» His Character » Politeness
Now let us discuss the various aspects of his life one by one and see why it is said that he was a perfect man. Muhammad was very polite and good-mannered. His wife, A'isha, and many of his companions, including Anas and Ali, reported that he was good-tempered, good-mannered and very polite to all. He was always happy and smiling and his face always had a bright and cheerful look. Abu Ishaque reported that Al-Bara was asked whether the face of Muhammad was as bright as a sword. He replied, "No, but as bright as the moon." And Abdullah bin Amr reported that Muhammad never used bad language, neither habitually nor artificially. He used to say, "The best among you are those who have the best character." He also said that politeness, which seems very light here, will weigh very heavy in goodness on the Day of Judgement.
Jabir ibn Abdullah said that Muhammad always welcomed him into his presence after his conversion to Islam and always greeted him with a smile. Abdullah bin Harith reported that he had never seen a more polite man than Muhammad. It was normal practice for Muhammad to greet and salute first whenever he met anyone. If anyone wanted to talk to him in confidence, he never fumed away from him until he himself moved away. In the same way, whenever he shook hands with anyone, he never let go of the other's hand until that person took his hand away. When he sat in the company of his companions, he sat with them without occupying any distinctive position. It often happened that foreign deputations and other people coming to Medinah could not recognise Muhammad in the Mosque while he was sitting with his companions.
Once he received some envoys from the ruler of Abyssinia and he kept them with him as his own guests. He served them and arranged all the necessary things for them himself as their host during their stay with him. His companions requested that they would like to serve them but he replied that they had served his friends, therefore, he must himself serve them. Uthan bin Malik, who had fought in the battle of Badr, felt that his eyesight was weakening, so he went to Muhammad and requested him to go to his house and offer prayer, so that he could make it a place of worship. Next day Muhammad, with Abu Bakr, went to his house early in the morning and offered two rakat prayers in his house.'
Once Muhammad was riding on a camel through a narrow pass in the mountains along with Uqbah bin Amir. After some time, he asked Uqbah to have his turn on the camel, but the latter thought it improper to ride himself and let God's Messenger walk on foot. But Muhammad got off the camel and forced him to ride.
Anas reported, "One day God's Messenger sent me to do something, and I said, 'I swear by God that I will not go.' But in my heart I felt that I should go to do what God's Messenger had commanded me, so I went out and came upon some boys who were playing in the street. All of a sudden God's Messenger, who had come up behind me, caught me by the back of my neck. When I looked at him he was laughing and said, 'Did you go where I ordered you, little Anas?' I replied, 'Yes, I am on my way, Messenger of Cod.' He laughed and did not say anything to me." He also reported that one of the maidservants belonging to the people of Medinah would hold God's Messenger by the hand and take him where she wished and he never refused or asked her anything.
Ali reported that God's Messenger owed some diners to a certain Jewish doctor, who demanded payment from the Prophet. When he told him, "I have nothing to give you," the Jew replied, "I will not leave you, Muhammad, until you pay me." Cod's Messenger said, "I shale sit with you, then," and did so. God's Messenger prayed at noon, in the afternoon, at sunset, at night and the following morning with the Jew. His companions were threatening and menacing the man while God's Messenger was aware of what they were doing. Then they said, "O God's Messenger, is this Jew keeping you in bondage?" The Prophet replied, "My Lord has prevented me from doing wrong to one with whom a covenant has been made." Then after some time when the sun rose high in the sky, the Jew said, "I testify that there is no diety but God, and I testify that you are God's Messenger. Half of my property will be devoted to God's cause. I swear by God that my only purpose in treating you as I have done was that I might discover the description of you given in the Torah: Muhammad bin Abdullah, whose birthplace is Makkah, whose place of emigration is in Taiba and whose kingdom is in Syria. He is not harsh or rough or loud-voiced in the streets, he is not characterised by coarseness of obscene speech."
Once he borrowed forty sai (standard measuring weight for cereals, etc.) from a man who later became destitute and came to Muhammad to ask for the return of the loan. He replied that he had nothing with which to repay the loan. That man wanted to say something, when Muhammad said, "Say nothing but good because I am the best of borrowers in the matter of repayment of loans." Then he paid him eighty sad, forty in return for his loan and forty extra as a gesture of goodwill.
Once he bought a camel. After some time, the vendor came and demanded the price from him in very harsh words. His companions wanted to catch him but Muhammad told them to leave him alone because the lender had the right to demand his money. Once another lender very harshly demanded his money from him and Umar ibn Khattab wanted to catch him, but he said, "O Umar, stop for it was more appropriate that you should have asked me to repay the loan and asked him to be patient.''!
No one who sat in his company ever felt that he was rude to him or that he ignored him. By his word or deed he never offended or humiliated anyone. No-one ever heard anything bad from him; nor did he ever speak or like bad language. He never turned his face from anyone nor did he deprive anyone of politeness. Everyone sitting in his company felt that he was being treated with the utmost respect and honour. Whenever anyone went to him for any of his needs and he could not fulfil it, he never asked him to leave but advised him in such a polite manner that he often felt relief from his troubles. He once said that every good deed was a charity and it was a good deed to meet your fellow-beings with politeness. And he said, "The best among you is the one who is best in character and morals."Once he said that there were high residential places in Paradise, whose interior was visible from outside and its exterior from inside. On hearing this one Bedouin enquired whom these buildings were for? Muhammad replied that they were for those who spoke with politeness and gentleness.
Many of his companions, including Ibn Umar, Abu Harairah and Abu Darda, reported from him that nothing would be heavier in the Scales of a believer on the Day of Judgment than politeness because God did not like impolite and impertinent people. It is also reported that a polite man attains the grade of those who establish prayer and keep the fast because of his good conduct. Once the Holy Prophet was asked what deeds would take people to Paradise. He replied, "Fear of God and politeness (good conduct)." Abu Darda reported from him that whoever was given a share of politeness was, in fact, given a share of goodness; and whoever was deprived of a share of politeness was, in fact, deprived of goodness. It is reported by Jabir that God's Messenger said, "The people from among you who are dear to me and will sit close to me on the Day of Judgement are those who have good manners and are polite. And the people among you whom I dislike and will be far removed from me on the Day of Judgement are those who are impertinent and impolite to people."
Once a Jew came to him and out of mischief, greeted him by saying "As-sam Alaikum" (death to you) instead of As-salamu Alaikum (peace be on you). A'isha with anger, gave a harsh reply. But he stopped her and said, "A'isha! Dont use harsh words; be polite; God likes mildness in everything."
In short, Muhammad was a perfect model of politeness, fine manners and decency, which he taught through his practical example to the rugged, rough and illiterate people of the desert who, as a result, became the teachers and leaders of the world. His behaviour towards people, men or women, rich or poor, adult or child, was the same. He spoke to all with civility and politeness and taught others the same through his personal example. The Qur'an mentions this quality of Muhammad in these words,
"It is by the Mercy of God that you deal gently with them, for if you were severe or fierce of heart, they would have dispersed from you."
The extremely gentle nature of Muhammad, which endeared him to all, is mentioned in the above-quoted verse, as a "Mercy of God". It was this quality of Muhammad that bound the souls of countless men to him and won support and admiration for him even from his most staunch and deadly enemies.