The Beauty of our Master, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
Beauty is an abstract construct; words alone cannot express the reality, depth, and dimensions of beauty. Hence, to express the intensity of beauty, metaphors and similes are often invoked. The reality is, figurative language is a reflection, and can never truly capture the density of beauty. Beauty can only be quantified by the eyes. That is why the saying ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ has a reality.
There are levels and dimensions of beauty; at the uppermost level it is simply a person’s eyes; thereafter the face; thereafter the body; going deeper, the heart and nature of a person; even deeper, the character of a person and their disposition; and at the deepest level, it is the purity and angelic nature of the soul of a person. How beautiful would a person be if they were more than outstanding and remarkable in every dimension of beauty? How amazing must a person be if their being gave definition to beauty? This is the reality of the beauty of our beloved master and guide, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ.
The beauty of our Master ﷺ is something that cannot be captured by words; it cannot be grasped by metaphors, and nor can it manifest through similes. They are just a glimpse. The beauty of our Master ﷺ is beyond language. No wonder the noble companions would sit stunned in their steps and would spend hours just gazing at the Prophet ﷺ. His sight gave meaning to vision; seeing his noble and handsome face satiated the hearts and transformed landscapes. His silhouette redesigned scenery, and his smile dispelled darkness whilst emitting the most profound light.
How can words do justice to his eyes, his cheeks, his hair, his complexion, the way his hair would sit on his shoulders, the way some redness would appear in the fairness of his handsome face, the glow that emits from his radiant face? May Allah shower blessings and peace on him.
It was very common among the companions who would describe his beauty ﷺ to declare: “I have never seen anything beautiful as him, nor before him nor after him.” The noble companion Anas ibn Malik (Radiallahu anhu) said: “Beautifully faced, I have never seen anything before him or after him similar to him.” [Muslim] A person typically sees thousands of faces in their lifetime, of various features and attractive qualities, however, the companions were categoric when it came to the handsomeness of the Prophet ﷺ; there was simply no sight of beauty that even came close to his; Beauty was redefined upon seeing his noble countenance. He ﷺ really possesses beauty unlike any one or any thing.
Umm Ma’bad (Radiallahu anha), when describing our Master ﷺ, states: “He possessed a luminous face, a handsome disposition, well proportioned, with wide eyes where the whiteness of the eyes was extremely white and the blackness was densely black, long eyelashes, a visible neck and jet-black hair. He was the most notable and exquisite from a distance, and the most handsome and sweetest from close.” This final statement of Umm Ma’bad is very telling; Beauty of people is often recognised when they are up close, however, the Prophet’s ﷺ beauty was very apparent and visible from a distance. If he was among several people and at a distance, the eye immediately was attracted towards him. His features were just so apparent. If we gaze at someone from a distance, the intricate features are typically not visible, rather it is just the outline of a person that is noticed. Despite this, the Prophet’s ﷺ beauty and attractiveness were very apparent from a distance. Further, Umm Ma’bad used a different word when describing the Prophet’s ﷺ beauty at a distance to that in proximity; what we learn is that the beauty of the Prophet ﷺ from a distance is a different type of beauty and a different dimension to his beauty in proximity.
Sayyiduna Jabir (Radiallahu anhu) gazed at the Prophet ﷺ on a full-moon night whilst the Prophet ﷺ was wearing clothing with some redness in it. With the moon vividly apparent in the landscape, Sayyiduna Jabir sat comparing the suspended moon and the noble countenance of the Prophet ﷺ. He was quick to affirm that the beauty of the Prophet ﷺfar surpassed that of the moon. [Tirmidhi] How fortunate was Sayyiduna Jabir that he had the opportunity to sit and make this comparison! His words and comparison will be remembered for eternity. This statement of his discloses another angle of the beauty of our Master ﷺ, that not only was he the most beautiful and attractive among humans, but even among the inanimate beings, his beauty surpassed all.
Sayyiduna al-Bara’ (Radiallahu anhu) also described the noble countenance as moon-like, in that it was something which the eyes could bear and see, it was not piercing or painful like the sun, but pleasant and enjoyable. His face has a unique glow which emanates from beneath his noble skin. It is as if a layer of light has been placed between his skin and flesh. This layer of light just gives his beautiful face a backlight and natural illumination. Hence, Sayyiduna Ka’b (Radiallahu anhu) said: “ When he was pleased, his face would shine so brightly that you would easily think that it was a portion of the moon.” [al-Bukhari]
Once a female companion was asked to describe the beauty of the Prophet ﷺ, she said to the young children who had not seen him, “Had you seen him, you would exclaim that the sun is rising.” [al-Darimi] His beauty and noble countenance was so striking, that it gave light to everything else. His light gave light, it gave meaning and gave vision to the eyes.
Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (Radiallahu anhu) said something amazing. He states: “I have never seen anything more beautiful and pleasant than the Prophet ﷺ, it was as if the sun was orbiting and moving in his face.” [Ahmad] This description tells us something even more startling; not only was beauty engrained and embedded in the Prophet ﷺ, rather it was alive in him. Beauty moves, evolves, and is ever-growing and manifesting itself constantly in different features of the Prophet ﷺ. The peak of beauty is not static in his noble features, rather it is dynamic, vibrant, and energetic.
The truth is, no description or praise can ever define his beauty. It is something that has to simply be witnessed. In fact, Imam al-Qurtubi states that the true extent and depth of the Prophet’s ﷺ beauty was not disclosed to us in this world, for had it been revealed in its truest extent, our eyes would not be able to bear its sight. [Subul al-Huda]
May Almighty Allah bless us with continuous visions of the Prophet in our dreams until we finally get to see him in reality, eternally, in the Gardens of Paradise. Ameen.