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Sīrah Rasūl Allāh (Life of the Messenger of God; ) or Sīrat Nabawiyya (Life of the Prophet; ) (from Arabic سيرة) is the Arabic term used for the various traditional Muslim biographies of Muhammad, from which most historical information about his life and the early period of Islam is derived. The name is often shortened to "Sīra" or "Sīrah" ("life" or "journey"; ).


In the Arabic language the word seerah comes from the verb saara (present yaseeru), which means to travel or to be on a journey. A person's seerah is that person’s journey through life. It is the story of the person’s birth, the events surrounding it, his life and his death, and his manners and characteristics. In modern times this is still called seerah, like a resume is called a seerah or seerah dhaatihi in the Arabic language.

In Islamic sciences or the Sharia, seerah means the study of the life of the Muhammad. It is the study of his life and all that is related to him.[26265]


The sira literature include a variety of materials such as political treaties, military enlistments, assignments of officials, etc. which were recorded by successive generations of Muslims. In principle, the biographies of Muhammad would have been assembled from reports of what Muhammad did, just as what he said was recorded in the form of hadith. However, the sirah literature is technically different from hadith literature as it is in general not as concerned with validation through the chain of transmitters (isnad), although in the earliest sira many of the narratives are accompanied by isnads. This is probably due to a number of reasons. First, the story of Muhammad's life was probably quite well-known and frequently re-told amongst Muslims, as well as to new converts, from the early days of Islam. Second, the sira literature is concerned primarily with the narrative of Muhammad's life, whereas the intent of the hadith literature is to assemble his sayings as an authoritative source for Islamic law. The immediate relevance of many hadith sayings to legal debates made it more important that they be accompanied by isnads.

Together the sira and the hadith constitute the sunnah, or prophetic example which has formed the basis of many practices shared by traditional Muslim communities around the world.

Ibn Ishaq's Sirat Rasul Allah is the earliest surviving traditional biography, and was written just over 150 years after Muhammad's death. It survives in the later editions of Ibn Hisham and al-Tabari. There are a few important differences between these, however. For example, al-Tabari includes the controversial episode of the Satanic Verses, while Ibn Hisham does not. Another of the earliest siras is al-Waqidi's. Several writers are reported to have written siras before Ibn Ishaq, including: Urwah ibn al-Zubayr ibn al-Awwam (a descendant of Asma), who died in 92 AH and whom Ibn Ishaq, al-Waqidi, and at-Tabari are all said to have used as a source, and Abban ibn Uthman ibn Affan (d. 105 AH) and Wahb ibn Munabbih al-Yamani (d. 110 AH). However, their works do not survive.

Text of Ibn Ishaq

The original text of the Sirah Rasul Allah by Ibn Ishaq (Medinamarker, 85 A.H. - Bagdad, 151 A.H.) is unavailable. However, much of it was copied over into a work of his own by Ibn Hisham (Basramarker - Fustatmarker, circa 218 A.H.). Ibn Hisham also "abbreviated, annotated, and sometimes altered" the text of Ibn Ishaq, according to Guillaume (at xvii). Interpolations made by Ibn Hisham are said to be recognizable and can be deleted, leaving as a remainder an "edited" version of Ibn Ishaq's original text (otherwise lost). Guillaume (at xxxi) points out that Ibn Hisham's version omits several narratives given by al-Tabari in his History (e.g., at 1192, and at 1341), for which al-Tabari cited Ibn Ishaq as his source. In the "edited" text we have, an introductory part describes pre-Islamic Arabia (about 100 pages in Guillaume), before commencing with the narratives surrounding the life of Muhammad.

Gustav Weil, Das Leben Mohammeds nach Mohammed ibn Ishak, bearbeitet von Abd Malik ibn Hischam (Stuttgart: J. B. Metzler'schen Buchh. 1864), 2 volumes. The Sirah Rasul Allah translated into German with annotations.

Ibn Ishaq, The Life of Muhammad. Apostle of Allah (London: The Folio Society 1964), 177 pages. From a translation by Edward Rehatsek (Hungary 1819 - Mumbai [Bombay] 1891), which has been abridged and introduced [at 5-13] by Michael Edwards. Rehatsek had completed his translation; it was given to the Royal Asiatic Society of London by F. F. Arbuthnot in 1898.

Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad. A translation of Ishaq's "Sirat Rasul Allah", with introduction [xiii-xliii] and notes (Oxford University 1955), xlvii + 815 pages. The Arabic text used by Guillaume was the Cairo edition of 1355/1937 by Mustafa al-Saqqa, Ibrahim al-Abyari and Abdul-Hafiz Shalabi, as well as another, that of F. Wustenfeld (Gottingen 1858-1860). Ibn Hasham's "Notes" are given at pages 691-798.

Authors of Sirah

Early Writers (710 AD- 921 AD)

Later Writers (1100 AD- 1517 AD)

  • Abdul Rahman Al-Suhaili, wrote a commentary on Ibn Ishaq's work called Raud al-Unuf.
  • Al-Hafiz Abdul Mu'min Al-Dimyati, wrote the book "al-Mukhtasar fi Sirati Sayyid Khair al-Bashar" but is commonly referred to as Sira of Al-Dimyati.
  • Ala'al-Din Ali ibn Muhammad Al-Khilati Hanafi,wrote Sirat of Al-Khilati.
  • Sheikh Zahir al-Din ibn Muhammad Gazaruni.
  • Abu-al-Faraj ibn Al-Jawzi,wrote A Great Collection of Fabricated Traditions a critique of Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal. But his book on Sira is called Sharaf Al-Mustafa (actual full Title of book(s):Uyun al-hikayat fi Sirat Sayyid al-Bariyya).
  • Ibn Kathir, wrote Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya .
  • Abu Rabi Sulaiman ibn Musa Al-Kala'i compiled a book titled "Iktifa fi Maghazi al-Mustafa wal-Khulafa al-Thalatha".
  • Ibn Abd al-Barr.
  • Sayyid Al-Nas, wrote Uyun al-Athar.
  • Zain al-Din Iraqi was a teacher of Ibn Hajar and he wrote Sira Manzuma.
  • Al-Qastallani, his book on Sira is Al-Mawahib al-Ladunniya.

Modern Muslim Writers (1800 AD - Present)

  • Al-Zurqani,wrote a commentary on the Al-Mawahib al-Ladunniya by Qastallani and it was called Al-Zurqani 'ala al-Mawahib.
  • Qazi Halb Burhan-ud-din,wrote Sirat al-Halbiya.
  • Shibli Nomani, wrote his famous 5 volume book Sirat-un-Nabi in Urdu with the help of his disciple Syed Sulaiman Nadvi.The book was translated in English by M. Tayyib Bakhsh Budayuni:ISBN 81-7151-282-8.
  • Muhammad Husayn Haykal,wrote The Life of Muhammad in Arabic, 1933; with English translation by Isma'il Raji A. al-Faruqi.
  • Syed Sulaiman Nadvi, wrote Muhammad The Ideal Prophet and Muhammad The Prophet Of Peace translated by Rauf Luther.
  • N Tawheedi ,wrote A Glance At The Life Of The Holy Prophet Of Islam .
  • Mohammad Amin ,wrote A Spark From The Dynamo Of Prophethood .
  • Mohammed Marmaduke Pickthall, wrote Al-Amin A Life-Sketch Of The Prophet Muhammad
  • Syed M. Nadvi,wrote An Easy History Of The Prophet Of Islam.
  • Khwaja Shamsuddin Azeemi, wrote Muhammad-ur-Rasoolullah in 4 volumes.
  • Qadi Iyad, wrote Ash-Shifa - Muhammad The Messenger of Allah
  • Ziauddin Sardar & Zafar Malik wrote Introducing Muhammad and Muhammad Aspects Of His Biography by Ziauddin Sardar.
  • Abdul Hameed Siddiqui,wrote Life Of Muhammad .
  • Dr Muhammad Shamsul Haque, wrote Life Of Prophet Muhammad The Final Messenger
  • Afzalur Rahman wrote 3 books namely, Muhammad As A Military Leader ; Muhammad Encyclopedia Of Seerah and Muhammad Blessing For Mankind.

  • Zahir Ahmed Muhammad,wrote the Glimpses Of The Prophet's Life & Times.
  • Abu Bakr Siraj Ad-Din a.k.a Martin Lings , wrote Muhammad : His Life Based on the Earliest Sources (1983), Islamic Texts Society, ISBN 0-04-297042-3
  • Ali Musa Raza ,wrote Muhammad In The Qur'an.
  • Seyyed Hossein Nasr, wrote Muhammad Man Of Allah.
  • Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi,wrote Muhammad Rasulullah .
  • Muhammad Iqbal,wrote Muhammad The Beloved Prophet.
  • Naeem Siddiqui,wrote Muhammad The Benefactor Of Humanity.
  • Dr M.H. Durrani,wrote two books namely Muhammad The Biblical Prophet and The Holy Prophet Muhammad.
  • Dr Majid Ali Khan,wrote Muhammad The Final Messenger.

  • Ahmed Deedat,wrote Muhammad the Greatest and Muhammad the Natural Successor to Christ.
  • Jamal Badawi, wrote Muhammad A Blessing For Mankind,a Short Biography and Commentary.
  • Mustafa Ahmad al-Zarqa,wrote Muhammad The Perfect Model For Humanity.
  • Maulana Wahiduddin Khan,wrote Muhammad The Prophet Of Revolution.
  • Syed Iqbal Zaheer,wrote Muhammad The Unlettered Prophet Who Changed The World.
  • Abdur Rahman Lutz,wrote Muhammad Upon Whom Be Peace.
  • Syed Athar Husain ,wrote Prophet Muhammad & His Mission.
  • Fethullah Gulen,wrote Prophet Muhammad As Commander and Prophet Muhammad The Infinite Light.
  • Kais al-Kalby ,wrote Prophet Muhammad The Last Messenger In The Bible.
  • Mufti Shafi,wrote Seerat Khaatmul-Ambiyaa - Life Of Rasulullah translated by Abbas Zuber Ali.
  • Dr Mohamed Abdulla Pasha,wrote Sixth Century & Beyond - The Prophet & His Times.
  • Zakaria Bashier,wrote Sunshine At Madinah: Studies In Life Of Prophet and The Makkan Crucible.
  • Dr Ata Mohy-ud-din ,wrote The Arabian Prophet.
  • Fakir Syed Waheeduddin,wrote The Benefactor & The Rightly-Guided.
  • Mustafa Al-Sibai,wrote The Biography Of Allah's Prophet -Lessons & Examples.
  • Muhammad Bashiruddin Mahmood ,wrote The First & The Last - Muhammad.
  • Khwaja Kamaluddin,wrote The Ideal Prophet.
  • Abdul Majeed,wrote The Last Prophet & His Message .
  • Mohammad Yusuf,wrote The Last Prophet Of Islam .
  • Muhammad Abdul Rauf ,wrote The Life & Teaching Of The Prophet Muhammad.
  • Syed Ameer Ali ,wrote The Life & Teachings Of Mohammad .
  • Tahia Al-Ismail,wrote The Life Of Muhammad - Based On Earliest Sources.
  • Sarwar Saulat ,wrote The Life Of The Prophet.
  • Abdal Rahman Azzam,wrote The Life Of The Prophet Muhammad.
  • Muhammad Al-Kidari,wrote The Light Of Certitude.
  • Muhammad Hamidullah,wrote 4 books on Sira Muhammad Rasulullah: A concise survey of the life and work of the founder of Islam ; The prophet of Islam: Prophet of migration ; The Prophet's establishing a state and his succession ; Battlefields of the Prophet Muhammad.
  • Ayatullah Jafar Subhani,wrote The Message - The Holy Prophet Of Allah.
  • Khalifa Abdul Hakim ,wrote The Prophet & His Message.
  • Syed Abdul Wahab ,wrote The Shadowless Prophet Of Islam.
  • Muhammad Abdul Hai,wrote Uswai Rasool-e-Akram (Life & Teachings Of Prophet).
  • Safdar Hosain,wrote Who Was Muhammad?.
  • K.L. Gauba, wrote The Prophet of the Desert. (1962)
  • Muhammad Zafrulla Khan, wrote MUHAMMAD - Seal of the Prophets. (1980)

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