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History and Seerah

“A Man of Evident Splendor” – Description of The Prophet

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The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam combined both outward and inward perfection. Allah ta’ala fashioned His Prophets to be morally and phsyically sound or kamaal. We are all familiar with the beautiful character of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, yet how many of us are aware of his physical beauty? We find in the seerah many beautiful descriptions from the Companions that describe the physical perfection of the Messenger of Allah alayhi salaatu wa salaam, inshaAllah a few instances will be shared here.

Moon vs Sun

Al Baraa ibn Malik radi Allahu anhu was asked, “Was the messenger of Allah’s face sword-like?” and he responded, “No, it was moon-like.” [Miskaat Al Masaabih 2/518]

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We recognize the beauty in the sun, so why did the companion describe him as a moon, and not as the sun? The scholars say that although the sun is beautiful in nature, you cannot look at the sun directly because it is too bright and painful for your eyes. However with the beauty of the moon, you can stare at it the whole night without any pain. Such is the beauty of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam–there is no harm in staring at him. Another companion, Jabir bin Samurah radi Allahu anhu said, “I saw him at one full-moon night. I looked at him. He was dressed in a red garment. I compared him with the moon and found that — for me — he was better than the moon.” [Mishkat Al-Masabeeh 2/518]

Another point from this description is that Al-Baraa was asked if his face was ‘sword-like’–a sword is thin while the moon is round, so from this we also learn that the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam did not have a thin and lean face, rather he had a round face.

Ka‘b bin Malik radi Allahu anhu said: “When he was pleased, his face would shine with so bright light that you would believe that it was a moon-piece.” [Sahih Al-Bukhari 1/502]

Description of Anas radi Allahu anhu

Anas ibn Malik radi Allahu anhu was the servant of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam for ten years, and his description is more amazing because of this fact. Usually those under us–wives, children, employees– are the ones who see the ‘worst’ side of our character because we do not fear reproach from them, but Anas radi Allahu anhu narrated that he never even heard “uff” (the smallest expression of disgust) from the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam!

He said radi Allahu anhu, “I have never touched silk or a silky garment softer than his hands; nor have I smelt a perfume or any scent nicer than his.” [Sahih Bukhari]

Description of Umm Ma’bad

The description of Umm Ma’bad is by far the most comprehensive and detailed narration we have of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. This woman, who would take care of travelers who passed by her tent, only saw the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam once. During the hijrah of the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, he stopped by her tent with his companions for some rest and food.

“It was narrated that the Messenger sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, his servant, a guide and Abu Bakr radi Allahu anhu left Mecca, passing a tent of an elderly lady called Umm Ma’bad. She would sit close to the tent and would give food and drink to travelers. So they asked her if they could buy some meat or dates from her but she could not find anything. The Messenger of Allahsal Allahu alayhi wa sallam looked towards a sheep next to the tent. They had run out of provisions and where hungry. The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam asked Umm Ma’bad, “What is wrong with this sheep, dear Umm Ma’bad?”

She replied, “The sheep is fatigued and is weaker than the other sheep.”

The Messenger of Allah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said, “Does it milk?

She replied, “I swear by your mother and father, if I saw milk from it then I would milk it.” The Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam called the sheep and moved his hand over its udder; he pronounced the name of Allah and praised him. Then he called Umm Ma’bad when the sheep steadied its feet and its udder filled. He asked for a large container and milked it until it was filled. The lady drank until full, his companions (meaning satisfied) drank until full, then the others drank. Then it was milked for a second time until the container was full and they left her and continued on their journey.

After a short while, the partner of the lady (Abu Ma’bad) returned from herding goats that were swaying from weakness. He saw the milk and said to his wife, “Where did you get this milk from, dear Umm Ma’bad. The sheep is single and there is no milk in the house!”

She replied, “I swear by God, a blessed man came to us today”

Abu Ma’bad said, “Describe him to me.”

She then began her description; dear reader: imagine your Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam with this description below:

ظاهر الوَضَاءة– “his cleanliness was apparent”, the first thing she noticed about the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam is that his cleanliness is apparent. Imagine the situation of traveling during that time; the traveler would be bound to get some dirt on him, yet the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam was so clean that it was the first thing noticable.

أبْلَجُ الوجه-“his face was luminous”

حسن الخُلُق-“handsome disposition”

لم تعبه ثُجْلَة-“he did not have a protuding stomach”

ولم تُزْرِ به صَعْلَة-“nor did he have a small head”

وسِيم -“handsome”

قَسِيم-“well proportioned”

في عينيه دَعَج-“his eyes had wideness”

وفي أشفاره وَطَف-“his eyelashes were long”

وفي صوته صَهَل-“and in his voice was raspiness/crackle”

وفي عنقه سَطَع-“and his neck was long”

أحْوَر-“the white of his eyes is extremely white, and the black of his eyes is extremely black”

أكْحَل-“it was was as if he had kohl (eyeliner the Arabs used) on naturally”

أزَجّ-“natural arching of his eyebrows”

أقْرَن-“looked like his two eyebrows met”, this was mentioned by Umm Ma’bad keeping in mind that she saw him once, other companions said “laysa bi aqran” he did not have any hair between his eyebrows but it was a vein that would show when he would be angry. This does not mean that he necessarily was angry during his stay with Umm Ma’bad but any thing that causes blood to rush to your head, (such as lowering it, to milk a goat for example) could have caused that.

شديد سواد الشعر-“his hair was extremely black”

إذا صمت علاه الوقار-“when he was silent he would be enveloped in an aura of respect”

وإن تكلم علاه البَهَاء-“and if he spoke it was like a light protruding from him”

أجمل الناس وأبهاهم من بعيد-“the most beautiful of people from far”

وأحسنه وأحلاه من قريب-“and the most beautiful from close”

حلو المنطق-“his speech was sweet”

لا نَزْر-“not short”, tazar means someone who is very short and brief in their speech; they do not give you more than a ‘yes/no’ answer.When the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam spoke, he did not speak in this manner.

ولا هَذَر-“not very long”, hathar is the opposite of tazar; it is to be very long and detailed in speech, to keep talking and talking, so much so that it can get annoying. Likewise the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam was not this way.

كأن منطقه خَرَزَات نظمن يَتَحدَّرن-“it was as if his speech were beads of a necklace cut”, meaning that his words fall in order after one another and that his speech was organized.

لا تقحمه عينمن قِصَر، ولا تشنؤه من طول، غُصْن بين غُصْنَيْن، فهو أنْظَر الثلاثة منظراً، وأحسنهم قدْرًا-“His height does not harm and the eye is not taken over by him, a branch between two branches, he is more radiant than them and he is most respected.”

له رفقاء يحفون به-“his companions would surround him”

إذا قال استمعوا لقوله-“when he spoke they would listen attentively to his speech”

وإذا أمر تبادروا إلى أمره-“and if he orders they hasten to it fully”

لا عَابِس ولا مُفَنَّد-“without frowning or refusing” She ends her description by talking about the respect that was shown to him, which only adds to his impressive personality in how the companions would respond. Amr ibn Alaas radi Allahu anhu when he met the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and he returned to Makkah saying that he had visited the courts of Kisrah and Caesar, and he had never seen anyone more beloved or respected than Muhammad sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam.

Abu Ma’bad responded, “I swear by Allah, he is the one Quraysh mentioned to us about his affair in Makkah. I am determined to accompany him; if I could go that way.”

Here is a description of Umm Ma’bad in English that was used for parts of this post, and is translated in a clear manner.

We ask Allah ta’ala to make us among those who truly love, follow, and dwell in Firdaws with the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Ameen.

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Amatullah is a student of the Qur'an and its language. She completed the 2007 Ta'leem program at Al-Huda Institute in Canada and studied Qur'an, Tajwid (science of recitation) and Arabic in Cairo. Through her writings, she hopes to share the practical guidance taught to us by Allah and His Messenger and how to make spirituality an active part of our lives. She has a Bachelors in Social Work and will be completing the Masters program in 2014 inshaAllah. Her experience includes working with immigrant seniors, refugee settlement and accessibility for people with disabilities.

27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Arif

    April 18, 2009 at 2:05 PM

    sister amatullah, may allah bless you! such a beautiful description of Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam!

  2. arfan

    April 18, 2009 at 4:13 PM

    Salam Alikum

    It’s always a compliment when I see posts from Sheikhy notes on other websites.

    I would like that you add a link to the original translation from the website., below the title.

    Jazak Allah khair

  3. Zainab (AnonyMouse)

    April 18, 2009 at 9:46 PM

    That was amazing… barakAllahu feekum to those whose effort went into sharing this with us!

  4. MR

    April 18, 2009 at 11:07 PM

    “Cleanliness was apparent” – Man that is something hard to find anywhere.

  5. Umm Fulaanah

    April 19, 2009 at 5:43 AM

    Wooow… I loved this article mashaa-allaah….
    Sweet tone to it aswell… gets you into ‘imagination-mode’…..

    Jazaakillaahu Khayran Ukhtii….

  6. imz

    April 19, 2009 at 7:54 AM

    One of the most beautiful posts i have read

    Jazakillah khair!!

  7. FearAllah

    April 19, 2009 at 11:10 AM

    That truly was very beautiful subhanAllah! The Arabic is so eloquently descriptive…

    Jazakillahu khayrun katheerun for sharing this with us! :)

  8. Algebra

    April 19, 2009 at 1:22 PM

    Aslamu-alaikum:
    OH this was such a nicely written post. I really enjoyed it. Amatulllah, I must say i am happy that you have come to the MM team. MashAllah, you have written nice posts. Thank you.
    Salam

  9. Aasif

    April 20, 2009 at 1:57 AM

    Oh Allaah, increase my love for this man.

  10. Sadaf

    April 20, 2009 at 4:29 AM

    Bismillah
    Excellent post! I loved the fact that it was supplemented with the actual Arabic terms, it made everything said so much clearer and easier to understand! Jazakillahu Khairan, Amatullah, for helping us envision the beautiful appearance of our beloved Prophet Muhammad [صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم]. Indeed Amatullah is a valuable addition to the MM team.

    I find it amazing that a man whose first, most obviously striking quality was his cleanliness, today has followers (of his religion) who leave their disgusting mark in any washroom they might venture into, particularly here in the East. I mean, even the washrooms in the Haramain are so disgustingly dirty, one can vomit. May Allah guide us to emulate him in every aspect. Ameen.

  11. MM Associates

    April 20, 2009 at 11:33 AM

    Alhamdulillah wa iyyakum.

    InshaAllah I’m thinking of working on a part two :) Allahumma sali wa sallim alaa nabiyyinaa Muhammad.

    Sadaf: how true subhanAllah! I was quite shocked when I went for umrah and had the stopover in Doha. I thought I was going to be sick :( My brother went to Egypt for a few months and I asked him how the city was during the first few days he was there and all he could say was: “it’s so dirty, there is garbage everywhere”. SubhanAllah.

    -Amatullah

  12. Faraz Omar

    April 23, 2009 at 2:27 AM

    Great post. May Allah send peace and blessings on our beloved prophet. He was definitely the best of creation, inwardly and outwardly.

    May I know if the references of the Umm Ma’bad hadeeth linked to the sheikhly notes blog have been verified?

    Sources: Ibn Hisham, Imam Ahmed, Al-Hikam Hasan qawi agreed upon by Ad-Dhahbi, Tabarni in Mujam Al-Kabir 3/57, Ibn Kathir “The beginning and the end” 2/190, Haytami 6/57, Proofs of Prophethood by Al-Bayhaqi 2/493, Tabarani in the Major compilation 4/57, in the “Grades” of Ibn Saad 1/230

  13. MM Associates

    April 23, 2009 at 6:00 PM

    Brother Faraz, I remember specifically reading that this narration is hasan, but inshaAllah I will look up the authentication for you and post it.

    -Amatullah

  14. Faraz Omar

    April 23, 2009 at 6:13 PM

    jazaak Allah khair… will wait for it

  15. Amatullah

    April 23, 2009 at 10:28 PM

    This hadeeth is classified as “hasan li ghayrihi” which means that there are many narrations that are not very strong, but due to the sheer amount of narrations, the chains strengthen one another and so is considered sound.

    and Allah knows best.

  16. UmmeAmmaarah

    April 29, 2009 at 7:31 PM

    SubhanAllah! May we witness this beauty on the day of Judgement, and may we drink from his blessed hands Sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam…. and may we be blessed with atleast a fraction of his inner beauty so that by Allah Ta’Ala’s infinite mercy we may be granted a dwelling in Jannah. aameen.

  17. Allah's slave

    April 30, 2009 at 6:48 PM

    Bismillah
    Assalaamualekum

    Ameen!Subhan Allah….
    May Allah swt send peace and blessings on him…
    Jazakh Allah Khair ukhti!
    Not that I have anything in my account to think big like this but if Allah swt with His infinite mercy gave me such a chance…..I wonder if I would ever get to see him though…if I could ever raise my eyes to him ….how can one raise his/her eyes to him…

    ‘Amr Ibn Al-‘Aas said, “There wasn’t anyone more beloved to me than the messenger of Allah – salah allahu ‘alayhi wa salam – and more glorious in my eyes than he. I wouldn’t allow my eyes to stare at him so that to honor him, and if you were to ask me to describe him, I couldn’t…”

    [Muslim]

    Fi Aman Allah

  18. Amatullah

    April 30, 2009 at 7:16 PM

    wa iyyakum, Ameen to the duaas.

    Allah’s Slave – Make duaa to Allah ta’ala to allow you to see him sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam in your dream and inshaAllah dwell with him sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam in Jannah :)

    Narrated by Ya’la ibn Murrah ath-Thaqafi radi Allahu anhu said, “one time we were walking with the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam and he stopped at a place to spend the night. When the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam went to sleep, a tree uprooted itself and came to the Prophet and enveloped him. When the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam woke up, he said: ‘this is a tree that when it saw the Prophet, it asked Allah to give salaams to the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, and Allah gave it permission.'” (Musnad Ahmad, Tabarani and Bayhaqi: Saheeh)

    Do we even ask to see the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam in our dreams? Yet a tree is asking to send salaams on the Prophet alayhi salaatu wa salaam!

  19. Allah's slave

    May 1, 2009 at 9:48 AM

    Jazakh Allahu Khair ukhti…I will do as you say insha Allah….may Allah swt reward you for giving hope…
    your words brought tears to my eyes….
    we are his(peace and blessings be upon him) ummati and what a state of ghaflah are we in….we waste our prayers, our energies, our devotions on so many irrelevant things….if only we desired his proximity with such a zeal…may our lives be sacrificed for him..Ya Allah…make us love him and make him love us…and love us for His sake….we fall short of th status you gave us in so many ways and at all times…to be his ummati…

    grant us his company Ya Rabb…aameen

    {Zayd ibn Aslam(ra) said, ‘Umar(ra) went out at night to observe the people and saw a lamp in a house where an old woman was teasing some wool, saying:

    “The prayer of the good be upon Muhammad, may the blessed bless him!
    I was standing in tears before dawn. If only I knew, when death gives us different forms,
    Whether the Abode will join me to my beloved???!”

    She meant the Prophet(s). ‘Umar(ra) sat down in tears. }

    Barakh Allah Feek
    Fi Aman Allah

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  22. Qamar

    December 16, 2015 at 2:41 AM

    Jazak Allah Khaira

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  24. Umair

    May 12, 2016 at 4:27 AM

    Mashallah brilliant work. I’m using it for my speech this weekend inshallah. Is it tazar or nazr? Also is it possible u can put i’rab’s on? JazakAllah

  25. muhammad azam

    February 9, 2018 at 9:36 AM

    اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ
    كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَعَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ
    .إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ
    اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ، وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ
    كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَعَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ
    .إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ

  26. Ashif Hussain

    March 14, 2018 at 12:09 AM

    Masha Allah very nice well done

  27. cornor

    November 27, 2018 at 3:51 AM

    I LOVE PROPHET(PBUH)

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