For Muslims while the Qur’an is the revealed Word of God, the Prophet’s Seerah [life story/ prophetic model] is its practical manifestation. The Qur’an also states this quite clearly: ‘You [O Prophet] are of an exceptionally high character’ (Qur’an: 68: 04). In fact, the Prophet’s Seerah is part of Allah’s Grand Paradigm.
One of the aspects of the Seerah that seems not to have received the attention it deserves is that before revelation was completed, the Prophet, upon whom be peace, had established the Islamic State. In other words, the Prophet had acquired political authority. In Islam, political power and authority are part and parcel of the divine scheme. Unlike other systems, in Islam, political power is acquired for a specific purpose: to enforce the common good and to forbid evil. This can be done most effectively only when backed by the coercive power of the State. The enforcing of the common good and the forbidding of evil is not for the benefit of a particular class or group of people. It is only for the collective good.
Concurrent with this is the concept of muttaqi leadership in Islam. Again, Islam’s system is very different because it is based on the Prophetic model. Those who assume leadership role in Islam must, therefore, act according to the Prophet’s sunnah [Prophetic model]. Far too often, this is ignored by those who come into positions of leadership. Sadly, this is also true of some parts of the Islamic Movement. It is not difficult to see why.
The contemporary nation-States in the Muslim world have no organic link with the Prophetic model or even with that of the first four Caliphs. Not only was the Islamic system abandoned immediately after the period of the four Caliphs but by turning it into mulukiyya, all links with the Prophetic model were also severed. This also explains why the Jihad movements against colonialist onslaught in Muslim lands were largely unsuccessful. They were localised. The local leadership did not understand clearly the reasons for their decline or failure. While the people were Muslims, their leadership had adopted systems outside the framework of Islam. Under such circumstances, Divine help that is promised to the believers, was no longer available because Muslims failed to fulfil the minimum requirements. The power of kufr had been globalised while that of Islam, which is universal, was localised.
The contemporary Muslim world situation is even further removed from Islam. Today, almost all Muslim nation-States operate under a system that is not only un-Islamic but also anti-Islamic. This is the legacy of the dark period of colonialism which may theoretically have ended but in practice it is still very much in vogue. Therefore, as Muslims plan their way out of this darkness, the Prophetic model remains the only option and hope.
This is even more so because while there are more than 1,000 million Muslims in the world today, their number means nothing. Muslims are powerless because they do not wield power and authority. When he embarked upon his Prophetic mission, the noble Messenger, upon whom be peace, faced an even more bleak situation. He had only a handful of followers while the enemy was powerful and bent on destroying the nascent Muslim community. His Seerah offers rich lessons in how a community without power was transformed into one with immense power in less than 23 years. And lest some, including Muslims, attempt to distort the Seerah, it must be stated that it was about power and authority (Al-Qur’an 9: 33; 48:28; 61:9). The Prophet did not simply convey the message; he struggled to implement it in his own life and that of his companions and community. And at the end of the 23-year period, the Islamic State had come into existence which took on the superpowers of the time - the Roman and Persian empires - and defeated them.
For Muslims, today, there is no other model or method than that of the Prophet, upon whom be peace. In fact, the total darkness that surrounds us is a blessing in disguise. And there is no better place to start than at the bottom of the pit. After all, there is only one way to go: up. And the Prophet’s Seerah offers the only and the best example to follow in plotting the way out.
Muslimedia: July 16-31, 1997