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Knowing Allah

Under category Mukhtasar Sirah al-Nabi
Creation date 2012-05-07 11:14:07
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his (saw) physical features
anas ibn mālik (ra) who said, ‘when abū bakr al-Şiddīq (ra) would see the prophet (saw) coming he would say,
the trustworthy one, the chosen one, calling to good
like the light of the moon, dissipating the darkness
it is reported that abū hurayrah (ra) said, ‘`umar ibn al-khaţţāb (ra) would quote the line of poetry by zuhayr ibn abū salmā concerning harim ibn sinān,
were you to be anything other than a human
you would be the light of the full moon
then `umar and his companions would say, “this is how the messenger of allāh (saw) was and nobody else was like that.”’
`alī ibn abū Ţālib (ra) said, ‘he was white skinned, having a reddish tinge. his eyes were large with jet black pupils and his hair straight. his hair reached the lobes of his ears, he had a thick beard and had a fine line of hair extending from his chest to navel, apart from that, his chest and stomach were bare. his neck resembled that of a statues made of glittering silver. he had heavy and thick hands and soles. when he walked it was if he was descending a slope. when he turned [to address someone], he turned his entire body. his sweat resembled pearl drops and its scent was sweeter than that of the most fragrant musk. he was not tall, neither short, he was not uncouth nor abusive. i have not seen anyone, before him or after him, who was comparable to him.’
in another wording, ‘between his two shoulders was the seal of prophethood, he was the seal of the prophets, he had the most giving of hearts, he was the most truthful of them, the best of them in temperament and the most sociable of them. whoever unexpectedly saw him would stand in awe of him and whoever accompanied him and got to know him would love him. those who described him would say, “i have never seen anyone, before him or after him, who was comparable to him.”’[1]


barā’a ibn `Āzib said, ‘the messenger of allāh (saw) was of medium stature with broad shoulders. his hair was thick, reaching his earlobes and he wore a red hulla.[2] i have never seen anyone more beautiful than him.’[3]
umm ma`bad al-khuzā`iyyah said, ‘i saw a man, clearly handsome with a slightly round face, excellent morals and manners, he was not burdened with a large stomach nor did he have a small head. his eyes were jet black and he had long eyelashes. his voice had an element of hoarseness to it and he had a long neck. he had a thick beard, curved eyebrows that met in the middle. when he was quiet, he would be sober and thoughtful, when he spoke he raised his head and radiance overcame him. from afar he was the most beautiful of people, and close up he was the most handsome. his manner of speech was sweet and concise, not long winded nor so short as to be misunderstood. his words flowed like well organised beads on a string. one would not be able to keep his gaze fixed on him and his close friends would constantly surround him. when he spoke they would cease speaking and listen, when he commanded they rushed to implement his order. he was not sullen or given to scowling and neither was he ignorant or doltish.’[4]
anas ibn mālik (ra) said, ‘the messenger of allāh (saw) was neither very tall such that he would be clearly noticed, nor was he short. he had a brownish complexion, not extremely white and neither very brown. his hair was neither very curly nor completely straight.’[5]
hind ibn abū hālah said, ‘the messenger of allāh (saw) was imposing, dignified and one who was greatly honoured and respected. his face shone with a resplendence like that of the moon when it was full. he was somewhat taller than a person of medium stature but shorter than a tall person. his head was large with slightly curly hair and if the hair on his forehead parted of its own accord, he would keep it parted, otherwise his hair, when at its longest, would reach the lobes of his ears. he had radiant a complexion with a wide brow, thick curved eyebrows except in the place where they met. between them was a vein that would throb when angry. he had a long, aqualine nose which shone with a light that would seem to elevate it, whoever did not carefully look at it would think it turned up. he had a thick beard, jet black eyes and was sociable and good natured. he had a wide mouth,[6] evenly spaced teeth and had a fine line of hair extending from his chest to navel. his neck resembled that of a statue’s made of glittering silver and he was of a goodly build, finely balanced. his chest and stomach were level and he had a wide chest with broad shoulders. his joints were large and he had a line of hair extending from his upper chest to his navel, apart from that, his chest and stomach were bare. his forearms and shoulders had hair on them. his wrists were thick with wide palms and he had heavy and thick hands and soles. his fingers were long, he had high insteps and his feet were smooth and well proportioned because of which water would swiftly flow off them and quickly vanish. when he walked he walked briskly with strength of purpose but placed his feet on the ground softly. he took large steps and when he walked it was if he was descending a slope. when he turned [to address someone], he turned his entire body. he would constantly lower his gaze looking more to the ground then he would to the sky. most of the time he would merely glance at something, he would have his companions walk in front of him and would hurry to greet whoever he met with the salām.’[7]
his character
the messenger of allāh (saw) was the most courageous of people, `alī ibn abū Ţālib said, ‘when the fighting became severe and the two armies met, the people would take recourse behind the messenger of allāh (saw).’[8] he was the most giving of people, he was never asked of anything to which he answered in the negative. he was the most forbearing of people, he had a sense of modesty greater than that of a virgins secluded in her private room, and his gaze would never linger on the face of anyone. he would never take revenge for personal motives or become enraged for personal motives; he only became angry if the laws of allāh were transgressed and it was for that, for the sake of allāh, that he took revenge.
in his eyes, the near and far, the strong and weak were all the same. he would not criticise food; if he desired it, he would eat it, if not, he left it. he would not eat in a reclined posture and neither on a raise dais. he would eat what was readily available, if he found dates, he would eat them, if he found bread, he would eat that, if he found milk, he would suffice with that. he would eat melon with fresh dates and liked sweets and honey. abū hurayrah (ra) said, ‘the messenger of allāh (saw) left the world without ever having eaten his fill of barley bread.’[9] he also said, ‘a month or two would go by without a fire being lit in a house of the houses of muhammad, his family would suffice with dates and water.’[10]


he would partake of gifts but never touch what was given in charity; he would repay gift with gift. he would never seek after the best or most expensive clothing and food; rather he would eat what he found and wear whatever he found. he would fix his own sandals and sow his own clothes. he would fulfil the needs and requirements of his family and visit the sick. he was the most humble of people and would respond to the call of the rich, the poor, the noble and the down-trodden alike. he loved orphans and would attend their funeral prayers and visit them when they were ill. he would not look down upon the poor nor be awed by the wealth of kings.
he would ride a horse, camel, donkey and mule; sometimes having somebody else sitting with him, behind him. he would not let anybody walk behind him saying, “leave my rear free for the angels.”[11] he would wear woollen garments and repaired shoes; his favourite garment was the hibrah, a red and white yemeni cloak. his ring was made of silver which he wore on his right little finger, and sometimes the left.
sometime he would tie a rock to his stomach due to intense hunger, allāh, most high, had given him the keys to the treasures of the whole world, but he refused to accept them, preferring the hereafter instead.
he would frequently perform the dhikr of allāh, refrain from idle speech, lengthen his prayer and shorten the khuţbah. frequently would he smile and display a joyful face despite his contemplation and sombreness.
he liked perfumed scents and disliked any distasteful scents. if he saw permissible forms of playing, he would allow it to continue without objection. he would joke but never say ought but the truth. he would accept the excuses of those who presented excuses to him. he had male and female servants but would never eat or wear better than them.
his time would be spent in doing deeds for the sake of allāh or fulfilling the necessities of life and his family. he shepherded cattle and said, “there has never been a prophet except that he was a shepherd.”[12]


`Ā’ishah was asked about his manners to which she replied, ‘his manners were the qur’ān.’[13] he would become angry for the sake of allāh and pleased for his sake. it is authentically reported from anas (ra) that he said,
i have not touched silk brocade or silk that was finer to touch than the hands of the messenger of allāh (saw). i have not smelt anything that was more pleasant than the smell of the messenger of allāh. i served the messenger of allāh (saw) for ten years and he never once said to me, “uff”, neither did he ever say to something that i did, “why did you do it?” or to something that i did not do, “have you not done such-and-such?”[14]
allāh, most high, combined in him perfect morals and manners, the best of deeds and granted him the knowledge of the first and last people[15], and that which would ensure success and victory. all this while being illiterate, neither reading nor writing; he had no human teacher; he grew up in a land of ignorance, a desert land. allāh granted him what he had not granted to any other of creation and chose him above all others. perpetual peace and blessings be upon him until the day of rising!

[1] bayhaqī, dalā’il al-nubuwwah [1/226]
[2] a garment consisting of two pieces, an izār and radā’. this hulla was not completely red but had black stripes in it as explained in detail by mubārakpūrī, tuhfatu’l-ahwadhī [#1646]. hence there would be no contradiction between this hadīth and the hadīth prohibiting wearing red garments reported by bukhārī and others. cf. ibn al-qayyim [1/135-136].
[3] bukhārī [#3551] and muslim [#2337]
[4] hākim [3/9] who said it was şahīh with dhahabī agreeing.
[5] bukhārī [#3548] and muslim [#2348]
[7] tirmidhī, al-shamā’il [p. 18]
[8] muslim [#1776]
[9] bukhārī [#5414]
[10] bukhārī [#6458, 6459] and muslim [#2972]
[11] ibn mājah [#246] and declared şahīh by ibn hibbān [#2099]
[12] bukhārī [#2262, 5453] and muslim [#2050]
[13] muslim [#746]
[14] bukhārī [#3561] and muslim [#2309]
[15] there is some generality in this sentence that requires explanation. the meaning of the author, “he granted him the knowledge of the previous and later people” i.e. knowledge of the unseen that allāh conferred upon him. allāh, the exalted says,“[he is] the knower of the unseen and he does not disclose his [knowledge of the] unseen to anyone, except whom he has approved of messengers...” [al-jinn (72): 26-27 ]
                as for what allāh did not confer upon him, in this portion he is like the remainder of mankind, “say: i do not tell you that i have the depositories [containing the provision] of allāh, nor that i know the unseen, nor do i tell you that i am an angel. i only follow what is revealed to me.” [al-an`ām (6): 50]
                the correct statement to say is “he has taught you that which you did not know. [al-nisā’ (4): 113].

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