We find abundant examples of men and women who embraced Islam because they were impressed by at least one of the many noble characteristics of the Holy Prophet (sa). Some of the qualities of the Prophet of Allah (sa) are generosity, forbearance, kindness, compassion, gentleness, patience, humbleness, justice, mercy, and bravery.
Many of his staunchest enemies became his close companions when the cloud of blind prejudice was removed from their sight, and when they were able to see with clarity the true nature of his character.
Let us look into the story of Thumamah Ibn Uthal (ra), a powerful Arab Chieftain from Al-Yamamah who at first was a spiteful enemy of Islam and wanted to kill the Holy Prophet (sa). We notice how he was treated by the Holy Prophet (sa) when he was inadvertently captured by the Muslims. Despite all the animosity, he was forgiven and was set free by the Holy Prophet (sa). His reaction is narrated as follows in a Hadith:
“By Allah, O Muhammad! There was no face on the surface of the earth most disliked by me than yours, but now your face has become the most beloved face to me. By Allah, there was no religion most disliked by me than yours, but now it is the most beloved religion to me. By Allah, there was no town most disliked by me than your town, but now it is the most beloved town to me” (1).
While Thumamah Ibn Uthal (ra) was deeply affected by the Prophet’s (sa) forgiveness, to the point that it led him to enter the fold of Islam, Mu‘awiyah Ibn Al-Hakam al-Sulami (ra) was also moved by the Prophet’s (sa) gentleness and by his kind way of teaching others. Mu‘awiyah Ibn Al-Hakam al-Sulami (ra) narrates “While I was praying along with God’s Messenger a man in the company sneezed, and I said, ‘God have mercy on you!’ The people gave me disapproving looks, so I said, ‘Woe is me! What do you mean by looking at me?’ They began to strike their hands on their thighs, and when I saw them urging me to be silent [I became angry] but I said nothing. When God’s Messenger finished his prayer (and I declare that neither before him nor after him have I seen a teacher who gave better instruction than he for whom I would give my father and mother as ransom), I swear by God that he did not scold, beat, or revile me, but said, ‘No talk to others is fitting during this prayer, for it consists only of glorifying God, declaring His greatness, and recitation of the Qur’an,’ or words to that effect” (2).
The kindness of the Holy Prophet (sa) was so immeasurable that on one occasion the entire tribe embraced Islam when the Holy Prophet (sa) had given a man from that tribe a herd of sheep that filled the entire valley separated by two mountains. The man returned to his people and said, “My people, embrace Islam, for Muhammad donates so much charity as if he has no fear of poverty” (3).
On yet another occasion, almost an entire tribe embraced Islam as a result of the generosity and forgiveness of the Holy Prophet (sa). The story began when a man went to the Prophet (sa) intending to assassinate him with his sword while the Holy Prophet (sa) was having a nap under a
tree. Allah, in turn, not only protected the Holy Prophet (sa) but in the end gave him the upper hand over the offender, so that the Holy Prophet (sa) could have killed the offender if he had wished. But instead, the Holy Prophet (sa) pardoned him, an act of kindness that had such a profound impact on this man’s heart that he embraced Islam (4). What is more, he went back to his people and conveyed to them the Prophet’s (sa) message of love. After some time, the majority of his tribesmen accepted Islam and became Muslims (5).
The Holy Prophet (sa) had an immense love for his companions. He once said:
“Do not abuse my companions for if any one of you spent gold equal to Uhud (in Allah’s Cause) it would not be equal to a Mud (6) or even a half Mud spent by one of them” (7).
On another occasion, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sa) has mentioned regarding his companions,
“My companions are like the stars; whoever among them you use for guidance, you will be rightly guided” (8).
Zaid Ibn Su`nah was one of the very notable Jewish scholars and lived in Madinah at the time of the Holy Prophet (sa). The Holy Prophet (sa) took a loan from Zaid. Two or three days before the due date, Zaid came and grabbed the Holy Prophet (sa) by his shirt and demanded the return of the loan. He wanted to test the Prophet’s (sa) patience by doing something harmful to him. The Prophet (sa) not only forgave Zaid Ibn Sun‘ah but also asked Hazrat Umar (ra) to pay off his loan, give him twenty extra Saa (about 97 pounds) of dates and treat him courteously. Zaid then asked him for the reason for the increase and Hazrat Umar (ra) replied that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) had ordered to give it because Umar had scared Zaid. Then, Zaid said, “Just by looking at the Messenger of Allah, I could discern in his face all of the signs of Prophethood, except for two, which could not be discerned simply through the act of looking. Those two signs were, first, his mercy precedes and beats out his ignorance (i.e., after receiving continuous ignorance, he expressed forbearance instead of anger); and second, the more ignorance he is confronted with, the more forbearing he becomes. I tested the Prophet (sa) in order to see whether he possessed these qualities.” Answering his own question, Zaid (ra) said to Hazrat Umar (ra),
“O Umar, I am indeed pleased with Allah as my Lord, with Islam as my religion, and with Muhammad as my prophet. And I make you bear witness that I am giving away half of my wealth as charity to the Nation of Muhammad (sa)” (9).
The kindness of the Holy Prophet (sa) was universal and unbiased. The truth he conveyed and the character he displayed appealed not only to polytheistic Arabs but also to Jews and Christians. When the Holy Prophet (sa) first arrived in Madinah, the famous Jewish scholar Abdullah Ibn Salam visited him. Abdullah later recounted his first encounter with the Prophet (sa):
“I went to where the people [of Madinah]were gathered so that I could see [the Prophet (sa)]. When I saw his face, I immediately knew that his was not the face of a liar. And the first thing I heard him say was, ‘O you people! Spread (the greeting of) Salam, feed others, uphold the ties of kinship, and pray during the night when people are sleeping; you will enter Paradise” (10, 11).
The Holy Prophet (sa) loved his companions to a degree where he beautifully explained once how he acts as a shield against their committing sins in order to guide them towards Paradise. Abu Huraira (ra) narrated that Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said, “My example
and the example of the people is that of a man who made a fire, and when it lighted what was around it, moths and other insects started falling into the fire. The man tried (his best) to prevent them, (from falling in the fire) but they overpowered him and rushed into the fire. He (sa) added: Now, similarly, I take hold of the knots at your waist (belts) to prevent you from falling into the fire, but you insist on falling into it” (12).
The Holy Prophet (sa) was a model of complete empathy to the people who hated him. Safwan Ibn Umaiyyah was one of the bitterest foes of Islam. He was not only forgiven when the Prophet (sa) conquered Makkah. His generosity can be judged from the battle of Hunain. Safwan was given one hundred camels, and then he (sa) gave him yet another one hundred camels later. At that time, Safwan was a polytheist. He was so moved by the Prophet’s (sa) generosity that he embraced Islam. He later said,
“Allah’s Messenger (sa) gave me (and my state of mind at that time was) that he was the most detested person amongst people in my eyes. But he continued giving to me until now he is the dearest of people to me” (13).
The companions used to feel they were elevated to the state of paradise whenever they were in the company of the Holy Prophet (sa) as he was the living testimony of providing them the direct link with Allah. Verily, what Allah said, what the Prophet (sa) said, and what Hazrat Aisha (ra) (his wife) said are plenty to gain a general appreciation of the Prophet’s (sa) lofty manners.
Allah said: “And thou dost, surely, possess sublime moral excellences” (14).
The Prophet (sa) said, “I was sent to perfect the good character” (15).
When asked about the character of the Prophet (sa), Hazrat Aisha (ra) said, “Verily, the character of the Prophet of Allah was the Qur’an” (16).
1. Sahih al-Bukhari, Book of Military Expeditions led by the Holy Prophet (sa), Chapter: The delegation of Banu Hanifa, Hadith No. 4372- https://sunnah.com/bukhari:4372 [Accessed: February 20, 2022]
2. Mishkat al-Masabih, Book of Prayer, Chapter: What may not be done during Prayer and what is permitted-Section 1, Hadith No. 978- https://sunnah.com/mishkat:978 [Accessed: February 20, 2022]
3. Sahih Muslim, The Book of Virtues, Chapter His Generosity, Hadith No. 2312a- https://sunnah.com/muslim:2312a [Accessed: February 20, 2022]
4. Sahih al-Bukhari, Book Fighting for the cause of Allah, Chapter: Whoever hung his sword on a tree at midday nap, Hadith No. 2910. https://sunnah.com/bukhari:2910 [Accessed: February 20, 2022]
5. Fathul-bari, Ibn Hajr, volume 7, page 428
6. One Mudd = 1 and 3/4 of a kilogram.
7. Sahih al-Bukhari, Book: Companions of the Prophet, Hadith No. 3673 https://sunnah.com/bukhari:3673 [Accessed: February 20, 2022]
8. Mirqat-ul-Mafatih Sharah Mishkat-ul-Masbih, Vol. 11, p. 162, Hadith No. 6018, Kitab-ul-Manaaqib, Dar-ul-Kutb Al-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, 2001
9. The story of Prophet Muhammad and the Jewish scholar of Madīnah, p. 1-https://www.iqrasense.com/prophet-muhammad/story-prophet-muhammad-jewish-scholar-madinah.html [Accessed: February 20, 2022]
10. Sunan Ibn Mājah, Chapter Spread the Salam, Hadith No. 2485 https://sunnah.com/tirmidhi:2485 [Accessed: February 20, 2022]
11. Sunan Ibn Mājah, Chapters on Food, Hadith 3251- https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah:3251
12. Sahih al-Bukhari, Book “To make the Heart Tender, Chapter: To give up sinful deeds, Hadith No. 6483-https://sunnah.com/bukhari:6483
13. Sahih Muslim, Chapter Generosity, Hadith No. 2313-https://sunnah.com/muslim:2313
14. Holy Qur’an (68:5)
15. Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, Book Excellence in Character, Sahih Al-Albani, Book 14, Hadith 273 – https://sunnah.com/urn/2302710
16. Sahih Muslim, Qur’an Exegesis, Hadith No. 746-https://www.abuaminaelias.com/dailyhadithonline/2012/08/11/prophet-character-quran/
Last modified: March 2022