Sunday, July 25, 2010

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

In the Footsteps of The Prophet, Lessons from the life of Muhammad - Tariq Ramadan
Oxford university press, 2007
The author, the book, and the readers:
First, this is not my first post about this Islamic thinker. I am following most of his lectures and programs through internet. I read some of his articles and books. I advice my friends to read and listen for him, before reading about him.
You 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.
For me, I know about Prof Ramadan's cultural and academic background. So, I prepared myself to read a book that tells the biography of Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him), but also to present his work with a balanced sentimental and thoughtful manuscript. This is my expectation from a writer who studied the philosophy and French literature. Also, I thought it was some snips of the life of prophet with some lesson as the title of the book tells. The book applied the life lessons of Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him) to 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.
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.
On chapter 2: 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 Mmuhammed 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 to 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".

Can I jump to the middle of this book? I was so fascinated with this section in chapter 8 (Hijrah).
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.

In the chapter fourteen (At home, over there), 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.
The last chapter was on debtless, in history and eternity,
The last statement by Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him):
"In paradise, in supreme union…".

References: 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 the references at the end of the book. I used to find the references at the end of each chapter. I do not know what is behind this. It may be the editor choice or method. Quran verses were well formatted as quote 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 dealing with Islamic concepts. The book lies in 242 pages. I like the face cover and kind dedications. You can download from torrent. Is it OK or not allowed? If not allowed, forgive me.
I think to tell about 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 media. Why do we tell someone about capital punishment or denial of forced marriage in Islam, while he does not know what is Islam? I think the story of Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him), as in The Message Film worth more than 10 books about Islamic law for ALL.
For those want to know what Islam is. Even, for those deny or fight Islam. For those converted to Islam or wants to be Muslim. For Muslims since birth (me and most of you!) and need to renew their belief and replenish faith. For ALL, 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 finish the message. Then, you, and your family, friend, community become Muslim today. But, you may ask yourself: what I offered for prophet and for Islam. You are Muslim by NAME but your heart, mind; actions are far away from Islam. Your current behavior and manners do not worth this great long journey by Prophet Muhammad ((May God's peace and blessings be upon him).
Finally, I enjoyed the experience of reading books written by western Muslims. Can I ask you: Do you memorize the book of (AR-Raheeq Al-Makhtum-Memoirs of the Noble Prophet )?  This famous work was not written by An Arabic researcher, and it 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 resume and it is dedicated to many of my contacts and friends asking me every day: why are you following Muslim scholars in Morocco and India?
I have a lot to tell, I promise to do further reading of more books-as much as I can-. May God bless you, and do not forget me in your prayers.

Related video: The Message (Full version; the film) - The early history of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (May God's peace and blessings be upon him) 

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