Beauty and Love in the Prophet’s Life
Despite the copious volumes written by various authors about Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), the clear and pure stream of his qualities and sublime manners continues to flow, in an abundant flux, revealing further noble, lofty, and superior traits. With this stream, believers can quench their thirst for spiritual amelioration, and from it every person with determination to become a better human being can drink.
Let us then pick just two scoops, which are beauty and love, out of his words and actions (peace and blessings be upon him).
Along with the many tasks the Prophet was sent with, he also carried the task of teaching people about beauty and reviving their sense and awareness of it. Indeed, Almighty Allah is beautiful, the Noble Qur’an is beautiful, and the entire universe is beautiful. Being sent to teach people about this universal beauty, the Prophet undoubtedly had the best share of it. He was characterized by the following:
1. The beauty of smiling. Yes, smiling is a type of superior beauty. It is also a universal human language in the sense that if we see, on television for example, a Korean, German, Senegalese, American, or a national of any country smiling, we understand that he or she is smiling, feeling all the elation, joy, and human affection represented by the act of smiling. Such a picture is a beautiful one, the opposite to a picture of depression, gloom, and frowning.
This is why the attitude of smiling is one of the most important things that public relations trainees are told to assume. They are taught how to smile and how to keep smiling. Linguists say that smiling — a prelude to laughter — is a facial expression of cheerfulness, in which one’s teeth are a sign of pleasure and joy.
Smiling, therefore, is one form of beauty. The Prophet was known to have a smiling face most of the time. Jarir (may Allah be pleased with him) was quoted as saying, “The Messenger of Allah never declined to see me since I embraced Islam. Whenever he saw me, he would meet me with a smile” (Al-Bukhari).
Not only did the Prophet keep a beautiful smile on his face, but he also promoted smiling and encouraged others to smile. He reportedly said, “Your smiling at your brother is an act of charity” (At-Tirmidhi). He was also reported to have said, “Do not underrate any good action, even if it is just meeting your brother with a cheerful countenance” (Muslim).
2. The beauty of handsome appearance. The Prophet used to wear the nicest clothes available to him. Before meeting delegations, he would groom himself in a manner appropriate for him and for them as well; that is, he dressed what is compatible with the status and traditions of each delegation. He also liked perfume. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) reportedly said, “I used to apply to the Prophet the best scent available” (Muslim).
The Prophet would prohibit any person who had eaten onions or garlic from getting inside the mosque. He endorsed beauty in general as one of the things loved by Almighty Allah. In a hadith, he was quoted as saying, “Almighty Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty” (Authenticated by Al-Albani).
3. The beauty of gentle attitude. The Prophet reportedly said, “Gentleness is not to be found in anything but that it adds to its beauty, and it is not withdrawn from anything but that it makes it defective” (Muslim). Thus, gentleness is an adornment and beauty, while violence is an ugly, repulsive thing. The noble Prophet conducted all his affairs with gentleness, and he urged gentleness in all affairs, both public and private.
Let all people renew their sense and their strong awareness of the beauty found in religion and in the entire universe.
4. The beauty of tenderness. The following instances will demonstrate some aspects of the Prophet’s remarkable tenderness:
(A) He would quicken performing Prayer upon hearing an infant crying, in consideration of the mother’s anxiety about her child.
(B) He once stopped the advance of an army out of concern for a bird grieving for its babies that had been captured by some soldiers. The army resumed its advance only when the baby birds were returned to their mother.
(C) He avoided direct, face-to-face reproach. He would rather say something like “What about those people who feel too proud to do something that I myself do?”
(D) He indulged children and joked with them. Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) reportedly said, “The Prophet used to mix with us [children] to the extent that he would say to a younger brother of mine [bantering him], ‘O Father of `Umayr! What did the birdie do?'” (Al-Bukhari).
(E) He approved and allowed for recreation in his own house. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) was reported to have said, “I used to play with dolls in the Prophet’s house, and my girl peers also used to play with me. Whenever the Prophet entered [my dwelling place], they would hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me” (Al-Bukhari).
(F) He reportedly said, “None of you should say, ‘My soul has become evil,’ but he should rather say, ‘My soul has become remorseless'” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Ibn Hajar, in Al-Fath, quoted Al-Khattabi as saying:
Evil and remorseless are close in meaning, but the Prophet disliked the evil adjective and opted for the safer expression remorseless. Indeed, it was his habit to substitute an unpleasant name with a more refined one. This hadith implies that unpleasant vocabulary should be avoided.
The point here is that avoiding an expression like “My soul has become evil” is an act of tenderness toward oneself.
(G) He was keen on honoring his wives and treating them tenderly. For example, he used to offer his knee for his wife Safiyyah to step on it whenever she wanted to mount a camel.
(H) He preached the divine “tenderness” to people. He was reported in a hadith to have said, “When Allah had finished His creation, He wrote over his Throne: My Mercy predominates My Anger” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).
Many genuine and venerable words are used improperly and so much that they may become almost shunned or debased. A word of these — which one fears may be abandoned or misused — is love. Love is actually a basic religious principle. It is the basis of great relationships that are most sublime and closest to perfection.
Love is the origin of one’s relationship with one’s Lord. In the Qur’an, Almighty Allah says:
(Surely Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly, and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean.) (Al-Baqarah 2:222)
The All-Merciful Creator loves those who are patient, charitable, and fair-minded; He loves those who put their trust in Him and turn to Him.
Faith is a plant — adorned with love — sown by Almighty Allah in the believer’s heart. A Qur’anic verse reads (But Allah has endeared the Faith to you and has made it beautiful in your hearts](Al-Hujurat 49:7).
Thus, the Prophet was an advocate of love in both his words and his actions. The following hadiths are a clear manifestation of this:
“Whoever possesses the following three qualities will taste the sweetness of faith: the one to whom Allah and His Messenger are dearer than anything else; who loves a person and he loves him only for Allah’s sake; and who hates to revert to disbelief, after Allah has brought him out from it, as much as he hates to be thrown into the Hellfire.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
“You will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not truly believe until you love one another.” (Muslim)
“O Allah! Bestow on me the gift of loving You, loving those who love You, and loving the deeds that bring me closer to Your love.” (Al-Bukhari)
“Uhud is a mountain that loves us and is loved by us.” (Al-Bukhari)
Let all the followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), as well as all other people, renew their sense and their strong awareness of the beauty found in religion and in the entire universe. Let them have the great feeling of love, which is the basic principle of all intimate, bright, and sensible relationships. After all, without beauty and love, there is no true religious devotion or sound life on earth. Could either be realized through ugliness and hatred? The answer is simply NO.
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