Khaṣʾiṣ al-Nabī (s) (Arabic: خصائص النبي) or the characteristics of the Prophet (s) refer to the characteristics and rulings specific to the Prophet of Islam (s) that distinguish him from other Muslims and other prophets. In jurisprudence, “Khasa’is al-Nabi (s)” refer to the rulings specific about the Prophet (s), but in general usage, they include all unique characteristics of the Prophet (s) and his religion.
The specific characteristics of the Prophet (s) have been classified into four categories: permissions, prohibitions, obligations and merits. Some issues exclusive to the Prophet (s) were: the obligation of night prayer, the prohibition of receiving alms, the prohibition of raising people’s voice above the voice of the Prophet (s), his permission for permanent marriage with more than four women, people’s prohibition of marrying the wives of the Prophet (s) after his death, and being the last of prophets (s).
Muslim scholars have written many books in this field, commonly categorized as “Khasa’is al-Nabi (a)”. The books of al-Khasa'is al-kubra written by Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d. 911/1505), a Sunni scholar, and Khasa'is al-Nabi (s) written by Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Du'al Qummi, a Shiite scholar (d. 350/961) are among the mentioned works.
In jurisprudence, Khasa'is al-Nabi (s) refers to the rulings legislated only about the Prophet (s) and made him distinguished from his people. Of course, this title in general usage refers to all the attributes and characteristics that distinguish the Prophet (s) from other Muslims and other prophets (a), and also includes the characteristics of his ummah and his religion. The word "khasa’is" is the plural form of "khasisa" meaning "characteristic" and "attribute" that distinguishes one person from others.
Multiplicity of Characteristics
In Islamic sources, many characteristics are mentioned for the Prophet (s). For example, in the book al-Khasa'is al-kubra written by Suyuti, about 570 chapters are dedicated to this subject. Of course, according to al-Muhaqqiq al-Karki, the jurists usually discussed the characteristics of the Prophet (s) in the books of jurisprudence, in the discussion regarding marriage; because, most of his characteristics were related to the topic of marriage. But, the multiplicity of attributes mentioned about the Prophet (s) made Muslim scholars, especially Sunni scholars, write independent works in this regard. The book al-Khasa'is al-Kubra written by Jalal al-Din Suyuti (d. 911/1505), a Sunni scholar, and Khasa'is al-Nabi (s) written by Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Du'al Qummi, a Shiite scholar (d. 350/961) are among these works.
In jurisprudence, the characteristics of the Prophet (s) are discussed under the four titles of obligations, prohibitions, permissions and merits. In some sources, prohibitions and obligations are referred to as “Taghlizat” and permissions are referred to as “takhfifat”.
According to Shiite and Sunni sources, some of the specific obligations of the Prophet (s) were as follows:
- Teeth brushing,
- Performing Watr prayer,
- Making sacrifice,
- Paying the debts of a bankrupt Muslim who has died,
- Consulting in affairs: According to Abu al-Hasan Mawardi, a Sunni jurist (d. 450/1058), there is disagreement about what the Prophet (s) should have consulted. Some considered his consulting specific to war and defeating the enemy. Others considered them about worldly and religious matters, and some considered them only about religious matters, so that people became aware of the reasons of the rulings and the methods of ijtihad.
According to Shiite and Sunni sources, some of the prohibitions specific to the Prophet (s), i.e. things which were prohibited only for him, were:
- Marriage with maids and People of the Book through marriage contract,
- Giving zakat and alms to him and his descendants,
- Composing poetry and teaching it,
- Taking off war clothes or putting down the weapons before meeting the enemy,
- Pointing with the eye in permissible issues, such as for giving command.
- Some of the permissions specific to the Prophet (s) were:
- Permanent marriage to more than four women,
- Marriage through gift (that a woman gave herself to him as a gift),
- Non-observance of the “right of distribution” (distribution of his time for sleeping with) between his wives. The “right of distribution” is an Islamic ruling, according to which, it is obligatory for a person who has more than one wife to divide the period of the night between his wives and to be with one of them every night.
- Entering Mecca without wearing ihram,
- “Wisal fasting” (connecting the fast of one day without breaking it to the fast of the next day or continuing the fast until dawn),
- Fighting in the sanctuary of Mecca during the conquest of Mecca,
- Marriage without the consent of the wife’s guardian and the testimony of witnesses,
- Using perfume while wearing ihram,
- Use of Muslims’ foods and drinks to save his life based on the verse “the Prophet (s) is closer to the faithful than their own souls” (Qur'an 33:6).
Merits refer to other characteristics of the Prophet (s) and rulings that Muslims should observe only about the Prophet (a). Some of them were:
- Entitlement of the wives of the Prophet (s) as Umm al-Mu'minin (Mothers of the believers).
- Prohibition of the marriage of the Prophet's (s) wives with others after his death,
- Not raising people's voice above the voice of the Prophet (s),
- Impermissibility of leaving a meeting in which the Prophet (s) was present without his permission,
- The permission for the praying person to greet the Prophet (s) in prayer: which does not invalidate the prayer. (It refers to the second greeting to the Prophet (s) in the last rak'a of the prayer after tashahhud)
- Prioritizing the protection of the Prophet’s (s) life over the believers (If anyone intends to kill the Prophet (s), any Muslim present must sacrifice his life for the Prophet (s).
- Setting up the fear of him in the hearts of his enemies,
- Being the Seal of Prophethood,
- Eternality of the Qur'an.
Philosophy of the Characteristics
Some Muslim scholars have mentioned “philosophies” for the specific rulings and characteristics of the Prophet (s); for example, they mentioned the philosophy of obligations exclusive for the Prophet (s) to be promoting his spiritual rank and the philosophy of his prohibitions to be his purification from them. They have also mentioned the philosophy of the permissible matters for him to be increasing his authority and the philosophy of his merits as drawing people’s attention toward his position.
Barrasi-yi tatbiqi-yi Khasa'is al-Nabi (a) az nigah-i fariqayn by Sayyid Muhammad Naqib. The first part of the book discusses the concept of "Khasa'is al-Nabi (s)". The second part is about the characteristics of the Prophet (s) in the Qur'an and in the third part, the book deals with the effects of recognizing the characteristics of the Prophet (s) and those characteristics of the Prophet (s) which were common with other Infallibles (a). This book has been published by Supreme Leader’s Delegation Office and the Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization in Tehran.
The book Barrasi-yi didgah-ha darbara-yi ekhtisasat-i Payambar-i Khatam (a) az nigah-i Qur'an by Muhammad Sadiq Yusufi Muqaddam has been published in 368 pages in Persian by the Research Institute of Islamic Sciences and Culture in 2012.
- “karama” in its common usage [as “act of wonder”], it refers to extraordinary deeds performed by the friends of God which are not accompanied by their claim of prophethood.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from خصائص النبی in Farsi WikiShia.