After the Qur’an, Seerah is the most important source of learning because it contains details of the life of the person to whom the Qur’an was revealed. One cannot truly comprehend the Qur’an without studying the life of the person to whom it was revealed.
When one ruminates on the creation of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, he realizes that the Paradise is the most beautiful creation, after that it is the human being. One beautiful creation was created for the other. Paradise is our real home; it was where Prophet Adam ‘alayhi salaam was sent to dwell after being created. However, this home comes with a price. Only he will live there who is beloved to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. And who is that? They are all those who please Him. How can we please Him? By following the footsteps of the most beloved to Him: Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
In Surah Al-Ahzab, it appears:
“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often.” (33: 21)
Stating the purpose of our life, the Qur’an says, “[He] Who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed…” [Al-Mulk 67: 2]. Doing good deeds, is the purpose of our life. How are our deeds? Are they good or bad? If they are good, are they according to the Sunnah of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam? We have learned in the Qur’an Tafseer that no deed is accepted unless it is proven from the Qur’an and according to the way of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
So, what is Seerah? It is an Arabic word whose linguistic meaning is: way or path. The dictionary defines Seerah as conduct, demeanor, the way of life, attitude, behavior, history or biography. Therefore, Seeratun Nabi means the way of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It should be noted that the word can be used for anyone, for example, the Seerah of Abu Bakr radhiAllahu ‘anhu but since it is so commonly used for the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that now whenever someone hears the word ‘Seerah’ they attach it to the life of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
People read the biographies of other successful people so that they too can follow their path and achieve success. However, the truth is that the truly successful one is only Prophet Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. This is not something that only the Qur’an testifies but some non-Muslims too have testified to his being the best. Micheal Hart declared the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam to be the most successful person. In his book titled: The 100, A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, he placed Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam on the top (Number One position) and wrote,
“My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels.”
When we look at the people among us, we have two extremes. Those who study the religion are almost completely cut off of the worldly matters and are only skilled in their field. Those who chase the world are so engrossed in it that they have no concern with the religion. But when one reflects on the life of Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam we see that he lived a balanced life. He was devoted to religion yet not ignorant of the worldly matters. He was the best leader, the best husband, the best father and the best companion.
According to a rough estimate, 500,000 books have been written about him – such is his personality. It is a human desire to be successful therefore his personality even attracted the non-Muslims. They studied his lifestyle and were motivated to write books on him. However, it should be remembered that not every book on Seerah is perfectly correct. It is another human trait to exaggerate things, especially when describing the one that we love dearly. We cannot declare these books false but one should be careful when reading them.
One of the best books on Seerah is Ar-Raheeq al-Makhtoom or The Sealed Nectar by Safi-ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri.
How does the Qur’an Address the Prophet?
The Qur’an says about him,
“Certainly, did Allah confer [great] favor upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His ayaat and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error.” [Aal-Imran 3: 164]
“O Prophet, indeed We have sent you as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and a warner. And one who invites to Allah, by His permission, and an illuminating lamp. And give good tidings to the believers that they will have from Allah great bounty.” [Al-Ahzab 33: 45 – 46]
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala calls him:
► Shahid [a witness]
► Mubashir [bringer of good tidings]
► Nadheer [warner]
► Da’ee ilaAllah [one who invites to Allah]
► Sirajan Muneera [illuminating lamp]
Each time that we hear his name Mubashir, we should be overjoyed; he was the bringer of good tidings for the believers. Every command that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gave us, he was the first one to act on it and showed us the best of ways to perform a deed. Therefore, do not take the study of the Seerah as a burden, rather be delighted. He was a human being to whom the Qur’an was revealed. He is a role model for us to be admired and followed. Every aspect of his life has been recorded and preserved for us so now we have no excuse to say we have no guidance.
We should also remember that following the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is not limited to dressing up a certain way, using miswak [wooden toothbrush] or growing a beard. It is the conduct too that we have to emulate. He never lied, cheated or hurt others. He was called Sadiq and Amin [the most trustworthy] by the disbelievers of Makkah. People would deposit their valuables with him and have no fear of their being stolen or lost.
The name Muhammad echoes 24/7 around the globe each time the call to prayer is given. It is the most popular name in the world. How many people have been named after him? In the Muslim homes, it is a tradition to place Muhammad in the beginning of the name of a male child such as Muhammad Faisal, Muhammad Anwer. In some cultures, Muhammad itself is the first name. There is no other person that ever lived in history who had so many people named after him like Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
The meaning of the name too is beautiful. It means the praised one. Truly, he is the praised one. Each time that we hear his name we praise him and send peace and blessings on him. It is obligatory for the Muslims to say Salaam when reading or hearing his mention. SalAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.
One of the signs of the End Times is that while there will be many followers of Muhammad salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam only a handful of them will study the Seerah. And today, we are living in those times. How many of us have studied the Seerah and with what love or intention do we study it? Why did this happen? It is because people abandoned the way of the beloved salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and adopted the way of others.
Now as we begin the study of Seerah, in sha Allah, do not read it for the sake of reading only but try to draw lessons from it. We are not only acquiring knowledge but our intention should be to refine our deeds as well especially for those who study or teach religion. As his Ummah, it is our responsibility to mold ourselves according to his Sunnah and to teach it to others.
[Adapted from the talks of Dr. Farhat Hashmi on the book: Tajjaliyat e Nabuwat by Maulana Safi-ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri. Some work has also been cited from the talks of Imam Anwar Al-Awlaki and Imam Ibn Katheer’s book: The Life of Prophet Muhammad]