Monday, July 26, 2010

In the Footsteps of The Prophet, Lessons from the life of Muhammad

Updated Agenda:
·        Introduction: The author, the book, and the readers:
·        Review of the Book:
·        My Point of View:

·        Introduction: The author, the book, and the readers:
This is not my first post about this Islamic thinker. I am following most of his lectures and programs through internet and TV. I read some of his articles and books. So, I advise my friends and contacts to read and listen to him, before reading about him.
We should read the introduction of any book to know the target readers (Target population). And to know why I read this book in English despite I read the journey of Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him) many times and by many Arabic writers.
In concern with Prof Ramadan's cultural and academic background, I was adapted to read a book narrating the biography of Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him) in equally sentimental and thoughtful manuscript. This was my prospect from a writer who studied Philosophy and French literature. The book applied the life lessons of Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him) to whole world.
This book is intended for a large audience, both Muslim and non-Muslim. The text is rigorous in regard to classical Islamic sources, which we hope makes it useful to scholars and the Islamic sciences.
·        Review of the Book:
Chapter one:
To start, Prof Ramadan gave a story of Prophet Abraham. Also, he compared his tragic experience to sacrifice his son with Christian sources and Greek tragedy (mythology). This is faith trial and horrible experience. Prophet Mohamed and all prophets (peace be upon them) experienced similar trials. The story of Abraham scarify was well presented. I read it twice.
Chapter two: Birth and education:
Torn between her grief at her husband death and the joy of welcoming her child, Aminah said repeatedly that strange signs had accompanied the gestation, then the extraordinarily easy birth of her child. 
An education:
Such is the experience of the believer's life, which the prophet was later to describe to young Abdullah ibn Umar in terms reminiscent of this dimension: "Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a wayfarer".
About the desert and the whole nature:
Prof Ramadan starts with:
The first years of Muhammad's life undoubtedly fashioned his outlook, preparing him to understand the signs in the universe.
After an impressive section, he ends:
Cut off from nature in our in our towns and cities, we nowadays seem to have forgotten the meaning of this message to such an extent that we dangerously invert the order requirements and believe that learning about the techniques  and forms of religion (prayer, pilgrimages, etc. ) is sufficient to grasp and understand their meaning and objectives. This delusion has serous consequence since it leads to drainage religious teaching of its spiritual substance, which actually ought to be its heart.
Then, he explained how his God (his rabb) protected him from attending a wedding by being tired then fall in a deep slumber. So, he will not be drunken as usual in Mecca celebration at this time.  That is how his God (his rabb) educated him.  
The One always present at his side, literally put him to sleep, thus protecting him from his protégé heart to develop a sense of wrongdoing, guilt, or any such moral torment as an attraction that was, after all, natural for a boy his age.
At the end of this chapter, Prof Ramadan explained the speech of Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him):
"There was no prophet who was not a shepherd "….
In chapter three (personality and spiritual quest):
It included informative analysis about the pact of virtuous (hilf al-fudul). The three messages get from this analysis are useful in political and social point of view, for Muslims and non Muslims. The book summarized how to follow the footsteps of Prophet in this statement:
The message of Islam is by no means a closed value system at variance or conflicting with other value systems.
In contrary to most books, He mentioned the reports about the age of Khadijah: forty in traditions and almost twenty-eight as mentioned by Abdullah Ibn Masoud.
On telling the story of Zayd; the slave of his master Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him), we can know the personality and manners of Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him) before revelation.
He decided to stay with his master, and explained to his relatives that he preferred slavery with Muhammad to freedom away from him, so far did the qualities he had found in him exceed what he could expect of other men.
I enjoyed many sections about the life of Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him) in Mecca, with Meccan. He concluded that he reached the spiritual development. Then, the third chapter ends with this suspense:
It was when he was approaching the cave of Hira during the month of Ramadan in the year 610 that he first heard a voice calling and greeting him: "As-salam alayka, ya rasoul Allah! Peace be upon you, Messenger of God".
Regarding Ammar case, who denied verbally his belief to save his life, the lesson is explained in the book after the story:
Later on, Muslim scholars were to rely on this example, among others, in asserting that Muslims could in an extreme situation where their lives were at risk at the hands of an unjust power, say with their lips what their torturers wanted to hear.
"If God so wills": 
After clarifying the concepts behind this term and the story in Sura 18 the cave, he concluded:
This is by no means a fatalistic message: it expresses the awareness of limits, the feeling of humility of one who acts while knowing that beyond what he or she can do or say, God alone has the power to make things happen.
So, one should never stop (acting) keeping in mind (God's will) and (limits of human power). This section taught me the formula to follow, in sha Allah.
A  smart comarison by Prof Ramdan. For me, It is my first time to be aware of.
Twice already, in sorrow and isolation, Muhammad had encountered on his path Christians who offered him trust, respect, and shelter: a king welcomed Muslims and granted them security; a slave served their prophet when everybody else had rejected him and his message.
The night journey:
The night journey was well described. He mentioned short note about the nature of this journey, whether spiritual, physical, or both (as said by most scholars). Then, he concentrated on the lessons derived from the event of night journey. First is the centrality of centrality of Alquds (Jeruslaem), and then, the pillar of prayer which was well imposed in heaven. 
Chapter  eight (Hijrah):
On starting this chapter, I like the initial statement telling to rely on God while preparing ourselves and acting well:
The prophet Muhammad was neither fatalistic nor reckless. His trust in God was absolute, but that had never caused him to drift with tide of events…Thus Muhammad had been planning an emigration to medina (hijrah) for almost two years, and nothing had been left to chance. 
 I was so fascinated with this section (Exile: meaning and teachings)
Exile is, then, another trial of trust. All prophets have intensively experienced this trial of the heart, as all believers have after them. How far are they prepared to go, how much are they prepared to give of themselves and of their lives, for the One, His truth and His love? Those are the eternal questions of faith, which accompany every temporal and historical experience of the believing conscience.  Hijrah was one of the Muslim community's answers at the dawn. 
They were to remain faithful to the first while learning to adopt a flexible and critical approach to their original culture. They even had to try to reform some of their attitudes, which were more cultural than Islamic.
Finally, he summarized the section with Quranic verse:
"Verily never will God change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves." Sura 13 Alra'd –Verse 11.
سورة الرعد - آية 11(إن الله لا يغير ما بقوم حتى يغيروا ما بأنفسهم)
Again, the lesson came when Prophet (May God's peace and blessings be upon him) get help from the polytheistic Bedouin as a guide. Prof Ramadan concluded this attitude is present throughout the Prophet life; in which many non-Muslim men and women supported Him. So, Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him), like those who came after him, would not hesitate to rely on them.
After giving details of Battle Badr, and the concept of consultation, we got a short account on the pre-Islamic disputes of the war spoils and the different opinions among companions. The lessons were abundant, He concluded with:
Did they seek wealth in this world or peace in the hereafter? They remained human beings, with their weaknesses and temptations; they needed reminders, spiritual education, and patience, as do everyone, whether near the Prophet or at any other point in human history. History teaches us, after all, that nothing and nobody should be idealized.
Then, after death of his daughter while winning in battle of Badr:
The blending of sorrow and joy reminded him with fragility of life, and once more, of his essential relationship to the One through hardship or success.
Other lesson was obtained when prisoners taught ten youth of Medina how to read and write in exchange with their freedom.
Whether in peace or in war, knowledge-learning, reading, and writing- provides people with essential skills and gives them dignity. The knowledge some captives possessed was their wealth and became their ransom
Just finished this chapter, I said to my friend: Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him) suffered a lot. Then chapter ten started with subtitle (gentleness, carding, and love).  He told us how God rewarded his thankful servant!  
After many stories regarding spirituality, he concluded:
He thus invited them to deny or despite nothing in their humanity and taught them that the core of the matter was achieving self-control. Spirituality means both accepting and mastering one's instincts: living one's natural desires in the light of one's principles is a prayer. It is never a misdeed, nor is it hypocrisy.
And prof Ramdan always reminds us –for example in last chroncicles in Month of Ramadan- to follow Prophet Muhammed (May God's peace and blessings be upon him) by (do not forget to tell people you love, that you love them). So, he ended with this paragraph before he quoted the Provet Hadith.
The faithful felt that he saw, respected understood, and loved them. Indeed, he did love them, and told them so.  Moreover, he advised them to remember to tell one another of their mutual love:…
He mentioned the relation between Muslims and Christians clearly in this section after story of the Christians of Najran. Then his relation with his daughter Fatima and his grandsons were so valuable on me. How is his cousin Ali and his wife (Fatima) were treated equal to any one in Madina with no social privilege?  How Prophet dealt with young Aisha, playing with her, watching the Abyssinians playing? This was so important lesson in dealing with women. A good section told the rule of Aisha in the journey of Islam with Prophet.
Battle of Uhud:
Prof Ramadan gave many details regarding battle of Uhud. He was honest and fair enough to explain the disobedience of Muslim archers. Then, he mentioned the wish of revenge of Prophet after Quraysh had humiliated Muslim corpses especially his Uncle Hamzah. The verse explained how Islam respects the whole creation.  
Chapter eleven ( tricks and treason):
Many events and lessons occurred while dealing with Banu Nadir, Banu Qurayza, Khaybar, The siege around the Madina, . Many behavioral and spiritual lessons were demonstrated in this chapter.
The messenger continued, as circumstances warranted and in spite of difficulties, to spread Islam's teaching and illustrate the through his example.
Regarding the prayers and opinion of scholars:
Neglecting the time of a prayer had touched his heart and bred deep resentment against those who had compelled him to such a lapse. All his companions had witnessed in all the circumstances of his life, which seemingly blend of infinite generosity of heart unambiguous determination in adversity, and strict management of time.
How Muslims deal with non-Muslim spouse?
The story of Abu al Aas and his wife Zaynab gave us many lessons: the first Muslims dealt in an open minded manner- as prophet was, and taught them-, they protected Abu al-Aas and gave him a time for spiritual development.
…and it was a woman who spoke out publicly and forcefully on his behalf
Woman? Yes, woman:
Then the section explained how women were attending in mosques and praying, studying, discussing freely, sitting behind the men rows as in Woman spoke to Umar ibn Alkhatab.
Chapter twelve (A dream, peace):
The title of this chapter is notable. Other lessons are achieved in this stage while Muslims went for Umrah upon order from God, and Quraysh prevented them. The negotiations and the convent of al-Hudaybyyah were given in details. The four points were enumerated in the text. Then, the benefits of this convent were well explained. So, the reader can understand the lessons.
Some companions were not satisfied with this convent. Also, they refused to end their ihram. Other critical time which Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him) faces this disobedience; however he listed to advice of his wife, and followed her advice to act wisely and silently.
Then he ended this chapter with the Khayber events. To start other return of Muslim immigrants from Abyssinia.
Chapter thirteen (coming home):
Prof Ramadan tells and explains, not only places Prophet in a holy portrait. For example, He said:
Prophet himself was an example of prudence and humility when it came to  judging individuals whose sincerity or intentions were doubtful. He was well aware  of the presence of many hypocrites around him, but he took no particular action about them. He remained cautious, sometimes wary, but he avoided any final judegment.
Chapter fourteen (At home over there):
Many lessons are coming: forgiveness and sincerity. He started with this introduction:
At the moment when the accomplishment of his mission was clearly reaching its final stage, the prophet continued to show a nobleness of soul that both surprised and attracted his former enemies, whether isolated individuals or entire clans, who now came to him in large number.
He explained how Prophet taught his messenger when he asked him through what he would judge. Similarly, Follower Muslims will judge by Quran, as-sunnah(traditions of Prophet), and their critical intelligence.
Upon choice of Usamah ibn Zayd - 20 years old Muslim youth-, to lead an army of 300 Muslims - including old and famous ones-, many Muslims criticized this choice. Prof Ramadan said it was partly due to his father Zayd (as Prophet said they are considering his father as slave despite freed). However, he added, it was mainly due to his age. The lesson is obvious:
By confirming his choice, the prophet informed that neither a man's social origin nor his age should prevent him from exerting authority and power if he possessed the spiritual, intellectual, and moral qualities required.
It was striking to read how prophet respected elements of nature including water, and animals.
Prof Ramadan spoke about Jihad and Hunayn Battle. Then he explained;
For the Muslims, as for all human beings, this inner struggle was the most difficult, the most noble, and the one that required the most understanding, forgiveness, and, of course, sincerity to one self. War and its lesser jihad had shown how difficult it was to die for God; daily life and its greater jihad now showed Muslims that it is even more difficult to live for God, in light, transparence, coherence, spiritual demand, patience, and peace.
Then, prophet did not forget to visit the place of Uhud. Then, he went for his minbar in mosque. This was an important discussion regarding Muslim' situation after him. 
Those words clearly expressed that he felt he must get ready to leave this life. In the same breath, he expressed a fear for the future of his spiritual community: faith would not leave them, he said, but the world with its illusion would colonize them, and both would, unfortunately, coexist within them.
The last chapter (debtless, in history and eternity, and Notes):
I advise you to read this chapter many times. These are many lessons and tears. 
The next morning, a Monday, at the time of dawn prayer, the Prophet raised curtain in Aisha's dwelling, enabling him to look at the Muslims in the mosque, and he was seen to give a smile. The Muslims were surprised at that gesture and thought that the prophet was going to join them, but the curtain went down again and the prophet did not reappear.
I will finish with the last statement in the life of Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him):
"In paradise, in supreme union…"
·        My Point of View:
The author was not biased:
On reading, I could not forget that the author is a Muslim writer presenting the story of his respected Prophet. That is not against his academic, and credential approach. Prof Ramadan gave many details regarding battle of Uhud. He was honest and fair enough to put in plain words the disobedience of Muslim archers. Then, he mentioned the wish of revenge of Prophet after Quraysh had humiliated Muslim corpses especially his Uncle Hamzah. The verse explained how Islam respects the whole creation.  Before, he clued-up the story and lessons of a neglected poor man in Sura (Abas). These are famous and documented events that supporting Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him) as a human being, not an angle. Also, what Prof Ramadan cited adds to his objectivity. I think he was not biased as a Muslim writing about his Prophet. Even, many thinkers and scholars, including non-Muslim Writers had written about Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him) with this adore. His life values this admiration whatever the approach. One should follow the truth and wisdom whatever and whenever he find. So, the Prophet life told us many lesson. As a faithful human being, I should follow the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him). Being a writer, I should tell and analyze everything in his life. No contradiction between both.
Prof Ramadan chose a chronologic approach to introduce the events. I think because many of his audience are not Muslims, and do not know the full story. So, it was wise to tell the full story, while elaborating the lessons (Lessons in the shadow of the detailed biography).  So, it was more effective. What Prof Ramadan did is: to read the some lessons for readers to know what is behind. Any author is the reader's eye that analyzes what is only just seen. Sometimes he gave you a frank enumeration of lessons from one event in a scientific concise approach. I found some events took a short note; others may not be included such as some battles. However, many lessons could be obtained later on. Even, further reading of the endless biography of Prophet is advised by the same author and others. Again, the book is not concerned with history (only) to criticize this point negatively.
In his first legend,

It is recommended to Muslims that they offer a prayer for the prophet whenever his name is mentioned. (May God's peace and blessings be upon him). Since the book is addressed to a wide audience, they abstained from mentioning it in the text.
I found all references gathered at the end of the book. I prefer to search the references at the end of each chapter. It may be the choice of the publisher.  Quran verses were well formatted as quotes obviously. However, I hope in next editions, they add the number of Sura and verse after each quote in the text. So, we can follow. I got benefit of some English words and expressions of Islamic concepts. The book comes in 243 pages' edition. I like the face cover and kind dedications. You can download the book from torrent.

I think to notify a religion, you should start by life of its Prophet. I believe in this rather than going in depth with someone who is scared from Islam by strong media. I think the story of Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him), as in "The Message" was valuable more than 10 books defending Islamic law.

For those want to know what Islam is. Even, for those deny or fight Islam. For those converted to Islam or wants to be Muslims. For those being Muslims since birth. If we want to renew our belief and replenish our faith, read the story of Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him) again, you will restart with (No God but Allah….you will be reborn….you will weep while memorizing the hard times in his life to complete the message of Islam. Then, you, your family, your community became Muslim easily today. But, you may ask yourself: what I offered for prophet and for Islam?  We are not Muslims by nativity, but with our heart, soul, mind, and our ACTIONS (Behaviors, manners, deeds, …..). We should not be far away from True Islam, Quran, and footsteps of Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him). If your current behavior does not reward this great long journey by Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him), think again.

I enjoyed the experience of reading books written by western Muslims. Can I ask you: Do you know the book of (AR-Raheeq Al-Makhtum-Memoirs of the Noble Prophet)?  This famous research was not written by An Arabic researcher, and was translated to many languages. This is one world, we are one Ummah. You should know about Islam from every Muslim from Europe, India, America, and Arab world.  "One Islam albeit different Muslims", as I said before in my article. 

I had written this short resume and it is dedicated to many of
my contacts and friends all over the world. I have a lot to tell about Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him), I promise to do further readings of more books. May God bless you, and kindly please do not forget me in your prayers. 

Finally, Muslim should remember, and appreciate the favors of their scholars. Prof Ramadan… Jazakum Allah khayran. جزاكم الله خيرا

I power

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