To understand the Seerah, you do not begin with the birth of the Prophet (ﷺ). Instead, you must start with the world at that time. That is why every book of Seerah, from the most classical books to the modern ones, has introductory sections.
The word Seerah comes from an Arabic verb that means to traverse or journey. So Seerah, meaning the biography of a person, is called Seerah because you are traveling that person's journey. You are walking in their path and following in their footsteps. So when we study the life and times of the Prophet (ﷺ), it is as if we are following his footsteps.
Even though the Arabs would call Seerah the biography of any person, later on, Muslim scholars used it exclusively for the biography of the best human being. So no scholar says Seerah, except that it means the biography of the life and times of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and incidents that happened during his time.
The benefits of studying the Seerah are numerous. First and foremost, Allah has commanded us to know the Prophet (ﷺ). It is an obligation that Allah has put upon us. Over 50 verses in the Qur'an command us to take the Prophet (ﷺ) as an example.
لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِى رَسُولِ ٱللَّهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كَانَ يَرْجُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلْيَوْمَ ٱلْـَٔاخِرَ وَذَكَرَ ٱللَّهَ كَثِيرًا
Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah, you have an excellent example for whoever has hope in Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah often.
أُسْوَةٌ (uswa) means something you follow and حَسَنَةٌ (hasana) means perfect. So you have in the Prophet (ﷺ) the perfect example to follow.
Therefore, the study of the life and times of the Prophet (ﷺ) is the study of someone we need to follow. No matter which angle you look at the life and times of the Prophet (ﷺ), you will benefit from that. The most important aspect we look at is religious aspects and how we worship Allah. We also look at the Seerah for manners, morals, mercy, tenderness, and leadership. To know how the Prophet (ﷺ) was as a leader, a father, a husband, etc.
Allah tells us in the Quran that we could have sent Angels if we had wanted. So of the perfection of Allah's wisdom is that he sends human beings, born of women, married and having children just like us, as prophets. Allah chooses them and makes them role models and examples.
Another blessing of studying the Seerah is that it is the best way to increase our love for the Prophet (ﷺ). There is no better way to effectively and powerfully increase our love for the Prophet (ﷺ) than by studying his life and times.
The more you love the Prophet (ﷺ), the more you want to learn his Seerah. That is because a sign of loving someone is to want to know more about the person. So to study the Seerah is a sign of love, and through studying the Seerah, we increase our love. So it is a virtuous circle.
Understanding the Seerah will also immensely benefit us to understand the Qur'an. The Quran is a profound book, and you cannot understand it without understanding the context.
For example, the following verse:
By the morning sunlight,
وَٱلَّيْلِ إِذَا سَجَىٰ
and the night when it falls still!
مَا وَدَّعَكَ رَبُّكَ وَمَا قَلَىٰ
Your Lord ˹O Prophet˺ has not abandoned you, nor has He become hateful ˹of you˺
You will not understand this verse until you understand the Seerah. When and why it was revealed, and the context of its revelation. The Prophet (ﷺ) was facing persecution, and he was wondering, why is Allah not helping him? Why is the Quran not coming? For weeks, no Qur'an came down, and the Prophet (ﷺ) began thinking maybe his Lord had abandoned him. Then Allah reveals these verses as a sign of optimism.
Duha is the breaking of the light. It signifies a new day, and light is coming. Allah is telling him to be patient. What is going to happen is better than what you are having now. It is the beginning of the day. The dawn is coming, and the sun is rising.
Until you understand the Seerah, these verses will not make any sense. So by studying the Seerah, the Qur'an gains meaning. Without the Seerah, the Qur'an is out of context. Without context, you cannot fully appreciate the Qur'an.
Another benefit of studying the Seerah is that it raises our hopes, lifts our spirits, and blesses us with optimism. Especially in these times where we face Islamophobia and persecution in some regions, we need a source of direction and optimism. By studying the Seerah, we can learn that the people before us suffered even more than our trials and tribulations.
Another important lesson from the Qur'an is that Allah is telling the Prophet the stories of the previous prophets so that his heart attains affirmation, increases optimism, and increases iman. So, likewise, our iman goes up when we study the life and times of the prophets.
Yet another benefit of studying the Seerah is that it is a miracle of the Prophet (ﷺ). When somebody asks you, what are the miracles of the Prophet (ﷺ)? Of course, we start thinking about the splitting of the moon, the talking of the tree, etc. But, we do not realize that his whole life is a miracle from beginning to end. His whole life indicates that he was the Prophet of Allah. He (ﷺ) did not know to read and write, yet came forth with the message, the profundity, the scripture, the eloquence of the Quran; that is a miracle.
In addition to that, his patience, perseverance, and success came in the middle of a pagan, ancient civilization that had no civilization. They did not even have a script, and only a handful knew how to read and write. So the Prophet (ﷺ) came from the midst of a backward, uneducated, and a pagan nation. But within a few decades, it spread around the world. This is a miracle from Allah.
The Seerah is the beginning of that miracle, how he lived, the power that he wielded, and yet the simplicity with which he lived his life, the sacrifice that the Sahaba would have done had he asked them to do. But he didn't. It is impossible for a human not to be affected by that power, luxury, wealth unless there is a pure divine sincerity that he (ﷺ) is doing it for the sake of Allah.
The famous scholar, Ibn Hazm from Andalus, said if the Prophet (ﷺ) had not been given any miracle other than his life and his times, it would have been sufficient to prove that he is a Prophet from Allah. His Seerah is the best indication that he is a Prophet from Allah (SWT).
There are multiple facets to his Seerah. His own life and times, how he revolutionized Arabia and changed the entire world from where he came from, a humble origin, a shepherd of Makkah.
Nobody could have ever predicted that a group would come from Arabia and take over the Persian Empire and start knocking on the doors of the Roman Empire and start diminishing it until finally is no more. Nobody could have ever predicted that a group would come from Arabia with a new religion, a new theology, a force that even the mighty empires of Rome and Persia at that time could not stop.
Allah opened up the doors and allowed this group of people who were less educated and even less civilized, meaning the Sahaba did not have the type of civilization or the weaponry that the Romans and Persians had. Yet Allah SWT blessed them because they had submitted to Allah and changed their way of life.
So by studying the life and times of the Prophet (ﷺ), we see his miracle. We see the fact that Allah SWT sent him.
Another benefit of studying the Seerah is that it lays out a precise methodology for the revival of the Ummah. If you want to bring about izzah, honor, and glory, let us look at what the Prophet (ﷺ) did because he began in the middle of nowhere.
When we look at the Ummah today, our hearts bleed and wonder why this is happening? We ask, how can we revive the state of the Ummah? The response is by studying the Seerah, we will see a methodology and a plan for revival.
By studying the Seerah, we also see the life and times of the best generation who ever lived. That is the generation of the Sahaba. Allah says this in over eight or nine verses in the Quran.
رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ
Allah is pleased with them and they are pleased with Allah.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said that the best of all generations had been my generation.
A'isha (RA) reported that a person asked Allah's Apostle (ﷺ) as to who amongst the people were the best. He said:
Of the generation to which I belong, then of the second generation (generation adjacent to my generation), then of the third generation (generation adjacent to the second generation).
(Sahih Muslim 2536: Book 44, Hadith 30)
Zirr ibn Hubaysh reported: Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (RA), said, "Verily, Allah looked at the hearts of the servants, and He found that the heart of Muhammad (ﷺ), was the best among them, so He chose him for Himself, and He sent him with His message. Then, He looked at the hearts of His servants after Muhammad (ﷺ), and He found that the hearts of his companions were the best among them. Thus, He made them into the companions of the Prophet (ﷺ), striving for the sake of His religion. ....."
(Musnad Ahmad 3589)
So by studying the Seerah, we study the stories of Abu Bakr, Umar, Anas, Jabir, Saad ibn Muadh, Talha, and Zubayr(RA), and our iman goes up. These were legendary people. They inspire us with their sacrifices, struggles, perseverance, and patience. Every one of them is a role model for us.
There is a tradition that some scholars consider as weak, but the concept is sound:
"My Companions are like the stars, whichever of them you follow you will be rightly guided"
The benefits of studying the Seerah is that the Seerah brings about knowledge with which we can defend the honor of our Prophet (ﷺ). The Prophet's honor has always been attacked. From the very beginning, the Quraysh of Makkah fabricated things against him. They said he is a madman, a magician, a poet because nobody could explain how the Qur'an came. So you have to invent some explanation on how an unlettered shepherd could recite such verses. So they invented the most preposterous claims.
The propaganda began back then, and it continues to this day. Each one of the charges that the Prophet (ﷺ) was accused of, the Quran defends against it. Each one of the charges people invent later, we need to turn to the Seerah and defend the Prophet (ﷺ).
If you want to defend the Prophet (ﷺ), then you need to know his life and times. How else are we going whether these claims are true or not? And if certain elements are true, how do we understand them and put them in context. So by studying the Seerah, we will be able to defend the Prophet (ﷺ), and there is no way to defend him other than by studying the Seerah.
That is why the early scholars of Islam, the Sahaba, Tabiun, Taba-tabiun, would teach the Seerah just like they would teach all of the other Islamic Sciences.
Ali Ibn Hussein, the great-grandson of the Prophet (ﷺ), said we would teach our children Maghazi, meaning the Maghazi is the early word for Seerah, the expeditions of the Prophet (ﷺ), just like we would teach them the Qur'an. This is how they would raise their children. Seerah and the Quran. You need to teach your children the Seerah along with the Quran.
There are so many books of Seerah for the children that these are the stories that our children should be raised upon.
The sad fact of our Ummah is that, unfortunately, we have neglected this study and sidelined it. As a result, most of our children are entirely ignorant of the Seerah of the Prophet (ﷺ).
To summarize, the benefits of studying the Seerah is, in fact, the study of the life and times of the single best human being who ever lived. We firmly believe as Muslims that all the prophets are good and pious and Holy and the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) is the best of them.
Narrated Abu Sa'eed Al-Khudri (RA):
that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: "I am the chief of the children of Adam on the Day of Judgement and I am not boasting, and in my hand is the banner of praise and I am not boasting,......."
(Jami` at-Tirmidhi 3148: Book 47, Hadith 200)
So by studying the Seerah, we study the best person, best generation, best places, and the best time. Of course, the best placees are Makkah and Medina. These are the holiest cities on Earth, and it is the Seerah that brought prominence to these two cities.
Yahya related to me from Malik from Amr, the mawla of al-Muttalib from Anas ibn Malik that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), saw Uhud and said, "This is a mountain which loves us and we love it. O Allah! Ibrahim made Makka Haram, and I will make what is between the two tracts of black stones (in Madina) a Haram."
Studying the Prophet's (ﷺ) life and times is studying our religion. It is studying the rise of the phenomenon of our faith. It is studying how Allah SWT brought about a fundamental change of mind. By learning these 23 years of the life of the Prophet (ﷺ), the miracle of the Seerah, will benefit us in each and every aspect.
اللَّهُمَّ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا صَلَّيْتَ عَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ
اللَّهُمَّ بَارِكْ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ وَعَلَى آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ كَمَا بَارَكْتَ عَلَى آلِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ إِنَّكَ حَمِيدٌ مَجِيدٌ
O Allaah, send prayers upon Muhammad (ﷺ) and upon the family of Muhammad (ﷺ) as You sent prayers upon the family of Ibraaheem (AS), and send blessings upon Muhammad (ﷺ) and upon the family of Muhammad (ﷺ), as You sent blessings upon the family of Ibraaheem (AS), You are indeed Worthy of Praise, Full of Glory.
The Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ), the life and times of the greatest human being who ever lived and walked on the face of this Earth, series is based on the lectures by Dr. Sh. Yasir Qadhi.