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The Description of the Prophet ﷺ

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said: “None of you truly believes until I am more beloved to him than his father, his child and all the people.”[1]

In this series we embark on a journey to increase our knowledge of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), to view him as the Sahāba viewed him, and to love him as we should.

Last time, we began with an exploration of the stature and physical characteristics of the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam). This shall be continued here, inshāAllāh.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

Muḥammad b. Bashshār  al-ʿAbdī narrated to us; from Muḥammad b. Jaʿfar; from Shuʿbah; from Abū Isḥāq; that he heard Barāʾa b. ʿĀzib (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) saying,

“The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) had slightly curly hair and was of medium stature with broad shoulders. His hair was thick, reaching his earlobes and he wore a red ḥulla.[2] I have never seen anything more beautiful than him.”[3]

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The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) had slightly curly hair and was of medium stature

There are two ways to read the phrase mentioned here. 1) rajulan marbūʿan meaning he (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was a man of medium stature 2) rajilan marbuʿan meaning that he (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) had slightly curly hair and was of medium stature. In this respect Anas (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said, ‘The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) had large hands and, after him, I have not seen anyone like him. His hair was slightly curly (rajilan): neither completely straight nor very curly.’[4] Both descriptions hold true.[5]

with broad shoulders. His hair was thick, reaching his earlobes

Some reports mention that his hair reached below his ears and above his shoulders,[6] others mention half way down his ears,[7] others mention to his ears, others mention to his shoulders,[8] and yet others mention to his shoulder blades. Qāḍī ʿIyāḍ reconciled these by saying that these descriptions all related to different times; therefore, when he (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) delayed cutting his hair, it would grow to his shoulders, and when he cut his hair, it would reach his ears, or half way down his ears, or his earlobes.[9] Most of the time his (SAW) hair went down to just above his shoulders.[10]

And he wore a red ḥulla

A garment consisting of two pieces, an izār and raḍāʾ. A detailed discussion follows in the chapter dealing with his (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) clothes.

I have never seen anything more beautiful than him

This statement, along with proving the great beauty of the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) also goes to show Barāʾa’s complete faith because believing him (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) to be so is part and parcel of loving him.[11] It is worthy to note that Barāʾa did not say that he had never seen anyone more beautiful than him, instead he said anything to encompass both the animate and inanimate,[12] because Allāh has given him (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) a beauty and splendour far surpassing anything else.[13] This point will be elaborated further in commentary to ḥadīth #5.

Maḥmūd b. Ghaylān narrated to us from Wakīʿ; from Sufyān al-Thawrī; from Abū Isḥāq; that Barāʾa b. ʿĀzib (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said,

“I have never seen a person having a full head of hair, wearing a red ḥulla, who was more handsome than the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam). He had hair that reached his shoulders and his shoulders were broad. He was neither short nor tall.”[14]

Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl narrated to us;  from Abū Nuʿaym; from Masʿūdī; from ʿUthmān b. Muslim b. Hurmuz; from Nāfiʿ b. Jubair b. Muṭʿim; that ʿAlī b. Abū Ṭālib (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said,

“The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was neither tall nor short. He had masculine hands and feet, a large head, stout limbs, and a long line of [fine] hair extending from his chest to navel. When he walked, he leant forward as if descending a slope. I have not seen anyone, before him or after him, who was comparable to him.”[15][16]

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was neither tall nor short. He had masculine hands and feet

Bukhārī also recorded from Anas that “The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) had masculine (shathn) hands and feet.”[17] He also records that Anas said, “The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) had large (ḍakhm) hands and feet and a handsome face. I have not seen anyone, before him or after him, who was like him. He had wide (basit) palms,”[18] and “ample (raḥb) palms,”[19] with long fingers.[20]

Ibn Ḥajr explained the word shathn, translated here as masculine, to mean having thick and sturdy fingers and palms and cited another narration with the wording, “He had large hands and feet.”[21] He also said, ‘Khaṭṭābī explained it to mean thickness and length of hand and this is what is intended here.’ It is also reported that the linguist, Aṣmaʿī explained the word to mean calloused, but when the narration stating that the Prophet’s (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) hands were soft was quoted, he went silent and decided not to explain the word any further. Qāḍī ʿIyāḍ said, ‘Abū ʿUbayd, the linguist, explained it to mean thickness of fingers and palm coupled with shortness, but this position was criticised because it is established that he had long fingers.’[22] Ibn Ḥajr said, ‘The correct position is that the word means thick and sturdy without being short or calloused.’[23] Hence, the meaning is that his (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) hands were large and sturdy, tending towards being thick, but without being short or calloused.[24]

Ibn Baṭṭāl said, ‘His (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) hand was fleshy, it was large and thick, but despite this it was soft as is established in the ḥadīth of Anas recorded in the Ṣaḥīḥ, “I have not touched silk, or silk brocade, that was softer than his (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) hand.”[25] If we were to accept the explanation of Aṣmaʿī as being plausible, although no other linguist agreed with him on this, we would say it is possible that the narrator depicted the hand of the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) in different situations: when he fought Jihād, his hand would become calloused, but otherwise his hand would be in its natural state of being soft.’[26]

Bukhārī records a ḥadīth stating that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) had long hands.[27] The meaning of this ḥadīth is that his hands and fingers were long without being excessively so. This quality of hand is praiseworthy in men because it means that they have a strong grip as mentioned by Ibn al-Athīr, al-Nihāyah.

The Prophet’s (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) hands were blessed and full of blessings. Muslim records that he (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) stroked the cheek of Jābir who then said, ‘I experienced a sensation of coolness from his hand and a scent as if he had just removed it from a perfume vendor’s box.’[28]

Bukhārī records on the authority of Abū Juḥayfah that the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) went out to al-Baṭḥāʾ at noon where he performed ablution and prayed Ẓuhr as two rakʿahs and ʿAṣr as two rakʿahs, praying towards a short spear beyond which women would pass. The people stood and took hold of his hands and used them to wipe their faces. He said, ‘So I took hold of his hand and placed it on my face and found it to be cooler than ice and its scent to be sweeter than musk.’[29]

Abū Juḥayfah said, ‘The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) came out in mid-morning. Water for ablution was brought to him and he performed his ablution, then the people took what remained and rubbed it on themselves. Those who could not reach any took the water that dripped from their companions’ hands.’[30]

Jābir b. Samura said, “I prayed with the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and then he went out and I went out with him. He was met by some children and rubbed their cheeks one by one. As for myself, he rubbed my cheek and I found that his hand was cool and fragrant, as if he had just taken it out of a perfume vendor’s bag.”[31]

Aḥmad records that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) visited Saʿd b. Abī Waqqāṣ in Makkah when he was ill and stroked his face, chest and stomach. Saʿd said, ‘To this very hour it seems to me that I can feel the coolness of his hand on my liver.’[32]

Bayhaqī and Tirmidhī[33] record on the authority of Abū Zayd al-Anṣārī that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) stroked his head and beard and supplicated, “O Allāh, make him beautiful.” Even when he had exceeded the age of one hundred, not a single white hair was seen on his beard, and his face remained cheerful and never looked perturbed or dejected until the day he died.[34]

One time, as he was leaving his house, ʿAbdullah b. ʿAtīq fell and broke his ankle. He bandaged it and hobbled to his companions, then they rode back together to Madīnah. The Prophet said, “Stretch your leg!” He passed his hand over the broken bones and they mended there and then.[35]

Hanẓalah b. Juzaym al-Tamīmī was brought to the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) by his father. The latter said, ‘Messenger of Allāh, I have sons with beards, this is the youngest, pray Allāh for him!’ The Prophet passed his hand over his head, then said, “May Allāh bless you!” Thereafter, whenever a sick man with a swollen face or an animal with a swollen udder were brought to Hanẓalah, he blew in his hands, saying, ‘In the Name of Allāh,’ then placed his hand on his own head where the Prophet’s palm had touched it, saying, ‘Where the hand of the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was placed,’ then rubbed the swelling and cured it.[36]

Jābir b. ʿAbdullāh said, ‘The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) visited me in Banū Salamah and found me semi-conscious. He asked for water, made his wuḍūʾ then sprinkled some of the water over me and I came to.’[37]

Abū Hurayrah once said, ‘Messenger of Allāh, I often hear you speak but I forget!’ He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “Spread out your garment!” I spread it out, he made as if he scooped something with his hand and poured it in it. Then he said, “Fold it up!” I did and thereafter forgot nothing he ever said.[38]

Jābir b. ʿAbdullāh said, ‘As the trench was being dug I noticed that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) suffered from severe hunger. I returned to my wife saying, “Do you have anything, for I have noticed that the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) suffers severe hunger.’ She brought out a bag with some barley in it and we had a small sheep in the house. We slaughtered the animal and ground the barley, then I returned to the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), and spoke to him secretly, “Messenger of Allāh, we have slaughtered an animal we had and have ground a measure of barley. Please come with a few people!” The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) raised his voice saying, “People of the Trench! Jābir has prepared some food, you are all welcome!” Then he said, “Do not take the pot off the fire and do not bake your dough until I come!” When he arrived he proceeded to break the bread, and put the meat on it. He took some food out of the pot and served his Companions, keeping both the pot and the oven covered. He went on breaking the bread, putting the meat on top of it and serving his Companions until they were all satiated, then he said, “Eat and give to other people for they have suffered hunger!”’[39]

Anas b. Mālik said, ‘I once saw the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) when it was time for ʿAṣr prayer and people looked for water for their ablutions and found none. The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was brought some water, he put his hand in the vessel and told the people to make their ablutions from it. I watched the water gushing from under his fingers while people made their ablutions, till the last one of them had done!’ In another narration he said, ‘I reckoned between sixty and eighty men, I watched water gushing from between his fingers.’[40]

Abū Hurayrah said that he had heard the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) say, “I was sent with comprehensive speech, I was supported with terror, and, while I was asleep, I was brought the keys to the treasuries of the earth and they were placed in my hand.”[41]

Muslim records on the authority of Umm Sulaym that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) used to visit her and have a siesta in her house and she would spread out a leather cloth on which he would lie. He would sweat profusely and she would collect his sweat and put it in perfume. When the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) asked about this she said, ‘It is your sweat which we have put in our perfume, and it is perfume of the sweetest type!’[42]

Ibn Ḥajr said, ‘Abū Yaʿlā and Bazzār record with a ṣaḥīḥ isnād on the authority of Anas that when the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) passed through a road in Makkah, he would leave behind him the fragrance of musk and the people would say, “The Messenger of Allāh has passed!”’[43]

He had a large head, stout limbs

The word used is karādīs, the plural of kurdūs, which refers to every bone that meets at a joint such as knees and shoulders, or it refers to the ends of the bones.[44] Baghawī said that what was meant was that he had large, stout limbs.[45]

And a long line of [fine] hair extending from his chest to navel

The Arabic word is masruba, which Baghawī explains to mean, ‘Fine hair extending from the chest to the navel,’ and ‘tracing a line down.’[46] Bayhaqī records the ḥadīth, “He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) had a line of hair extending from his navel to chest, and he had no other hair on his chest or stomach.”[47] Other ḥadīths explicitly describe the hair as being fine.[48] His (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) bodily hair will be discussed further in a later ḥadīth.

I have not seen anyone, before him or after him, who was comparable to him

Bukhārī records on the authority of Barāʾa that ‘The Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was the most handsome of people, with the best of physiques. He was neither very tall nor was he short.’[49] He also said, “I have never seen anything more beautiful than him.”[50] Bukhārī records that Anas said, “He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) had a handsome face, and I have not seen anyone, before him or after him, who was like him.”[51] Jābir b. Samrah said, ‘I saw the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) on a clear, moonlit night wearing a red ḥulla and I paused and looked at him and then the moon and found that, in my view, he was more beautiful than the moon.’[52] Abū Hurayrah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said, “Out of all people, he had the best and most beautiful qualities.”[53] Rubayyiʿ bint Muʿawwidh, ‘Were you to see him (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) you would have thought the sun had risen.’[54] Abū’l-Ṭufayl said, ‘‘He was white skinned and handsome.’[55] ʿAlī (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said, ‘Whoever unexpectedly saw him would be awestruck and whoever associated with 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.”’[56] Later on in this work we will comment on the ḥadīth,

“Allāh never sent a Prophet except that he had a handsome face and a nice voice, and your Prophet has the best face and the best voice.”[57]

One should believe that Allāh created his noble body with an excellence that has not been seen before him or after him. The reason for this is that, predominantly, the good qualities of the body are a manifestation of the inner morals, manners and qualities of a person and the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) reached the peak of perfection in all of these.[58] Indeed, his inner and outer beauty was such that people would simply look at his (saw) face and believe him, knowing that he could not be a liar. ʿAbdullāh b. Salām reported that when the Messenger of Allāh (saw) came to Madīnah, the people rushed toward him and it was announced, ‘The Messenger of Allāh has come!’ I came along with the people to see him and when I looked at his face, I knew that his face was not the face of a liar. The first thing the Prophet (saw) said was this, “People, spread peace, feed the hungry, and pray at night when people are sleeping and you will enter Paradise in peace.”[59]

al-Ḥārith b. ʿAmr said, ‘I went to the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) while he was at Minā or ʿArafah and people would visit him. Some Bedouins came to him and as soon as they looked at his face they said, “This is a blessed face!”’[60]

Moreover, a Muslim sees the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) through the lens of faith and love, which enhances the sense of his beauty. To love Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) is part and parcel of faith; the more love one has the more complete his faith. Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

“By the One in whose hand is my soul, none of you will have faith until I am more beloved to him than his father, his children, indeed the whole of mankind.”[61]

One time ʿUmar said to the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), ‘Messenger of Allāh, you are more beloved to me than everything except my own self.’ The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “No, by the One in whose hand is my soul, (you will not have complete faith) until I am more beloved to you than your own self!” ʿUmar then said, ‘Now, by Allāh, you are more beloved to me than my own self.’ The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, “ʿUmar, now you have it!”[62] Allāh’s Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) also said, “Whoever has the following three qualities will taste the sweetness of faith: that Allāh and His Messenger are more beloved to him than anything else; that he loves a person only for Allāh’s sake; that he abhors the idea of reverting to disbelief as much as he hates to be thrown into the fire.”[63]

Preview of the next ḥadīth in the series:

“… he was the Seal of the Prophets. He had the most giving of hearts; he was the most truthful of people, the best of them in temperament, and the most sociable of them…”

This series is an adapted translation of Shamāʾil al-Muḥammadiyyah by Imām Tirmidhī (raḥimahu Allāhu).

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] Narrated by al-Bukhāri, 15; Muslim, 44

[2] A garment consisting of two pieces, an izār and raḍāʾ.

[3] Bukhārī #3551-5848 and Muslim #2337.

[4] Bukhārī #5906

[5] Qārī

[6] Bukhārī #5565, Muslim #2338

[7] Muslim #2338

[8] Bukhārī #5563, Muslim #2338

[9] Qārī

[10] Ibn Ḥajr 10:440, cf. Bukhārī #5903-5904

[11] Munāwī

[12] Haythamī, ʿAbbād

[13] ʿAbbād

[14] Muslim, Faḍāʾil #2337 and Abū Dāwūd, Tarajjul #4183.

[15] Tirmidhī, Manāqib #3637 who said it was ḥasan ṣaḥīḥ and it was ruled ṣaḥīḥ by ibn Ḥibbān #6311, Ḥākim #4194 with Dhahabī agreeing, and Albānī.

The sentence, ‘His hands and feet were heavy and thick,’ along with the last sentence are reported by Bukhārī, Libās #5911 from Anas (RA).

[16] Sufyān b. Wakīʿ narrates “My father narrated to us; from Masʿūdī the likes of this with this isnād.”

[17] Bukhārī #5910

[18] Bukhārī #5907.

[19] Ḥadīth #8 below

[20] Ḥadīth #8. cf. Baghawī, Sharḥ al-Sunnah 13:279

[21] Bukhārī #5907-5911-5912 from Anas. cf. Ibn Ḥajr 10:439

[22] Bukhārī #

[23] Ibn Ḥajr 10:440

[24] Qarī, Munāwī

[25] Bukhārī #3561 and Muslim #2329

[26] Ibn Ḥajr 10:439-440, Ibn Baṭṭāl 9:156-157

[27] Bukhārī #

[28] Muslim #2329

[29] Bukhārī #3553

[30] Bukhārī #376

[31] Bukhārī #

[32] Aḥmad #

[33] Bayhaqī said it was ṣaḥīḥ and Tirmidhī #3269 said it was ḥasan.

[34] Zurqānī 5, pp. 452+

[35] Bukhārī #

[36] Aḥmad

[37] Bukhārī #

[38] Bukhārī #

[39] Bukhārī #, Muslim #

[40] Muslim #

[41] Bukhārī #

[42] Muslim #2331

[43] Ibn Ḥajr 6:711

[44] Suyūṭī

[45] Baghawī, Sharḥ al-Sunnah 13:221, cf. Qārī

[46] Baghawī, Sharḥ al-Sunnah 13:221, 13:278 cf. Qārī

[47] Haythamī, cf. ḥadīth #8

[48] Ṭabarānī, al-Kabīr 10:183, 22:155, cf. ḥadīth #8

[49] Bukhārī #3549, Muslim #2337

[50] cf. ḥadīth #3

[51] Bukhārī #5906

[52] cf. ḥadīth #10

[53] Bayhaqī 1:274

[54] Ṭabarānī, al-Kabīr 24:274. Haythamī, Majmaʿ al-Zawāʾid 8:280, said that its narrators were trustworthy and precise and Arnaʾūṭ ruled it ḥasan.

[55] cf. ḥadīth #14

[56] cf. ḥadīth #7

[57] ḥadīth #

[58] Munāwī

[59] Ibn Mājah #1334

[60] Abū Zurʿah al-Rāzī, Dalāʾil al-Nubuwwah as cited by ibn Kathīr, al-Shamāʾil, pg. 24

[61] Bukhārī #14-15, Muslim #44

[62] Bukhārī #16, Muslim #43

[63] Bukhārī #6632

About Shaikh Abu Rumaysah Refi Shafi

Abu Rumaysah Refi Shafi was born and brought up in High Wycombe. He currently studies with Shaykh Haitham Al-Haddad and, previously, Shaykh Abu AbdiRahman Al-Libee. He graduated from Imperial College from the faculty of Electronic Engineering. He currently works as a Software Engineer and is the chairman of WISE (Wycombe Islamic Society). He is very active in his local community, especially with his Masjid and working with youth. He has translated a number of books such as 'The Criterion between the Friends of Allah and the Friends of Shaytan,' and 'Relief from Distress (the Dua of Yunus 'alayhī al-Salām),' both by Ibn Taymiyyah as well as many others. He has also written an explanation of Surah al-Fatihah called ‘The Spiritual Cure.’ He currently gives weekly circles in High Wycombe on a variety of topics covering aqidah, fiqh, hadith, tafsir and Arabic Language. He is also a Lecturer for MRDF.

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