Physical description of the Prophet (ﷺ)

The physical description of the Prophet (ﷺ) is described very well in a number of Hadiths and looking them up does not require much effort. However, recently some people have started lying about it only to hurt the sentiments of Muslims.

The physical description of the Prophet (ﷺ) has been quoted below:

عَنْ حُمَيْدٍ، قَالَ سُئِلَ أَنَسُ بْنُ مَالِكٍ أَخَضَبَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ قَالَ إِنَّهُ لَمْ يَرَ مِنَ الشَّيْبِ إِلاَّ نَحْوَ سَبْعَةَ عَشَرَ أَوْ عِشْرِينَ شَعَرَةً فِي مُقَدَّمِ لِحْيَتِهِ

It was narrated that Humaid said: “Anas b. Malik was asked: ‘Did the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) dye his hair?’ He said: ‘He did not have any white hair apart from approximately seventeen or twenty hairs at the front of his beard.’” [Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 4, Book 32, Hadith 3629]

This is narrated by Anas b. Malik (رضي الله عنه) who was one of the last companions of the Prophet (ﷺ) to pass away and when he narrates it, he does so much after the passing away of the Prophet (ﷺ). Therefore, he describes the late description of the Prophet (ﷺ) who passed away at the age of 63. The following narration is from when the Prophet (ﷺ) was around the age of 50:

قال محمد بن إسحاق: وحدثني محمد بن مسلم بن شهاب الزهري، أنه أتى بني عامر بن صعصعة، فدعاهم إلى الله، وعرض عليهم نفسه، فقال رجل منهم، يقال له بيحرة بن فراس: والله لو أني أخذت هذا الفتى من قريش لأكلت به العرب

Muhammad b. Ishaq said Muhammad b. Muslim b. Shihab al-Zuhri narrated to me: He (i.e. the Prophet (ﷺ)) went to the Banu ‘Amr b. Sa’sa‘ah, and called them to Allah and offered himself to them. One of them called Bayharah b. Firas said, “By God, if I could take this boy/young man from Quraysh I could conquer all the Arabs with him.” [Tarikh al-Tabari also in Sirat Ibn Hisham]

When the Prophet (ﷺ) migrated to Madina, at the age of 53, he stopped by with his close friend and companion Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) at the place of an old woman, Umm Ma’bad. The books of Hadith and Sirah (biography of the Prophet (ﷺ)) record how she described the Prophet (ﷺ) later to her husband when he came home (i.e. their tent):

I saw a man who is clearly handsome and with a beautiful face. He is well-built. He is neither blemished by a big stomach nor did he have an unusually small head. The pupils of his eyes are very dark, the edges of his eyelids are long and the area around the pupils of his eyes is so white. His eyebrows are perfectly close. He has a very dark hair, a rather long neck and a thick beard. When he kept silent he is always contemplative and when he speaks eminence and splendour show in his words. His words are like sliding stringed pearls. He is a gifted speaker whose words are neither too few nor too much. He has the clearest words and the most audible voice when he speaks. When you look at him from afar, he is the most handsome of all people, and when you move closer to him he is the most pleasant of them. You will never be tired of looking at him. He is like a branch between two branches. He is the most handsome of the three (she means: the Prophet (ﷺ) Abu Bakr and Amir ibn Fuhayrah) and the most important of them. He has Companions who honour him. When he speaks they listen to his words and when he commands they hasten to carry out his order. They serve him and rally around him. He does not frown or nag. [*]

This description further shows that even at the age of 53, the Prophet (ﷺ) looked very young, fresh, attractive, charming, and charismatic.

عَنْ رَبِيعَةَ بْنِ أَبِي عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ أَنَسَ بْنَ مَالِكٍ، يَصِفُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ كَانَ رَبْعَةً مِنَ الْقَوْمِ، لَيْسَ بِالطَّوِيلِ وَلاَ بِالْقَصِيرِ، أَزْهَرَ اللَّوْنِ لَيْسَ بِأَبْيَضَ أَمْهَقَ وَلاَ آدَمَ، لَيْسَ بِجَعْدٍ قَطَطٍ وَلاَ سَبْطٍ رَجِلٍ، أُنْزِلَ عَلَيْهِ وَهْوَ ابْنُ أَرْبَعِينَ، فَلَبِثَ بِمَكَّةَ عَشْرَ سِنِينَ يُنْزَلُ عَلَيْهِ وَبِالْمَدِينَةِ عَشْرَ سِنِينَ، وَلَيْسَ فِي رَأْسِهِ وَلِحْيَتِهِ عِشْرُونَ شَعَرَةً بَيْضَاءَ‏.‏ قَالَ رَبِيعَةُ فَرَأَيْتُ شَعَرًا مِنْ شَعَرِهِ، فَإِذَا هُوَ أَحْمَرُ فَسَأَلْتُ فَقِيلَ احْمَرَّ مِنَ الطِّيبِ

Narrated Rabi’a b. Abi `Abdur-Rahman: I heard Anas b. Malik describing the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, “He was of medium height amongst the people, neither tall nor short; he had a rosy color, neither absolutely white nor deep brown; his hair was neither completely curly nor quite lank. Divine Inspiration was revealed to him when he was forty years old. He stayed ten years in Mecca receiving the Divine Inspiration, and stayed in Medina for ten more years. When he expired, he had scarcely twenty white hairs in his head and beard.” Rabi`a said, “I saw some of his hairs and it was red. When I asked about that, I was told that it turned red because of scent.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 3547]

The Prophet (ﷺ) was neither very tall nor short; perhaps he was around 5’10 or 5’11, Allah knows.

The enemies of Islam and Muslims, out of rage, have misused a narration as follows:

حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ السَّلاَمِ بْنُ أَبِي حَازِمٍ أَبُو طَالُوتَ، قَالَ شَهِدْتُ أَبَا بَرْزَةَ دَخَلَ عَلَى عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ زِيَادٍ فَحَدَّثَنِي فُلاَنٌ، سَمَّاهُ مُسْلِمٌ وَكَانَ فِي السِّمَاطِ فَلَمَّا رَآهُ عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ قَالَ ‏:‏ إِنَّ مُحَمَّدِيَّكُمْ هَذَا الدَّحْدَاحُ، فَفَهِمَهَا الشَّيْخُ فَقَالَ مَا كُنْتُ أَحْسِبُ أَنِّي أَبْقَى فِي قَوْمٍ يُعَيِّرُونِي بِصُحْبَةِ مُحَمَّدٍ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ لَهُ عُبَيْدُ اللَّهِ إِنَّ صُحْبَةَ مُحَمَّدٍ صلى الله عليه وسلم لَكَ زَيْنٌ غَيْرُ شَيْنٍ

Abdus Salam b. Abu Hazim AbuTalut said: I saw Abu Barzah who came to visit Ubaydullah b. Ziyad. Then a man named Muslim who was there in the company mentioned it to me. When Ubaydullah saw him, he said: This Muhammadan of yours is a dwarf and fat. The old man (i.e. Abu Barzah) understood it. So he said: I don’t think that I should remain among people who criticize me for having had the company of Muhammad (). Thereupon Ubaydullah said to him: The company of Muhammad (ﷺ) is a honour for you, not a disgrace.

Assuming that the mockery was against the Prophet (ﷺ), how does that mean that it was accurate? The person who never saw the Prophet (ﷺ) allegedly mocked his appearance while those who met him described him otherwise. This is only assuming that the understanding of the haters is correct, which is far from it and is more of a blunder coupled with deliberate trickery than anything else.

Ubaydullah b. Ziyad, the governor, called the companion of the Prophet (ﷺ) a Muhammadan. He used the word Muhammadeekum (the Muhammadi of yours) and not Muhammadakum (Muhammad of yours) which shows that he called him a Muhammadan. This is because he was a companion of the Prophet (ﷺ). He mocked the companion of the Prophet (ﷺ) by calling him dwarf and fat and Abu Barzah understood it and he replied that he is being mocked for being a companion.

Islam haters of today jump with joy at this narration and go forth miles in coming up with strange and hateful analysis based on it. If they simply took some time to properly read it and understand it, things may have been different.

Another narration is misused, twisted, and misapplied to claim that the Prophet (ﷺ) was of short height. When the angel visited the Prophet (ﷺ), Khadija asked him to sit by her left thigh and then the right thigh indicating that she was sitting cross legged. Then she asked him to sit between her legs and due to this Islam haters claim that the Prophet (ﷺ) was of a very short height that he was able to sit in her lap. This is only a faulty assumption; when one sits cross-legged, a space between the body/stomach and the feet/legs remains and even a very tall person can sit there easily.

People ignorant of historical culture assume that the Prophet (ﷺ) had giant sofas in his home and that sitting on her left and right and front was on her lap while she was sitting on the sofa. Even to this day, many rich Arabs have luxurious living rooms where they sit on the carpeted floor.

Mocking the fake description of the Prophet (ﷺ) is another futile attempt by the enemies of Islam. This reminds me of the following incident:

Arwâ b. Harb (also known as Um Jameel, the wife of Abu Lahab) would follow the Prophet (ﷺ) around to hurt and humiliate him and used to taunt him, “Mudhammam (the dispraised) we have denied, and his religion we have loathed, and his command we have defied (مذمم أبينا، ودينه قلينا، وأمره عصينا)!” Instead of responding to her, he (ﷺ) would simply find solace in saying to his Companions, “Don’t you see how Allah diverts from me the curses and insults of Quraysh? They insult Mudhammam, and they curse Mudhammam, while I am Muhammad (the Praised One)!” [Collected by al-Bukhâri (334)] [*]

Enemies of Islam are doing the same now; they’re mocking a made-up person who they think is a fat dwarf.

Allah knows best.

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