“A Man of Evident Splendor” – Description of The Prophet
The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam combined both outward and inward perfection. Allah ta’ala fashioned His Prophets to be morally and phsyically sound or kamaal. We are all familiar with the beautiful character of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, yet how many of us are aware of his physical beauty? We find in the seerah many beautiful descriptions from the Companions that describe the physical perfection of the Messenger of Allah alayhi salaatu wa salaam, inshaAllah a few instances will be shared here.
Moon vs Sun
Al Baraa ibn Malik radi Allahu anhu was asked, “Was the messenger of Allah’s face sword-like?” and he responded, “No, it was moon-like.” [Miskaat Al Masaabih 2/518]
We recognize the beauty in the sun, so why did the companion describe him as a moon, and not as the sun? The scholars say that although the sun is beautiful in nature, you cannot look at the sun directly because it is too bright and painful for your eyes. However with the beauty of the moon, you can stare at it the whole night without any pain. Such is the beauty of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam–there is no harm in staring at him. Another companion, Jabir bin Samurah radi Allahu anhu said, “I saw him at one full-moon night. I looked at him. He was dressed in a red garment. I compared him with the moon and found that — for me — he was better than the moon.” [Mishkat Al-Masabeeh 2/518]
Another point from this description is that Al-Baraa was asked if his face was ‘sword-like’–a sword is thin while the moon is round, so from this we also learn that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam did not have a thin and lean face, rather he had a round face.
Ka‘b bin Malik radi Allahu anhu said: “When he was pleased, his face would shine with so bright light that you would believe that it was a moon-piece.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 1/502]
Description of Anas radi Allahu anhu
Anas ibn Malik radi Allahu anhu was the servant of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam for ten years, and his description is more amazing because of this fact. Usually those under us–wives, children, employees– are the ones who see the ‘worst’ side of our character because we do not fear reproach from them, but Anas radi Allahu anhu narrated that he never even heard “uff” (the smallest expression of disgust) from the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam!
He said radi Allahu anhu, “I have never touched silk or a silky garment softer than his hands; nor have I smelt a perfume or any scent nicer than his.” [Sahih Bukhari]
Description of Umm Ma’bad
The description of Umm Ma’bad is by far the most comprehensive and detailed narration we have of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. This woman, who would take care of travelers who passed by her tent, only saw the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam once. During the hijrah of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, he stopped by her tent with his companions for some rest and food.
“It was narrated that the Messenger sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, his servant, a guide and Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu left Mecca, passing a tent of an elderly lady called Umm Ma’bad. She would sit close to the tent and would give food and drink to travelers. So they asked her if they could buy some meat or dates from her but she could not find anything. The Messenger of Allahsal Allahu alayhi wa sallam looked towards a sheep next to the tent. They had run out of provisions and where hungry. The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam asked Umm Ma’bad, “What is wrong with this sheep, dear Umm Ma’bad?”
She replied, “The sheep is fatigued and is weaker than the other sheep.”
The Messenger of Allah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Does it milk?”
She replied, “I swear by your mother and father, if I saw milk from it then I would milk it.” The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam called the sheep and moved his hand over its udder; he pronounced the name of Allah and praised him. Then he called Umm Ma’bad when the sheep steadied its feet and its udder filled. He asked for a large container and milked it until it was filled. The lady drank until full, his companions (meaning satisfied) drank until full, then the others drank. Then it was milked for a second time until the container was full and they left her and continued on their journey.
After a short while, the partner of the lady (Abu Ma’bad) returned from herding goats that were swaying from weakness. He saw the milk and said to his wife, “Where did you get this milk from, dear Umm Ma’bad. The sheep is single and there is no milk in the house!”
She replied, “I swear by God, a blessed man came to us today”
Abu Ma’bad said, “Describe him to me.”
She then began her description; dear reader: imagine your Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam with this description below:
ظاهر الوَضَاءة– “his cleanliness was apparent”, the first thing she noticed about the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam is that his cleanliness is apparent. Imagine the situation of traveling during that time; the traveler would be bound to get some dirt on him, yet the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam was so clean that it was the first thing noticable.
أبْلَجُ الوجه-“his face was luminous”
حسن الخُلُق-“handsome disposition”
لم تعبه ثُجْلَة-“he did not have a protuding stomach”
ولم تُزْرِ به صَعْلَة-“nor did he have a small head”
في عينيه دَعَج-“his eyes had wideness”
وفي أشفاره وَطَف-“his eyelashes were long”
وفي صوته صَهَل-“and in his voice was raspiness/crackle”
وفي عنقه سَطَع-“and his neck was long”
أحْوَر-“the white of his eyes is extremely white, and the black of his eyes is extremely black”
أكْحَل-“it was was as if he had kohl (eyeliner the Arabs used) on naturally”
أزَجّ-“natural arching of his eyebrows”
أقْرَن-“looked like his two eyebrows met”, this was mentioned by Umm Ma’bad keeping in mind that she saw him once, other companions said “laysa bi aqran” he did not have any hair between his eyebrows but it was a vein that would show when he would be angry. This does not mean that he necessarily was angry during his stay with Umm Ma’bad but any thing that causes blood to rush to your head, (such as lowering it, to milk a goat for example) could have caused that.
شديد سواد الشعر-“his hair was extremely black”
إذا صمت علاه الوقار-“when he was silent he would be enveloped in an aura of respect”
وإن تكلم علاه البَهَاء-“and if he spoke it was like a light protruding from him”
أجمل الناس وأبهاهم من بعيد-“the most beautiful of people from far”
وأحسنه وأحلاه من قريب-“and the most beautiful from close”
حلو المنطق-“his speech was sweet”
لا نَزْر-“not short”, tazar means someone who is very short and brief in their speech; they do not give you more than a ‘yes/no’ answer.When the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam spoke, he did not speak in this manner.
ولا هَذَر-“not very long”, hathar is the opposite of tazar; it is to be very long and detailed in speech, to keep talking and talking, so much so that it can get annoying. Likewise the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam was not this way.
كأن منطقه خَرَزَات نظمن يَتَحدَّرن-“it was as if his speech were beads of a necklace cut”, meaning that his words fall in order after one another and that his speech was organized.
لا تقحمه عينمن قِصَر، ولا تشنؤه من طول، غُصْن بين غُصْنَيْن، فهو أنْظَر الثلاثة منظراً، وأحسنهم قدْرًا-“His height does not harm and the eye is not taken over by him, a branch between two branches, he is more radiant than them and he is most respected.”
له رفقاء يحفون به-“his companions would surround him”
إذا قال استمعوا لقوله-“when he spoke they would listen attentively to his speech”
وإذا أمر تبادروا إلى أمره-“and if he orders they hasten to it fully”
لا عَابِس ولا مُفَنَّد-“without frowning or refusing” She ends her description by talking about the respect that was shown to him, which only adds to his impressive personality in how the companions would respond. Amr ibn Alaas radi Allahu anhu when he met the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and he returned to Makkah saying that he had visited the courts of Kisrah and Caesar, and he had never seen anyone more beloved or respected than Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam.
Abu Ma’bad responded, “I swear by Allah, he is the one Quraysh mentioned to us about his affair in Makkah. I am determined to accompany him; if I could go that way.”
We ask Allah ta’ala to make us among those who truly love, follow, and dwell in Firaws with the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Ameen.