We come across Seerah, most of the times, in books where it is sometimes mentioned as a fact. We just read through it casually as we read any other fact, not realizing that Seerah holds a lot of significance. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had to go through all of those ‘facts’. Learning about Seerah does not mean just reading a book, it involves contemplating, pondering, reflecting, and deriving lessons from it and applying those lessons in our lives. It requires developing a spiritual relationship and a bonding with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Before I further delve into the importance of learning Seerah, we need to first know what does the term ‘Seerah’ mean. It generally means biography. So, Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) or al-Seerah al-Nabawiyyah means biography (life) of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Why is it so important to learn Seerah? Here are five major reasons:
- Allah (SWT) tells us in the Quran that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the best role model to follow. So, to follow in his footsteps, we need to learn more about his life. In Surah al-Ahzab, The Quran 33:21, Allah (SWT) says: “There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and (who) remembers Allah often.”
- We often consider Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to be super-human; but we tend to forget that he was a human being first, a Prophet second. This is the reason why we can’t emotionally connect with him and his life most of the time. There are instances in his life where we observe that he cried, he was hurt (both physically and mentally), he loved his family, he suffered losses, etc. These are all his humanly feelings which we neglect and only keep in mind his preaching, battles, prophethood, etc. Reading the Seerah helps us understand such issues better.
- We can learn a lot from the Prophet’s life, and apply those lessons in our own lives. For example, he would introduce himself first whenever he met new people; he used to say Salam, and greet them very politely. Another lesson that we can learn from the Seerah is that of patience. He (PBUH) showed us that the best way to lead one’s life was to strike a balance between Deen and Dunya. He did not neglect Dunya — he took care of his family and loved them immensely, he would go to the market to earn a living, etc.
- Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the only man in the history of mankind whose life has been documented in absolute detail. We know the way he ate, drank, greeted people, dressed, etc. Even the simplest of things about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are well-recorded. Although there is not a single picture of him, his physical appearance is completely recorded as well. Quite obviously, the Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is reliable and trustworthy beyond compare.
- The Ummah is undergoing an Iman crisis right now. We need to revive the glory of our Ummah by educating ourselves and our family and friends about the Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and applying the lessons learnt in our lives.
Many people think that Seerah and Sunnah are the same, but that’s not true. Sunnah is technical and it involves only excerpts from Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) life. It consist of narrations from his life and includes what he said, did and approved of.
Seerah, on the other hand, is the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in its entirety. It includes not only his life after Prophethood, but also life before Prophethood. In fact, some scholars also discuss the conditions in Mecca before his birth, to help us truly understand the circumstances in which he was born and the difficulties he faced later in his life, in order to fully appreciate his life.
Thus, let us all take an initiative and make a sincere attempt to learn about the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Let us not just limit ourselves to Sunnah for interacting with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)’s life, but also take a closer look at the Seerah. Seerah, Sunnah and Hadith should go side by side. We cannot comprehend one without the other two.