Shama’il al-Muhammadiyyah – Prophetic Beauty (4-6)

…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 (SAW). He had hair that reached his shoulders and his shoulders were broad. He was neither short nor tall…

Shamāʾil al-Muḥammadiyyah
Prophetic Beauty (Ḥadīths 4-6)

 

4.             Maḥmūd ibn Ghaylān narrated to us; Wakīʿ narrated to us; Sufyān ath-Thawrī narrated to us; from Abū Isḥāq; from Barāʾa ibn ʿĀzib (RA) that he 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 (SAW). He had hair that reached his shoulders and his shoulders were broad. He was neither short nor tall.[1]

1-        حدثنا محمود بن غيلان، حدثنا وكيع، حدثنا سفيان الثوري، عن أبي إسحاق، عن البراء بن عازب قال:

 

ما رَأَيتُ مِنْ ذِي لِمَّةٍ فِي حُلَّةٍ حَمْراءَ أَحْسَنَ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللهِ  ، لَهُ شَعْرٌ يَضْرِبُ مَنْكِبَيهِ، بَعِيدُ ما بَينَ المَنْكِبَينِ، لَمْ يَكُنْ بِالقَصِيرِ وَلا بِالطَّوِيلِ

 

5.             Muḥammad ibn Ismāʿīl narrated to us; Abū Nuʿaym narrated to us; Masʿūdī narrated to us; from ʿUthmān ibn Muslim ibn Hurmuz; from Nāfiʿ ibn Jubair ibn Muṭʿim; from ʿAlī ibn Abū Ṭālib (RA) that he said,

The Prophet (SAW) 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.[2]

2-        حدثنا محمد بن إسماعيل، حدثنا أبو نعيم، حدثنا المسعودي، عن عثمان بن مسلم بن هرمز، عن نافع بن جبير بن مطعم، عن علي بن أبي طالب قال:

 

لَمْ يَكُنْ النبيُّ   بِالطَّوِيلِ وَلابِالقَصِيرِ، شَثْنُ الكَفَّينِ وَالقَدَمَينِ، ضَخْمُ الرَّأْسِ ضَخْمُ الكَرادِيسِ، طَوِيلُ المَسْرُبَةِ، إِذا مَشَى تَكَفَّأَ تَكَفُّؤاً كَأَنَّما يَنْحَطُّ مِن صَبَبٍ، لَمْ أَرَ قَبْلَهُ وَلا بَعْدَهُ مِثْلَهُ

 

6.             Sufyān ibn Wakīʿ narrated to us; my father narrated to us; from Masʿūdī the likes of this with this isnād. 6- حدثنا سفيان بن وكيع حدثنا أبي عن المسعودي بهذا الإسناد نحوه بمعناه.

 

The Prophet (SAW) was neither tall nor short. He had

masculine hands and feet

Bukhārī also recorded from Anas that “The Prophet (SAW) had masculine (shathn) hands and feet.”[3] He also records that Anas said, “The Prophet (SAW) 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,”[4] and “ample (raḥb) palms,”[5] with long fingers.[6]

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.”[7] He also said, ‘Khaṭṭābī explained it to mean thickness and longness 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  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.’[8] Ibn Ḥajr said, ‘The correct position is that the word means thick and sturdy without being short or calloused.’[9] Hence, the meaning is that his (SAW) hands were large and sturdy, tending towards being thick, but without being short or calloused.[10]

Ibn Baṭṭāl said, ‘His  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 hand ”[11] 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  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.’[12]

Bukhārī records a ḥadīth stating that the Prophet (SAW) had long hands.[13] 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 (SAW) hands were blessed and full of blessings. Muslim records that he  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.’[14]

Bukhārī records on the authority of Abū Juḥayfah that the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) 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.’[15]

Abū Juḥayfah said, ‘The Messenger of Allāh (SAW) 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.’[16]

Jābir ibn Samura said, “I prayed with the Messenger of Allah (SAW) 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.”[17]

Aḥmad records that the Prophet (SAW) visited Saʿd b. Abī Waqqāṣ in Mecca 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.’[18]

Bayhaqī and Tirmidhī[19] record on the authority of Abū Zayd al-Anṣārī that the Prophet (SAW) 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.[20]

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 Madina. The Prophet (SAW) said, “Stretch your leg!” He passed his hand over the broken bones and they mended there and then.[21]

Hanẓalah b. Juzaym al-Tamīmī was brought to the Prophet (SAW) by his father. The latter said, ‘Messenger of Allah, I have sons with beards, this is the youngest, pray Allah for him!’ The Prophet passed his hand over his head, then said, “May Allah 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 Allah (SAW) was placed,’ then rubbed the swelling and cured it.[22]

Jābir b. ʿAbdullāh said, ‘The Messenger of Allāh (SAW) 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.’[23]

Abū Hurayrah once said, ‘Messenger of Allāh, I often hear you speak but I forget!’ He (SAW) 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.[24]

Jābir b. ʿAbdullāh said, ‘As the trench was being dug I noticed that the Prophet (SAW) suffered from severe hunger. I returned to my wife saying, “Do you have anything, for I have noticed that the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) 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 (SAW), 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 (SAW) 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!”’[25]

Anas b. Mālik said, ‘I once saw the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) when it was time for ʿAṣr prayer and people looked for water for their ablutions and found none. The Messenger of Allāh (SAW) 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.’[26]

Abū Hurayrah said that he had heard the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) 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.”[27]

Muslim records on the authority of Umm Sulaym that the Prophet (SAW) 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  asked about this she said, ‘It is your sweat which we have put in our perfume, and it is perfume of the sweetest type!’[28]

Ibn Ḥajr said, ‘Abū Yaʿlā and Bazzār record with a ṣaḥīḥ isnād on the authority of Anas that when the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) passed through a road in Mecca, he would leave behind him the fragrance of musk and the people would say, “The Messenger of Allāh has passed!”’[29]

 

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.[30] Baghawī said that what was meant was that he had large, stout limbs.[31]

 

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.’[32] Bayhaqī records the ḥadīth, “He  had a line of hair extending from his navel to chest, and he had no other hair on his chest or stomach.”[33] Other ḥadīths explicitly describe the hair as being fine.[34] His (SAW) bodily hair will be discussed further in ḥadīth #7.

 

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 (SAW) was the most handsome of people, with the best of physiques. He was neither very tall nor was he short.’[35] He also said, “I have never seen anything more beautiful than him.”[36] Bukhārī records that Anas said, “He (SAW) had a handsome face, and I have not seen anyone, before him or after him, who was like him.”[37] Jābir b. Samrah said, ‘I saw the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) 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.’[38] Abū Hurayrah (RA) said, “Out of all people, he had the best and most beautiful qualities.”[39] Rubayyiʿ bint Muʿawwidh, ‘Were you to see him (SAW) you would have thought the sun had risen.’[40] Abū’l-Ṭufayl said, ‘‘He was white skinned and handsome.’[41] ʿAlī (RA) 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.”’[42] 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.”[43]

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 (SAW) reached the peak of perfection in all of these.[44] Indeed, his inner and outer beauty was such that people would just look at his (SAW) face and believe in him, knowing that he could not be a liar. ʿAbdullāh b. Salām reported that when the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) came to Medina, 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.”[45] al-Ḥārith b. ʿAmr said, ‘I went to the Prophet (SAW) 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!”’[46]

Moreover, a Muslim sees the Prophet (SAW) through the lens of faith and love, which enhances the sense of his beauty. To love Allāh’s Messenger (SAW) is part and parcel of faith; the more love one has the more complete his faith. Allāh’s Messenger (SAW) 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.”[47] One time ʿUmar said to the Prophet (SAW), ‘Messenger of Allāh, you are more beloved to me than everything except my own self.’ The Prophet (SAW) 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 (SAW) said, “ʿUmar, now you have it!”[48] Allāh’s Messenger (SAW) 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.”[49]

 

ENDNOTES

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

[2] 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).

[3] Bukhārī #5910

[4] Bukhārī #5907.

[5] Ḥadīth #8 below

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

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

[8] Bukhārī #

[9] Ibn Ḥajr 10:440

[10] Qarī, Munāwī

[11] Bukhārī #3561 and Muslim #2329

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

[13] Bukhārī #

[14] Muslim #2329

[15] Bukhārī #3553

[16] Bukhārī #376

[17] Bukhārī #

[18] Aḥmad #

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

[20] Zurqānī 5, pp. 452+

[21] Bukhārī #

[22] Aḥmad

[23] Bukhārī #

[24] Bukhārī #

[25] Bukhārī #, Muslim #

[26] Muslim #

[27] Bukhārī #

[28] Muslim #2331

[29] Ibn Ḥajr 6:711

[30] Suyūṭī

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

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

[33] Haythamī, cf. ḥadīth #8

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

[35] Bukhārī #3549, Muslim #2337

[36] cf. ḥadīth #3

[37] Bukhārī #5906

[38] cf. ḥadīth #10

[39] Bayhaqī 1:274

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

[41] cf. ḥadīth #14

[42] cf. ḥadīth #7

[43] ḥadīth #

[44] Munāwī

[45] Ibn Mājah #1334

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

[47] Bukhārī #14-15, Muslim #44

[48] Bukhārī #16, Muslim #43

[49] Bukhārī #6632

 

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