We are nearing the end of the blessed month of Rabi al-Awwal, the 3rd month in the Islamic calendar. This month has a special connection to the Noble Messenger of God ﷺ: both his arrival into and departure from this temporal world occurred in this month. Surely, it is most appropriate to devote ourselves to learning about the Beloved of God ﷺ in Rabi al-Awwal. The following compilation of English works on the Prophetic life and personality have been thoughtfully selected to help readers cultivate an intimate sense of knowledge and reverence for the Messenger ﷺ.
Muhammad ﷺ: His Life Based On The Earliest Sources by Martin Lings
Among the widely celebrated contributions to Seerah literature Martin Lings’ Muhammad ﷺ: His Life Based On The Earliest Sources. Lings’ was a Shakespearean scholar who accepted Islam in the 1930s, and his expertise is exemplified in the book’s high literary style. His work is an engaging and emotionally riveting introduction to the life of the Prophet ﷺ. The book flows like a story, as though the reader is overlooking the events unfolding in front of them, and Lings combines poetic reflections of the human condition in order to set the stage for events in the Seerah. Like other Seerah literature, Lings begins by describing pre-Islamic Arabia and the major events of the lives of the Prophet’s forefathers, and the rise of idolatry. A full-length book review is available here. Amazon link to the book here.
Al-Shama’il al-Muhammadiyya by Imam al-Tirmidhi
The Shama’il al-Muhammadiyya by the great 9th century Muhaddith (hadith scholar) Imam al-Tirmidhi is perhaps the most important work ever written on the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. It presents us with a detailed descriptions of the moral, physical, and spiritual qualities of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in a collection of hundreds of hadith and narrations from his companions. Support Muslim-owned publishers by purchasing the book here.
Sacrifice: The Legacy of Our Beloved Prophet ﷺ by Shaykh Tameem Ahmadi
While the Shama’il is a magnificent tome, this shorter collection of 67 Hadith and commentary by Shaykh Tameem Ahmadi provides a brief look into the magnanimous sacrifices of the Prophet ﷺ. Where greed, corruption, and materialism run rampant, a lesson in restraint and sacrifice is ardently welcomed. Such a lesson is found in the sublime character of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, exemplary in every arena of life: domestic, political, communal. A full-length book review is available here. Support Muslim-owned publishers by purchasing the book here.
Muhammad (ﷺ): The Ideal Prophet by Syed Sulaiman Nadwi
In the midst of colonial and orientalist attacks on Islam, the Prophet became a subject of intense battle, with Muslims trying to prove the veracity of his claims and Orientalists attempting to paint him as a charlatan. In step, two of the great Indian scholars of the 20th century, Allamah Shibli Nomani, and his student, Syed Sulaiman Nadwi, wrote one of the greatest modern feats of Seerah literature with regards to the Prophet, leaving prominent contemporaries completely blown away by the sheer depth of knowledge presented. After having worked on this encyclopedic work of Seerah, Syed Sulaiman Nadwi was invited to Madras to inaugurate an annual lecture series for Muslims, replacing a yearly invitation given to some Christian scholar to speak on the life of Jesus Christ ﷺ. Considered by the author to be his magnum opus, the 8 lectures covered multiple aspects of the Prophet’s miraculous brilliance, from his all-encompassing guidance to the detailed preservation of his legacy by the scholars of Hadith. The lectures were transcribed and translated into multiple languages, including English. It suffices to quote Syed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi as he reflected on the great impact of these 8 lectures:
It is one of the most powerful works of Seerah and absolutely delightful in the beauty of its prose. It engenders the sweetness of faith, and strengthens the readers connection with the being of the Prophet ﷺ. The book is ultimately a summary of libraries of work on the Prophetic Seerah and is an invaluable gift to non-Muslims, Muslim intellectuals and serves as a great introduction to Islam for truth-seekers.
Muhammad the Best of Creation: A Glimpse of His Blessed Life by Muhammad bin al-Alawi al-Maliki, translated by Amjad Mahmood
This is a translation of Ta’rīkh al-ḥawādith wa al-aḥwāl al-nabawiyyah by Sayyid Muhammad bin al-Alawi al-Maliki. In this work, the esteemed Shaykh provides a comprehensive summary of various aspects of the Prophetic biography, such as his noble lineage and early life, his household and possessions, his miracles etc. The second half of this book presents some of the most important events to take place in His blessed life post-Nubuwwah in chronological order. Amazon link to book here.
Muhammad ﷺ Messenger of Allah: Ash-Shifa of Qadi Iyad by Aisha Bewley
This is a translation of Qadi Iyad al-Yahsubi’s seminal work titled Ash-Shifa’ bi-ta‘rif huquq Mustafa (“Healing by the Recognition of the Rights of the Chosen One”), and is perhaps the most important work on RasulAllah ﷺ after the Shamail of Imam at-Tirmidhi. The author’s intention in writing this book, in his own words, was to “gather together all that is necessary to acquaint the reader with the true stature of the Prophet ﷺ with the esteem and respect which is due to him.” Amazon link to book here or support Muslim-owned publishers by purchasing the book here.
Compiled by Abu Zayd AbdurRahman, Maulana Asim Ayub, and Heraa Hashmi.