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Prophets

Characteristics of the Prophet


Hadrat hassan bin ali ra says that once he asked his uncle hadrat hind bin abi haalah ra to describe rasulullah saw because he could describe excellently. His reason for asking for a description of rasulullah saw was to adopt something of the description (because hadrat hassan bin ali ra was only seven when rasulullah saw passed away, he did not have sufficient opportunity to study the appearance of rasulullah saw)

Hadrat hind bin haalah ra began “rasulullah saw was of outstanding stature, appearing such to others as well. His face shone brightly like the full moon at night. He was taller than the average person yet shorter than a lanky person. His head was gracefully large and his hair had gentle curls. If his hair formed a path, he would leave it that way, otherwise he never took pains to make one (while he would make a path if a path formed easily, he would not take pains to make one if it became difficult.). When his hair grew long, it would be below his ear lobes. His complexion was radiant and his forehead was wide. His eyebrows were full though fine and stood separately. Between the two was a vein which would swell when he became angry. His nose was smooth with a high bridge and had a lustre about it, which made an unacquainted person think that it was large (whereas its lustre only made it seem such). His beard was thick, his eyes were black and his cheeks were smooth and unobtrusive. His mouth was moderately wide, his teeth discreet with a slight gap between the two front teeth.”

“The hair of his chest formed a thin line up to the navel. Because of its smoothness and clarity his neck appeared to be that of a carved silver statue. His body was firm and moderately built with his stomach in line with his chest. His chest was wide, his shoulders broad and his joints prominent and powerful. The uncovered parts of his body always radiant. He had a line of hair running between his chest and navel and although his abdomen and breasts were hairless, his arms, shoulders and upper part of the chest had hair. He had long forearms, broad palms and his bones were well formed and straight. His hands and feet were well built with his fingers and toes proportionately long. The inside of his foot was deep with the upper part so smooth that water easily flowed down them.”

“He lifted his feet well of the ground and leaned forward when he walked. He put his steps down lightly and walked briskly, taking ling strides as he went along. He walked as if he was descending from a high place. When he turned to someone, he turned his entire body towards the person. He kept his gazes lowered and would more often be looking down than up. (out of modesty) he never looked at a person straight in the face, always walked behind his companions and greeted whoever he met before they greeted him.”

“Hadrat Hassan ra then asked his uncle to describe the manner in which rasulullah saw talked. To this, his uncle said, “Rasulullah saw always remained grieved (concerning the aakhirat), was forever concerned (for the plight of his Ummah) and had no rest. He remained silent for long periods and would speak only when necessary. From beginning to end his speech was complete (he did not speak vaguely) and spoke most comprehensively (without wasting words). His words were distinct and conclusive with neither excess nor shortage (leaving no room for ambiguity). He spoke kindly without being harsh towards anyone or embarrassing anyone. Regardless of how insignificant they seemed, he always held favours in high esteem without belittling them or praising them excessively (so that no greed is shown).”

“When the truth was being opposed, nothing could stem his anger until the truth was avenged.” Another narration states, “Matters relating to this world never made him angry. However, whenever the truth (matters of deen) met opposition, nothing and no one could stem his anger until the truth was avenged. He never became angry for personal reasons and never took revenge for anything affecting his personal life

“Whenever he pointed towards something, he pointed with his entire hand (and not only with one finger) and he always turned his hands over when expressing surprise. He (sometimes moved his hands when speaking and) would hit the palm of his right hand on the thumb of the left hand. When he was angry with someone, he would turn his face away from the person and then either ignore him or forgive him. When he was happy, he would lower his gaze because of modesty. Rasulullah saw smiled most of the time and when he did, his teeth would shine like hailstones.”

Hadrat Hassan bin Ali ra says that he did not mention this description to his brother Hadrat Hussain bin Ali ra for some time afterwards, but when he did, he gathered that his brother had learned about this from their uncle even before he could. He also learned that his brother Hussain ra had even enquired from their father (Hadrat Ali ra) about the manner in which Rasulullah saw entered his home, left the home, conducted his gatherings and about the other mannerisms and behavioural characteristics of Rasulullah saw. It appeared that there was not any details of Rasulullah saw life that Hadrat Hussain ra has not asked about.

Hadrat Hussain ra narrates further that when he asked his father Hadrat Ali ra about the manner in which Rasulullah saw entered the house, the reply was, “his entry into his home was (By Allah’s) permission and when he arrived home, he divided his time into three parts. There was a part reserved for Allah (for ibaadah), a part for his family (to speak to them and to see to their needs) and a part for himself. The part reserved for himself was further divided between himself and the people. The Sahabah ra closest to him would (discuss matters with Rasulullah saw at home and) pass on whatever they heard from Rasulullah saw to the public without keeping anything secret. When allowing the Sahabah ra to enter into his discussions with him during his time, it was his practice to give preference to the sahabah ra who were most virtuous in terms of their merit in deen. Among them were those who had one need, others who had two needs and others who had more needs. Rasulullah saw would engage himself with (fulfilling the needs of) these people and would advise them concerning matters leading to their (spiritual) reformation and the reformation of the Ummah at large. Rasullulah saw would enquire from those visiting him about the welfare of the muslim public and advise them accordingly.”

“Rasulullah saw would say to those coming to see him, `Those present here should pass the message on to those who are absent, You should communicate to me the needs of those who are unable to present themselves (because they are too modest, afraid or living too far to appear themselves). On the day of Qiyamaah, Allah shall keep firm the feet of that person who informs their leader about the needs of another person who cannot do so himself.’ It was only matters of importance that were mentioned to Rasulullah saw and he did not entertain anything else (such as futile talk). People used to visit him in search of deeni knowledge and would not leave without tasting something (this either means that they would not leave without receiving the knowledge they came for or that they would not leave without receiving the knowledge they came for or that they would not leave without having something to eat or drink). They would leave him as guides towards good.”

Hadrat Hussain ra further narrates that he asked his father about what Rasulullah saw and when he left the house. Hadrat Ali ra replied, “Rasulullah saw always guarded his tongue from everything besides matters that concerned him. He always put people at ease without ever making them feel uncomfortable (he always advised and censured them in a manner that never made them afraid being with him). He always honoured the noble persons of a tribe and appointed them as leaders of their tribes. He would warn people (about the punishment of the akiraah as well as about the harms they faced from other elements and people). Together with warning others, he also guarded himself from the harms of others without depriving anyone of his cheerfulness and good character. He always watched over his companions and enquired about the welfare of the masses.”

Rasulullah saw would commend anything good and encourage it. On the other hand, he condemned anything evil and discouraged it. He chose the moderate path in all matters and was never contradictory. He was never negligent of the deeni welfare of the people so that they did not grow negligent towards the deen or turn away from it altogether. He had a method of dealing with every situation without compromising on the rights of any person nor transgressing them in any way. The best of people where in his attendance and those that he regarded as the most virtuous were the ones who wished best for others. In his estimation, the highest ranking people were those who sympathised most with people and assisted them most.”

Hadrat Hassan ra narrates that he further asked his farther about the gathering that Rasulullah saw held. Hadrat Ali ra replied, “Rasulullah saw never sat or stood without dhikr on his tongue. He would never reserve a place for himself (in the masjid) and also forbade others from doing this. Whenever he arrived in a gathering, he sat on the fringe of the gathering and instructed people to do the same. He gave equal attention to each person in the gathering so that all of them thought that they were the most honoured. Whenever a person sat with him or stood with him to address a need, Rasulullah saw remained with him patiently until the person himself took leave. When anyone asked him for anything, he would give the person his need or kindly tell the person he did not have the means to fulfil the need.”

“Rasulullah saw generously distributed his cheerfulness and good character to every person so that he became a father to them and fulfilled the rights of each one of them equally. His gatherings included forbearance, modesty, tolerance and confidentiality. Voices were never raised in his gatherings, reputations were never smeared and faults were never publicised. Those attending his gatherings were treated equally (no racial and social discrimination existed) and people were held in high esteem only in relation to the level of their Taqwa (piety). Each person respected the other and just as the elderly were shown great reverence, the youngsters were shown great compassion. The needy were attended to and enquiries were made about strangers (to attend to their needs).”

When Hadrat Hussain ra asked his father about Rasulullah’s saw interaction with the people in his gatherings, Hadrat Ali ra replied, “Rasulullah saw always smiled and displayed a tolerant attitude and a soft nature. He was never ill tempered, never hard-hearted, never shouted, was never vulgar, never searched for the faults of people and never joked excessively. Rasulullah saw pretended not to be aware of things he disliked but would not make a person lose hope in receiving something he wanted, which Rasulullah saw himself disliked (he would give something to the person to appease him or advise him kindly).”

“Rasulullah saw divorced himself from three things and also prevented people from these three things. These were:

  • arguing
  • speaking too much
  • indulging in futile talk

He never spoke ill of anyone, never insulted anyone and never searched for the faults of any person. He only spoke when he anticipated rewards for his speech.”

“Whenever Rasulullah saw spoke, the sahabah ra sitting in the gathering sat with their heads bowed as if there were birds perched on their heads (they sat absolutely still like people afraid that any movement of theirs would disturb birds perched on their heads). The sahabah ra remained silent as he spoke and spoke only when he was silent. They also took care never to argue in his presence. Rasulullah saw expressed amusement when the sahabah ra laughed and expressed surprise when they did. He tolerated the blunt speech and harsh manner of questioning that strangers used (when they came to ask various questions). (Seeing that Rasulullah saw did not mind the questions and because they were too respectful to ask such questions,) the sahabah ra used to bring such strangers to the gatherings.”

“Rasulullah saw used to say, `Help a needy person whenever you see one.’ He did not tolerate anyone praising him, unless a person was expressing gratitude for a favour done (Rasulullah saw allowed this so that people learned that they should express to others). He would never interrupt the speech of any person unless the person spoke something wrong, in which case, Rasulullah saw would interrupt the speech by either stopping the person from continuing or by standing up and leaving.”

Hadrat Hussain ra states further that he even asked his father about the manner in which Rasulullah saw observed silence. His father Hadrat Ali ra replied, “Rasulullah saw observed silence on four occasions. These were:

1.When he needed to bear with something
2.When exercising caution
3.When considering something
4.When pondering about something

There were two things that he always considered. These were how he could:

  • see all people alike
  • hear all of them alike

There were also two things that he usually pondered about. These were:

  • That which is everlasting (the Akiraah)
  • That which will come to an end (this world)

Allah swt had granted Rasulullah saw both the qualities of forbearance and fortitude because of which nothing made him so angry that he lost control of himself.1
1-Tirmidhi has reported this entire lengthy hadith in his “shaamil” from Hadrat Hassan ra when he starts by saying that he once asked his uncle Hadrat Hind bin Abi Halaah ra to describe Rasulullah saw. The hadith of his brother Hadrat Hussain ra is also mentioned, who narrates from his father Hadrat Ali ra. Reporting from Haakim, Imaam Bayhaaqi ra, has also narrated this hadith in his “Dalaa ‘ilun Nabuwaah” from Hadrat Hassan RA, who says “I once asked my uncle Hadrat Hind bin Abi Halaalah ra…” Haafidh ibn Katheer ra has also reported this hadith in his book “Al-Bidaayah” (Vol.6.pg.33). As mentioned in Kanzul Ummal (Vol.4.pg.32), this hadith has also been reported by Ruyani, Tabraani and Ibn Asaakir, Imaam Baghawi ra has also reported it, as mentioned in Al-isaabah (Vol.2.pg611).

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