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Every Muslim is encouraged to Study Seerah
Muslims believe that the life of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is undoubtedly the best example of a life a human being could live. In Sūrah al-Ahzāb Qurān says that “indeed there is an excellent example for you in the Prophet of Allah.” Therefore, Muslims aspire to order their individual and collective lives in accordance with the Seerah of the Prophet peace be upon him in order to achieve a meaningful and respectful life here and the ultimate success hereafter. The best way to translate the way of life and mannerism of the Prophet peace be upon him in our lives is the study the Seerah of the Prophet. In the following, a light shall be thrown on the meaning of Seerah in Islam and explained that what is Prophet’s Sunnah. Also, the difference between Seerah and Hadith i.e. the Sunnah of the Prophet will also be elaborated.
The Seerah of the Prophet (peace be upon him)
In this portion, we will, first of all, explain what Seerah literally means and then explain what is meant by the Seerah of the Prophet peace be upon him. Seerah literally means the conduct, the behavior, practice, attitude or the way of life. Also Seerah means the condition, state or the situation, shape, appearance or the aspect. Narrating the story of Hazrat Mūsa (when his stick turned into a snake, Allah convinced Mūsā A.S) Allah Qurān says “we shall restore the stick to its previous state”. In this verse, the word Seerah has been used to denote to the state.
As far as the meaning of the Seerah of the Prophet is concerned, it is the life of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, his interaction and behavior with his companions and his family members, his practice in his affairs as a leader of Muslims and head of an Islamic State, his dealings with non-Muslims both in the state of peace and war and his characteristics and mannerism. In a nutshell, any aspect or fact that is related to the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him is part of the Seerah of the Prophet.
Here a question might come to one’s mind that is there any difference between the Sunnah and Seerah of the Prophet peace be upon him? What is that difference if yes? Indeed, the Seerah of the Prophet and the Sunnah of him are two different things. The Sunnah or Hadith is anything that is attributed to the Prophet be that his saying or his acts or his approvals given to acts done by others in front of him. But the Seerah of the Prophet means the life story of the Prophet peace be upon him. One thing, however, should be noted here that unlike any other biography, the story of the Prophet peace be upon him does not begin with the birth of the Prophet peace be upon him. Rather, the story of the Prophet begins long ago. Many times, the Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him would begin from the time of Prophet Ibrahim and his son Ismail peace be upon them. This is because the Seerah of the Prophet peace be upon him is not the life story of an ordinary man. Instead, it is the story of the greatest man of the history of mankind in which the cultural, social, religious, historical and political background of the society in which he would start his mission had to be elaborated in order to provide a complete picture of the mission of accomplishments of the Prophet peace be upon him.
Knowledge of the Seerah can provide context for Quran and Hadith
There are a number of verses in the Qurān and many Ahādīth that cannot be understood if those are read in isolation. In such a situation the Seerah of the Holy Prophet steps in to provide the context of the verse of Qurān or background of a Hadīth. See for example the verse number 3 of the Surah al-Duhā in which Allah Almighty says to the Prophet that “Your lord has neither left you nor He is displeased with you“. If one reads this verse in isolation from the Seerah, he fails to grasp any reasonable meaning out of this verse. But if this verse is read with the Seerah the context is there to provide complete picture. In fact, this verse was to console the Prophet when he did not receive revelation for a couple of days after the first revelation and he started thinking that perhaps Allah has left him. There are many other such examples. This led to the establishment of the discipline that is called Shān-e-Nuzūl.