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The Sacred Journey to Knowing the Shamā’il of the Messenger of Allah


Knowing the Prophet’s resplendent attributes and his features is a way of permeating the heart with veneration of him. This is vital for the believer, as Allah established His laws through the noble speech of the Messenger of Allah. Therefore, it is only through the veneration of the Messenger that one will venerate the Divine laws and sincerely act upon them and observe their limits. This will lead the believer to prefer them over the comforts of the ego, its habits and desires, which distract the believer from his Master and Creator. This is the meaning of cutting off to Allah, for Whose sake humanity has been created.

"I have not created mankind or the jinn but to worship Me." [51:56].

Knowing the Shamā’il is a means to eternal happiness, everlasting greatness, and the pleasure of Allah, which is the desire and hope of every aspirant and seeker.


Knowing the Shamā’il comprises knowledge of the Prophet’s beauty and his virtues. This is a means of attaining love for him, for the means of love, even though there are many; they rotate around two things: Beauty (ḥusn) and good to others (Iḥsān). Souls are naturally inclined to a love of beauty just as they are inclined to a love of those who do good to them.

No beauty can match the beauty of the Prophet, and no good can match his favour upon us. Every good and blessing, whether great or small, is from him and has appeared through his appearance. Therefore, love for him is the spirit of faith, which is the essence of every happiness and greatness.

Our love for him is a great favour upon us, for it yields his companionship and closeness to him. Companionship with him, as attested in the hadith of "You are with the one whom you love" and the hadith, "A man is with the one whom he loves."

Al-Hāfiz Abu Naᶜīm has related from Mus’ar bin Kuddam from Attiya, who said, "I was sitting with Ibn ᶜUmar, when a man said, “O Abu ᶜAbd ur-Raḥmān, I wish that I could have seen the Prophet.” Ibn ᶜUmar said to him, “What would you have done?” The man said, “I would have—by Allah—believed in him and kissed his forehead.” Ibn ᶜUmar then said, “Shall I give you good news?” The man said, “Of course, O Abu ᶜAbd ur-Raḥmān!” Ibn ᶜUmar said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah say, "Love for me is not combined in the heart of a believer, who then loves me, except that Allah forbids his body from the Fire.”

In Service and Honour

Striving to know his Shamā’il is a service to the Prophet’s honour, a praise of him and an attachment to him. It is also a reverence of his rank, closeness to him, a love and affection for him and an affiliation with him. It is an exposition of the graces of the bounties of the praised one. It is an extension of the hands of neediness, desperation, pleading and in return receiving abundance. It is an opening of the doors of the treasures which come from him, for when the generous are praised, they are rewarded with gifts generously.

When Al-ᶜAbbās bin Mardas praised the Prophet, he received a hundred camels. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, took off his mantle and gave it to Kaᶜb bin Zuhair when he praised him in his poetry, saying:

The Messenger is a light whose illumination is sought – a light gleaming like an Indian sword from the unsheathed swords of Allah.
Knowing the Prophet's shamā’il exposes a person to the Divine and merciful graces. The least amount of affiliation with the Prophet brings the utmost benefit and honour, for there is no creation that Allah has created that is more noble to Him than Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Ibn ᶜAbbās has said, "Allah has not created a rank greater than the rank of the Prophet." Therefore, the servant receives according to that which befits the nobility of the Prophet.

For the Vision of the Prophet

Knowing his attributes helps you to see him. There are many great benefits and unique blessings in the vision of the Prophet whilst awake or in a dream. If you want to understand this, then look at the Prophet’s statement, "Allah has servants; whoever looks at the face of any of them will receive a happiness after which there is no wretchedness." And his saying, "For they are a people, whoever sits with them will never be wretched." They have not received this honour except through the Prophet’s light shining upon them and his diffusing help within them.

Experiencing His Beauty

There is delight and sweetness in mentioning and listening to the Shamā’il of the Beloved; peace and blessings be upon him. This is a type of arrival, closeness, and companionship with him because of the enjoyment that lies in hearing and in mentioning the characteristics of the Beloved, which is the means to his presence via the heart.

If a person has missed seeing him with the eyes, he should not miss the joy of hearing about him with the ears, which leads to seeing him with insight. This is why it is said that sometimes the ears fall in love before the eyes.

Undoubtedly, the book of the Shamā’il is the best composition regarding his features and character. For the one who reads this book, it is as though he has seen the Prophet and has witnessed his noble excellences, which are contained in every chapter.


Reviving the Heart

Mentioning the Prophet’s attributes revives the heart, expanding it with love and yearning. Such recitation, imbued with beauty and humility, echoes the spirit of the Qur’anic recitation, as noted by Shaykh ᶜAbd ur-Raḥīm al-Bur’i. The praise of the Messenger of Allah becomes the source of ultimate happiness, a balm for the heart, and a renewal of zeal towards goodness.
In this journey through the Shamā’il, the believer finds a profound connection with the Prophet, a path that leads to spiritual revival and a life enriched by his eternal wisdom.

- Extract from the Book Salutations of the Prophetic Portrait for the Vision of the Beloved by Shaykh Muhammad Sadiq Alawi.

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Dec 17, 2023
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MashaAllah, Jazak-Allah Khayran

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