Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was always cheerful, genial, and pleasant-tempered. He was never rude or rough. He only spoke things that brought rewards from Allah Almighty. When he spoke, the listeners would listen to his words with attention. They did not feel any inclination to engage him in heated arguments. The Prophet would always show patience with a stranger’s roughness of manners or harshness at talk. He used to say,
"When you see a person seeking an object earnestly, assist him to get his need." (Al-Baihaqi)
And no wonder Allah Almighty said of the Prophet,
(And verily, you [O Muhammad] are on an exalted standard of character.) (Al-Qalam 68:4)
A person’s face not only reflects the feelings of the heart, but also signals his attitude to the world around him. Indeed one may even say that the total personality of a person is mirrored in the face. And to speak about Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), his smiling face was a source of solace and comfort to all those who came to meet him. Not just his words and actions, but the very expressions on his face shed rays of peace and tranquility into the hearts of those who were distressed by the pressures of life or tormented by the afflictions of the soul.
Abdullah ibn Hareth reported: "I have never seen anyone more in the habit of smiling than Allah’s Messenger." (At-Tirmidhi)
The Prophet’s smiles had spread such an aura of indescribable joy among his Companions to the extent that they forgot all their anxieties and worries in his presence and became totally fascinated with the Prophet himself. because the reason was that the Prophet was a perfect personality that always exuded a charisma of charm and geniality. His way was one of harmony and compassion. He was polite and considerate to every one and always kept a smiling face. Once, he told his companions, "Smiling at your brother is a charity." (At-Tirmidhi)
There was an interesting incident reported by Sa'd ibn abi Waqqas:
"Umar bin Al-Khattab asked permission of Allah's Messenger to see him while some Quraishi women were sitting with him and they were asking him to give them more financial support while raising their voices over the voice of the Prophet. When 'Umar asked permission to enter, all of them hurried to screen themselves the Prophet admitted 'Umar and he entered, while the Prophet was smiling. 'Umar said, "May Allah always keep you smiling, O Allah's Messenger! Let my father and mother be sacrificed for you !" The Prophet said, "I am astonished at these women who were with me. As soon as they heard your voice, they hastened to screen themselves." 'Umar said, "You have more right, that they should be afraid of you, O Allah's Messenger!" And then he ('Umar) turned towards them and said, "O enemies of your souls! You are afraid of me and not of Allah's Messenger?" The women replied, "Yes, for you are sterner and harsher than Allah's Messenger." Allah's Messenger said, "O Ibn Al-Khattab! By Him in Whose Hands my life is, whenever Satan sees you taking a way, he follows a way other than yours!" (Al-Bukhari)
Jarir ibn `Abd-Allah said: "Since the time I accepted Islam, the Prophet (peace be upon him) never once failed to notice me. Whenever he saw me, he would smile at me." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
"The magnanimity with which Muhammad treated a people who had so long hated and rejected him is worthy of all admiration." William Muir
All persons who knew the Prophet were fascinated and enchanted by the dignity and greatness of his character. His sweet and amiable expression made a profound impression on every stranger who met him.
No other person in history was privileged to have so many extraordinary qualities, and naturally his Companions were ready to sacrifice their lives to protect him.
His hospitality and generosity were matchless; and he was the last man to get upset or angry. Indeed he was so generous that he would never deny anything he was asked. The forgiveness and general amnesty given by the Prophet to the Quraishites of Makkah who had been insulting and persecuting him for over two decades is well-known. William Muir the Orientalist historian wrote, "The magnanimity with which Muhammad treated a people who had so long hated and rejected him is worthy of all admiration."
Even the enemies of the Prophet acknowledged his justice and honesty: Long before he received prophethood, he was called Al-Ameen (i.e. the truthful, the trustworthy). And so his people always approached him for judgment and consultation.
He did not allow people to stand up at sighting him out of respect as they usually did before kings or leaders. Visiting the poor and the unfortunate and entertaining them were his constant habits. He had no hesitation in accepting the invitation of even a slave. He used to sit among the people like any one of them.
Simplicity, sincerity, and geniality were the keynotes of his character. The Prophet’s wife, `A’ishah, said that he used to repair his shoes, sew his clothes, and share the domestic chores. He was most merciful, gentle, and amiable to all.
He was eager to serve any one who served him. He was always in full control of his temper and he never got angry unless it was absolutely necessary. If at all he was angry, it was for the sake of Allah and His religion, and not for his own sake.
The Prophet’s magnanimity, broad mindedness, and tolerance embraced all people and entitled him to be a father to all of them. He was careful to maintain an equal status with others and did not desire privileges: In an assembly he would seat himself at the least covetable position, next to the last person. Whenever people came to meet him, he received them with honor and respect, so that each person addressed by the Prophet would think that there was no one more honored by the Prophet than himself. No questioner was disappointed when seeking an advice from the Prophet. To him the most favored one was the most pious one among the people. As for those persons who held high positions with their peoples – the Prophet was attentive to honor and respect them. He never ignored his friends Moreover, he used to visit them even in busy days and to inquire about their conditions.
The Prophet always chose the via media as far as the circumstances possible: Indeed, he adopted a moderate approach to all matters. He always chose the easier and the more pleasing way to solve problems.
While on his deathbed, the Prophet sent for the money in his house and distributed it among the poor. Immediately before he breathed his last, he had it publicly announced if anyone owed him anything, he may claim it; and if anyone was offended by him, he could have instant revenge.
Such was the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
Professor Shahul Hameed is a consultant for IslamOnline.net. He was previously the Head of the Department of English, Farook College, Calicut University, and the president of the Kerala Islamic Mission in Calicut , India. He is the author of three books on Islam published in the Malayalam language. His books are on comparative religion, the status of women, and science and human values.