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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Sira reviews

Recently, Sira or the life story of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has become a subject of interest for me; all praise belongs to Allah the Exalted. So this is a quick review of the few books that I have read on this subject.

Messenger of God : Muhammad by M.Fathullah Gulen

This is an excellent book; it is aimed at the sceptical Western mind. The author goes into such chapters: as proofs of prophet, importance of Prophethood and various points in Sira. I found the book made several interesting points and it something that should be placed with Martin Lings Sira text; Yes, I recommend that highly!

You may find some difficulty attaining a copy, it took my three months to get mine but it was worth the effort. The book is also published under the title "The Infinite light" in two parts.

The Path of Muhammad: A Book on Islamic Morals and Ethics By Imam Birgivi

Rather than a book on Sira, this is book about morals and characteristics. It gives an explanation of a certain characteristics or moral. Even though it is not a book on Sira, it is worth reading, for the depth of the understanding of the Imam. This is a book that I had seen frequently and never had the chance to read it. When I finally read it I wish I had read it a lot sooner.

And Muhammad Is His Messenger: The Veneration of the Prophet in Islamic Piety By Annemarie Schimmel

This is a wonderful book which describes this different ways of the different nations and races of the Muslims venerate the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The German Muslim is fluent in several languages and this adds so much to the vast material that she presents in her book. It's a real joy to read and I would recommend this to be read with the all of the above books.

Fiqh us-sira by Muhammad al-Ghazali

This is an interesting text by the recently deceased Egyptian scholar. At first the scholar praises a scholar who I would not; this did cause me a problem, as it went on for several pages.

Although, patience paid off because he makes some important points but at the same time it is in a "modernist" tone. So people opposed to this should be aware of this. The book is only for seasoned readers of Sira, as he often refutes a position and then goes onto to explain the event that he is refuting; so this can be confusing!

The Battles of the Prophet of Allah by Gulzar Ahmed

This is a text written by a retired Pakistani brigadier who is not a scholar but is a military expert. So he does make some points that are not correct, so be aware of that. He makes some amazing points about warfare and what other leaders did in the battlefield. One point that goes almost unnoticed by some writers about the life story of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that after the migration of the Muslims to Medina; the pagan Quresh declared war against the Muslims.

"You have given protection to our man. We swear by God that if do not kill him or expel him from Medina we will attack you and take your women as captives." (p.94)

They wrote in a letter to him. Muslims attacked the trade caravans of Abu Sufyan who had sold the empty houses of the Muslims in Mecca. No one knew when the pagans were going to attack them, so they had to be ready. This is far removed from the fanatical fantasies of the Orientalists who must read only parts of the story and not the whole picture. This needs to be explained in the correct manner which I do not feel that it is. There are two parts to this book and the first part is better than the second. It was a little disappointing to be honest because the first book made some interesting points. The second part had too many errors for it to be as good as the first.

This is book is for the seasoned reader of Sira and not for the beginner but it is a valuable book for the collection.

1 comment:

  1. There's another good one which I think you'll find interesting. "The Messenger:The Meanings of the Life of Muhammad" by Tariq Ramadan.

    It is pretty good. Give it a go =)