Prophet Muhammed ﷺ: The Seal of Prophethood
(Part 4/4)

By Aida M.

Much has been said on the communication styles of the most influential people in history. Some excelled in elocution, others in intonation, others in connecting with people and more. However, in learning about their styles, I never encountered a human being with a perfect manner except Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Here are 5 glances into his communication style:

1. On Joking and Lightheartedness

His manner was such that even when he joked, the joke was true and did not cause injury. In the Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyya (see details at bottom of the page), there is a chapter on the light-heartedness of the Prophet ﷺ. Take for example this narration concerning an interaction between the Prophet ﷺ and a child.

“Anas bin Malik related that the Prophet ﷺ said to him, ‘O two-eared one!”  [235]

Throughout the ages laughter has been seen as medicine. And yet on the chapter on his laughter it was narrated,

“The laughter of the Messenger of Allah was only that of smiles”. [228]

More often than not, a warm smile touches yearning hearts far deeper than a laugh. In another narration,

“…His laughter was mostly smiles, and when he would laugh, it was as though something like hailstones appeared..[225]

Reflecting on our manner of joking, do we sometimes mock or hurt others? Sometimes, laughter goes to the extent that we lose control of our entire bodies, or we force a cackle or smile, or are so moved by laughter that it takes us a great deal of time to recover.

He ﷺ was perfectly balanced in his outward expressions – knowing when to bring lightheartedness during sometimes heavy topics and other times, communicating with a serious demeanour.

2. On Greetings and Conversations

Before interviews and meetings especially with those we admire and are meeting for the first time, it is common that we feel nervous and are keen to make a good first impression. Of the biographies I read of famous people, much of impressions were related to the charm of the individual. What strikes me about the Prophet ﷺ was that he was both revered and incredibly warm. It is one thing to be in awe of someone but another thing entirely to make those around you simultaneously feel comfortable.

There is an incident of a man who prior to accepting Islam visited the Prophet – and went behind him to see if the Prophet ﷺ had the seal of prophethood (located between his shoulder). Without the man so much as asking or signalling, the Prophet noticed and he ﷺ uncovered the area between his shoulder to show him. This incident was clear proof to me that those meeting him, stranger or near, did not feel a barrier in approaching him and he ﷺ actively made others feel comfortable – for instance there are multiple narrations of the Prophet leaning on the companions.

A companion narrated:

From the time I embraced Islam, the Messenger of Allah did not prevent me from seeing him, nor did he see me except that he would smile”. [231]

Here we see that he made those around him feel seen. There is another example of a child whose bird had passed away and the Prophet ﷺ in consoling the child asked him about his bird [236]. He ﷺ didn’t only make them feel comfortable, he also checked in on the concerns and states of those around him. Are we attuned to the states of the people around us, and when we communicate with others, are we present with them?

His manner of greeting was perfect and filled with humility. When he ﷺ met someone, he would be the first to greet them. When he walked, he would walk behind his companions. Imagine, being greeted this way by someone you admire? When his daughter Fatimah (RA) walked into a room, the Prophet would rise offering her his seat. What are your first impressions when meeting someone and more importantly, how are you with others?

It was narrated that:

…His blessed heart was the soundest and most generous of hearts, his speech is the most truthful of speech and he is the gentlest of all people in nature and the noblest of them in social interactions and companionship (ishra). Whoever saw him unexpectedly (badiha) would be awestruck. Whoever interacted with him whilst knowing him would love him. The one who would describe him would say, ‘I saw neither before him nor after him anyone like him’.” [7]

3. On Wisdom

My love for literature has led me to seek out different writers and orators. However, in all the books I read, I did not come across a speech more concise and luminous than this one he ﷺ gave on entry to Madinah;

“O people! Spread (the greeting of) Salam, feed others, uphold the ties of kinship, and pray during the night when people are sleeping, and you will enter Paradise with Salam.” [Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2485]

On the chapter on how he ﷺ would speak, it was narrated that:

“The Messenger of Allah would not draw out his speech as you all do. He would speak clearly and lucidly and would space out his words. Anyone who sat with him would remember what he had said.” [223]

It is no wonder then, that throughout history the number of narrations detailing his sayings surpass those of any other human being.

Furthermore; he often used repetition (repeating a word three times to ensure understanding and hand gestures (when pointing he would point with his whole hand).  There was also an incredible amount of compassion in his manner of advising.

I read about an incident between a child (stepson) who was eating with the Prophet ﷺ. The child was eating in the way children tend to do but let’s look at the gentleness of the Prophet’s approach,

“Come close, dear son; mention Allah’s name, eat with your right hand and eat from what is nearest to you”. [190]

It was common practice of the Prophet ﷺ to begin advises with expressions of love. For instance, a companion reported, “The Messenger of Allah took hold of my hand and said,

“O Mu’adh! By Allah I love you, so I advise you to…” [Abu Dawud]

When advising or correcting others particularly those you have authority over, are you compassionate? When having conversations you know are challenging, are you driven by wisdom or by ‘getting your way’?

4. On reflection

In encouraging the inquisitiveness and development of others, it was common that he returned a question with another question. Take for instance this incident when someone asked,

When will the Hour be?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “What have you prepared for it?”…” [Sahih al-Bukhari 3688]

When someone asks you a question, are you quick to respond or do you think carefully on how to bring out the best in both you and the questioner?

It was narrated that:

“…The Messenger of Allah was in a continual state of worry, and always in deep thought. He had no rest. He would remain silent for long periods and would not speak without need. He would begin and end his speech by mentioning the name of Allah Most Exalted. His speech was compendious (jawami’ al-kalim’), and his words were distinguished; they were neither too much nor too few. He was neither coarse nor demeaning…The lower world (dunya) did not anger him, nor did anything of its affairs, but if the truth was transgressed against, nothing would quell his anger until he had sought justice for it. He would never become angry for his own sake or seek to avenge himself…When he was angry, he would turn away. When he was delighted, he would lower his gaze…” [225]

5. With Allah

What is striking in my mind about the state of the Prophet ﷺ was that when he was alone, he was preoccupied only with Allah. There is an even deeper message here that even by analysing his choice of words (and physical postures) when praying to Allah, we are taught how to communicate with Allah. To a passer-by his face would have been one filled with contemplation (in worry). But when he interacted with others, he was the presence that lit up those in his company. How does your interaction with Allah differ from your interaction with people and what is the effect of your company on others?

Though I can never do justice to a description of the Prophet ﷺ, the more we learn about him, the more we discover the meaning of the verse from the Quran below:

“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often.” [33:21]

NB: The reference numbers refers to the Hadith number in the Shama’il (translation & notes by Abdul Aziz Suraqah & Mohammed Aslam)

Recommended Resources

  1. Shama’il Al-Muhammadiyya – a collection by Imam al-Trimidhi of 415 Hadiths on the Beauty & Perfection of the Prophet Muhammad https://www.theshamail.co.uk/
  2. Celebrate Mercy – a non-profit organization that teaches about the Prophet Muhammad’s ﷺ life and character. https://celebratemercy.com/