Lecture by Dr. Yasir Qadhi | Transcribed by Zohra

This is Part 3 of the sīrah series, click to read Part 1 and Part 2

[The following is the video and transcript of Shaykh Yasir Qadhi's Lectures on sīrah. The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity].

Wa Ashadu An La Ila ha IllAllāh Wah dahu La Sharrika Lahu Wa Ashadu Anna Muhammadan Abduhu Warasuluhu – Amma Ba'ad

What is Sīrah?

We are in the process of doing introductory lectures before actually jumping into the life and times of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). These introductory lectures comprise of background information and motivation for why we should be studying the sīrah. So today inshā'Allāh ta'āla we shall begin by discussing what exactly is the sīrah and why we should study it. We'll try to mention something about pre-Islamic Arabia. So we're going to set the stage and continue next week and the week after that, for the coming of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

Before we begin with the birth of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), we need to describe the world in his time. So we're going to begin by doing that today and continue for the next week or two. We begin by describing the word sīrah. What does the word sīrah mean? The word sīrah comes from the Arabic word/verb: Saara Yaseeru/Sairan, which means to traverse or to journey. The verb sīrah actually comes from the verb 'to travel' and the reason why it is called the sīrah of a person is because it means the biography of a person you are travelling his journey, you are walking in his path following his footsteps. So when we study the life and times of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), it is as if we are following in his footsteps, as if we are travelling in his journey. That is why the biography of a person is called the sīrah.

Even though the Arabs would call the sīrah the biography of any person, as soon as the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) came, the Muslim scholars exclusively used it for the biography of the best human being. And so no scholar says sīrah except that he means – the biography of, the life and times of our Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Now in order to understand the sīrah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), you don't begin with his birth, you must begin with the world at that time; that is why every single book of sīrah from the classical books, up until the modern ones, have the introductory sections. And we're going to begin with that today after we summarize some of the benefits of studying the sīrah.

Why study sīrah?

Why study the sīrah? Why spend our time coming here to understand the sīrah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)?

The benefits are numerous. First and foremost, Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has commanded us to know this man. This is an obligation that Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has put upon us. We have to know this person. There are over 50 verses in the Qurʾān that command us to take the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) as an example.

Benefits of studying the Sīrah

Perfect role model

Of them: Laqad kaana lakum fee Rasulillahi uswatun hasanatun liman kaana yarju Allāha wal yauma wal Akhera wathakara wAllāhah katheeran.

Laqad kaana lakum – Indeed there is for you – fee Rasulillah – in the messenger of Allāh – uswatun hasanatun – an exemplary manner, a perfect conduct – uswa – means something you follow – hasana – means a perfect – So you have in the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), the perfect example to follow. Therefore, the study of the life and times of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), is the study of somebody we need to follow.

The amazing thing is that no matter what angle you look at the life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), you will benefit from that. So one angle we look at is in terms of religion, in terms of how we worship Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).  We look at it in terms of manners and morals, of mercy and tenderness. Also we look at the sīrah in terms of leadership. What did the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) do as a leader? We look at the sīrah in terms of how he was as a father and a husband, and we will find benefit in this. No matter which angle you look at the life and times, the purpose of risalah, the purpose of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) sending Prophets is that we have a living example to follow. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tells us in the Qurʾān that if we wanted we could have sent angels.

There is a verse in the Qurʾān that says: “… but what would you have done had we sent angels? You would have rejected.

Why? Because these are not like us, how can we follow them? So of the perfection of Allāh's wisdom is that He sends human beings in flesh and blood, people like ourselves, born of women, married, and having children; but then the difference is they are chosen by Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and they are made role models and examples.

Love for the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)

Another blessing of studying the sīrah is that it is the number one way to increase our love of our Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). There is no other way as effective and powerful to increase our love for the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), than by studying his life and times. A sad fact about our ummah is that unfortunately we have neglected this study, and we have sidelined it and most of our children are completely ignorant of the sīrah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). They don't even know the names of his children, or the important dates such as when did he emigrate, how old was he when way came down. And yet they know so much of this dunya and it is embarrassing for us as parents that our children know so much of movie stars and actors and sports personalities; but they have no clue as to the reality of the person whom they should know about. So by studying the sīrah of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), our love for him increases, and conversely it demonstrates that our love is a two-way street. When you study, your love goes up; In order for your love to go up, you need to study, and if you truly love this man, you will study him; and a sign of loving someone is to want to know more about that person. This is human nature.

For example, when I'm travelling I'm calling up my children and asking them, “So what did you do today?” I mean what they've done doesn't affect me. “What did you have for breakfast?” Who cares? It's not going to affect me. But this is a sign of love, because when you love somebody you want to know everything about them. So, anybody who claims to love the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), but he doesn't study his life and times, wallāhi, this is a sign that he does not love him. If you claim you love this man, and yet you don't care to study him, you don't care to read his biography, or  you don't care to find out facts about him, what type of love is that? This is not the love that we understand as human beings; so to study the sīrah is a sign of love and through studying the sīrah, it increases our love, so it is a circle. The more we love, the more we study. The more we study, the more we love.

Understanding the Qurʾān

By understanding the sīrah, a third benefit is that it helps us to understand the Qurʾān. The Qurʾān is a very complex book, a very profound book, and it cannot be understood without context. For example – when you hear:

Wad duha Wal Laili Iza Saj'a. Ma Waddaka Rabbuka wama qala

 Your Lord has not abandoned you, nor has He shown you any harshness.

You will not understand this verse, until you understand the sīrah. When was it revealed? Why was it revealed? The context of the revelation was, when the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was facing persecution  he was wondering – why isn't Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) helping me? Why isn't the Nasr of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)coming? Why isn't the wahy coming? Why isn't the Qurʾān coming? For weeks no Qurʾān came down and the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) began thinking : “Maybe my Lord has abandoned me.”

This is early on.  This was in the first year of revelation, and Shayān is giving him bad thoughts, and so immediately Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) reveals:

Wad duha Wal Layli Idhza Saj'aa . Maa Wadda'aka Rabbuka wa ma qalaa.

It is a sign of optimism. What is duha? It is the breaking of the light. To this day amongst humanity, what does duha signify? A new day, light is coming. When there is light it is an optimistic sign.

And Allāh is telling him: Maa wadd'aka Rabbuka wa maa qalaa. Walal Aakhirartu Khairullaka minal ulaa.

Be patient. What's going to happen is better than what is happening now.

It's the beginning of the day. Dawn is coming, the sun is coming up. So until you understand this sīrah, the surah doesn't make any sense to you. So, by studying the sīrah, the Qurʾān gains meaning, profundity. Without the sīrah, the Qurʾān has no context. Without context, you will never be able to truly appreciate the Qurʾān.

Raising our Īmān in hard times

Another benefit of studying the sīrah is, it raises our hopes and spirits and blesses us with optimism; especially in our times when we're facing Islamophobia, and a little bit of persecution. WAllāhi to call it persecution is even embarrassing when we look at what the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and the aābah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) went through. We, in America, are not being persecuted in that sense. Nonetheless, times have changed in the last ten years. Now we are facing a little bit of the heat. We need a source of direction, a source of optimism.

By studying the sīrah, we can understand that the people before us suffered even more, and we compare our trials and tribulations to theirs. And in fact, a beautiful point here – the Qurʾān tells us that Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is telling the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) stories of the earlier prophets, i.e. sīrahs of the earlier prophets. Why?

Wa Qullanna kussu alayka min 'abaada rusuli, ma nuthabbituhee fu aadak.

We're going to recite to you stories of the previous prophets in order that your hearts attain affirmation Nuthabit Bihi Fuadak – we are going to make you feel more firm and optimistic.

So think about this – when our prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) heard the stories of the earlier prophets, what did it do to him? It gave him more optimism, gave him more īmān. How about us then? Don't we deserve even more so for our īmān to go up and we study the life and times of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)? So the studying of the life and times of the prophets and of the previous generation's prophets of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), it brings about an immediate benefit – Nuthabbitu Bihi Fua'da – to resolve, to affirm your īmān by studying it.

Prophet's life as a miracle

Yet another benefit of studying the sīrah, which many of us don't think about, is that the sīrah itself is a miracle of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). When somebody asks you, what are some of the miracles of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)? We start thinking – the splitting of the moon, the talking of the tree, etc., and we don't think that in fact his whole life is a miracle from beginning to end. His whole life is an indication that he is a prophet of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Coming from where he came, with the education, or the lack of it, and yet coming forth with the message, the profundity, the scripture, and the eloquence of the Qurʾān. Where did this come from? And in addition to that, his patience, his perseverance, and his success that came in the middle of ancient pagan civilization that had nothing. There was no civilization, no script; they didn't even have two- story buildings, no libraries. They couldn't even read and write, and yet the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), came from the midst of a backward and uneducated, barbaric nation. They were really a barbaric nation and within 20 years, look what happened? Within 50 years Islam began to spread, and within 100 years, it ruled the world.  This is a miracle from Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and the sīrah is the beginning of that miracle – how he lived, the power that he wielded, and yet the simplicity with which he lived his life, the sacrifice that the aābah would have made had he asked them to do, but he didn't. And it is impossible for any human being not to be affected by that power, luxury, and wealth, unless there is a divine sincerity in him – a pure sincerity that is there for the sake of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

The famous scholar Ibn Hazm from Andalus, says “WAllāhi, if the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) had not been given any miracle other than his life and his times, it would have been sufficient to prove that he is a Prophet of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), if he had not been given any other miracle other than his sīrah. The sīrah is the best indication that he is the Prophet of Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).”

Of course there are many facets here, his own life and times, how he revolutionized Arabia, and how he changed the entire world from where he came – from a humble origin, a shepherd in Mecca, and what happened with the message he came with. Immediately he became a leader within 20 years. Nobody could have ever predicted that a group would come from Arabia and destroy the Persian empire and start knocking on the doors of the Roman Empire until it starts diminishing, wiping it out. Nobody would have predicted that a new group from Arabia would come with a new religion, a new theology, a force that cannot be equalled with the mighty empires of Rome and Persia. And yet Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) opened up the doors, and Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) allowed this group of people who were less educated and even less civilized. The aābah did not even have the civilization that the Romans and Persians did. They did not have the weaponry and yet they had victory, and Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) blessed them and made them Muslims, because they had this religion.

So by studying the life and times of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), we see a miracle that Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) sent him.

9 Responses

  1. Melanie

    Jazaka Allah Kharyun, Dr. Qadhi for the reminders..i love the written transcript so much easier for me to read and review.

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  2. yellow roses

    May Allah continue to bless you and your family !!! This came at the right time for me.

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    • Aly Balagamwala

      Dear Sister

      Jazakillahu Khairin for your regular comments on our site. Please note that our Comments Policy states that you must use your name, a Kunyah or a valid blog handle if it is linked to your blog and a valid email address. This has been pointed out to you earlier in a couple of comments. Kindly help us by following the guidelines of the Comments Policy.

      Best Regards
      Aly

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  3. Shifaya

    JazakAllahu Khayran for the wonderful transcription. Looking forward for part 4, In Shaa Allah :)

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  4. Mohammed

    Masha Allah this is scholarly work. Keep up the good work. Jazak Allah khairan

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  5. Thasneem

    Assalamu alaikum! I have a few questions to be answered by Dr. Yasir Qadhi. I have been listening to his lectures on the Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad ( PBUH ) uploaded by MemphisIslamicCenter on YouTube and have covered upto Hudaybiyya.
    1. It was told that Kunooth was recited by Prophet Muhammad ( PBUH ) only at times of calamity for the Ummah as a whole as in the massacre at well of Mauna and Al Raji and not in the Fajr prayers.
    2. It was also told that the period of Iddah is one menstrual cycle and not 3 months or 4 months & 10 days as argued by some.
    3. The last question is the gusl for Janabath. Is it necessary for gusl or just the ablution will clean you from the state of impurity.
    There are many views regarding these. Can you please explain further the different views by renowned scholars and the Sunnah practiced by our prophet. I would like to know the view of Dr. Zakir Naik also since I follow some of his lectures and find them to have been researched.
    Jazakallahu khaira!

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  6. Kari

    Assalamu Alaikum. JazakAllah Khair for the transcript! Really appreciate it..

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  7. Gul

    السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ
    JazakAllah Khayran for the transcription of this series. It has been immensely helpful. I was wondering if you are going to be doing the rest of the videos of this series?

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