A messenger to a tribe is transcended
by a messenger to a town, who is transcended by a messenger to a whole nation. We
keep ascending the ranks of greatness. We keep soaring towards the summit. We
keep advancing, stride after stride, in the echelons of human perfection until we
reach a level that eyes, however ambitiously they aspire, cannot reach, to find
the man chosen to convey the Great Message to all of humanity, whose highest
levels of virtue and ideals were shaped by Allah into a man who walked
peacefully on earth. That is Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah r.1
Painting a word-picture
of the Prophet of Mercy r, his Companion, Abu Sa‘id Al-Khudri t
used to give fodder to the camel and tether it, sweep the house, milk the
sheep, mend his shoes, patch his garment, eat with his servant, and grind the
wheat instead of him if he asked him to. He r used to buy dates from
the marketplace; shyness did not prevent him from hanging them on his hand or wrapping
them in the hem of his garment to take them to his family.
shook hands with the rich and the poor, the young and the old, and was the
first to greet whoever met him, whether young or old, black or red, free or a
did not feel shy about accepting invitations when he r
was invited, even if they came from an unkempt, dust-covered person. He r
never looked down on anything to which he r was invited.
was lenient, generous, friendly, and cheerful. He r
smiled without laughing, was sad without frowning, strong without violence,
modest without servility, and generous without extravagance. He r
was merciful towards every kin and Muslim, tenderhearted, and always
contemplative. He r
was never satiated with food, and he r never stretched his
hand out of greed. 2
the Prophet’s wife, continues the
The Messenger of Allah r
never satisfied his hunger, and he
never complained to anyone. He r found poverty
preferable to affluence and richness. Even if he r spent the night
starving until morning, this would not keep him from fasting during the day. Though had he r
wished to ask his Lord to give him the
treasures of the earth, its fruits, and its luxuries, from its Eastern and Western
parts, he r
could have done so.
I might have cried out of pity for him for the
hunger he r
suffered. I would pass my hand over his
stomach and say: “May my soul be scarified for you. If only you would
satisfy yourself from this world with what sustains and protects you from hunger.”
said: “O ‘Aishah, my brothers from the Messengers of strong will showed
patience over what is harder than this and they departed in this state of
theirs. They came to their Lord, Who honored their return and rewarded them
generously. I would feel shame if I lived in such luxury that it makes me fall
behind them. Therefore, patience for a few days is more beloved to me than
having my share lessened tomorrow in the hereafter, and nothing is more beloved
to me than joining my brothers.”3
The Messenger of Allah r was in a state of continuous
grief and thought, had little rest, periods of long silence, and never spoke
needlessly. He r
always started and ended his words by the Name of Allah U4. His words were precise, pithy yet
comprehensive, never more or less than needed.
He r walked as if descending a slope. When he r
turned, he would turn his whole body. He r
always lowered his gaze. The time he r looked towards the ground was longer than that
towards the sky. Most of his looking was contemplative. He r
used to walk at the rear of his
Companions, guiding their steps, and would initiate greetings with anyone he r
He r appreciated any blessing, even if trivial, and
never dispraised any that he r received. He r was never angry about worldly life or worldly things, but when a right
was violated he r
stood angrily in defense of it until he rectified
it. Still, he r never felt angry for his own person (when
wronged) or sought to avenge himself.
At home, he r divided his time into
three: a part dedicated to Allah, a second to his family, and a third to
himself, which he divided between himself and other people.
used to occupy himself with people’s concerns and guide them towards what might
set right their affairs, answering what they asked about, telling them what
they needed to know, and used to say: “Let those of you who are present inform
those who are absent (of the knowledge they have heard); and inform me about
the needs of those who cannot convey it themselves. Truly, the one who informs
a person of authority about the need of one who is unable to convey it himself
will have his feet made firm by Allah on the Day of Resurrection.”
used to inquire after his Companions, and ask people about what troubled
people. He r
used to praise and support the good things, and condemn and undermine the bad.
His method of assembly was one of knowledge, tolerance,
modesty, truthfulness, and patience, in which he r was always cheerful,
lenient, and good-natured. He r was never rude, tough,
noisy, or a fault-finder. He r forbade himself from engaging
in disputes, excess, and things that did not concern him, and never dispraised,
criticized, or sought to know the lapses of anyone. He r
only talked for a good purpose. No voices were raised during his assemblies.
When he r
talked, those sitting with him bowed their heads and listened, as if there were
birds perched on their heads. They did not speak until he r
had stopped. None interrupted the other, nor did the Messenger of Allah r
interrupt anyone. He r
laughed at what his attendants laughed at and admired what they admired.
never rose or sat down without mentioning Allah, and would seat himself where
he found a place (not in a particular place), and advised others to do the same.
used to divide his attention between all the attendants of his assembly to such
a degree that each believed himself to be the closest to him. When anyone sat
or talked with him about some issue, he r remained patiently with
him until that person was the one to leave. Anyone who came to him with a need
would leave either having it fulfilled or with a kind word. His generously
noble character was spacious enough to love all people, and he r
became a father to them all.5
The Prophets and Messengers of Allah were all blessed with the
most gracious appearance and the noblest characters. Allah U
elected them, and certainly (Allah knows best with whom
to entrust His Message.)6 And as such was Muhammad r.
The Almighty chose him – He is the All-Knower of His creatures
– to convey His last Message, and to set the ideal example for people until the
Last Day. (And your Lord creates what He wills and chooses,
not for them was the choice.)7
This choice dictates that the messenger should be at the
highest level in all human characteristics, both physical and ethical. He r
is a human just like all other people. He r may forget as they
forget, marry and have children, eat food, walk in the markets, and he r
is not immortal on earth.
does not know the Unseen except what Allah wills. (The
All-Knower of the Unseen, and He reveals to none His Unseen. Except to a
Messenger whom He has chosen.)8 He is the same as
all people, but he is superiorly at the highest level in any quality that can
exist in a human.
Noble manners have the profoundest influence in guiding and
reforming. The Prophet r
reached the summit of all virtues so perfectly that Allah U
praised him, saying: (And
indeed, you (O Muhammad) are of an exalted moral character.)9
This is the essence of the Prophet’s mission: “Verily, Allah
has sent me to perfect righteous manners,”10 to which he himself r
was the living embodiment, perfectly living what he r
preached. Lady ‘Aishah described her husband r, saying: “The
manners of the Prophet of Allah r were (those of) the
Anas bin Malik t,
the servant of the Prophet r,
The Messenger of
was the best, the most generous, and the bravest of all people. One night, the
people of Al-Madinah were terrified by a sound towards which some hastened, to
be received by the Messenger of Allah r on his way back. He r
had already preceded them to the source of the sound.
was riding an unsaddled horse that belonged to Abu Talhah, with a sword slung
round his neck, and he r
was saying: “Do not be frightened. Do not be frightened.”12
People of self-sacrifice and valor sought protection behind the
back of the Prophet r
during moments of intense fighting:
battle grew fierce and the two parties clashed, we would seek protection with
the Messenger of Allah r
who was the closest of us to the enemy. 13
People of sagacity appealed to the broadness and depth of his
The Quraish differed
over who would replace the Black Stone14 after the rebuilding of the Ka‘bah (the Sacred House at Makkah) to
the point that a war was about to erupt among them. They agreed to appeal to
the judgment of the first person to enter (through the gates of the Sanctuary),
which was the Messenger of Allah r. When they saw him,
they said: “This is Al-Amin (the Trustworthy). We will be satisfied with his
decision. This is Muhammad.” He r said: “Bring me a
placed the stone in the middle of the cloth and said: “Let each tribe hold
one side of the cloth, then lift it up together,” and then he r
laid it back with his own hands.15
People of charity saw him as a more generous giver of good than
the freely going wind. He r
left nothing of material wealth to his heirs except his white mule, his weapon,
and a piece of land bequeathed to charity. Anas bin Malik t
A man asked of the
so he gave him a flock of sheep filling a valley between two mountains. The man
returned to his people, saying: “O people, embrace Islam. By Allah, Muhammad
gives like one who fears no poverty.” 16
This portrayal of virtues could go on and on. In every
virtue he r excelled, like a brilliant light nobly
glittering on the loftiest of peaks. But this grandeur and nobility of
character was not a barrier that isolated him r from people. The
Messenger of Allah r lived so closely to people, and was
lenient and kind to everyone, walking with the widows and the poor to fulfill
their needs, so much so that each believed themselves to be the closest and
dearest to him r, in the same way that the sun sends its
rays and warmth so that each person profits and has a share without feeling
that others are sharing in or rivals for its warmth.17
1 Adapted from Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Aqidat
Al-Muslim (Creed of Muslim), chapter of Prophethoods, fifth edition, Dar Ad-Da‘wah.
2 Reported by Abu Salmah bin ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf: Subl A-Huda
wa Ar-Rashad fi Sirah Khairul-‘Abad, Muhammad bin Yusuf As-Salhi Ash-Shami, vol. 7.
4 Glorified and
Exalted be He.
on the authority of Hind bin Abu Halah At-Tamimy, reported by At-Tirmidhy in Mukhtasar
Ash-Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyah; Ibn Sa‘d, At-Tabakat Al-Kubra, vol. 1.
Translated meanings of Al-An‘am 6: 124.
Translated meanings of Al-Qasas 28: 68.
Translated meanings of Al-Jinn 72: 26-27.
9 Translated meanings of Al-Qalam 68: 4.
10 Narrated by Abu Hurairah: Musnad Ahmad, Book of Al-Mukthrin,
Hadith no. 12840.
Sahih Muslim, Book of Salah Al-Musafirin wa Qasriha (Prayer of Travelers and
Shortening It), Hadith no.
Sahih Muslim, Book of Al-Fada’il (Merits), Hadith no. 4266; similar
versions of the Hadith are also
reported by Al-Bukhary
(2608, 2692, 2813, 5573), At-Tirmidhy
(1610), Ibn Majah (2762), and Ahmad (13362).
13 Narrated by ‘Ali bin Abu Talib: Musnad
Book of Al-‘Ashrah Al-Mubasharin Bil-Jannah (The Ten Given Glad Tidings
of Paradise), Hadith no. 1276; similar versions of the Hadith
are also reported by Muslim (4275, 4276).
14 The Black Stone is a stone from Paradise that was set into one
corner of the Ka‘bah by Prophet Abraham r which Muslims honor for that but do not worship,
following the example of the Prophet r who kissed it in his
15 Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawiyyah: Rebuilding the Ka‘bah and the Judgment Given by the Messenger r concerning Putting Back the Black
Stone, vol. 1, Al-Maktabah Al-Qaiyamah.
Musnad Ahmad, Book of Al-Mukthrin min As-Sahabh, Hadith no. 13233.
17 Adapted from Sheikh Muhammad Al-Ghazali, Aqidat
Al-Muslim, fifth edition, Dar Ad-Da‘wah.