The Character of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)
The following has been taken from the book, "Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum."
THE PROPHET (Peace be upon him), ATTRIBUTES AND MANNERS
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) combined both perfection of creation
and perfection of manners.
Here we list a brief summary of the versions about his beauty and perfection. To encompass all which is, addmittedly, beyond our power.
‘Ali bin Abi Talib describing him said: “The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) was neither excessively tall nor extremely short. He was medium height among his friends. His hair was neither curly nor wavy. It was in between. It was not too curly nor was it plain straight. It was both curly and wavy combined. His face was not swollen or meaty-compact. It was fairly round. His mouth was white. He had black and large eyes with long haired eyelids. His joints (limbs) and shoulder joints were rather big. He had a rod-like little hair extending from his chest down to his navel, but the rest of his body was almost hairless. He had thick hand palms and thick fingers and toes. At walking, he lifted his feet off the ground as if he had been walking in a muddy remainder of water. When he turned, he turned all. The Prophethood Seal was between his shoulders. He is the Seal of Prophets, the most generous and the bravest of all.
His speech was the most reliable. He was the keenest and the most attentive to people’s trust and was very careful to pay people’s due in full. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was the most tractable and the most yielding companion, seeing him unexpectedly you fear him and venerate him. He who has acquaintance with him will like him. He who describes him says:
Anas bin Malik said: “He had unfolded hands and was pink-coloured. He was neither white nor brown. He was rather whitish. In both his head and beard there were as many as twenty grey hairs, besides some grey hairs at his temples.” In another version: “and some scattered white hairs in his head.”
Abu Juhaifa said: “I have seen some grey colour under his lower lip.” Al-Bara’ said: “He was of medium height, broad-shouldered, his hair went up to his earlobes. I saw him dressed in a red garment and I (assure you) I have never seen someone more handsome. At first he used to let his hair loose so as to be in compliance with the people of the Book; but later on he used to part it.”
Al-Bara’ also said: “He had the most handsome face and the best character.” When he was asked: “Was the Messenger’s face sword-like?” “No,” he said: “it was moon-like.” But in another version: he said, “His face was round.” Ar-Rabi‘ bint Muawwidh said: “Had you seen him, you would have felt that the sun was shining.” Jabir bin Samurah said, “I saw him at one full-moony night. I looked at him. He was dressed in a red garment. I compared him with the moon and found that — for me — he was better than the moon.”
Abu Huraira said: “I have never seen a thing nicer than the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him). It seems as if the sunlight were moving within his face. I have never seen one who is faster in pace than the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him). It seemed as if the earth had folded itself up to shorten the distance for him. For we used to wear ourselves out while he was at full ease.”
Ka‘b bin Malik said: “When he was pleased, his face would shine with so bright light that you would believe that it was a moon-piece.” Once he sweated hot at ‘Aishah’s, and the features of his face twinkled; so I recited a poem by Abu Kabeer Al-Hudhali:
Ibn Al-‘Abbas said: “His two front teeth were splitted so whenever he speaks, light goes through them. His neck was as pure and silvery as a neck of doll. His eyelids were long haired but his beard was thick. His forehead was broad; but his eyebrows were like the metal piece attached to a lance, but they were unhorned. His nose was high-tipped, middle-cambered with narrow nostrils. His cheeks were plain, but he had (little hair) running down like a rod from his throat to his navel. He had hair neither on his abdomen nor on his chest except some on his arms and shoulders. His chest was broad and flatted. He had long forearms with expansive palms of the hand. His legs were plain straight and stretching down. His other limbs were straight too. The two hollows of his soles hardly touch the ground. When he walks away he vanishes soon; but he walks at ease (when he is not in a hurry). The way he walks seems similar to one who is leaning forwards and is about to fall down.”
Anas said: “I have never touched silk or a silky garment softer than the palm of the Prophet’s (Peace be upon him); nor have I smelt a perfume or any scent nicer than his.” In another version, “I have never smelt ambergris nor musk nor any other thing sweeter than the scent and the smell of the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him).”
Jabir said: “Whoever pursues a road that has been trodden by the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him), will certainly scent his smell and will be quite sure that the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) has already passed it.” The Seal of Prophethood, which was similar in size to a pigeon’s egg, was between his shoulders on the left side having spots on it like moles.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was noted for superb eloquence and fluency in Arabic. He was remarkable in position and rank. He was an accurate, unpretending straightforward speaker. He was well-versed in Arabic and quite familiar with the dialects and accents of every tribe. He spoke with his entertainers using their own accents and dialects. He mastered and was quite eloquent at both bedouin and town speech. So he had the strength and eloquence of bedouin language as well as the clarity and the decorated splendid speech of town. Above all, there was the assistance of Allâh embodied in the revealed verses of the Qur’ân.
His stamina, endurance and forgiveness — out of a commanding position — his patience and standing what he detested — these were all talents, attributes and qualities Allâh Himself had brought him on. Even wise men have their flaws, but the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him), unlike everybody, the more he was hurt or injured, the more clement and patient he became. The more insolence an ignorant anybody exercised against him the more enduring he became.
Ibn‘Abbas said: “The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was the most generous. He is usually most generous of all times in Ramadan, the times at which the angel Gabriel (Peace be upon him) comes to see him. Gabriel used to visit him every night of Ramadan and review the Qur’ân with him. Verily the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) is more generous at giving bounty or charity than the blowing wind.”
His courage, his succour and his might are distinguishable. He was the most courageous. He witnessed awkward and difficult times and stoodfast at them. More than once brave men and daring ones fled away leaving him alone; yet he stood with full composure facing the enemy without turning his back. All brave men must have experienced fleeing once or have been driven off the battlefield at a round at a time except the Prophet (Peace be upon him) ‘Ali said: “Whenever the fight grew fierce and the eyes of fighters went red, we used to resort to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) for succour. He was always the closest to the enemy.”
Anas said: “One night the people of Madinah felt alarmed. People went out hurriedly towards the source of sound, but the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had already gone ahead of them. He was on the horseback of Abu Talhah which had no saddle over it, and a sword was slung round his neck, and said to them: ‘There was nothing to be afraid for.’”
He was the most modest and the first one to cast his eyes down. Abu Sa‘îd Al-Khudri : “He was shier than a virgin in her boudoir. When he hates a thing we read it on his face. He does not stare at anybody’s face. He always casts his eyes down. He looks at the ground more than he looks sky-wards. His utmost looks at people are glances. He is willingly and modestly obeyed by everybody. He would never name a person whom he had heard ill-news about — which he hated. Instead he would say: ‘Why do certain people do so....’”
The Prophet Őáě Çááĺ Úáíĺ ćÓáă is the most just, the most decent, the most truthful at speech, and the honestest of all. Those who have exchanged speech with him, and even his enemies, acknowledge his noble qualities. Even before the Prophethood he was nicknamed Al-Ameen (i.e. the truthful, the truthworthy). Even then — in Al-Jahiliyah — they used to turn to him for judgement and consultation. In a version by At-Tirmidhi, he says that ‘Ali had said that he had been told by Abu Jahl that he (Abu Jahl) said to the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him): “We do not call you a liar; but we do not have faith in what you have brought.” In His Book, Allâh, the Exalted, said about them:
Visiting the poor, the needy and entertaining them are some of his habits. If a slave invited him, he would accept the invitation. He always sat among his friends as if he were an ordinary person of them. ‘Aishah said that he used to repair his shoes, sew or mend his dress and to do what ordinary men did in their houses. After all, he was a human being like others. He used to check his dress (lest it has some insects on). Milking the she-sheep and catering for himself were some of his normal jobs. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was the most truthful to his pledges, and it is one of his qualities to establish good and steady relationship with his relatives — ‘Silat-Ar-Rahim’. He is the most merciful, gentle and amiable to all people. His way of living is the simplest one. Ill-manners and indecency are two qualities completely alien to him. He was decent, and did not call anybody names. He was not the sort of person who cursed or made noise in the streets. He did not exchange offences with others. He pushed back an offence or an error by forgiveness and overlooking. Nobody was allowed to walk behind him (i.e. as a bodyguard). He did not feel himself superior to others not even to his slaves (men or women) as far as food or clothes were concerned.
Whoever served him should be served by him too. ‘Ugh’ (an utterance of complaint) is a word that had never been said by him to his servant; nor was his servant blamed for doing a thing or leaving it undone. Loving the poor and the needy and entertaining them or participating in their funerals were things the Prophet (Peace be upon him) always observed. He never contempted or disgraced a poor man for his poverty. Once he was travelling with his Companions and when it was time to have food prepared, he asked them to slaughter a she-sheep. A man said: I will slaughter it, another one said: I will skin it out. A third said: I will cook it. So the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) said: I will collect wood for fire. They said: “No. We will suffice you that work.” “I know that you can do it for me, but I hate to be privileged. Allâh hates to see a slave of his privileged to others.” So he went and collected fire-wood.
Let us have some of the description of Hind bin Abi Halah: “The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) was continually sad, thinking perpetually. He had no rest (i.e. for long). He only spoke when it was necessary. He would remain silent for a long time and whenever he spoke, he would end his talk with his jawbone but not out of the corners of his mouth, i.e. (snobbishly). His speech was inclusive. He spoke inclusively and decisively. It was not excessive nor was it short of meaning. It was amiable. It was in no way hard discoroning. He glorified the bounty of Allâh; even if it were little. If he had no liking for someone’s food, he would neither praise nor criticize.
He was always in full control of his temper and he would never get seemed angry unless it was necessary. He never got angry for himself nor did he avenge himself. It was for Allâh’s sanctity and religion that he always seemed angry.
When he pointed at a thing he would do so with his full hand-palm, and he would turn it round to show surprise. If he were angry he would turn both his body and face aside. When he was pleased, he cast his eyes down. His laughter was mostly smiling. It was then that his teeth which were like hail-stones were revealed.
He never spoke unless it was something closely relevant to him. He confirmed the brotherhood relationship among his Companions; and thus he made them intimate and did not separate them or implant enmity among them. Those who were honourable with their peoples, were honoured and respected by him and were assigned rulers over their own peoples. His cheerfulness was never withdrawn at anyone’s face; even at those whom he warned his people from or those whom he himself was on the alert of. He visited friends and inquired about people’s affairs. He confirmed what was right and criticized the awful and tried to undermine it. He was moderate in all affairs. He was equal to others and was not privileged. He would never act heedlessly, lest the others should get heedless. Each situation was dealt with in its proper due.
Righteousness was his target; so he was never short of it nor indifferent to it. People who sat next to him were the best of their people and the best of them all were — for him — those who provided common consultations. For him, the greatest ones and the highest in ranks were the best at providing comfort and co-ordination and succour. Remembrance (of Allâh) was a thing he aimed at and established whenever he sat down or stands up. No certain position was assigned for him to sit on. He sits at the end of the group, seated next to the last sitter in the place. He ordered people to do the same. He entertained his participiants in social gatherings alike so that the one addressed would think that there was no one honoured by the Prophet (Peace be upon him) but himself. He whoever sat next to him or interrupted him in order to ask for his advice about an affair of his, would be the first to start the talk and the one to end it. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) would listen to him patiently till he ended his speech. He never denied a request to anyone, if unapproachable, then few gratifying words would work, instead.
His magnanimity, broad mindedness his tolerance could embrace all people and entitled him to be regarded as father for them all. In justice, all of them were almost equal. Nobody was better than another except on the criterion of Allâh fearing. A favoured one, to him, was the most Allâh fearing. His assembly was a meeting of clemency, timidness, patience and honesty. Voices were not raised in rows or riots. Inviolable things were never violable. Fearing Allâh and worship were their means to sympathy and compassion. They used to esteem the old and have mercy on the young. They assisted the needy and entertained strangers.
The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) was always cheerful, easy, pleasant-tempered and lenient. He was never rude or rough nor clamorous or indecent. He was neither a reproacher nor a praiser. He overlooked what he did not desire, yet you would never despair of him. Three qualities he disposed of: hypocrisy, excessiveness, and what was none of his concern. People did not fear him in three area: — for they were not qualities or habits of his —: He never disparaged, or reproached nor did he seek the defects or shortages of others. He only spoke things whose reward was Divinely desirable. When he spoke, his listeners would attentively listen casting down their heads. They only spoke when he was silent. They did not have disputes or arguments about who was to talk. He who talked in his presence would be listened to by everybody till he finished his talk. Their talk would be about the topic discussed or delivered by their first speaker. The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) used to laugh at what they laughed at and admired what they used to admire. He would always show patience with a stranger’s harshness at talk. He used to say:
Kharijah bin Zaid said: “The Prophet (Peace be upon him) was the most honoured among the people with whom he sat. His limbs could hardly be seen. He was often silent and rarely talked when speech was not a necessity. He turned away from those whose speech was rude or impolite. His laughter was no more than a smile. His speech, which was decisive, it was neither excessive nor incomplete. Out of reverence and esteem and following the example of their Prophet (Peace be upon him), the Companions’ laughter at his presence — was smiling, as well.”
On the whole the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was ornamented with peerless attributes of perfection. No wonder to be like that for he was brought up, educated and taught (the Qur’ân) by Allâh. He was even praised by Allâh:
Those were the attributes and qualities that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) enjoyed which made the hearts of souls of the people close to him, draw near to him and love him. Those traits made him so popular that the restraint and enmity of his people grew less and they started to embrace Islam in large crowds.
This description is in fact no more than a rapid review or rather short brief lines of Muhammad’s (Peace be upon him) aspects of full perfection. Trying to encompass the whole perfect picture of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). No one can ever claim to be possessed of full knowledge or complete mastery of the great attributes of the greatest man in this universe. No one can ever give this man, the top of perfection, his due descrpition. He was a man who always sought Allâh’s light, to such an extent that he was wholly imbued with the Qur’ânic approach.