Lecture by Dr. Yasir Qadhi | Transcribed by Zohra
[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 . 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 .
Before we begin with the birth of the Prophet , 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 , 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 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 . Now in order to understand the sīrah of the Prophet , 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 ?
The benefits are numerous. First and foremost, Allāh has commanded us to know this man. This is an obligation that Allāh 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 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 , the perfect example to follow. Therefore, the study of the life and times of the Prophet , 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 , you will benefit from that. So one angle we look at is in terms of religion, in terms of how we worship Allāh . 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 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 sending Prophets is that we have a living example to follow. Allāh 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 , and they are made role models and examples.
Love for the Prophet
Another blessing of studying the sīrah is that it is the number one way to increase our love of our Prophet . There is no other way as effective and powerful to increase our love for the Prophet , 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 . 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 waḥy 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 , 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 , 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 was facing persecution he was wondering – why isn’t Allāh helping me? Why isn’t the Nasr of Allāh coming? Why isn’t the wahy coming? Why isn’t the Qurʾān coming? For weeks no Qurʾān came down and the Prophet began thinking : “Maybe my Lord has abandoned me.”
This is early on. This was in the first year of revelation, and Shayṭān is giving him bad thoughts, and so immediately Allāh 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 and the Ṣaḥābah 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 is telling the Prophet 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 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 ? So the studying of the life and times of the prophets and of the previous generation’s prophets of Allāh , 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 . When somebody asks you, what are some of the miracles of the Prophet ? 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 . 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 , 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 , 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 Ṣaḥābah 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 .
The famous scholar Ibn Hazm from Andalus, says “WAllāhi, if the Prophet 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 , 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 .”
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 Makkah, 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 opened up the doors, and Allāh allowed this group of people who were less educated and even less civilized. The Ṣaḥābah 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 blessed them and made them Muslims, because they had this religion.
So by studying the life and times of the Prophet , we see a miracle that Allāh sent him.
Emotional Intelligence: A Tool for Change
Why do we consider emotional intelligence to be half of the Prophetic intellect? The answer lies in the word “messenger.” Messengers of Allah are tasked with the divine responsibility of conveying to humanity the keys to their salvation. They are not only tasked with passing on the message but also with being a living example of that message.
When ʿĀʾishah, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ, was asked to explain the character of the blessed Prophet ﷺ, her reply was, “His character was the Qurʾān.” We are giving emotional intelligence a place of primacy in the construct of Prophetic intelligence because it seems implausible that Allah would send a messenger without providing that messenger with the means necessary to exemplify and transmit the message to others. If the Prophets of Allah did not have the necessary knowledge and skills needed to successfully pass on the message to the next generation, the argument would be incomplete. People could easily excuse themselves of all accountability because the message was never conveyed.
We also see clear examples in the Qur’ān that this knowledge was being perpetually perfected in the character of the Prophet ﷺ. Slight slips in his Emotional Intelligence were rare, but when they did occur, Allah gently addressed the mistake by means of revelation. Allah says in the Qurʾān, “If you (O Muḥammad) were harsh and hardhearted, then the people would flee from you.” This verse clearly placed the burden of keeping an audience upon the shoulders of the Prophet ﷺ. What this means is that the Prophet ﷺ had to be aware of what would push people away; he had to know what would create cognitive and emotional barriers to receptivity. When we study the shamāʾil (books about his character), we find that he was beyond exceptional in his ability to make people receptive. He took great care in studying the people around him and deeply understanding them. Only after the Prophet ﷺ had exhausted all the means of removing barriers to receptivity would the responsibility to affirm the message be shifted to those called to it.
Another example of this Prophetic responsibility can be found in the story of Prophet Mūsa when he was commissioned to call Pharaoh and the children of Israel to Allah. When Allah informed him of the task he was chosen for, he immediately attempted to excuse himself because he had a slight speech impediment. He knew that his speech impediment could potentially affect the receptivity of people to the message. He felt that this disqualified him from being a Prophet. He also felt that the act of manslaughter he committed might come between the people and guidance. All of these examples show that Allah’s Prophets understood that many factors can affect a person’s receptivity to learning something new, especially when the implications of that new information call into question almost every aspect of a person’s identity. History tells us that initially, people did not accept the message of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ; they completely rejected him and accused him of being a liar.
One particular incident shows very clearly that he ﷺ understood how necessary it was for him to remove any cognitive or emotional barriers that existed between him and his community. When the people of his hometown of Makkah had almost completely rejected him, he felt that it was time to turn his attention to a neighboring town. The city of Ṭā’if was a major city and the Prophet ﷺ was hopeful that perhaps they would be receptive to the message. Unfortunately, they completely rejected him and refused to even listen to what he had to say. They chased him out of town, throwing stones at him until his injuries left him completely covered in blood. Barely making it outside the city, the Prophet ﷺ collapsed. Too weak to move, he turned his attention to his Lord and made one of the most powerful supplications made by a Prophet of Allah.
“اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي، وقلة حيلتي، وهواني على الناس، يا أرحم الراحمين، أنت أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي، إلى من تكلني؟ إلى عدو يتجهمني؟ أو إلى قريب ملكته أمري؟ إن لم يكن بك علي غضب فلا أبالي، غير أن عافيتك أوسع لي، أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أشرقت له الظلمات، وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والآخرة، من أن ينزل بي غضبك، أو يحل علي سخطك، لك العتبى حتى ترضى، ولا حول ولا قوة إلا بك”
“Oh Allah, only to You do I complain about my lack of strength, my insufficient strategies, and lowliness in the sight of the people. You are my Lord. To whom do you turn me over? Someone distant from me who will forsake me? Or have you placed my affair in the hands of my enemy? ”
The Prophet ﷺ felt that he was the reason why the people were not accepting the message. His concern that “my low status in the eyes of the people,” informs us that he understood that people naturally judge the seriousness of a message based on the stature of the message bearer. The people of Ṭā’if were extremely ignorant, so much that they adamantly refused to enter into any dialogue. In reality, this was not due to any shortcoming of the Prophet ﷺ; he demonstrated the best of character and displayed extreme patience in the face of such ignorance. But the beginning of the supplication teaches us what he was focused on: making sure that he was not the reason why someone did not accept the message.
Because his message was not geographically restricted like that of other Prophets, those who inherited the message would have the extra burden of transferring the message to a people with whom they were unfamiliar. The intelligence needed to pass the message of the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ around the world included an understanding of the cultural differences that occur between people. Without this understanding effective communication and passing on of his message would be impossible.
A sharp Emotional Intelligence is built upon the development of both intra- and interpersonal intelligence. These intelligences are the backbone of EQ and they provide a person with emotional awareness and understanding of his or her own self, an empathic understanding of others, and the ability needed to communicate effectively and cause change. Emotional Intelligence by itself is not sufficient for individual reform or societal reform; instead, it is only one part of the puzzle. The ʿaql or intellect that is referenced repeatedly in the Qurʾān is a more comprehensive tool that not only recognizes how to understand the psychological and emotional aspects of people but recognizes morally upright and sound behavior. After that this intellect, if healthy and mature, forces a person to conform to that standard. Therefore, we understand the ʿaql to be a comprehensive collection of intelligences analogous to Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory.
Taking into consideration the extreme diversity found within Western Muslim communities, we see how both Moral Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence are needed. Fostering and nurturing healthy communities requires that we understand how people receive our messages. This is the interpersonal intelligence aspect of EQ. Without grounding the moral component of our community, diversity can lead to what some contemporary moral theorists call moral plasticity, a phenomenon where concrete understandings of good and evil, right and wrong, are lost. Moral Education (Moral Education, which will be discussed throughout the book, is the process of building a Morally Intelligent heart) focuses on correcting the message that we are communicating to the world; in other words, Moral Intelligence helps us maintain our ideals and live by them, while Emotional Intelligence ensures that the message is effectively communicated to others.
My father would often tell me, “It’s not what you say, son; it’s what they hear.”
Interpersonal understanding is the core of emotional intelligence. My father would often tell me, “It’s not what you say, son; it’s what they hear.” From the perspective of Emotional Intelligence, this statement is very accurate. The way we interpret words, body language, verbal inflections, and facial expressions is based on many different factors. The subtle power of this book lies in the simple fact that your emotional intelligence is the primary agent of change and thus the most powerful force you have. You must understand how people perceive what you are communicating to them. What is missing from my father’s statement is the primacy of Moral Intelligence. Throughout this book, I attempt to show how the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ demonstrated a level of perfection of both of these intelligences.
*With the Heart in Mind is available for pre-order at https://www.qalam.foundation/qalambooks/with-the-heart-in-mind
Bayhaqī, Shuʿb al-ʾĪmān, vol. 3, p. 23.
 Ibn Kathir, al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah, vol. 3, p. 136.
The Languages of the Sahaba
Arabs – during the time of the revelation- were known as an illiterate nation for whom the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was sent from among themselves. Yet, there are instances in the prophetic hadiths that draw attention to some literate companions who were even able to speak and write in more than one tongue. In this article, we shed light at samples of the companions who were multilingual.
The Prophetic stand towards foreign languages:
One hadith is well known among current Muslims in which the Prophet ﷺ says: “Whoever learns a language of a people (other than Arabic), he becomes safe from their wickedness”. Although this saying is well known among Muslims, the fact is that it is not a hadith of the Prophet ﷺ. Hadith scholars say it is root-less, fabricated, but its meaning is sound. Another fabricated hadith is the one that goes “Seek knowledge even in China”. Some people deduce that one cannot seek knowledge in China without being able to communicate with the Chinse in their own language.
Although these two fabricated hadiths are well known, there is no real need for them to establish the importance of learning a foreign language as perceived by the Prophet ﷺ and the companions in their dealings. After all, the Prophet’s tradition (Sunnah) is not just verbal hadiths; it includes his dealings and actions. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ is known to have used messengers to carry his messages to kings and emperors after the 6th year of Hijra. He sent Hatib ibn Abi Baltaa to Egypt because he was knowledgeable about Greek that was spoken by the rulers in Egypt at that time. He also sent Jaafar Ibn Abi Talib to the king of Abyssinia, because Jaafaar learned their tongue while he was there in the first Hijra, where he spent more than 10 years there. The Prophet ﷺ even ordered some of his companions to learn the tongue of the Jews so as to translate for him the messages they used to send to him.
In addition, he ﷺ used very few non-Arabic words in his hadiths that were known to his interlocutors. In Al Bukhari, Um Khalid (the daughter of Khalid bin Sa`id) who was a very young child narrated “I went to Allah’s Messenger ﷺ with my father and I was wearing a yellow shirt. Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said, “Sanah, Sanah!” (`Abdullah, the narrator, said that ‘Sanah’ meant ‘good’ in the Ethiopian language). I then started playing with the seal of Prophethood (in between the Prophet’s shoulders) and my father rebuked me harshly for that. Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said. “Leave her,” and then Allah’s Messenger ﷺ (invoked Allah to grant me a long life) by saying (thrice), “Wear this dress till it is worn out and then wear it till it is worn out, and then wear it till it is worn out.” (The narrator adds, “It is said that she lived for a long period, wearing that (yellow) dress till its color became dark because of long wear.”)
In another hadith, The Prophet ﷺ said, “Near the establishment of the Hour, there will be the days of Al-Harj, and the religious knowledge will be taken away (vanish i.e. by the death of Religious scholars) and general ignorance will spread.” Abu Musa said, “Al-Harj, in the Ethiopian language, means killing.”
These rare instances of using non-Arabic words in the Prophet’s speech do not mean that he knew foreign languages. Rather, it means that he knew a few words that were known to most people to whom he spoke. He used them for recreation purposes (the case of Um Khalid), or for drawing attention to the importance of the idea (the case of Abu Musa).
- Abu Huraira:
There different instances where Abu Huraira spoke Faris (Persian). In Al Bukhari, Hilal ibn Usamah quoted Abu Maimunah Salma, a client of the people of Madinah, as saying:
While I was sitting with Abu Huraira, a Persian woman came to him along with a son of hers. She had been divorced by her husband and they both wanted custody. She said: Abu Huraira, speaking to him in Persian, my husband wishes to take my son away. Abu Huraira said: Cast lots for him, saying it to her in a foreign language. Her husband came and asked: Who is disputing with me about my son?
Abu Huraira said: O Allah, I do not say this, except that I heard a woman who came to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ while I was sitting with him, and she said: My husband wishes to take away my son, Messenger of Allah, and he draws water for me from the well of Abu Anabah, and he has been good to me. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: Cast lots for him. Her husband said: Who is disputing with me about my son?
The Prophet ﷺ said to the boy: This is your father and this your mother, so take whichever of them you wish by the hand. So he took his mother’s hand and she went away with him.
In addition to Persian, Abu Huraira is reported to have spoken in Abyssinian. In Al Bukhari, Abu Salama narrated that ‘Abd al-Rahman bin ‘Auf reported Allah’s Messenger ﷺ as saying:
There is no transitive disease, but he is also reported to have said: A sick person should not be taken to one who is healthy. Abu Salama said that Abu Huraira used to narrate these two (different hadiths) from Allah’s Messenger ﷺ, but afterwards Abu Huraira became silent on these words:” There is no transitive disease,” but he stuck to this that the sick person should not be taken to one who is healthy. Harith b. Abu Dhubab (and he was the first cousin of Abu Huraira) said: Abu Huraira, I used to hear from you that you narrated to us along with this hadith and the other one also (there is no transitive disease), but now you observe silence about it. You used to say that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said: There is no transitive disease. Abu Huraira denied having any knowledge of that, but he said that the sick camel should not be taken to the healthy one. Harith, however, did not agree with him, which irritated Abu Huraira and he said to him some words in the Abyssinian language. He said to Harith: Do you know what I said to you? He said: No. Abu Huraira said: I simply denied having said it. Abu Salama said: By my life, Abu Huraira in fact used to report Allah’s Messenger ﷺ having said: There is no transitive disease. I do not know whether Abu Huraira has forgotten it or he deemed it an abrogated statement in the light of the other one.
So, while Abu Huraira used Persian in the first Hadith for communication purposes, he used Abyssinian in the second for expressing his anger. Did he try to conceal his anger by holding his tongue in Arabic, and releasing it in a foreign language? This may be the case.
- Zaid ibn Thabit:
Zaid is known as on the geniuses of the companions. He was the one entitled with the responsibility of collecting the Quran during the time of Abi Bakr and the time of Othman Ibn Affan. He tells us about how the Prophet (ﷺ) ordered him to learn a foreign language.
Narrated Zayd ibn Thabit: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) ordered me (to learn the writing of the Jews), so I learned for him the writing of the Jews. He said: I swear by Allah, I do not trust Jews in respect of writing for me. So I learned it, and only a fortnight passed before I mastered it. I would write for him when he wrote (to them), and read to him when something was written to him.
The hadith indicates that Zaid learnt Syriac/ Aramaic which the Jews used in their writings. Zaid states that only 15 days were enough for him to master the language. It seems that Zaid focused more on the orthographic system rather than the phonic system because he does not tell us about instances where he used Syriac/ Aramaic in speaking.
- Salman The Persian:
As Salman was a native speaker of Persian, he was the first choice for the companions when they wanted to communicate with Persians. Narrated Abu Al-Bakhtari: “An Army from the armies of the Muslims, whose commander was Salman Al-Farisi, besieged one of the Persian castles. They said: ‘O Abu ‘Abdullah! Should we charge them?’ He said: ‘Leave me to call them (to Islam) as I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ call them.’
So Salman went to them and said: ‘I am only a man from among you, a Persian, and you see that the Arabs obey me. If you become Muslims then you will have the likes of what we have, and from you will be required that which is required from us. If you refuse and keep your religion, then we will leave you to it, and you will give us the Jizyah from your hands while you are submissive.’ He said to them in Persian: ‘And you are other than praiseworthy and if you refuse then we will equally resist you.’ They said: ‘We will not give you the Jizyah, we will fight you instead.’ So they said: ‘O Abu ‘Abdullah! Should we charge them?’ He said: ‘No.'” He said: “So for three days he called them to the same (things), and then he said: ‘Charge them.'” He said: “So we charged them, and we conquered the castle.”
We can deduce from the story of Salman that in seeking the last prophet, he knew some other languages, especially Syriac/ Aramaic as he used to serve Jewish and Christian monks and read their books. It is also narrated that a group of Persians asked Salman to translate the opening chapter of the Quran (Al Fatiha) for them to be able to understand its meaning. It is reported that he translated it or part of it. If this is true, then Salman would be the first translator of the meanings of the Quran –or part of it- in history.
- ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Hatib
Although we know very little about ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Hatib , he is reported in Al Bukhari to have saved a non-Arab woman from the punishment for adultery. It was during the reign of Uman Ibn Al Khattab that a Persian woman was forced to commit adultery. She came to Umar, and ‘Umar said in the presence of ‘Ali, ‘Abdur-Rahman, and ‘Uthman, “What is this woman saying?” (the woman was non-Arab) ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Hatib said: “She is informing you about her companion who has committed illegal sexual intercourse with her.” Umar realized that she didn’t know that adultery was prohibited in Islam and that she was complaining from her companion who forced her to commit it. So Umar released her.
- Abu Jamra Al Basri
Abu Jamra is not one of the companions. He is one of the Tabieen (followers). He used to keep the company of Ibn Abbas, and while Ibn Abbas is known as the turjuman (interpreter) of the Quran, Abu Jamra was the inter-lingual interpreter of Ibn Abbas. Abu Jamar said – as narrated in Al Bukhari, “I was an interpreter between Ibn ‘Abbas and the people.” Based on four instances of using translators (The Roman translator at the palace of Heraclius in Abu Sufian’s account, the hadith by Zaid ibn Thabit, the account of Abdur-Rahman ibn Hatib and the account of Abu Jamara), Al-Bukhari commented that “a ruler should have two interpreters.”
These are just some instances of companions and followers who are narrated to have spoken or written in foreign languages. It is strongly believed that there were numerous cases of other bilingual transactions in the early Muslim community, but they were not recorded as they were not relevant to religious matters. Learning foreign languages then is deeply rooted in the Islamic tradition, and we do not need to go to China to prove this.
The Life and Works of Shaykh Abdul Fattah Abu Ghuddah | Sh. Abdul Wahab Saleem
One of the things that I noticed from the life of Shaykh ‘Abdul Fattāḥ Abū Ghuddah رحمه الله is that everything he wrote, said, and taught was done with utmost precision and perfection. Thus, everything he did became a reference.
Many today, speak or write the very first thought or idea that comes to their minds and thus all of it is lost as quickly as they tried to disseminate it.
Let knowledge become part of you. Let yourself grow with it. Let yourself get used to it. The more you consider this, the slower your “growth-rate” will become. However, your roots will be grounded and not every passing wind will shake your entire legacy.
One of my dear teachers, Sh. Khālid Marghūb al-Hindī, once said to me, “Even if it’s just one book that you get to write in your entire life, make sure it’s done right.” It’s not about how much you speak, write, tweet, or admonish, it’s about how well you do it every time you do it. That’s Iḥsān, and that’s what finds divine aid and blessings from Allah in the long run.
Shaykh ‘Abdul Fattāḥ Abū Ghuddah as among the people who had given Ijazah to Sh. Muhammad Yunus al-Jaunpuri (r). Here is a lecture I gave about the life of SShaykh ‘Abdul Fattāḥ Abū Ghuddah.
Reading and listening to the biographies of the great luminaries of Islam is a great way to shape ourselves and stay focused in these times which challenge us with many distractions. This is especially true with the recent luminaries of Islam as studying their lives, sacrifices, accomplishments, and achievements leave no room for the excuse that ‘these are just tales of the early generations’.
❝I took knowledge from approximately a 100 scholars. All praise is due to Allah! [I sought knowledge in] my city Aleppo amidst other cities in Syria, Makkah, Madinah, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Morocco, and other places.
I have nearly 100 Shuyūkh from whom I took and learned. Each one of them had his own sources and methodology. I never stuck to the opinions of any one person merely because he is my Shaykh and teacher. Rather, I stick to what I believe to be correct, the truth or better.❞
— Sh. ‘Abd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghuddah رحمه الله
To learn more about the life of Sh. ‘Abd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghuddah رحمه الله, watch this brief account of his life:
On the 9th of Shawwal, 22 years ago, a little before Fajr prayer the great traditionist and scholar of our times, Sh. ‘Abdul Fattāḥ Abū Ghuddah (r) passed away. At the time of his death and during the funeral rites the Shaykh had his index finger raised in the manner of a person saying tashahhud.
Thousands of people came to attend his janazah in Jāmi‘ al-Rajiḥī in Riyadh. The body was then transported to Madina in a private plane by a royal order and again thousands of people attended the janazah in al-Masjid al-Nabawī. Thereafter, the body was taken to al-Baqī‘ and the lines of those following the janazah were connected all the way to the Masjid itself. May Allah have his mercy on the Shaykh and grant him a high place in Jannah.
To learn more about the Shaykh, watch this brief account about the life of the Shaykh: https://youtu.be/j3teq_xoaG8