Muhammad (S) – The Prophet of Islam – Part 3
by Habib Siddiqui
It is said that a man’s real essence is known only by those who are close to him and had interacted with him on a regular basis. Let’s meet some of these individuals.
Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA), was ten years old when Muhammad (S) received revelations from Allah at the age of forty. In his childhood, he was raised by the Prophet (S) and his wife Khadija (RA). He later married their youngest daughter – Faimah (RA). This is how Ali (RA) described Muhammad (S):
“He (Muhammad (S)) was not vulgar nor did he condone vulgarity, and he was not one to shout in the market place. He did not reward evil with evil, rather, he would forgive and overlook. He never in his life struck anything with his hand except when he was fighting in the name of Allah. He never struck a servant nor a woman, and I never saw him taking revenge for an injustice dealt him, except if the prohibitions of Allah were transgressed. For if the prohibitions of Allah were transgressed he was among the strongest of them in anger. He was never given a choice between two matters but he chose the simplest of the two. If he entered into his home he was a man like any other; cleaning his own garment, milking his own goat, and serving himself.
He would guard his tongue from that which did not concern him. He would attract them (the people) and not repel them. He would ennoble the noble of the people and charge them with their affairs. He was wary of the people and guarded himself against them but without depriving them a warm smile or fitting conduct. He would inquire after his companions and would ask the people about their affairs. He would encourage that which was good and strengthen it, and he would discourage that which was evil and undermine it. He was balanced and consistent. He would never be neglectful that they would not learn neglect and grow indifferent. He had a provision for every occasion and he never fell short of justice nor exceeded it.
The closest people to him were the best among them, and the best among them in his eyes were the most comprehensive in advice. The highest of them in stature with him was the best among them in looking after the people and assisting them. He would not rise nor sit down without praise [to Allah]. If he visited a gathering he would sit wherever the group ended (and not at their head) and he encouraged the same. He would give all those sitting with him their just due [to the extent that] they would each feel that none was more important to him than them. If someone were to sit with him or come in search of a favor he would be patient with them until they (the guest) would be the one to leave. Whoever came to him with a request was never turned away except with that which they had asked for or with a kind word. His cheerfulness and good manners encompassed them all such that he became a father to them and they all became equal in rights. His gatherings were those of knowledge, humbleness, patience, and integrity. In them there would be no raising of voices nor transgressions of prohibitions. They would not expose one-another’s errors, but would be equal, encouraging each-other in the fear of Allah. In them, they would respect their elders, be merciful to their children, give preference to those in need, and protect the stranger.”
Ali (RA) continued: “He was continually smiling, gentle in manners, soft in nature. He was not severe, harsh-hearted, loud, abusive, or miserly. He would disregard that which he disliked, and no one ever despaired of him. He never responded to disparagement or evil words. He forbade upon himself three things: Argument, arrogance, and that which did not concern him. And he relieved the people of three: He would not degrade any among them or abuse them, he would not search after their honor or private matters, and he would not speak except in matters which he hoped to be rewarded for. When he spoke his attendees would lower their heads as if birds had alighted upon them. Once he finished they would speak. They would not vie with one-another in his presence to speak, but when one would talk in his presence the rest would listen until he finished. Speech in his presence was that of the first among them. He would laugh with them, and wonder with them. He had patience with the strangers when they were gruff in speech and requests, to a degree that his companions would fetch them to him. He would say: ‘If you see someone in need, fetch him to me.’ He would not accept praise except from those who were balanced and not excessive. He would not interject into someone’s speech unless they transgressed, in which case he would either rebuke them or else leave.
He was the most generous of heart, truthful of tongue, softest in disposition, and noble in relationship. He who first set eyes upon him feared him, but he who associated with him loved him. Those who described him would say: ‘I have never seen before or after him anyone similar to him, peace be upon him’.” [Nahjul Balagha; see also the book: “Prophet Muhammad and His Western Critics” by Zafar Ali Qureshi]
Anas bin Malik (RA) was an attendant of the Prophet in Madinah. He reported: “I served the Messenger of Allah (S) for ten years, and, by Allah, he never said to me any harsh word, and he never said to me about a thing as to why I had done that and as to why I had not done that.” [Sahih Muslim]
A’isha (RA), Muhammad’s (S) wife, stated that, ‘The Prophet never used foul language and never entertained people with obscene jokes. He was well behaved when he entered the market places. His habit was not to repel evil with mutual evil. He was forgiving and could grant pardon.” (Tirmizi)
A’isha (RA) was once asked to describe the Prophet (S), and she replied that he was “the Qur’an walking”, meaning he meticulously implemented the noble teachings of the Qur’an into his daily life. She also said, “He always joined in household work and would at times mend his clothes, repair his shoes and sweep the floor. He would milk, tether, and feed his animals and do the household shopping.” [Qazi Iyaz: Shifa; Sahih Bukhari]
Not only was Muhammad (S) a devoted husband, he also encouraged his companions to follow his example: “The most perfect of the believers in faith are the best of them in morals. And the best among them are those who are best to their wives.” [Tirmizi]
Muhammad (S) was the most charitable man. Abu Dharr (RA) reported that one evening he was walking with the Prophet when he (S) said, “Abu Dharr, if the mountain of Uhud were turned into gold for me, I would not like three nights to pass and one dinar still be left with me, excepting what I would leave for paying my debts.”
Muhammad (S) was a loving father and grandfather.
Abu Hurayrah (RA), a Companion, reported that al-Aqra’ b. Habis saw Allah’s Apostle (S) kissing Hassan (RA). He said: “I have ten children, but I have never kissed any one of them, whereupon Allah’s Messenger (S) said: He who does not show mercy (towards his children), no mercy would be shown to him.” [Sahih Muslim]
Speaking about the Prophet’s love for children, Anas (RA) said, “I have never met one more merciful with children.” [An-Nawawi]
Husayn (RA), the grandson of the Prophet (S), asked his father, Ali (RA), about the Prophet’s conduct. Ali (RA) replied, “He was always cheerful, gentle and mild. There was no rigidity or coarseness in his conduct. He was neither a faultfinder nor a boisterous person and he steered away from any kind of futile engagement.” [Tabarani]
Prophet Muhammad (S) smiled so spontaneously that each one of the Companions, as they gathered around him during their visits to his house, thought to be the favorite Companion. Jareer Ibn Abdullah (RA) said, “I have not seen the Prophet, since I embraced Islam, without a smile on his face. I saw him smiling when he could not see me and he was smiling in my presence.” [Bukhari]
Abdullah Ibn Haarith (RA), a Companion, said, “I never came across a person who smiled as much as the Prophet. The Prophet regarded smiling with a brother as an act of charity.” [Tirmizi]
Anas Ibn Malik (RA) said, “He would listen carefully and attentively to questions or requests. He shifted his focus only after the person in need directed it away or the person left his presence. He held on to the hand that greeted him and waited for the other person to withdraw first. He shook the hand of anybody who extended it.” [Abu Nu’aim]
The people around Muhammad (S) loved him and wanted to get blessings from everything that he had used, touched or possessed. The following hadith is illustrative of this:
Anas b. Malik (RA) reported that when Allah’s Messenger (S) had completed his dawn prayer, the servants of Medina came to him with utensils containing water, and no utensil was brought in which he did not dip his hand; and sometime they came in the cold dawn (and he did not feel reluctant in acceding to their request even in the cold weather) and dipped his hand in them. [Sahih Muslim]
Anas (RA) reported: “I saw when the Messenger of Allah (S) got his hair cut by the barber, his Companions came round him and they eagerly wanted that no hair should fall but in the hand of a person.” [Sahih Muslim]
As has been reported by all Companions, Muhammad (S) was a very handsome man.
Al-Bara’ (RA), a Companion, reported that Allah’s Messenger (S) had the most handsome face amongst men and he had the best disposition and he was neither very tall nor short-statured. [Sahih Muslim]
Jurairi reported: “I said to Abu Tufail (RA): Did you see Allah’s Messenger (S)? He said: Yes, he had a white handsome face.” Muslim b. Hajjaj said: Abu Tufail (RA) who died in 100 Hijri (of Muslim calendar) was the last of the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (S). [Sahih Muslim]
In spite of all the adoration and reverence he enjoyed from his Companions, Muhammad (S) was a very humble man. He never allowed anyone to say that he was more than a human being. Coming as it did to an Arab pagan culture, which was infatuated with idolatory, that was a big statement. He (S) said, “Don’t commend me as Christians commend Jesus, the son of Mary. But say about me, the servant and the messenger of Allah.” [Muslim]
In another Hadith, as narrated by Abu Hurayrah (RA), Muhammad (S) is reported as saying: “I am most close to Jesus, son of Mary, among the whole of mankind in this worldly life and the next life.” His Companions asked: “Allah’s Messenger how is it?” Thereupon he said: “Prophets are brothers in faith, having different mothers. Their religion is, however, one and there is no Apostle between us.” [Bukhari]
How about statement from his rivals? [There are many that could be cited. However, the one below probably will suffice to make the point.]
When Muhammad (S) was settled in Madinah, he sent envoys to emperors, kings and rulers inviting them to Islam. The Muslim envoy, Dihyah bin Khalifah Al-Kalbi (RA), was ordered to hand Prophet’s letter over to the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius. It read: “In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful. From Muhammad, the slave and Messenger of Allah, to Heraclius, the emperor of Rome. Peace be on him who follows the guidance. After this, I invite you to accept Islam. Accept Islam and you will prosper and Allah will give you double rewards. But if you refuse, the sin of your people also will fall on your shoulders. O People of the Book! Come to a word common between us and you: that we shall not worship anything save Allah, and that we shall not associate anything with Him, nor shall some of us take others for lords besides Allah. But if they turn back, then say: Bear witness that we are Muslims (believers in oneness of God).”
Heraclius wanted to know more about this religion, so he summoned some Arab merchants to Ilya (Jerusalem), who had come to (Greater) Syria (al-Sham) with a caravan. Abu Sufyan, one of the bitterest enemies of the Prophet, happened to be in that group, so he became its spokesman. The following conversation that took place between Heraclius and Abu Sufyan is preserved in the books of traditions and history:
Heraclius: Is the family of the person claiming prophethood a noble one?
Abu Sufyan: It is a noble family.
Heraclius: Has anyone else in this family claimed prophethood?
Abu Sufyan: No.
Heraclius: Has there been any king in this family?
Abu Sufyan: No.
Heraclius: Are the people who have accepted this religion weak or influential?
Abu Sufyan: They are weak people.
Heraclius: Are his followers increasing or decreasing?
Abu Sufyan: They are on the increase.
Heraclius: Have you ever known him to tell lies?
Abu Sufyan: No.
Heraclius: Does he ever commit a breach of any pact?
Abu Sufyan: He has not done it so far, but we would like to see if he keeps up a new peace treaty that we have recently negotiated with him.
Heraclius: Have you ever fought against him?
Abu Sufyan: Yes.
Heraclius: What was the result?
Abu Sufyan: Sometimes we won and sometimes he.
Heraclius: What does he teach?
Abu Sufyan: He tells us to worship Allah and Allah alone and not to worship anything along with Him, and to renounce all that our ancestors had said. He orders us to pray, to speak the truth, to be chaste and to keep good relations with our kith and kin.
Heraclius then summed up the conversation thus: “You say that this man belongs to a noble family. Prophets always come from noble families. You say that no one else in the family ever before claimed prophethood. Had it been so, I would have thought that he was influenced by family traditions. You say that none of his predecessors was a king. Had it been so, I would have thought that he was aspiring to attain kingship. You admit that he never tells lies. A person who does not tell a lie to a man cannot tell a lie about God. You say that poor people are the adherents of his creed. The first followers of prophets always come from this class. You say that his religion is expanding. This is a characteristic of a true religion. You say that he does not deceive. Prophets do not deceive anyone. You say that he bids you to offer prayers and to observe purity and chastity. If all this is true, his realm will come right up to my domain. I had thought that a prophet might be coming, but I did not think that he would be born in Arabia. If I could go there, I would have paid homage to him.” [Bukhari]
[After the conquest of Makkah, Abu Sufyan became a Muslim. He used to say that he had to give true answers to the emperor, as he was afraid of being contradicted by one or more of his caravan companion if he gave any false reply.]
(To be continued)
[About the author: Dr. Habib Siddiqui has authored seven books. His latest book: The Counsel – is now available in Malaysia from the Islamic Book Trust.]