2: His Character

Muhammad’s Attributes Portrait:
Documented character and attributes as seen by his companions. Produced by the Spanish calligrapher Nuria García Masip

Muhammad’s Character

Muslims have no drawings or pictures for prophet Muhammad or the prophets before him. However, unlike prophets who introduced great faith traditions prior to his time, the Prophet Muhammad is much more a recognizable historical figure as his companions and family members described him very well and recorded many stories from his life for posterity.

What did he look like?

Muhammad was an Arab of noble lineage with a white complexion and a rosy tinge. He was a little taller than average and well built with broad shoulders. His belly never protruded out from his chest. He walked briskly and firmly.

Muhammad’s companions described him as a handsome person with prominent forehead, high tipped nose, long eyelashes, large black eyes with well set teeth and a pleasant smile. He had slightly curly hair and a thick beard. His hair was black but included few white hairs.

His companions indicated that he had a friendly face as bright as a full moon. He did not laugh loudly; his laugh was mostly a smile that would show his white teeth. His cheerfulness and open personality were felt by all people.

His nature

Muhammad was unfailingly cheerful, easy going by nature, and mild mannered. He never resorted to offensive speech or obscenities. He did not find fault with others nor did he overly praise the others.

The way he spoke

Muhammad did not speak unnecessarily and what he said was always to the point and without any padding. His sayings were precise and concise having complete meaning in few words. He spoke with excellence, and there was no excess in it and no abnormal brevity.

When he emphasized a point, he used to repeat it three times with a gesture. He spoke of nothing unless he hoped a reward from God for it. He told his companions:

“I am a guarantor for a house at the outskirts of the Paradise for those who quit arguing even if they were right and I am a guarantor for a house in the middle of the Paradise for those who quit lying even if they were kidding and I am a guarantor for a house in the highest part in the Paradise for those who behave with good manners.”

Hadith – Sahih Abu Dawood 4974/4800

His temperament

Muhammad kept his feelings under firm control. When annoyed, he would turn aside or keep silent. When someone committed an act that violates God’s law, he used to show serious anger and a firm stand. No one would stand against his anger in matters of the Lord’s truth being opposed. He would stand fast in protecting the truth as revealed in the Quran. Muhammad never got angry for his own sake.

His interactions with people

Muhammad was always the first to greet others and would not withdraw his hand from a hand shake until the other man withdrew his.

Whoever saw him unexpectedly would admire and revere him. And whoever socialized or associated with him familiarly, loved him. He was gentle by nature. He was neither coarse nor disdainful of anyone.

When he looked at the others, he looked at them in full attention. If someone called him he didn’t turn his face only, but gave attention with his whole body.

When he used to visit a group, he would sit in the nearest available spot. He did not like reserving seats for others and he ordered his companions to follow his practice. Also, he used to give those seated near him his full share of attention in such a way that no one would think others had been given precedence over him. He was fair with his companions and all people. They were distinguished only by virtue and devotion to God.

His style of living

Everything he did was in moderation, without excess or contrariness. He never criticized the food or drink that was prepared for him, nor did he overly praise it.

When at home, he would divide his time into three parts: One for God, one for his family, and one for himself. He always joined in household work and would at times mend his clothes, repair his shoes and sweep the floor. He used to dress well and smell good.

After dawn prayers, he preferred sitting in the mosque reciting the Quran and praises of Allah, till the sunrise. After midnight, he used to get up for the (Tahajjud) prayers (extra prayers and supplications to God at night).

He declared unlawful for himself and his family anything given by people by way of the alms (zakat given by Muslims for the welfare of those in need). He was so particular about this, that he would not appoint any member of his family as a collector of alms for the community.

His house was but a hut with walls of unbaked clay and a roof of palm leaves covered by camel skin. Muhammad said:

“What have I to do with worldly things? My connection with the world is like that of a traveler resting for a while underneath the shade of a tree and then moving on.”

Hadith Book: (2/666- 2788, Musnad Ahmad, Narrated by Abdullah bin Abbas)

When he died, he did not leave any thing valuable except his white mule and a piece of land, which he had dedicated for the good of the community of Muslims

Hadith Book: Sahih Bukhari