When we love someone, we crave to know every detail of their waking (and perhaps even sleeping!) lives. We want to know how they look, how they laugh, even how they dress. These are things that we love to replay over and over in our own thoughts, even dream about them—vividly recalling every minute detail that can possibly be remembered. How can we claim to love RasulAllah ﷺ (peace be upon Him) if we don’t know anything about him? How can we ever imagine him, or see him in our dreams (insha’Allah!) if we don’t know what he looked like, how he spoke, or even how he carried himself?
Books have been written on the characteristics and appearance of the Prophet ﷺ. Below is a brief snap shot of him. This does not serve as a full picture; rather it should be an encouragement to look further into the Life of the Prophet and who he was and how he looked.
A narration by Anas, May Allah be pleased with him, brings to life the beauty and the perfection of our beloved RasulAllah. Anas describes the Prophet ﷺ by saying that he was neither tall nor was he short. His complexion was not very white nor was it very dark, a beautiful color that was in between both. His hair was neither very straight nor very curly and at the time that Anas was referring to he had no more than twenty white hairs on his blessed head and beard. Jaabir, radi Allahu anh (may Allah be pleased with him, said that the Prophet’s ﷺ face was beautifully round and bright like the sun and as handsome and comforting to look at as the moon.
Hassan bin Thaabit, a poet from Arabia, was paid off by the kuffar to go and stare at the Prophet ﷺ, then to vilify him by writing demeaning poetry about him. Poetry, unlike many other forms of expression, were memorized and spread quickly and widely throughout the community. It is for this reason that the enemies of the Prophet ﷺ found that this would be the best weapon against our beloved. Hassan bin Thaabit, finding this to be a fairly simple task, sought out the Prophet and perceived his every move trying to find the content for a slandering poem. After some time of watching the Prophet, Hassan bin Thaabit realized that he couldn’t do this. He couldn’t write a slanderous poem about a man whom he admired so much and whom he only saw good from. He returned to the enemies of the Prophet, gave them back their money, and became Muslim. He was then one of the most famous poets amongst the Muslims, and rather than write poetry against the Prophet he produced the most eloquent words praising him, like this one:
‘When I saw his light shining forth, In fear I covered my eyes with my palms, Afraid for my sight because of the beauty of his form. So I was scarcely able to look at him at all. The lights, from his light, are drowned and his face shines out like the sun and moon in one. A spirit of light lodged in a body like the moon, a mantle made up of brilliant shining stars. I bore it until I could bear it no longer. I found the taste of patience to be like bitter aloes. I could find no remedy to bring me relief other than delighting in the sight of the one I love. Even if he had not brought any clear signs with him, the sight of him would dispense with the need for them. Muhammad is a human being but not like other human beings. Rather he is a flawless diamond and the rest of mankind is just stones. Blessings be on him so that perhaps God may have mercy on us on that burning Day when the Fire is roaring forth its sparks.’
RasulAllah’s favorite thing to wear was the qamees, or shirt. He had different types of clothing, but if we were to have the honor of looking at his collection of clothing, we would find that he only had one of each, never owning a pair at a time. His clothing matched that of his people (Libaas Qawmihi). When he walked down the streets his clothing did not make him seem different or foreign. He was not picky about his dress, he would wear whatever was available and easy to acquire. He encouraged people through words and actions to wear the color white and considered it the best of clothing. He always maintained cleanliness and his wives said that he did this himself, not placing this task upon his servant or wife. Even through his dress he was just and fair. He commanded us to never walk around in one shoe, leaving the other bare. Why? For fear of being unjust to the other foot. Imagine, if this was the justice he displayed to body parts, how then would he be towards full human beings?
His Manner of Walking:
Abu Huraira beautifully describes the manner in which our beloved Prophet ﷺ would walk. He said, “I did not see anyone more handsome as RasulAllah. It was as if the sun set on his face. I did not see anyone walk faster than him, as if the earth folded for him. We found it difficult to keep pace when we walked with him, and he walked at his normal pace.” This means that the Prophet would walk with a purpose. He knew where he was headed and didn’t waste any time getting there. He would square his shoulders and had a strong posture which displayed humbleness, but would not hunch over in a position of humiliation.
The Prophet ﷺ did not speak quickly, nor did he ramble. He was to the point and spoke word-for-word. His statements were not superfluous or wordy or inadequate. When he was making a point or saying something that was very important, he would repeat whatever he was saying three times, making sure the listener was aware of the importance. His words were so precise and so effective that anyone sitting in his presence could remember what he said. He never criticized unless to correct a wrong someone had committed. If anyone gave him food or a gift he appreciated it, even if it was small.
Despite a view that ‘religious’ people should be serious and cold, Abdullah ibn Harith, a companion of the Prophet ﷺ, testified that he NEVER met anyone who smiled as much as our beloved Prophet. His smile was one that captivated the hearts and spread happiness and cheer. His laughter was a big smile which showed his molar teeth. Anas, the Prophets servant, lived with the Messenger for ten years. He saw him day and day out, yet he testified that the Prophet smiled every time he saw him. Imagine, meeting a man whom every single time you saw him he greeted you with a huge smile, sal Allahu alayhi wa salam.
Our beloved messenger was even humorous! There are many instances when the Prophet ﷺ would make his companions laugh to lighten the mood and make them happy. One of the sahaba once asked our Messenger about this, asking, “Oh Messenger of Allah sometimes you just sit and joke with us?” The Prophet ﷺ replied – making clear the condition of the humor he used – by saying ,”Yes, I joke with you but I only tell the truth.” He was consistent inbeing truthful in speech, as well as avoiding humiliating or hurtful content in his jests. An example is that of the joke that was related by Anas ibn Malik. He relates that a person asked RasullAllah ﷺ for a means for transporatation. Rasoolullah replied, “The baby of a camel shall be given to you.” The person said, “What shall I do with the baby of a camel O’ Messenger of Allah?” He was confused as he wanted to use it as transportation! RasulAllah replied,“Every camel is the baby of a camel!”
Although the Messenger of Allah ﷺ knew his status and knew that he had been entrusted with a huge responsibility from Allah, he also knew that he was a slave of Allah and did not demand better treatment. The Prophet encouraged people to not over praise him for fear that people would exalt him like `Isa (Jesus) had been exalted. He would tell the people ‘I am a bondsman of Allah, therefore call me the bondsman of Allah and His Rasul.’ It would be very easy for someone to demand high treatment in their own home, but when Aisha was asked about the manners of RasulAllah ﷺ in the home, she replied that he was a human just like other humans, even to the extent that he would remove the lice from his own clothing, milk his own goats, and did any other housework that was needed to be done.