The manners and morals of Muhammad

"We sent you not (O Muhammad), but as a Mercy for all creatures."

The noble Qur'an, Al-Anbiya(21):107

In order to understand the message of Islam, it is first necessary to acquaint ourselves with the prophet of Islam. You cannot, as the popular saying goes, separate the message from the messenger. It is therefore only natural to wish to study the life of Muhammad (pbuh), his manners and his morals, and to see how Islam manifested itself in his person as a living example for all Muslims till the end of time.

Abu Hurairah described him as follows:

"He was of medium build, closer to being tall. His skin was extremely white, his beard was black, his mouth was pleasant, his eyebrows were long, and his shoulders were wide"

Anas ibn Malik said:

"I never touched silk or any soft fabric equal to the softness of his palm, and I never smelled a scent more pleasing than his."

Hind ibn Abi Hala (the son of Muhammad's wife Kadijah) described Muhammad (pbuh) as follows:

"The Messenger of Allah was of consecutive sorrows, continuous thought, never finding rest, long in silence. He did not speak without cause. He spoke with his full mouth (was not arrogant), and spoke concisely. His speech was just, with neither excess nor deficiency. He was not pompous, nor denigrating. He exalted all blessings no matter how small and never belittled a single one. He would never praise his food nor criticize it. He was never angered by matters of this life nor that which was associated with it. However, if justice was transgressed nothing could stand up to his anger until justice was established. He never became angry for his own self nor sought retribution for himself. If he gestured, he did so with his whole palm. If he was amazed, he overturned it. If he spoke, he struck with his right palm the inside of his left thumb. If he became angry he turned away, and when he was happy he lowered his gaze. The majority of his laughter was [restricted to] smiling."

Ali ibn abi Talib described Muhammad (pbuh) as follows:

"He was not vulgar nor did he condone vulgarity, and he was not one to shout in the market place. He did not reward evil with evil, rather, he would forgive and overlook. He never in his life struck anything with his hand except when he was fighting in the name of Allah. He never struck a servant nor a woman, and I never saw him taking revenge for an injustice dealt him, except if the prohibitions of Allah were transgressed. For if the prohibitions of Allah were transgressed he was among the strongest of them in anger. He was never given a choice between two matters but he chose the simplest of the two. If he entered into his home he was a man like any other; cleaning his own garment, milking his own goat, and serving himself.

He would guard his tongue from that which did not concern him. He would attract them (the people) and not repel them. He would ennoble the noble of the people and charge them with their affairs. He was wary of the people and guarded himself against them but without depriving them a warm smile or fitting conduct. He would inquire after his companions and would ask the people about their affairs. He would encourage that which was good and strengthen it, and he would discourage that which was evil and undermine it. He was balanced and consistent. He would never be neglectful that they would not learn neglect and grow indifferent. He had a provision for every occasion and he never fell short of justice nor exceeded it. The closest people to him were the best among them, and the best among them in his eyes were the most comprehensive in advice. The highest of them in stature with him was the best among them in looking after the people and assisting them. He would not rise nor sit down without praise [to God]. If he visited a gathering he would sit wherever the group ended (and not at their head) and he encouraged the same. He would give all those sitting with him their just due [to the extent that] they would each feel that none was more important to him than them. If someone were to sit with him or come in search of a favor he would be patient with them until they (the guest) would be the one to leave. Whoever came to him with a request was never turned away except with that which they had asked for or with a kind word. His cheerfulness and good manners encompassed them all such that he became a father to them and they all became equal in rights. His gatherings were those of knowledge, humbleness, patience, and integrity. In them there would be no raising of voices nor transgressions of prohibitions. They would not expose one-another's errors, but would be equal, encouraging each-other in the fear of God. In them, they would respect their elders, be merciful to their children, give preference to those in need, and protect the stranger."

He continues: "He was continually smiling, gentle in manners, soft in nature. He was not severe, harsh-hearted, loud, abusive, or miserly. He would disregard that which he disliked, and no one ever despaired of him. He never responded to disparagement or evil words. He forbade upon himself three things: Argument, arrogance, and that which did not concern him. And he relieved the people of three: He would not degrade any among them or abuse them, he would not search after their honor or private matters, and he would not speak except in matters which he hoped to be rewarded for. When he spoke his attendees would lower their heads as if birds had alighted upon them. Once he finished they would speak. They would not vie with one-another in his presence to speak, but when one would talk in his presence the rest would listen until he finished. Speech in his presence was that of the first among them. He would laugh with them, and wonder with them. He had patience with the strangers when they were gruff in speech and requests, to a degree that his companions would fetch them to him. He would say: 'If you see someone in need, fetch him to me.' He would not accept praise except from those who were balanced and not excessive. He would not interject into someone's speech unless they transgressed, in which case he would either rebuke them or else leave.

He was the most generous of heart, truthful of tongue, softest in disposition, and noble in relationship. He who first set eyes upon him feared him, but he who associated with him loved him. Those who described him would say: 'I have never seen before of after him anyone similar to him, peace be upon him' "

With God:

Whenever Muhammad (pbuh) commanded his followers to observe a command or prohibition of God he was always found to be the most observant of this command or prohibition. He was the most devout in worship to God among them, and no one could equal him in worship, and in patience in the worship of God.

Al-Mugeerah ibn Shooba narrated:

"The Prophet, peace be upon him, used to stand in prayer until his feet became swollen and cracked. He was then asked: 'Hasn't God forgiven you that which is before you and that which is behind you?' He (Muhammad, pbuh) replied: 'Should I not be a thankful servant?' " (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

Aisha (pbuh) narrated:

"Allah's Messenger (pbuh) used to fast till one would say: he never stops fasting, and he would abstain from fasting till one would say:t he never fast." (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

Anas said:

"You would never like to see him standing in the middle of the night in prayer but you would, and never would you like to see him sleeping but you would" (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

The companions narrated that when a hardship or trial befell him he would pray. He would say

"My comfort has been placed in prayer" (Narrated by Al-Nissai)

With Life:

Muhammad (pbuh) was the most far removed among his people from the love of money or wealth. He encouraged his followers to be industrious, make an honest living and discouraged them from seeking charity. He did not condemn wealth and the wealthy, however, he feared for his followers and encouraged them to not allow it to corrupt them or obsess them.

Muhammad (pbuh) himself could have been the most wealthy man in the history of Arabia, however, he preferred to live simply and use his wealth in that which pleased God. As the leader of the Islamic nation, he received great wealth, however, he hated for this wealth to remain in his home for more than a day without having distributed it in charity. At times he would distribute tens or hundreds of thousands of "dinars" at a time as soon as he received them. He lived according to his sayings:

"O my Lord, indeed, true life is only the afterlife" and "What have I to do with this life? The similitude of me and this life is as a traveler who stopped to take shelter in the shade of a tree and then arose and left it"

Urwah narrated that Aisha (the wife of Muhammad, pbuh) said to me,

"O my nephew! We used to see the crescent, and then the crescent, and then the crescent, in this way we saw three crescents in two months and no fire (for cooking) used to be lit in the houses of Allah's Messenger (pbuh). I said, "O my aunt! Then what use to sustain you?" Aisha said, "[These two]: dates and water." (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

Abu Tharr narrated that Allah's Messenger (pbuh) said,

"If I had gold equal to the mountain of Uhud, it would not please me that any of it should remain with me after three nights (i.e. I would spend all of it in Allah's cause) except what I would keep for repaying debts." (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

Jabir ibn Abdullah narrated:

"The messenger of Allah was never asked for something and then he said 'no' (he never refused a request)" (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

With People:

"By the grace of Allah, you are gentle towards the people; if you had been stern and harsh-hearted, they would have dispersed from round about you"

The noble Qur'an, A'al-Umran(3):159

Even with all of his concerns and obligations, Muhammad (pbuh) never became unmindful of his people. He had a special place in his heart for each one of them and he was known among them for his soft-spokenness, his generosity, his tolerance, and his friendliness.

He would joke with his companions, sit and talk with them, play with their children and sit them on his knee. He would respond to the call of the free man or the slave, or the young girl or the poor. He would visit the sick on the opposite end of the city and he would attend their funerals. He would accept the people's apologies and their excuses, and he was the most humble among them.

Abdullah ibn Al-Haritha narrated:

"I have never seen anyone who smiled more continuously than the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)" (Narrated by Al-Tirmathi)

Usamah ibn Zayd narrated:

"The daughter of the Prophet (pbuh) sent (a messenger) to the Prophet (pbuh) requesting him to come as her child was dying. However, the Prophet (pbuh) returned the messenger and told him to convey his greeting to her and say: "Whatever Allah takes is for Him and whatever He gives is for Him. Everything with Him has a limited fixed term (in this world) and so she should be patient and hope for Allah's reward." She again sent for him, swearing that he should come. The Prophet (pbuh) stood up, and so did Sa'id ibn Ubadah, Mu'ath ibn Jabal, Ubay ibn Ka'ab , Zayd ibn Thabit and some other men. [When he arrived,] the child was brought to Allah's Apostle (pbuh), his chest heaving. On that the eyes of the Prophet (pbuh) began shedding tears. Sa'd said, "O Allah's Apostle! What is this?" He replied, "It is mercy which Allah has lodged in the hearts of His slaves, and Allah is merciful only to those of His slaves who are merciful (to others)." (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

Anas ibn Malik narrated that

"the Prophet (pbuh) used to mix with us (the children) to the extent that he would say to a younger brother of mine, 'O abu-Umayr! What did the Nughayr (a kind of bird) do?' " (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

Abu Dawood narrated that the Messenger of Allah would say:

"Let none of you transmit to me [evil news] about my companions, for I like to meet with you with a pure heart"

Ibn Masood narrated that Muhammad (pbuh) said to a group he sent to teach and advise:

"Be lenient and do not make [this religion] difficult. Bring glad tidings and do not repel"

AbuMalik al-Ash'ari said:

"The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: 'Cleanliness is half of faith, and [saying] 'Praise be to God' fills the scale, and [saying] 'Glory be to God' and 'Praise be to God' fill up what is between the heavens and the earth, and prayer is a light, and charity is proof [of one's faith], and patience is a brightness, and the Qur'an is a proof for or against you. All men go out early in the morning and sell themselves, some setting themselves free and others destroying themselves.' " (Narrated by Muslim)

With His Family and Children:

Aisha, the wife of Muhammad (pbuh) said:

"Allah's Messenger (pbuh) used to patch his sandals, sew his garment and conduct himself at home as anyone of you does in his house. He was a human being, searching his garment for lice, milking his sheep, and doing his own chores." (Narrated by al-Tirmathi).

She also said:

"He would patch his garments and sole his sandals" She was once asked: "How was he with his family?", she responded: "He was in the service of his family until it was time for prayer, at which time he would go and pray"

Anas narrated:

"I never saw anyone more merciful with children than the Messenger of Allah (pbuh)" (Narrated by Muslim)

Abu Hurairah narrated that:

"The Messenger of Allah never denigrated any type of food; if he liked it he ate it, and if he disliked it he left it alone" (Narrated by Bukhari and Muslim)

Generosity, Clemency and Conduct:

Abdullah ibn Amr narrated:

"Allah's Messenger (pbuh) neither spoke in an insulting manner nor did he ever speak evil intentionally. He used to say, 'The most beloved to me among you is the one who has the best character and manners.'" (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)

AbuHurayrah narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said:

"The most perfect believer in respect of faith is he who is best of them in manners." (Narrated by Abu-Dawood)

Qatadah ibn Malik narrated that Zayd ibn Ilaqah related on the authority of his uncle, Qatadah ibn Malik, that the Prophet (pbuh) would supplicate:

"O Allah, I seek Your protection against undesirable manners, acts, and desires." (Transmitted by Al-Tirmithi.)

Anas ibn Malik narrated:

"I was walking with the messenger of Allah (pbuh) and he was wearing a mantle of Najran with a thick border. A Bedouin met him and pulled the mantle so violently that I saw this violent pulling had left marks from its border on the skin of the neck of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). And he (the Bedouin) said: Muhammad!, command that I should be given out of the wealth of Allah which is at your disposal. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) turned to him and smiled, and then he ordered for him a provision."

Anas narrated:

"Eighty men from the men of Makkah descended upon the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) from the mountain of Al-Taneem, in [full] armor, with the intent of doing battle with him. He (Muhammad, pbuh) captured them peaceably and then did not kill them" (Narrated by Muslim)

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