ShamailAli Yardım, PhD
The Arabic word shamail is the plural form of shimal, a word that acts as a root for words of many different meanings, some which are even antonymous. Some of these meanings are temper, nature, character, mood and action, behavior and attitude. Plural forms of the words that are used with these meanings are used in the form of shamail.
Islamic scholars have used the term in a more narrow sense than its broad lexical meaning, deriving a term that means the life story of a person, that is, their biography. Over time the word has become more specified and it has become a term meaning "the human aspect, life style and personal life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)".
Shamail became a separate science at the end of the second half of 3rd century after the Hijrah(AH) (9th century AD). It is known that the word shamail was first used and systematized by the Islamic scholar Tirmizi. No hadith (sayings of the Prophet) scholar or historian before him or any of his contemporaries used this term.
Tirmizi's work, called Kitabu'l-Shamail, is composed of 55 sections (bab) and an epilogue (hatima). Tirmizi's Shamail is among the classic works that were used most for purposes of interpretation, commentary, Islamic calligraphy and translation. Tirmizi's contributions to the field of shamail have been continued by later Islamic scholars.
THE SEALS OF THE PROPHET (PBUH)
The Seal of Prophethood
The word khatem (seal of prophethood) signifies that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the final prophet, as well as indicating that there was a mark (seal) on his back that symbolized this fact. Islamic sources discuss different aspects of the seal of prophethood, focusing particularly on its nature, its form, whether it was an innate quality, whether there was any inscription found on the mark, and finally whether the seal disappeared when Prophet Muhammad died. As is well known, Prophet Muhammad not only had some unique qualities, but he also had other characteristics that he shared with ordinary people. The unique characteristics of the Prophet are discussed in Islamic sources under titles such as dalail (features) or hasais (characteristics), which are separate sciences from shamail and sirah (life of the Prophet) (see the article on shamail and sirah). The information collected about these characteristics are presented and evaluated in a genre of books that is commonly known as either dalail al-Nabawiyya (The Features [or Proof] of the Prophet) or hasais al-Nabawiyya (The Unique Characteristics of the Prophet).
On the other hand, the fact that Prophet Muhammad was himself the ‘seal’, or the last link in the chain of prophets, was mentioned by the Prophet himself. One of the many hadiths on this issue is significant in terms of explaining the institution of prophethood and the place of the last Prophet among other prophets.
The Prophet is quoted as having said: “My position in relation to the other Prophets is like this: A man builds a house, completes it and decorates it beautifully, but leaves out one brick. When the people who come to see it enter this glorious house, they marvel at its beauty and say: ‘The house is splendid – but for the lack of this one brick (then, how much more splendid the house will be).’ Now, I am like this brick; I am the last of the Prophets.” (al-Bukhari, kitab al-manaqib, bab khatim an-nabiyyin; Muslim, kitab al-fada'il, bab khatam an-nabiyyin; see also Tirmidhi, kitab al-manaqib, bab fadl an-nabi and kitab al-adab, bab al-amthal; Musnad Abu Dawud Tayalisi, marwiat Jabir bin Abdullah; and Musnad Ahmad, marwiat Ubayyi bin Ka'b, Abu Sa'id Khudri and Abu Hurairah.)
Both of the main sources of Islam, the Quran and the hadiths, clearly state that the last of the Prophets that were sent to humanity from time to time, beginning with Adam, was Prophet Muhammad. It is for this reason that he is also called the “Prophet of the Last Days.” No prophet will follow him.
Therefore, Allah Almighty makes it clear that Prophet Muhammad is the “seal of all prophets” and that there no other prophet will come after him; He created a manifestation of this fact in the form of a mark, or “seal”, on the blessed body of the Prophet, and on no other.
The original expression used by the Companions of the Prophet and later generations of Islamic scholars for the mark on the Prophet’s body is Khatem al-Nubuwwa. This phrase can be translated in different ways, including (the most commonly) the seal of prophethood, the symbol of prophethood, the cachet of prophethood, the sign of prophecy, and the mark of prophecy/prophethood.
Regarding the seal, the sources give, in brief, the following information: there was a mark on the back of Prophet Muhammad, between his shoulder blades, which was raised; this mark resembled a seal on a letter or document.
Islamic sources also discuss another aspect of this seal; was the “seal of the last prophet” there when the Prophet was born, or did it appear later in his life time? According to many sources, this seal was not a birthmark; however, these sources disagree about when it first appeared. The most common argument is that this seal was stamped on his back when his chest was opened and cleansed by an angel. On the other hand, there is also the argument that as the seal was not an innate mark it disappeared when Prophet Muhammad died. All these views suggest that the seal of prophethood was not a congenital birthmark that was part of his physical makeup, but rather a divine sign of Muhammad’s being the last Prophet.
The Seal Ring of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh)
In the Hejaz region of the Arabian Peninsula it was not custumary for political leaders to use a seal until the time of the migration of the Prophet from Mecca to Medina. In the sixth year after the Hijrah (627 AD), Prophet Muhammad decided to send letters to the heads of neighboring countries in order to gain recognition for the newly-established Islamic state. These letters, which also served to invite these leaders to Islam, needed to be stamped with a seal. Some of the Companions of the Prophet explained that those leaders would not accept his letters if they had no seal on them, as this was custumary in other countries, and therefore they would not be seen as official letters without the seal of a head of a state. The seal would serve to make them official. The Prophet then ordered a seal to be made, and sent his letters to other statesmen with this seal.
The original word for ‘seal’ in Arabic is khatem. The Prophet’s seal was made in the form of a ring; for this reason the word khatem is generally used to mean a ring as well. For the same reason, the phrase Khatem al-Nabi is understood and translated as the “seal ring of Prophet Muhammad”. One of the great companions, Abdullah ibn Umar is reported to have once said: “Prophet Muhammad had a silver ring. He used it to seal the letters he sent to different places, but he did not wear it.”
According to evidence in historical sources, the seals of Prophet Muhammad were rings with stones, made of silver. On the rings were inscribed the three words “Muhammad Rasul Allah” (Muhammad, Prophet of Allah) arranged in such a way that each of the words constituted a line: the first line, going from the bottom to the top, read Muhammad; the second line consisted of the wordRasul (Messenger); and the third line read Allah. The majority of reports state that these seals were made of silver.
When Prophet Muhammad had his rings made and - from time to time - wore them, some of his Companions wanted to have similar rings. The Prophet, however, intervened, saying that no one should have a ring that had the same inscription as his. By discouraging the use of the official seal of state, Prophet Muhammad maintained the unique aspect of the institution of the state, separating public (or official) matters and private matters. On the other hand, despite the fact that all personal belongings of Prophet Muhammad, including his shoes, cloaks, water cups and swords, were transmitted to his Companions as gifts and kept by them, his seals (rings) were an exception. The sources clearly state that his seal was transferred to the first Caliph, Abu Bakr after his death, and then to Umar, and then to Uthman. (The seal was then lost in a well called the Aris Well in the sixth year of Uthman’s reign, which lasted a total of 12 years.) The fact that the seal was transferred to the three caliphs respectively indicates that it was not a piece of personal property, but a symbol that belonged to the head of the state. As is well-known, these three companions were the first three Caliphs (Heads of State) after the death of the Prophet. All three of them used the Prophet’s seal to stamp official documents and letters of state during their rule. In addition, according to a report by Hussein, his father, Ali, also had the same phrase inscribed on his own seal.
CLOTHING STYLE OF HOLY PROPHET
When we look at the clothing style of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), we see that he paid the utmost attention to these three issues:
- Avoidance of ostentation
- Avoidance of making the style of clothing a means for showing off, arrogance or ostentation
- To dress in accordance with the opportunities and conditions of the society in which he lived.
As can be understood from documents in the available sources, there was no particular style of dress—except for one—that was introduced with Islam. All of the Prophet’s clothes were examples of clothing styles that had been worn in his society long before. These clothes, which were known as kamis, izar, rida, jubba, kulle and nalayn, were also worn by the hanifs, idolaters, and non-Muslims before the advent of Islam, and Muslims continued to wear them after becoming Muslim.
The only exceptional change that Prophet Muhammad exercised in clothing was that of head gear, with his introduction of the turban. The Muslims wore turbans (imama) wrapped around a conical hat which was called a burnus or kalansuva.
Some of the clothing they wore was rida, izar or kamis. Their clothes were generally composed of two parts. The upper part of the dress was called the rida, with the lower part being known as the izar. The early Muslims usually preferred to wear long shirts which fastened at the front, known as kamis. When necessary, they wore a cloak called a jubba, aba or burda over the other garments.
According to the information obtained from the sources, all the clothing of Prophet Muhammad was composed of such garments. We could find no source asserting that he did not wear socks.
Prophet Muhammad did not always wear the same color of clothing. For instance, he wore white, black, yellow, green or red garments. However, the Prophet usually preferred to wear white due to the climatic conditions, and advised Muslims to wear white clothes. Apart from this, he did not prevent people dress according to their preferences.
Prophet Muhammad wore woolen clothing as well as clothing made from cotton. However, he did not wear silk, as silk was the most expensive cloth and it is thought to be too luxurious for men. Nonetheless, he let some of his Companions wear silk shirts if there was a special condition that required them to do so.
Prophet Muhammad also wore special garments, a type of formal dress, on Fridays, for religious festivals and when welcoming local or foreign delegations.
Quoted from Abu Sa’id al-Khudri:
“Whenever Holy Muhammad wore a new garment—whether it was a turban, shirt, or cloak—he would mention the name of the garment, pray and ask:
“O Allah, all praise and thanks be to You. You have given me this garment. I seek from You its good and the good that is made of it and I seek refuge with You against its evil and the evil that it is made of!”
THE PERSONAL HYGIENE OF THE PROPHET
Prophet Muhammad’s Hair
According to documents, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did not have short hair; in fact it was on the long side. He wore his hair in three different styles, according to the length. The shortest style would be at the level of the earlobe, while the longest stretched down to his shoulders. There are three separate terms for each style. The terms within the sources, indicating the shortest to the longest, were as follows:
The style that reached as far as his ear lobes was called vafra, that which was slightly below the earlobe was limme, and that which reached as far as the shoulders was known as djumma.
That there are differences among the accounts is entirely normal. Since each narrator provided a depiction according to what they saw, the differences between these accounts should not be assessed as contradictory.
As to how Prophet Muhammad combed his hair, as far as we can understood from the narrations of Ibn Abbas, there were two ways in which it was fashionable to comb one’s hair at the time of the Prophet in the Hejaz. The People of the Book would comb their fringes over their foreheads. The idolaters of the period would part their fringes in the middle.
The Muslims did not try to introduce a new model; rather, to start with they combed their hair in the same way as the People of the Book, combing it over their foreheads. After idolatry had been eradicated in the Hejaz region and there were no supporters left, the Muslims started to part their hair to the side.
Prophet Muhammad gave the following advice about the care of the hair:
“Whoever grows his hair should care for it”. “Those who have hair shall care for their hair well”.
Islamic sources also report some personal belongings that Prophet Muhammad would always carry with him. These were a comb, a mirror, mishwak, (a small twig for cleaning teeth), a toothpick, scissors and kohl.
The Prophet would take great care of the cleanliness of his clothing and took care that his garments were neat and tidy.
The Prophet stated that garments should be neat and care should be given to this matter; yet he did not approve of spending excessive time getting dressed up. He made a distinction between over-dressing and being chic and smart.
As can be understood from the information available, the hair and beard of the Prophet did not turn noticeably white. In fact, Prophet Muhammad did not experience any significant changes in his physical bodily until he drew his last breath; he did not experience any indications of old age, he lost no teeth from decay, he did not suffer from poor sight, poor hearing, loss of hair, and his beard did not turn white.
According to the available texts, the parts of his hair which did turn white were the top of his beard; that is the sideburns between the ears and eyes, the sections between the lower lip and chin and various parts of his hair. The white sections in his beard were greater in number than those in his hair. These were not overwhelming features. The Prophet tells us about why his hair whitened: “My hair and beard became white with the wisdom of the revelations in Hud and such suwars.”
The Prophet did not use any hair dye; however from time to time he would oil his hair with olive oil. After applying the oil over his head, he would put a piece of cloth under his turban to prevent it being soiled by the olive oil. This piece of cloth would absorb the excess oil and prevent his turban from becoming greasy.
As can be understood from a document recorded by Ibn Sad, the Prophet would wash his hair with a preparation made by boiling the leaves of the sidra tree. Some hairs of the Prophet were kept as keepsakes, or as sacred trusts, and these were passed on from generation to generation.
Aisha, one of the Prophet’s wives, would personally take care of the Prophet’s garments and the tidiness of his clothes. She would provide the Prophet with the best scents she could find throughout his life.
The Prophet had a scent called sukkah, which he would keep with him and applied when necessary. Among his belongings he kept a special scent for journeys. The Prophet would never refuse a scent if it were offered to him.
“As a matter of fact, scent is a gift without burden!”
“On the earth, women and fine scents were made dear to me; prayer was granted to me as wisdom.”
The scent the Prophet wore was noticeable as he walked down the street. Anas bin Malik reports this case as follows: “When the Holy Prophet passed through one of the streets of Medina, his fine scent would be discerned by the public and they would know that the Holy Prophet had been around there. We would know that Holy Prophet had arrived due to his fine scent.”
Prophet Muhammad gave great importance to personal hygiene: he oiled his hair, cleaned his teeth with the mishwak twig, applied kohl to his eyes, drank water slowly, would not drink cloudy or poor quality water, had drinking water brought from springs and wells outside Medina, balanced his meals in accordance to the needs of his body. These and many other similar practices were all precautions taken by the Prophet to protect his health.
The Prophet would apply kohl to his eyes before going to bed. He would apply it three times to each eye and then retire. It can be understood from the time when he used the kohl and from general information about its beneficial nature that this was not applied as a form of makeup, but rather as a preventative measure.
Ibn Abbas quotes:
Holy Prophet told: “Apply kohl with ismid. Applying kohl with ismid adds a glow to the eye and increases the eyelashes.” Ibn Abbas states: “The Holy Prophet even had a special kohl container. He would apply kohl to each eye from this container”.
THE BODY LANGUAGE AND STYLE OF THE PROPHET
How He Walked
According to information available in the sources Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did not shuffle his feet, but raised them firmly when taking a step. While walking he did not sway either to the right or to the left, but would walk leaning slightly forward when going up an incline. He would never walk completely upright nor would he walk rapidly. However, he could cover long distances in a short period of time, which was by the grace of Allah.
How He Sat
The documents available to us concerned with how the Prophet sat are scattered among the hadith texts and consist of the following information:
- Sitting in the kurfasa style: This is a position in which a person sits on a seat, pulls his knees up to his stomach, wrapping the arms around them and joining the hands in front. In the sources there are documents reporting that Prophet Muhammad occasionally sat in such a position.
- Sitting in an ihtibah position: Ihtibah is same as the position above, except that in the former position the knees are held with the hands, whereas in this style the knees are held with a belt or some such similar object.
- Sitting cross-legged: According to an account recorded by Abu Dawud, “After the Holy Prophet performed his morning prayer he would sit cross-legged until dawn.”
- Squatting: The Prophet used this position, known as ihtifâz or ik'â, mostly while eating.
- Leaning back and crossing the legs: In the sources there are some accounts of Prophet Muhammad leaning back, crossing his legs and resting in the masjid.
- Sitting with feet dangling: Among the hadith texts, there are some accounts in which Prophet Muhammad sits with some companions on the side of a well, with his feet dangling.
- Kneeling: In sources that report the sitting styles of the Prophet there are accounts of him sitting in a kneeling position. However, in the biographies, which give accounts of the life of the Companions and in the sabab-i wurud sections of hadith texts, it is not possible to find such a position.
The reason for this lack of information about kneeling was that it was the most usual sitting style of Prophet Muhammad. For that reason, it would not be expected for one of his Companions to say, “I saw the Holy Prophet kneeling”, as this would just be a repetition of what is known and would be of no interest. The Prophet’s other sitting styles were sitting styles that he was seen to perform rarely. The Prophet sat in all the manners described above at various stages of his life. In so doing, he did not limit the sitting styles of other Muslims who wanted to resemble him in every way.
Objects upon Which He Leant
Prophet Muhammad said: “Three things will not be rejected (by me): pillows, fine scent and milk!”
Prophet Muhammad would put a cushion under his arm and lean on it in conversational gatherings and when he sat for a long time.
We have also information about the fact that the Prophet would sit on an object called serir, made of date leaves.
There are also documents which state that the Prophet would sit on a bench that had iron or wooden legs.
The Prophet would not refuse to sit on any object that was offered to him, provided that it was not luxurious for society at that time. As a matter of fact, Prophet Muhammad would sometimes sit on a carpet or divan covered with a rug in places he was visiting, or would refuse to sit on the divan offered and sit on the wooden floor or bare soil instead.
One of the most distinctive features of Prophet Muhammad was the beauty and precision of his speech. Prophet Muhammad said: “I was sent equipped with the ability to speak concisely (javami’ul-kalim)”. The environment in which the Prophet grew up had an important effect on his ability to speak fluently.
The Prophet would speak slowly, clearly and in a way that everyone could understand. He would speak so slowly that the audience could count the words one by one if they wanted to. He would repeat important words three times while speaking if necessary.
Prophet Muhammad served as a preacher, mufti, judge, teacher, trainer, head of family, diplomat, commander, conqueror, and a community member who had many friends; he would talk to people from all backgrounds, be they friend or enemy, Muslim or non-Muslim, rich or poor, adult or child, man or woman.
The Prophet always treated his companions like a caring teacher and a compassionate father when speaking to them. He would address them in a fine rhetoric when he wanted to teach them some rules of etiquette. He would say the things that needed to be said in a humorous way sometimes and sometimes in a pleasing way; he also spoke with joy, hope and encouragement. He would use irony and examples and would put forward ideas that were thought-provoking.
The Prophet’s tone and style in his public speeches were very different from his everyday mode of speech. The sources use terms derived from the word khutba (sermon) to define the Prophet’s public speeches. No other speech or sermon is as long as the Farewell Khutba, the last public speech the Prophet made.
When addressing the public, the Prophet’s eyes would become blood-shot, his tone would rise, and he would become excite. Prophet Muhammad also had a stick, called a mihsara (walking stick, truncheon, or club) that he used to lean on when making speeches or to point at things.
Prophet Muhammad did not tolerate unnecessary excess or indecent behavior that would bring shame on Islam, or attitudes that would harm the basic principles. If he were to encounter such behavior the Prophet would become sad and angry, and try to prevent those who had committed the act with gentle words of advice.
The Prophet had an unchanging attitude; he never embraced a rude, hard, insulting, affronting or offensive speaking style.
As pointed out in the sources, Prophet Muhammad was a happy and cheerful person by nature. His face always had a smile on it. He never let his sorrows show and did not behave in ways that would depress others, even in times of unhappiness. He would smile, especially when he came across people that he liked, in such a way that his face shone like the moon.
Apart from these manners, the Prophet had a particular manner of laughing. The hadith sources give many examples of how he laughed and what he laughed about. In particular, Aisha mentioned the Prophet’s manner of laughing in the following words:
“I never saw the Holy Prophet laugh in such a way that the back of his mouth was seen or that he lost awareness of what was happening. His laughter was rather a modest smile.” Most of his Companions used the following statement when they spoke of how he smiled : “… He laughed so that his molars were visible!” By laughing like this, the teeth are visible but one cannot hear a sound. This is how the Prophet laughed.
Anas bin Malik says: “The Prophet joked with children much more than anyone else.” “The Holy Prophet joked with his wives much more than anyone else”
The Prophet enjoyed sharing jokes with children, with his wives, with poor people, and those that needed his affection. When he said: “Don’t quarrel with your friends; don’t joke with them; always hold your promises!” the people around him said: “But Holy Prophet, you also joke!” “Yes, I also joke; but I only tell the truth (even when joking)”.
THE EATING AND DRINKING STYLES OF THE HOLY PROPHET
“I eat like an ordinary people, and I sit like an ordinary man”
It must be stated that the sources do not mention how the Prophet (pbuh) sat at a table; rather they point out how he did not sit. It has been stated that he would generally sit kneeling. The sources from the first period usually cite a single line that is a hadith:
“As for Me, I never settle in well to eat”
The Prophet, who would ensure that he was in a purified state when eating the food provided by Allah, always thanked Allah for His blessings. The Prophet and the people who followed him were always worried about what their meal would lead to; they were grateful to Allah and requested that He cause their meal to lead to good things.
The Prophet always tried to prevent practices that caused waste and to make use of all of Allah’s blessings, even a single grain of rice.
According to the available documents Prophet Muhammad always ate bread made from barley flour. He would not eat bread made from refined flour, from which the bran had been removed. At that time in the Hejaz wheat was imported and very expensive. The Prophet would not eat food made from wheat flour which was not affordable for the majority of people. He disapproved of luxury and maintained the status of role model in the matter of food, as with everything else. He preferred barley bread not only because it was economic, but also as it was filling and nutritional.
During meals, the Prophet would sit at a low table made of leather or canvas. He would not use a table or a tray with legs.
He would not bring appetizers like salads, pickles or spices to the table. The Prophet would never overeat.
The texts from the first period speak of the Prophet eating two meals a day. Breakfast was called ghada, and dinner was called asha. Prophet Muhammad would eat two meals a day at the most. One of these meals always consisted of light foods. These light foods included dates.
The Prophet advised that dinner should be eaten and ordered: “Do not neglect dinner but dine, even with a handful of dates; neglecting dinner ages people and harms the body.”
Prophet Muhammad emphasized the important effect of hunger on humans in the following words: “O Allah! I take shelter in you against hunger; hunger is a very bad condition which weakens people” However, he also underlined the hazards of imbalanced and excessive eating:
“No person can fill a dish that is worse than his stomach. Basically humans need only a few bites to withstand hunger. If they need to eat more, they must fill one third of their stomachs with food, one third with drink and they should leave the remaining part empty for breath!”
Aisha says: “The family members of the Prophet never ate two meals in quick succession and never ate their fill of barley bread”
Ibn Abbas says: “Sometimes the Holy Prophet would go to sleep without having eaten anything for several nights consecutively; he and his family would not be able to find anything to eat for dinner and they would eat barley bread”.
For the Prophet the most important feature of a meal was whether it was halal (permitted), clean and nutritional. Prophet Muhammad did not prefer one food over another and he did not find fault with any food. Abu Hurairah said: “The Holy Prophet would never prefer one food over another. He would eat what was offered if he was hungry, and would not eat if he was not.”
The Prophet did not indulge in any food and he had no craving for any food. “If someone eats whatever they crave, this is wasteful.”
Prophet Muhammad would thank the host in particular for the meals served and he would say that he had been satisfied by the food served to him.
Some examples of the food that the Prophet ate are as follows: leg of mutton, mutton chops, kebab, chicken, bustard, meat soup, zucchini, olive oil, curd cheese, melon, halva, honey, dates, Swiss chard and fish. This list, to which other foods can be added, also gives us an idea about the cuisine of the Age of Happiness. Simplicity dominated the food, and simplicity is an indication of maturity.
Washing Hands before the Meal
The Prophet wanted people not to be content with ordinary cleanliness, but to demonstrate their cleanliness in every field. He also wanted people to be as clean as possible for meals. In the same way that a Muslim takes ablution before prayer, they should wash their hands before eating. The practice of washing one’s hands before the meal was not performed in other religions at the time; it was first introduced by Prophet Muhammad.
“If something happens to one who has gone to bed without washing their hands after dinner, may he seek fault in himself, not in someone else!.”
Salman-i Farisi said that Prophet Muhammad ordered: “The blessings of food lie in washing hands before and after eating.”
Prayers said by Prophet Muhammad before and after Meals
The Prophet would always utter a basmala (blessing) before performing every action, including eating. If the basmala is forgotten at the beginning, it is uttered as soon as one remembers.
Prophet Muhammad would always pray after the meals. His shortest prayer was the one that consisted of the phrase Alhamdulillah(Thanks be to Allah). He stated that the most virtuous form of worship was to utter La ilaha illallah (There is no God but Allah) and that the finest prayer was Alhamdulillah. There is no one single method for such prayers. Everybody can say prayers from their hearts, using long or short phrases.
In the period of Prophet Muhammad meals were eaten on a low table and out of a large common plate. For this reason the Prophet desired that everybody should eat from in front of them. Eating together and getting up from the table together are manners that he advises. Prophet Muhammad said: “After the table has been set, may no one leave the table before it is cleared. Even if they are full, so as not to embarrass the people around the table, may no one take their hands off the table. May they not exhibit an attitude indicating that they are full. When a person leaves the table early, he embarrasses his friend; this also leads his friend to take his hands off the table. He might not yet be full!”
In accordance with this, a person who is invited to the table and offered food should not refuse the offer if they are hungry and should not use unbelievable phrases such as, “I am full…I have just eaten”. The Prophet stated that: “Food that is enough for one person is sufficient for two. Food that is enough for two people is sufficient for four people and the food for four people is sufficient to feed eight people.” Thus, we can understand the importance of sharing what we have, whether it is a little or a lot, with other people.
Umar bin Abi Salama gives the following account: “I went to the house of the Holy Prophet. He was sitting at the table. When he saw me, He said: “My child, come to the table, utter basmala, start eating with your right hand and take the food from in front of you”.
Abu Said al-Hudri tells us: “When the Holy Prophet would finish his meal and get ready to leave the table he would utter the following prayer: “al-Hamdu lillalillazi at’amena va sakana va ja’alana min’al-müslimin” which means “May Allah, Who feeds us and makes us a society of Muslims, be praised.”
Abu Umama tells us: “When the table was about to be cleared, Prophet Muhammad would say the following prayer: “al-Hamdu lillahi hamdan kasiran tayyeban mubarakan fihi khayra muvadda’in vala mustaghnan ‘anhu Rabbana” which means “Allah, I Praise You with eternal gratitude, ceaseless and void of pretense; not with the kind turned down by You.”
Fruit Eaten by the Prophet
We learn that Prophet Muhammad loved eating melon, watermelon and cucumbers. Grapes, quince, and the kabas fruit of themiswak tree were among the other fruit preferred by the Prophet.
The Prophet showed great care in selecting food that would not have a negative effect on his health. He ate fruit during and after the meals, not merely as a fruit, rather but to stabilize the temperature of his body.
Abu Hurairah tells us: “When the companions of the Holy Prophet obtained the first fruit, they would immediately bring it to the Holy Prophet. He would take that first fruit into his sacred hands and say the following prayer: “O Allah! Grant fertility to our fruit, our city and our measures called sa and mudd. O Allah! Holy Abraham is your worshipper, friend and prophet. I too am your worshipper and prophet. He prayed to you for Mecca. I pray to You to the extent of His prayer, and even twice the measure of that prayer for Medina!” He would then call the youngest child and give them that first fruit.
The Prophet's Drinks
The drinks that were enjoyed in the Age of Happiness were things like honey sherbet (‘asal), date or grape juice and milk. During wedding feasts, guests would be treated to date sherbet. Milk had a special place among the drinks of Prophet Muhammad. He would sometimes add cold water to the milk before drinking it. Particularly in hot weather, the Prophet would cool off the milk when it was available by adding some cold water. Aisha reported; “Fresh water would be brought from the spring Buyut al-Suqya, which was at a distance of two days.”
The Prophet would also show great care that his drinking water was fresh, and that it had “rested and been kept for a night”. In related sources, there are accounts about “water which has rested in a jug”.
The Prophet would drink water slowly, resting between sips. He would take a breath twice three breaths. He said that “Drinking water in stages eases digestion, quenches the thirst and is healthier.” stressing the importance of drinking in this manner for our health.
Ibn Abbas states the following: “Our Holy Prophet banned us from putting the ends of the water skins or jugs to our mouth and finishing them in one gulp. After the warning of our Prophet, a man drank from the jug in one gulp and what should emerge from the jug but a snake!”
The Sacred Cup
There were about eleven people who volunteered to serve the Prophet. The most prominent of these were the companions Anas bin Malik and Abdullah bin Mas’ud. Abdullah bin Mas’ud would carry the Prophet’s shoes, miswaks and cushions and keep them ready for use. When the Prophet stood, Abdullah bin Mas’ud would bring the Prophet’s shoes and put them on his feet. When the Prophet sat, he would take off his shoes and hold them in his hands.
Anas bin Malik was the water-bearer for the Prophet. He would carry the Prophet’s water cup carefully, clean it and prepare the Prophet’s drinks.
Prophet Muhammad would use one cup for all drinks, including water. This cup was made of a wood called nudar. This cup once cracked along the side and was mended with a silver ring, and was used again. The width of this cup was greater than its height. It had an iron ring by which it could be hung on the wall. Once Anas tried to replace this iron ring with a silver or golden ring, but his step-father Abu Talha (34/654) said: “Don’t ever do that! Don’t change anything that was made by the Holy Prophet!” After that, Anas did not replace this part and preserved the cup as it was.
Some of the personal belongings of the Prophet were preserved by his Companions and passed on from one generation to the next.
The Companions of Prophet Muhammad had profound respect for the objects that the Prophet used, and the places where he slept, prayed and rested. The objects were preserved by them out of respect, affection, homage and for blessings. Monuments were built in the places where the Prophet had slept, prayed or rested.