بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْم
الحمد لله رب العالمين الذي منّ علی المؤمنين اذ بعث فيهم رسولا من انفسهم يتلوا عليهم ايته و يزكيهم و يعلمهم الكتاب و الحكمة و ان كانوا من قبلُ لفي ضلال مّبين
After the events of the Harb Al-Fujjar (The Sacrilegious War) and the consequent coalition of Hilf Al-Fudhool (The Pact of the Virtuous), Makkah was slowly on the path to recovery. The Prophet ﷺ had now been living in the care of his uncle and aunt – Abu Taalib and Sayyidah Fatimah bint Asad رضی الله عنها – for almost ten-years, as they watched him ﷺ grow from his late-childhood, through to his formative teenage years. The Prophet ﷺ was now a young boy approaching the final years of his teenage life – from the age of seventeen onwards – entering into his early twenties. The next ten-years would see them witness the Prophet’s ﷺ transition – from a teenager – to an adult, maturing into manhood as his blessed mind, body and soul were developing towards their fullest form.
Allah سبحانه و تعالی developed the inner and outer traits of His beloved young Prophet ﷺ until both his “Khalq” (Physical Form) and his “Khuluq” (Character) reached the height of beauty and excellence. As a man, he ﷺ embodied the very essence of his name “Muhammad” (The Praiseworthy). No one in creation could match a single quality of his perfection, nor match a single word – with justice – to his excellence. Allah سبحانه و تعالی alone can praise the pinnacle of His creation: Muhammad ﷺ, the greatest man to ever grace this universe and all that flows beyond it.
As the famous American poet Amir Sulaiman beautifully articulates:
“You a shoreless sea; a night-less day!”– Amir Suleiman
The Beauty of the Prophet ﷺ
Both Abu Taalib and Sayyidah Fatimah bint Asad رضی الله عنها, as well as the wider populous of Makkah could not help but stop in awe as they witnessed the perfection of his ﷺ beauty forming by the day. As the Prophet ﷺ walked through the streets of Makkah, he passed not a single person, except that he caught their eye. Rather, their sights were captivated to the point that they wished his vision would not leave their frame of view, as they yearned to endlessly gaze upon his beautiful smile.
He ﷺ was an equilibrium of perfection and balance in every aspect and detail. Nothing about him ﷺ was extreme, nor was it underwhelming. Those who saw him would struggle to find words beautiful enough to describe him, and eventually realise they could not do justice saying:
لَمْ أَرَ قَبْلَهُ، وَلا بَعْدَهُ مِثْلَهُ
“I have never seen the like of him, neither before him nor after him.” (Tirmidhi)
One of the most beautiful examples of the captivating vision of his ﷺ beauty and conduct comes from Sayyidah Umm Maa’bad رضی الله عنها, whose words etch that vision in our yearning hearts as she says:
رَأَيْتُ رَجُلًا ظَاهَرَ الْوَضَاءَةِ أَبْلَجَ الْوَجْهِ حَسَنَ الْخَلْقِ لَمْ تَعِبْهُ ثُحْلَةٌ، وَلَمْ تُزْرِ بِهِ صَعْلَةٌ وَسِيمٌ فِي عَيْنَيْهِ دَعَجٌ وَفِي أَشْفَارِهِ وَطَفٌ وَفِي صَوْتِهِ صَهَلٌ، وَفِي عُنُقِهِ سَطَعٌ، وَفِي لِحْيَتِهِ كَثَاثَةٌ، أَزَجُّ أَقْرَنُ، إِنْ صَمَتَ فَعَلَيْهِ الْوَقَارُ، وَإِنْ تَكَلَّمَ سَمَاهُ وَعَلَاهُ الْبَهَاءُ، أَجْمَلُ النَّاسِ وَأَبْهَاهُ مِنْ بَعِيدٍ، وأَحْلَاهُ وَأَحْسَنُهُ مِنْ قَرِيبٍ، حُلْوُ الْمِنْطَقِ، فَصْلٌ لَا هَذِرٌ وَلَا تَزِرٌ، كَأَنَّ مَنْطِقَهُ خَرَزَاتٌ نَظْمٌ يَتَحَدَّرْنَ، رَبْعٌ لَا يَأْسَ مِنْ طُولٍ، وَلَا تَقْتَحِمُهُ عَيْنٌ مِنْ قِصَرٍ، غُصْنٌ بَيْنَ غُصْنَيْنِ فَهُوَ أَنْضَرُ الثَّلَاثَةِ مَنْظَرًا، وَأَحْسَنُهُمْ قَدْرًا، لَهُ رُفَقَاءُ يَحُفُّونَ بِهِ، إِنْ قَالَ أَنْصَتُوا لِقَوْلِهِ، وَإِنْ أَمَرَ تَبَادَرُوا إِلَى أَمْرِهِ، مَحْفُودٌ مَحْشُودٌ لَا عَابِسٌ وَلَا مُفَنَّدٌ
“I saw a man of visible radiance, His appearance beautiful, His face bright – handsome and fair. His eyes were deep black, and His eyelashes lush. His voice was mellow and soft. The whiteness of His eyes was bright and the pupils of His eyes were black. His neck was long, His beard full. When He was silent, He appeared dignified. When He spoke, He was eminent, and crowned with magnificence. His speech was sweet, his words precise, like a string of pearls flowing down. He was the most striking and beautiful of people when seen from afar, and the fairest of them when seen from up close. He was of medium height, not too tall nor too short.” (Haakim, Bayhaqi, Tabarani)
Brighter than the Sun, More Radiant than the Moon
He ﷺ walked through the streets of Makkah, outshining the sun with his beautiful face. He was a sun of guidance, nobility, purity, excellence, truth, uprightness and justice. In the clear skies of a moon-lit night, his face would be more radiant and beautiful than the full moon.
The Most Beautiful in Creation
The parable of him ﷺ walking through Makkah – captivating sights, hearts and minds – is a kin to the Qur’aanic description of Sayyidinaa Yusuf علیه السلام when he had reached manhood in the minister’s quarters. Sayyidinaa Yusuf علیه السلام was bestowed with beauty equivalent to half of all beauty (Sahih Muslim). Those of Zulaikha’s (the minister’s wife) companions who saw him whilst cutting fruit sliced into their hands in awe of his beauty. But, if this was the effect of seeing Sayyidinaa Yusuf علیه السلام, how would it be if they had seen Our Master Muhammad ﷺ? The answer is eloquently articulated in two lines of poetry – often ascribed to Sayyidah Aa’ishah رضی الله عنها – which exemplify the reality of this comparison:
لوائم زليخا لو رأين جبينه
لآثرن فى القطع القلوب على اليد
“If the companions of Zulaikha were to see his ﷺ countenance too,
They would not have cut their hands, but even their hearts in two!”
(Rooh Al-Ma’aani, Zurqani)
Subhaanallah! The depth in these verses display that the captivation of Sayyidinaa Yusuf’s علیه السلام beauty overcame their senses to the extent of momentarily overshadowing their heightened sensation of pain. However, this captivation still seized when the pain had overcome it. But for the lasting captivation of Our Master Muhammad’s ﷺ beauty, even if a person reached the extent of human sensory function, even if life itself came to a halt, it still would not overcome the magnitude of his ﷺ sight.
A Portrait of Perfection ﷺ
Thus, as the Prophet ﷺ developed into manhood, his uncle and aunt would see their beloved son-like nephew rise to the morning dew, as his thick, wavy locks rolled down towards his shoulders. His glossy black hair glistening in the reflection of the scorching sun. His wide, masculine forehead giving way to his perfectly-arched eyebrows. His long, lush eyelashes lifting up and revealing his striking white eyes that surrounded his deep pupils. His perfectly aquiline nose sitting between his smooth, silky cheeks. His beautifully wide and articulate smile lifting up his dense, full-bodied beard that beautifully contrasted his perfectly-toned skin. A tone which was neither completely deprived of colour, nor intensely absorbed by it, but radiated a beautiful wheat-like hue of the “Badr Moon” (The Full Moon on the 14th / 15th).
They would see His long, radiant neck holding his perfectly-sized head, on his perfectly-formed body that was neither too short, nor too tall, but at the balanced height of four arm-lengths (approximately 6.3ft per modern metric-calculations). They would gaze at His strong, deep shoulders holding his well-built arms that merged with his fully-fleshed hands and smooth palms. The upper-width of his wide-plated chest converging inwards towards his slender-waist. His perfectly-formed abdominal-muscles glistening with pearl-like beads of sweat to reveal his lean, athletic-physique. His strong, muscular thighs connected to his well-formed legs that lifted up his beautiful, fully-fleshed feet. With simple white-attire he ﷺ outmatched the beauty of even the most lavishly-dressed youngsters in his generation, whilst also surpassing the masculinity of their fathers. He ﷺ was growing into the most beautiful man the world had ever seen, or ever will see…
Physical Strength & Physique
In addition to the beauty that was visible to the eye, his physique was also immaculate and his strength unmatched. The vigour of his walk allowed him to trail tall-mountains with ease (Sahih Al-Bukhari), whilst his fluid agility allowed him to scale-down tall trees as though walking (Sahih Muslim).
The Prophet ﷺ was immensely pro-active. He ate little and rested adequately, but productively engaged in physically exerting tasks. He ﷺ used to work with his hands whether at home, in the kitchen, or with his companions collecting wood for fire. He would practice horse-riding and train in various forms of combat.
Bravery & Combat Skills
The people of Makkah applauded bravery and the skill of weaponry, training their children from a young-age. Whilst the developing young men in his ﷺ age-group were mastering swords, spears and a blood-thirsty nature for killing, Allah سبحانه و تعالی placed His Messenger ﷺ on the path of higher-ethic and well-refined nature. He ﷺ outmatched all his sword-yielding peers in bravery, but did so without losing an iota of his calm-composure, his intellect, his humanity, his mercy or his love. He ﷺ was a master of sword-based combat and a skilled horse-rider, but excelled further into the rarer and more complex skill of Archery. Allah سبحانه و تعالی nurtured his beloved young Prophet ﷺ to master the bow and arrow, a form of combat that calmed the nerves, refined the mind and required a much greater level of concentration and co-ordination. Coupled with his perfect eyesight that could spot distant stars, he ﷺ possessed focus and perfection in his aim, and the ability to never lose sight of his target, whether in the field of combat or in the field of life.
An example of his physical precision and skill can be seen when he ﷺ was faced by an on-coming combatant, galloping on his horse at blazing-speed to attack him on the day of Uhud. The Prophet ﷺ – even in a severely wounded state – quickly took a spear and instantly aimed it so perfectly and precisely that he ﷺ was able to achieve his aim by the sharp-tip of the spear ever-so-perfectly grazing the desired area of the opponent’s neck with pin-point precision and throwing him off his horse. (Al-Bidayah w. Al-Nihayah)
An Exalted Character
No matter how brave, or how strong he ﷺ became, his heart remained the mildest of all, filled with love and mercy for all who passed his way. He ﷺ was intensely kind, gentle and merciful. He possessed the greatest perfection of character, such that there existed not a single-soul who did not admire him.
وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍۢ
“And indeed, you, are on an exalted standard of character.” (Surah Al-Qalam 68:4)
His smile enlightened lives, his hands lifted the burden of the weak and his feet worked hard to assist his uncle and his family. Surrounded by the many apostles of darkness and greed that hovered over Makkah, He ﷺ stood out distinctly, and became known as a dignified, polite, young man. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ remained perfectly chaste when society around him was immoral. He ﷺ stayed away from conflict in a society that would have wars over minor inconveniences. He ﷺ remained truthful in a society riddled with lies and corruption. He ﷺ remained trustworthy in a society filled with cheating and deceit.
Shepherding: The Occupation of the Prophets
As a young man, he ﷺ did not sit around and engage in frivolous entertainment like his peers. He began working hard to support his uncle and aunt by earning whatever he could, even if it meant working long, intense-shifts for little pay. The Prophet ﷺ thus began earning a livelihood by shepherding goats and sheep – an occupation He ﷺ would later say is the occupation of every prophet:
“ مَا بَعَثَ اللَّهُ نَبِيًّا إِلاَّ رَاعِيَ غَنَمٍ ” . قَالَ لَهُ أَصْحَابُهُ وَأَنْتَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ . قَالَ ” وَأَنَا كُنْتُ أَرْعَاهَا لأَهْلِ مَكَّةَ بِالْقَرَارِيطِ ”
“Allah has not sent any Prophet but he was a shepherd.” His Companions said to him: “Even you, O Messenger of Allah?” He said: “Even me, I used to tend the sheep of the people of Makkah for a few Qeerats (a coin weighing approximately 0.2g of Silver)” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
This occupation was no easy feat. With goats remaining unpredictable, or suddenly darting off in any given direction, a shepherd must constantly and patiently remain watchful, keeping a keen eye on every member of the herd; ensuring none are attacked or killed by nearby predators. In addition to this, the task of herding, navigating, guiding, training and teaching a species that could not be communicated with by words required a great level of care and patience. It would be in Allah’s سبحانه و تعالی perfectly prepared plan that these years of tending to goats would be a preparation for him ﷺ tending to mankind. As he ﷺ was reported to have said:
كُلُّكُمْ راعٍ وكلُّكُمْ مَسْؤُوْلٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ
“All of you are shepherds, and all of you will be questioned regarding your flock.”
Just as a goat tends to bolt from its shepherd, so does a human being from his Prophet. The Shayaateen (Devils) are always preying to lure man away from the truth, and the mission of the Prophets is to protect them from these lures. Guiding, teaching and navigating those who would turn a deaf ear to the word of Allah, required bringing them to the truth with love and patience when words had no effect. This further trained the Prophet ﷺ in his tolerance and determination and also increased his ability to give individual love, care and attention to each member of his Ummah, just as he individually identified with each sheep in an otherwise identical-looking herd.
Al-Ameen: A Man of His ﷺ Word
As a young man dealing with people on various levels, the Prophet ﷺ quickly became known as Al-Ameen (The Trustworthy) and As-Saadiq (The Truthful). There was not an individual in Makkah, except they felt the honour and integrity of his being. People would rush to leave their most valuable belongings in his care, knowing there was no one more trustworthy.
The Prophet ﷺ was also highly punctual, and always fulfilled his word. He ﷺ did not need to take an oath or a promise, but would strive to honour his every word as though it was the highest of oaths. Thus a man once confirmed a meeting with the Prophet ﷺ at a specific time and location. True to his word, The Prophet ﷺ arrived on location, punctual as per the agreed time. The man however, was not present, and did not show up even after a long period of time. The man had forgotten and did not manage to fulfil his agreement. Three days later that very man passed by the agreed location, only to see that the Prophet ﷺ was still waiting there – even after the three days – to fulfil his agreement. (Abu Dawood)
Subhaanallah! Such was the esteemed nature of the Prophet ﷺ. In his later years we see that Allah سبحانه و تعالی would fulfil and honour the word of his Beloved Prophet ﷺ, even if it meant halting the sun due to his ﷺ statement. (Al-Khasaais Al-Kubra)
As-Saadiq: An Honest Young Man Enters the World of Trade
As the Prophet ﷺ grew older, the Prophet ﷺ followed in the footsteps of his father – Sayyidina Abdullah رضی الله عنه – and his uncle – Abu Taalib – as he ventured into the occupation of trade. Whilst this was a field that took mild-mannered men into the depths of dishonesty, greed and exploitation, the Prophet ﷺ entered into trade gaining the title of “As-Saadiq” (The Truthful). His honesty and integrity not only stood firm in the face of deceitful tradesmen, but also destroyed the notion that honest trade would result in failure and loss. He ﷺ quickly surpassed others to become one of the most-sought after trade-partners in the whole of Makkah.
A Masterpiece of Perfection
The Prophet ﷺ had now entered into his early twenties, and began embracing adulthood. He ﷺ was now walking in the streets of Makkah as a young man, the most virtuous of them all, and the most handsome. His wisdom, his intellect, his beauty and his eloquence continued to develop as he grew older. As he supported his household, enlightened the streets of Makkah, elevated the art of combat, braced his bow, uplifted the weak and defenceless, refreshed the marketplaces and trade-routes, steered his horse in grandeur and herded sheep with patience, he ﷺ had become the masterpiece of perfection in all of Allah’s creation.
Even fourteen-hundred years later, every author who attempted to compile a book on his ﷺ blessed Shamaail (The Prophetic Description), found themselves captivated beyond measure. Each of these authors would journey through twenty, thirty, forty, if not a hundred chapters, detailing every aspect about him ﷺ, only to find themselves wishing there was more to compile. They did not wish to conclude their works, just so they could keep their minds captivated in the awe of his beauty. And thus, in the end they felt the same yearning-pain of Imaam Tirmidhi رحمة الله علیه – and coped with that desperation the same way he did, by finally concluding their works… on the chapter of “Dreaming” of him ﷺ! A sincere intent of loving-desperation, seeking that their hearts be blessed to witness all that they have compiled, so they too could remain in the captivation of his beauty, just as the people of Makkah had now become…
May Allah سبحانه و تعالی bless us all with his ﷺ beautiful vision in our dreams and in our awakened states! Ameen Yaa Rabbal ‘Aalameen.
Join us tomorrow as we continue the blessed Seerah with our next article: “Marriage to Sayyidah Khadijah رضی الله عنها“