Yesterday, I wrote about the importance of learning the life of the Prophet (ﷺ) known as the Seerah. His teachings were recorded in by his companions, the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them all), and passed down to their children and recorded in the collections of Sunnah and Hadith. We have an amazing amount of detail recorded about the personal and public aspects of the Prophet’s life, so much so that there is no one in history, specially from fourteen centuries ago, whose life is so meticulously recorded and preserved.
The science of Hadith is simply amazing. I’m not just saying that. Check it out for yourself. There are books on the Science of Hadith written by qualified scholars that are available in English. I recommend Dr Bilal Philips’ book entitled Usool Al Hadith to get you started. Or watch the lectures on YouTube on the subject, the Sciences of Hadith (also by Dr Bilal).
We know what he looked like, what he liked, disliked, approved or disapproved, what he did and didn’t do, what he avoided and didn’t avoid, what he said and didn’t say with remarkable certainty because of the great work done by the Hadith collectors in authenticating and preserving the authentic Sunnah along with the chains of narrations so we not only have the knowledge about the Prophet’s life but we also know how that knowledge reached, who originally recorded and who passed it down and how it came to be in the authentic collections of Hadith books. This is better recording than ANY literature, religious or scientific or others, specially from that long ago.
When we try to understand the Quran and Islam itself from the lens of western authors or authors who have been influenced by westerners, we are doing ourselves a great disservice. It’s akin to trying to understand how to cope with winter in Canada from the point of view of someone who has never been to Canada or any other country where the winters are harsh. Just a crude example but you get what I mean. In reality there is a hidden agenda behind western explanation of Islam by so-called Orientalists to undermine Islam by writing about Islam in a negative manner. In order to avoid falling into that trap, we need to read literature after choosing it carefully.