The meaning of “Sirah” ( behaviour) and its verities

English 1966 Views |

The Word ‘Sirah’
In Arabic, the word’ sirah’ is derived from the root’ sair’ which mean’ walking’ and’ movement. The adoption and employment of this word’ sirah’ as has been used by Muslims since the first and second centuries, has been perfectly appropriate although our historians have not been quite successful in practical employment of the concept denoted by this word, Perhaps the most authentic sirah’ has been written by Ibn Ishaq and compiled later into a book by Ibn Hisham. It is said that Ibn Ishaq has been a Shiite, living in the second half of the second century after Hijra.

In Arabic, sirah’ rhymes ‘ filah ‘ which indicates the type of action one performs. The same is true with jalsah and Jilsah, meaning respectively sitting and the type is sitting. This is subtle point, since sair’ is one’s behaviour, whereas sirah’ is one’s type of behaviour, and in our discussion, the important thing is to know about the Prophet’s particular type of behaviour. The scholars who have written sirah’ have actually pointed out the Prophet’s behaviour and thus the books of sirah’ should rightly be called the books of sair’. Sirat- al- Halabiah, for instance, is in reality Sair’ and not Sirah’ for it speaks about the prophet’s behaviour, nor about the style, method and manner by used to behave in different situations.

Poetry in “Art” and “ literature”
Poetry has various forms and styles. Now, in the eyes of a person who knows nothing about poetic styles, there is no difference among Rudaki, Sa’di, Mowlavi, Sanay, and Hafiz, who had all a masterly hand in poetry. He calls of them poets and their writings, poetry. But someone familiar with poetry knows that each of these poets has adopted a particular style of rythm such as Hindi, Khorasani and a special poetical pattern harping on heroism, mysticism and so forth. As a matter of fact, in the study of poetry, it is important to possess a knowledge of the postic and rhythmic styles, otherwise, no distinction can be made between different poems by a non- expert in this field. The same thing applies to prose, for it has styles of its own as well. Thus, only with a knowledge of such styles once will be able to differentiate between various types of prose. Generally speaking, for some one not familiar with art, any building. tile- work or inscription can be a manifestation of art, but it he refers to artists, he will realize that there are tens of styles in each filed and each craft art has its own peculiar styles. A German writer has written a good book which has recently been translated into Persian under the title, Islamic Art, in which he argues that Islamic art enjoys an exclusive style in the Islamic word and civilization, thus proving that Islam is independent in art.

Poetry in thoughts
To the ordinary mind, Aristotle and Biruni are two scholars, philosophers and thinkers, equal in status. Ibne Sina, Plato, Bacon, Descartes, Stewart Mill and Hegel are all scholars and thinkers. Similarly, such a mind regards Sheikh Saduq, Kulaini. Ikhvan As- Safa (a group of learned Shiites) and Nasir al- Din Tusi as equal scholars and scientists. But a learned and knowledge person knows that there is remarkable difference in the methods, styles and thoughts of these scholars and philosophers. In fact. every scholar has a method of his own. One may bank on reasoning. deduction and follow the Aristotelian all the way. Thus, one makes use of such logic in one’s analysis of all branches of knowledge such as medicine, jurisprudence, literature, and so forth. Or one may rely more on experimentation. This is true with many of the modern scholars. It is said that Biruni’s method differed from Avicenna’s although they have been two genius contemporaries, in that the former was most likely bent on experimentation while the latter, on Aristotelian logic.

One may rely on rational knowledge ( in one’s analysis) and another on narrations and traditions. If the late Allamah Majlisi, for instance, intended to write a book on medicine, he would base his work on narrations and traditions without giving much importance to their authenticity or he would at least collect relevant traditions in his book, If decided to write about the auspiciousness and inauspiciousness of the days, he would still rely on the narrations in his regard.

Poetry in behaviours
Behaviour, too, is subject to different manners and styles. Thus, generally speaking, behaviourology is actually the study of different styles and manners which appear in one’s behaviour .Kings in the world had manners methods peculiar to them. This applies to all philosophers and ascetics likewise, Similarly, all prophets had specific but common manners of behaving, and each had methods and attitudes peculiar to him.

Many of the poets, artists and philosophers do not follow any style or method in their words. They sometimes rely on reasoning, sometimes on wisdom and sometimes on feeling and emotions. They are bereft of a sound logic and thus we have nothing to do with them. In behaviour, too, almost no one has s specific style and manners. Most of us do not know about the methods we make use of in solving the problems of our life, and we are unable to explain them when asked to do so. There are very few persons, who, seeking to achieve certain aims in life, follow specific methods and style. And when we talk about the Holy Prophet’s sirah’ we become concerned with the practical methods he used to achieve his goals ( the goals themselves being quite clear however). We are going to talk about methods he used to propagate Islam. For instance, his methods for leadership ( for he established a government after retuning from Medina to Mecca victoriously, and since then he was the leader of the Islamic community), his methods of judgement among the people, his behaviour with his numerous wives and children, his methods of associating with friends and companions, his methods of facing his stubborn enemies and his behaviour in various circumstances.

Social and Political Leadership
Some people rely on force to lead the society, and what they believe in is power and force and nothing else. Their logic is that “ a single horn is preferable to two ,meters of tail’. This is the policy of force and pressure which Americans follow today believing that difficulties can be removed by such a policy only. This is actually Yazidie policy. Some other people trust in deceit in their policy more than anything else. Such a policy was adopted by Mua’wiah ( Yazid and Muawiah were both the same in stategy but different in tactics). Some others prefer to rely on morality (i.e. a real morality, not the one which is actually an insult to morality, for that would amount to Mua’wiah’s deceit) Morality based on sincerity and truth was Ali’s method in politics as compared to that of Mua’wiah’s. Butmost people preferred Mua’wiah’s policy to that of Ali and called it true politics, and this is why the word “politics” comes to mean deceit and delusion even today as opposed to its real meaning, i. e. administering people’s affairs. A politician is actually an administrator and on this ground our Immaculate Imams were called politicians or God ‘s servants. So far as consultation is concerned, and surprisingly enough, the Holy Prophet (S).of Islam did not act upon his personal views all although he enjoyed the status of aprophethood and although his companions had such a strong belief in him that had he ordered them to drown themselves in the sea, they would have done so.

The consultative method of the Holy Prophet in social matters
He did not like to make decisions all by himself; rather, he preferred consulting others in finding solutions to problem. He was well aware that least disadvantage of making decisions personally would be impeding the growth of his companions personalities and regarding them as mere tools with no power to think and understand. It would have afterwards served as a bad example for all people. Thus, he refrained from applying selfish and autocratic methods. He instead provided his followers with guiding thoughts as befits a real leader. In the Battle of Badr as well as in the Battle of Uhud, he consulted with companions. In the second battle, he informed them that the polytheists had approached the whereabouts of Medina, seeking their opinion as to whether they had to go out of they city and fight them or to remain there and strengthen their positons, giving the enemy the opportunity to besiege them which would finally result in the farmer’s defeat. Most of the elders and experienced companions favoured staying in Medina, whereas the youth, who were filled with youthful ambition objected to the idea of being surrounded by the enemy without taking appropriate action against it. They considered it an insult to their manlihood. the Holy Prophet himself agreed with the elders and the experienced and be lived that they would have been more successful had remained in the city. Yet, he followed the youth, who comprised the majority of the companions and supported the idea of leaving Medina and fighting the enemy at Mount Uhud. Weapons in hand, he ordered them to march outside, The youth approached him and said that they would not have favored this move had he objected to it. They emphasized that they would obey the Prophet and remain in Medina despite their opinion if he thought it wrong to leave the city. The Holy Prophet said that it would not be right for a prophet to forsake the weapon after he has set out fight. He further stressed that they had to do so after they had decided to move out.

There is a lot that can be learnt from these methods and manners as the Commander of the Faithful, Ali (A.S), says:

The Prophet was like a roaming physician who has set ready his ointments and heated his instruments. He uses them wherever the need arises for curing blind heats, deaf, ears, and dumb tongues; He followed with his medicines the spots of negligence and places of perplexity. They ( people) did not take light from the lights of his wisdom nor did they produce flame from the flint of his sparkling Knowledge. So in this matter they are like grazing cattle and hard stones.

We can conclude here that in the same way that not all people think logically though they do think in different situations, all people behave in a certain way, but only a few base their behaviour on criteria on criteria from which they never deviate, while the majority behave illogically. Logical thinking is, in fact, thinking based on logical criteria, and there are only few people who follow these criteria, the rest are mostly confused in their thought and behaviour.


noble character of the Holy Prophet of islam- pages: 23to31


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