By Khawlah Najeeb Maan
O lonesome souls. Come. Come and join the lovers’ guild. And share the desolation of your hearts. For they have become barren deprived of their rain, their source of life: the remembrance of their Maker and the love for his Beloved (S.A.W.). Parched are they, pining for their Prophet. Reeling from the pain of separation. Yet, it is the separation we have created for ourselves. Our Prophet is closer to us than any other person. It is up to us to live with him. Live with every word he ever uttered and every teaching he left for us. So hold on to every word you find about him O forlorn hearts, I know you miss him. Appease yourselves by drinking every word describing our Beloved Prophet (S.A.W.); hang on to the words of the fortunate souls whose eyes were blessed with his deedaar, drink in every sentiment, hold his Lord’s most precious gift and let its light flood your heart; for that is the way to live with your Beloved in painful separation.
Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W.) was of medium height, neither too tall nor too short. Yet, such is his glory and rank that whenever he (S.A.W.) stood or sat next to someone, he (S.A.W.) would appear taller than him. No one could tower over the greatest of creation. His body was well-proportioned, stout and muscular, and he possessed the most handsome physique anyone ever saw. His chest and stomach were level and he had a wide chest with broad shoulders. Between his two shoulders was the seal of prophet hood. His limbs were large and stout and he (S.A.W.) possessed long forearms with wide palms. His hands and feet have been described as masculine, being smooth and proportioned. His presence dominated every gathering and his very gait was full of purpose, strength and confidence. He (S.A.W.) did not drag his feet on the ground or walk languidly; he took large, firm steps and walked fast. Yet, his manner of walking was humble. His gaze was directed more towards the ground than the sky i.e., his gaze was lowered. Usually when we imagine the walk of a confident person, we unfortunately equal confidence to arrogance; the image conjured up is of a rich man strutting with his head held high, indifferent to everyone around him, followed by a train of minions, as if he is the conqueror of the land he walks on. Yet the Conqueror of Makkah’s (S.A.W.) forehead nearly touched the saddle of his mount with humility as he entered the city he was once turned out of, victorious. Similarly, a humble person is often likened to being meek, dismissive of his qualities and weak. With such stereotypes, it might seem hard to reconcile the two, but in reality, they are not antithetical. Allah in His infinite Mercy gave us the perfect model of how these qualities can co-exist in His Beloved’s (S.A.W.) example. Allah had protected His beloved from all the vile mannerisms.
Moving on to the next quality, which brought pure bliss to me, was the skin color of our Prophet (S.A.W.). Hazrat Anas bin Malik (R.A.) described Rasulullah (S.A.W.) in Sahih Bukhari, “He was of medium height among the people, neither tall nor short; he had a rosy complexion, neither absolutely white nor deep brown; his hair was neither completely curly nor quite lank.” Hazrat Anas narrated that ‘He was white, a whiteness leaning towards brown.’ Ibn Abbas said ‘He was (light) brown, leaning towards white.’ We can understand then that his (S.A.W.) skin color was pale or light brown, with those parts of his blessed body usually covered with garments being even lighter in color tone. Indeed, they were reported to have a lustre about them! Hazrat Abu Hurayrah narrated that when the Prophet (S.A.W.) removed his upper garment, he would resemble an ingot of silver.
When will we break away from the shackles of the hierarchy of beauty that colonization chained us in? Our ancestors never claimed superiority due to their skin color whether it matched that of Rasulullah (S.A.W) or not.
“Allah has blessed His Messenger (S.A.W.) with the best of virtues and qualities and has combined in him all that He has scattered amongst the different races”
The dominant trait amongst the Arabs was to have curly hair while straight hair being dominant among the non-Arabs. The mubarak hair of our Rasulullah (S.A.W.) was in between the two.
“His hair was neither curly nor completely straight, rather in between.”
His hair were jet black, and thick. Many ahadith quote varying lengths of his (S.A.W.) mubarak hair for his hair were of different length at different times. It is reported from Anas (R.A.) that the hair of Sayyidina Rasulullah (S.A.W.) reached till the middle of the ears. Yet his hair have been narrated to be to his shoulders. Even towards the end of his life, he had very few white hair. Hazrat Anas counted them to be fourteen, while Hazrat Ibn Umar (S.A.W.) reported twenty white hair. “This is a minor disagreement. The other ahadith may have been related at different periods. A difference in the counting may also be possible.” (Commentary in Shamail e Tirmidhi). But one thing that this proves is the love he (S.A.W.) inspired in the hearts of his companions! To actually count the number of his hair! The Sahabah loved their Prophet (S.A.W.) so much that they looked beyond the appearance and were concerned for the reason, for white hair is associated with old age or grief that makes a person old before their time. It is related in a hadith that Sayyidina Rasulullah (S.A.W.) was once coming out of his house, wiping his hands on his mubaarak beard. Sayyidina Abu Bakr (R.A.) and Sayyidina ‘Umar (R.A.) were sitting in the masjid at that time. When Sayyidina Abu Bakr saw this he said: ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be sacrificed. How suddenly you have aged’. Then he began to weep and shed tears. Sayyidina Rasulullah (S.A.W.) said: “Surahs like Surah Hud have made me old”.
The mother of believers, Hazrat Ayesha reports that she used to comb Rasulullah’s hair. Rasulullah also used to oil his hair. This is something for us to follow as it teaches us that we have to take care of ourselves, since our bodies are a trust upon us from Allah.
One of the most eloquent and comprehensive accounts I came across was this description provided as an answer to Al-Hasan bin Ali’s wish to know what Rasulullah (S.A.W.) looked like:
“The Messenger of Allah (S.A.W.) was impressive and majestic in and of himself and in the eyes of those who saw him. His face shone with resplendence like that of the moon when full. He was somewhat taller than a person of medium stature but shorter than a tall person. His head was large with slightly curly hair and if the hair on his forehead parted easily, he would keep it parted, otherwise his hair, when at its longest, would reach the lobes of his ears. He had a rosy white complexion with a wide brow, thick curved eyebrows that did not quite meet in the middle. Between them was a vein that would throb when angry. He had a long, slightly arched nose which shone with a light that would seem to elevate it, whoever did not carefully look at it would think he had a large nasal bridge. He had a thick and full beard with smooth cheeks that were not raised. He had a wide mouth with a gap in the teeth. He had a fine line of hair extending from his chest to navel. His neck resembled that of an ivory doll, white in color like pure silver. His body was well proportioned: stout and muscular. His chest and stomach were level and he had a wide chest with broad shoulders. His limbs were large and stout, and the skin that was bare of clothes had a lustre about it. The upper part of his chest, his forearms, and shoulders had a lot of hair on them. He had long forearms with wide palms and he had masculine hands and feet. His fingers were long but not extremely so, he had insteps, and his feet were smooth and well-proportioned because of which water would swiftly flow off them and quickly vanish. When he walked, he walked briskly with strength of purpose but placed his feet on the ground comfortably. When he walked, he took large steps as if he was descending a slope. When he turned [to address someone], he turned his entire body. He would constantly lower his gaze looking more to the ground than he would the sky, and most of the time he would merely glance at something. He would have his Companions walk in front of him and would hurry to greet whoever he met with the salaam.”
Rasulullah’s beauty was often compared to the moon, and indeed, the conclusion was that he outshone it. The eyewitnesses have said that they did not see anything more beautiful, let alone anyone. To conclude this brief wondrous journey, Hazrat Ayesha’s words are perfect:
“That if the friends of Zulaikha could see the blessed face of Rasulullah (S.A.W.), they would have cut their hearts instead of their hands”.