Thursday, April 20, 2006

Muhammad Ibn Saad

Ibn Sa’ad

His name was Muhammad Ibn Sa’ad ibn Mani Az Zuhree[1] and his kunya[2] was Aboo Abdullah[3], more popularly known as Ibn Sa’ad. He was the mawla[4] of Banu Hashim[5]. He is one of the greatest authorities on Islamic history and Muslim biography. Ibn Sa’d is said to have been born in 148 AH in the city of Basra which is now in present day Iraq, and he died in 230 AH[6]. He moved to Baghdad to further his Islamic knowledge and he resided there for the majority of his life. Among the scholars that he benefited from immensely was Muhammad ibn ‘Umar Al Waqidee (d. 211 AH)[7]. He is one of his strongest pupils and is also known popularly as the scribe or secretary of Al Waqidee. He also visited Kufa and Madeenah in his quest for knowledge and many authorities have testified to his reliability and scholarship in the field of history and biography.


The most popular of his works is the huge collection of biographies of noteworthy men and women from the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) to his time known as Kitaab at Tabaqaat al Kabeer (The Great Book of Generations). It is one of the most important and earliest surviving biographical collections of narrations, and has been used by Islamic scholars as a reference to present day. The work contains over 4000 biographies noteworthy Muslims, of which 600 are women. The book has been printed in 9 volumes by Beirut: Dar Sadir, 1957-1968 (more popular and widely encountered) under a slightly different name of At Tabaqaat Al Kubra and in 15 volumes in the edition by E. Sachau, Leiden, 1905-1940. The first 2 volumes are about the seerah of the Prophet Muhammad (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), which is considered by some the third most authoritative after the Seerat un Nabawi of Ibn Hisham (d. 213 AH or 218 AH) and Maghaazi Rasoolillah of al Waqidee (d. 21 AH)[8]. Volumes 3 and 4 contain biographic information on the companions of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), while 5, 6, and 7 contain that of later Islamic personalities. Volume 8 is completely dedicated to the women [9].

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Footnotes:
1. Not to be confused with Ibn Shihaab Az Zuhree who was a great scholar of hadeeth who died in 124 AH.
2. It is like a nick name, usually in the format Aboo so and so meaning father of so and so.
3. The scholars of the past would usually name their children Abdullah due to the statement of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), “The most beloved names to Allah are Abdullah and AbdurRahman….”.
4. mawla could mean either a slave that was set free or someone who is a non-Arab but is under the protection of an Arab tribe. This was done during the pre-Abbassid period, but died down thereafter. Ibn Sa’ad was under the protection of Banu Hashim.
5. The word banu means tribe, and Banu Hashim was a tribe from Quraysh.
6. There seems to be some confusion about the death and birth of Ibn Sa’ad. The date for the death given in the biographical appendix of Ash Shifa of Qadi Iyaad translated by A. A. Bewley has the date 204 AH while the book The Men of Madina Vol. 1 translated by A. A. Bewley has both dates of 230 AH and 236 AH. And some of the sources give 62 as his age at death and year of death at 230 AH 0r 236 AH, which would mean his birth would be 168 AH or 174 AH. If his age was 62 years and he died in 204 AH then his birth would be 144 AH. I used the dates given in The Men of Madina Vol. 1 by A. A. Bewley. I am confused about this issue, if anyone has knowledge regarding this please let me know, InshaAllah.
7. He narrated ahadeeth from Imaam Ash Shaafi (d. 204 AH) and Imaam Malik (d. 179 AH) but is considered to be weak.
8. I have seen this book printed by the title Al Waqidi: Kitab Al Maghazi, Edited by Marsden Jones, Printed in 3 Volumes by Oxford University Press, 1966.
9. Volumes 5, 7 and 8 have been lately translated by Aisha AbdurRahman Bewley and published under the titles of Men of Madina Vols. 1 & 2 and Women of Madina, respectively.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What is Hadeeth?

What is Hadith?

Taken from Usool Al Hadeeth by Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi and Studies in Hadeeth Methodology and Literature by Dr. Muhammad Mustafa Azami

(Arabic: الحديث hadeeth, Arabic pl. ahādeeth "أحاديث")

Linguistically, the word hadeeth is the opposite of qadeem, so it means soemthing that is new[1] when used as an adjective. That is why a person's statements are called hadeeth, it is something that is originating form a persons mouth that wasnt there.The word hadeeth literally when used as a noun means communication, story, or conversation.[2] A hadeeth could be religious or secular, historic or recent. The word hadeeth has been used in the Qur'aan 23 times and multiple times in the statements of the Prophet (Sal Allahu alayhi Wa Sallam). It has been used in the Qur'aan and the statements of the Prophet Muhammad (Sal Allahu alayhi Wa Sallam) in all of the different meanings mentioned above. The different ways the word hadeeth has been used in the Qur'aan and the statements of the Prophet Muhammad (Sal Allahu alayhi Wa Sallam) are mentioned in Studies in Hadeeth Methodology and Literature by M. M. Azami, Pg. 1-2.

After the death of the Prophet (Sal Allahu alayhi Wa Sallam) the majority of the stories and conversations carried out by the Muslims were about the Prophet (Sal Allahu alayhi Wa Sallam) himself. Therefore the word hadeeth started to be used exclusively for the stories or communications that were from or about the Prophet (Sal Allahu alayhi Wa Sallam).[3]

There are many books that have numerous ahadeeth compiled in them, the most popular of them being Jaami' As Sahih (The Authentic Collection)[4] of Imaam Bukharee (d. 256 AH) or Sahih Al Bukharee. The history of compilation or preservation of hadeeth is a very fascinating and interesting subject in and of itself. Learning about this history does nothing but raise the eeman of a Muslim in the authenticity of the religion and trust in the words of the Prophet (Sal Allahu alayhi Wa Sallam). There is a consensus amongst the muslim schoalrs that the ahadeeth are an integral foundation of the religion of Islam and belief in the authentic ahadeeth is obligatory upon each and every Muslim.

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Footnotes
1. Usool Al Hadeeth by Yasir Qadhi, Part 1
2. Studies in Hadith Methodology and Literature by M. M. Azami, Pg. 1
3.
Studies in Hadith Methodology and Literature by M. M. Azami, Pg. 3
4. The actual name given by Bukharee to his collection of hadeeth was entitled by him Al Jaami' al musnad as sahih al mukhtasar min umur RasoolAllahi Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam wa sunanihi wa Ayyaamihi, which means An epitome containing all types of musnad ahadeeth corcerning the Messenger of Allah, May Allah's Peace and Blessings be upon him, his sunnah and his wars.
Studies in Hadith Methodology and Literature by M. M. Azami, Pg. 89

Dawah

The Role of Muslim Women in Da'wah

The Role of Muslim Women in Da'wah1
By Dr. Salah As Sawy2
Transcribed from a lecture given in Austin, TX at Masjid Khadeeja3 on April 15, 2006 by Irtiza Hasan

Tonight is a Saturday night and Saturday is usually a night when it seems the shayateen4 spread a lot of fitna5 and tempt the people to run after their shahwaat6 (desires) and so thank Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala7) that he brought you and your families and brothers to this masjid (mosque) tonight where Allah's angels are greeting you and we ask Allah to bless this gathering.

Look to your life for the blessings of Allah upon you that you are in a place of worship and obedience to Allah and He kept you away from a place of mischief and evil.

Some of the early Muslim scholars used to say, “Allah does not honor or bless the people engaged in evils and sins (because they are) being disobedient to Him, but Allah does honor and protect and bless the people He chooses to by keeping them away from those (evil) things."

With that we approach our topic for the evening which is: The Role of the Muslim Woman in Da'wah and in the Community.

They say that women are half of the community and they give birth to the other half. I would say, therefore, it is as if she is the whole community. The Prophet Muhammad, Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam, said, what translated means, "Indeed women are the partners of men." (Abu Dawood)8

Umm Salamah9 (d. 61 AH), radhi Allahu anha10, asked Rasool Allah11 (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), “Why are only men were mentioned in the Qur’aan?” (Why are women not mentioned?)

And in response Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala) revealed the following verse in Surat12 Al Ahzaab:

["Verily, the Muslims, men and women, the believers men and women, the men and the women who are obedient, the men and women who are truthful, the men and the women who are patient, the men and the women who are humble (before their Lord Allâh), the men and the women who give Sadaqât, the men and the women who observe Sawm, the men and the women who guard their chastity and the men and the women who remember Allâh much with their hearts and tongues Allâh has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward (Paradise).]

Surah AlAhzaab (33) Verse 35

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala) also says in Al Qur’aan13 in Surat AtTawbah:

[The believers, men and women, are Auliyâ' of one another, they enjoin Al-Ma'rûf, and forbid from Al-Munkar; they perform As-Salât and give the Zakât, and obey Allâh and His Messenger. Allâh will have His Mercy on them. Surely Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise.]

Surat At Tawbah (9) Verse 71

So Allah includes men and women and describes them as "auwliya14" of one another. He includes women to enjoin the good and forbid the evil, to perform salaat (five daily prayers), to give zakaat (charity), and to obey Allah and His Messenger (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam).

Let us look to the Sunnah15, to Al Hajjat ul Wida where the Prophet Muhammad (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) made a call to all the Muslims, and deliver such an important message which was in fact his last great public speech. In this farewell advice he left us an important advice for us to hold on to forever. He said:

"...Fear Allah concerning women!"

This was a very important point where every Muslim was listening in such an important speech. RasoolAllah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) continued


"... Verily you have taken them on the security of God, and intercourse with them has been made lawful unto you by words of God. You too have rights over them, and they should not allow anyone to sit on your bed whom you do not like. But if they do that, you can chastise them but not severely. Their rights upon you are that you should provide them with food and clothing in a fitting manner..."

We have been ordered to look after our women and care for them. This was commanded by the Messenger of Allah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). So how can a Muslim woman, our dear sister, take her position and role in making da'wah to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala).

The righteous slaves of Allah always have a yearning in their hearts to rush to good deeds and they do not delay in performing the good deeds, and the corrupt people rush to do evil and wicked deeds. It is important for our sisters to focus on this topic and consider the importance of it.

I viewed a survey done in 1997 in some of the Arab countries and it reported that 96 to 97 million dollars a year are spent on women's perfumes and I am not discouraging or prohibiting the purchasing of halaal (permissible) things.

Allah says in the Qur’aan:

[And say not concerning that which your tongues put forth falsely: "This is lawful and this is forbidden...] Surat An-Nahl (16) Verse 116

And surely for our sisters to spend money on perfumes and these (beauty) products is permissible and it is not disliked or discouraged but when it comes to our wealth, I remind my sisters to first seek to spend on their aakhira (hereafter) and then on this life of the dunya (world).

So when sisters ask "How can I serve my Deen (religion)?" or "How can I help this Ummah (community)?" and this is a valuable and noble question we start by saying that first the most effective da’wah is that of our haal (demeanor or condition) and this is more efficient and better than making da’wah by our sayings (aqwaal).

And remember dear sister, to observe and preserve hijaab (Islamic covering) and be firm in that and do not care about mocking looks or comments about your appearance. Do not ever undermine the value or importance of your hijaab!

You are an obedient slave to Allah! You are showing people your Islam with your actions. You are proving your Islam and do not forget to consider that the actions of one, just one sister can change and guide and invite one thousand! But the sayings and speeches of one thousand might not even change or guide one!

Think about that again. The actions of one can change one thousand, if Allah wills.

In recent times, we see a movement to downplay and diminish the importance of hijaab even amongst some of the Muslims. Some of you may cite a fatawa16 from a scholar in Egypt which allowed for sisters to abandon the hijaab and people presented to that scholar that sisters are being beaten and physically harmed for wearing the hijaab.

The people exaggerated the conditions and realities to get such rulings and this is unfair to the scholar. In these scenarios the scholar is like a prisoner and people portrayed to him a false and inaccurate image of what is the real situation. And we say these exaggerations and reports were not true in general that sisters are being physically harmed and victimized in this way.

And even if we assume or consider that these reports were true then according to the Muslim jurists such countries and lands would not be permissible to reside or stay in. We would have to relocate to the Muslim lands or move to other lands.

Some will argue here that "There is no Islamic land in our times, like the great and just lands which were overseen by Abu Bakr and Umar", may Allah have mercy on them both. The people will say, "There is no correct Islamic rule in our day" or "There is no khaleefah17 so we have no where to go!"

We say to that we would then move to those lands where there is least harm and the most ease in worshipping Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala).

The Prophet Muhammad (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) sent his family and companions to Al Habasha and advised them to seek protection there and that the leader there was just and fair and would not oppress or harm them. Al Habasha18 was not a Muslim country, rather it was a Christian country and Najashi was not a khaleefah of the Muslims.

So what we learn from this is to try to reside in the country where there is the least harm to the believers and the most benefit by having the ability to worship Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala).

The second advice to our Muslim sister is to protect your family! Make sure it is a successful family, attached to the massaajid (pl. masjid, mosques) and attached to the jama'a (congregation). Raise and build a family that cares about da'wah and about Islam. The sister who covers herself will raise her daughters to cover herself, and the sister who does good deeds will encourage and raise her children to do good deeds.

Muslim countries today are perhaps backwards in technology and scientific aspects compared to the non-Muslim lands or Western lands and to think the Muslims can compete in some of these areas might appear to be a dream or fantasy, except by the help of Allah. But we can always compete with our morals and our worship (of Allah)!

Everything starts with the family, and remember sister, to strengthen and build your family first. Protect and safeguard your family.

Consider the issue of talaaq (divorce) which is permissible in Islam yet the divorce rates are so low in Muslim countries and societies especially compared to western lands and non-Muslim societies. But this disease of divorce is increasing in Muslim homes especially in lands where the Muslims are mixing and mingling more with people who see divorce lightly. I am becoming ill with the sad stories of Muslim families breaking up and divorces amongst Muslim couples.

And we are advised not to carelessly enter upon women or disrespect them in that way. It was narrated from 'Uqbah ibn 'Aamir19 that the Messenger of Allah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:

"Beware of entering upon women."

A man from among the Ansar20 said: "O Messenger of Allah, what about the (sister) in-law?" He (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:

"The in-law is death."

Why this language- "death"? Imagine, and may Allah protect us, if anything were to transpire or happen in this way, it would be death of the marriage and relationships, possibly the death of their morals or religion due to this evil and even their own deaths for committing the zinaa (fornication).

Shaytaan deceives and tricks many sisters to divorce their husbands (without even trying reconciliation or taking the correct Islamic steps for divorce). Some sisters seek to take half or all of their husband's money and assets or to take his children and keep them from him just because of the laws of some lands.

What is halaal will always be halaal and what is haraam will always be haraam. Do not consider that the laws or ways of your particular country will supersede the laws and wisdom of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala).

Present the true Islam to people by showing them your successful families! Show them your massaajid! Show them your communities and schools!

Some say that when making da’wah do not talk to people about Islamic laws and sharee’ah21 as these topics can be confusing and controversial for people. We say those things which our scholars and jurists have consensus (ijmaa) about then propagate and advance those ideas but if it is an as issue where the jurists have differed and those are acceptable differences then we should not force or initiate these ideas in the beginning and an example of this is when making da’wah to another woman one does not have to initiate the issue of niqaab (face veil) being obligatory when there is a difference of opinion amongst the people of knowledge as to whether it is from the obligatory or recommended. So we do not have to be overly aggressive on such issues.

And sisters, remember to be positive when dealing with people. Know that eemaan (faith) has levels. The Messenger of Allah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said: "Faith has over seventy branches, most excellent of which is the declaration of “La ilaha illa Allah” and the humblest of which is the removal of a bone from the road. And modesty is a branch of eeman." (Abu Dawood)

Imam Al Hasan Al Basri (d. 110 AH) said, "That I serve my family is better to me than making itikaaf22 for two months" and Abdullah ibn Abbas (d. 68 AH) said, "To look after the home of a Muslim is better to me than making Hajj (pilgrimage)."

Let us reflect upon these sayings. Many things we do can be a sadaqa (charity) and do not be those people who undermine or ignore the smaller actions!

The Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said, "Every kind word is sadaqa, help given by one person to another is sadaqa, giving someone a drink of water is sadaqa, and removing harmful objects from people's pathways is sadaqa."

And he said, "Smiling at your brother's face is sadaqa."

Do we help each other nowadays?

Does the one with money give charity to those without money?

Do we assist one another?

Do we care about one another?

Does the healthy one visit the sick one?

You all want to be close to Allah, then visit the sick! Be with them and you will find Allah there.

In a hadeeth qudsee23 found in Saheeh Muslim24, Abu Hurayrah (d. 59 AH) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said:

Allah will say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘O son of Adam, I fell ill and you visited Me not.’ He (the son of Adam) will say, ‘Oh Lord, and how should I visit You when You are the Lord of the worlds?” Allah will say, “Did you not know that My servant So-and-so had fallen ill and you visited him not? Did you not know that had you visited him you would have found Me with him?’”

And the hadeeth goes on...


"...Allah asks: 'O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you fed Me not’. He will say, ‘O Lord, and how should I feed You when You are the Lord of the worlds?’ He will say, ‘Did you not know that My servant So-and-so asked you for food and you fed him not? Did you not know that had you fed him you would surely have found that (the reward for doing so) with Me?...’”

All of these things should increase us in taqwa and improve our relationship with Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala).

The Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said, "In relation to one another, believers are like a structure: each part strengthens the other parts". When the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said this he clasped his fingers together.

He also said (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), "In their mutual love, compassion and sympathy for one another, believers are like one body, when one part of it suffers a complaint, all other parts join in, sharing the sleeplessness and fever."

And he (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said, "The Muslim is the brother (or sister) to a Muslim."

To feel this love and these feelings for the Muslim community (at large) we need to first strengthen these feelings and love with our families.

One man said how we need to bring back the khilaafah, make jihad25 for the sake of Allah and revive our Ummah and so on.

And this man was not practicing some basic aspects of Islam and so another said to him, "You should revive your beard first!" meaning change one inch of your own body before trying to save and change this vast world.

Follow the Sunnah first yourself and fear Allah first yourself and stay away from haraam first yourself before insisting on changing others! After yourself work on your family, the ones closest to you. Present Islam to your community and neighbors by maintaining a successful and obedient family.

And remember to hide your sins and the sins of your brother and sister. If you reveal your sins to the people they may remind you of them or hold you accountable or use it against you but Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala) will not! He will hide it and forgive you and would not hold it against you. Allah is above having to do that.

The Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said, "Whosoever covers (the sins of) a Muslim, Allah covers (his sins) on the Day of Judgment." (Bukhari)26

And finally I advise us all to learn more about this religion and increase in our knowledge before we can increase in our actions or in our da'wah to Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala). It is important for us to protect ourselves, our children and our families by seeking beneficial knowledge and then practicing it for Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’ala).


Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sources of Seerah

Sources of Seerah
Taken from a live lecture series entitled " Seerah: Lessons and Morals" delivered by Abu Ammar Yasir Qadhi


The Qur'aan
The first and the most important source of seerah is the Qur'aan. It is also the most eloquent and the most authentic source of the seerah. It mentions incidents when the Prophet(Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was still a child. For example, the revelation of Surat Al Feel (The Elephant) referred to the year of the elephant and the time when the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was still in his mother's womb. The Qur'aan also refers to incidents throughout his life and it refers to the people around the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). The people around the Messenger (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) like his companions, his wives, the mushrikeen (polytheists), the Jews and Christians, etc. The Qur'aan tells you something that no other source can tell you. It tells you the inner thoughts of the people. It tells you how all sorts of people were thiniking and what was actually in their hearts, and the biggest of these example is the hearts of the munafiqoon (hypocrites) and the yahood (Jews).

The Books of Hadeeth
All the books of hadeeth are considered an important part of the sources of seerah. Each and every hadeeth is either a saying, an action, an event, or a characteristic of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam ) and therefore it becomes a part of the life of the Messenger (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam ). It is a part of the overall seerah of RasoolAllah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam ) and with the Qur'aan this is where most if not all of the seerah's information lies.

The Classical Books of Seerah

These are books written by either companions or their followers from the early generations who wrote books which are specifically for the purpose of compiling the life of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). The first physical book of seerah was written before any other book of hadith was compiled.

Urwa ibn Az-Zubayr (d. 92 AH), the son of Asma bint Abi Bakr (d. 73 AH) and Az-Zubayr ibn Al-Awan (d. 36 AH), grandson of Abu Bakr (d. 13 AH) (Radi Allahu Anhu), and the younger brother of Abdullah ibn Az-Zubayr (d. 73 AH), never got to see the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam ). He wrote the first tract on the seerah that we know of.

Abaan ibn Uthman ibn Affan(d. 105 AH), the son of Uthman (d. 35 AH) (Radi Allahu Anhu) wrote a small book on the seerah as well. Also Ibn Shihab Az-Zuhree (d. 124 AH) and Hamman ibn Munnabbih (d. 101 AH), a student of Abu Hurayrah (d. 59 AH), wrote books on the seerah.

Probably the most popular and one of the most comprehensive of books known to is on the seerah is that of Mohammed Ibn Is'haaq who was born in 85 AH and died in the year of 150 AH. He made it his life long passion to study the seerah. He was one of the first people who put immense concentration and focus on the compilation of the seerah. The scholars of hadeeth call him an alright narrator because he didn't specialize in hadeeth. But they call him the Imaam of seerat-un-nabuwwa. There is a clear distinction that we have to make between the seerah and the sunnah or hadeeth. This issue is discussed at the end of this section. Ibn Ishaq grew up around the sons and grandsons of the sahaabah. He also traveled around the Muslim empire and gathered all the information he can regarding the seerah. He would put any thing and everything in his book regarding the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam ) whether it was important or unimportant. He would put random poetry that would just mention the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam )'s name here and there. This is why this book was so comprehensive. We see that a lot of times the books of Islam not known to present day Muslims are found in the museums and libraries of the Europeans because when the Europeans would conquer Muslim lands they would take the most valuable things back to their countries. And at that time there was nothing more valuable than the knowledge these books contained. An example was that, one of ibn Taymiyya's books was found in the museums of Europe recently which has not been known to the scholars of today. Similarly the manuscript of the seerah of Ibn Is'haq was found 20 years ago in the libraries of Germany. Only about a third or fourth of the actual book was found.

AbdulMalik ibn Hisham (d. 216 AH) wrote a book on the seerah and it was call Seerat Ibn Hishm. Ibn Hisham came and summarized the seerah of Ibn Is'haaq. The irrelevant material from Ibn Is'haaq as mentioned previously was discarded by Ibn Hisham in his seerah. Ibn Hisham mentions this in his introduction to his seerah and he only kept in his book whatsoever he saw important and necessary. When Ibn Hisham came out with his seerah it was so good and it became popular very quickly. Everyone who wanted to learn the seerah had this book and was starting to become more and more common and was being found in each and every household. Because of this, within a hundred years or so, Seerat Ibn Is'haaq was no where to be found. It was almost as if it was removed from the face of the earth, until recently.

Shamaail
Another source of seerah is the books called shamaail. These are books written exclusively talking about the characteristics of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam ). In Arabic they are known as Shamaail. An example of this is the famous Shamaail At-Tirmidhee. It includes the characteristics and the physical description of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam ) like the way his hair was, the way his eyes were, his walking, his talking, his dressing, etc.

Dalail An-Nabuwwah
These are books written about the miracles of the Messenger (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam ). Dalail An-Nabuwwah by Imam Al-Bayhaqee is probably the most famous among them.

Biographies of the Sahaaba
The biographies of the companions serve to make the seerah more complete and to fill in some holes. They also give some of the vents surrounding it. An example of this is the story of Salman Al Farsee (d. 35 AH) and his search for the truth which will be mentioned later. Also that of Jaafar ibn Abi Talib (d. 9 AH) and his conversation with Najaasee, the king of Abyssinia.

The Books of History
The books of history serve as another source of seerah. Examples of these books are, the book on history by Ibn Jareer At-Tabaree and Bidaaya Wa An Nihaaya of Ibn Katheer.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Importance and Benefits of Studying Seerah

Taken from a live lecture series entitled "Seerah: Lessons and Morals" delivered by Abu Ammar Yasir Qadhi

“Off course I love him!” this is the answer of any Muslim when asked, “Do you love the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)”, but do we really love him (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)? Do we really know who he was enough to love him (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)? It is natural that when a person claims or displays love for another individual that he or she would want to know him better. In the same way one who claims to love the Prophet Muhammad (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) has to know this individual if he really claims this type of love. Along with this reason there are many benefits and blessings associated with this matter, and the following are a few:


Allah commands us to follow the example of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)

We have been commanded by Allah in the Qur'aan to follow the example of the Prophet(Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala) says in the Qur'aan,

[Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar for him who hopes in Allah and the latter day and remembers Allah much.] Surat Al-Ahzab (33) Verse 21


As stated above, the Prophet(Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)'s character is an excellent example for us to follow, and we can learn this example by studying the seerah. Mohammed (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was a perfect model as a human being in each and every aspect of his life. He was a political leader, military leader, an imam, a father, and a husband. And there is no example better than his to be successful in any of these positions. His personality and character are like that of no other person and the best example for us to follow. Whose life is better to learn from than to learn from the life of the best man to ever walk the face of the earth, the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). And there is no example better to follow than to follow the example of the man who Allah commands us to follow, the Messenger of Allah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam).

Seerah increases our love for the Prophet(Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)

Studying Seerah is a sign for our love for the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) as well. When you love somebody you would want to know as much as possible about that person. Similarly if you love the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) there has to be an indication of your love for him (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). And one of the signs of a mu’min (believer) is their love for the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). If a person loves the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) then he is a mu’min and when a person has no love for the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) then he is not a mu’min. If a person claims to love Mohammed (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) then there must be an interest in him or a reason as to why he loves the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). There must have been something special in the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) that makes a person love the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) over everyone else. We learn those special things about the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) in the Seerah.

Seerah educates us about the meaning of the Qur'aan

Without the complete knowledge of the seerah we could not understand the Book of Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta'ala). The Qur'aan in some ways depends on the seerah for its full explanation or meaning. It sheds light on why the verse was revealed and the context of the revelation. In order to get a full understanding of the Qur'aan we need to get a full understanding of the seerah as well.

Studying the seerah raises our hopes and lifts our spirits

After studying the torture and turmoil that the companions and the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) went through, it helps us during our times of troubles and turmoil. It gives us hope that as long as we stay upon the truth there is always hope at the end. When we see that we’re not the first ones to be persecuted, we find an increase in our eeman and it raises our hopes for the future, especially in these times when the muslims are being targeted and singled out and attacked in all kinds of ways. We get to see real life examples of what the people before us went through and the victory they achieved. Studying the seerah is one of the greatest ways to increase our optimism for the future. It gives up hope that at the end of the road as long as we stay upon Islam there is something good. The Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was also revealed stories of the past prophets to give him hope. An example of this is the revelation of Surat Yusuf to the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) to show him that even though his own tribe is going against him, Yusuf (Alayhis Salaam)’s own brothers were inflicting harm upon him.

Seerah raises our eeman

Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala) reminds the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) in the Qur'aan of the stories of the prophets of the past and you find that the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)’s eeman increasing due to this. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala) says in the Qur'aan,

[And all we relate to you of the accounts of the messengers is to strengthen your heart therewith; and in this has come to you the truth and an admonition, and a reminder to the believers]

Surat Hud (11) Verse 120

As we know that the eeman of the Prophet(Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was incomparable to that of anyone else. It was higher than anyone else even the prophets of the past and the stories of the previous prophets that came before the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) raised the eeman of our Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), then what else could the story of our own Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) do for our own eeman except increase it. Would it not be befitting for us then, that we turn to the seerah of RasoolAllah(Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) to increase our own eeman?

Seerah in and of itself is one of the greatest miracles of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)

This is one of the greatest indications that Prophet Muhammad (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was without shadow of a doubt the Messenger of Allah. As Ibn Hazm Al-Andalusee said, “If RasoolAllah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was only given the miracle of the seerah then he would not need to be given anything else except that to prove to everyone that he is a messenger of Allah.” We learn from the seerah that some of the Sahaaba would see RasoolAllah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) and would say, “I knew his face was not the face of a liar.” And another thing that we learn from the seerah and we can use this example in our da’wah (call to Islam) to the non-muslims that proves that the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was indeed the RasoolAllah or the Messenger of Allah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was when his son Ibraheem died at the tender age of maybe a year or year and a half. Only a father or mother could understand the pain of losing their son or daughter, and especially when a child grows to that age and passes away. This is when the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) cried and Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala) revealed the verse

[Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah is ever Aware of all things] Surat Al-Ahzab(33):40

On that day the sun eclipsed. Seeing that, the sahaabah said “Even the sun and the moon are crying because of the death of the son of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam).” The Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) could have easily said “Yes even the sun is crying because my son died today!” He could have used this event as proof to show people that he’s in fact that important and also the messenger of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala). Instead RasoolAllah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) called the people to the masjid (mosque) and said to them in a khutbah (sermon), “The Sun and Moon are the miracles of Allah. They do not eclipse because of the death or birth of a person.” He wasn’t sent to call others to worship him, rather his duty was to proclaim the message of Allah and to worship Allah alone and to show everyone how to worship Allah alone.

Seerah lays out a precise methodology of the revival of the Muslim Ummah (Community)

The Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) all alone by himself within two decades controlled all of Arabia. And when the sahaaba followed his example they had an empire stretching from Spain in the West to borders of China in the East, all this within a century. And the people that did this were the most illiterate of the people of the world at that time and all they did was follow the example of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam). And if we want to get out of the condition that we are in today with all the disunity and discord among the many nations and groups of this Ummah, we have to go back and see the methodology RasoolAllah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) implemented in spreading the message of Islam. This can only be done by following the sunnah and it is the only answer to all our problems. We can have all the weaponry and knowledge of the dunya and not be able to accomplish what the sahaaba did without following the methodology of RasoolAllah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), and we learn this form the seerah. By studying the seerah and emphasizing the methodology of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) we too can follow in his steps and eventually attain success in our goals in this life as well as in the hereafter as was done by the people before us.

We see how the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) trained the sahaabah

The sahaaba are referred to as the best of all nations ever raised. It is through seerah that we find out how they actually became the best of all nations ever raised. Firstly they were under the direct guidance of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) and secondly they followed this guidance and stayed firm upon it even after his (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)’s death. We find in the seerah what methodology did the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) use to make them from the lowest of the low to the highest of the high, the type of tarbiya (development and training) is seen here.

Seerah brings about comfort and peace to the heart

Each person enjoys what his or heart is conditioned to. If the person is all about following his desires he only like to listen to or follow that and anything else is not of any importance or weight to that person. If the person is all about following the revelation then this is what his heart is inclined to and this is what comforts him and this is what brings about peace in his heart. The heart takes consolation and peace with what it is conditioned to. An example given is that of a person who listens to music or likes it. He will find comfort and peace by listening to it and when the Qur'aan is recited he can’t either stand hearing it or he feels uncomfortable around it. His sins prevent him from fully enjoying the recitation of the Qur'aan. Then there is the mu’min (believer) who finds complete comfort and peace in his heart when he is listening to the recitation of the Qur'aan and he feels uncomfortable being around anywhere where music is played. This feeling and example does not apply to everybody. Only those who fear Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala) and have hope in the Day of Judgment and remember Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala) a lot. We know this from the ayat in the Qur'aan where Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala) says,

[ For, Believers are those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a tremor in their hearts, and when they hear His signs rehearsed, find their faith strengthened, and put (all) their trust in their Lord]

Surat Al-Anfal (8) Verse 2

Primary way of defending the honor of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)

Especially in times like ours where the enemies of Islam are trying to attack the honor of our Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) we need to find what is the truth and spread it. The Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) is being attacked by many different groups especially in this country. Their ideologies might separate them but their hatred for Islam and the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) unites them against us. And how else can we become more proactive, and we need to become proactive based upon the knowledge of the sunnah. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala) says in the Qur'aan,

[We have truly sent thee as a witness, as a bringer of Glad Tidings, and as a Warner. That you may believe in Allah and His Messenger and may aid him and revere him; and (that) you may declare His glory, morning and evening]

Surat Al-Fath (48):8-9

This tells us that one of the rights the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) has upon us is that we have to defend and honor his name in thisworld whenever he is attacked. He was sent by Allah so that we believe in Allah and the Messenger and we defend and honor the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) and glorify Allah.

Seerah is the study of the best of all matters

Seerah is in fact the study of the best human being, the best timeframe, the best generation that ever lived and the best religion that was ever revealed in the history of mankind.

Best Human Being

The Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was no doubt the best human being to walk this earth. We learn this from the hadith of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) when he said, “I am the leader of the children of Adam on the Day of Judgment and I am not being arrogant or boastful. On that day, I shall be holding the banner of praise and I do not say this to be boastful. And there is not a single prophet on that day from Adam until our times except that he will be under my banner and I do not say this out of arrogance. I will be the first person who will intercede and the first person’s intercession that will be accepted by Allah. And I do not say this to be boastful”

So from this hadeeth of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) we learn that the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was not only the best man in his generation or the best prophet in his time, but also the best man and prophet to ever walk the face of this earth since Adam (Alayhis Salaam)’s setting foot on this earth to the Day of Judgment.

Best Generation of Muslims

The generation of muslims in the seerah are the best generation of the muslims. We know this because Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala) says in the Qur'aan,

[You are the best of the nations raised up for mankind, ……. ]

Surat Al-E-Imran(3):110

Also the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said in a hadeeth, “The best of all generations is this generation and then the generation that follows them and then those that follow them.”

When the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) said this generation he means the sahaaba, and the one that follows are the tabioon (students of the sahaaba) and the one after that are the taba tabioon (students f the tabioon). These three generations are referred to as the salaf and the ones that come after them are called the khalaf. This is enough proof to show us that the sahaaba were the best generation of the ummah of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) to ever live and the next best are the ones that come after the sahaaba (the tabioon) and the next best are the ones that come after the tabioon (the taba tabioon).

Best of all religions

The study of the seerah is the study of the best of religions. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala) revealed religions in the past and they were all of the common essence but the shareeah was different. The proof that our religion is the best of religions is the statement of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta'ala),

[…..This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion…..] Surat Al Maeda(5):3

The study of the seerah is the study of how these blessings were perfected.

Seerah taught as a science in the madaaris (schools) of the past

Another reason for us to study the seerah of RasoolAllah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) is that it is a science from among the sciences of Islam. The scholars of the past would teach seerah like every other science. We have a narration from Ali Ibn Al-Hussayn who said, “We would be taught the majaazi (seerah) of RasoolAllah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) just like the Qur'aan.” This shows us that Seerah and Qur'aan were sciences taught at madaaris at that time.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Seerah and Hadith: What is the Difference??

Seerah and Hadith: What is the Difference?

Taken from a live lecture series entitled "Seerah: Lessons and Morals" delivered by Abu Ammar Yasir Qadhi

If Seerah1 is defined as the life or way the Prophet (SAW) lived, then what is the difference between Seerah and Hadith2 or even the Sunnah3? The Seerah is a collection of narrations about the people and events surrounding the Prophet (SAW) arranged in a chronological order. The amount of rigor put into authenticating and analyzing the chains and narrators4 of an incident or event that is found in the Seerah is far lower than when a narration is used in the Sunnah or Hadith. Only the top of the top narrations, namely Sahih5 or Hasan6 are used in the books of Hadith and Sunnah. As for Seerah this is not the case, the narrations used include all the authentic and acceptable ones, along with ones with weaknesses. The reason for including these weaker narrations is in order to fill in gapes or holes in the story. The reason we do this is because if we were to be just as strict and apply the same rules in accepting narrations in the Seerah as Hadith then, this would mean that we wouldn’t be able to get narrations about the status of the Arabs, and the forefathers of the Prophet (SAW) because everyone who narrated them were Non-Muslims. Examples of this are the narrations about the Story of the Feel (Elephant)7, and the incident of ‘Amr Ibn Luhayy Al-Khuzaaee8, or even the life of Abdul Muttallib9.

So, since we use weaker narrations in Seerah, we can not use the seerah as evidence to support rulings and beliefs found in fiqh10 (Islamic Juriprudence) or aqeedah11 (Islamic Belief). We cannot derive rulings of fiqh or aqeedah from the Seerah. So in conclusion, we cannot derive or use as our proof for our worship, our beliefs or our methodology from the seerah alone, we have to use the authentic Sunnah as our primary reference and not rely upon seerah alone.

From this we can say that scholars of seerah like Ibn Is’haaq12, specialized in seerah out of all the sciences of Islam, and this is true for most of the scholars. Each and every scholar has a specialty in a certain field of Islam. Just like a person usually doesn’t specialize in engineering and also medicine, this is the case with Islam, some people specialize in hadith and are called muhadditheen13 (s. muhaddith) and some people specialize in fiqh and are called fuqahaa14 (s. faqeeh). Ibn Is’haaq’s specialty was seerah therefore he was abandoned by the scholars of hadeeth when it came to narrating hadeeth and a reason for this might be because he might include those weaker narrations while he narrated the hadeeth.
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Footnotes
1. Biography of the Prophet Muhammad (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) – Click here to see “What is Seerah!”
2. Literally – something that is a statement, communication, or story, or if used as an adjective it means new. In the Shari’ perspective it is a statement of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam).
3. Literally it means a way, in the Islamic Sciences perspective it means the way of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), it is had different definitions based on which type of scholar uses it. More info on this topic to be posted soon InshaAllah.
4. Chain (Arabic is isnad) and Narrators (Arabic is rijaal) – use dint he Sciences of the authentication or rejection of hadith. More info on this topic to be posted soon, InshaAllah.
5. Sahih – a hadeeth that is authentic based on its chain of narrators. Accpeted as a source of Shareeah in Islam.
6. Hasan – a hadeeth that is good base don its chain of narrators. Accpeted as a source of Shareeah in Islam.
7. The Story of the Elephant or Feel is mentioned in the Qur'aan in Chapter (Sura) 105. It happened the year the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) was born. It was an event where the king of Yemen tried to destroy the Ka’ba in Mecca by bringing elephants from Ethiopia, but were unsuccessful due to a miracle from Allah. More info on this topic to be posted soon, InshaAllah.
8. This person was a chief of Khuza’ah. He was known for his righteousness, piety, and care for religion, but he went to Syria for a trip and saw them worshipping idols, and adopted this practice and brought it to his lands, and then the Ka’bah, and this being the center of religion of Arabia, this practice spread like wildfire over the years. This was the main reason for the spread of idolatry in the Arabian Peninsula. A more post on this topic will be posted soon, InshaAllah.
9. He was the grandfather of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) and took care of him in his early childhood. More info on him to be posted soon, InshaAllah.
10. Islamic Jurisprudence – the rules and conditions surrounding the physical acts of worship the Muslim does, and the obligatory, permitted, and forbidden things in Islam.
11. Islamic theology, or Islamic beliefs that a person has that makes him a Muslim.
12. The greatest scholar of the Seerah of RasoolAllah (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), his work was used as a basis of later works about the Seerah. InshaAllah, if I learn more about this individual I will post a blog about him.
13. Scholars of hadeeth and its sciences.
14. The scholars that are proficient and specialize in the science of fiqh