If we compare the life of Muhammad (PBUH) before his mission as a prophet and his life after he began his mission, we will conclude that it is beyond reason to think that Muhammad was a false prophet, who claimed prophethood to attain material gain, greatness, glory or power.
Before his mission as a prophet, Muhammad had no financial worries. As a successful and reputed merchant, Muhammad drew a satisfactory and comfortable income. After his mission as a prophet and because of it, he became worse off materially. To clarify this more, let us browse the following sayings on his life:
Aa’isha, Muhammad’s wife, said, “O my nephew, we would sight three new moons in two months without lighting a fire (to cook a meal) in the Prophet’s houses.” Her nephew asked, “O Aunt, what sustained you?” She said, “The two black things, dates and water, but the Prophet had some Ansar neighbors who had milk-giving she-camels and they used to send the Prophet some of its milk.”1
Sahl Ibn Sa’ad, one of Muhammad’s companions, said, “The Prophet of God did not see bread made from fine flour from the time God sent him (as a prophet) until he died.” 2
Aa’isha, Muhammad’s wife, said, “The mattress of the Prophet on which he slept, was made of leather stuffed with the fiber of the date-palm tree.”
Amr Ibn Al-Hareth, one of Muhammad’s companions, said that when the Prophet died, he left neither money nor anything else except his white riding mule, his arms, and a piece of land which he left to charity.
Muhammad lived this hard life till he died although the Muslim treasury was at his disposal, the greater part of the Arabian Peninsula was Muslim before he died, and the Muslims were victorious after 18 years of his mission.
Is it possible that Muhammad might have claimed prophethood in order to attain status, greatness, and power? The desire to enjoy status and power is usually associated with good food, fancy clothing, monumental palaces, colorful guards, and indisputable authority. Do any of these indicators apply to Muhammad? A few glimpses of his life may help answer this question.
Despite his responsibilities as a prophet, a teacher, a statesman, and a judge, Muhammad used to milk his goat, mend his clothes, repair his shoes, help with household work, and visit poor people when they got sick. He also helped his companions in digging a trench by moving sand with them. His life was an amazing model of simplicity and humbleness.
Muhammad’s followers loved him, respected him, and trusted him to an amazing extent. Yet he continued to emphasize that deification should be directed to God and not to him personally. Anas, one of Muhammad’s companions, said that there was no person whom they loved more than the Prophet Muhammad yet when he came to them , they did not stand up for him because he hated their standing up for him, as other people do with their great people.
Long before there was any prospect of success for Islam and at the outset of a long and painful era of torture, suffering, and persecution of Muhammad and his followers, he received an interesting offer.
An envoy of the pagan leaders, Otba, came to him saying, “If you want money, we will collect enough money for you so that you will be the richest one of us. If you want leadership, we will take you as our leader and never decide on any matter without your approval. If you want a kingdom, we will crown you king over us. Only one concession was required from Muhammad in return for that, to give up calling people to Islam and worshipping God alone without any partner.
Wouldn’t this offer be tempting to one pursuing worldly benefit?