Friday, March 5, 2010


In the Arabic language the word sirah Arabic: سيرة comes from the verb saara (present yaseeru), which means to travel or to be on a journey. A person's sirah is that person’s journey through life. It is the story of the person’s birth, the events surrounding it, his life and his death, and his manners and characteristics. In modern times this is still called sirat, like a resume is called a sirat or seerah sirat in the Arabic language. The name is often shortened to "Sīra", "Sīrah" or "Sīrat" ("life" or "journey").

In Islamic sciences or the Sharia, sirat means the study of the life of the Muhammad. It is the study of his life and all that is related to him .

In the Arabic language the word seerah comes from saara yaseeru.Linguistically it means to travel or to be on a journey. When we’re talking about someone’s seerah we’re talking about that person’s journey through life. You are talking about the person’s birth, the events surrounding it, his life and his death, and you are also studying the manners and characteristics of that person. In modern times we still call it seerah, like a resume is called a seerahor seerah dhaatihi in the Arabic language.

In Islamic sciences or the Sharee’ah7, seerah means the study of the life of the Prophet Mohammed (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), the last and final prophet and the messenger of Allah. It is the study of his life and all that is related to him. The information related to him would be like the events and aspects surrounding his biography. This would include knowledge of events that preceded his birth, his interactions and dealings with his companions, his family, the people around him, and also the events that occurred shortly after his death. No book of seerah stops at the death of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam), it goes a little further in time or a few events further. And any seerah book usually talks about the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam)’s birth, his parents, his lineage, his tribe, and people that lived before him and the major events that took place around his (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) birth. Usually when a book on someone’s biography is written it is imperative that a little information about the people that the subject interacted and dealth with. The seerah of the Prophet (Sal Allahu Alayhi Wa Sallam) is no exception, it includes knowing about his companions, the disbelievers, the hypocrites, and the People of the Book tha the interacted with.

The original text of the Sīrat Rasūl Allāh by Ibn Ishaq (Medina, 85 A.H. – Bagdad, 151 A.H.) is unavailable. However, much of it was copied over into a work of his own by Ibn Hisham(Basra Fustat, circa 218 A.H.). Ibn Hisham also "abbreviated, annotated, and sometimes altered" the text of Ibn Ishaq, according to Guillaume. Interpolations made by Ibn Hisham are said to be recognizable and can be deleted, leaving as a remainder an "edited" version of Ibn Ishaq's original text (otherwise lost). Guillaume points out that Ibn Hisham's version omits several narratives given by al-Tabari in his History (e.g., at 1192, and at 1341), for which al-Tabari cited Ibn Ishaq as his source. In the "edited" text we have, an introductory part describes pre-Islamic Arabia (about 100 pages in Guillaume), before commencing with the narratives surrounding the life of Muhammad.

Gustav Weil, Das Leben Mohammeds nach Mohammed ibn Ishak, bearbeitet von Abd Malik ibn Hischam (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler'schen Buchh. 1864), 2 volumes. The Sirah Rasul Allahtranslated into German with annotations.

Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad. Apostle of Allah (London: The Folio Society 1964), 177 pages. From a translation by Edward Rehatsek (Hungary 1819 – Mumbai [Bombay] 1891), which has been abridged and introduced [at 5–13] by Michael Edwards. Rehatsek had completed his translation; it was given to the Royal Asiatic Society of London by F. F. Arbuthnot in 1898.

The Life of Muhammad. A translation of Ishaq's "Sirat Rasul Allah", with introduction and notes (Oxford University 1955),815 pages. The Arabic text used by Guillaume was the Cairo edition of 1355/1937 by Mustafa al-Saqqa, Ibrahim al-Abyari and Abdul-Hafiz Shalabi, as well as another, that of F. Wustenfeld (Gottingen 1858–1860). Ibn Hasham's "Notes" are given at pages 691–798.

Muammad ibn Isaq ibn Yasār (Arabic: محمد بن إسحاق بن يسار, or simply Ibn Isaq ابن إسحاق, meaning "the son of Isaac") (died 767, or 761 )was an Arab Muslim historian and hagiographer. He collected oral traditions that formed the basis of the first biography of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. This biography is usually called Sirat Rasul Allah ("Life of God's Messenger").

Ibn Isaq was born circa AH 85, or roughly 704 CE, in Medina. He was the grandson of a man, Yasār, who had been captured in one of Khalid ibn al-Walid's campaigns and taken to Medina as a slave. He became the slave of ays b. Mak̲h̲rama b. al-Muṭṭalib b. ʿAbd Manāf b. uayy and, having accepted Islam, was manumitted and became his mawlā , thus acquiring the nisba al-Muṭṭalibī. Yasār's three sons, Mūsā, Abd al-Ramān, and Isāq, were all known as transmitters of ak̲h̲bār, who collected and recounted tales of the past. Isāq married the daughter of another mawlā and from this marriage Ibn Isā was born.

There are no details of his early life, but in view of the family nature of early akhbār and adīt̲h̲ transmission, it was natural that he should follow in the footsteps of his father and uncles and become specialized in these branches of knowledge. In 119 AH/737 CE around the age of 30, he arrived in Alexandria and studied under Yazīd b. Abī abīb. J. Fück has suggested that Ibn Isā returned to Medina from Egypt, before finally travelling eastwards towards what is now ‘Irāq. There, the new Abbasid dynasty, having overthrown the Umayyadcaliphs, was establishing a new capital at Baghdad. Ibn Isaq moved to the capital and likely found patrons in the new regime. (Robinson 2003, p. 27) He died in Baghdad around 150 AH /767 CE.

Ibn Isaq wrote several works, none of which survive. Apart from the Sīra an-nabawiyya he is credited with a Kitāb al-h̲ulafāʾ, which al-Umawwī related to him (Fihrist,92; Udabāʾ, VI, 401) and a book of Sunan (ād̲j̲d̲j̲ī h̲alīfa, II, 1008).

His collection of traditions about the life of Muhammad also called Sīrat Nabawiyya or Sīrah Rasūl Allāh, survives mainly in two sources:

an edited copy, or recension, of his work by his student al-Bakka'i, as further edited by Ibn Hisham. Al-Bakka'i's work has perished and only Ibn Hisham's has survived, in copies. (Donner 1998, p. 132)

an edited copy, or recension, prepared by his student Salamah ibn Fadl al-Ansari. This also has perished, and survives only in the copious extracts to be found in the volumimous historian al-Tabari's. (Donner 1998, p. 132)

fragments of several other recensions. Guillaume lists them on p. xxx of his preface, but regards most of them as so fragmentary as to be of little worth.

According to Donner, the material in Ibn Hisham and al-Tabari is "virtually the same". (Donner 1998, p. 132) However, there is some material to be found in al-Tabari that was not preserved by Ibn Hisham. The notorious tradition of the Satanic Verses, in which Muhammad is said to have added his own words to the text of the Qur'an as dictated by a jinn is found only in al-Tabari.

The English-language edition of Ibn Ishaq currently used by non-Arabic speakers is the 1955 version by Alfred Guillaume. Guillaume combined Ibn Hisham and those materials in al-Tabari cited as Ibn Isaq's whenever they differed or added to Ibn Hisham, believing that in so doing he was restoring a lost work. The extracts from al-Tabari are clearly marked, although sometimes it is difficult to distinguish them from the main text (only a capital "T" is used).

No comments:

Post a Comment