The Prophet’s Character and Manners

The Prophet had both perfection of features and perfection of manners. The impression of them on people can be deduced by the bliss that overwhelmed their hearts and filled them with dignity.

People’s respect, devotion, and esteem of Allah’s Messenger were unique and matchless. No other man in the entire world had been so honored and loved.

Those who knew him, were fascinated and enchanted by him. They were ready to sacrifice their lives for even his nail from being hurt or injured.

Being privileged and excelling in many areas that no one else had been endowed with, his Companions found that he was peerless and so they loved him.

Here we list a brief summary of some of the characteristics of his beauty and perfection. To encompass all is, admittedly, beyond our power.

His Physical Appearance

Describing Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who passed by her tent on his journey of emigration, Umm Ma`bad Al-Khuza’iyah said to her husband: “He was innocently bright and had a broad face. His manners were fine. Neither was his belly bulging out nor was his head deprived of hair. He had black attractive eyes finely arched by continuous eyebrows. His hair was glossy and black, inclined to curl, he wore it long. His voice was extremely commanding. His head was large, well formed and set on a slender neck. His expression was reflective and thoughtful, composed and inspiring.

A stranger would be fascinated from a distance, but the closer he was the more respect he observed. His expression was very sweet and distinct. His speech was well set and free from the use of superfluous words, as if it were a chain of beads. His stature was neither too tall nor too short to look odd. He was of middle weight, singularly bright and fresh. He was always surrounded by his Companions. Whenever he uttered something, the listeners would listen to him with attention, and whenever he issued any command they competed with each other in carrying it out. He was a master and a commander. His utterances were marked by truth and sincerity, free from all kinds of falsehoods and lies.”

‘Ali bin Abi Talib (May Allah be Pleased with him) described him: “Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was neither excessively tall nor extremely short. He was of medium height among his friends. His hair was not too curly nor was it too straight. It was both curly and wavy combined. His cheeks were not fleshy, chin was not small, and forehead was not narrow. His face was fairly round. His mouth was white. He had black, large eyes, with long eyelashes. His limbs and shoulder joints were rather big. He had a fine line of little hair extending from his chest down to his navel, but the rest of his body was almost hairless. He had thick palms and thick fingers and toes.

While walking, he lifted his feet off the ground as if he had been walking on a slope. When he turned, he turned completely. The Seal of Prophethood was between his shoulders. He is the Last of the 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 was the most gentle and the most polite companion, seeing him unexpectedly you would fear him and revere him. He who had acquaintance with him that would like him. He who describes him says: ‘I have never seen such a person neither before nor after seeing him.’’’

Jabir bin Samurah (May Allah be Pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had a broad face with reddish (wide) eyes and lean heels.

Abu At-Tufail (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “He was white and good-looking. He was neither fat nor thin; neither tall nor short.”

Anas bin Malik (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “He had broad palms and his color was bright. He was neither white nor brown, rather, he was whitish. At the time of his death, in both his head and beard there were as many as twenty grey hairs, besides some grey hair at his temples.’’ In another version: “and some scattered white hair on his head.’’

Abu Juhaifah (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “I have seen some grey color under his lower lip.”

Al-Bara’ (May Allah be Pleased with him) 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; later he would part it.

Al-Bara’ (May Allah be Pleased with him) also said: “He had the most handsome face and the best character.’’ When he was asked: “Was the Messenger’s face radiant like a sword?’’ He said, “No, it was like the moon.’’ In another version: he said, “His face was round.”

Ar-Rabi’ bint Muawwidh (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “Had you seen him, you would have felt that the sun was shining.”

Jabir bin Samurah (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “I saw him on a moonlit night. I looked at him. He was dressed in a red garment. I compared him with the moon and found that — to me — he was better than the moon.’’ Abu Hurairah (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “I have never seen a thing nicer than Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). It seems as if the sunlight was moving with his face. I have never seen one who is faster in pace than Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). It seemed as if the earth had folded itself up to shorten the distance for him. We would be exhausted while he was at full ease.’’

Ka`b bin Malik (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “When he was pleased, his face would shine with such a bright light that you would believe it was a piece of the moon.’’

Once he was with `Aishah(May Allah be Pleased with her), the features of his face twinkled while sweating; she recited a verse by Abu Kabir AlHudhali:

``If you watch his face, you will see it twinkling like the lightning of an approaching rain.’’

Abu Bakr (May Allah be Pleased with him) would recite the following lines when seeing him:

``He is faithful, chosen (by Allah), and calls for forgiveness. He shines like a moonlit night while it is far from dark.’’

‘Umar (May Allah be Pleased with him) used to recite the following line by Zuhair describing Haram bin Sinan:

``Were you other than a human being, you would be a lit moon on a moonlit night.’’

Then he would add: “Thus was Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).”

When he would get angry, his face would turn so red that you would think a pomegranate has been squeezed on both of his cheeks.

Jabir bin Samurah (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “His legs were gentle, delicate and in conformity. His laughter was no more than a smile. Looking at him would make you say `He is black-eyed’ though he is not so.”

Ibn Al-`Abbas (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “His two front teeth were separated so that whenever he spoke, it was as if light came through them.”

His neck was as pure and silvery as a neck of a doll. His eyelashes were long and his beard was thick. His forehead was broad; separate eyebrows finely joined together. His nose was high-tipped. His cheeks were plain. He had a fine line of hair running down 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. His legs were plain, straight, and stretched. His other limbs were also large. The two hollows of his soles hardly touch the ground. He used to walk with ease, slightly leaning forward.

Anas (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “I have never touched silk or a silky garment softer than the palm of the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him); I have never smelt a perfume or any scent nicer than his.’’ In another version: “I have never smelt ambergris, musk, or any other thing sweeter than the scent and the smell of Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).”

Abu Juhaifah (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “I took his hand and put it on my face and I found that it was colder than ice and better scented than the perfume of musk.’’

Jabir bin Samurah (May Allah be Pleased with him), who was a little child at the time, said: “When he wiped my cheek, I felt it was cold and scented as if it had been taken out of a shop of a perfume workshop.”

Anas (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “His sweat was pearl-like.’’

Umm Sulaim(May Allah be Pleased with her) said: “His sweat smelt nicer than the nicest perfume.”

Jabir (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “Whenever Allah’s Messenger passed by a road, and after whom another person would use the same road, he would quite easily find out by the smell of his scent that the Prophet has passed through this path.”

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 Perfection of Soul and Nobility

The Prophet was noted for his 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 guests using their own accents and dialects. He mastered and was quite eloquent at both Bedouin and urban speech. So, he had the strength and eloquence of Bedouin language as well as the clarity and the decorated splendid speech of the town’s people. Above all, there was the help of Allah embodied in the revealed Verses of the Qur’an.

His stamina, endurance and forgiveness, while he was in a commanding position, and his patience and firmness in unfavorable conditions, were all talents, attributes and qualities Allah Himself had given him. Even wise men have their shortcomings, but Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), unlike others, the more he was hurt or injured, the more gentle and patient he became. The more rudeness and ignorance people exercised against him, the more enduring he became.

`Aishah (May Allah be Pleased with him) said:

``Whenever Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was given the opportunity to choose between two affairs, he would always choose the easiest and the most convenient. But if it be sinful, he would be as far as he could from it. He never took revenge for himself; but when the sanctity of Allah was violated, he would avenge it. That would be for Allah’s sake not his own.”

He was the last one to become angry and the first to be satisfied. His hospitality and generosity were matchless. His gifts and endowments manifested within him a person who did not fear poverty.”

Ibn `Abbas (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “The Prophet was the most generous. His generosity would be at its extreme during Ramadan when the angel Jibreel used to come to see him. Jibreel used to visit him every night in Ramadan and review the Qur’an with him. Verily, Allah’s Messenger was more generous at giving charity than the blowing wind.”

Jabir (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “The Prophet would never deny anything he was asked for.’’

His courage, his bravery and his might were distinct. He was the most courageous. He witnessed awkward and difficult times and stood fast during them. More than once, brave and daring men fled, yet he stood with full composure facing the enemy without turning his back. All brave men must have experienced retreat once or have been driven off the battlefield at a time, except the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). `Ali said: “Whenever the fight grew fierce and the eyes of the fighters went red, we used to resort to the Prophet for help. He was always the closest to the enemy.”

Anas (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “One night the people of Madinah felt alarmed. People went out hurriedly towards the source of sound, but they found that the Prophet had already been there and was coming back. He was on a horse belonging to Abu Talhah which had no saddle over it, and a sword was hanging from his neck, and he said to them: `There is nothing to be afraid of.’”

He was the most modest, and the first one to cast his eyes down. Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri (May Allah be Pleased with him) said: “He was shier than a virgin. When he disliked something, we could read it on his face. He did not stare at anybody’s face. He would always cast his eyes down. He would look at the ground more than the sky. The most he would look at someone was by glancing. He was willingly and modestly obeyed by everybody. He would never name a person whom he had heard ill-news concerning something he hated, instead he would say: `Why do certain people do such and such….’”

A verse of poetry by Al-Farazdaq fits him very well and is one of the best to be said of him:

“He casts his eyes modestly, but the eyes of others are cast down due to his reverence, and words issue out of their mouths only while he is smiling.”

The Prophet was the most just, the most decent, the most truthful at speech, and the most honest of all. Those who have exchanged words with him, even his enemies, acknowledge his noble qualities. Even before Prophethood he was nicknamed al-Ameen (i.e., the truthful, the trustworthy). Even then, in Jahiliyah, they would turn to him for judgment and consultation. At-Tirmidhi reported `Ali (May Allah be Pleased with him) as saying that he had been told by Abu Jahl that he (Abu Jahl) said to Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “We do not call you a liar; but we do not have faith in what you have brought.” In His Book, Allah the Exalted said about them:

``It is not you that they deny, but it is the Verses (the Qur’an) of Allah that the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers) deny.’’ [6:33]

Even when Heraclius asked Abu Sufyan: “Have you ever accused him of lying before the ministry of Prophethood?’’ Abu Sufyan said: “No.”

He was the most modest person and far from being arrogant or proud. He forbade people to stand up for him as other people usually did for their kings. Visiting the poor, the needy and entertaining them were 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 among them. `Aishah(May Allah be Pleased with her) said that he himself used to repair his shoes, sew or mend his clothes, and perform what ordinary men did in their houses. After all, he was a human being like others. He used to check his own clothing. Milking the sheep and catering for himself were some of his normal jobs.

The Prophet was the most truthful to his pledge, and it was one of his qualities to establish good and steady relationship with his relatives. He was the most merciful, gentle, and sociable of all the people. His way of living was the simplest one. Ill-manners and indecency were 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. He did not allow others to walk behind him. He did not feel himself superior to others, not even to his slaves as far as food or clothes were concerned. Whoever served him would be served by him too. `Ugh’ – the sound of expressing disgust was never used by him towards any of his servant; nor did he ever blame his servant for something or leaving something undone. Loving the poor and the needy and entertaining them or participating in their funerals was the acts the Prophet always observed. He never showed disgrace to a poor man for his poverty.

Once he was traveling with his Companions and when it was time to have food prepared, he asked them to slaughter a sheep. A man said: “I will slaughter it,’’ another said: “I will skin it out,’’ a third one said: “I will cook it.’’ So, Allah’s Messenger said: “I will collect the firewood.’’ They said: “No. We will do that work.’’ The Prophet said, “I know that you can do it for me, but I hate to be privileged. Allah hates to see a servant of His privileged to others.’’ So, he went and collected the firewood.

Hind bin Abi Halah described him: “Allah’s Messenger was always contemplative, thinking. 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 talk speak his entire mouth and clear words, he never suppressed the words by speaking out of the corners of his mouth. His speech was comprehensive. He spoke inclusively and decisively. It was not excessive nor was it short of meaning. It was friendly. It was in no way dishonoring. He glorified the bounty of Allah; even if it were little. If he had no liking for some food, he would neither praise nor criticize it.

He was always in full control of his temper and he never seemed angry unless it was necessary. He never got angry for himself nor did he avenge for himself. It was for Allah’s sanctity and religion that he would become angry.

Whenever he pointed at a thing, he would do so with his hand, 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 a smile. It was then that his teeth were revealed like hailstones.

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 honorable with their people, were honored and respected by him and were assigned rulers over their own people. His cheerfulness was never withdrawn at anyone’s face; even at those whom he warned his people from or those against who he himself was on alert. He visited friends and inquired about people’s affairs. He confirmed what was right, and criticized the unpleasant, and tried to undermine it. He was moderate in all affairs. He was equal to others and was not privileged. He would never act carelessly, lest others should get neglectful. Each situation was dealt in with its proper due. Righteousness was his objective; he was never short of it or indifferent to it. People who sat next to him were the best of their people and the best of them were – for him – those who were most caring. For him, the greatest ones and the highest in rank were the best at providing comfort, cooperation and help.

The remembrance of Allah was important to him and he did so whenever he sat down or stood up. No certain place was assigned for him to sit in. He would sit at the end of the group, next to the last person. He ordered people to do the same. He entertained his participants in social gatherings alike so that the one addressed would think that there was no one honored by the Prophet but himself. 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 speech and the one to end it. The Prophet would listen to him patiently until he ended his speech. He never denied a request to anyone, if unapproachable, then a few gratifying words would work instead.

His generosity of spirit, broad mindedness, and tolerance could embrace all people and entitled him to be regarded as a father to them all. In justice, all of them were almost equal. Nobody was better than another except on the basis of piety. A favored one, to him, was the one who feared Allah most. His assembly was a meeting of kindness, modesty, patience and honesty, voices were not raised there nor were cries, inviolable things were never considered to be violable there. Fearing Allah and worship were their means to sympathy and compassion. They used to revere the old and have mercy on the young. They helped the needy and entertained strangers.

Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was always cheerful, easy, pleasant-tempered and merciful. He was never rude or rough or indecent. He would neither blame nor praise excessively. He overlooked what he did not desire, yet no one would despair of him. He kept himself away from three habits: hypocrisy, excessiveness, and what was none of his concern. People did not fear him in three areas: he neither degraded or blamed them, nor did he seek the defects or shortcomings of others. He only said 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 speak. He who spoke in his presence would be listened to by everybody until he finished his speech. Their speech would be about the topic discussed or delivered by the first speaker. Allah’s Messenger used to laugh at what they laughed at and admired what they admired. He would always show patience with a stranger’s harsh speech. He used to say:

``When you see a person seeking an object earnestly, assist him to get his need. And never ask for a reward except from the Giver of the rewards, i.e., Allah.’’

Kharijah bin Zaid said: “The Prophet was the most honored among the people with whom he sat. His limbs could hardly be seen. He was often silent and rarely spoke when words were 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, was neither excessive nor incomplete. Out of reverence and esteem and following the example of their Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), the Companions’ laughter in his presence would also be a smile as well.”

On the whole, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was ornamented with peerless attributes of perfection. Indeed, he was brought up and educated and taught by Allah. He was even praised by Allah:

``And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted standard of character.’’ [68:4]

Those were the attributes and qualities that the Prophet enjoyed which made the hearts and souls of the people come 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 quick glance at Muhammad’s perfection. 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 and his due description. He was a man who always sought Allah’s light, and to such an extent that he was wholly imbued with the Qur’anic approach.

``O Allah! Send Your blessings (and the Magnificent Words of Yours) upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as You have send blessings upon Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim. You are Worthy of all praise, All-Glorious.’’ ``O Allah! Bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad as You have already blessed Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim. You are Worthy of all praise, All-Glorious.’’

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