Why did the Prophet wear a silver ring and what was its meaning?
Islam prohibits men to adorn themselves like women. The only thing a man can afford is a ring on his finger, however, this ring must not be made of gold. This ban was delivered to the Prophet by Allah’s Angel Jibril. At first, the Messenger of Allah had a ring made for him of gold. But God’s angel appeared before him and told him that for men gold is Haram.
This is how, after the Prophet’s return from the miraj (ascent to Heaven), the Lord started slowly revealing to His Messenger His Commandments one after another. This is how, step by step, the code of Islamic Laws began taking shape to become the best collection of rules on earth for pious people who wish to be acquitted on the Day of Judgement. The testament in respect of gold was not delivered to the Prophet during the miraj, however, after its completion the Lord saw men’s tendency to use for adornment the metal which is employed as a measure of value and which thus being a profane, worldly asset cannot lead to spiritual elevation, and He sent His Angel to bring this message to the Prophet and warn people against using gold.
This is how the story is narrated in an authentic Hadith by Imam Al-Bukhari: “Abdullah Ibn Umar [the Prophet’s companion, the son of Caliph Uthman] narrates that Allah’s Messenger wore a gold ring and placed its stone towards the palm of his hand and had the name ‘Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah’ engraved on it. The people also started wearing gold rings like it, but when the Prophet saw them wearing such rings, he threw away his own ring and said. “I will never wear it,” [after the revelation brought to him by Angel Jibril] and then wore a silver ring, whereupon the people too started wearing silver rings. Ibn Umar added: After the Prophet, Abu Bakr [Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, the first Rashidun Caliph (632-634) who succeeded the Prophet as the ruler] wore the ring, and then Umar [Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second Rashidun Caliph (634-644)] and then Uthman [Uthman ibn Affan, the third Rashidun Caliph (644-656) during whose rule the Holy Quran was codified into one single book] wore it till it fell in the Aris well from Uthman.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, 5866)
The Prophet used this ring as a signet, a seal. Anas ibn Malik, a companion of the Messenger of God and a narrator of authentic hadiths thus described it: “The Prophet had made for him a silver ring and got engraved on it ‘Muhammad, Messenger of Allah’ and said to the people ‘I have got made a ring of silver and engraved in it these words ‘Muhammad, Messenger of Allah’. So none should engrave these words like this engravement.” (Sahih Muslim, 2092a).
Anas bin Malik also told another story: “When Allah’s Messenger decided to write letters to the Byzantine Emperor, his Companions told him that they would not read a letter unless it is sealed. Then Allah’s Messenger had a silver ring made for himself, its shape is so vivid in my mind as if I see its brightness in the band of Allah’s Messenger and its engravement was ‘Muhammad, Messenger of Allah’”. (Sahih Muslim, 2092c)
The words ‘Muhammad, Messenger of Allah’ (Muhammad Rasulullah) were engraved on three lines; the first line carried the word ‘Allah’, beneath it was the word ‘Rasul’ and further down the word ‘Muhammad’. The Hadiths narrate to us that the Prophet used to wear his silver ring at first on the little finger of his left hand, then on the little finger of his right hand and he forbade his followers to wear rings on the middle and third fingers of their hands. The Prophet’s ring, after it was gone from Caliph Uthman, has never been found. However, the Prophet’s commandment remains: the only adornment a man can afford is a silver ring on his little finger.