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The Prophet (pbuh) asked people to be just and kind. As the supreme judge and arbiter, as the leader of men, as generalissimo of a rising power, as a reformer and apostle, he had always to deal with men and their affairs. He had often to deal with mutually inimical and warring tribes when showing justice to oÂne carried the danger of antagonizing the other, and yet he never deviated from the path of justice. In administering justice, he made no distinction between believers and nonbelievers, friends and foes, high and low. From numerous instances reported in the traditions, a few are given below.
Sakhar, a chief of a tribe, had helped Muhammad (pbuh) greatly in the seige of Taif, for which he was naturally obliged to him. Soon after, two charges were brought against Sakhar: oÂne by Mughira of illegal confinement of his (Mughira's) aunt and the other by Banu Salim of forcible occupation of his spring by Sakhar. In both cases, he decided against Sakhar and made him undo the wrong. (Abu Dawud, Sunan Dawud, pg.80)
Abdullah Bin Sahal, a companion, was deputed to collect rent from Jews of Khaibar. His cousin Mahisa accompanied him but, oÂn reaching Khaibar, they had separated. Abdullah was waylaid and done to death. Mahisa reported this tragedy to the Prophet (pbuh) but as there were no eye-witnesses to identify the guilty, he did not say anything to the Jews and paid the blood-money out of the state revenues (Bukhari, Sahih Bukhari Nasai).
A woman of the Makhzoom family with good connections was found guilty of theft. For the prestige of the Quraish, some prominent people including Asama Bin Zaid interceded to save her from punishment. The Prophet (pbuh) refused to condone the crime and expressed displeasure saying,
"Many a community ruined itself in the past as they oÂnly punished the poor and ignored the offences of the exalted. By Allah, if Muhammad's (My) daughter Fatima would have committed theft, her hand would have been severed." (Bukhari, Sahh Bukhari, Chapter "Alhadood")
The Jews, in spite of their hostility to the Prophet (pbuh), were so impressed by his impartiallity and sense of justice that they used to bring their cases to him, and he decided them according to Jewish law. (Abu Dawud, Sunan Dawud)
Once, while he was distributing the spoils of war, people flocked around him and oÂne man almost fell upon him. He pushed the men with a stick causing a slight abrasion. He was so sorry about this that he told the man that he could have his revenge, but the man said, "O messenger of Allah, I forgive you." (Abu Dawud, Kitablu Diyat).
In his fatal illness, the Prophet (pbuh) proclaimed in a concourse assembled at his house that if he owed anything to anyone the person concerned could claim it; if he had ever hurt anyone's person, honor or property, he could have his price while he was yet in this world. A hush fell oÂn the crowd. oÂne man came forward to claim a few dirhams which were paid at oÂnce. (Ibn Hisham, Sirat-ur-Rasul)
Muhammad (pbuh) asked people to shun notions of racial, family or any other form of superiority based oÂn mundane things and said that righteousness alone was the criterion of oÂne's superiority over another. It has already been shown how he mixed with everyone oÂn equal terms, how he ate with slaves, servants and the poorest oÂn the same sheet (a practice that is still followed in Arabia), how he refused all privileges and worked like any ordinary laborer. Two instances may, however, be quoted here:
Once the Prophet (pbuh) visited Saad Bin Abadah. While returning Saad sent his son Quais with him. The Prophet (pbuh) asked Quais to mount his camel with him. Quais hesitated out of respect but the Prophet (pbuh) insisted: "Either mount the camel or go back." Quais decided to go back. (Abu Dawud, Kitabul Adab)
On another occasion he was traveling oÂn his camel over hilly terrain with a disciple, Uqba Bin Aamir. After going some distance, he asked Uqba to ride the camel, but Uqba thought this would be showing disrespect to the Prophet (pbuh). But the Prophet (pbuh) insisted and he had to comply. The Prophet (pbuh) himself walked oÂn foot as he did not want to put too much load oÂn the animal. (Nasai pg. 803)
The prisioners of war of Badr included Abbas, the uncle of the Prophet (pbuh). Some people were prepared to forgo their shares and remit the Prophet's (pbuh) ransom but he declined saying that he could make no distinctions. (Bukhari, Sahih Bukhari, Chapter "Ransoms")
During a halt oÂn a journey, the companions apportioned work among themselves for preparing food. The Prophet (pbuh) took upon himself the task of collecting firewood. His companions pleaded that they would do it and that he need not take the trouble, but he replied,
"It is true, but I do not like to attribute any distinction to myself. Allah does not like the man who considers himself superior to his companions." (Zarqani, Vol 4 pg. 306)