Editor’s Note: Physiognomy has been defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “the art of discovering temperament and character from the outward appearance; inner character or qualities revealed outwardly.”
The personality and character of the Holy Last Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him constituted a model example for mankind. His life represents not only the practical demonstration as to how we should practice the teachings of the Holy Quran but also constitutes the perennial sources of guidance and inspiration.
Muslims scholars have taken pains to preserve all relevant material about the life,character, and career of Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa, peace and blessings be upon him, the Messenger of Islam. Sheikh Hafiz Abu Isa Muhammad Ibn Isa Tirmizi says: “The traditional reports regarding the Holy Messenger’s (peace and blessings be upon him) physiognomy are as follows: Allamah Qurtabi (mercy be on him) says that the whole of the Holy Messenger’s (peace be upon him) handsomeness had not been manifested as otherwise the people would not have been able to cast a glance at him. A Persian poet has remarked truly, that all the handsomeness that was possessed by different messengers and apostles had found consummate expression in the Last Holy Messenger (peace be upon him). While the Messenger Yusuf ‘s (Joseph) handsomeness had no veil over it, there was a veil over Muhammad the Chosen Messenger’s elegance, peace be upon them both.
It is indeed the noble companions’ (Allah bless them) great obligation over the Ummah (community) that they not only recorded and transmitted the Holy Messenger’s (peace be upon him) sciences, but they also made an effort to describe his physical features and succeeded in this effort (to an appreciable extent).
Hazrat Br’a ibn Azib, peace be upon him, says that he never saw any person more handsome than the Holy Messenger, peace be upon him. In another tradition, says Hazrat Ali (Allah bless his countenance), that a eulogist of the Holy Messenger would say that he never saw anyone more handsome, wither prior to him or subsequently. His auspicious face shone like the full moon.
Hazrat Jabir, may he be blessed, reports that once, during a moonlit night, “I was looking at the Holy Messenger, peace be upon him, as well as at the moon, but, according to my opinion, the Holy Messenger’s [face] was more beautiful than the moon.”
Hazrat Abu Huraira, may he be blessed, reports that the Holy Messenger, peace be upon him, is so white that it seemed as if he had been made out of silver.
Hazrat Anas, may he be blessed, used to say that the Holy Messenger, peace be on him, is neither very tall nor very short (and his complexion is neither absolutely white like lime nor sallow), his auspicious hair is neither absolutely straight nor absolutely curly (like those of African descent). Allah bestowed Messengerhood upon him, upon him be peace and blessing of Allah, when he was forty years of age.
Note: regarding complexion – [The blessed complexion] was not white… not as white as lime. Similarly his complexion was not wheaten. The meaning is that his [blessed complexion’s] whiteness had a touch of redness.
Allama Ibrahim Baijori, mercy be upon him, writes in his Mawahib (page 7) that in this world, this color looks very graceful; that there may be redness with whiteness and in the Hereafter, there may be paleness with whiteness. So the Holy Messenger’s, peace be upon him, white complexion had a touch of redness and there was a luster in it.
Hence, the Imams have stated that “if someone says that the Holy Messenger’s (peace be upon him) complexion was black, we will issue a fatwa (opinion) of infidelity for him because he insulted and disparaged the Holy Messenger, peace be upon him, and the insulting and disparaging of a [Holy} Messenger amounts to infidelity; and since it is a falsification of a number of continuous ahadith (traditions) by which his, [the Holy Last Mesenger, peace be upon him] being white in complexion is proved, we shall call the man who denies continuous ahadith an infidel” (Mawahib page 8). Also, please note that the color black in this case has nothing to do with skin, but condition of sinners.
It is quite true. From Hazrat Ibrahim ibn Muhammad, mercy be on him, Hazrat Ali’s (God bless his countenance) grandson, that whenever Hazrat Ali described the Holy Messenger, peace be upon him, [he] is neither very tall nor very short but had a body like that of the medium-sized people. His hair is neither quite straight nor quite curly, but besides being straight was somewhat wavy. The body was not thick; similarly, the face was not round but was oval.”
–To continue in the next edition