The Characteristics of the Prophet (SAW)-Physical Description
Read the previous part: Names of the Prophet
3a. The Muhammadan Characteristics
Al-Shama’il al-Muhammadiyyah is a study of the characteristics, traits and attributes of the prophet (may Allah peace and blessings be upon him). These characteristics include, and are not restricted to, his physical demeanor and his character/manners.
3b. How does Shama’il differ from Sirah?
The Sirah is a detailed study of the life of the Prophet (may Allah peace and blessings be upon him), usually from the angle of chronological events. Whereas the Shama’il are void of chronology and focus more on who the Prophet (may Allah peace and blessings be upon him) was as an individual. It is quite common for a book of Sirah to have a section on the Shama’il of the Prophet.
3c. The Physical Description of the Prophet
Poetry written by Hassan Ibn Thabit
When I saw his light shining forth,
In fear I covered my eyes with my palms,
Afraid for my sight because of the beauty of his form.
So I was scarcely able to look at him at all.
The lights from his light are drowned in his light
and his faces shines out like the sun and moon in one.
A spirit of light lodged in a body like the moon,
a mantle made up of brilliant shining stars.
I bore it until I could bear it no longer.
I found the taste of patience to be like bitter aloes.
I could find no remedy to bring me relief
other than delighting in the sight of the one I love.
Even if he had not brought any clear signs with him,
the sight of him would dispense with the need for them.
Muhammad is a human being but not like other human beings.
Rather he is a flawless diamond and the rest of mankind is just stones.
Blessings be on him so that perhaps Allah may have mercy on us
on that burning Day when the Fire is roaring forth its sparks.
3c.1. The Physical Description and Beauty of the Prophet
Ali (RA) described the noble features of the Prophet (may Allah peace and blessings be upon him): “Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) was neither assertively tall, nor reticently short, and he was an average-sized member of the population. His hair was neither crisply curled nor lank; it was loosely curled. He was neither plump nor chubby-cheeked, and in his face there was a rounded quality. He was white with a reddish tinge, dark black-eyed, with long eyelashes. He had splendid kneecaps, elbow joints and shoulder blades, free from hair. He had a strip of hair from the top of the chest to the navel. The palms of his hands and the soles of his feet were thickset. When he walked, he moved as if he were descending a declivity, and when he looked around, he looked around altogether. Between his shoulders was the Seal of Prophethood, for he is the Seal of the Prophets. He was the best of the people in generosity, the most truthful of the people in speech, the gentlest of them in temperament, and the noblest of them in social intercourse. If someone saw him unexpectedly, he was awestruck by him, and if someone associated with him knowingly, he loved him. His describer says: “I have never seen the like of him (Allah bless him and give him peace), neither before him nor after him.” (Shama’il Tirmidhi)
It is related from Jaabir (Radiallahu anhu) that he said: “I once saw Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘alayhi Wasallam on the night of a full moon. On that night he wore red clothing. At times I looked at the full moon and at times at Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘alayhi Wasallam. Ultimately I came to the conclusion that Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘alayhi Wasallam was more handsome, beautiful and more radiant than the full moon.” (Shama’il Tirmidhi)
3c.2. The Seal of Prophethood
Abdullah bin Sarjas Radiyallahu ‘Anhu says: “I came to Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam while there were people sitting in his company. I went around to the back of Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam (The narrator may have done this physically). Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam understood what I was trying to do. He removed the sheet (body wrap) from his back. I saw the place of the Seal of Prophethood between his two shoulders. It was like a cluster surrounded by til (moles) which appeared to be like a wart. I came before Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam and said to him. May Allah forgive you (or Allah has forgiven you, as is mentioned in Surah Fath, ‘That Allah may forgive you, your former and your latter sins’). Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam replied: ‘May Allah forgive you too’. The people said to me that Rasulullah Sallallahu’Alayhi Wasallam has made du’aa for your maghfirah (forgiveness). I replied: ‘Yes, and for you too, because Allah Ta’aala has said: ‘O Muhammad, seek forgiveness for yourself and the Mu’min males and females also”‘. (Shama’il Tirmidhi)
3c.3. The Blessed Hair of the Prophet
Qataadah bin Da’aamah As-Sadusi relates: “I asked Anas R.A., ‘How was the hair of Rasulullah (SAW)?’. He replied: ‘It was not very twisted, nor very straight. It had a slight twist and was a bit curled, and reached till his ear-lobes'”. (Shama’il Tirmidhi)
Anas bin Maalik R.A. reports:“I did not count more than fourteen white hair on the head and beard of Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihe wasallam)”. (Shama’il Tirmidhi)
3c.4. The Prophet’s Garments
Ummi Salamah Radiyallahu ‘anha relates: “Of all the clothing, Rasulullah Sallallahu ‘Alayhi Wasallam preferred wearing the qamis (Thowb, kurtaa) the most”. (Shama’il Tirmidhi)
Bin Abbas (RA) says that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) used to say, “Choose white clothing, as it is the best clothing. And bury your dead in it.” (Shama’il Tirmidhi)
3c.5. The Prophet’s Sandals
Qatadah reports, ” I asked Anas (RA) to describe the sandals of Allah’s Messenger (SAW) and he replied, ‘Each sandal had two straps.” (Shama’il Tirmidhi)
Abu Hurairah (RA) relates that the Prophet (SAW) said,“Whenever one of you puts on his shoes, he should begin with the right, and when he removes his shoes he should begin with his left. The right foot should be first when putting on, and last when removing. ” (Shama’il Tirmidhi)
3c.6. The Prophet’s Ring
Bin Umar (RA) narrates that,“Allah’s Messenger (SAW) had a ring made of silver. He used it as a stamp on letters, but did not always wear it.” (Shama’il Tirmidhi)
3c.7. The Prophet’s Sword
Anas (RA) reports that< “the handle of the sword of the Prophet of Allah was made of silver.” (Shama’il Tirmidhi)
3c.8. The Prophet’s Turban
Bin Umar (RA) reports, “when the Messenger of Allah fastened an amamah, he used to put the shamlah between his shoulders.” (Shama’il Tirmidhi)
Read the next part: Etiquettes of the Prophet (SAW)