A few months ago I thought it would be a good idea to read the sīrah of the Prophet , to my 6 year old boy. I purchased a few books and began to read from them to my son. The endeavor soon went very, very stale. The author had chosen to omit the more dramatic incidents of the sīrah, such as Bilal's torture, the conversion of Hamzah, , and any level of detail regarding the famous and pivotal battles of Islam. I presume the author felt that such intense and sometimes violent content was inappropriate for children and while I respect his decision and efforts, I do not agree with him. The sīrah is about Life, or to be more precise, how life should be lived. And according to the Qurʾān, the Sunnah, and the experience of every human being in history, Life is full of struggle, defeat, pain, victory, joy, death, birth, and rebirth. Are we doing our children a favor by sheltering them from these realities at such a young age? Is it not better to gently introduce them to these truths through the sīrah of the Prophet , as told to them by their own Father, in the comfort of their own home and bed? That is the conclusion that I reached and I did not believe that any of the sīrah books for children currently available would meet that goal, so I proceeded to deliver my own narration of the sīrah to my son.
As a reference, I used one of my favorite Arabic books, السيرة النبوية في ضوء مصادرها الأصلية, “The Prophetic sīrah in the Light of its Original Sources”, by Mahdi Rizq-Ullah, and to put it simply, the experience has been absolutely awesome. Together, my son and I have experienced all the most dramatic moments from the greatest and truest adventure ever lived, toned down (and sometimes exaggerated for comedic effect) to a level that I felt was appropriate. We visited the Prophet's infancy and the loneliness of his childhood after the death of his parents, then his growing prestige as a trusted merchant of Quraysh. We witnessed the awesome terror and power of the first revelation and the comfort given to him by his noble wife Khadīja . The ups and downs, the joys and defeats, the sacrifices and the struggles of the greatest generation this world has ever seen became a part of our nighttime routine and I swear that at times I was so moved that I could barely continue. In fact, out of all the ways that I have experienced the sīrah of Muḥammad , through reading, listening to tapes, and even attending a sīrah class as a student of Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn Uthaymeen, rahimahu Allāh, I feel that this has been the most rewarding. May Allāh forgive my inadequacy at finding the right words, but all I can say is that it is one thing to learn the sīrah for yourself and an entirely other thing to learn and teach it to your children.
My experience in re-delivering the story of Muḥammad , and his Companions has been one of the most positive endeavors that I have undertaken as a Father. It provided me with an unique opportunity to teach my son lessons about perseverance, mercy, faith, bravery, and a long list of other virtues rarely talked about in today's society. I've shared this with you in the hope that there is something useful to be learned from it for yourself and your family. Allāh knows the best.
“Each of you is a shepherd and each of you shall be asked about his flock”
Bukhāri and Muslim
This post was originally posted here.