Sirat Rasul Allah

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Sirat Rasul Allah (Arabic: سيرة رسول الله, Romanization: Sīrat Rasūl-Allāh, Abv: Sirat), or simply the Sira (Arabic: سيرة) in English the Biography of the Prophet of Allah, refers to the collected biographies of Muhammad. It is also the title of one of the most important early Siras, namely that of Ibn Ishaq. In addition to the hadith (oral account of Muhammad's statements and actions), the Siras provides an integral foundation to the sunnah (example, customs, and practices) set forth by Muhammad. Throughout Islamic history, the Siras and Sunnah have established the foundation of much of Islamic Law (Shariah) and Jurisprudence (Fiqh), including but not limited to the Five Pillars of Islam, societal code, and dietary standards.

The sira literature finds its origins in the earlier literature of qisas (tales) and maghaazi (raids). The early maghaazi literature includes the Maghazi of ibn Ishaq and the maghaazi of Ma'mar bin Rashid. These eary, fragmentary sources contained individual stories of the prophet's adventures and military expiditions. These forms eventually evolved into the sira literature, which inter alia form the basis much later Quranic Tafsir. The sira stories around the revelation of the Qur'an, though, are often midrashic fantasy: that is to say, they rather than being an accurate retelling of the circumstances of revelation, these stories seem to have been fabricated to explain certain otherwise opaque verses in the Qur'an [1].

After the maghaazi literature of ibn Ishaq and Ma'mar bin Rashid, the Kitaab al-Maghaazi of Waqidi and the Tabaqat of ibn Sa'd. Later sirahs tend to be rehashings of these sirahs. Of all of the sira collections, the sira of ibn Ishaq, in the recension of ibn Hisham, was the most cited and used [2].

Sira of ibn Ishaq

Muhammad ibn Ishaq ibn Yasār (704-770 AD), commonly known as Ibn Ishaq, was responsible for the earliest-known collection of Hadith arranged in chronological order, eponymously known as Sirat Rasul Allah (Biography of the Prophet of Allah). This collective biographical account is the earliest surviving, and most heavily relied upon biography of Muhammad. Along with the Qur'an and Hadith, are commonly referred to as the Trilogy of Islam, as all major doctrines are found within these three sources. Earlier biographical material include the letters of 'Urwa b. al-Zubayr (d. 713), and Kitāb al-Maghāzī by Musa ibn ʿUqba (d. 725 to 737), which was a notebook thought lost, but recently rediscoverd in 2021. Musa ibn ʿUqba was a student of Ibn Shihab al-Zuhri (d. 737), whose narrations feature heavily in the sira literature.

Ibn Ishaq's work, while the original manuscripts have not survived, is substantially extant through revisions of his editors, most notably Ibn Hisham and Ibn Jarir al-Tabari. According to Islamic scholar Fred Donner at the University of Chicago, the material in ibn Hisham's and al-Tabari's recensions are "virtually the same."[3] However, some material found in al-Tabari was deliberately not preserved by ibn Hisham, most notably al-Tabari's inclusion of the episode known as the Satanic Verses.[4][5]

See Also


  • Sirat Rasul Allah - The earliest biography of Muhammad, by ibn Ishaq, translated by A. Guillaume

External Links

  • Sirat Rasoul Allah - An abridged version of the earliest biography of Muhammad, by ibn Ishaq


  1. Bearman, Peri J.. The Encyclopaedia of Islam San - Sze Vol 9 (Encyclopaedia of Islam New Edition). p. 661. ISBN 978-90-04-10422-8, 1997. 
  2. Bearman, Peri J.. The Encyclopaedia of Islam San - Sze Vol 9 (Encyclopaedia of Islam New Edition). p. 662-665. ISBN 978-90-04-10422-8, 1997. 
  3. Donner, Fred McGraw (1998). Narratives of Islamic origins: the beginnings of Islamic historical writing. Darwin Press. p. 132. ISBN 9780878501274
  4. Raven, Wim, Sīra and the Qurʾān – Ibn Isḥāq and his editors, Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an. Ed. Jane Dammen McAuliffe. Vol. 5. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Academic Publishers, 2006. p29-51.
  5. Cf., Ibn Ishaq [Guillaume's reconstruction, at 165-167] and al-Tabari [SUNY edition, at VI: 107-112]