The deep attachment Muslims have for the noble Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, is reflected in celebrations of his birthday with great reverence and enthusiasm throughout the world. This is exactly how it should be. After all, he is the final messenger of Allah and the best of examplars for all mankind. The Qurʻan says: ʻYou have in the messenger of Allah the most beautiful pattern of conductʼ (33:21). The Qurʼan also commands the believers to ʻobey Allah and His messengerʼ (4: 59). By following his Seerah and Sunnah, Muslims are assured success in this world as well as reward in the hereafter.
Since Muslims today are not in the driving seat of history, the Prophetʼs Seerah, like so many other aspects of Islam, has been reduced to a few rituals. Muslims have lost touch with the real message that the Prophet came to deliver. In numerous ayats of the Qurʼan, Allah says, ʻHe [Allah] it is Who sent the messenger with clear guidance and the deen of haq so that it may become dominant over all other systems, however much the disbelievers may detest thisʼ (9:33; 48:28; 61:9). In other words, the Prophetʻs purpose was to establish the deen of haq on earth. And since the Qurʻan is the final and complete revelation for mankind and the noble Messenger the last and final messenger ending the Prophetic chain, Islam must prevail over all man-made systems.
Islam, however, is not dominant in the world today. Muslims are the oppressed, villified and derided everywhere. The vast resources of Muslims are unevenly distributed and the bulk are at the disposal of the enemies of Islam and used against Muslims. While ordinary Muslims long for the day when Islamʻs power will re- assert itself, their rulers cannot imagine life without subservience to the kuffar. Subservience is not a permanent condition of life but it requires effort and sincerity of purpose to break out of the cycle of dependency. The Seerah offers the best example and roadmap out of the Muslimsʻ present predicament. Yet under the onslaught of the west, even Muslimsʻ understanding of the Prophetʻs Seerah has been that the distorted to such a degree they are virtually unrecognizable from the Qurʼanʼs charecterization of the Muslims: ʻMuhammad is the messenger of Allah. Those who are with him are harsh against the kuffar but kind and compassionate towards each otherʼ (48: 29).
Over the last century, Muslims have tried numerous alien ideologies to dig themselves out of the hole. All these have failed as they must have. The irony is that even those who waged jihad against alien invaders in different parts of the world did not achieve total success. This does not mean that the Prophetic method is no longer applicable. The degree of the Muslimsʼ success depends on their proximity to the Prophetʼs Seerah. The more closely Muslims follow it, the greater will be their success. Seen in this light, we can begin to understand why the Jihad movements of the last century achieved only partial success. Their efforts, undertaken by sincere leaders, were localised while the power of their enemies - the kuffar - was globalised. Islam is a global system; it cannot be confined to a local environment. Even when he faced tremendous odds, the noble Messenger never despaired. The small band of Muslims in Makkah faced sanctions, embargoes and exile but they never compromised on the fundamental principles of Islam. When the change in their condition occurred with the migration to Medinah, it was dramatic. In less than 10 years, Islam had subdued the entire Arabian Peninsula. History has seldom witnessed such fantastic successes. It was not mere military conquest; the Prophetʼs method combined appeal to the heart and mind with the authority of the State. One without the other cannot last long.
It is the power perspective of the Seerah that Muslims have lost. The injunctions of Islam cannot be fulfilled outside the context of an Islamic State. The establishment of the Islamic State is part and parcel of the Seerah. Muslims need to study the Seerah anew to understand the full implications of this. Not only have Muslims been bypassed by an alien civilization, they have allowed its values and assumptions to penetrate the House of Islam. The systems prevalent in Muslim societies are not rooted in the Qurʻan and the Sunnah. They are based on exploitation and injustice. Unless Muslims understand this reality, there can be no change in their condition.
A clearer understanding of the Seerah is the only route to success. But the Seerah must be re-interpreted to give guidance for modern Islamic movements rather than merely chronological history. Allah commands the believers to follow the Prophet in every aspect, including the establish ment of the Islamic State. This understanding needs revival today.