By Sheikh Ali ibn Abdur-Rahman Al-Hudhaifi - 26 Muharram 1435
His Eminence Sheikh Ali ibn Abdur-Rahman Al-Hudhaifi, may Allah preserve him, delivered the Friday Khutbah entitled, “The Attributes of the Prophet, Peace and Blessings Be upon Him”, in which he talked about the great blessings which Allah has bestowed upon mankind, foremost of which is the blessing of sending the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. In the course of the Khutbah, he mentioned some of the perfect physical attributes and noble character qualities of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and touched on his good traits.
Praise be to Allah, the King, the Holy, the All-Mighty, the All-Wise. In His hand is all good; He creates whatsoever He wills and chooses, and He is the All-Knower of everything. Our Lord’s mercy has encompassed all things; Blessed be He, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. I praise my Lord, thank Him, turn to Him in repentance and seek His forgiveness. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone, Who has no partners, the Most High, the Most Great, and I bear witness that our prophet and master, Muhammad, is His servant and messenger. He sent him to mankind with every noble quality. O Allah! Bestow Your peace, prayers, and blessings constantly and perpetually upon Your servant and messenger, Muhammad, his family, and his Companions who took the lead in doing good deeds and giving support to this right religion.
Fear Allah, Exalted be He, by following His established commands and avoiding whatever He has prohibited, for fear of His Threat.
Remember Allah’s mercy, which has encompassed everything and thank Him for it. Allah says:
¨...Had it not been for the Grace and Mercy of Allah upon you, indeed you would have been among the losers.¨ (Al-Baqarah: 64)
And He says:
¨... And had it not been for the Grace of Allah and His Mercy on you, not one of you would ever have been pure from sins. But Allah purifies (guides to Islam) whom He wills...¨ (An-Nur: 21)
Servants of Allah!
Contemplate Allah’s great mercy and supreme favours by sending the master of mankind, our Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, to mankind and jinn. Allah has made him a proof against those who do not follow him amongst mankind and jinn, a light for those who are guided, and a guide to the way of righteousness and success for all the inhabitants of the earth. Allah, Exalted be He, says: ¨And We have sent you (O Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)) not but as a mercy for the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists).¨ (Al-Anbiyaa: 107)
Our master Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, is indeed a mercy for those who believe in him, both in this life and in the hereafter, as well as a mercy for those who disbelieve in him by having their evil diminished and preventing them from causing injustice, aggression, and corruption in the land.
The state of the inhabitants of the earth after his prophetic mission bears testimony to this fact, through the implementation of the rulings of Islam. After his prophetic mission, people experienced peace and security, worshipped their Lord based on knowledge, light, love, certainty, and in total humility to Him. Provisions increased, prosperity and blessing prevailed, hearts became contented, unity and concord were established, the fire of sedition and disturbance was extinguished, all Muslims’ rights were preserved, and non-Muslims’ rights were protected through justice and good conduct. Thanks to Muhammad’s mission, people perceived and experienced the meaning of good, noble, and happy life that is peaceful and blessed in everything. They realised the misery, ignorance, injustice, disturbance, aggression, transgression, corruption, and evils of their life before Islam (i.e. during jahiliyyah), and so they firmly adhered to this religion and defended it. Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The bonds of Islam will not come loose, one by one, except by someone who has lived under Islam without knowing what jahiliyyah was like.”
Allah has made our Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, one of His greatest signs. He has perfected him and adorned Him so much so that he attained human perfection in physical appearance, good character and beauty. His beautiful physical appearance reflected his perfect moral character and noble qualities. When the Noble Qur’an was revealed to him, he personified the good character it contains, which perfected his inborn character and good manners to which Allah has made him naturally disposed. Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, said, “The character of Allah’s Messenger was the Qur’an.”
If those who came after the Prophet’s Companions did not see or meet the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, described his physical appearance and moral character in such vivid detail that we feel as if we could see him, peace and blessings be upon him, in order to emulate his moral traits as much as we can. Describing the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Leader of the Faithful, may Allah be pleased with him, said,
“He was not extremely tall, nor was he extremely short, and he was of medium height in relation to the people. His hair was neither overly curly nor fully straight. His face was slightly round with a white, reddish complexion. His eyes were dark black and his eyelashes were long. He had broad muscular shoulders and well-proportioned joints. Whoever saw him suddenly would become awe-inspired, whoever got to know him loved him, and no one seen before him or after him resembled him in any way.” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi)
Anas ibn Malik, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was the most handsome, the most courageous, and the most generous of all the people” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
Al-Hasan ibn Ali, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, said, “I asked my maternal uncle, Hind ibn Abi Halah, who was well-known for his ability to describe people, about the noble features of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him. He said, ‘The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, was such a great man that people held him in high esteem. His face shone like the full moon. He was taller than a man of middle height but shorter than an extremely tall person. His head was moderately large. His hair was slightly wavy. If his hair plait was undone, he would part his hair; but if he let his hair grow, it would not go beyond his earlobe. He had a very luminous complexion and a wide forehead. He had beautifully arched eyebrows, which were dense and separate from each other. There was a vein between them that would expand when he became angry.
His nose was perfectly curved and had lustre on it. If someone did not look at it carefully, he would think that he had a large nose. His beard was full and dense. His eyes were deep black. His cheeks were full of flesh and his mouth was moderately wide, which denotes eloquence. His teeth were thin and bright, with the front ones well-spaced. His chest hair was thin. His neck was beautiful and slim, like the neck of a deer, clear and shining like silver.
All the parts of his body were of moderate size and fully fleshed. His body was proportionately jointed. His chest and stomach were in line (that is, he was neither fat, nor thin), but his chest was broad and wide. The space between his shoulders was wide. The bones of his joints were strong and large. When he removed his clothing, his body looked bright and shone with lustre. Between the chest and the navel, there was a thin line of hair. Besides this line, neither the chest nor the stomach had any hair on them.
His arms, shoulders, and the upper part of his chest were hairy. His forearms were long and his palms were wide. He had strong, perfect bones. The palms and feet were fully fleshed. The fingers and toes were moderately long. The soles of his feet were a bit deep. His feet were smooth, and because of their cleanliness and smoothness the water did not remain there but flowed away quickly. When he walked, he lifted his legs with vigour, leaned slightly forward and placed his feet softly and modestly on the ground. He walked at a quick pace and took a rather long step. When he walked it seemed as if he were descending to a lower place.
When he looked at something, he turned his whole body towards it, looking down. His sight was more often to the ground than towards the sky, and he usually looked from the side of his eyes. While walking he would ask his Companions to walk in the front, and he himself walked behind. He would greet whomsoever he met first.’
Then I said to Hind, ‘Describe to me the way he spoke.’ He said, ‘He, peace and blessings be upon him, was continually full of concern and constantly deep in thought. He had no rest and would not speak without good reason. He would remain silent for long periods of time. He would start his speech and end it clearly and distinctly and would speak in a way that combined many meanings in few words. He spoke concisely, without excess or inadequacy. He was gentle by nature and not coarse, and he was not contemptuous of anyone.
He would extol the favours he received even when they were few and small. He never criticized the food or drink that was served to him, nor did he overly praise it. Worldly matters never angered him; however, when it came to violating any right, he would not favour anyone and no one would stand against his anger. He would never get angry because of any personal insult, nor would he ever seek any revenge for it. When he pointed to something or someone, he would gesture with his whole palm. When astonished, he would turn the face of his palm upwards.
He used his hands frequently as he spoke and would strike his left palm with his right thumb. If he got angry, he would turn away and avert his face. If he laughed, he would lower his gaze. Most of his laughing was like smiling; when he did laugh, and he would show his teeth which were like hailstones.’
I kept this description secret from my brother, Al-Husayn, for a while; then I told him about it, only to discover that he had heard it before me. He asked me about what I said to our father [Ali], and I found out that he had asked him about the way the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, acted when he entered his home and sat with people and about the way he looked, and Al-Husayn left nothing of this out.
Al-Husayn, may Allah be pleased with him, said, ‘I asked my father [Ali], may Allah be pleased with him, about the manner the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, acted when he entered his home” He replied, ‘Before he entered home, he always asked for permission from Allah and from those within. When he was at home, he would divide his time into three parts: some of his time was devoted to Allah, some to his family, and some to himself. Then, he would divide his own portion between himself and the people. His close Companions would mostly share this time with him, and they would convey his words to the common people. In this way he would not withhold anything from them.
Part of his practice regarding the portion devoted to his ummah was to prefer the people of excellence according to their merit in religious matters. Among the people, there were those with a need, those with two needs, and those with many needs. He would thus occupy himself with what would improve their condition and tell them what they ought to do, saying, ‘Let those who are present convey it to those who are absent’, and ‘Keep me informed as to the needs of him who is unable to tell me about it himself. Truly, on the Day of Judgment, Allah will make firm the feet of one who informs someone in authority of the need of someone who is unable to convey his need himself.’
This was the kind of topic mentioned in his presence, and he did not accept anything else from anyone. The Companions went to the Prophet, peace be upon him, searching for knowledge or for solutions to their problems, and they would not depart until they had eaten something and would go out in all humility.
Al-Husayn said, “Then I asked my father about his going out and how he acted outside his home. He said, ‘The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, would hold his tongue except in matters which concerned his Companions. He encouraged affection and concord among them and never said or did anything that would sow dissension among them (or he said, ‘that would drive them away from Islam’). He honoured the nobles of every people who came to him and appointed them as chiefs over their people. He also warned people against all evil.’
He added, ‘He was on his guard regarding people without withholding his cheerfulness or good manners from any of them. He enquired about his Companions and asked people about their affairs. He approved of what was good and advocated it, and disapproved what was bad and discouraged it. He was moderate, without any contradiction. He was always on the alert for fear that his Companions might become unmindful or bored. He was prepared for every situation. He never failed to do what was right and never went beyond it. Those who were close to him were the best people, and the best among them in his sight were those who gave advice that benefited most people, while the most valued for him were the most helpful and supportive of others.’
Then I asked him about the Prophet’s gatherings, and he said, ‘The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, did not sit down or stand up without remembering Allah. He never reserved a fixed place for himself where he would sit among the people, and he forbade others to reserve places for themselves. When he went to sit with a group of people, he would sit in the nearest available place, and he ordered that others follow this practice. He would give each one of those sitting with him a share of his attention, such that no one would think anyone else had been given precedence over him. Whenever someone with whom he was sitting or standing told him of his needs, he would bear with that person until that person left first. When someone asked him for anything he needed, he would not turn him away without giving him what he wanted or comforting him with pleasant words.
His generosity and good character encompassed all people, such that he became like a father to them and they were all equal in his sight when it came to right and wrong. Assemblies with him were gatherings of gentleness, modesty, patience, and sincerity, in which no loud voice was heard, no sanctity was violated, and no errors were repeated. People at the assembly were all equal and recommended one another to fear Allah. They honoured the elderly, showed mercy to the young, gave priority to those with needs, and provided protection to strangers.’
I said, “What was his conduct regarding those sitting with him?” He said, “The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was unfailingly cheerful and easy-going by nature. He was not tough, but was lenient with people. He was neither severe nor harsh. He was neither a clamorous loud mouth nor a repeater of obscenities. He was not one to find faults in others, nor did he praise people for no reason. He feigned indifference to rude behaviour, and none of the rude ones were made to despair of his kindness. He never disappointed anyone. He allowed his soul no portion of three things: fruitless argument, acquisitiveness, and things which did not concern him.
He did not allow himself to engage in three things regarding people: he would not criticize anyone, revile anyone, or seek out anyone’s faults. He would speak of nothing unless he hoped a reward from Allah for it. When he talked, those sitting with him would be completely still and quiet, and they would not speak until he had finished. They would not quarrel in his presence as to who of them would talk first. When one of them talked in his presence, they would all listen attentively until he had finished.
They would not change the topic that someone had started and would not interrupt anyone in his speech. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, would laugh at what they laughed at, and he would be amazed at what amazed them. He showed patience with strangers who spoke and asked for things in a crude, rough manner, even if his Companions wanted to rid him of them. He would say, “If you see someone who has a need, help him.”
He would not accept praise from anyone but for a favour he had made to him. He would not interrupt anyone in his speech unless he exceeded the proper limits, in which case he would interrupt the man’s speech by putting an end to it or by standing up and leaving him.
Al-Husayn said, ‘I asked him, “What was the silence of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, like?” He said, “His silence was motivated by four things: forbearance, caution, estimation, and contemplation. As for his estimation, it was to look at people and listen to them justly. As for his contemplation, he used to meditate on what would last and what would perish. His patience encompassed all forbearance; nothing could provoke him or arouse his anger. His caution was represented by four things: doing what is good so that it may be an example to be followed, renouncing what is bad so that it may be avoided, exerting his judgment to improve the condition of his ummah, and doing for his followers what combined for them the good of this life and hereafter.’” (Reported by At-Tabarani in Al-Mu’jam Al-Kabir. Some of its words were reported by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Dawud, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i and Ibn Majah)
Nothing is greater than Allah’s description of His khalil (chosen friend), Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, as having an exalted standard of character. Allah, Exalted be He, says: ¨And verily, you (O Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)) are on an exalted (standard of) character.¨ (Al-Qalam: 4)
No one had ever been given such a description before the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, which is the highest honour given to the Prophet and his Ummah.
Even before his prophetic mission, the life of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was full of signs and miracles that reflected his noble virtues and sublime manners and attributes. People called him “the Trustworthy”. Allah protected him from the evils, harms, and follies of the pre-Islamic period of ignorance (jahiliyyah). Therefore, his enemies could not find any fault or little slip with him to revile or insult him for, in spite of their eagerness to find such a fault and their knowledge of every single aspect of his life. Allah protected him from all defects and imperfections.
If anyone knows enough about the life of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, before and after his prophetic mission, his faith will be stronger and his love for the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, will surpass his love for himself. Even if a disbeliever is well-informed about the Prophet’s life, he will embrace Islam, or at least will turn away even though, deep within himself, he will be definitely positive that Muhammad is the Messenger of the Lord of the Worlds.
The Qur’an and the sunnah of the Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him, give us all the details about his life and deeds. They command us to follow all that is good and warn us against all evil. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, did not die until after he had established the religion of Islam, set forth all its provisions, set the ordinances (hudud), strove in the cause of Allah, made peace, fought, concluded covenants, got married and divorced, and left his Ummah upon the bright path of the sunnah, which is crystal clear and from which none will deviate except those doomed to destruction.
Those for whom Allah desired good believed in the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. People of the Scriptures (Tawrah (Torah) and Injil (the Gospel)) testified to his truthfulness and his prophetic mission. The truly happy ones are those who believe in him, and the truly wretched ones are those who disbelieve in him. He is the perfect example to be followed, the guided and the one to be obeyed, and the trustworthy guide. Allah, Exalted be He, says: ¨Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him)) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much.¨ (Al-Ahzab: 21)
May Allah bless you and me with the Great Qur’an and make us benefit from its verses and wise words and benefit from the guidance and right sayings of the Master of all Messengers. I have said what you have heard and I ask forgiveness of Allah for myself, for you, and for all Muslims for any sin we have committed. Ask Allah for forgiveness. He is the Most Forgiving, the Most Merciful.
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