Purpose of Studying Seerat-e-Tayyiba
IF we scan the wide range of history we come across great reformers, founders of religions and philosophic systems and great rulers and revolutionaries who changed the course of history. But the common feature of all of them is that while they influenced only one part of human life they left loopholes open for evils creeping into others aspects. We do not find any movement or ideology which has transformed the whole nature of man, his entire being from within and without and his individual as well as his community life. This is what Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) accomplished as we will see in the following pages. This transformation of man from within and without in his individual and social aspects was unique in history and no such example can be found elsewhere. The transformation was such that human society from mosque to market, from school to court and from home to public field – the entire gamut of human life- was changed, and as a result of this change, there was goodness and virtue without the least tinge of evil. In fact, human life received a new base and the foundation was laid for all round progress and a virtuous life on an international scale.
The main object of studying the Prophet’s life is that the light of his message becomes again fresh before us and before humanity, and in the midst of prevailing darkness life again finds the path of felicity just as the way was found in the crisis-ridden sixth centuries of Christian era.
Unfortunately, we do not study the Prophet’s life in appropriate spirit with the understanding that we have to adopt him as our model and mould our lives accordingly. On the other hand, some other considerations have come in the way and are multiplying.
Just for the sake of heavenly reward
Muslims take interest in the Prophet’s life just for the sake of heavenly reward. It is true that every attempt to get access to the Prophet is a virtue in the sight of God and we expect reward for it, but should not the foremost aim of such an effort be to reform our lives? We hold gatherings on the Prophet’s birthday in the belief that the Prophet’s soul is present at these gatherings and is pleased to see the devotion of his followers. Trays of sweets, garlands of flowers, qawwalis and poems in praise of the Prophet, burning incense, and illuminations are all mere ostensible indications of this devotion. But the picture of the Prophet’s life which is presented to us in such gatherings is not the picture of a man- a man of flesh and blood. We are introduced to a superhuman being whose body has a halo of light, whose shadow does not fall on the ground, whose entire life is full or miracles and all his duties and prayers are performed by angels and everything and about his is a mystery. It is not denied that the Prophet’s spiritual and moral level is supreme among the human beings. Many superhuman factors can be seen as also miracles and the presence of angels. But in any case the holy life was that of a human being and this is the very basis of its greatness because a life with no parallels was presented by a man. Every activity of his is carried on under the laws of nature and conventions of history and culture, and sacrifices are made at every stage of success. His life can be a model for us to emulate only as a man and only as a man can we take lessons from him, learn adherence to principles and recognition of duties, acquire courage determination from him, cultivate the spirit of service to the humanity from his example and create in ourselves an urge to fight against the forces of evil. If you make the Prophet’s life all miracles and give it the colour of the life of a superman, where will then be the model for this earthly man? We can feel dreaded for such a person but cannot imbibe any of his attributes. We can adore him but cannot follow him.
Of late, a tendency has crept in from the West which is called hero worship under which great personalities of history are adored and idolized and their birthdays are celebrated with all pomp. But such demonstrations are hollow and although a particular kind of sermonising is common in all such celebrations they have the least effect on our lives.
Not as a code of conduct of life ?
Another tendency is to regard the Prophet’s message not as a code of conduct of life, but just as a religion only for reverence. Those who think like this feel that the Prophet came to teach a few beliefs, some rites and prayers, some recitations, some moral principles and some religious laws and his object was just to produce people who would call themselves Muslims. For them the Prophet’s life is nothing more than the combination of some rules of cleanliness, prayers, recitations and individual moralities. But in the wider field of social life they serve every evil purpose with perfect ease and league themselves with any mischief. Such people have missed the brightest chapters of the Prophet’s life and got themselves lost itself in its preface alone. This picture of the Prophet’s life cannot have any effect on other nations of the modern age, even the Muslim youths cannot conceive that the Prophet can also be a leader of civilised life and that some of the most complex and difficult problems can be satisfactorily solved through him. This had led a curtain being drawn before the Prophet’s life. These erroneous conceptions flourish only because the atmosphere is congenial to them.
The fact is that we have completely missed the correct concept of the Prophet’s life because other extraneous viewpoints are at work. Thus despite the presence of all the spectacles of devotion and love and the minds devoted to the study of the Prophet’s life, the man whose model the Prophet has presented never appears. The Prophet’s life cannot enter into us in any other way except by our determination to work for the ideal to which he dedicated himself.