Is there any information that the sweat of the Prophet smelled like musk?

The Details of the Question

​Is there any information showing that the Prophet (pbuh) did not smell bad no matter what happened and that the sweat of the prophet smelled like musk?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Two of the hadiths regarding the issue are as follows:

Anas narrates: “I have never touched (seen) any silk and brocade as soft as the softness of the palm of the Prophet. I have never smelt any fragrance or sweat nicer than the fragrance or sweat of the Prophet (pbuh).” (1)

Anas also narrates the following: Once, the Prophet (pbuh) came to our house and slept; he was in sweat. My mother brought a bottle and was trying to fill the bottle with his sweat. Then, he woke up and asked, ‘O Umm Sulaym! What are you doing?’ She said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! This your sweat; I will mix it with our perfume; your sweat is the best smell.’” (2)

To sum up, the following is stated in hadith books: “The skin and sweat of the Prophet smelled like musk and ambergris; when he shook hands with a person, that person felt his smell all day; when he caressed a child’s head, it was possible to distinguish that child among other children.” (3)

Acting upon those narrations, the scholars deduced that the smell of the Prophet originated not from the perfume he used but from the natural, nice fragrance of his sweat. That Umm Sulaym, who was the foster aunt of the Prophet, put the sweat of the Prophet (pbuh) in her perfume and the statement of Ishaq b. Rahawayh, who was the teacher of Bukhari, that “It is not the smell of the perfume that the Prophet wears but his own smell” (4) explain the narration that the Prophet smelled nice.  

Qastallani holds the same view and states the following about the Prophet’s smelling nice: “It is an attribute of the Prophet to smell nice without wearing perfume.” (5)

Nawawi includes the following view while interpreting the hadiths stating that the sweat of the Prophet (pbuh) smelled nicer than musk and that it was used to produce perfume:

“The smell of the Prophet is mentioned in those hadiths. It is a grace of Allah to the Prophet.”

According to scholars, this beautiful smell exists on the Prophet even if he does not wear perfume; it is an attribute of him. However, he always wore perfume because he received revelation when he met angels and held meetings with Muslims.” (6)

This understanding about the Prophet is common among previous scholars; it is also a widely accepted and common view today. (7)

The general picture that emerges from those narrations and the views of Islamic scholars is that the nice smell of the Prophet's sweat originated from his own body and that his sweat and body always smelled nice even if he wore no external perfume because it was just one of the blessings that Allah bestowed on him.

1) Bukhari, Manaqib, 20; Muslim, Fadail, 81-82.
2) Muslim, Fadail, 83.
3) see Bukhari, Isti’dhan, 41; Muslim, Fadail, 83-85; at-Tirmidhi, Birr, 69; an-Nasai, Zinat,118; ad-Darimi, Muqaddima, 10; Ahmad, Musnad, III, 222, 227, 265, 267; Qadi Iyad, Abul-Fadl al-Yahsubi, ash-Shifa bi Ta’rifi Huquqil-Mustafa, Darul-Fikr, Beirut 1409/1988, pp. 48-51; Suyuti, al-Khasais, I, 114-116; Darimi, Muqaddima 10; Ibn Abu Shayba, al-Musannaf, VII, 427; Ibn Hibban, al-Ihsan fi taqribi Sahihi Ibn Hibban (published by Shuayb al-Arnaut), I-XVIII, Beirut 1412/1991, XIV, 211; Bayhaqi, Abu Bakr Ahmad b. Husayn, Dalailun-nubuwwa wa ma‘rifatu ahwali sahibish-sharia (published by Abdulmu‘ti Qal‘aji), I-VII, Beirut 1405/1985, I, 254-255.
4) Qadi Iyad, Shifa, 1/63.
5) Qastallani, Mawahib, II, 310; an-Nabhani, Yusuf b. Ismail, al-Anwarul-Muhammadiya Minal-Mawahibul-Ladunniya, Darul-Bashair, Damascus, 1414/1994, p. 240.
6) Nawawi, Muhyiddin, Sahihu Muslim bi Sharhin-Nawawi, Daru Ihyait-Turathil-Arabi, Beirut nd. XV, 85
7) see Yardım, Ali, Peygamberimiz’in Şemâili, İstanbul 1997, p. 280; Bayraktar, İbrâhim, Hz. Peygamber’in Şemâili, İstanbul 1990, pp. 56-57.

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