Education through Simplification

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Introduction to Seerah

Before we study anything in life, we must ask ourselves 9 questions:

What is the definition of the subject?

Seerah comes from the Arabic word ‘Sayr’ which means to walk. ‘Seerah’ is the way someone walks. This means the way they live their life; their biography. Seeratun-Nabi means the biography of Nabi Muhammad صلي الله عليه وسلّم. It is shortened to Seerah as this is the most important biography!
The traditional name for this subject is ‘Maghaazi’. This means battles, as it covers the major struggles and battles in Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلّم’s life. This name was used during the time of the Sahaaba and Tab’ieen. Another name is ‘Shamaail’ which means description. This covers the physical description of Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلّم and his habits.

What is the subject material?

The subject covers the life of Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلّم, both before and after Prophethood. In order to fully study the Seerah, it is also important to study the lives of those who he interacted with and the history of the people and time he was sent in. Therefore, we study not only the life of Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلّم but also the lives of his companions and enemies.

Who is the founder and what is the history of the subject?

The founder of this blessed science is Allah Ta’ala himself! In the Qur’aan Kareem, He Almighty, mentions events from Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلّم’s life numerous times. As Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلّم and his companions lived their lives, verses were revealed to guide and console them.

The companions of the Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلّم were the human founders of this science. They reported everything they heard him say and everything they knew about him.

Their methods of transmission were two:
1.  Oral/Spoken
2.  Written

In the early stages of Islam, transmission of knowledge was mainly oral. This is because the Arabs had a phenomenal memory and had no need to keep a recorded copy, but also because most of them did not know how to read or write.

However, some literate Sahaaba had compiled books of Hadith that they heard from Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلّم. Also, the Tabi’een started recording in written form whatever they learnt from the Sahaaba. In this way, we have millions of Hadith from the Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلّم recorded in the Books of Hadith as they passed from teacher to student and so forth.

What are the sources of the subject?

The life of the Prophet was taught as a separate subject from the time of the companions. Imam Zaynul Aabideen [great grandson of Nabi] mentions, ‘we were taught Maghazi like we were taught the Holy Qur’aan’.

As for the earliest written book on Seerah:
Hadith of the Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلّم were recorded in book form but in the early stages most Hadith compilations contained Hadith pertaining to various topics. There were, however, certain Sahaaba like Sayyidina Sahl ibn Abī athma who recorded Maghazi separately. 

There were Tabi’een like Imam Muhammad Zuhri [Passed away: 124 AH] who actively collected and compiled Hadith pertaining to Seerah.   

His student Imam Muhammad ibn Ishaaq [Passed away: between 150–159 AH] is known to be the first person who recorded Seerah in a book form. His book may not have been the first book on Seerah but it received acceptance and fame in the Muslim community and is the foundational and most important Seerah biography. May Allah Ta’ala reward him abundantly. 

Though his book does not survive in its original form, the edited version survives. Imam Abu Muhammad Abdul Malik ibn Hishaam [218AH] edited the book and removed some unreliable transmissions. This is the most famous Seerah biography.  

Other early famous Seerah are those of Muhammad Al-Waqidi [207AH] and Imam Muhammad Ibn Jarir Tabari [310AH]. 

Note how these Seerah scholars have Muhammad in their names. SubhaanAllah.

What is the ruling regarding studying it?

Studying Seerah is Fardh Kifaayah. This means that it is not compulsory for every individual to study it but a group in a Muslim community must study it, otherwise the whole community will be sinful. However, it is mandoob/mustahab and encouraged to study it, and will aid in the completion of Imaan and love of Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلّم.

Why are we studying it?

Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلّم said,Actions are only according to intentions, and to each is only what he intended”.

Seerah is studied by the enemies of the Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلّم and his lovers too. Yet, one is punished for trying to find faults in Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلّم’s life whilst the other is rewarded with Jannah for learning about the Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلّم. It is therefore, important to clear our intentions before studying.

The first and foremost reason we are studying it is to please Allah Ta’ala. How pleased He must be when His beloved is mentioned! The more intentions we make, the greater reward we will attain. 

To inculcate love of Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلّم in our hearts
To learn the Qur’aan and Hadith
The gain the companionship of Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلّم in Jannah
To appreciate our religion
To learn patience
To learn gratitude
To learn humility
To improve Akhlaaq
To gain knowledge
To spread knowledge
To pass time wisely
To gain solace
To understand the times
To purify the heart
To learn Arabic
To soften the heart
To learn correct ‘Aqeedah
To recite Durood Shareef
learn through others’ mistakes
To gain intersession of Nabi
To see Nabi  صلي الله عليه in dreams
To follow the Sunnah
To increase in Imaan
To increase in intelligence

How should one study it?

It is common to study Seerah by going through a chosen text book. The students are given a certain amount of pages to read before the lesson. The teacher then teaches the material in the allocated pages during the lesson. There is question time after the lesson. Students are given tasks and research to do for homework, other than reading. There are 3 stages to studying:

1.       Mutaali’ah = Pre-study
2.       Dars = Lesson
3.       I’adah = Revision
What are its benefits?

There is nothing but benefit in studying the subject. Its benefits are innumerable; the greatest one is success in both worlds. If one truly studies it with Ikhlaas [sincerity], one’s life will change for the better. Many are blessed with the vision of the Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلّم in their dreams, after studying his Seerah.

How can it be applied in our lives?

The Prophet صلي الله عليه وسلّم’s life should not be studied merely as a point of interest. Rather, in every event from his life, morals can be deduced. It is our goal is to act upon these morals. When we study in the Seerah that something was liked or recommended by Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلّم, we should rush to perform it. When we study in the Seerah that something was hated or warned by Nabi صلي الله عليه وسلّم, we should rush to avoid it.


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