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The Prophet (saas)'s appearance

4771 2008/02/05 2024/07/14

ahmet cevdet pasha, an important scholar from ottoman times, wrote a study that effectively summarized descriptions of the prophet (saas)'s features. that appeared in part iv of the qisas al-anbiya (stories of the prophets), under the heading "some attributes of the prophet muhammad (saas)":

"the blessed one had a beautiful appearance, his limbs were in perfect proportion, his body was well-formed, his forehead and chest and the distance between his shoulders were broad. his neck was slender and pure as silver, his shoulders, biceps and calves were large and thick, his wrists were long, his fingers also long, and his hands and fingers rather thick. his blessed skin was softer than silk.

on his perfect countenance were a well-proportioned head, curved eyebrows, a long nose and an oval face.

his eyelashes were long, his eyes black and beautiful, the space between his largish eyebrows was clear, though his eyebrows were close together.

that chosen prophet (saas) was shining in appearance. in other words, he was neither light nor dark, but somewhere between the two, white like a red rose, light and limpid, and the light shone from his face. his teeth were as white as pearls and bright, and the light gleamed from his front teeth as he spoke. when he laughed, it was as if his mouth gave off rays like soft lightning…

his senses were exceedingly powerful. he could hear from a long way off and see further than anyone. in essence, he had a body formed in perfection and uniqueness, and blessed … anyone suddenly seeing him would be consumed with love, and anyone speaking with him would feel great love in his heart and soul. the wise respected him in accordance with their degree. he greatly honoured his relatives. he would not, however, treat them better than those more worthy than them.

he treated his servants well. whatever he wore or ate, he would give to them to wear and eat.

he was generous, beneficial, compassionate, forgiving, brave and mild. in speech, he kept to his word. in essence, his excellent morality, sharp powers of reasoning were greater than those of all other people and worthy of great praise.

in eating and apparel he contented himself with the very poorest degree and refrained from excess."77

the prophet (saas)'s seal of prophethood

allah favored the prophet muhammad (saas) over all beings, and declared him to be "the final seal of the prophets." (surat al-ahzab: 40) no prophet would be sent after him, and the qur'an would be the last revelation to guide people onto the true way. allah manifested that unique feature of the prophet (saas) with a mark on his body.

in islamic sources and oral accounts, that sign between the prophet (saas)'s shoulder blades is known as "the seal of prophethood." it is reported by wahb bin munebbih (ra) that the other prophets also had similar marks, but that that of the prophet (saas) was different:

"allah never sent down a prophet who did not have the sign of prophethood on his right hand. the prophet muhammad (saas) was the only exception to this. his sign of prophethood was (not on his right hand) but between his shoulder blades. when asked about it, the prophet said, 'this mark between my shoulder blades is like the marks on the prophets before me' …"78

jaabir bin samurah (ra) relates that:

"i saw the seal of prophethood of rasullullah (saas) between his two shoulders, the size of which was like that of a pigeon's egg."79

ibrahim bin muhammad (ra), one of the grandchildren of ali (ra), reports:

"whenever ali (ra) described the nobel features of rasulullah (saas), he used to say:

'the seal of prophethood was situated between his shoulders. he was a last of all prophets'."80 abu nadrah (ra) says:

"i asked abu sa'eed khudari (ra) about the seal of prophethood of rasulullah (saas) he said: 'it was a piece of raised flesh that was on rasulullah (saas)'s back'."81

"the place between his shoulders were wide and therein there was impression or seal of prophethood inclined a little towards the right shoulder."82

another report comes from assib bin yazid (ra):

"i saw the seal in between his shoulders."83

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