When the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was rejected from Taif, its people threw stones at him to the point of making him bleed. The Prophet then made a beautiful supplication in which he said: “As long as you are not displeased with me, I do not care what I face”. This was the backbone of the character of the Prophet.
When he finished this duaa’ the Angel Jibreel came to him and told him that if he wished Allah would send an angel that would destroy the city of Taif. But the Prophet answered: “I rather hope that Allah will raise from among their descendant people who will worship Him without ascribing any partners to him”.
This is one of the many examples of the Prophet’s mercy. He would wish well even to his enemies. Allah tells us in the Quran that he was “a mercy to the worlds” (21:107). He was himself a manifestation of Allah’s mercy towards humanity. The Prophet was a mercy and always acted in the most merciful manner.
This is also an example of how the Prophet, peace be upon him, embodied the meanings of the Quran. Allah tells us:
Repel that which is evil with that which is better.Quran, 41:34
The Prophet, instead of wishing harm to those that had treated him unjustly, was merciful to them and whished that Allah would guide them.
This is the reason why when Aisha, may Allah be pleased with her, was asked to describe the character of the Prophet, she answered:
Do you not read the Quran? The character of the Prophet of Allah was the Quran.Muslim
What Does “the character of the Prophet of Allah was the Quran” Mean?
Imam an-Nawawi said, in his book Sharh Muslim -which is a commentary on Sahih Muslim- that this means he acted following the Quran, adhering to its limits, following its etiquette, paying heed to its lessons and parables, pondering its meanings and reciting it properly.
From this, we understand that the Prophet, peace be upon him, embodied and exemplified the moral qualities that the Quran enjoins and that it guided all his words and actions. The Prophet embodied these qualities even before the Quran was revealed, for the meanings of the Quran are eternal and so his character was always guided by them.
We can see an example of this in the famous story transmitted in the Seerah of Ibn Ishaq about how the Prophet helped settle a quarrel amongst the Quraish regarding the reconstruction of the Kaaba.
The Quraish had agreed to reconstruct the Kaaba due to its decaying condition. When the construction finished, they disputed which clan would have the honor of setting the Black Stone back in its place. Failing to agree, they decided they would trust the first person to appear. Fortunately for everyone, that person was the Prophet, peace be upon him. The Quraish said: “It is al-Amin” meaning the trusted one, and they sighed in relief.
The Prophet was known by his righteousness and good judgement, and they trusted his verdict. The Prophet settled the dispute by proposing that the Black Stone be placed on a cloth and that each clan hold a corner of the cloth, then he would place the Black Stone in its final place with his hands.
This illustrates how the Prophet, peace be upon him, exemplified the moral qualities of trustworthiness, righteousness and good judgment that the Quran would later enjoin upon us all.
Embodying the Meanings of the Quran
The written or recited Quran is a manifestation in this world of the Speech of Allah, that transmits to us the meaning of his Eternal Speech in a manner that we can understand.
Saying that the character of the Prophet, peace be upon him, was the Quran, means that he understood and embodied the meanings of the Quran, not simply the words.
The Quran teaches us to have little regard for this life and rather hope for the next one. There are countless examples of how the Prophet understood and lived by this reality.
On one occasion, he was with Jibreel and an angel came to them. The angel said that he was sent by their Lord to offer the Prophet if he wanted to be a prophet-king or a servant-messenger. The Prophet chose to be a servant-messenger (Musnad Ahmed).
That was his character. He accumulated no wealth and treated everyone generously and fairly. He used to go out and distribute all his wealth before going to sleep. He was so generous and concerned for others that sometimes his own family would go hungry.
The Nature of the Prophetic Mission
The mission of the Prophets is to transmit to us these eternal meanings by their words and actions. Through this, they guide us to a correct belief and to lead a life accordingly.
The actions of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, are an example and explanation of the words of the Quran. This is confirmed by the Hadith in which the Prophet, peace be upon him, says:
I have left you with two matters which will never lead you astray, as long as you hold to them: the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of his Prophet.Al-Muwatta
The most elevated character is that of the Prophet, and the character of the Prophet was the Quran. The Prophet said:
I have been sent to perfect good character.Al-Muwatta
The Prophet was the perfection of excellent character and was sent to teach us the best manners. The best manners are those that we find in the Quran. If we want to act according to the Quran, then we only have to follow the Sunnah. If we do that, we would be walking the footstep of the Prophet, peace be upon him.