Modern Trends in Seerah Writing

Modern Trends in Seerah Writing
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Ishfaq Nissar Padder

We believe that the role model for the whole humanity is Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The Prophet, being our ‘Role Model’ and the practical manifestation of Islam, is our guide, after the Quran, in each and every aspect of life. In lieu of this, his companions tried to pen down all the sayings and doings (known as Hadith and Sunnah) of this great personality. They wrote down the details of all the moments of his life and didn’t want to miss a single word or moment which has been told or done by the Prophet (SAW).
With the passage of time, a plethora of books came into existence on the Prophet (SAW)’s life/ biography—known as Seerah literature. From the very beginning, different aspects of Prophet’s noble life have been discussed. But, with changes and developments in time and circumstances, changes took place in the methodology and style of writing on the Seerah as well. Numerous scholarly works, to highlight the different aspects of Prophet’s life, have appeared in past many decades. The purpose of writing such kind of works is, primarily, to show the relevance of the Prophet’s life for all times, and in circumstances.
The tradition of Seerah writing has prevailed from the classical era of Islamic history, and it has continued through the ages, to present times. The traditional/ general approach, that has been followed through the ages, is of writing Prophet’s life in a chronological way (all the books have basically followed the same pattern and style). However, in the modern period, there have emerged some new trends in the writing style of the Seerah. Especially, such trends are seen in the Seerah works that were published in the wake of 9/11, and in its aftermath.
In this period, a large number of allegations have been raised against Islam (both its Scripture, i.e., the Quran, and against the image and persona of the Prophet (SAW)). That is, Islam has been presented in a distorted form. In order to build a clear image of Islam, its Scripture and the Prophet (SAW), in a clear, cogent and real perspective, a number of scholars have attempted to focus on some specific aspects of Prophet’s Seerah, in order to present the role and position of the Prophet (SAW) in a concise but real way. Many Muslim scholars have written a number of works in different ways and they have tried to highlight the particular aspects of Prophet’s life.
Among these, some prominent ones are: Professor Muhammad Yasin Mazhar Siddique (India), who among others has written, “Prophet Muhammad: A Role Model for Muslims Minorities” and “Rasul-i-Akram Aur Khawateen Aik Samaji Mutalah”, Professor Tariq Ramadan, who has authored, “In the Footsteps of the Prophet: The Messenger”, Professor Omid Safi’s, “Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters. Adil Salahi has authored, “Muhammad: His Character and Conduct” and Mirza Beg has tried to highlight, “The Leadership Lesson from the Life of Rasoolullah”. They have tried to discuss selected aspects of the Prophet’s (SAW)life and have tried to show the relevance of the Prophet and his works in the fast-changing global world.
By virtue of this approach, the biography of Prophet (SAW) can be concisely explained which provides solutions to the emerging issues related to Islam. Also, adoption of this approach helps us in understanding the Seerah completely in an prudent way.
Such kind of approach is praiseworthy as it helps us in exploring those aspects of Seerah, which were either overlooked previously, and/or have been discussed very briefly. It also helps us to find solutions to the burning issues in the contemporary world in the light of the noble life of the Prophet (SAW), who has been described by the Qur’an, as “the Mercy for the Alameen” (Q. 21: 107), and as the “Best Role Model” (Q. 33:21) to be followed, in every age and era. It is apt to conclude with quoting these verses in full: “The Messenger of God is an excellent model for those of you who put your hope in God and the Last Day and remember Him often”.

—The Author holds a PG in Islamic Studies from Islamic University of Science & Technology, Awantipora, and can be reached at [email protected]

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