Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) The Ideal Prophet
By Shaykh Syed Sulaiman Nadvi (r.a)
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In the name of Allah, the Most Benevolent and the Most Merciful
A work by a scholar of MaulSnS Saiyid SulaimSn Nadwfs eminence needs no introduction. Besides his numerous works of lasting value, the late MauianS’s SIrat-un-Nabl t the great Urdu biography of the Prophet, would have alone been sufficient for the recognition of his literary acumen and wide knowledge. The encyclopaedic sweep of the Slrat-un-Nabl places it in the category of works undertaken by literary academies rather than by a single scholar. In fact, the late MaulBnS’s scholarship of rare distinction coupled with his piety and earnestness for the cause of God had placed him in the line of great worthies of Islam.
The contents of this volume were delivered by the late Mauiana as extension lectures at Madras, in October-November, 1925, under the auspices of the Muslim Educational Society of Southern India, founded by the late Seth M. Jamal Muhammad. Later on, Dr. Sir Mohammad Iqbal’s ‘Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam 1 came into existence in the shape of discourses delivered from that forum. Mohammad Marmaduke Pickthal and MaulSnS c Abdul MSjid Dary5b5dl, the two savants of the Qur’Sn, were some of the other scholars who also delivered lectures at Madras on ^different subjects on the invitation of the Muslim Educational Society.
MaulHna Saiyid Sulaiman NadwT regarded these lectures, published later on under the title of Khutabat- /-Madras (Madras Lectures), as his best work. The portrayal of the Prophet’s character 1)y the author is not only vivid and convincing but also graceful and intensely living ; he is inspired and inspires others. He has produced a sketch which must be the delight even of those who have an access to the vast stores of information on the subject. These lectures present, without any doubt, a- quintessence of the S7rat-un-Nabl. It might however, be mentioned here, as the author had made it a point to explain in his preface of the third edition of this book, that according to the belief of the Muslims all the apostles of God were impeccable, sinless and perfect guides of humanity ; yet, the comparisons attempted between them and the last Prophet, Muhammad, (on whom be peace and blessings of Allah), are meant to highlight the distinctive features of the abiding ideal for life of mankind. These comparisons have been made in the light of extant scriptures of the earlier prophets and founders of religions and the writings of their own followers. There is, nevertheless, nothing disparaging in them to the founder of any religion for God Himself says : “Of these messengers, some of whom We have caused to excel others.”
A few English translations of the Khutabat-i-Madras have already appeared earlier, but, I believe, no excuse is needed for this fresh attempt. A classic of universal importance, as these lectures undoubtedly are, needs always to be presented anew indifferent languages for the benefit of those who are not conversant with the language in which it is originally written. I do not claim to have attempted a literal translation but my rendering would be found to follow the text as faithfully as possible without sacrificing the mood and tenor of the lectures. I would deem myself successful if I am able to convey the contents of these lectures alongwith their vigour and warmth.
I have added a few references as well as footnotes besides the glossary, index, etc. which, I hope, would increase the utility of the book.
Lastly, I have, to return my best thanks to my friend, Mr. Abrar Ahmad Khan, for carefully going through my manuscript, and for making several valuable suggestions.
Lucknow:. March 15, 1977.