Future of Sīrah Genre: Reflection on the Fiqh al-Sīrah Works

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Abstract

Prophet Muhammad is the central figure in Islam. This makes his life and biography the most critical source to understand and contextualise after the Qur’an. Systematically writing about his life and biography which is the main discourse for the sīrah genre is timeless and always relevant. Thus, sīrah has been a focal point for studies among Muslim and Western scholars alike for centuries. Extremely polar interpretations of sīrah exist in the literature. Muslims primarily approach his life to take examples to replicate in every aspect of their lives and yet interpret differently depending on their background and perception of the Prophet. On the contrary, non-Muslim scholarship, particularly from the medieval period up to the twentieth century, have completely different perceptions and it is overtly negative. Among Muslim scholars, the spectrum of their focus is also quite broad and to add to this, varying methodologies exist. Some deal with sīrah based merely on narrations received in a chronological order whereas some take certain events and themes as their guide. While some depict him as a supernatural entity emphasising diverse types of transcendental miracles, some reduce him down to a “far-sighted leader” like any other human being, completely disregarding the notion of prophethood and revelation. It is apparent that the spectrum of interpretation is quite broad and competing literature continues to be developed. In this juncture, one novel contribution is from contemporary Muslim scholars whose work is entitled Fiqh al-Sīrah. Taking the work of two prominent scholars into consideration, namely Muhammad al-Ghazali (d.1996) and Said Ramadan al-Buti’s (d.2013) Fiqh al-Sīrah, this paper examines their contribution to the sīrah writings in terms of methodology and approach. It argues that their contribution was ground-breaking and innovative, paving the way for new perspectives to read and interpret the sīrah in a contemporary world for a contemporary audience.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2021
EventAAIMS Conference 2021 - Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
Duration: 14 Sep 202116 Sep 2021
http://www.aaims.org.au/aaims-conference-2021/

Conference

ConferenceAAIMS Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleThe Future of Islam and Humanity: Local and Global Challenges and Opportunities
Country/TerritoryAustralia
CityCanberra
Period14/09/2116/09/21
OtherAAIMS is Australia’s leading academic association for scholars engaged in research and the dissemination of knowledge about Islam and Muslim societies. The Association is interdisciplinary and fosters a network of academics based at Australian universities to generate opportunities for joint scholarly research across disciplines and institutions, disseminate research by its members, and promote national and international collaborations.
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