I started listening to the Qalam Podcast this week. So far I’ve heard Episode 1 and 2, and what I like about the series is that it is an accessible introduction to the life of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Below, a few notes from the listen.
- Seerah is a literary term. It’s the path someone has walked, traversed
- Seerah is everything that has come to us from the life of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.
- Physical descriptions, family life, military life, all of these things are part of the seerah
Why study seerah?
- Our experience of the seerah is often like a fairytale. About things that happened long ago to people we can’t relate to. It’s done like a story. Or our experience is just hearing a list of facts like a Wikipedia page. We are in need of humanizing the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. We are in need of an immersive approach into his life.
- The healthy Muslim has a balance of the study of different things in their life. A healthy dose of every field in his/her life (hadith, fiqh, Qur’an). The companions of the past, they studied the Qur’an and Seerah in depth. Imam Bukhari, his life’s work is 6000 hadiths. That’s very little. But that’s how in depth scholars would go.
- We have to study seerah to extract practical relevant lessons. The life of the Prophet is a practical science on how to live your life.
- The seerah gives us emotional consolation, morals, values, ethics. It’s not simply about halal and haraam.
- We are told to love the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. What makes you want to obey and follow the Prophet, what makes you want to accept him, study him, is your love for him, peace and blessings be upon him. Can’t love the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him if you don’t even know who he is.
- Familiarity leads to developing love. It’s a natural process. It’s how the human heart works. We as an ummah have become so unfamiliar with the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.
Why study the seerah of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him?
1. 33:21 from the Qur’an tells us “Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah (Yusuf Ali translation). The Qur’an suggests an immersive approach to the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him.
2. Humanizes the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him.
3. Studying the seerah allows us to extract practical, relevant lessons from the life of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him. God uses nouns to describe the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, because throughout time the Prophet is the epitome of these qualities.
4. When you don’t know a person, there is little possibility of having love for that person. Need to be intimately familiar with a person in order to love them.
5. Life of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, is an aid in understanding the Qur’an. The teachings of the Qur’an come alive through the teachings of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him. For the past couple of decades the ummah has been in recovery mode. We have become so distant from the sources of our own religion. The Qur’an has become a ceremonial part of our lives. For the past couple of decades we have been in rehabilitation mode. Need to extract practical lessons of how to live our life from the life of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him.
6. When we study the seerah, we are able to see the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him interacting with lots of different people – youth, women, non-Muslims. We know how to interact with others today by looking at the seerah. The Prophet became a Prophet at age 40, but many of the people following the Prophet were youth. Umar al-Khattab, we forget that he was 27, 28 years old when he accepted Islam. He was young! The courageous people of our tradition were young people.
In our communities today we have gender questions. Women are an equal part of our community. We find answers about where the right lines are in the life of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him.
Nobody is busier than the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him and yet he had a family. And he was the best of people to his family. When you read the seerah in detail, you can observe how the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him was with his family. What about the educational process? The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him was sent as a teacher, and we can learn from him how to be teachers.
7. No single human being’s life has been documented in so much detail. Everything about him was observed. The Shamail of Imam Tirmidhi gives us detail, down to the colour of his skin and the shape of his head, peace and blessings be upon him. He was very calm and peaceful to be around. He wouldn’t talk unnecessarily. When he spoke to people, he would turn to people completely, even when he was sitting. He would introduce himself to people, give salaams and ask how they were before asking them for anything. Studying seerah is a lifechanging experience. The Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, his words were brief, comprehensive, profound words. Every people was sent a specific Prophet. And like his words, the Prophet’s being encompasses so much. We have narrations that there were 100,000 Prophets sent. And yet we have the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. He encompasses so much, teaches us so much.
8. For the recovery of the ummah, we have a safe mode. Vast majority of the ummah is in spiritual crisis. Crisis of identity, crisis of iman. When we look at seerah and Qur’an, tells us about this mode. Two things are needed, talim(education) and tarbiyyah (nurturing).
a) Talim is education, indepth, detailed education that the average Muslim needs. Average Muslim needs basic understanding of the Qur’an.
b) Tarbiyyah is the establishment of Muslim identity.
If we need inspiration and reminder of why we need to study the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, the Prophet is the Habib, the Beloved of Allah. The crowning jewel of humanity. He is referred to as Muhammad, al Mustafa. No being has been praised as much as him. No human being has been talked about as much as him. He is Abdullah, the perfect servant of God. He is Allah’s Nabi and Rasul. He is the Khaleel of Allah, the Friend of Allah. He is a mercy for all of humanity and creation of God.