Shama’il al-Muhammadiyyah – Prophetic Beauty (2-3)

…The Messenger of Allāh (SAW) was of medium stature: neither tall nor short, and of a handsome physique. His hair was neither curly nor completely straight. He had a brownish complexion and when he walked he leant forward [walking briskly]…

Shamāʾil al-Muḥammadiyyah

Prophetic Beauty (Ḥadīths 2-3)

 

2.             Ḥumayd ibn Masʿadah al-Baṣrī narrated to us; ʿAbdu-l-Wahhāb ath-Thaqafī narrated to us; from Ḥumayd; from Anas ibn Mālik (RA) that he said,

The Messenger of Allāh (SAW) was of medium stature: neither tall nor short, and of a handsome physique. His hair was neither curly nor completely straight. He had a brownish complexion and when he walked he leant forward [walking briskly].[1]

1-        حدثنا حميد بن مسعدة البصري، حدثنا عبد الوهاب الثقفي، عن حميد، عن أنس بن مالك قال:

 

كانَ رَسُولُ اللهِ  رَبْعَةً لَيسَ بِالطَّوِيلِ وَلا بِالقَصِيرِ، حَسَنَ الجِسْمِ، وَكانَ شَعْرُهُ لَيسَ بِجَعْدٍ وَلا سَبْطٍ أَسْمَرَ اللَّونِ، إِذا مَشَى يَتَكَفَّأُ

 

The Messenger of Allāh (SAW) was of medium stature:

neither tall nor short, and of a handsome physique.

Bukhārī records on the authority of al-Barāʾa that ‘The Messenger of Allāh (SAW) was the most handsome of people with the best of physiques.’[2] Another narration mentions that “his (SAW) body was well proportioned: stout and muscular.”[3]

 

His hair was neither curly nor completely straight.

He had a brownish complexion

This does not contradict the previous description of his skin as has already been explained. However, it is said that this contradicts the ensuing description that he ‘was white skinned as if moulded of silver.’[5] One explanation offered is that the brownish complexion applied to his skin that was exposed to the sun and the whiteness referred to his skin that was concealed by his garments.[6] However, this reconciliation is problematic because of the narration that mentions his neck being white as if it was made of silver and the neck is usually exposed to the sun. The more plausible explanation is that this comparison hold true when considering the lustre and sheen of his skin under the light of the sun and the smoothness of his skin as already discussed.[7]

 

And when he walked he leant forward

[walking briskly]

with strength of purpose, taking large, firm steps[8] as opposed to small ones.[9] When walking, he would lift his feet clearly off the ground[10] without dragging them. “When he walked, he (SAW) placed his entire foot on the ground,”[11] but without “stamping it down,”[12] instead placing it comfortably.[13] Moreover, when he (SAW) walked, he did not turn left or right,[14] nor did he walk idly[15] or languidly.[16] Indeed, ibn ʿAbbās said that when he (SAW) would walk a person could tell that he was not weak or lazy.[17] Abū Hurayrah said, ‘I have not seen anyone who walked faster than the Messenger of Allāh: it was as if the earth was compacted for him, we would strive to keep up with him yet he was not hard-pressed at all.’[18]

Another version of this ḥadīth has the word yatawakkaʾu instead of yatakaffaʾu, meaning to walk confidently.[19] This description is also reported by ibn ʿAbbās when he said, ‘He (SAW) walked confidently and not languidly.’[20] This steady, energetic yet comfortable gait is characteristic of those with firm determination, those who have a sense of gravity and dignity, and those with courage and valour. It stands in stark contrast to those who saunter, strut, stride, parade or swagger when walking, all of which are gaits of the ostentatious or empty headed.[21] Allāh describes the manner of walking of His servants,

“The servants of the Lord of Mercy are those who walk humbly on the earth.”[22]

And He says,

“Do not strut arrogantly about the earth: you cannot break it open, nor match the mountains in height.”[23]

“Do not turn your nose up at people, nor walk about the place arrogantly, for Allāh does not love arrogant or boastful people.”[24]

His (SAW) manner of walking will be discussed in detail in a later chapter.

 

3.             Muḥammad ibn Bashshār – al-ʿAbdī – narrated to us; Muḥammad ibn Jaʿfar narrated to us; Shuʿbah narrated to us; from Abū Isḥāq; that he heard Barāʾa ibn ʿĀzib (RA) saying,

The Messenger of Allāh (SAW) had slightly curly hair and was of medium stature with broad shoulders. His hair was luxuriant, reaching his earlobes and he wore a red ḥulla.[25] I have never seen anything more beautiful than him.[26]

2-        حدثنا محمد بن بشار يعني العبدي، حدثنا محمد بن جعفر، حدثنا شعبة، عن أبي إسحاق قال سمعت البراء بن عازب يقول:

 

كانَ رَسُولُ اللهِ   رَجِلاً مَرْبُوعاً، بَعِيدَ ما بَينَ المَنْكِبَينِ، عَظِيمَ الجُمَّةِ إِلى شَحْمَةِ أُذُنَيهِ، عَلَيهِ حُلَّةٌ حَمْراءُ ما رَأَيتُ شَيئاً قَطُّ أَحْسَنَ مِنْهُ

 

The Messenger of Allāh (SAW) had slightly curly hair

and was of medium stature.

There are two ways to read the phrase mentioned here. 1) rajulan marbūʿan meaning he (SAW) was a man of medium stature 2) rajilan marbuʿan meaning that he (SAW) had slightly curly hair and was of medium stature. In this respect Anas (RA) said, ‘The Prophet (SAW) 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.’[27] Both descriptions hold true.[28]

 

with broad shoulders. His hair was luxuriant,

reaching his earlobes

Some reports mention that his hair reached below his ears and above his shoulders,[29] others mention half way down his ears,[30] others mention to his ears, others mention to his shoulders,[31] 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  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.[32] Most of the time his (SAW) hair went down to just above his shoulders.[33]

 

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  clothes.

 

I have never seen anything more beautiful

than him.

This statement, along with proving the great beauty of the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) also goes to show Barāʾa’s complete faith because believing him  to be so is part and parcel of loving him.[34] 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[35] because Allāh has given him (SAW) a beauty and splendour far surpassing anything else.[36] This point will be elaborated further in commentary to ḥadīth #5.

 

ENDNOTES

[1] Tirmidhī #1754 and he said it was ḥasan ṣaḥīḥ gharīb.

[2] Bukhārī #3549, Muslim #2337

[3] ḥadīth #8

[4] Aḥmad #3410

[5] Ḥadīth #12.

[6] Mentioned by Bayhaqī

[7] Qārī

[8] Haythamī, Majmaʿ 8:273 references this to Ṭabarānī, al-Kabīr

[9] Qārī, Baghawī, Sharḥ al-Sunnah 12:320, ibn al-Qayyim, Zād 1:169,  Qārī, Mirqāt 9:3704

[10] Bayhaqī 1:252

[11] Bayhaqī 1:241, 1:274; cf. Bukhārī, Adab al-Mufrad #1155 from al-Barāʾa

[12] Haythamī, Majmaʿ 8:273 references this to Ṭabarānī, al-Kabīr

[13] cf. ḥadīth #8

[14] Ḥākim #7794, cf. Albānī, al-Ṣaḥīḥah #2086

[15] Aḥmad #3033

[16] Bazzār #2391

[17] Ibn ʿAsākir, Tarīkh Dimashq 4:61, cf. Albānī, al-Ṣaḥīḥah #2140

[18] Tirmidhī, Manāqib #3648. Aḥmad #8604-8943

Tirmidhī said the ḥadīth was gharīb and Arnaʿūṭ said it was ḥasan

[19] Qārī, Munāwī

[20] Aḥmad #3034, cf. Albānī, al-Ṣaḥīḥah #2086

[21] Munāwī, ibn al-Qayyim, Zād 1:169,  Qārī, Mirqāt 9:3704

[22] al-Furqān 25:63

[23] al-Israʾ 17:37

[24] Luqmān 31:18

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

[26] Bukhārī, Ṣifatu’l-Nabī #3551, Libās #5848 and Muslim, Faḍāʾil #2337.

[27] Bukhārī #5906

[28] Qārī

[29] Bukhārī #5565, Muslim #2338

[30] Muslim #2338

[31] Bukhārī #5563, Muslim #2338

[32] Qārī

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

[34] Munāwī

[35] Haythamī, ʿAbbād

[36] ʿAbbād

 

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