Sunday, 21 June 2009

Shamâ´il al-Muhammadiyyah [Part 1] - Physical Characteristics of the Messenger of Allâh

Shamâ´il al-Muhammadiyyah by Abû ‘Isâ at-Tirmidhî (d. 279 AH)

Translated by Brother Abu Rumaysa

(B) = Bukhârî;
(SM) = Muslim;
(IM) = Ibn Majah;
(AD) = Abu Dawud;
(SN) = an-Nasa'i;
(T) = Tirmidhi;
(BQ) = Bayhaqî, Dalâ ́il an-Nubuwwah;
(M) = Munâwî, SharH Shama´il al-Muhammadiyyah;
(Q) = al-Qârî, SharH Shama´il al-Muhammadiyyah;
(S) = Suyûţî, Khasâ´is al-Kubra
(Z) = Zurqânî, SharH Mawâhib al-Laduniyyah;
(H) = ibn Hajr, FatH al-Bârı;
(AQ) = al-`Ainî,`Umdatu-l-Qârî;
(N) = Nawawî, SharH SaHîH Muslim;
(A) = al-Albânî, Mukhtasar Shama´il a-Muhammadiyyah;
(IQ) = ibn al-Qayyim, Jala ́ al-Afham.

This completes the uploading process of the amount of available portions of this book online located at:

An excellent series of lectures on Shamâ´il al-Muhammadiyyah (Description of Prophet Muhammad) by Abû ‘Isâ at-Tirmidhî can be found here delivered by Shâykh Husain Abdul Sattar where he covers the book in its entirety:

With the Name of Allâh, the All-Merciful, the Most Merciful

Al-Hâfiz Abû `خsâ Muhammad bin `خsâ bin Sawrah at-Tirmidhî said:

CHAPTER ONE - The Stature and Physical Characteristics of the Messenger of Allâh

§1. Abû Rajâ´, Qutaybah bin Sa`îd informed us; from Mâlik bin Anas; from Rabî`ah bin Abû `Abdur-RaHmân; that he heard Anas bin Mâlik (RA) saying,

The Messenger of Allâh, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, was neither very tall, such that he would be clearly noticed, nor was he short. He was not extremely white and neither was he very brown. His hair was neither very curly nor completely straight. Allâh commissioned him towards the end (ra´s) of his fortieth year. He remained in Mecca for ten years and in Madînah for ten years. Allâh caused him to pass away at the turn of his sixtieth year and there were not to be found [as much as] twenty white hairs on his head and beard. [1]

"The Messenger of Allâh, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, was neither very tall, such that he would be clearly noticed, nor was he short," (Q) Meaning that he was of medium height. His being short has been categorically negated but only his being so tall as to be clearly noticed has been negated, in this lies an indication that he, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, was indeed of medium height but leaning towards being described as tall and this is what has been reported about him, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, by al-Bayhaqî. There is no contradiction between this and the forthcoming description that he, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, was of medium stature because such a statement is relative. This understanding is strengthened by the report of al-Barâ´a, ‘He, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, was of medium stature but closer to being described as tall.’ [2]

al-Bayhaqî and ibn `Asâkir mention that, ‘None would be perceived to be taller than he, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, sometimes two tall men would stand on either side of him and he would seem taller than them, yet when they parted he would seem to be of medium height.’ [3] Ibn Saba´, al-Khasâ´is, mentions that when he, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, sat, his shoulder was higher than all those sitting around him. It is said in explanation to this, ‘Perhaps it was that none could be perceived to be physically above him just as none was spiritually and morally above him.’

"He was not extremely white and neither was he very brown," (Q) This description does not contradict the affirmation of his having a brownish complexion mentioned in the next Hadîth. [Ibn Hajr] al-`Asqalânî said, ‘From all the various reports on this it becomes clear that the whiteness that has been negated from him, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, is that whiteness that has no tinge of red and the brownness [affirmed for him] is redness that is mixed with white. [4 ](M)

This is proven by the narration of Anas in ad-Dalâ´il, ‘He was white, a whiteness going towards brown.’ (H) Moreover AHmad records on the authority of ibn `Abbâs with a Hasan isnâd, 'He was brown going towards white.' (M) As for his being described in some narrations to be extremely white, such as in the report of Bazzâr from Abû Hurayrah, ‘He was extremely white’ [5] and the report of at-Ţabarânî from Abû at-Ţufayl, ‘I have not forgotten the extreme whiteness of his face,’ these are understood to refer to the lustre, sheen and glitter of his skin under the light of the sun as shown by the Hadîth, ‘It was as if the sun were pursuing its course across, and shining from, his face.’ [6]

"His hair was neither very curly nor completely straight," (M) Meaning that his, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, hair was in a state in between being very curly and completely straight and the best of affairs are those that are in between the two extremes. az-Zamakhsharî said, ‘The predominate course amongst the Arabs is to have curly hair and among the non-Arabs, straight hair.’ Allâh has blessed His Messenger, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, with the best of virtues and qualities and has combined in him all that He has scattered amongst the different races.

"Allâh commissioned him towards the end (ra´s) of his fortieth year," (M) Allâh commissioned him as a Prophet and Messenger, sent to the entirety of the worlds of Jinn and Man, this by agreement of the Muslim nation and is known in the religion by necessity, whoever rejects this becomes a disbeliever. He was also sent to the Angels in the view of the researching scholars (muHaqqiqûn), however some have objected to this position. (Q) It is said that he was born on Monday, revelation came to him on Monday, he migrated to Madînah on Monday, he arrived at Madînah on Monday and passed away on Monday. [7]The commentators have stated that the meaning of the ra´s of his fortieth year is its last part [and not the turn] due to the opinion of the majority of the historians and biographers that he was commissioned after having entered his fortieth year. at-Ţîbî said, ‘Ra´s here is metaphorically used to refer to the end of the year [and not its beginning] in the same way as one says, “Ra´s of the verse” i.e. its last part.’ As for the usage of the word forty then it could either refer to the entry into the fortieth year or the year which is added to the thirty-ninth, both usages are common. However the specification that occurs through mention of the word ‘year’ in this Hadîth lends weight to the first possibility. al-Hâfiz al-`Asqalânî said, ‘[Understanding it to mean the turn of the fortieth year] would mean that he was commissioned in the month of his birth which is Rabî` al-Awwal, however he was commissioned in the month of Ramadân and therefore his age would be forty and a half or thirty nine and a half. Those who mentioned forty as his age did so by ignoring the addition or subtraction. However both al-Mas`ûdî and ibn `Abdu-l-Barr mention that the correct opinion was that he was commissioned in Rabı` al-Awwal, so according to this view he, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, would have just turned forty. It is also postulated that he was commissioned when he was forty years and ten days or forty years and twenty days old. Qâdî `Ayâd relates an irregular [and hence weak] report from ibn `Abbâs and Sa`îd bin al-Musayyab that he, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, was commissioned at the turn of his forty-third year.’

"He remained in Mecca for ten years," (Q) The nation is agreed that he, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, stayed in Mecca for thirteen years, (M) therefore one could say that those who narrated ten years, rounded down and left off mention of the additional three, or one could say that the narration of those who mention thirteen years is stronger. "And in Madınah for ten years," (M) meaning after the Hijrah. He, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, remained there for ten years and there is no difference concerning this. He remained there until the people entered into the religion in droves, until Allâh perfected the religion for him and his nation and completed His favour upon them.

"Allâh caused him to pass away at the turn of his sixtieth year," (Q) This implies that he passed away at the age of sixty, however the strongest opinion is that he was sixty-three and it is said sixty-five. These ages are reconciled by stating that those who stated sixty-five included the year of his birth and death. Those who mentioned sixty-three did not and those who mentioned sixty rounded down. (M) This point is not contradicted by the statement ‘turn of his sixtieth year’ because what is meant here is the beginning of his sixties. "And there were not to be found [as much as] twenty white hairs on his head and beard," (M) Rather there were less as proven by the narration of ibn Sa`d [from Anas (RA)], ‘There were only seventeen white hairs on his head and beard.’ There is no contradiction between this and the report of ibn `Umar (RAA), ‘He had approximately twenty white hairs’ [8 ]because this just talks about an approximation. In the report of ibn Hibbân and al-Bayhaqî from ibn `Umar (RAA) there occurs, ‘His white hairs were approximately twenty all towards the front.’ As for the Hadîth of `Abdullâh bin Busr, ‘His white hairs did not exceed ten’, he was talking about the hairs on the front of his beard, and hence the remainder is understood to be on his temples. (B) `Abdullâh bin Busr reports that he saw a few white hairs between his, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, lower lip and chin and Anas was asked if the Prophet, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, used to dye his hair to which he replied, 'No, for there were only a few [white hairs] on his temples.' (SM) Anas reports that the white hairs were only to be found on his lower lip, temples, and a few scattered on his head. (Q) As for what is mentioned in one narration (SM) on the authority of Anas (Q) by way of negating white hairs for him, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, what is meant is a negation of plenitude not a negation in totality. A more detailed discussion concerning his, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, age and white hairs follows in the relevant chapters if Allâh wills.


1 Bukhârı [Şifatu-n-Nabı, al-Libâs], Muslim [Fadâ'il]. 2 This statement also recorded by adh-Dhuhlı, az-Zuhriyyât from Abû Hurayrah and ibn Hajr, FatH [6/705] said the isnâd was Hasan.
3 Ibn Hajr [6/709].
4 See for example Hadıth #7. This is also the description reported of him by Anas in Muslim and Jâbir by ibn Sa'd as per ibn Hajr [6/705].]
5 Ibn Hajr [6/706], 'with a ştrong isnâd.'
6 The full Hadıth will be mentioned later in the chapter, ‘The manner of walking of the Messenger of Allâh (SAW).’]
7 This is reported from ibn 'Abbâs (RAA) by AHmad [1/277].
8 al-Bayhaqı [Ra's Rasulillâh]