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Lecture 1 Introduction to The Seerah of Prophet Muhammad: Makkan Period.
“Seerah” • We call the “Biography of the Prophet (saw)” in Arabic “Seerat Al-Nabee”. • What does the word ‘Seerah” mean? Linguistic definition: “a path” Walking is called “sayr” –in Arabic when we say, “Such and such is walking” we say “Sara Fulaan” So it is “a path that a person takes during his lifetime.”
Hans Werner Dictionary? • According to the Hans Wehr Dictionary “Seerah” means (will have on my blog): “conduct, comportment, demeanor, way of life, behavior, attitude, position, reaction, way of acting and biography.”
Is “Seerah” applicable to Rasool Allah ONLY? • No! We can use it to mean the “biography” of anyone—really the life of any person. However, we have become so used to using it in reference to the life of the Prophet (saw). So if you just say “Seerah” to Muslims they understand that we mean that of the Prophet (saw). But we can say, “The Seerah of Abu Bakr” The “Seerah of Umar” “The Seerah of so and so.” It just means the “life of a person”—in which case, we are studying the life of the greatest (saw)
What is the importance of studying the Seerah? • First, The life of Muhammad (saw) is the history of Islam—the concise history of Islam) His life contains: 1) incidents that will help us in everything that we would need to know in our life of Dawah. 2) The history of our religion.
The son of Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas (Muhammad ibn Abi Waqqas)—whose father Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas was one of the ten who were given glad tidings of Jannah] says, “ Our father would teach us the battles [the seerah of the prophet], and he would tell us these are the traditions of your fathers so study them.” They used to refer to the “Seerah” as “Maghazee” which means “the battles.”
Why Maghazee [the battles]? The latter part of the life of the Prophet (saw) was spent in battle—which is the Madinah Period. So they used the word “Maghazee” to refer to the whole life of the Prophet (saw).
Ali ibn Al Hussein ibn Abi Talib (the grandson of Ali Ibn Abi Talib) said, “We were taught the Seerah of the Prophet (saw) as we were taught Qur’an.” • That was how important Seerah for them, they would study it as they would Qur’an. And that makes sense, because if we want to study the life of Musa (as) where do we go?
Qur’an!!!! Life of Essa (as) we do the same But to study the life of Muhammad (saw) where do we go? [there are bits and pieces mentioned in Qur’an] but not much details as we do Musa (as). So, we have to go to his Seerah. Why do you think this is so?
Second • To develop proper love for Rasool Allah (saw). Loving Muhammad is Ibadah [worship]. It is part of our faith. He said, “One of you does not attain true faith until I am more beloved to you than your parents and your children and the whole world.”
Umar ibn Al Khattab and this hadith! • One day Umar came to the Prophet (saw) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, I love you more than I love anyone else except myself.” Rasool Allah (saw) said, “Until you love me [you don’t attain complete faith until you love me more than you love anything, including yourself.” So Umar (raa) went to think about it, and then came back and said, “Now I love you more than myself.” [Homework] Prophet’s respond, “Now you have attained faith.”
Does the Ummah love Muhammad today? • Yes, the ummah does love Muhammad today, but love cannot be deep and sincere unless you know the person, if only shallow information then you cannot really love the person. This is especially true with Muhammad (saw). The more you know him and are impressed with his personality the more you will love him.
Shallow information among the masses of the people who love him, does not really guarantee a deep love for him. • The more the companions knew him the more they loved him take for example Amr Ibn al A’as [he was one of the staunchest enemies, top plotters against Islam] Amr ibn Al Aa’as became Muslim and on his deathbed his son says that he started to weep. His son asked him why. He said,
“O my father did not Rasool Allah give you glad tidings[it is reported that the Prophet (saw) said, “Amr Ibn Al A’as has believed,” and this means that he has attained faith, this is a witness that he is a believer not just a Muslim. A higher level] So his son was trying to console him. How come you are crying before your death.” Amr ibn Al Aa’as turned around and said, “O my son I have gone through
3hree stages in my life: 1) The most despised man to me was Muhammad and my desire was to get a hold of him and kill him. That was my wish. It was my aspiration. If I died at that time I would have surely been in hellfire. 2) Then Allah put the love of Islam in my heart. And I went to the Muhammad and I said, “O Muhammad I want to become Muslim. I want to pledge allegiance to you. Extend your hand.”
When the Prophet (saw) extended his hand I pulled mine away. So the Prophet asked, “What’s wrong?” I said, “I have a condition to make.” “What condition?” “ I want you to pardon me, give me clemency [he knew his crimes in the past against Muslims was enough for execution. He did not want the Prophet to hold him accountable for them] The Prophet (saw) , “O Amr don’t you know that Islam erases everything before it. Hijra erases
everything before it, and hajj erases everything before it.” He continues, “At that stage my worse enemy became the most beloved person to me. I loved him so much and respected him so much that I could not get a full glimpse of his face. Whenever I would see him I would look down. And if you would ask me to describe him to you today, I would not be able to. If I had died at that stage I would have hoped to go to Jannah.
3) And later on came things and we don’t know where we stand [hadith is long and does not concern us.] ‘ Suhail Ibn ‘Amr’s testimony of the love of the companions for the Prophet (saw). Suhail ibn ‘Amr was an international negotiator [ he was well connected] who had been in the courts of the Roman, Persian emperor etc. His account when he went to Al Madinah to negotiate with the prophet when he reported to Quraysh:
When Suhail bin Amr went back to report to Quraish, he told them “I visited the Roman emperor, I visited the Persian emperor, I visited Al Najashi (the Negus) of Abyssinia, but I have never in my life seen a leader that is so loved by his followers and so respected by his followers then Muhammad SAW.”
He carries on:“I saw amazing things; Muhammad SAW would be making Wudu (ablution before prayer) , and the Sahaba would be rushing to grab the water dripping from his body.” He said to them do whatever you want, these are people who will never give up their leader, they would sacrifice their lives first.
State of education in the Muslim world? Study of Seerah NOT mandatory in our schools—yet despite the fact he (saw) is still the most beloved figure. His name is the most common name—no other person so loved to the extent that almost every family has a Muhammad in their family. Muhammad Al Asher, and Muhammad Aqbal, Muhammad Suleiman, Muhammad Haroon . . .
His name most frequently mentioned name in the world! Around the clock, there will be a minaret calling to prayer, and mentioning the name of Muhammad (saw). Why? Muslims are worldwide. So in every time zone, you have Muslim calling out to prayer, every minute of the day. It is part of Shahadha- “Ashhadu An La Illah . . . .” And in every prayer, and in every “reversion” to Islam.
What is the meaning of the name Muhammad? It means “praised one.” There is no one who is praised as much and as frequently as Muhammad (saw). His name really fulfills its meaning—whenever we hear his name we have to praise him as well. What do we say?
Allah says in the Qur’an: “Say, if it be that your fathers, sons, brothers, mates, or your kindred. The wealth that you have gained, the commerce [business] that you fear a decline in, or the dwellings in which you delight are dearest to you than Allah or his Messenger or striving in his cause. Then wait until Allah brings about his decision. And Allah guides not the rebellious.” (9:24)
LOVE for Allah (SWT), His Messenger (saw) and Islam be paramount to everything else. This past halaqa Ka’ab Ibn Malek’s story!
Third To follow the way of the Prophet (saw)-- Ibn Hazm says, “ Whoever seeks the preeminence of the Hereafter, the wisdom of this life, the just purpose, and the embodiment of morality and character, let him follow Muhammad the prophet of Allah.” He is the best character—and by studying his Seerah we will be better equipped to follow his way. His Khuluq was that of the Qur’an.
fourth • Understanding Qur’an: • Some ayat are independent of circumstances of their revelation—such as Al Raqayeq, and Al Akhira. • But some are dependent on the event that they were revealed—prior, concurrent, and after. • Seerah gives us explanation. Like Surat Al Ahzab =battle of Al Ahzab, in Surat Al Imran= major section based on dialog with Christians of delegation from Najran.
The latter part of Al Imran, is the battle of Uhud. The details of the battle are not mentioned in the Qur’an, so we have to turn to the Seerah.
Fifth • The Seerah illustrates the methodological steps of the Islamic Movt. The Dawah and Establishment of Islam went thru stages: • Secret Dawah • Public Dawah • Jihad (struggles) Muneer Ghadhban says, “We believe that this methodological progression of the Prophet's life is divinely directed. For Allah guided his steps and it was not a result of reaction to emerging circumstances.”
Not haphazard, but planned by Allah (SWT) so they are a guidance for us in our attempts—MANUAL-- for us to establish Islam again. Rasheed Ridha “Were it not for the education and training, verbal education would not suffice. The Seerah taught them how to be guided by the Qur’an and how to be just and modest in all matters.”
In other words! Quran and Sunnah are verbal teaching, but how do we apply these verbal teachings? By looking at the application of Rasool Allah (saw) and the companions. They took verbal teachings and translated them into actions.
Very unique about Muslims! Only Ummah that has preserved this, other religions have lost trace and sight of the teachings of their Prophets. But know how Quran and Sunnah were practiced and applied. e.g. It is related that 'Adi ibn Hatim said, "When it was revealed, 'Eat and drink until you can clearly discern the white thread from the black thread', I got a black string and a white
string and put them under my pillow. I began to look at them during the night, but it was not clear to me. In the morning I went to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and mentioned that to him and he said, 'That means the blackness of the night and the whiteness of the day.'"
Rasool Allah (saw) taught the companions how to interpret the ayah (not dependent on dark room and string)—we are shown through the Ahadeeth of the Prophet and the companions how to implement the rulings in the Qur’an. NEGLECT OF THE SUNNAH IS A HUGE PROBLEM!!!
six Studying seerah is Ibadah— • Not to entertain ourselves, • There is ajr, rewards in doing this. • We are worshipping Allah (SWT) by coming together to study the story of the Prophet (saw). • This is a halaqa, so a session of dhikr. Expect it to be a gathering surrounded by angels, that Allah (SWT) will shower us with his mercy and tranquility and mention us in a gathering better than it.
Allah says, “Say (O beloved Prophet, to mankind): If you love Allah, then follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” (3:31)
Seven! Developing a Muslim identity • Global culture forced down the throats of everybody on the face of the earth—it is protected and propagated. • Thomas Friedman a writer for the New York Times said, “The hidden hand of the market, cannot survive without a hidden fist.” McDonald will not flourish without Donald Douglas the designer of the F15.
We’re not dealing with a culture that is benign, it is one that gives you no choice. It is a Global Culture that is intolerant of anything else!!!! ““To Destroy a People You Must First Sever Their Roots.” Alexander Solzhenitsyn a well-known and respected Russian dissident.
He wanted to warn people everywhere of the dangers of powerful people in leadership positions. It is a strong and sobering warning that all free men should think about. • SLOWLY BUT SURELY other cultures are being wiped out slowly off of the face of the earth.
It is not here to co-exist, but to replace all others. The only ideology standing up to this global culture is Islam. As Muslims living in the West, we are suffering a serious identity crisis. We practice Islam, but the Islamic identity is lost—the person would have more in common with a Rock star of Soccer Player than he would have with a companion of the Prophet.
How many know the names of all the Prophets? Or the companions? Maybe do a survey among youth! But ask them the names of their favorite soccer team, pop band etc. How can we counter that—develop an Islamic identity is by: 1) Having a strong knowledge of Islamic history—life of the Prophets;
life of the companions, general history after that. (The study of OUR history is our lifeline, our umbilical cord) We are an extension and part of a glorious Ummah. We do not want our roots severed, but want them to run deep. 2) By being part of the worldwide Muslim Ummah—our local identity should not over ride our Muslim identity. So, American Muslim etc., should over ride your Islamic identity. Islam came to abolish idea of nation state.
Our loyalty is to Allah (SWT), the Prophet (saw) and the Ummah. We need to learn about what goes on in the Ummah—think of events in Palestine, Kashmir etc. as if happening in our own homes. To make our roots go deep-an important ingredient is to learn the Seerah.
Eight • The life of Muhammad (saw) is a testimony of his prophet hood. The greatest miracle of the prophet is the Qur’an—and then the rest of his miracles. • Just by studying his life, it evident he is a prophet. 40 years= normal life—best part was his character [normalcy; not influential in society, no aspirations to become a leader, did not have any political roles]
BOOM after 40= he brought in a change that would change the world forever. FULL OF IRONIES! OXYMORONS!! He was illiterate, and presents the world with the greatest book ever produced. When he achieved in 23 years, attests to the fact that he is a Prophet (saw).
The Seerah is testimony of his Prophet hood –DALAYEL AL NUBUWAH— HE BECAME a political, religious leader, law maker, imam, teacher, head of a large household. Within 23 years—Impossible except with the help of Allah. We are studying the life of the greatest man who ever set foot on the earth.
Whatever benchmark you want to use to prove his greatness, he will always be the greatest. Michael Hart says: Analysis! His choosing of the Prophet as indisputably the greatest man, compelled him to respond to this readers would question, even disagree. He is apologetic because he is compelled by the facts. He feels he has no hand in it.
If we dissect his achievements! • As military leader= the best • Religious leader=the best • Political leader= the best etc. etc. He is AL MUSTAPHA--which means the CHOSEN ONE!!! BY WHOM? ALLAH (SWT).
Sources used • Seerah of Ibn Katheer (Katheer did not write a book called Seerah, he wrote an encyclopedia of history called the “The Beginning and the End.” And it is literally that! From creation- when people enter paradise and hellfire. One of these volumes is about the life of the Prophet. . . • The Sealed Nectar—which is the book assigned for this class. Available online for free. See blog.
Seerah as a Science! Traditionally Seerah was a separate science from hadith, even though they cross/overlap in some areas. Seerah had different set of rules than hadith—scholars of hadith who were very stringent/ very strict in their rules. While the scholars of seerah were more flexible. WHY? 1) When they were dealing with hadith and drawing AHKAM—rulings-- they wanted to know that they were basing their rulings on