Who was Muhammad, may God praise him?
Muhammad,was born in a noble tribe of Mecca in Arabia in the year 570 CE. His ancestry traces back to Prophet Ishmael, one of the two children of Prophet Abraham. His father died before his birth and his mother died when he was six years old. He was raised first by a nursemaid in the desert, as was customary in those days, then by his grandfather and then by his uncle. As a young man, he was known to be a good man, true to his word, never known to go back on his word. At the age of 40, God chose him as a prophet, as foretold by previous prophets such as Moses and Jesus, and the Gabriel brought the first revelation from God, while he was meditating in the cave of Hira in Mecca. Thereafter, God sent revelations to Prophet Muhammad for a period of 23 years. This book of revelations is called the Quran – his greatest existent miracle and proof of his truthfulness.
Like all prophets before him, he was a human being chosen by God to convey His message to the creation. He ate, drank, slept, and lived like other humans. His knowledge of the future was limited to what God revealed to him. In short, he had no part to play in the running the affairs of the universe. He was not divine, he is not god, and Muslims do not worship him. He was a prophet and messenger, one in a long line of prophets including Abraham, Moses, the Hebrew prophets, and Jesus. He declared the fraternal brotherhood of all prophets:
“The Prophets are all paternal brothers. Their mothers are different but their religion is one.” (Al-Bukhari, Muslim)
It is important for one to come to know Prophet Muhammad, may God praise him, his life, biography, his manners, and his lifestyle. In doing so, one will benefit in the following ways:
(1) One will love and respect him. Loving the Prophet is an essential part of Faith, as he himself declared:
“None of you will truly believe until I am more beloved to them than their own children, parents, and all other people. (Muslim)
It is impossible to love someone a person does not know, and one’s love increases when they realize the excellent qualities the person holds.
(2) One’s belief in the message will increase. When one come to know the sequence of events of his life and times, they will have no doubt that the religion he brought is indeed true, and that he was indeed a messenger aided from high above.
Our Beloved Prophet, May Allah Praise Him
“I began to look at him and at the moon, he was wearing a red mantle, and he appeared to be more beautiful than the moon to me.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
This is how Jabir ibn Samura described the Last of the Prophets, the Crown of the Messengers, the Chief of the Pious, the Prince of the Believers, the Chosen One of the Most Merciful God.
He had a pleasant face that was round, white, and fair. His hair fell to his ear lobes. His beard was thick and black. When he was pleased, his face would light up. His laugh was no more than smiling. His eyes were blackish, and his eyelashes were long. His long eyebrows were curved. When the eyes of Abdullah ibn Salam, the greatest Jewish scholar of Medina of his time, fell on his face, he declared it could not be the face of a liar!
He was of medium height, neither tall nor short. He walked inclining forward. He wore tanned leather sandals. His lower garment would reach to the middle of his shin or sometimes just above his ankles.
On his back, towards his left shoulder, was the ‘Seal of Prophethood’. It was the size of a pigeon’s egg with spots like moles on it. His palms were described to be softer than silk.
He was recognized by his fragrance when he approached from a distance. Drops of his perspiration were described to be like pearls. His disciples are reported to collect his sweat to mix with their perfumes which made them even more fragrant!
Islamic doctrine holds the devil has been forbidden from coming in one’s dreams pretending to be him. If someone sees him in his real form as described, then we believe they have seen the noble Prophet himself.
He would keep silent for long periods of time and was the most dignified when silent.
When he spoke, he uttered nothing but the truth in a voice pleasing to the ears. He did not speak rapidly; rather his speech was clear and each word was distinct so that those who sat with him could remember it. In fact it was described to be such that anyone who wished to count his words could have done so easily. His companions described him to be neither vulgar nor indecent. He neither cursed people, nor abused them. He merely reprimanded by saying:
“What is the matter with such and such people?” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
The most hateful conduct to him was lying. Sometimes he used to repeat himself twice or even thrice to enable his listeners to understand him well. He would give short sermons. While delivering the sermons his eyes would become red, his voice would rise, and his emotions become visible to the point that it would be as if he were warning of an imminent assault from the enemy.
He led a simple life without any extravagance or lavishness. He put this worldly life behind his back and turned away from it. He considered it to be a prison, not Paradise!
Had he wished, he could have had anything he desired, for the keys of its treasures were presented to him, but he refused to accept them.
He did not exchange his share of the Hereafter with this wordly life. He knew that it was a corridor, not a permanent residence. He understood fully well that it is a transit station, not a leisure park. He took it for its real worth – a summer cloud that would soon disperse.
Yet, Allah says that He enriched him from poverty:
“Did He not find you poor and enrich you?” (Quran 93:8)
Aisha, his wife, said:
“A month would pass while the family of Muhammad would not light fire in their homes. They subsisted on two things – dates and water. Some Ansar who were his neighbors would send milk from their sheep, which he would drink and then give to his family.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)
She said the family of Muhammad never ate bread to their satisfaction for three consecutive days from the time of his arrival at Medina until he passed away, which amounts to about 10 years!
With all this, he would stand up in the middle of the night to offer his gratitude to his Lord by praying the nightly prayer of tahajjud. He would pray for so long that his feet would swell! When he was asked why he worshipped Allah so much, his response was:
“Shall I not be a thankful slave of God?” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)
Umar, one of his close friends, remembering the days he passed being hungry said that sometimes the Prophet did not even have old dates to satisfy his hunger!
Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, another companion, said that once, when the Prophet awoke from his sleep, the marks of the mat made out of date palm leaves on which he used to sleep were etched on his body. Ibn Mas’ud complained:
“My father and mother be ransomed for you! Why did you not let us prepare something (softer) for you from which you could protect yourself?
‘I have nothing to do with this world. I am in this world like a rider who stops under the shade of the tree for a short time and, after taking rest, he resumes his journey again, leaving the tree behind.’” (Al-Tirmidhi)
Various conquerors in the annals of history are known for spilling rivers of blood and erecting pyramids of skulls. Muhammad, may Allah praise him, is known for his forgiveness. He never took revenge from anyone who wronged him to the point he never struck anybody with his hand, neither a woman nor a servant, unless he was fighting in the Path of God to defend the faith.
His forgiveness could be seen on the day he entered Mecca as a conqueror after eight years of exile.
He forgave many of those who persecuted him, and forced him and his family in exile for three years, who had called him a lunatic, a poet, and a possessed person. He pardoned Abu Sufyan, one of the most evil of people who plotted to persecute him day and night, along with his wife, Hind, who mutilated the dead body of the Prophet’s Muslim uncle and ate the raw liver after ordering Wahshi, a fierce slave known for his fighting skills, to kill Him, which later led them to accept Islam. Who else could be on such an exalted standard of character but the noblest and most truthful Messenger of God?
Wahshi, a slave from Mecca, won his freedom in the early years of Islam from his owner in return for killing Hamza, the uncle of the prophet, whose body was then mutilated. When Islam reached Mecca, he ran away to another city, Taif. Eventually Taif also succumbed to the Muslims. He was told that Muhammad forgives anyone who accepts Islam. Even though the crime was so great, Wahshi gathered his courage and came to him and announced his Islam, and Muhammad forgave him! He even forgave Wahshi’s former owner, Hind, the woman who had mutilated the dead body of Hamza and chewed his heart and liver because of her great hatred for Islam!
His forgiveness even extended to Habbar. When his own daughter, Zaynab, was migrating from Mecca to Medina, the Meccan pagans tried to stop her forcibly. Habbar was one of them. He made the Prophet’s pregnant daughter trip from the camel. As a result, she lost her baby! Running away from the guilt of his crimes, Habbar left for Iran, but Allah turned his heart towards the Prophet. So he appeared before the noble Prophet, acknowledged his guilt, bore the testimony, and was forgiven by the Prophet!
Pointing his finger at the moon, Muhammad split it into two halves. In one night, he traveled from Mecca to Jerusalem, led all the Prophets in prayer, and then ascended beyond the seven heavens to meet his Lord. He cured the sick and the blind. The demons would leave the possessed by his command, water flowed from his fingers, and his food could be heard glorifying Allah.
Yet he was the most humble of men.
He sat on the ground, ate on the ground, and slept on the ground.
A companion narrated that if a stranger were to enter a gathering where he was present, he would not be able to differentiate the Prophet from his companions due to his humbleness.
Anas, his servant, swore that in his nine years of service, the noble Prophet never chastised him or blamed him for anything.
Those with him described him as being so humble that even a little girl could hold his hand and take him wherever she wished. He used to come to the weak among the Muslims in order to visit the sick and attend their funeral processions. He used to stay at the back of the caravan to aid the weak and pray for them. He would not hesitate to walk with a widow or a poor person, or even a slave until he had met their needs. He even responded to the invitation of slaves to eat nothing more than barley bread with them.
He was the best of men to his family. Aisha described his humility:
“He used to remain busy serving and helping his household, and when the time for prayer came he would perform ablution and go for prayer. He would patch his own sandals and sew his own garments. He was an ordinary human being…milking his sheep, and doing his own chores.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
Indeed he was the best of all people to his family. His personality was such that people were not driven away from him!
He was the bravest, the most fearless, and the most courageous of all men in the battlefield. The knight of the Ansar, al-Bara’ exclaimed with surprise:
“When the battle grew fierce, we sought protection at the side of the Prophet and the bravest of us was he who kept pace with him in the onslaught.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari, Saheeh Muslim)
The brave man of Arabia, Ali – the Conqueror of Khaybar – described the valor of the Prophet:
“You should have seen me on the day of the Battle of Badr, as we sought protection at the side of the Prophet. He was the closest of us to the enemy and he had the greatest taste of the battle on that day!” (Shar al-Sunnah)
Such was the noble Prophet of Allah who we must love more than our own selves and whom God has described as:
“Indeed in the Messenger of God you have a good example to follow.” (Quran 33:21)
God swears for his moral perfection:
“Nūn. By the pen and what the angels write.
You (O Muhammad) are not, by your Sustainer’s grace, a madman!
And, verily, for you shall be a reward unending – for behold, you are at an exalted standard of character.” (Quran 68:1-4)
Everything about him – his qualities, character, sayings, and exemplary life – encourages a person to have faith as the Quran declares:
“Indeed in the Messenger of God you have a good example to follow.” (Quran 33:21)
 Ansar: Those who came to the aid of… A term given by the Prophet to those Muslim residents in Medina who accepted the Emmigrants (or Muhajiroon) of Mecca and helped them to become adjusted into their new home.
Source: newmuslims.com [External/non-QP]