Benefits Of Studying The Seerah Of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)

What does the word seerah mean? It means to traverse or to journey. It is derived from the root word which means to travel - and the reason why seerah is called seerah is because you are travelling his journey, following his footsteps.
And this is also why the 'seerah' is exclusively for the biography of the prophet PBUH, the best human to ever live - even though it's use can be for the biography of anybody, the muslim scholars have kept it only now for the prophet PBUH.
Benefits Of Studying The Seerah Of Prophet Muhammad PBUH, Yasir Qadhi, Biography Of Prophet Muhammad
So why should we study the seerah? Benefits are numerous:
1. Allah has comanded us to know this man. Its an obligation and there are over 50 verses in the Quran that command us to take the prophet as an example. "Indeed there is for you, in the messenger of Allah, an exemplementary manner, a perfect conduct". So we have the perfect example and therefore the life of our prophet is the study of someone we must follow. And amazingly no matter how we look at the seerah we will benefit from it.
  • Religion: in terms of how we worship Allah.
  • Manners and morals: mercy and tenderness.
  • Leadership: how he lead the muslims to success.
  • How he was as a father, husband, brother in law etc. 
  • How he was a friend, neighbour etc.

Allah tells us "If We had wanted We could have sent angels. But what would you have done if We sent angels? You would have rejected them". Indeed of the perfection of Allah's wisdom, is that He sent down human beings. People like us, flesh and bones so we don't say "but we can't be like them". They are born of women, they marry and have women just like us. But the difference is they are chosen by Allah and are made role models.

2. The seerah is the number one way to increase our love for the prophet PBUH. There is no other way as powerfully. This is a sad fact of our ummah that we neglected this study. Most of us are ignorant. Its embarrasing we know so much about movie stars, actors, sports people but no clue to the real person we should know about. So by studying our seerah our loves increases. But its a two way street: in order to increase our love we must study him. But by studyding him we are expressing our love. Indeed when you love someone you want to know everything about him, and you want to imitate him in every way possible. Any one who claims to love the prophet PBUH but dosent study the seerah, then you do not love him. To study it is a sign of love, but by studying we increase our love. Its a circle, the more we study the more we love but the more we love the more we study.

3. It also helps us to understand the Quran. Because its so complex you cannot understand without complex. For example, surah ad duha "Your Lord has not abandoned you" - we cannot understand this verse. But if we knew the context that in this time the prophet PBUH was worried and concerned that for weeks wahi hasnt come down and the prophet PBUH start thinking "maybe Allah has abadoned me". This is the first year of revelation so shaytan gave him bad thoughts - Allah is telling him "Be patient" etc. So until we understand this, the surah dosen't make much sense. So the Quran gains meaning by studying the seerah.

4. It raises our hope, lifts our spirits and blesses us with optimism. We are NOt being persecuted compared to the sahaba but we are facing a little bit of heat. By studying the seerah we can understand the people before us suffered much more, and we compare our trials and tribulations to theirs, and realise that actually we have it easy. And in fact, the Quran tells us that Allah is telling the prophet PBUH the stories of the earlier prohpets, why? "We are going to recite to you the stories of the previous prophets in order that your hearts attain affirmation". That is it increased the prophet PBUH optimism and eeman. It affirms our eemaan.

5. Yet another benefit is that the seerah itself is a miracle. "Splitting of the moon, taling of the tree etc" but rather his whole life is an indication that he was truly the prophet PBUH. Coming from where he came and bringing forth the elegance of the Quran, leadership, patience, success from the middle of a pagan ancient civilisation that didn't even have a library or script - and yet he came from the midst from a barabic nation and within 50 years Islam spread and within 100 years it ruled the world. This is a miracle. The seerah is an affirmation of this miracle - the power he weilded and yet the simplicity with which he lived his life. And it is impossible for a human not to be affected by that power or luxury unless there is a pure, divine sincerety. Ibn Hazam, a famous andaloos scholar said "Walahi, if the prophet PBUH had not been given any miracle other than his life and times, it would have been sufficient to prove he's a prophet of Allah." How he revolutionised Arabia and changed the entire world - this is truly a miracle. Within 20 years - nobody would have EVER predicted a group came from Arabia and destryoed the Roman and Persian empires. A group with a new religion, new theology - and yet Allah allowed these people that were less educated and less civilised with no where near the army or weaponry to be victorious because of the Islam they held firm to.

6. The seerah lays out a perfect methodology to revive this ummah. There are many islamist groups with their methods to do so - but if you want to being honour and glory back then look at the seerah! The prophet PBUH began literally from zero and look where he reached. We look at the ummah and ask "Why oh Allah" but we should look at the seerah for the answer for revival.

7. We will also see the life and times of the best people to ever live. The best generation is indeed the sahaba RA Allah says "Allah is pleased with them, and they with Allah". And the prophet PBUH said "the best ummah is my ummah" and Ibn Masood said "Allah looked at the hearts of his servants, and he chose the best and most purest to be the prophet PBUH. And then He chose the purest next, and made them the sahaba of the prophet PBUH". So we will study the story of Abu Bukr, Omar, Sa'ad, Talha and Zubair ETC. And our eemaan goes up by listeining to the lifes of these legendary people. Their sacrifices, struggles etc. They are all role models for us. The prophet PBUH said "my sahaba are like the stars".

8. The seerah brings about knowledge with which we can defend the honour of our prophet PBUH. The honour of our prophet PBUH will always be attacked. The Quraysh did so, they said he was a mad man, magician, poet etc because no one can explain how the Quran came. Where did this unlettered shepeard get the Quran from? And they said all this. And it continues to this day. And in our times how many people say the prophet PBUH was a blood thirst terrorist, he was a womeniser, he married this etc. If we want to defend our prophet PBUH, how can we do so if we don't know whether they are true, and if they are how we can defend? And there is no way other than to study the seerah. And this is why the sahaba used to teach the seerah along with sciences. Ali ibn Husayn, the great grandson of the prophet PBUH said "We would teach our children the seerah, just like we would teach them the Quran". And so the ciricculum was Quran + seerah. And we must do all the same with our children. So many books for children.

To summarise, the study of the seerah is the study of the best and the best and the best. It's the study of the life of the best single human to ever live. The prophet PBUH said "I am the leader, the paragon of virtue of the children of Adam and I am not saying this out of arrogance". And the best time and people - the sahaba, mecca and madina. These are the holiest places on Earth. But he knew this and really cared about mecca and madina until the prophet PBUH lived there? And indeed espeically madina, where the prophet PBUH said "I am making madina holy like Ibrahim made mecca holy". And it was the best era. In every angle its the best of the best of the best. So studying the seerah is studying how Allah changed the world with Islam. And its only 23 years.

Next question, where do we begin? And how do we know what happened 1400 years ago? Where do we get our stuff from? What is our sources?

1. The Quran. The number one source is the Quran. This is a source that is overlooked by many. Because it was revealed during the seerah so it caters to situation arose during his life. And it references to every single major event that happened during the life and even before the prophet PBUH. So the Quran tells us stories from the beginning all the way to end. Of the benefits, its the best source for many reasons:

(i) It is the speech of Allah so we canot doubt it

(ii) The elequence is unparallaled - how beautifully Allah describes battles and the feelings of the sahaba aswell; the Quran tells us the inward.

(iii) Phenomenon we don't understand - in badr "We sent down 3000 angels"

One of the issues of the Quran is that it's not chronological and another problem is that we don't see the reference mentioned. So Allah dosen't say "Uhud or Badr". So the seerah and the Quran go hand in hand.

2. Hadith. In fact every hadith is one snapshot of the seerah. Lots of thousands books of hadith - the 6 most famous books are the main source.

3. Books written specifically for seerah - the first people who did this were the sons of sahaba. So many stories were told. Uruwa the son of Zubair wrote one of the greatest accounts. And Uruwa is the son of a sahabi, grandson, his father, mother, grandmother and brother is a sahabi. But he isn't a sabahi. And his aunty is Aisha RA. So he is one of the primary narrators to fiqh, hadith and seerah because he had access to Aisha RA - he is a mahraam. So Uruwa is the primary narrator from Aisha RA. Also the Son of Uthman Ibn Affan whose name is Abaan. He died 105 hijra - he also wrote a booklet on seerah.

Finally a great scholar came called Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri who dies 129 hijra who wrote one of the first early books of seerah. None of these books however is existent. And the reason is simply, when later books came the later writers absorbed these. Imagine someone comes and takes Urawa and Abban and puts both in a bigger book. And this is what happened - there was no need for Uruwa or Abbaan anymore. So we do have books in the very next generation which shows us seerah was compiled even before hadith because of its importance.

And the greatest scholar of seerah is Ibn Ishaaq. His name is Muhammad ibn Ishaaq and he was born 85 Hijra which means he is living in Madina (where the prophet PBUH lived and died) and so he grew up around the sahaba, their children and grandchildren. So Ibn Ishaaq met the sons and maybe saw some of the sahaba and he wrote every thing he heard. He had a huge passion for seerah and began to compile events in chronological order unlike the eariler phanlets. So Ibn Ishaaq complied a very large book and just to be on the safe side he went to other cities and met i.e. Ibn Masood etc. His primary source was however Madina. And one of the best thing is that he compiled everything with isnaad (chain of narrations). Its a uniquely islamic miracle in that the chain tells us were the story comes from. Because in Islam we always verify authenticity. WE know every person in the chain - when he was born, how he died, was he a good person, did he have a good memory etc. And thus we can judge the isnaad. And so Ibn Ishaaq complied the life of the prophet PBUH and he wrote a massive book. So big that it was almost 15 volumes and was difficult to copy. Ibn Ishaaq died 150H. So from 85 to 150.

Another student called Ibn Hishaam came along, his name is Abdul Malik Ibn Hishaam. Where does the seerah come from? These two people. So ibn hishaam realised that Ibn Ishaaq's volumes were too big so he decided to summarise. He did not add anything but rather he subtracted. He deleted and made it into a book that is much more managable and now it's available in 4 volumes. In those days there was no printing press so if you wanted a book you had to write it cover to cover - this is one of the reasons why he reduced. Also Ibn Ishaaq was one of the first people to write a history of humanity. From Adam AS to Nuh to Ibrahim to the prophet PBUH. So Ibn Hishaam deleted the entire section of earlier history and other information about the life of the prophet PBUH that he thought was not that useful. So now people just copied Ibn Hishaam and today you won't find Ibn Hishaaq. Thus now to buy a copy of the book you will find 'Seerat ibn hishaam' - you won't find 'seerat ibn ishaaq' as it's now gone missing.

However there was a very famous scholar called Dr Hamidhullah. And he became one of the greatest scholars/researchers and he discovered many manuscripts in France etc. And this is because the westerners came to islamic lands, purchased the mushaffs who just valued them as art and took them back to Germany, France etc. This is why the largest collection of mushaffs are found in Germany. So anyway Hamidhullah went through all these treasures in Paris, London etc. and he discovered a partial copy of Ibn Ishaaq. Around 1/4th! So he edited and published it, and when now we compare Ibn Ishaaq to Ibn Hishaam, we find its exactly as Ibn Hishaam said - that is the seerah is the same but only parts have been cut out. Which parts? Things like long poetry, lineage of the arabs etc (i.e. every time Ibn Ishaaq mentioned a name he would take it back to Nuh AS (!)). So yes, Ibn Hishaam was indeed accurate in what he did, so for sure when we read Ibn Hishaam we are truly reading something just 100 years after the prophet PBUH died. And this is amazing. So we have the whole seerah just 100 years after the prophet PBUH died.

4. Fourth source is the books written about the characteristics of the prophet PBUH. In Arabic these are called shamaa'il. And the most famous is shamaa'il tirmidhi. And shamaa'il is a genre of books that deals with looks, manners, houses etc of the prophet PBUH.

5. Dalaa'ial - books of the miracles of the prophet PBUH. The most famous is dalaa'il nabuwa of al-bayhaqee. Massive book in 12 volumes

6. Histories of the Sahaba.

7. Histories of mecca and madina - by reading this we extract seerah.

And so these are the most primary sources of seerah. There is a new genre of research in the western world which is "what did the romans, persians etc say about the muslims at the time? What did they say about the prophet PBUH?". But using this is more complicated.

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