What Has Been Narrated from Imam al-Ridha’ (a.s.) on the Characteristics of the Holy Prophet (SAWA)
Source: Uyun Akhbar Ar-Ridha Volume 1
29-1 Abu Ahmad Al-Hassan ibn Abdullah ibn Sa’eed Al-Askari narrated that Abul Qasim Abdullah Muhammad ibn Abdul Aziz ibn Manee’ quoted - in Medina al-Rasul (Medina) - Isma’il ibn Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Ja’far ibn Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Al-Husayn (a.s.), on the authority of Ali ibn Musa ibn Ja’far ibn Muhammad (a.s.), on the authority of Musa ibn Ja’far ibn Muhammad (a.s.), on the authority of Ja’far ibn Muhammad (a.s.), on the authority of his father (a.s.), on the authority of Ali ibn Al-Husayn (a.s.), on the authority of Al-Hassan ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.), “I asked my maternal uncle, Hind ibn Abi Hala, about the looks of God’s Prophet (S). He was good at describing the looks of God’s Prophet (S). He said, ‘God’s Prophet (S) was magnificent. His face shined as bright as the full moon (on the fourteenth night of the month). He was taller than the medium-sized people and shorter than the thin and tall people. He had a big head. His hair was neither too curly nor was it too soft and straight. He (a.s.) parted his hair when it grew long. Otherwise he left it alone. Whenever his hair grew long, he never let it grow lower than his earlobes. His complexion was shining brightly. He had a broad forehead. His eyebrows were long and curved, yet they were hairy but not attached to each other. Whenever he (a.s.) got angry, the veins between his eyebrows got swelled up. His nose was slim and slightly raised in the middle. He possessed an illumination which always accompanied him in such a way that whoever did not ponder carefully over him thought he (a.s.) was haughty.
His beard was short but bushy. His cheeks were flat and thin. His mouth was big1, and his teeth were bright white. He had a thin layer of hair extending from his chest down to his belly button. His neck looked like a silver jar. He had a balanced build. His body was strong, and his chest and stomach were in line with each other. He had wide muscular shoulders. His body was brilliant white. There was a thin layer of hair from his neck down to his belly button, but his lower chest and stomach had no hair. However, his upper chest and shoulders were hairy. His elbows were large, his palms were sturdy, his hands and feet were rough2. His hands and legs were coordinated and his bones were straight without any crookedness. The sole of his feet were curved, and his heels were not chubby such that water passed under his feet and was not blocked.
When he (a.s.) moved he took firm steps. He leaned to one side slightly, and walked fast but gently as if he was moving fast downhill. When he turned to the right or left, he turned his whole body around. He lowered his eyes and looked to the Earth more than he looked up to the sky. He never stared, and greeted everyone he (a.s.) saw.’
Al-Hassan ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) added, ‘I asked him to tell me about the Prophet’s sayings. Hind ibn Abi Hala replied, ‘He (a.s.) was always sad and was continuously thinking. He was never comfortable. He never spoke when not necessary. He was careful about when to start and when to stop talking. He never talked too much or too little. His words were to the point. He never said vulgar things. He always highly valued other people’s kindness and affection, even if it was very little. He never blamed any of them. He neither spoke good of nor spoke bad of the taste of food. He never got angry about the world. However, when there was a question of rights, nothing could stifle his anger until he established the right. He used all of his hand to point to things. He used to turn around his hands when he was surprised. He used to bring his right hand close to his left hand, and touch the palm of his left hand with his right thumb when he spoke. He used to turn his face around when he got angry. He used to look down when he was happy. Most of the time his laughter was just limited to a smile. He looked splendid when he laughed and also his white teeth could be seen.’
Al-Hassan ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.) added, ‘I hid this from Al-Husayn (a.s.) for sometime, and then narrated it for him. However, I discovered that he (a.s.) had already asked about the Prophet (S). I found out that he (a.s.) had even asked our father (Ali ibn Abi Talib (a.s.)) about the Prophet’s way of coming in, going out, sitting and his looks. He (a.s.) had not left anything out.’
Al-Husayn (a.s.) said, ‘I asked my father (a.s.) about God’s Prophet (S) way of coming in. He (a.s.) said, ‘Only the Prophet (S) was allowed to go in and out from his place of entrance. When the Prophet (S) went home, he divided his time into three portions. One portion was for the Sublime God. Another portion was for his family, and the third portion was for himself. He (a.s.) divided his own personal time into two parts - between himself and the people. First the elite entered and then the other people. He never withheld anything from them. Regarding the nation, he (a.s.) preferred the noble ones by giving them a portion of his time according to their degree of nobility in religion. Some had only one request, others had two or more. He attended to their needs and pleased them by saying what would improve their affairs and the affairs of the nation. He also asked them about their health. He (a.s.) would also ask those present to inform those who were absent, and to convey to him (a.s.) the requests of the people who had no access to him (a.s.). He (a.s.) said that on the Resurrection Day, God will firmly establish the steps of whoever presents the requests of a needy one who cannot be present before the ruler. Nothing but these needs were presented to him. He did not accept any other thing to be presented there. He (a.s.) always entered like the seeking scout with a full hand and knowing the religion, and left having guided the people.’’
Al-Husayn (a.s.) said, ‘I asked my father (a.s.) about how God’s Prophet (S) after he left.’ He (a.s.) said, ‘God’s Prophet (S) kept quiet except about what was relevant to him. He (a.s.) sought the love of the people and never drove the people away from himself. He honored the noblest person in each tribe and appointed him as its head. He avoided the people without them feeling that they were not welcome. He asked about his companions and how they were doing. He asked the people about their affairs. He used to acknowledge good deeds and denounce wicked deeds without any exaggerations or underestimations. He was moderate. He was never negligent, fearing that the people might become negligent or get tired. He never forsook the right. His companions were of the best of the good-doing Muslims. To him the one who did the most good was the noblest. Whoever was more sympathetic and more helpful with others had a higher rank in his opinion.’’
Al-Husayn (a.s.) added, ‘I asked my father (a.s.) about his meetings. My father (a.s.) said, ‘The Prophet (S) was always remembering God in his meetings, whether he sat down or stood up. He never held meetings in public places and admonished against doing so. He always took a back seat whenever he attended a meeting. He always recommended this. He always treated his companions equally, so that no one thought that others were more honored than he is. Whenever he had company, he waited until they got up and left the meeting. Whoever asked him for something returned with full hands, or received a gentle verbal response. His manners were the same with everyone. He was like a kind father for the people. Everyone was the same in his sight as far as the right was concerned.
His meetings were meetings of patience, shyness, honesty and trustworthiness. No one raised his voice there. No one was disrespected. No one’s faults were divulged. Everyone was humble to others due to piety.
They respected the elder ones. They were kind with the younger ones. They preferred the needy to themselves and safeguarded the strangers.’’
Al-Husayn (a.s.) added, ‘I asked my father (a.s.) about the way the Prophet (S) treated his companions? My father (a.s.) said, ‘He was always cheerful, good tempered and easy-going. He was neither stern nor was he very harsh. He neither yelled nor did he swear. He never found faults with others. He neither made fun of anyone nor did he praise anyone. He ignored what he disliked. No one got disappointed with him. Those who placed hopes in him were never deprived. He never did the following three things with the people. He never blamed anyone; he never pursued the people’s minor faults or private affairs; and he only talked about things which he hoped deserved a good reward. Everyone was silent whenever he spoke. Others spoke only when he was silent. No one interrupted others’ words in his presence. When someone was talking in his presence, others remained silent until he finished talking, then they continued on. He laughed at whatever made others laugh. He got surprised at whatever made others get surprised. He was patient with strangers who did not talk or act properly. Even his companions sought such people (to assist them). The Prophet (S) used to tell them to assist needy persons who are trying to fulfill their needs when they see them. The Prophet (S) never accepted the praise of those weak in faith or the hypocrites. He never interrupted anyone unless they stopped talking themselves or the time passed by in which case he would get up to leave and the talk ended.’’
Al-Husayn (a.s.) added, ‘I asked my father (a.s.) about the silence of God’s Prophet. My father (a.s.) said, ‘The Prophet’s silence was due to four reasons: patience, avoidance and caution, testing and measurement, and thinking. Testing and measurement were done in the form of equally listening to and looking at different people. His thinking concerned the lasting and ephemeral affairs. He was patient and perseverant. He never got angry about anything and lose his temper. He acted with extreme caution in four situations: doing good deeds so that others follow suit; abandoning wicked deeds so that others abandon such deeds too; struggling to improve the affairs of his nation and attempting to do what was for the good of this world and the Hereafter for all. May God’s Blessings be upon him and his Holy Household.’’”
(The author of the book Sheikh Sadooq said,) I have seen this tradition narrated by various Sheikhs with different chains of narrations which I have mentioned in my book Nubowwa. However, I have narrated the one on the authority of Al-Ridha’ (a.s.) here since this book is about the best of his (a.s.) traditions. I have included the interpretation of this tradition in my book Ma’ani al-Akhbar.
1. This was considered to be a good feature among the Arabs [Ma’ani ul-Akhbar].
2. These were considered to be good features for men among the Arabs [Ma’ani ul-Akhbar].