Seerah is not just something that you glance through, and be glad that you learn something new.
It is not just something you should devour so you may romanticise the past.
Our Prophet SAW is not to be known only so you will love and adore him and that’s it.
Seerah should move and propel you to walk the Prophet’s trail judiciously.
Seerah should enable you to carry the mission of Dakwah with your utmost wisdom.
Have you overlooked the essence?
Stop and ask, Why learn Seerah?
Isn’t Seerah being learnt so that people will know the physical attributes of our Prophet SAW; how were his hairstyle, his clothing and his preferred meals?
Isn’t Seerah being learnt so that people will know the Ibadah rituals of our Prophet SAW; how to perform the Ibadah as he did?
Isn’t Seerah being learnt so that people will know the Akhlak of our Prophet SAW; how noble was he as a man, a husband, a father, a friend and a country leader?
Isn’t Seerah being learnt so that people may extract all the Fiqhs of worldly endeavours?
While all of those are true, you are missing out on the essence of Seerah, if you confine it to just those things.
The meaningful Seerah
There must be a reason why during Prophet Muhammad’s time, Allah revealed to him the Seerah of the previous Prophets and Messengers.
Our Prophet SAW held dear and appreciated those Seerah so much.
The word ‘Seerah’, according to Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, a contemporary Muslim scholar, carries the essence of traverse or journey.
On that note, you are to recognise the important fact that Prophet Muhammad SAW was sent down not as a man, a husband, a father, a friend or a country leader first. Instead, as a messenger, he was revealed by Allah as a Daie first.
All his roles throughout his life — a husband, a father, a friend, a country leader, etc. — were a portrayal of how a Daie was and should live those roles.
To sum it up, Seerah is a treasure about Da’wah. It is about how total and wholesome Da’wah was in a prophet’s life.
And by learning Seerah the meaningful way, you are figuratively walking on the Prophet’s footsteps of authentic Da’wah.
From the perspective of time, Seerah is about the past.
Sometimes this causes you to not feel deeply connected with Seerah.
You may subconsciously feel “It’s his stories, not mine.” (Although you may not acknowledge this feeling).
It is true that Seerah tells you about the past. But the past is being recited as a tool for the benefit of all of the succeeding Daies. For you.
It is for your spirit, so you will be steadfast.
It is for your strategies, so you will step aright.
It is for your life, so you will carry the torch with all your might.
In short, more than anything else, Seerah is a Daie’s compass.
You’ve missed out all the whys
Everything that you have previously learnt about Seerah is not necessarily factually wrong.
But what you have to level up is how you perceive Seerah.
When you rethink the Seerah in a deeper way, you will be enlightened of all the whys you have been missing.
For instance, why was it that of all the existing tribes including the civilised Romans and Persians back then, Allah chose the relatively unknown Arabs in the middle of the desert to send His final messenger to?
Also, why was it that over the first 13 years of our Prophet’s Da’wah, the believers who only numbered about 300 in the beginning grew exponentially in the following 10 years to 10,000?
Also, why did our Prophet PBUH reject the offer from the Meccans to be throned as their King during the time the Sahabas were facing persecution and torture, although he ended up as their Leader (not king) a few years later in Medina?
Not really petty given that all these factors and so much more should teach you the answer to the profound question of how could from only one person, a da’wah movement snowballed to become an empire that ruled one-third of the world?
Also subsequently, how did the same factors resulted in the downfall of that same empire such that today Muslims are systematically persecuted again in spite of their huge numbers.
Now, what to rethink?
To rethink the Seerah and learn it correctly, here are a few useful tips for you.
Try to include these into your learning of Seerah, and you will, Insha Allah, no longer view Seerah the same again.
1. Put your feet in our Prophet’s shoes
Our Prophet was born an orphan. He was still a child when he was separated from his mother, and when his mother and grandfather passed away.
If you are in his situation, can you imagine how hard it was for him?
You love your country. It is where your hometown is, with your childhood memories. Have you ever felt how sad it was when our Prophet SAW was forced out of Mecca for the sake of Da’wah?
Yet you know how huge his achievement was.
You will feel closer to our Prophet SAW once you put your feet in his shoes.
You will no longer subconsciously feel that Seerah is a story about someone else.
2. Keep asking why, and why not
You understand and appreciate a lesson better when you get to know the reasonings and connect them to each other.
Inquiring, reasoning and analysing help in training yourself to learn Seerah beyond its literal text, which means taking the context into account.
In Seerah, there is a lot of reasoning that needs to be unearthed. A real treasure of wisdom that is missing from the contemporary Ummah.
However, not all the reasons were revealed directly by our Prophet or the Sahabas. You may need to raise your queries to scholars, natural scientists, historians, linguists, Muhadditheen, social scientists, investigative analysts, or cultural experts.
3. Put our Prophet as a Daie first
You know a person called Muhammad bin Abdullah for the utmost reason that he was a Prophet and a Messenger of Allah.
Allah had prepared him to be a great Prophet. Following the first revelation, every breath of his life was but as a Prophet first and foremost.
Therefore, it is instructive that every event in the Seerah is perceived as him being a Daie first.
The challenges and persecution he faced were for being a Daie.
So was the family he took care of, the battle he led, the country he ruled, the warm interaction with the Sahabas, and the admirable affection with his wives.
So was his thousands of Istighfar and midnight Ibadah that caused his feet to become swollen.
In short, you shall realise that Seerah is a whole biography and guideline of an amazingly dedicated and committed Daie and which you may want to emulate, albeit to the best of your ordinary human ability.
4. Beyond mere life etiquettes, understand that Seerah is about a Revival Mission, and a Movement.
Being the last Prophet sent for the world; imagine how huge the responsibility was on his shoulder.
On Judgment Day, all Prophets will have to bear witness that they have fulfilled their tasks of Da’wah to their people.
And for our Prophet SAW, that’s the whole world to be accounted for.
For that purpose, our Prophet SAW couldn’t take this mission for granted. For Da’wah to keep spreading its wings far and long after his life, he had to conduct a strategic revival mission and lead a movement.
While in Mecca, he focused on training tough agents — the Sahabas — rather than teaching them to be simple and good Muslims, or erecting Islamic monuments and symbols.
It was proven in history that it was these as-Saabiqun al-Awwalun who travelled to as far as the land of China to carry this reform mission.
Then in Medina, he didn’t wait long to establish a model of a revived nation, an Islamic state that was governed by the rule of Allah.
Herein lies the examples of how a multireligious and multiracial society should be, of how the political, economic and social activities should be morally sound and conducted with integrity and justice, of how the immigrants should be treated fairly, and of how rulers and politicians should humbly serve the needs of the people, instead of serving themselves or their families and friends.
Sounds like the holistic model that the world today could use, right?.
In short, Seerah, reflected deeply, is a strategic plan of revival, to establish a god-fearing state. Do not let Seerah be downgraded to being mere bedtime stories and tales of romanticism.
5. Reflect Seerah with today’s events and challenges
While Seerah is about the past, the lesson learnt shouldn’t be trapped in the framework of the past.
The knowledge, reasoning and insights you obtain from the Seerah should be related to the complexity of today’s issues and challenges.
That way, you may be able to come out with fresh syntheses of critical thinking and ideas, and doable strategies and solutions for today’s intricate problems.
Thus, Seerah should not stop at giving rise to more rhetorics, slogans, cliches, brandings and emblems you’re already familiar with.
With that in mind, you, the Daies, should be able to equip yourself with the proper knowledge, reasoning, and insights urgently needed about today’s world — the world that you are supposed to deal with.
Otherwise, the result will become just another rhetoric and reminiscence of the past.
You are a Daie for today’s real world. You are not a Daie for an imaginary world abstracted from the past.
Let’s unlearn and relearn Seerah!
Now that you are able to look at Seerah with a fresh perspective, it is time for you to dig its treasures.
Our Prophet SAW left you, the Daies, with countless lessons and guidelines on how to ensure that this revival mission will be a success.
The Muslim Ummah, you included, have abandoned this treasure for so long. Seerah has been complacently learnt as just another syllabus in education.
This is the time for you to remedy the situation.
Seerah has to be re-learnt correctly so the revival mission can be continued efficiently, so that the Muslim Ummah can be rescued from its slumber.
The Muslim Ummah has been suffering for far too long.
This time, promise yourself that you will do it right, based on the treasure of Seerah that our Prophet SAW has trusted you with.