Muhammed Emin YILDIRIM
Founder of Siyer Foundation, Turkey
بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّح۪يمِ
لَقَدْ جَاءكُمْ رَسُولٌ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ عَزِيزٌ عَلَيْهِ مَا عَنِتُّمْ حَرِيصٌ عَلَيْكُمْ بِالْمُؤْمِنِينَ رَؤُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ فَإِنْ تَوَلَّوْا فَقُلْ حَسْبِيَ اللّهُ لا إِلَهَ إِلاَّ هُوَ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ وَهُوَ رَبُّ الْعَرْشِ الْعَظِيمِ
“There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you [i.e., your guidance] and to the believers is kind and merciful. But if they turn away, [O Muḥammad], say, “Sufficient for me is Allah; there is no deity except Him. On Him I have relied, and He is the Lord of the Great Throne.” (Tawbah, 9/128-129)
One of the most important problems of today’s Seerah readings is not to be able to keep the balance of the fact that the Prophet Muhammad (asw) was both a human and a messenger. On the one hand, the fact that our Prophet (pbuh) was a human is tried to be presented as ‘ordinary’ by detaching it from his being a messenger and a prophet, and on the other hand, it is claimed that he was a superhuman and had a life woven with miracles in every way. Without getting involved in these two extreme approaches and without forgetting the fact that the Prophet (pbuh) is the “servant and messenger of Allah”, it is necessary to consider the issue on the axis of the fact that he was sent as the best example to humanity and that it is Allah Himself Who commands us to follow him (pbuh).
To say that the Prophet (pbuh) was a human does not necessitate denying the miracles that existed in his life. He (pbuh) was sent as the prophet of Allah with many miracles, especially the Qur’an. To say that his only miracle is the Qur’an is against the Qur’an in the first place. Because the Qur’an also mentions other miracles given to the Prophet. 1
At this point, it would be useful to briefly dwell on ‘miracle’. The word mu‘jiza (miracle) is derived from the root “‘a-j-z” and its meaning is “work that leaves people incapable or powerless”. 2 Although there are many verbs and adjectives from the root of “‘ajz” and many usages in the Qur’an, the word “mu‘jiza” (miracle) is not used in the usual sense of the term. Again, we cannot find the word “mu‘jiza” in the Arabic texts of the hadiths. Some researchers indicate the period when this word was first used in the history of Islamic science as the 4th century Hijri. 3 So, which word is the origin of the hundreds of expressions we read today as “miracle” both in the translations of the Qur’an and hadith? When we apply to the Qur’an and Hadiths to find the answer to this question, we see that the words “ayah (or ayat as plural), bayyina, burhan, sultan, haq or furqan” are used. Today, the first things that come to mind when talking about miracles are Prophet Salih’s female camel, the staff of Prophet Musa and his snow-white hand, many extraordinary works of Prophet ‘Isa and the wonderful events of many other Prophets – there are always expressed in the Qur’an as “ayah” or “ayat”.
The lexical meaning of the word “miracle”, which is described as “work that leaves people incapable or powerless”, is defined as a term as follows: “The marvellous works bestowed upon the messengers by Allah in order to confirm the truthfulness of their prophethood are called miracles.” 7 According to this definition, when a miracle is mentioned, extraordinary, exceptional, unusual and marvellous works come to mind immediately.
However, many things that have become commonplace for us today and that we are used to seeing every day, leave us as human beings helpless. If we are so helpless in the face of thousands of things around us, if it is not possible for us to make even the smallest of them as a human being, then we are living a life in the midst of thousands of miracles.
Despite this situation, people still want to be satisfied with some wonderful events, not with these things that have become commonplace for them because they see it every day, and they desire to observe clearer signs. Our Lord, Who knows of course that man has such an expectation, has sent man, through His messengers, His miracles, which bear some marvellous and clear signs, as a requirement of His indescribable mercy.
While conveying these miracles sent by our Lord to certain communities who are the addressees of the Divine message by the hand of His prophets, they do not appear without an aim or goal, but for a specific purpose. That is, no miracle is without reason and purpose; there is a ground for each of them to come to the fore. When we look at miracles with this view, we see that our Lord has three main purposes for sending miracles. The first of these; for it to be a means of guidance. The latter; to be a legitimate reason for destruction, that is, to completely close the doors of objection. The third is; to be a help/assistance to the messengers and those who believe in them. Because of these three basic purposes, our Lord has bestowed various miracles on His messengers as Divine gifts.
Well, are these Divine gifts always the same in terms of their being comprehensible? Of course not! Many of our qalam scholars divides miracles into three with this aspect. According to them, these Divine gifts sometimes may be sensory; perceived by the five senses, and limited to lived time and space. Sometimes they may be indicative or informant; containing information about how some events in the near and far future will take place. Sometimes they may be rational; also called the miracle of knowledge; they can have a content beyond time and space; just as they were a miracle on the first day, they remain to be a miracle and continue their effect until the last day. 9
It is possible to encounter these three types of miracles in the life of our Prophet (pbuh), who is the last link in the line of prophethood; but the greatest miracle bestowed upon him is undoubtedly the Qur’an. 10 Therefore, it is necessary to accept that our Prophet (pbuh) showed sensory miracles like the prophets who came before him, and to read the verses of the Qur’an on this subject with a holistic view, without prejudice. 11
Accepting the miracles of our Prophet (pbuh) as a reflection of his being a messenger and prophet should not overshadow the messages that he left us as a guide and example. Miracles should suffice us as much as they occupy a place in the life of our Prophet, who was the owner of a perfect life; instead of a miracle-oriented reading, a reading should be made considering the fact that our Prophet is an example and model. It is certain that the Prophet (pbuh) had unique situations as a prophet, but the fact that he was sent as an example to humanity is especially important for us. Neglecting this fact will bring about not being able to fully benefit from the blessed life of the Prophet (asw).
There is a truth that we should always keep in mind: “The life that our Prophet (pbuh) lived is already a miracle in itself. The great Islamic scholar Ibn Hazm (d.456/1064) expresses this truth as follows: “The seerah of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) makes it inevitable to confirm him for anyone who thinks over it; (the life he lived) bears witness that he is truly the messenger of Allah. If the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not have any other miracles other than his seerah, that seerah alone would be sufficient as a miracle.” 12
The owner of these words, Ibn Hazm, is not someone who denies the miracles in the life of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). In his beautiful book about the Seerah, he included exactly thirty-seven miracles in the first pages, under the title “Proofs that the Messenger of Allah was the Messenger of Allah”. 13 As someone who knows and accepts all these miracles, he declared that the entire life of our Prophet (pbuh) was also a miracle.
Our duty is to accept the miracles that existed in the life of our Prophet (pbuh) and not get sick with the disease of trying to explain everything with the mind – which is the dead end of modern man today – to read those miracles that reach us with sound narrations for the reinforcement of our faith, and of course not to neglect to take Seerah as a model by assuming that it consists of superhuman events.
It should not be forgotten that there exists, in every area and every moment of life, a word, a deed, a guidance and a model of our Prophet (pbuh), who was sent to the world as Uswa Hasana / An excellent pattern.14 He (pbuh) left us exemplary legacies in servitude, morality, manners, dawah, education, and behaviours, that is, in everything.
If we read the Seerah with this perspective, we will see how the Prophet (pbuh) had a relationship with his Lord as a servant, and how his respect, love, submission and obedience to His orders were. And we will try to take it as an example for ourselves.
If we try to understand the Seerah in this context, we will begin to better understand what the Prophet said and did about fasting, pilgrimage, zakat, alms, infaq, prayer and zuhd, which shape our worship life, salah being first among them. And we will try to carry that guidance into our lives with the dimensions of wisdom, meaning and deed.
If we read the Seerah in this way, we will realize that our Prophet (pbuh) “who is of a great moral character” is a unique example and model in every field of good character, not just a few; we will endeavour to walk under His guidance in patience, bravery, generosity, gratitude, loyalty, dignity, moderation, truthfulness, direction, richness of heart, altruism, trust, contentment, modesty, chastity, humility and in many other areas.
If we read the Seerah with this view, we will see that the most ideal state of etiquette, which we call manners, belonging to all areas of life, existed in the life of our Prophet (pbuh), and we will notice what is the most correct state of the matter, not according to the rules that some people have created from their own perspectives. As such, from eating and drinking to dressing, knocking at the door, asking for permission, speaking, laughing, joking, sitting, traveling, responding to invitations, to the most beautiful behaviour in every field, we will see the examples that exist in his life and we will try to do the same.
If we read the Seerah with this perspective, we will understand better that our Prophet is our unique example in dawah, instruction and education; we will protect ourselves from taking wrong steps in the field of education and training, which is an area where we have the most difficulty in revealing the truth today; and under the guidance of the Prophet (pbuh) sent as a teacher to the world, 16 we will try to fulfil our responsibility towards our environment, educating ourselves being the first.
If we read the Seerah with this perspective, we can learn what the most ideal state of being a parent, spouse, child, grandparent, grandchild, relative, neighbour, guest, worker, employer, commander, soldier, head of state, citizen, friend, enemy and many more. And we will strive to make the best of our roles and positions.
A Few Good Examples from the Best Example
“What kind of a spouse and head of family was he (pbuh)?” By giving some examples of his relationship with our mother, Aisha (ra), the beloved wife of the Prophet (asw), I refer a couple of stories to your world of thought to receive messages from within the framework of the model human.
One day, our mother (ra) was angry, she was saying something loudly, shouting and storming in the house. At that time, his father, Abu Bakr (ra) entered the house. Seeing her daughter in that state, without asking what happened, he took our mother Aisha to a corner: “O daughter! How can you talk like that in the presence of the Messenger of Allah?” And he raised his hand to strike. At that moment, our Prophet (pbuh) warned him: “Don’t, Abu Bakr!” Abu Bakr (ra) left the house without saying anything because of his embarrassment. Our mother was embarrassed, but our Master was smiling as always. He said to her: “How did I save you from that angry man? How did I take you away from him?” This word caused laughter in the household and the matter was settled kindly.
After a while, Abu Bakr (ra) came again and encountered a very different atmosphere this time. Our mother was laughing, the Prophet (pbuh) was smiling – there was a nice atmosphere in its most beautiful form. Upon this, Abu Bakr (ra) said “Wouldn’t you make me a partner in your joy as you have just made me a partner in your fight?” This word made the atmosphere even nicer, and the laughter got louder. 17
Another day, our Prophet (pbuh) said to our mother Aisha (ra): “O Aisha! I know when you are pleased with me or angry with me.” Even when our mother Aisha was angry, she was careful not to show it, she would hide it as much as she could. But she wondered how the Prophet (asw) knew. She asked: “O Messenger of Allah! Whence do you know that?” Our Prophet (pbuh) said: “O Aisha! When you are pleased with me, you say, ‘No, by the Lord of Muhammad,’ but when you are angry with me, then you say, ‘No, by the Lord of Abraham.’ “
Our mother Aisha was delighted at the attentiveness of the Prophet (pbuh) and that he was aware of her every state with such care; she said: “By Allah, it is true, O Messenger of Allah! But from now on, I promise you that from now on I will not speak any name other than yours, no matter how angry I am, I will still take oath by your name.” 18
Another day of the house that made the angels envy it. Our Prophet (pbuh) was in our mother Sawda’s room (ra), and our mother Aisha (ra) was in the same place. That day, there was a small argument between our mothers, and our mother Sawda’s heart was a little broken. At that time a woman from the Ansar sent a meal. Our mother Aisha placed the food in front of our Prophet (asw), sat there herself, and then invited our mother Sawda to the table. Our mother Sawda did not come because she was offended by her. Our mother Aisha insisted, and when the answer was not positive, she threatened this time: “I say ‘come here’. If you don’t come, I will get up and rub this food into your face.” Our mother Sawda resisted not to come. Thereupon, our mother Aisha took some of that food in her hand and went and rubbed it into the face of our mother Sawda. Our Prophet, who had watched this incident with a smile until that moment, stood up, took some food in his hand and handed it to our mother Sawda, saying: “Take this and rub it into her face.” Sawda (ra) did what our mother was told and rubbed the food into our mother Aisha’s face. Their faces were both full of flour and food. Our Prophet (pbuh) looked at them and laughed till his blessed teeth were (all) visible. At that moment, Umar’s voice (ra) was heard from outside, and the Prophet said: “Get up, go inside, wash your hands and faces, Umar should not see you in this state.” 19
1. An‘am, 6/124; A‘raf, 7/146; Tawbah, 9/26, 40; Nahl, 16/33; Isra, 17/1; Saffat, 37/14,15; Fath, 49/27; Qamar, 54/2
2. Ibn Faris, Mucemu Mekayis fi’l-Lûğa, p. 738-739
3. Bulut, Halil İbrahim, TDV, İslam Ansiklopedisi, v. 30, p. 350-351
4. A‘raf, 7/73
5. A‘raf, 7/106-108; Hud, 11/96; Qasas, 28/31-32, 35
6. Ali ‘Imran, 3/49-50
7. Baqillani, İ‘câzü’l-Kur’an, p.216; Zerkanî, Menahilü’l-İrfan, v.1, p.66
8. Bulut, Halil İbrahim, TDV, İslam Ansiklopedisi, v. 30, p. 350-351
9. Bulut, Halil İbrahim, TDV, İslam Ansiklopedisi, v. 30, p. 350-351
10. Taha, 20/133; ‘Ankabut, 29/50, 51
11. For more information see: Sifil, Ebubekir, Peygamberlik ve Mucize, Rıhle Dergisi, issue 16, p. 6-12
12. Ibn Hazm, el-Fasl fi’l-milel ve’l-ehvâ ve’n-nihal, v. 2, p. 90
13. Ibn Hazm, Cevâmiu’s-Sîre, p. 46-51
14. Ahzab, 33/21
15. Qalam, 68/4
16.“Verily I have been sent as a teacher.” Ibn Majah,Mukaddime, 17; Dârimi, Mukaddime, 32
17. Abu Dawud, Edeb, 92
18. Bukhari, Nikâh, 107; Muslim, Fedâilü’s-Sahabe, 80
19. Ebû Yâ’la, Musnad, v. 7, p. 449