The year was
1960. Along with several other enthusiastic young minds, I was accepted into the
tutelage of Mawlānā Amīn Ahsan Islāhī under the banner of his institute, Halqa-i-Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān.
Established for purposes of imparting Islamic knowledge, this institute helped
me in learning and adapting well to the Arabic language, as well as gaining
immeasurable insight into the Qur’ān and Hadīth literature. Although,
unfortunately, the institute fell into decadence soon after, my deep liaison
with the Mawlānā and his thought and understanding saw to it that I never fell
astray of the mission at hand; a mission that was highlighted by his astounding
and highly regarded exegesis, ‘Tadabbur-i-Qur’ān’. This assignment would
commence in 1970.
A couple of
years earlier, however, there were already committed discussions on the
authenticity of a book on the life of the Prophet in the light of the Qur’ān.
The Mawlānā commented on how such a work would be of invaluable service to the
Ummah. Indeed, a unique effort was required, but time and space, he noticed, did
not allow him to trek a road parallel to the one he had already decided to set
forth on. His pledge to work on the Qur’ān was demanding and deserving all-out
efforts. Taking up another project would inevitably result in divided attention
– an approach that could keep concealed the jewels contained in the Qur’ān.
Thus, prompted as a result, to name a student of his - one befitting of taking
on such a challenging task - my respected mentor forwarded my name for
candidacy. Surely, I thought, this giving man expects of me what is beyond me!
It was eleven
years after this incident that the Mawlānā’s landmark was moulded into final
shape. His commitment to this end took him beyond the fragile age of 75. Taking
up the task of a Sīrah (biography of the Prophet (sws)) would inevitably prove
to be a strenuous task, when both age and health coincided to remind him of
little energy left. In fact, his involvement thereafter, in weekly or
semi-weekly lectures on the Qur’ān and Hadīth was a dedicated man’s answer to
the insistence of close acquaintances; his age had prescribed otherwise.
that helped pave the way for me to this end, occurred in or around 1986. I,
among others, was invited by the country’s atomic scientist, Dr Bashīru’l-Dīn
Mahmūd, to speak at a conference arranged under the auspices of his ‘Holy
Qur’ān Foundation’. A list of potential topics was provided, whereby I opted for
one of the more unconventional and lesser-researched areas. My presentation,
titled, ‘Qur’ān kā Tas#awwur i Jang’ (The Qur’ānic Concept of War) received much
acclaim, also having been aired on the radio.
product was a result of an eye-opening exploration of traditional Islam. Delving
into the books of Sīrah, I realized how much ignorance prevailed among the
clergy, as well as the masses of Islam. Many Āhadīth attributed to the Prophet
(sws) in the expansive literature became unacceptable to me – both because of
their clear contradiction to the Qur’ānic laws and approaches and lack of appeal
to the mind and senses. And those that appeared more authentic, I discovered,
were the ones most side-lined. My immediate reaction was to deliberate
particularly on the realities of the Battle of Badr, the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah
and the Conquest of Makkah – infused and complemented by the Āhadīth that were
truer to the Islam enshrined in the Qur’ān and closer to the ideals actually put
forth by the Prophet Muhammad (sws). These fresh attempts, thankfully, invited
much praise. Soon, all the admiration saw me returning to the task of writing
more on the Prophetic mission in arms. The more I delved into sifting the
reliable from the unreliable, the deeper I dropped into the well of discovery. I
felt as if the right way out would be to draw on every shade, challenge and
aspect of the Prophet’s life, rather than shedding light solely on battles
fought and conquests realized. Only then would the great man and his mission
come to be acknowledged in a manner and style, unfamiliar and unique.
Such were the circumstances and events that eventually
resulted in the completion of this book. This outcome is, quite clearly, a
working of the Almighty and his benevolence on me; for when first prompted, I
could never have imagined embracing this book that the readers hold today.
this book were published during the Mawlānā’s lifetime. However, these having
been brought forth as isolated pieces, I obviously cannot ascertain his opinion
of the entire manuscript, which has assumed book form today – years after the
demise of the one who was the inspiration behind it.
has been widely reported to have elucidated that the Prophet’s character is an
image of the Qur’ānic ideal. His religious person exemplifies through actions
what the Qur’ān commands in words. The Book itself bears witness to his
sent down a reminder, a Messenger who rehearses on you the clear signs of Allah
so that He may bring forth those who believe and do righteous deed from darkness
to light. (65:10-11)
The men of
understanding were, thus, reminded of God’s message through the person of
Prophet Muhammad (sws). While the message comes in literary form, the Prophet’s
life executes this Message in its pristine form. From the endowment of
prophethood to the realization of Islam’s supremacy – invitation to the straight
path, migration in the face of opposition, battles fought, admonition towards
both the disbelievers and the Jews, and more – all aspects of his mission have
been exquisitely mentioned in the Qur’an. No other explanation need be tapped
for acknowledging the Divine guidance with which our dear prophet managed
affairs of his life. All scholars agree.
prophetic Āhadīth, as well as earlier books written on his life, together
constitute the next source. Again, all scholars agree that these deserve
appreciation, but only as secondary to the Qur’ān. And yet, such admission is
discounted for, in practice. Sadly, all efforts in this regard have relied
predominantly on earlier works of Sīrah, thus, replicating all errors of earlier
transcripts. Those that do quote from the Qur’ān, do so randomly and fall short
of benefiting from the authentic accounts contained therein.
This erring can
partially be explained in terms of the diverse motivations that have driven such
works. Scholars and writers have mostly chosen to look at a singular feature of
the Prophet’s life each. This has meant the side-lining of causal links in the
unfolding of various events and has essentially dissipated the wisdom out of all
Āhadīth. While some books have chosen to exemplify the personal character of
the Prophet (sws) as charter for absolute imitation, others have sought to
justify confrontation as gallantry vis-à-vis accounts of battles fought.
Furthermore, certain versions concentrate solely on the obligation of missionary
work, while additional pieces seek to extract teachings of political ascendancy
of Islam. Extensive literature to such ends has caused more alienation from
Muhammad (sws) than familiarization. These works have all but neglected the
dissemination of the Prophet’s life in his capacity as a Prophet.
The Required Approach
A complete man
is one capable of practicing diligence in all matters requiring attention and
one who can observe absolute commitment to the truth. These are the attributes
in possession of the best of men – the Messengers of Allah. What makes them
distinct, however, is their status as transmitters of the Divine Message to
mankind. They communicate the Book of Allah as per His directives. Never do they
dare to construct a religion of their own. The Divine decree is allowed to reign
supreme, whilst His chosen men act dutifully as mediums of communication between
God and mankind. Not only do they transmit the Message in the most apt, suitable
manner, they also answer queries and quell confusions of the interested
addressees. Such is the patient yet fruitful training that they administer – all
the more, in the face of rigged and forced opposition. Their steadfastness knows
no bounds. Come what may, they place their lives in the protection of the
Almighty. Never is there a moment of mistrust. Never is there a moment of
faithlessness. There is, instead, the belief and the conviction that the
admonition will divide the believers from the unbelievers. While the former will
come to savour the promised supremacy, the latter will face the wrath invited –
both in this world and the one to follow.
Thus have I
attempted to capture the phenomenon that the Prophet Muhammad (sws) was in his
capacity as the Messenger of Allah. Without taking into account the
aforementioned reality of his mission, justice cannot be done to this
presentation. It is hoped that the readers will be able to discern this account
of the life and mission of Allah’s last Messenger from the conventional work
done in this field. Delving into the wider theme, rather than banking on some
specific facet of our prophet’s life, I seek to extract my arguments extensively
from the Qur’ān.
I have sought
to accommodate the Āhadīth employed by scholars previously having researched
this topic, for their commitment and proficiency was never under any doubt.
However, any report flawed in its communion with the Qur’ān, has been rejected
outright. We must strongly adhere to the belief that the Messengers of Allah
could never have said or done anything opposed to either an explicit Qur’ānic
directive or incident, or to the spirit of the laws of Allah, in general. God
willing, all will find arguments provided, henceforth, as perfectly corroborated
from the Qur’ān.
Almighty accept my efforts and may He enable me to succeed in the Hereafter, as
a result. May it also enable the readers to appreciate Messengerhood as it needs
to be appreciated.
Rabī‘ul Awwal, 1424 AH
May, 2003 AD
(Translated by Saadia Malik)