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The Character of The Prophet ﷺ | Part 1

Credit: MOHAMMAD ELSHINAWY | Yaqeen Institute

In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Grantor of Mercy

The Character of The Prophet ﷺ

God combined in His final Prophet ﷺ the most illustrious qualities, ensuring by that the confidence of his audience. His person sparkled from every angle and was thus seen as admirable in everyone’s eyes. Those who considered lineage crucial – though it is not in God’s eyes – found Muhammad ﷺ descending from a nobility that was the purest of the pure. Those who practiced physiognomy (assessing a person’s character based on physical appearance) felt that Muhammad ﷺ’s  face glowed with integrity. Those who experienced him firsthand, or later read his biography, found in Muhammad ﷺ a lifestyle of extraordinary sincerity and conviction.

His Honesty

The Prophet ﷺ was not merely a person whose honesty was testified to, rather his clansmen had officially titled him as-Sādiq al-Amīn (the Truthful, the Trustworthy). Even when they persecuted him and rejected his message, they still trusted him with their most precious possessions. Aisha (rA) said, “He ﷺ instructed ‘Ali (rA) to stay behind in Mecca, in order to return all the trusts the Messenger of Allah ﷺ had for people. There was nobody in Mecca (even his enemies!) who had valuables that he feared for except that he kept them with the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, due to the honesty and trustworthiness that was known [to all] about him. Thus, ‘Ali (rA) stayed back for three days and three nights to deliver everything entrusted by the people to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and then caught up with him ﷺ after completing that task.”

His principled honesty was so evident that even people from different eras, backgrounds, and religions recognize it. Indeed, you frequently find them unable to imagine a fair person reading his life and arriving at a different conclusion.

In fact, although the Scottish philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle (d. 1881) certainly had his reservations about Islam, his fascination with the Final Prophet’s ﷺ sincerity at times bordered between deep intrigue and apparent conviction. For instance, he explains, “It goes greatly against the impostor theory, the fact that he lived in this entirely unexceptional, entirely quiet and commonplace way, till the heat of his years was done. He was forty before he talked of any mission from Heaven. All his irregularities, real and supposed, date from after his fiftieth year, when the good Kadijah died. All his ‘ambition,’ seemingly, had been, hitherto, to live an honest life; his ‘fame,’ the mere good opinion of neighbors that knew him, had been sufficient hitherto. Not till he was already getting old, the prurient heat of his life all burnt out, and peace growing to be the chief thing this world could give him, did he start on the ‘career of ambition;’ and, belying all his past character and existence, set up [by others] as a wretched empty charlatan to acquire what he could no longer enjoy! For my share, I have no faith whatever in that [impostor theory].”[2] In the same book, Carlyle says, “The lies (Western slander) which well-meaning zeal has heaped round this man (Muhammad) are disgraceful to ourselves only.”

In the history of humanity, many impostors have claimed prophethood, and they have all been found void of virtuosity and unethically opportunistic. This is endemic to and expected from, impostor prophets – for they have embraced being the most sinister of liars. Just as lying about your friends is worse than lying about a random person, and just as lying about your parents is worse than lying about your friends, there is nothing uglier than a person lying about God. Therefore, when a man with the undisputed honesty of Muhammad ﷺ lives for forty years without ever lying, then claims to be God’s Prophet, this should be seen as a sign of the veracity of his claim.

Finally, “The sun eclipsed in the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger ﷺ on the day when [his son] Ibrāhīm died. The people said that the sun had eclipsed because of the death of Ibrāhīm. Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “The sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death or life (i.e., birth) of anyone. Rather, they are two of the signs of Allah, by which He instills fear in His slaves. When you see the eclipse, pray and invoke Allah.”[3] Had the Prophet ﷺ been an impostor, this would have been the perfect opportunity to capitalize on such a credibility booster. These coinciding events opened an extremely convenient window for self-promotion, and yet, the Prophet ﷺ would not even let others interpret this as the skies being saddened for Ibrāhīm. Though hurting from the tragic loss, he ﷺ ascended the pulpit, dismissed the false interpretation, and established that eclipses follow nothing but the universal laws of God.


[1] Collected by al-Bayhaqi in as-Sunan al-Kubrā (12477), Ibn Kathīr in al-Bidāya wan-Nihāya (3/218-219), and aṭ-Ṭabari in Tārīkh al-Umam wal-Mulook (2/372)

[2] See: On Heroes, Hero Worship, and the Heroic in History, by Thomas Carlyle

[3] Collected by al-Bukhāri (1043)

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