayed.'" (5)
There was a custom the Prophet usually kept: He would visit his wives after every afternoon prayer and ask how they were and what their needs were. In these customary visits his wives would offer the Prophet whatever they had with them. (6)
Evening reminds us that just as many creatures die at the end of the summer season, both man will die one day and the world will be destroyed at the beginning of Doomsday. At such a moment the human spirit ardently desires to stand in the presence of the One who is doing these important things; and saying, "God is Great," to leave everything transient aside and praise Him; to declare His glory; and to shout His greatness once again. With this desire, the Prophet often began to wait for the evening prayer before the sun set, and as soon as the adhan was recited, he would immediately stand before Allah. After the fard salat, he would pray 2-6 rakahs of the Awwabin salat and he recommended this. (7)
After the evening prayer the Prophet would gather his family together in the home of whichever wife he was going to spend the night with, and he would begin a family talk. The Prophet's family home became an environment where activities pertaining to knowledge never ceased both when he was alive and afterwards. For after the Prophet's death his wives continued these activities, opening them to a broader circle. The Prophet's family life played a big role in the communication and teaching of some special rules related to women as well as many general rules of Islamic religion. In particular, these "evening talks" can not be under estimated. Functioning just like a school, these evening talks were a cradle for the development of many unequaled scholars, with Aisha heading the list. Of course, not only topics pertaining to knowledge were discussed. Serious affection developed among members of the family who had different environments, cultures and characters; they grew to know one another better; they strove to decrease the sweet weight of the duties of prophethood together with the Prophet; from time to time they joked among themselves... in short, the atmosphere needed for a happy family was being established.
At the night prayer everywhere is enveloped in darkness; things seen in daylight become buried in non-existence; it is as if the goods belonging to a person who has died also die and are forgotten. It is like an indication that the worldly life which is given as a trial has totally ended. The greatness of the All-Mighty is shown once again to man who is frequently buried behind a curtain of familiarity. For Allah easily turns, writes, erases and changes day and night, summer and winter, this world and the next, like pages of a book. Helpless, weak, needy and seeing the future as dark, man makes the night prayer at this time; he turns to, leans on and takes refuge in Allah, a true friend whose power is all-comprehensive. The world which forgets him and is buried in darkness is forgotten by him and he spills his troubles to the hearth of mercy. Also, before falling to sleep which resembles death, just in case, he wants to perform his last worship and close his daily accounts in a beautiful way.
The Prophet would lead his Companions in the night prayer and, if there was no other important situation, he would retire to rest without speaking to anyone. Before he slept, he would pray. As is known, prayer had a very important place in his life. For in the words of the Koran, prayer is the measure of mankind's value. Aisha relates the prayer and practice of the Prophet before he went to sleep: "Every night when the Prophet went to bed, he would join both hands, blow onto them, and recite Ihlas, Falak and Nas surahs; then he would touch every part of his body that he could reach, beginning with his head, and he would repeat this three times." (8) Of course, there are other recommendations and practices to be found on this topic. For example, Ali related this: "The Prophet made this suggestion to me and Fatima: When you get into bed, repeat 33 ‘Allah-u Akbar,' 33 ‘subhannallah,' 33 alhamdulillah (34 in one report)." When Ali said that he never abandoned that practice after that day, someone asked, "Not even at the battle of Siffin?" and he replied, "Yes, not even that day..." (9)
Late nighttime reminds a person of winter, the grave and barzak (the intermediate state of existence between life and death), and how dependent his soul is on the mercy of Allah. Consequently, the tahajud prayer to be made at nighttime will be an indispensable source of light to illuminate our way in the night of the grave and the darkness of barzak
The last portion of the Prophet Muhammad's day, nighttime, was passed with a great deal of worship. Leaving the details to other works, I would like to narrate one observation of Aisha: "Our Prophet would pray at night until his feet were swollen. When it was said, ‘Hey, Messenger of Allah! Allah has forgiven your past and future sins. Why do you force yourself to worship so much in spite of this?' he would answer, ‘Should I not be a grateful servant for this blessing of Allah?'" (10)
Prophet Muhammad would rest a while after the tahajud prayer and get up for the morning-prayer at the call of the muezzin. Bilal would call the adhan before imsak, thus waking people for both suhoor and tahajud. Abdullah ibn Ummi Maktum would make the call to prayer when imsak began, indicating that the time for morning-prayer had begun.
As a result
Prophet Muhammad's daily life can be taken into consideration in very different aspects. However, regardless of how it is taken up, practices, arrangements and words that will enlighten all of mankind in every way will be met. At a time when daily life has become a nightmare, how fortunate are those who examine the Prophet's daily life and take lessons from it.
1.Bukhari, "Adhan," 11, 13, "Shahadat," 11, "Savm," 17; Muslim, "Siyam," 36-39; Nasai, "Adhan," 10.
2. Muslim, "Masajid," 286; Abu Dawud, "Salat," 301.
3. Muslim, "Siyam," 169.
4. Al-Baqara, 2:238.
5. Bukhari, "Mawakitu´s-Salat," 555.
6. Muslim, "Rada," 46; Ibid., Umdatu´l-Kari, 20/244. It is known that one of these caused a famous hadith.
7. bn Kathir, Tafsir; V, 64, 65; as-Surunbulali, Marakil-Falah, p. 74.
8. Bukhari, "Fadailu´l-Qur´an," 14, Tirmidhi, "Dua," 21.
9. Muslim, "Dhikr," 80.
10. Bukhari, "Tahajjud," 6; Muslim, "Munafiqin," 78-79; Tirmidhi, "Salat," 187.