بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم والحمد لله العلي العظيم وصلى الله على البي الكريم وعلى آله الطاهرين والطيبين وسلم
These are some notes I took on Lesson 1 from Shaykh Hamza’s lecture series that I blogged about. (I am not planning to post my notes from the two introductory lessons because they’re pretty disorganized.) I would recommend actually watching the lectures, though; there is a lot of great material I did not note down. To see the Arabic lines please download Shaykh Hamza’s translation. Please point out any errors or typos.
The author was a master of each of the Islamic sciences in the classical tradition. Most scholars today do not meet this condition of mastery. Ibn Juzayy al-Kalbi said there were 12 sciences to master in order to do tafsīr. Aḥmad Baba, a scholar of Timbuktu, mentions in his biography of the author that he sent to his brother a poem (an arjūzah, written in baḥr al-rajiz, which the Arabs called ḥimār al-shāʿir, the donkey of the poet, because it is relatively easy to write in) in which he summarized twenty different subjects.
Qurrah al-Abṣār fī Sīrah al-Mushaffaʿ al-Mukhtār
Qurrah: the Arabs say that two types of tears exit the eyes: hot and cold. Hot tears are painful tears and cool tears are those of joy. Qurrah al-ʿayn is what gives you tears of joy.
1. Praise be to God, who by means of Aḥmad
Guided to the straightest path of those who guide;
All of these poems begin with the praise of Allah, either with ḥamd or the basmalah (although many avoided the basmalah so as to avoid versifying the Quran, at least according to those who consider the basmalah the first āyah of the Quran). There are two riwāyāt that anything starting without the basmalah or anything starting without ḥamd are cut off (abṭar) or in another riwāyah sickly (ajdham). The ḥamd is thanā’, praise that is not necessarily uttered because the praising one has been given something from the one praised; he would do it regardless of his relationship to the praised one; it is intrinsic in the object of praise.
The ʿulamā’ say ḥamd for Allah is never-ending because it is never enough, hence the well-known ḥamd لا نحصي ثناء عليك انت كما اثنيت على نفسك. We are not able to truly praise Allah. Shukr is a type of praise but as a result of being the object of a blessing from the praised one. Having shukr for Allah is a blessing in and of itself. The Prophet عليه الصلاة والسلام who was shakūr (constantly thankful) used to make shukr for even the blessing of being able to relieve oneself. Ḥamd is also a blessing, and requires ḥamd to be thankful for it! The best thing to be thankful to Allah for is guidance: الحمد لله على نعمة الإسلام وكفا بها نعمة. And we received this all-sufficing blessing by means of Aḥmad صلى الله عليه وسلم.
2. A praise constantly renewed, everlasting,
Recompensing the continuous succession of blessings,
3. Followed by benedictions and peace, one after the other,
Upon the most majestic of messengers in rank and stature,
4. And upon his family, companions, and those who travel
Their righteous path, as long as planets revolve in their orbits
(2) Blessings—those which we are aware of and those that we are not. Just acknowledging blessings is a way of recompensing the blessings. (3) There is ijmāʿ upon the Prophet’s being the best of the messengers, عليهم الصلاة والسلام. All of the prophets are equal in nabuwwah, but they differ in their distinctions. Logically, the genus is the same but the kind is different (الجنس واحد ويختلف النوع). The Moroccans say محمد بشر لا كالبشر بل هو كالياقوت بين الحجر that Muhammad is a human unlike other humans like the ruby is a rock unlike other rocks. [I have a variation of this in a Tumblr post, and here it is written in a cool Maghribi calligraphic style.] (4) There is khilāf on who the āl of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم is, but the majority says it is Banū Hāshim, from Hāshim, the great-grandfather of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم. Other opinions extend the āl to the people of ʿAbd Manāf, Quṣayy, or even anyone from Banū ʿAdnān. A group said it is the people of taqwā, related to the ḥadīth سلمان منا آل البيت (some say that this was due to Salman’s being a mawlā, while others said it was due to his maqām with Allah). The Ṣaḥābah include anyone who meets the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and believes in him and dies without having lost that belief (at any point in their life). The meeting should have taken place in the dunyā; thus, the prophets whom the Prophet صلى الله عليه وآله met during the Miʿrāj are generally not considered to be Ṣaḥābah (although some ʿulamā’ considered Sayyidunā ʿĪsā عليه السلام an exception to this). Sulūk is spiritual travel on the path; as long as planets revolve is a poetic way of saying forever.
5. To proceed: Know well that the best of what is sought
By those of celestial aspirations is the biography of the best of those who are sought.
6. So here I am making mention in a didactic poem
Enough of that subject to remove privation
7. For those seeking to learn from the possessors of guidance;
I do this that perhaps I too in benefiting others with the poem will benefit.
8. I have entitled it The Eyes’ Delights
In the Designated Intercessor’s Days and Nights.
9. I have organized it into sections
In order to facilitate the students’ objectives.
10. And from the Sustainer of the cosmos’ blessings,
I seek the gift of strength to complete it.
11. And I seek divine benefit for the one who narrates
And the one from whom it is narrated by the inestimable rank of the Chosen Prophet,
12. Upon him the purest of the Creator’s blessings,
And upon his family and righteous companions.
(5) Himmah is of two types: danīyah and ʿalīyah. The former is worldly ambition, while the latter is spiritual ambition. The best thing for those of himmah ʿalīyah to seek for is to know the sīrah. (6) You will have enough knowledge from this poem to not be considered bereft of the knowledge of sīrah. (9) Tartīb al-ʿulūm is one of the gifts that the Islamic tradition received from the Hellenistic tradition. Many of the earlier Islamic works are not as organized as the later ones. The Greek sciences heavily influenced the process of organization in the Islamic sciences. (10) ʿAwn is from Allah; whatever energy you have in the world is a gift from Allah. (11) Many of these scholars were true ṣāliḥīn, whose adʿīyah (plural of duʿā) were accepted, and we must appreciate their duʿā for us.
Chapter Concerning the Noble lineage of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم
13. An elucidation of the lineage of the Chosen Prophet,
Blessings and honor of His Lord upon him, follows:
14. The Preferred One’s lineage is preserved up to
ʿAdnān by consensus of the virtuous scholars.
15. Let me now indicate the ascendants’ names
With an abbreviated letter for each one:
16. Maʿin shahin ʿaqin kamin kalaghfa min
Kakhmin ‘amin maʿin, to here they are known.
17. Now to mention Shaybah who dug the well of Zamzam,
Causing the Quraysh to attempt to stop him, so he made an oath.
18. His oath was that if God granted him ten sons
Who would protect him from vile transgressors,
19. Verily he would sacrifice one of them as a means of gaining proximity
To God. But when he wished to fulfill the oath, Quraysh refused
20. To allow him so he went to Khaybar
To take counsel from the city’s soothsayer, who commanded
21. Him to cast lots between camels and the son.
If the lots went to the son when he threw them,
22. Shaybah was to increase the camels by ten and throw again,
Until the lots fell to the camels;
23. Then he was to sacrifice the camels and know that the boy’s Lord was content
That they were in his stead, so be aware of this!
24. He then did as he was told,
Until the number of camels reached one hundred, and he finally sacrificed them
25. But only after casting three times to ensure
They fell again upon the mature high-humped camels.
26. And so the Prophet’s father was ransomed
For a hundred camels, his ransom from certain death.
27. Thus it became the indemnity in his community
For any believer as a just recompense for a wrongful death.
28. Opinions differ regarding the other sacrifice,
But most scholars consider Isaac to be the one, and this is most reliable.
29. Another group of scholars state it was, in fact, Ishmael,
And each opinion has its own strong proofs.
30. The third opinion from al-Zajjāj is to desist from speculation,
So follow the straight path, free of crookedness.
Lineage is one of the five things that Islam came to preserve (dīn, life, intellect, property, and lineage). This is the reason why zinā is so strongly forbidden. There is a ḥadīth علم النسب علم لا ينفع وجهالة به لا يضر knowledge of lineage is not beneficial and ignorance of it does not harm. The ʿulamā’ say that this is meant for those who delve too deeply into it. To have knowledge of your lineage and where you came from is very important. All of the ancestors of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم were preserved from zinā. It is wājib to know that he عليه الصلاة والسلام was a Makkan Hāshimī Qurayshī—this is the least amount of acceptable knowledge of lineage for a Muslim. The ʿulamā’ also consider it good to know his actual lineage back to ʿAdnān and Sayyidunā Ismāʿīl عليه السلام. (13) When the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم himself traced his own lineage, he would not go beyond ʿAdnān, and we should not do so.
(16) This is mnemonic device to remember the ancestors. ʿAbd Allah was the youngest son of ten sons of Shaybah (ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib). He was the son that Shaybah had vowed to sacrifice due to his finding of the zamzam well many years before. Heredotus said of all people, no one takes vows and oaths are seriously as the Arabs. The sons of Shaybah casted lots and ʿAbd Allah was chosen. The Arabs came to Shaybah and told him that he could not do this because if he did, it would become a sunnah for the Arabs. (Shaybah was held in extremely high regard and was very dignified; he was born with gray hair hence his name. He used to feed people and even wild animals out of his kindness. He was a mustajāb al-duʿā, one whose duʿā was accepted. The Arabs always went to him to pray for rain, and Allah accepted his prayers.) So he went to a kāhinah (soothsayer), who told him to cast arrows of divination. (The story is well-known, see any book of sīrah.) It went up to 100 camels as the dīyah (blood money), and in fact the dīyah of Islam for Bedouins is still 100 camels.
ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib was called Shaybah al-Ḥamd due to his praiseworthy characteristics. Shaybah was born and raised in Madīnah. His father, Hāshim, was a merchant who used to go to Syria. He fell in love with a woman from Banū Najjār. He married her and promised that if she became pregnant he would bring her back to Madīnah. When she became pregnant, he left her at Madīnah and went on to Ghazzah in Palestine where he passed away. She gave birth to Shaybah in Madīnah. Shaybah’s uncle Muṭṭalib (Hāshim’s brother) brought him back to Makkah. The Makkans thought Shaybah was his servant and so the name ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib stuck.
Hāshim was also a very generous man. He was so beautiful that the Makkans used to beg him to marry their daughters. His father was ʿAbd Manāf, whose father was Quṣayy, the conqueror of Makkah from Khuzā’ah [there is much more detail on this in the introductory lessons]. He was the binding force holding together the Quraysh through bonds of kinship. Then there was Kilāb, Murrah, Kaʿb, Lu’ayy, Ghālib, Fihr, Mālik, al-Naḍr, Kinānah, Khuzaymah, Mudrikah, Ilyās, Muḍar, Nizār, Maʿd, ʿAdnān. Muḍar and Rabīʿah (the two sons of Nizār) are the ancestors of all the ʿAdnānī Arabs today. The Muḍar Arabs are mostly the western Arabs (Banū Ḥarb, Ghatafān, Hawāzin, Banū Thaqīf, etc), while the Rabīʿah Arabs are eastern (Banū Tamīm in Qatar, ʿAnazah in Bahrain, al-Saʿūd in Najd, most Arabs of Iraq, etc). Maʿd was a zāhid and noted for his zuhd. Sayyidunā ʿUmar رضى الله عنه said تمَعْدَدُوا واخشوشنوا وتمعددوا وامشوا حفاة be tough on yourselves like Maʿd. ʿAdnān is the ancestor is of all of these non-Qaḥṭānī Arabs. These details are important because all of these Arabs are related, and this is important because the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم was sent to these tribal people, to Banū ʿAdnān and Banū Qaḥṭān first, and Allah told him to warn those near relatives closest to him first (26:214) and that this message is first for his people (43:44).
(28) Someone once addressed (in a weak ḥadīth which I found some details of here) the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم as يا ابن الذبيحين oh son of the two sacrifices فتبسّم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم and he smiled. When Sayyidunā Muʿāwīyah ibn Abī Sufyān رضى الله عنه questioned him about it, he said it referred to his father ʿAbd Allah and Sayyidunā Ismāʿīl عليه السلام. There is a strong khilāf about whether Sayyidunā Ismāʿīl or Sayyidunā Isḥāq عليهما السلام was the one to be sacrificed. Many early scholars, including Imam ʿAlī رضى الله عنه, considered it to be Sayyidunā Isḥāq. Imam al-Suyūṭī said we should be silent about it. Most later scholars inclined towards Sayyidunā Ismāʿīl. It is unfortunate that Muslims today are so adamant about one of the opinions.
Some scholars said that Abū Ṭālib was actually Muslim. There is a riwāyah from Sayyidunā ʿAbbās ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib رضى الله عنه that he heard the shahādatayn from Abū Ṭālib; the Prophet عليه الصلاة والسلام did not hear it and therefore there were not two witnesses to testify to it. We should be very careful about saying that any person is in the Fire, especially Abū Ṭālib—the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم loved Abū Ṭālib, as Allah says in the Quran (28:56). The ḥadīth in Sahih Muslim stating this (that he would get the lightest punishment of Hell) is āḥād, and Ahl al-Sunnah does not establish ʿaqīdah upon āḥād narrations. Therefore we should remain silent on this issue. People who insist that the parents of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم are in the Fire are far worse. Qadi Abū Bakr ibn al-ʿArabī, the famous Mālikī jurist, even said that those who say this should be whipped. The ṣaḥīḥ ḥadīth on the issue is again āḥād, and ابي often means uncle and not father, so Abū Jahl or Abū Lahab could have been meant. The dominant opinion is that his parents are saved; they are ahl al-fiṭrah and in between revelations.
Credit for the image to Majd Imam.
- Another great study of the sīrah and shamā’il: Shaykh Faraz Rabbani on Ḥāfiẓ al-ʿIrāqī’s Al-Alfīyah al-Sīrah al-Nabawīyah (m7ia.wordpress.com)
- Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s series on Qurrah al-Abṣār fī Sīrah al-Mushaffaʿ al-Mukhtār (m7ia.wordpress.com)