PERSONALITY & CHARACTER
OF THE HOLY PROPHET
(Sallallaahu Alaihi wa Sallam)
This is what Almighty Allaah has said about His great Apostle Muhammad (S.A.W.) -
"You (Believers) have indeed in the Apostle of Allaah a beautiful pattern (of
conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allaah and the Final Way, and who engages much in the praise of Allaah." (Al-Qur'aan 33:21).
And again -
"And thou (standest) on an exalted standard of character." (Al-Qur'aan
Almighty Allaah has also been pleased to raise his esteem high -
"Have we not exalted for thee thy renown?" (Al-Qur'aan, 94:4).
To the Muslims, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) is the most exalted one after Almighty Allaah. But some of the non-Muslims have also been urged to proclaim to the world more particularly to the non-believing world, the greatness of the Holy Prophet.
Major General Forlong says in his 'Short Studies in the Science of Comparative Religions':-
"We must confess that Muhammad stands high in the list of the greatest of the earth's rulers and the makers of history, alike in camp and council, as a governor of men, administrator and organizer of brave turbulent tribes or settled nations. Muhammad commanded the respect of statesmen, friends and foes, and was loved, honoured and esteemed by all privileged to know him privately or publicly."
George Bernard Shaw, the famous British playwright said:
"The Mediaeval ecclesiastics, either through ignorance or bigotry, painted Muhammadanism in the darkest colours. They were, in fact, trained to hate both the man Muhammad (S.A.W.) and his religion. To them Muhammad (S.A.W.) was anti-Christ. I have studied him, the wonderful man, and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ he must be called the saviour of humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness. Europe is beginning to be enamoured of the creed of Muhammad (S.A.W.). In the next century it may go still further in recognising the utility of that creed in solving its problems."
Dwelling on the traits of tenderness in the character of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), S. H. Leeder, author of "The Desert Gateway", wrote:
"But who of the Christian writers has paused to contemplate the abundant evidence there is of the fact that the Prophet was a man of tenderness of heart, gentle with the weak and suffering, compassionate and very pitiful to the poor, a man recognised by all children as a playmate over whom they ruled with no sign of fear. It is said of his grandchildren, the world respected martyrs Hassan and Hosain, that they climbed all over him and pulled his head to tease him, with no reproof. He told them amusing stories, he was often seen lying on the floor with the infants on and about him while he played their games with their toys. He stopped children in the streets with affectionate word and gesture. The taciturnity which marked his intercourse with grown-ups ever gave way to his gentle affections for the young. There is a heartful description of him going to the smoky hut of a woman, a blacksmith's wife, who had charge of a dying child. He nursed the little invalid for many hours; and in the end it died upon his breast. To his inferiors, the Prophet was ever indulgent. He once had an awkward little page, but he would not allow him to be scolded. A servant, Anas, declared: "Ten years I was with the Prophet, and he never said as much as 'Uff'. (Fie!) upon me." He regularly visited the sick, and he taught his followers by his own example that beautiful Eastern Custom of turning to follow any bier he might meet, and even to help in carrying it, if only for a few yards, as a mark of sympathy to the departing soul."
Gibbon, the world-famous historian, wrote about the character of the Holy Prophet of Islam:
"The Lofty Ideas of Muhammad (S.A.W.) despised the pomp of royalty; the Apostle of God, submitted to menial offices of the family; he kindled the fire, swept the floor, milked the ewes, and mended with his own hands his shoes and his woolen garments. Disdaining the penance and merit of a hermit he observed, without effort or vanity the abstemious diet of an Arab and a soldier. On solemn occasions he feasted his companions with rustic and hospitable plenty; but in his domestic life, many weeks would pass away without a fire being kindled on the hearth of the Prophet. Before he spoke, the orator engaged on his side the affections of a public or a private audience. They showed great ovations to his august presence, his magnetic personality, his piercing eye, his gracious smile, his flowing beard, his countenance that reflected every sensation of the soul, and his gesture that enforced each expression of the tongue. In the familiar offices of life he scrupulously adhered to grave and ceremonious politeness of his country. His respectful attention to the rich and powerful was dignified by his condescension and affability to the poorest citizens of Mecca. His memory was capacious and retentive, his wit easy and social, his imagination sublime, his judgment clear, rapid and decisive. He possessed the courage both of thought and action; and the first idea which entertained of his Divine mission bears the stamp of an original and superior genius."
After having presented the views of non-Muslims on the habits, character and personality of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) we must also know what impressions he had made on those who had been most closely associated with him. Wives, brothers, children and servants are those members of one's social sphere who receive the greatest impact of one's personality and character. In the case of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), precisely these people are the most eloquent in their admiration of his exalted character and supreme personality.
Hazrat Khadija-tul-Kubra (R.A.) was the first wife of the Holy Prophet. He had married her at the age of 25 years, 15 years before the conferment of prophethood on him. In the early stage of his novel experience of the revelation of Allaah's Message on his mind, the Prophet some-times felt nervous. His wife, who was senior to him by 15 years, consoled him with these words:
"Never will Allaah cause you to be grief-stricken, for you are always kind and considerate towards your kith and kin, ready to take upon yourself the monetary burdens of debtors, ever helping the poor and the needy, never remise in the entertainment of guests, always supporting a right cause and extending your hand of friendship to every one who is in trouble."
Hazrat 'Aisha (R.A.) was the most learned among the wives of the Holy Prophet. She has expressed her impressions of the Prophet's magnanimous personality in the following words:
"He was never for scolding anyone. To pay evil in its own coin was not his way of life; he overlooked the faults of others and forgave them generously. Whenever he had the option to select between two courses of action, he always selected the easier one, provided it did not entail the disobedience to Allaah. He never wreaked vengeance for wrong to his person. But he had no soft corner in his heart for those who disobeyed Almighty Allaah. He never censured a man by name. With his own hand he never beat a slave, or a maid-servant, or a woman, or even an animal. He never turned down a reasonable request of any one. When he entered his house, he was all smiles. In the company of his friends, he never stretched his legs. Whenever he talked, he talked soberly so that any one who cared to remember his speech, could easily do so."
Hazrat Ali (R.A.) was the Holy Prophet's beloved cousin and son-in-law. He had embraced Islam in his boyhood and had remained in the company of the Holy Prophet for about 23 years. Once his son, Hazrat Husain (R.A.) enquired from Hazrat Ali about the character and habits of the Holy Prophet. He was told:
"He was open and polite, full of sweet leniency and gentle disposition. Never was he harsh in his speech or narrow in his mind. Never did he raise the pitch of his voice above the ordinary gentle pitch. An objectionable word never escaped his lips. It was contrary to his benign nature to find faults or to take people to task. What he personally disliked to hear, he withheld his indulgence in that topic and kept quiet. But he was not in the habit of expressing open disapproval. He totally refrained from things - debating, talking unnecessarily and indulging in affairs not concerning him. He also refrained from adverse criticism of others, finding fault with others, and probing into the affairs of others. His speech was confined to useful topics alone. When he kept talking, his companions listened to him spell-bound, with their heads cast down as if fearful of disturbing the birds perched on them. When the Prophet stopped talking, his companions freely conversed among themselves. When people laughed over some thing, the Prophet joined them with a smile. When they expressed wonder, he also joined them in their expression. If some stranger talked rudely, the Prophet remained undisturbed. He disliked to hear others praising him in his presence. But if some one expressed sentiments of gratefulness, he smilingly approved of them. It was not his habit to interfere in the course of another's conversation. He was generous to the backbone; and was truthful, lenient, and of good disposition. Any one meeting him for the first time, was overawed by his majestic personality. But as one got familiar with him, one developed love for him."
Hind bin Abi Hala (R.A.), who was Hazrat Khadijah's son from her deceased husband, was brought up under the supervision of Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) after his mother had joined the Holy Prophet in wedlock. This gentleman had frequent occasions for forming dispassionate impressions about the Holy Prophet. He said:
"The Prophet of Allaah was a man of amiable disposition and had no trait of harshness in his demeanour. He was intolerant of insult to anybody. He frequently expressed thankfulness for petty favours. He never called anything bad. Without any choice on his part, he used to take any lawful food served to him. He never laid stress on the quality of meals served to him. He was visibly moved to anger when any just cause was opposed in his presence, and he used to be foremost in supporting it. Violation of his personal rights never roused his ire and he was never seen avenging personal wrongs."
The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) had a finely chiseled, medium size physique. His complexion was pinkish white. His forehead was prominent and his body did not give the impression of a fleshy man. His mouth had the beautiful opening of a pearl oyster and the teeth within were not too closely set. He had the big head of a brainy man, which rested on a smooth, marbling neck, stretching up prominently. His hair was neither too curly nor too straight. His beard was thick and smooth having a glossy appearance. His eyes were black, collyrium-dipped, with brightness of intelligence in them. His chest was broad and well-built with a fine straight line of velvety hair stretching from the middle of the chest to the navel. The shoulders were massive and the shoulder bones were sizeable. There was a covering of hair on to the shoulders as also on his long wrists. The hand-palms were soft and large, but the feet, particularly the heels were light and tender. In between the two shoulders of the Holy Prophet, there was the "seal of Prophethood." It was ostensibly a reddish piece of superimposed flesh of the size of a pigeon's egg. The seal was more inclined towards the left rather than the right shoulder. His hair was long, hanging down on his shoulders in the description of locks. He had a natural swift gait. His graceful, agile steps resembled flow of water from a higher to a lower plain.
Of all the attractive features of his character, his manner of talking was the most superb. His speech was always sweet, terse and captivating. He had full command over the language and never did he utter a word unnecessarily. He spoke haltingly, repeating each sentence three times, so that his audience could easily remember al that he had said. In the course of conversation, he often looked upward. The pitch of his voice was sharp. To express astonishment he turned the palm of his hand upside down. To express pleasure, he often smiled gracefully and cast down his looks. Never did he indulge in loud laughter. His smile was almost perpetual which on rare occasions extended to the disclosure of his molar teeth.
Dress and Food
The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) was never particular about any special kind of dress. He usually put on "Qamees" (shirt) and "Tahmad" (sheet of cloth wrapped round the waist). It is usually believed that he was not in the habit of wearing "Pyjama" or trousers. But we learn on the authority of Imam Ahmed that the Holy Prophet did once purchase a pair of trousers from the market of Mina. It may be inferred from the above fact that trousers may have been used by the Prophet. "Mauza" or socks were not used by him; but he did put on the black pair of socks sent as a present by the Negus of Abyssinia. Those were made of leather. His headgear was turban which was often in colour. A cap sticking close to the head was invariably to be found underneath the turban. Yeminite cloth-sheets having red streaks in them were liked most by the Holy Prophet. Long Syrian tunic ('Abaa') and Persian cloak ('Qabaar') were also seen on him on rare occasions. He had a dark coloured blanket with several patches in it. It remained in his use during his last illness till his exalted soul left his sacred body.
Among colours, we learn on the authority of Zarqaani, he had used black, red, green and the saffron. But white was his most favourite colour. His shoes were of leather, made on the pattern of laced "chap-'als". His bedding comprised of a leather-cushion filled with date-palm leaves and a leather pillow also filled with date-palm leaves. The cot kept in his use was unusually very coarse. It was made with strings made of date-palm leaves. When he got up from rest, impressions of strings were visible on his body.
In the beginning he had no ring put on his fingers. When letters in his name were written to the Negus of Ethiopia and the Caesar of Rome, his companions remarked that the letters must be sealed to keep up with their high dignity. A silver ring was therefore, prepared for the Prophet. It bore the three words "Muhammad. The Apostle of Allaah" in a perpendicular line. The Holy Prophet put it in on of the right hand fingers at the time of sealing documents.
Self-denial and contentment of heart seldom brought rich food before him. All his life, he never tasted a loaf. However, he had great relish of certain articles of food like vinegar, honey, sweet puddings, olive and pumpkin vegetable. Pumpkin was his favourite dish and he used to pick out its pieces from the soup. An Arab fashion-dish called "Halis" was another of his chosen dish. It was a combination of cheese, dates and butter. Out of different kinds of meat, he ate mutton of ewe, chicken, quake, camel, goat, sheep, rabbit and fish. He had a habit of combining cucumber, water-melon and butter with dates. He disliked onion, garlic, radish because, when taken raw, they produced bad odour in the mouth. But he always liked mint. He set it as a hygienic principle never to combine in the stomach, fish with milk, sour food with milk, hot food with cold food, two articles of food both causing constipation, milk with eggs, milk with meat, and fresh meat with stale meat. Among articles of drink he loved cold water most. He also loved to take milk to which he added water sometimes. Dates and grapes were sometimes kept in cold water for him and he used to take that water, leaving the fruit behind.
The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) had no particular choice for any food nor was this his practice to order preparation of favourite dishes. He took all lawful food served on the table-cloth. If a certain food was disagreeable to his taste, he never verbally expressed his disapproval but quietly refrained from taking it. He started with whatever lay in his immediate access. He also prohibited others from stretching their hands to inaccessible items on the table cloth. He never took anything in a state of reclining. He disliked food being served on a high table or ever a raised plat-form. He disdained arrogance in social etiquette whatever its form. While taking food he soiled only three of his right-hand fingers. Sometimes he could be seen cutting pieces of meat with a knife.
The love of cleanliness was rooted deep into the sublime nature of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.). The Arabs were an uncivilized people with most unrefined habits. During congregational prayers, they sometimes splashed spittle on the mud-walls of the mosque. The Holy Prophet disliked it and condemned it most vehemently. He himself obliterated from the walls some of those ugly stains. Once he was seen getting red with anger on discovering an ugly spot of phlegm sprawled on the wall. A goodly woman from among the Ansars (Helpers of Medina) removed it assiduously and rubbed the spot with some kind of perfume. The Holy Prophet appreciated it and admired the lady. Sometimes incense and camphor were burnt in the assembly-places of the Holy Prophet. Musk of very superior quality and ambergris were constantly used by him.
Once a man with dishevelled hair entered on the Prophet. He was asked to put his hair in order. On another occasion, an Arab clad in worn-out, dirty clothes entered in the Prophet's audience. On learning that he was a well-to-do man, the Prophet reproved him:
"When Allaah has blessed you with wealth, you should make His blessing visible on your person."
The mosque of the Holy Prophet was regularly swept by a pious woman called Umme Mohjin. Entry of children of small age and lunatics was strictly prohibited in mosques. Also were prohibited the sale and purchase transactions of all kinds. Mosques were not to be used as markets. On Fridays incense was burnt in the chimneys of all mosques.
It was one of the unpolished habits of the Arabs to pass urine and stool on highways, and streets, under shade of tree and in utensils. The Holy Prophet emphatically disapproved all this and taught people how to cleanse their private parts with clods of dry earth and water after answering the call of nature.
Riding was a favourite pastime with the Holy Prophet. He loved nothing more than the back of a quality-steed. Besides horses, he also sometimes mounted mules, camels and donkeys. His personal steed was called "Loohaif", his mule "Duldul," his donkey "Ofair" and his two she-camels went by the names of "Qaswaa" and "Azbaa."
Outside Medina, between "Hasbaa" and "Thaniyyatul Wada," there was big race course with a six mile long diameter. Races were held in this vast ground and horses were diligently trained. Hazrat Ali was appointed supreme organizer of races. Hazrat Saraqah bin Malik acted as his assistant. Definite rules were laid down to govern horse-race:
(i) Horses were stationed in rows. Caution was given thrice to get prepared.
(ii) When it was all still and quiet,"Takbeer" or "Allaahu-Akbar" was to be shouted thrice. With the third shout
(iii) The signal of a winning horse was that its two ears should be ahead of the horses lagging close behind.
It is narrated that once the Holy Prophet was highly pleased to find his personal
mount, "Sanjah" by name, winning the horse-race.
Races among camels were also frequently arranged. The Holy Prophet's favourite she-camel "Azbaa" invariably won those races. Once a desert Bedouin came riding a camel which beat "Azbaa." The Muslims received a sentimental shock at this defeat; but the Prophet said:
"It is always Allaah's just course of action that He brings down in humility every thing which has reached its pinnacle of glory in the world."
(Courtesy: Yaqeen International)