Assalamualaikum. This is something new that I’m come across and I would like to start sharing this info to my readers. This come about after I went through the Meaningful Prayer course. In tashahhud, we give selawat to the Prophet. But we have doing it many times for many years, but we do not feel the importance of it. Why do we send salam to him in our prayer? Because he has done so much to us and for us to feel that, we need to learn about his life – seerah. Qalaminstitute has initiated this move to make us know him and as I go through the podcast, I would like to make this notes (for myself) and also sharing it to you. I hope that you would benefit from this. For maximum benefit, I suggest you go through the podcast yourself. I shared the link at the end of the notes.
Sorry that this course is in English. The sessions were in English and I find it easier if I remain it in English. Plus, it would take more time if I were to translate it.
Seerah Nabi – Introduction
Seerah is a literary term. Literally, it means ‘path’. It’s the path someone has walked, traversed. Also it means all the aspects of the person. As Allah use in Surah Taha:21
قَالَ خُذْهَا وَلَا تَخَفْ سَنُعِيدُهَا سِيرَتَهَا الْأُولَىٰ
(Allah) said, “Seize it, and fear not: We shall return it at once to its former condition”
Meaning, returning the condition of the staff to its original situation. Therefore, original situation could be its physical form, its size, its character and so on. So seerah also means how someone looks, his aspects, his nature, his bearing.
In technical term, Seerah is everything that has come to us from the life of the Prophet. It includes his 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. We are in need of an immersive approach into his life. Not only taking the technical – hukum from the hadith. That means not only knowing about the hukum on certain matters.
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). This is in comparison to the people who say that we should only study the Quran, or study the hadis, etc. We can’t be studying only one aspect of the religion. We need to have basic knowledge of every aspect of the religion. The companions and scholars of the past, they studied the Qur’an and Seerah in depth. Imam Bukhari, his life’s work is 6,000 hadiths. That’s very little compared to all the hadiths that are available. But that’s how in depth scholars would go.
In term of comparison, between hadith and seerah, seerah was given more emphasis by the scholars of the past. 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. In verse 33:21, Quran has mentioned that the Prophet is our role model. The word في is used in that verse. It means ‘inside’. This is what we mean that we need to ‘immerse’ ourselves with the life of the Prophet.
The seerah gives us emotional consolation, morals, values, ethics. It’s not simply about halal and haraam.
We are being told in the Quran to love the Prophet. 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. You can’t love the Prophet, 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 and we need to change that.
We need to emphasize the seerah with the young ones. Sometimes they know about the religion in general but they do not have the knowledge of Prophet. What is being told to them would influence them to the effect liking the Prophet as non-human. They would relate the Prophet as they relate the superheroes that they read in comic books and cartoon characters. Kids nowadays, spends so much time on tv and comic books that they have a different thinking as we are. They live and eat the characters inside the shows. Yes, they might have learnt that Prophet did this and that and they are in awe of the Prophet. But they would have a thinking that no human being can be like him. Because the way the seerah is presented to them, it is as if the Prophet is out of human realm. Thus, they would not have connection the Prophet. They would say, of course Nabi can do this and that, but not us. Same as they say, of course Superman can do this and that, but we cannot be like him, we are not Superman. In the end, they could not relate on how the Prophet is our role model.
Many of us is already familiar with hadis. But in Hadis, there’s only excepts of points that we can learn. We only takes a portion of the whole and talks about the legal injunctions inside it. Hukum for that is this, hukum for that is that, so on and so forth.
We need to make seerah relevant and practical to us in this life. It’s not just mere stories that we read to our children and ourselves without taking benefit from it. We need to know that there are things that we can take and implement it into our lives.
As we already know, the life of the Prophet is broken into two segments – Meccan and Medinan period. Meccan period is little mentioned in our culture. It is longer in term of period – Meccan period is actually 13 years and Medinan period is only 10 years comparatively. But mentioned is not mentioned much in our learning. Why is that? This is because there are less narration on the life of the Prophet during the Meccan period. Because there are less Muslims to report what were going on. Furthermore, the dakwah is more open in Medinan period. In Meccan, it is more covert – dakwah is done to close family members and close friends only. Therefore, not much was happening that we know about. Apart from that, the Medinan period seems to be more eventful. There’s war, battles, this and such. So it is more entertaining to learn about. Whereas, comparatively, Meccan period is more subdued. But there are certain lessons that we can get from it. Especially when we are a minority groups as what transpired during that time.
Hadis is studied more for legal purpose. Meaning, what to do in this situation and that. Therefore, many scholars pay more attentions to the hadith about legal matters – hukum.
There are now people that questions the authenticity of the hadith and sunnah. Now in Malaysia, we have people that are anti-hadith. Some people thought that the life of the Prophet is irrelevant to them. So, do we have to follow the life of the prophet? Does it is still applicable to us in time and age? Can we believe the many hadiths that came to us? How can we believe something which is related from man to man? This is the questions that some people ask themselves and the scholars. We need an answer to this questions.
First of all, we need to understand that in the study of hadith, there is already a complex system in place to study it’s authenticity. This is called the study of rijalul hadith – the men of hadith. These are the people that has passed down the hadith to us. The study involved their history, who they are and whether they are trustworthy or not. And the whole science of hadith is an elaborate system that has been perfected by the scholars of hadist to make sure that the hadith that we received is authentic and we can believe in them. So we can rest assure that those hadith that are classified as sahih, is indeed sahih. And scholars has already classified many, many hadith as not sahih – either it is dhaif or maudhu’.
Some would say, we only need to study Quran and believe in Quran only. They say, how can we believe the people that transmit the hadith to us, because surely there will be mistakes in the transmission. This is the saying of the ignorant. They do not have the knowledge of the hadith and because of that, they are confused and the Satans played tricks on them. To the extend that they questions the authenticity of the hadith. Please remember that Allah has told us in the Quran to follow Nabi. He won’t tell us to follow Nabi without preserving Hadith. Therefore we need to understand and believe that Allah also preserve the authencity of hadith through the science of hadith.
Secondly, their question does not come from lack of knowledge only but from their spiritual issue. Because we fail to love him. We don’t see the significance of his sacrifice for us. To get that, we need to learn seerah. After we learn seerah, then we would know this man which we call Nabi Muhammad, and after that, the hadis which we study would carry more meaning.
Link to the next session.
Let’s start this journey with me. Link to podcast.