Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) is the last Prophet of Allah Almighty, who was born in 570 A.D in the city of Makkah. Right from his childhood, He was very different fromother ordinary people and later in His life; he used to stay in the cave of Hira to find the spirituality he was always looking for. Finally He received a revelation from Allah Almighty when the angel named Jibrael (A.S) was sent down by Allah to disclose the very first five Ayahs from Surah Al-Alaq upon Him which is translated as:
“Read in the name of your Lord who created, created man from a clot. Read, for your Lord is most Generous, Who teaches by means of the pen, teaches man what he does not know.” (96: 1-5)
The holy Quran was officially revealed upon Him then and He became the last and final Prophet of Allah after that. He had extraordinary characteristics in his personality which is why He got such a huge honor to be chosen as the messenger of the Almighty. The Arabs were blessed in a sense that they got the opportunity to get enlightened by the teachings of Allah from Muhammad (PBUH) as He is regarded as the noblest Prophet of all, and that too is possible only because he had a great character.
Now let us discuss some of the most important personality traits of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Kindness to all
The courtesy and good manners of the Prophet (PBUH) are well known as He was not only kind hearted to other fellow human beings particularly to the children but also to the animals. It was the time when the Arabs used to feel shame in being loving and affectionate to their kids.
“The Messenger of God (PBUH) performed Salah (prayer) while he was carrying an infant girl named Umaamah, daughter of Abul-Aas. When he bowed, he put her on the ground, and when he stood up, he would carry her again.” (Bukhari #5650)
Such was the high degree of love in the heart of Muhammad (PBUH) towards children that He used to tell other Arabs to love their kids and to be fearful from Allah in this regard. He was also kind in His behavior towards animals.
During a journey, somebody picked up some birds eggs. The bird’s painful note and fluttering attracted the attention of the Prophet (PBUH) who asked the man to replace the eggs. [Al-Bukhaari]
The above mentioned Hadith shows how well mannered Muhammad (PBUH) used to be that he was consistent in His behavior towards all the living creatures.
Truthfulness and promise fulfilling
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always spoke the truth in His entire life and always taught others to base their personalities around this act. Even His enemies used to testify that they had never seen as truthful and honest person as Him. The Holy Quran also gives evidence about the truthfulness of Muhammad (PBUH).
“We know indeed that what they say certainly grieves you, but surely they do not call you a liar; but the unjust deny the verses of God.” (Qur’an 6:33)
Allah Himself testifies about this great attribute observed in the personality of the Prophet (PBUH). He earned the title of Al-Ameen (trustworthy), which is why even the non believers used to keep their valuable things in the custody of Muhammad (PBUH) as they trusted him for his promise fulfilling nature.
Leading by example
Muhammad (PBUH) did not spread Islam by dictating others, rather he always did His best to serve as a guiding principle to others by acting upon Allah`s teachings Himself first. Before the famous battle with non believers called “Ghazwa-e-Khandaq”, He participated Himself in the digging trench just outside Madina, and He even lifted the heaviest stones during the process.
Indeed the Noble Qur’an says:
“Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day and remembers Allah much.” (Qur’an 33:21)
It is evident from the above Ayah that Prophet (PBUH) is indeed a great example for all of us to succeed in this world and hereafter. He was such a visionary leader that he saved the Muslims from going extinct by agreeing to the treaty of Hudaibiah for ten years which proved to be vital for success of the Muslims later against non believers.
Jabir b. Abdullah narrates that:
“The Prophet (PBUH) did not refuse to give anything which he had to someone if he asked for it.” (Bukhari #5687)
As Zakat is one of the five pillars of Islam, so the Prophet (PBUH) always emphasized on its importance by doing charity, used to observe Zakat and showed the real meaning of it by sharing everything He had with other needy people.
The Prophet (PBUH) always did His own work by Himself and helped the family members in the daily work. Aishah (R.A) once said:
“He helped and assisted his family members with their chores; but when the call to prayer was heard, he would [stop everything and] leave to attend the prayers.”
Muhammad (PBUH) always showed through His character about the virtue of team work and collaboration as observed in the battle of Khandaq, where He participated along with other Muslims in digging trench. (Repeated Example)
Muhammad (PBUH) had a great personality in terms of physical appearance as well as His conduct.
According to Al-Bara’:
“The Prophet (PBUH) was the handsomest of all people, and had the best appearance. He was neither very tall nor short.” (Bukhari)
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) always used to keep smiling expressions on His face, and He was a very friendly person.
Abdullah bin al-Harith said:
“I have never seen a man who smiled as much as the Messenger of God (PBUH).” (Tirmidthi #2641)
There is a lesson for each and every one of us in the personality of Muhammad (PBUH) to keep good relationships with others through our kind and friendly behavior.
The Holy Prophet spent a very simple life. He used to have a single dress to wear, cleaned His clothes and mended His shoes Himself. He always preached others to avoid going towards materialism by not accumulating any kind of wealth in His entire life. He never ate to fill his stomach, rather he used to fast, and on many time He would wrap stones around His belly to avoid having a feeling for hunger.
“Look at those who are at a lower level than you, but do not look at those who are at a higher level than you, because that would make it conducive to (Allah upon you) slightly (in the eye).” (Muslim)
He always had satisfaction with His life and never complained about lacking anything. Despite being the Prophet of Allah Almighty, he never considered living a life like a king which he could easily have.
Muhammad (PBUH) was well known for his humbleness and humility as He never said No to anybody seeking His help. His openness and candidness also played a vital role in spreading Islam as He treated everyone alike regardless of their statuses.
“A woman from the people of Madeenah who was partially insane said to the Prophet (PBUH): ‘I have to ask you [your help] about something.’ He helped her and took care of her needs.” (Bukhari #670)
He did not discriminate among people and used to help everyone without any intention of return. He used to visit the sick, accepted invitations from the poor, and attended the funerals. He never considered Himself as a better person than others; rather He always lived a very modest life.
The compassionate behavior of the Prophet (PBUH) was highly notable. He never took revenge for personal matters, e.g. when He used to walk through the streets of Makkah, an old lady used to throw garbage on His head. One day when she did not throw garbage on Him, He went to see her. He found that the old lady was sick. He looked after the old lady till she got better. The Prophet Muhammad (s) once said:
““Allah will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to people.” Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 9, #473.
He forgave all the non believers after winning the last battle of Makkah. This kind and courteous conduct of Muhammad (PBUH) made the Kuffaars (non believers) to embrace Islam. That was not the first time that the Prophet (PBUH) showed His people to forgive others. He also forgave a woman named Hind (after the victory of Makkah), who had eaten the liver of the Prophet`s (PBUH) uncle Hazrat Hamza (May Allah be pleased with him).
Epitome of ethics
The Holy Prophet`s (PBUH) whole life is a personification of goodness and morality. He never said any vulgar word in His entire life, even when he was abused and made fun of by the non believers. Instead of being offended, He used to pray for their well being. Allah Almighty Himself testifies in the Holy Quran:
“And indeed, you are of a great moral character” (Qur’an 68:4)
It is not possible to describe the greatness of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in one attempt, because there is a multitude of characteristics of His personality which make Him a great person. He changed the lives of the illiterate Arabs who were enemies of one another and could not live a day in peace. The character of Muhammad (PBUH) is not only a huge source of inspiration for the Muslims but for all human beings. All the societal issues and evils could be eradicated if we all follow His teachings and act like him.
The exact characteristics that allowed the Prophet (pbuh) to do this are innumerable. Nonetheless, chief among his traits was his honesty. The range of names attributed to him includes Al-Sadiq (the Truthful) and Al-Amin (the Faithful).
Even his enemies, who were diametrically opposed to everything he preached, still referred to him by these names. In effect, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was defined through his honesty. The first example of his honesty lies in his conditions of borrowing and lending.
Most significantly, the Prophet (on the orders of God) eliminated charging interest; no longer was the borrower forced to borrow money on outrageous terms that had previously condemned him to a life of servitude to the lender. A testament to the severity of not returning borrowed possessions and trusts lies in the Prophet’s (pbuh) Farewell Address. He reminds the people to be faithful and return whatever has been entrusted to them to its rightful owner.
Muhammad’s Treatment of Women
The character of the Prophet (pbuh) was also seen in his treatment of women. In Pre-Islamic Arabia, women were treated as mere commodities. That is, they held no property rights, divorce rights lay in the hands of men and they were responsible for all household duties. The Prophet (pbuh), however, actively involved himself in household matters. He would help his wife with chores like sweeping the floor. According to author Fazl Ahmad in Muhammad: The Prophet of Islam, when one of his children would fall ill, the Prophet (pbuh) would stay by their bedside and actively take care of them. As ordered by God, the Prophet (pbuh) gave women in Islam the right to initiate divorce and to own their own property, among other liberties.
It is important to note here the critics’ point of view: that Islam, rather than giving women rights, demotes them to a position of subservience to man. Notwithstanding, one needs only to carefully study the Quran, the holy book of Islam, and prophetic sayings to understand Islam’s treatment and emphasis on positive relations with women. [Click here to find out about treatment of women in Islam.]
The directives given were so different from what had been the norm in Pre-Islamic Arabia that even many of the Companions of the Prophet had reservations regarding taking their wives’ counsel for their affairs. Despite this initial reluctance, the belief in God and the example set forth by the Prophet (pbuh) eventually convinced the Companions to integrate this into their lifestyles. In effect, Islam had elevated women to a position on par with men, and the Prophet’s (pbuh) example reinforced Islam’s message of equality.
The Prophet’s (pbuh) goodwill did not simply extend towards women or fellow Muslims. It was inclusive towards people of other religions as well, including the Jews and Christians of the time. An example of this lies in his treatment of prisoners of war during the battle of Badr. The prisoners were kept in extremely good living conditions and even fed proper food. Furthermore, they were given the option of freeing themselves by either paying a ransom or by teaching ten Muslims how to read and write. This environment stands in direct contrast to the appalling conditions most prisoners of war dealt with in the past and continue to deal with in the present, including physical torture and lack of proper facilities. Even with all the right in the world, the Prophet (pbuh) restrained himself and saw to it that his Companions treated their enemies with hospitality and goodwill.
The situation in today’s world is at once startling and discomforting because of the minimal value placed on human life. At both the individual and nation levels, one group may treat another group as disposable simply because their way of thinking is different. The Prophet (pbuh) transcended all of these perceived differences through his character. From the beginning to the end his honesty, his treatment of women and minorities, and his behavior towards non-Muslims set the standard that would inspire all of his followers. This is why author Michael H. Hart recognized the Prophet (pbuh) as number one in a ranking of the 100 most influential persons in history. While many people at the time did not agree with the Prophet (pbuh) on his principles or policy, even his bitterest enemy came to respect the strength his infallible character gave him. As global citizens in the 21st century, it is important to see beyond differences and realize that the human denominator among us is what is most important. We must all seek examples like the Prophet’s (pbuh) and work to incorporate them into our lives, in order to increase tranquility and make the world a more peaceful place for future generations.