Sunday, 21 June 2009

Shamâ´il al-Muhammadiyyah [Part 7] - Physical Characteristics of the Messenger of Allâh

§11. Sufyân bin Wakî` narrated to us; Humayd bin `Abdur-Rahmân ar-Ruwwâsî [or ar-Ru´âsî] narrated to us; from Zuhayr; from Abû Ishâq who said; a man asked al-Barâ´a bin `آzib (RA),
‘Did the face of the Messenger of Allâh, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, resemble a sword?’ He replied, ‘No, rather it resembled the moon.’ [1]
"Did the face of the Messenger of Allâh, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, resemble a sword?" (Q) i.e. in beauty and lustre, it is also postulated that it was a question regarding the longness of his face due to what is mentioned in some reports of this hadîth, as recorded by al-Ismâ`îlî, 'Was the face of the Messenger of Allâh, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, elongated like a sword?' (M) However there is nothing to negate the fact that both things were meant. "He replied, ‘no, rather it resembled the moon,’" (Q) This was mentioned so that the similitude could combine the quality of lustre and shine with the quality of being close to round [as opposed to long]. This understanding is strengthened by the hadîth of Ka`b bin Mâlik, (B) 'Whenever the Messenger of Allâh, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, was happy, his face would glitter as if it was a piece of the moon.' (Q) It can also be said that meaning is: it was not like a sword, nor like the moon, rather better than it; this understanding is strengthened by the hadîth that has just preceded, "He was more beautiful than the moon," and the hadîth of ar-Rabî` bint Mu`awwidh, "Were you to see him, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, you would have thought the sun had risen." (M) The moon is more luminescent and of more benefit than the sword because the sword rusts, its splendour fades, and its sharpness decreases; as such the comparison was altered to that of the moon. This was also done by way of seeking good omens (tafâ´ul) because the word sword comes from sâfa which means halaka (to perish). We say this even though the sword has good things about it such as killing disbelievers, but for the purpose of this similitude this benefit is countered by what we have just mentioned. If it said: but the sun and moon eclipse [and as such they lose their light], we would say this is just a temporary occurrence, like illness, in contrast to what happens to the sword. (Q) Muslim records on the authority of Jâbir bin Samurah that a man asked him, 'Did the face of the Messenger of Allâh, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, resemble a sword?' He replied, 'No, it was like the sun and the moon, it was round.' Abû `Ubayd said, 'He did not mean that it was completely round, rather it had a sense of softness and easiness about it. This is a quality that is better in the Arabs and non-Arabs but not the Turks.' This understanding is strengthened by the report that, "he had firm cheeks." [2 ](M) The sun and the moon have been mentioned here because the first is used to liken light and radiance whereas the second is used to liken beauty and perfection. So he explained that his, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, face combines these qualities added to its having roundness. The sun alone was not compared due to its quality of burning and exhausting the sight and because they only used it to make a simile to its light and radiance. The purpose of these similitudes is not mere comparison but to highlight his beauty and splendour, so the intent here is to compare his excellent qualities with the excellent qualities of all that is beautiful. [3]

§12. Abû Dâwûd al-Masâhifî – Sulaymân bin Salm – narrated to us; an-Nadr bin Shumayl narrated to us; from Sâlih bin Abû al-Akhdar; from ibn Shihâb; from Abû Salamah; from Abû Hurayrah (RA) that he said,
The Messenger of Allâh, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, was white skinned as if moulded of silver and he had slightly curly hair. [4]
"The Messenger of Allâh, sallAllâhu `alayhi wa sallam, was white skinned as if moulded of silver," (Q) i.e. when considering how the whiteness of his skin would bring out his lustre and sheen. The meaning is that he was white skinned with a whiteness that was pleasing in the eyes of those who beheld him, as such this description does not contradict the report of his not being extremely white as has preceded. This is also the meaning of hadîth that mentions that "he was very luminescent," and the hadîth, "he was very white." It also does not contradict the description of his whiteness being mixed with red which was mentioned in one report, that has preceded, as being brown.[5] (M) The narration, "Allâh never sent a Prophet except that he had a beautiful voice and a nice voice, and your Prophet has the best face and the best voice", indicates that his face and voice were better than that of Yûsuf, and the explanation to this hâdıth follows. "And he had slightly curly hair." The explanation to this has preceded.[6 ]

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1. Reported by Bukhārı [Şifatu-n-Nabı], at-Tirmidhı [al-Manāqib]. 2. Ĥadıth #8.
3. Refer also to the comments of (Q) to ĥadıth #8.
4. Reported by at-Tirmidhı alone.
5. Ĥadıth #8.
6. Ĥadıth #1,3