Table of Contents

Abbreviations Used in the Essay
Foreword: Dr. John O Voll
Editor's Note: Sabreen Akhter
Objectives of the Review
Attitudes towards Prophet Muhammad
I. The Seeker of Truth
II. The Recipient of the Mantle of Prophethood/ The Warner and the Exhorter
III. The Stoic Optimist
IV. The Pluralistic Leader
V. The Courageous Yet Reluctant Warrior
VI. The Statesman par excellence and the Teacher
VII. The Compassionate Ruler and Spiritual Leader
Does this essay cover any new ground?
The Sources for This Essay

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Primary Sources

1. Qur'an as a source of the Sirah
The Qur'an itself provides the most interesting and objective source of the Prophet's Sirah. He is mentioned directly only four times (in contrast, the name Musa (Moses) appears one hundred and twenty seven times and Isa (Jesus) twenty five times). However, the entire Qur'an, in a way, is addressed to him. Multiple indirect references to events in the Prophet's life and mission abound. Most fascinating of all, is that the Qur'an is occasionally critical of the Prophet and gently chides him. A striking example is in the Surat 'Abasa.
"(The Prophet) frowned and turned away Because there came to him the blind man However, what could tell thee but perchance that he might grow (in spiritual understanding) Or that he might receive admonition and the teachings profit him? As to the one who regards himself as self-sufficient To him dost thou attend? Though it is no blame to thee if he grows not (in spiritual understanding) But as to him who came to thee striving earnestly And with fear in his heart Of him wast thou unmindful! By no means (shouldst it be so)! For it is indeed a message of instruction". (Qur'an 80: 1-11)

I have tried to include many but not all of these Qur'anic references to Muhammad's (S) life.

2. Ibn Ishaq (born AH 85/died AH 151)
This is the major source of Muhammad's (S) life. There were at least seven other attempts at documenting Sirah. None of them survived. 'Uqbah's (55- 141 AH) Sirah of the Prophet, which was one of those seven books was endorsed by Malik ibn Anas ,Idris al- Shafi'i, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal, did not survive.
A pupil of Ibn Ishaq made two copies of his manuscript. One reached Ibn Hisham (d. 218 A.H). His edited version is the main source of most biographies. The English translation is by Alfred Guillaumme, The Life of Muhammad.
Was Ibn Ishaq trustworthy? He appears to be very careful in his writings. When in doubt, he frequently precedes a statement by the word "Za'ama" (he alleged). Another indication of his attempt at remaining objective is the use of the phrase, "fi ma dhukira la" (remembered or mentioned). Another phrase he uses often is "fi ma balaghni" (came to my knowledge); (The account of Mi'raj is everywhere hedged with terms suggesting reservations and caution. After quoting both types of traditions that support "physical" or "spiritual" journeys, he makes the observation that it is immaterial whether the experience was real or visionary! Another phrase used is "Allah knows best."

Ibn Hisham, the Editor
A philologist of some repute, Ibn Hisham made useful and critical observations on the "poetry" cited in the Sirah and annotated it. However, he also appears to have abbreviated and sometimes even altered the original work. His over all contribution to Ibn Ishaq's original work is considered by most to be useful. Paradoxically Ibn Ishaq's biography of the Prophet is commonly referred to as "The Biography of the Prophet compiled by Ibn Hisham".

3. Ibn Jarar at-Tabari (d.923)
Another important source book frequently quoted is Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarar at-Tabari. This work called the Tarikh ar-Rusul wa al- Muluk {History of Prophets and Kings}, is one of the monumental pieces of work compiled by the author.

Secondary Sources

1. Ali, Ameer. The Spirit of Islam: A History of the Evolution and Ideals of Islam with a Life of the Prophet. Amplified and revised, London: Chattos and Windus, 1964.
2. Armstrong, Karen. Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet. Harper: San Francisco, 1992.
3. Andrae, Tor. Mohammed: the Man and His Faith. Translated from German by Theophil Menzel, New York, N.Y: Barnes and Noble, 1957.
4. Azam, Leila and Aisha Governor. The Life Of The Prophet Muhammad. London: Islamic Texts Society, 1985.
5. Azzam, Abdul Rahman. The Eternal Message of Muhammad. Translated from Arabic by Ceaser E. Farah; with an introduction by Vincent Sheean.New York: Devin-Adair Co., 1964.
6. Ghazi, Abidullah. The Life of Perfection. Skokie, IL: IQRA' International Educational Foundation, 1997.
7. Haykal, Muhammad Husayn. Life of Muhammad. Translated from Arabic by Isma'il Ragi al-Faruqi. Indianapolis, Indiana; American Trust Publications, 1976.
8. Irwing, Washington. The Life of Mahomet. London: J.M. Dent and sons, and New York: E.P. Dutton and Co., 1911.
9. Kelly, Marjorie. Islam. The Religious and Political Life of a World Community. New York: Praegers Publishers, 1984.
10. Lewis, Bernard. "Gibbon on Muhammad". In Daedalus, vol.105, no.3 (summer 1976): Pp.89-101.
11. Lings, Martin. Muhammad; his life based on the earliest sources. Rochester, Vermont: Inner Traditions International, 1983
12. Nadwi, Syed Abul Hasan Ali. Muhammad; The Last Prophet: A Model for All Time.Leicester.U.K: IslamicAcademy, 1993.
13. Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. Muhammad Man Of God. Chicago.IL: Kazi Publications, 1995.
14. Numani, Muhammad Shibli. "Allamah Shibli's Sirat an-Nabi". Translated from Urdu by Fazlur Rahman. Karachi: Pakistan Historical Society, 1970.
15. Peters, F E. Muhammad and the origins of Islam. Albany, New York:State University of New York Press,1994.
16. Raza, Ali Musa. Muhammad in the Qur'an. Lahore: Ashraf Printing Press, 1982.
17. Salahi, M.A. Muhammad: Man and Prophet, A Complete Study of the Life of the Prophet of Islam. Shaftesbury, Dorset: Rockport, Massachusetts, Brisbane, Queensland: Element, 1995.
18. Schimmel, Annmarie. And Muhammad is His Messenger. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1985.
19. Von Denffer, Ahmad. A Day with the Prophet. Leicester, U.K: The Islamic Foundation, 1979.
20. Watt, William Montgomery. Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman. London: Oxford University Press, 1961
21. Zakariya, Rafiq. Muhammad and the Qur'an. London: Penguin Group, 1991.