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Prophet Muhammad's Character Traits, from 'Sunshine at Madinah' by Zakaria Bashier

Prophet Muhammad's Character Traits, from 'Sunshine at Madinah' by Zakaria Bashier

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Published by starstuff
The character traits of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), from the book 'Sunshine at Madinah' written by Zakaria Bashier.
The character traits of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), from the book 'Sunshine at Madinah' written by Zakaria Bashier.

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Published by: starstuff on Dec 25, 2009
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3.His Character Traits
For his description of the general manners of the Prophet, Ibn Kathir draws largelyupon a statement by Hind Ibn Abi Halah at-Tamimi, narrated on the authority of al-Hasan Ibn‘Ali (Ibn Abi Talib). Said al-Hasan (grandson of the Prophet): ‘If he turned, he would turnwith his whole body towards the person addressed. His gaze was more often lowered, moreoften than not his gaze was cast down to the earth. He looked down to the earth more than helooked up to the sky. He walked behind his Companions, always first to greet whom hechanced to meet, observing things as he moved along.’ Pensive and sorrowful in generalappearance, continuously wrapped around in his thoughts and meditations, the Prophet wasunusually quiet and reserved. Yet, he was industrious, never fond just doing nothing. Even athome, he would take part in the
mihnah
(household work) of his wives. When there wasnothing to be done, he would deem it his duty to amuse them, making them laugh withhappiness. He quite often attended to his personal chores, washing and sewing his clothes andmending his shoes etc.He entertained long intervals of silence and would generally like to listen rather thanlead a conversation. He would not speak without a need or purpose. When he talked, hewould do so with his whole mouth. His sentences were short and pregnant. He was given to
 jawami al-kalim
(the loaded expressive sentence), not too short not too long but sufficient.His manners were fine, neither coarse and unfriendly nor meek or insignificant. He was never angry for personal motives. He freely forgave and brushed aside personal insults. However,he showed great anger when a matter of principle was mocked or violated. When he was soupset, he would not be pleased until that matter had been redressed or avenged. But personalindignities and little insults would not make him angry, nor would they make him retaliateagainst his offenders. He would bear them graciously and patiently. Bedouins used to addresshim harshly and use crude and improper language. They even sometimes pulled his beard asthey talked. But the Prophet would bear all this with a gracious smile.When engaged in conversation, he would use his whole palm, pointing it in wonder and amusement. If he was angry, he looked aside; if pleased, he would lower his gaze. Mostof his laughter was no more than smiling but occasionally he laughed until his teeth wereexposed. When he thus laughed, bursts of light were seen between his teeth.When at home, he divided his time in three portions – one for his wives, one for God,and one for himself. But his personal time he shared with his Companions, receiving them,looking after them, and enquiring about their affairs. When his companions came to visit him,he received them in kindness, waiting personally upon them, serving and honouring them. Heenquired about their needs and tried his best to see that those needs were satisfied. Quiteoften he directed them to do or say things which would benefit them and ease their hearts andhardships. He would even ask them to convey to him the needs of those who could notconvey them in person, saying that ‘whosoever conveys to the ruler the needs of those whocannot convey them, God would establish and strengthen him on the Resurrection Day’.When drinks were served in his home, normally only with one bowl going round, hewould be the last to drink. Similarly, he often ate only after his Companions had eaten,especially when he sensed that they were suffering from hunger, which was not unusual.
 
When his Companions assembled around him, his manner was the noblest, light-hearted and elevating. He would show every kindness and compassion towards them, never saying anything or bringing up a topic which would grieve them or lower their spirits. Far from attempting to mock them or demoralize them, he would say things which would helpthem raise and foster what was best in them, encourage them and make them want to do gooddeeds. He honoured them with his gracious hospitality. It was always his habit and concernto please and honour his Companions. He would take great care to especially honour thosewho had merit or were preciously honoured by their own people (even before coming toIslam). Witness the honour he bestowed upon Abu Sufyan at the conquest of Makkah. Inreturn for his kindness and honouring of them, they remained forever captivated by his loveand favour. They loved him more than they loved their own parents, more even thanthemselves, ready to do anything to please him, to die if need be in his defence and in defenceof the new faith and society.The Prophet and the assembly of the Companions around him can be likened to a full bright moon and a cluster of luminous stars around it. As he shone ever brighter, so they too became more luminous. His style of leadership was not that of an overbearing lord, obsessed by promoting his own image and strengthening his personal grip. Nor was it the style of anenvious professor irritated if one of his students excelled. Far from trying to dim and lessenthe merit of his Companions, he forever sought to exalt and improve them, and lead themtowards the realization of what was best and noble in them (may Allah bless him ever moreand more).It is little wonder, therefore, that no Prophet or Messenger of God, no king or princewas so loved, honoured or obeyed by his Companions and followers as the ProphetMuhammad.Although normally reserved and contemplative, Muhammad was by no means anintrovert. On the contrary, he was a social being of unusual charm. His company was of thesweetest, and his visitors would tend to overstay in his house, no doubt drawn and held by the peace and joy they used to experience when in his company.The habit of overstaying in the Prophet’s home, notwithstanding the very limitedroom in his private apartments, became so widespread, and the Prophet too shy to mention it,that God had to intervene and Qur’anic verses were revealed to draw the Companions’attention to the inconvenience and hardship which this overstaying inflicted upon their too-gracious host.The pre-Islamic Arabian society in general, and the Yathribites in particular, were notknown for compassion. This is attested by the surprised protestations of a Bedouin, when hesaw that the Prophet hugged and kissed al-Hasan, his grandson. Moreover, Yathrib, at thetime the Prophet came there, was just emerging from a prolonged and savage war. TheProphet’s mild temperament, his unusual graciousness, the caring love and compassion thathe showed to his citizens and followers was in marked contrast to anything the Yathribiteshad so far experienced. The way he used to receive and treat them in private audience, madeeach one of them feel that no-one else was more loved or honoured by the Prophet than him.Such was the justice and equality with which all of them were treated that they gradually
 
 became accustomed to look upon him as their own loving father - the ideal and dearest of fathers. Thus the Muslims became dependent upon the Prophet for their support, material aswell as spiritual, and under his protection and guidance they felt happy and tranquil. For theforty or sixty poor 
Muhajirun
of 
 Ahl as-Suffah
, he was quite literally the sole supporter andguardian, providing food and lodging from whatever little he possessed. This unusualrelationship between the Prophet and the Muslims has been recorded by the verse of theQur’an, quoted earlier, that the Prophet came closer to the believers than themselves, and hiswives became their mothers. Indeed, the Prophet was a father to many a fatherless child inMadinah, orphaned because of the Bu’ath War. He is indeed the father of those who, for whatever reason, have suffered deprivation of parental or fatherly love, to the end of all time.The Prophet’s forbearance in attending to the needs of his Companions wasimmeasurable. He would sit listening to them for hours, not showing the least sign of impatience or inconvenience. When extending his hand in salutation, he would never be thefirst to withdraw it, nor would he be the first to break off a conversation or a council, unlesssomething really pressing came up. Often, when he was not busy in some serious matter, alittle girl from the neighbourhood would dash into his house, take him by the hand, anddemand: ‘Let us go to play.’ He would obey her and she would spin him about playingmerry-go-round.His liberality towards his Companions and the citizens of Madinah was withoutlimits. Never was he asked something or some favour and he failed to grant it, unless, of course, it was beyond his means. Even then, he would passionately pray and implore his Lordon their behalf, and quite often his prayers were immediately granted. On some occasions, hewould teach them selected prayers and invocations, exalting God and asking His forgiveness.They would comply and their hardships were relieved. One day the Prophet was wearing anew robe, a gift from overseas, from some king or prince. A bedouin’s eyes fell on it, praising its beauty and desiring it. The Prophet took it off and tenderly placed it around the bedouin’s shoulders. The bedouin was overcome with emotion and gratitude.Towards those who harmed and opposed him he was usually charitable and forgiving.Yet if they insisted on their enmity and sought to obstruct God’s call to mankind, and it became clear beyond a shadow of doubt that they were bent on destroying his mission, thenthe Prophet would not shy away from having to deal with them, as the situation mightdemand. One of his favourite strategies was to deal the first blow to them decisively speedily.He would not suffer humiliation or defeat at the hands of his combatant adversaries, if hecould help it. Nor would he let their treacherous designs go unchecked or unpunished.However, if they relented and surrenders, he would forgive them at once, totally andunreservedly. In this way, some of his former enemies became his best friends and protectors.The Prophet’s style of living was, by choice and design, most austere. He wouldaccept gifts and hospitality from his friends and Companions. Yet if he sensed charity inthem, he would reject them outright. Although totally modest and unpretentious, he wasnonetheless high-minded and noble in his attitude towards people and things. Given theasceticism he chose, his needs were indeed minimal and whatever need he felt was for thecompassion and mercy of his Lord, the Almighty God. Because of his utter reliance uponGod, the Prophet was called
 Al-Mutawakkil 
(The God-reliant). In his love for God, he felt

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