Shamāʾil al-Muḥammadiyyah – Prophetic Beauty (9-12)

…The Messenger of Allāh  had a wide mouth; eyes, the white of which had a red tinge; and lean heels….

Shamāʾil al-Muḥammadiyyah

Prophetic Beauty (Ḥadīths 9-12)

 

9.             Abū Mūsā Muḥammad ibn al-Muthanna narrated to us; Muḥammad ibn Jaʿfar narrated to us; Shuʿbah narrated to us; from Simāk ibn Ḥarb; who said that he heard Jābir ibn Samurah (RA) saying,

The Messenger of Allāh  had a wide mouth; eyes, the white of which had a red tinge; and lean heels.[1]

Shuʿbah said, ‘I asked Simāk what the meaning of “wide mouth” was and he replied, “A large mouth.” I asked him what the meaning of “Ashkal eyes” was and he replied, “Wide eyes.” I asked him what the meaning of “manhūs heels” was and he replied, “Of little flesh on the heels.”’

 

9- حدثنا أبو موسى محمد بن المثنى، حدثنا محمد بن جعفر، حدثنا شعبة، عن سماك بن حرب قال، سمعت جابر بن سمرة يقول:

كانَ رَسُولُ اللهِ  ضَلِيعَ الفَمِ، أَشْكَلَ العَينَينِ، مَنْهُوسَ العَقِبِ،

 

قال شعبة: قلت للسماك: ما ضليعُ الفم؟ قال: عظيم الفم. قلت: ما أشكلُ العينين؟ قال: طويل شِق العينين، قلت: ما منهوس العقب؟ قال: قليل لحم العقب

 

Shuʿbah said: I asked Simāk what the meaning of

‘wide mouth’ was and he replied, ‘a large mouth.’

This is the opinion of the majority, and it is also said that the meaning is ‘having large teeth,’ but this is incorrect.

 

I asked him what the meaning of ‘ashkal eyes’ was

and he replied, ‘wide eyes.’

 Qaḍī ʿIyāḍ said, ‘This is an error on the part of Simāk and the correct position is the position agreed upon by the scholars and all those who explained the difficult words occurring in the aḥādīth: shaklah is a redness in the white of the eye and this is an extremely praiseworthy feature in the view of the Arabs; shahlah is a redness in the black of the eye.[2] Bayhaqī records on the authority of ʿAlī that, “He  had large eyes, long eyelashes and his eyes had a tinge of red.”’[3]

Hāfiẓ al-ʿIrāqī said, ‘This feature is one of the signs of Prophethood. When he  journeyed to Syria with Maysirah and the monk asked about him, amongst the things that Maysirah said was, “His eyes have a red tinge to them”, to which the monk said, “That is him, that is him!”’

The Prophet (SAW) was said to have extremely keen eyesight, more so than those around him. Suhaylī records that he  could see ten stars of the Pleiades and in al-Shifā it is mentioned that he could see twelve.[4]

 

10.           Hannād ibn al-Sarrī narrated to us; ʿAbthar ibn al-Qāsim narrated to us; from Ashʿāth – i.e. ibn Sawwār; from Abū īsḥāq; from Jābir ibn Samurah (RA) who said,

 

I saw the Messenger of Allāh  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.[5]

10- حدثنا هناد بن السري، حدثنا عبثر بن القاسم، عن أشعث (يعني ابن سوار) ، عن أبي إسحاق، عن جابر بن سمره قال:

 

رَأَيتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ  فِي لَيلَةِ إَضْحِيانٍ، وَعَلَيهِ حُلَّةٌ حَمْراءُ، فَجَعَلْتُ أَنْظُرُ إِلَيهِ وَإِلى القَمَرِ، فَلَهُوَ عِنْدِي أَحْسَنُ مِنَ القَمَرِ

 

I saw the Messenger of Allāh  on a clear,

moonlit night

Some narrations mention that it was the eighth night of the month,[6] “wearing a red ḥulla,” this incident had such an impact on him that he was able to recollect it as if he  was actually standing there before him. The clothes struck him and were a further cause to ponder his  beauty.[7]

 

I paused and looked at him

meaning at his  face, “and found that, in my view,” not just his view because every Muslim who looks at him (SAW) through the light of faith and love sees him like this, unlike those who are blind. Allāh informs us, “You see them looking at you but not seeing,”[8] because what you see depends on how you look and the strength of your vision. For this reason, these disbelievers were unable to see his beauty and perfection, their sight marred by disbelief.[9]

Some narrations of this ḥadīth have, “in my eyes”[10] in place of, “in my view.”[11]

 

He was more beautiful than the moon

i.e. his physical beauty coupled with his spiritual beauty. The moon, a luminous orb of white radiance hanging in an otherwise dark, majestic heaven is being compared to his (SAW) face. Even then, this comparison falls short and fails to convey his true beauty; it is employed merely to make the point. Allāh adorned his Prophet (SAW) with a beauty that far surpassed that of the moon,[12] and the light of his  face is intrinsic to it, never leaving it. The light of the moon, however, is something that does not belong to it, it is borrowed; sometimes it fades and sometimes it disappears altogether. As such, he (SAW) is more beautiful than the moon on a clear night.[13] Not only this, but ibn Abī Hālah chose to compare his face to the moon because he  appeared when the world was steeped in the darkness of disbelief and he filled it with light just as the moon lights up the night.[14]

Kaʿb b. Mālik said that when he (SAW) was happy, “his face lit up like it was the halo of the moon.”[15] Bukhārī records on the authority of Kaʿb b. Mālik who said that, ‘when the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) was happy, his face would light up as if it was a piece of the moon.’[16] Ibn ʿUmar said that when he (SAW) was pleased, his face lit up as if a wall-mounted mirror reflecting sunlight.[17] Rubayyiʿ bint Muʿawwidh said, “Were you to see him  you would have thought the sun had risen.”[18]

 

11.           Sufyān ibn Wakīʿ narrated to us; Ḥumayd ibn ʿAbdur-Raḥmān al-Ruwwāsī [or al-Ruʾāsī] narrated to us; from Zuhayr; from Abū Isḥāq who said; a man asked Barāʾa ibn ʿªzib (RA),

 

‘Was the face of the Messenger of Allāh  like a sword?’ He replied, ‘No, it was like the moon.’[19]

11- حدثنا سفيان بن وكيع، حدثنا حميد بن عبد الرحمن الرواسي، عن زهير، عن أبي إسحاق قال، سأل رجل البراء بن عازب:

 

أَكانَ وَجْهُ رَسُولِ اللهِ  مِثْلَ السَّيْفِ؟ قالَ: لا، بَلْ مِثْلَ القَمَرِ

 

Was the face of the Messenger of Allāh  like

a sword?

i.e. in beauty and lustre. The question was also posed regarding the shape of his face as indicated by the wording of Ismāʿīlī, ‘Was the face of the Messenger of Allāh  elongated like a sword?’[20]

 

No, it was like the moon

in its radiance and beauty as well as having a round quality rather than being long.[21] This understanding is strengthened by the ḥadīth of Kaʿb b. Mālik previously quoted who said that, ‘when the Messenger of Allāh (SAW) was happy, his face would light up as if it was a piece of the moon.’ Indeed the aḥādīth prove that, “he was more beautiful than the moon,” and that, “were you to see him  you would have thought the sun had risen,” as already quoted.[22] The moon is more radiant, permanent and imparts far more benefit than the sword; as such the comparison was altered to that of the moon.[23]

Muslim records on the authority of Jābir ibn Samurah that a man asked him, ‘Did the face of the Messenger of Allāh  resemble a sword?’ He replied, ‘No, it was like the sun and the moon, it was round.’[24] Abū ʿUbayd said, ‘He did not mean that it was completely round, rather that it had a sense of softness and serenity about it.’[25] This understanding is strengthened by the report that, “he had smooth cheeks that were not raised.”[26] So his (SAW) face was brighter than the sun, and more radiant and beautiful than the moon.[27]

 

12.           Abū Dāwūd al-Maṣāḥifī – Sulaymān ibn Salm – narrated to us; Naḍr ibn Shumayl narrated to us; from Ṣāliḥ ibn Abū al-Akhdar; from ibn Shihāb; from Abū Salamah; from Abū Hurayrah (RA) that he said,

 

The Messenger of Allāh  was white skinned as if moulded of silver and he had slightly curly hair.[28]

12- حدثنا أبو داوود المصاحفي (سليمان بن سلم) ، حدثنا النضر بن شميل، عن صالح بن أبي الأخضر، عن أبي شهاب، عن أبي سلمة، عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال:

 

كانَ رَسُولُ اللهِ  أَبْيَضَ كَأَنَّما صِيغَ مِنْ فِضَّةٍ، رَجِلَ الشَّعْرِ

 

ENDNOTES

[1] Muslim, Faḍāʾil #2339 and Tirmidhī, Manāqib #3646-3647.

[2] This is the description of his (SAW) eyes provided by Ibn Ḥibbān #6289 with a ṣaḥīḥ isnād: ashhal al-ʿaynayn.

[3] Bayhaqī 1:212

[4] Qārī

[5] Tirmidhī, Adab #2811 who said it was ḥasan gharīb. Ḥākim #7383 said it was ṣaḥīḥ and Dhahabī agreed,

[6] Qārī

[7] Qārī

[8] al-Aʿrāf (7): 198

[9] Qārī

[10] Abū Yaʿlā #7477, Ḥākim #7383, Bayhaqī, Shuʿab #1351

[11] Munāwī

[12] ʿAbbād

[13] Qārī

[14] Munāwī

[15] Abū Nuʿaym, al-Dalāʾil #553, Abū al-Shaykh, Akhlāq al-Nabī #143

[16] Bukhārī, Manāqib #3556

[17] Abū al-Shaykh, Akhlāq al-Nabī #142

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

[19] Bukhārī, Ṣifatu’l-Nabī #3552 and Tirmidhī, Manāqib #3636.

[20] Qārī, Munāwī

[21] Suyūṭī

[22] Qārī

[23] Munāwī

[24] Muslim, Faḍāʾil #2344

[25] Qārī, cf. ḥadīth #7

[26] Ḥadīth #8.

[27] Munāwī. cf. the comments to ḥadīth #8.

[28] The author was alone in recording it. Albānī, al-Ṣaḥīḥah #2053 ruled it ṣaḥīḥ.

Posted in Articles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *