THE GREAT CHARACTER OF THE MESSENGER OF ALLAH, PEACE BE UPON HIM
Text written by: Ali Tantawi mercy upon him
The perfection of the biography of the Prophet Mohammad was his greatest miracle after the noble Qur'an, which was revealed to him. Although his character was perfect, Allah ordered him to pronounce the fact that he was a human being to people so that they would not worship him as an idol or think that he had divine powers. Allah, the Almighty says, “Say, I am only a man like you, to whom it has been revealed that your god is one, so whoever would hope for the meeting with his Lord, Let him do righteous work and not associate anyone in the worship of his Lord”. (Al Kahf 110)
Since Allah will never create another man like Mohammad, it would be unfair to compare him with any other prominent person whose legacy has survived to reach us; some of them were great in their thinking, but poor in their ethics. Others were eloquent, but did not think creatively. Some were great in administration and ruling; however their personal biography and behavior were indecent. Many people excelled in good things, but their excellence was confined to a particular place or time. As for the Prophet Mohammad, his greatness is global in all fields, and complete in all aspects.
His wives related many aspects of the Prophet’s personal life so that people can benefit from his example. His wife, Aisha, for example, spoke about his life at home and his behavior with his wives, during his lifetime, with his permission. Because of these narrations, we know how he used to eat, dress, sleep, go to the bathroom, and divide time between his families. The Prophet Mohammad had the most well-documented life of anyone throughout history, even to this day, in the era of social media and information technology, because Allah inspired everyone around him to take great care to remember and narrate every aspect of his life, actions, descriptions, speech, and tacit approvals. Furthermore, this information is not stored in a secret archive somewhere. Rather, it is public information. Anyone who wants to learn is welcome to read. There is no other man in history whose entire life was an open book for everyone to read and discuss. The greatness of his life story can be attributed to his manners, sacrifices, decisions, values and personality, how much he was able to accomplish in such a short time, and the effect that he has left on the development of his nation and the rest of the world. Furthermore, he believed what he preached. The evidence of this is his life biography and the sacrifices he made to the extent that when he died, he only owned a few personal items and even left a piece of armor as collateral with a Jewish man.
The Messenger used to immediately inform those around him of what was revealed to him, whether he was at home, in the mosque, or somewhere else. He used to order others to do good and warn against evil, and set the best example by being the personification of Qur'anic ethics.
He used to stand in prayer at night until his feet were swollen and frequently asked his Lord for forgiveness. It was said to him, “Hasn’t Allah has forgiven you for all that you have done and will do? He answered, “Shouldn't I be thankful?”
Although the Prophet abstained from many material pleasures and kept only what he needed from food, clothes, and personal items, he didn't seek hardship nor did he want it for others. He accepted gifts and food when they were offered. If he didn't like something, he wouldn't eat it, but wouldn't criticize it. In difficult times when he had no food, he would tie a stone against his stomach to suppress the hunger.
His tribe, Qureish offered to give him as much money as he liked ,or a position of high authority, or marriage to their most beautiful women if he abandoned his prophetic mission, but he refused all of this and prayed for their guidance.
He used to wear the clothing of the people of his culture, without any special designs or costumes. He wore a Hijazi turban, which was a piece of cloth wrapped around the head. Sometimes, he put it on his shoulder. Turbans were necessary apparel for Hijazi people to protect their heads from sunstroke. That is why it is said, “Turbans are the crowns of Arabs”. Although he wore turbans of several colors, his turban on the day of the conquest of Makkah was black.
Regarding the Prophet’s personal life, it will become clear to anyone who examines it in detail that, although he had marital relationships, he did not violate Islamic ethics nor humanitarian values in doing so. This is because all of his partners entered in to their relationships with him by their own free will. The prophet was chaste as a youth and monogamous for most of his adult life, before and after prophethood. All of his subsequent wives, except for one, were mature and previously married women. He maintained the rights of all of them adequately and equally by caring for them all and giving them all equal treatment as legitimate life partners. He never abandoned any of them. The lurid details of the corrupt personal lives of many of the world’s leaders and conquerors are not to be found in the prophetic biography.
The Prophet exhibited unmatched qualities of personal restraint in his interactions with others. He said, “The strongest man is not the one who wins the fight, but rather the one who controls himself at times of anger”. He did not chastise or insult the bedoiun who urinated in front of him and his companions in the corner of his masjid in AlMadinah, but rather waited for him to finish and then calmly explained that he should not do that in that place. He never retaliated against the Jewish lady who used to leave her garbage in front of his doorstep, but rather asked about her welfare when he did not see it. When he finally assumed control over his native city of Mecca, he did not exact retribution on any of the people who persecuted him and drove him out of his city, boycotted and waged war against the Muslims, and killed many of his companions and relatives. He let all of them live in peace provided that they not return to promoting and worshipping false gods for profit and returned back to the new city that he founded in AlMadinah, but not before asking them, “What do you think I am going to do to you?” They said, “You are a noble brother, son of a noble brother”. He said, “Go - you are free”. If he had decided to exact capital punishment on those who were responsible for grave religious persecution, no one would have blamed him. His decision of mercy was an unexpected surprise which astonished his contemporaries and those who came after him. The Prophet even forgave Wahshi when he came to him and converted to islam, even though he had killed the Prophet’s beloved uncle, Hamza, with a spear, although he preferred to not see him so as not to become upset about the death of his uncle.
In fact, every aspect of the Prophets character and behavior was impeccable. For example, when he secretly migrated to AlMadinah, he left his cousin, Ali, in his place and gave him instructions to return all of the valuables that his enemies from his tribe of Qureish had left in his trust due to their faith in him on a material level in spite of the fact that they were open oppressors to him and his followers.
On the day of Battle of Badr between the Muslims from AlMadinah and the Qureish tribe, he was inspecting the rows before the battle and had a stick in his hand, which he used to strike Sawad, the son of Ghazia in his stomach in order to make him stand in the line and said, “Stand in the line, Sawad”. Sawad said, “You hurt me, O messenger that Allah sent with truth and justice”. Instead of punishing him as a commander might do, the Prophet pulled up his clothes until his stomach appeared and said, “Here's the stick, hurt me as I hurt you”. Instead of doing so, Sawad embraced the Prophet and said, “While I was standing in line, I began to think that death is near, and I wanted to make hugging you the last thing that I did”.
The Prophet was so truthful that he reported all of what Allah revealed to him, even the verses which reproached him. He lived among his companions as one of them, indistinguishable in dress or treatment to the point that a visitor would ask, “Who is Mohammad among you?” He forbade his friends to stand up for him so that he could sit in their place. He taught them, worked with them, and consulted them about important matters. He used to serve his family and repair his shoes himself. He lived a modest life because he was indifferent to money and spent it on good things, not because he didn't have access to wealth. If he had wished, his palace could have been more magnificent than that the Roman and Persian emperors, but he chose the riches of the afterlife.
The biography of the Prophet Mohammad is public information and available for everyone to read in the books of authentic narrations such as AlBukhari and Muslim as well as books that compile and comment on this information. We invite everyone to learn about his life with an open heart and witness the great character of the Messenger of Allah.