It is a well-known and celebrated fact that the Messenger of Allah’s character was that of complete nobility, mercy and generosity. He is the embodiment of perfection, and his presence was a safe haven for all. It is also important to remember that the Messenger of Allah was generally always cheerful, and loved to have a light-hearted conversation with his family and companions, often joking with them. When asked by his Companions: “O Messenger of Allah, you joke with us?” he replied, “Yes, but I only speak the truth.” [Bukhari]
This aspect of his blessed personality highlights the importance of humour and gentle conversation in a human relationship and in our daily lives. Islam is not the religion of stern faces and harsh-heartedness, but of smiling countenances glowing from the love from within hearts.
Sayyidina Abdullah ibn Harith said, “I did not see anyone who smiled more than the Messenger of Allah.” [Tirmidhi]
“O Father of the Kitten!”
Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah’s real name was Abdul Rahman bin Sahr. He describes how he got the nickname of Abu Hurayrah, meaning ‘Father of the Kitten’: “One day I was carrying a kitten in my sleeve and the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, saw me and he said, ‘What is this?’ ‘A kitten,’ I said. So he said, ‘O Abu Hurayrah!’ (‘O Father of the Kitten!’) [al-Hakim; Imam ibn Hajr’s al-Isabah]
From that point onwards, he became affectionately known as ‘Abu Hurayrah’ even to this day.
Gentleness towards Children
It is reported in Bukhari and Muslim that Sayyidina Anas b. Malik had a younger brother named Abu ‘Umayr. As a young boy, he had a bird he was very fond of called ‘al-Nughayr’ which eventually died and he became very upset. When the Messenger of Allah learnt of this, he went to cheer him up. He approached him and said in a soft joking manner: “O Abu ‘Umayr, what has happened to al-Nughayr’?”, playing on the rhyming sounds of Abu ,Umayr’s name and the name of the bird. At this, Abu ,Umayr’s sorrowful face lit up and he broke into laughter.
It was with this gentle, loving approach that the Messenger of Allah was able to soothe the hearts of the distressed, this example being one of many.
Light-heartedness towards His Wives
In a famous narration, Sayyida A’isha reports: “I went out with the Messenger of Allah on a journey. At that time I was a young girl and was quite slender. The Messenger of Allah told the people, ‘Go on ahead,’ so they went ahead, then he said to me, ‘Come, let us have a race.’ So I raced with him, and I won. He let the matter rest until I had gained weight. Later, I accompanied him on another journey. He told the people, ‘Go on ahead,’ so they went ahead. He said to me, ‘Come, let us have a race.’ So I raced with him, and he won. He began to laugh, and said, ‘This is for that.”” [Ahmad]
To Joke with Honesty
It is reported that an elderly lady went to the Messenger of Allah and asked: “O Messenger of Allah, pray to Allah that I will enter Paradise.” He said jokingly, “O Mother of so-and-so, no old women will enter Paradise.” The old woman went away crying, so the Messenger of Allah said, “Tell her that she will not enter Paradise as an old woman (i.e. she will be youthful), for Allah says: ‘We have created [their Companions] of special creation, and made them virgin-pure [and undefiled].’ [Quran 56:35-36].” [Tirmidhi]
In this way, the Messenger of Allah made a point using his noble humour. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him!
Sayyidina Anas b. Malik reports that there was a man from the desert called Zahir ibn Harun, who would present gifts from the desert to the Messenger of Allah, and the Messenger of Allah would prepare for Zahir what he needed when it was time for him to depart. The Messenger of Allah would say that Zahir was his desert man and he was his townsman; he had much love for him. One day, the Messenger of Allah went to him when he was selling his goods and embraced him from behind, so he could not see who it was. He said, “Let me go, who is this?” But when he turned around and saw the Messenger of Allah, he kept his back close to the Prophet’s blessed chest. Then the Messenger of Allah began to say, “Who will buy a slave?” He said, “O Allah’s Messenger! By Allah, you will find me to be worthless goods.” The Messenger of Allah replied, “But in Allah’s Sight, you are not worthless goods!” [Ahmad]
Notice his kind-hearted ways! Despite being the Messenger of Allah i.e. in the highest position of authority, he was affectionate, warm and loving to those around him.
Love & Delight for His Grandson
Sayyidina Ya’la ibn Murra said, “We went out with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and we were invited to eat. Husayn was playing in the road and the Messenger of Allah raced the people and then spread out his arms. The boy began to run this way and that, and the Messenger of Allah made him laugh until he caught hold of him. He put one of his hands under his chin and the other on his head and then embraced him. Then the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, ‘Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn. Allah loves anyone who loves Husayn. Al-Husayn is one of my distinguished descendants.’” [Bukhari]
Radiance of His Smiling Face
Sayyidina Jarir reports: “Since the time I became Muslim, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, never saw me without smiling at me.” [Bukhari]
The beauty of the Messenger of Allah’s character is matchless, especially in his treatment towards others. These reports are beautiful, not just for the way they are implemented by our beloved Master himself, but because the Messenger of Allah’s worries and duties were far greater than we could ever imagine, let alone carry on our own shoulders, yet he was always at ease with others, always gentle by nature, and always of a cheerful countenance.
May the infinite peace and blessings of Allah be upon him! And upon his Family and Companions.