Ep. 49: Why Study the Life of the Prophet

The life of the Prophet (Sīra) is one of the most important aspects of the entire Islamic religion. In this episode I lay out some broad arguments of why it is fundamental for us to learn and study his life story. I also provide some thoughts on how we should think of this subject before we approach it.

Episode Notes

Why Study the Sīra?

(1) This is not simply a historical retelling of events, but understanding how the meanings of Islam manifest in reality. – The Prophet ﷺ was/is the perfection manifestation of Islam. -The hadith of ‘Aisha: كان خلقه القرآن

(2) We want to know the personality of the Prophet ﷺ, not just historical events. But personal details and preferences.

(3) To see the “perfect example” أسوة حسنة as the verse indicates. To see the Prophet ﷺ in all aspects of life so as to serve as our personal guideline.

(4) To help us understand the Quran.

(5) To generate the most authentic understanding of the Islam….i.e. its sources. -for example extremists ironically do not follow the sunna, but rather follow personalities they have taken to embody the sunna. Whereas we actually follow the sunna. Our intellectual history simple gives us precedent and principles through which to follow it.

(6) An example for an active/productive member of society regardless of position/age/gender, etc.

(7) The most important is to help us love and and follow him.

تَعصي الإِلَهَ وَأَنتَ تُظهِرُ حُبَّهُ * هَذا مَحالٌ في القِياسِ بَديعُ

لَو كانَ حُبُّكَ صادِقاً لَأَطَعتَهُ * إِنَّ المُحِبَّ لِمَن يُحِبُّ مُطيعُ

A Word on Sources 

  • people could read and write at the time of the Prophet ﷺ
  •  Some of the Companions wrote down the hadith during the time of the Prophet ﷺ: – ‘Abd Allah Bin ‘Amr الصحيفة الصادقة – ‘Ali Bin Abi Ṭālib – Abu Hurayra -Zayd Bin Thābit صحيح البخاري كتاب العلم عن أبي هريرة يقول ما من أصحاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أحد أكثر حديثا عنه مني إلا ما كان من عبد الله بن عمرو فإنه كان يكتب ولا أكتب حديث أبي داود عبد الله بن عمرو قال كنت أكتب كل شيء أسمعه من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أريد حفظه فنهتني قريش وقالوا أتكتب كل شيء تسمعه ورسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم بشر يتكلم في الغضب والرضا فأمسكت عن الكتاب فذكرت ذلك لرسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فأومأ بأصبعه إلى فيه فقال اكتب فوالذي نفسي بيده ما يخرج منه إلا حق
  • Prophet ﷺ ordered written documents, treatise, and letters. Some of the Companions were his scribes.
  • Grading of hadith: *harsh with aḥkām * loose with stories and morals • Islam is concerned with the moral character of the narrator, first and foremost.

Types of Works Related to the Prophet

ﷺ 1. Sīra: Raḥīq al-Makhtūm, Sīra of Shibli Nomani, Martin Lings, Revelation: The Story of Muhammad by Meeraj Mohiuddin

2. Shamā’il: A Portrait of the Prophet by Imam Tirmidhi Fons Vitae 3. Khaṣā’s: The works of Imam al-Suyuti, the lesser Khasis is translated

4. Dalā’il al-Nubuwwa: al-Asfahani, etc. [One is translated]

5. Books about the prayers on the Prophet ﷺ, e.g. Dalail al-Khayrat, Bashā’ir al-Khayrāt, Kunūz al-Aṣrār, etc.

6. Aspects of his life: wives, family, tools, government, names

Ep. 48: Islamic Principles #15: The Subtle Moment

There is no denying that Islamic law has a lot of literature about slavery and the freeing of slaves (known as manumission). While all Muslim jurists and Muslim majority countries have outlawed slavery, the legal discussions in these sections of the Sharia have utility beyond their original use. In this episode I discuss one such utility, known as the “subtle moment.” While a bit theoretical, it is extremely important in solving some of our more complex, contemporary problems.











Ep. 46: Muhammad Fraser-Rahim

My guest today is Dr. Muhammad Fraser-Rahim. Muhammad is currently the  Executive Director, North America for Quilliam International. Muhammad is not only a scholar of religion and Islam, but has been at the forefront of tackling violence and extremism in the US and abroad. I am very fortunate to have worked alongside him on very exciting projects, and I am even more fortunate to call him a friend!

Episode Notes
5:45 – influence of Ahmadiyya movement
8:27 Nation of Islam
9:66 current Ahmadiyya Mosques in US
10:47 jazz and Islam
11:28 1975 and WD Muhammad
15:28 Sunni influences in WD Muhammad conversion
18:08 Difference between black islam and immigrant islam
27:23 The importance of West Africa and Sufism
32:16 Ancestors who fought in Civil War
34:28 Thoughts on working in government as a Muslim
44:43 Dealing with crises of faith working for government
49:43 Dealing with extremism and prevention work
100:28 Quilliam Foundation
106:28: Some of Majid’s more offensive comments
112:28 Final advice – to be in every space possible

Quran Mentioned
“You are the best nation created for mankind…”

Hadith Mentioned
“love of country is from faith” 

People Mentioned
Sulayman Nyang
Mufti Muhammad Sadiq 
Abdulrahman Ibrahim
Yarrow Mamout 
Yusef Lateef 
Elijah Muhammad
W D Mohammed
Imam Darnell Karim 
Omar Ibn Said
Hudhayfa Ibn al-Yaman
Imam Ali
Abiy Ahmed, PM Ethiopia
Maajid Nawwaz
Dr. Ali Gomaa
Ed Husain 
Imam Husayn 
Ibn ‘AtaAllah

Selected Links
Jim Crow Laws
National of Islam
Clara Mohammed School
Gullah Geechee
Call and response tradition
The Risala  
Middle passage journey
Daughters of American Revolution
Sons of American Revolution
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Yellow Cake
UNDP Journey to Extremism
Al Shabab
Book Haram
Pulse night club attack, Florida
Al Qaeda
King Abdallah II Davos – Civil war in Islam
Quilliam North America
Pew Poll – American Muslims
Citadel Charleston South Carolina
Art of Party Crashing in Iraq
Farabi’s Book on Music
Southern Poverty Law Center

Ep. 45: Islamic Principles #13: Theoretical Person

This is a concise discussion on the importance of theoretical people/theoretical structures in Islamic law. While organizations and companies often time seem to function like people, a common theme in the Western world, they are actually not real people and are therefore theoretical in structure. This construct, while sounding a bit strange is important as it allows a great deal of flexibility in adapting nuanced services in the modern world.

Ep. 44: Islamic Principles #12: Rulings as Symbols

The rulings of the Sharia carry a larger meaning than their specific legal context. The spirit or symbol behind these laws remind us of the greater purpose of religion and identity. In this episode, I explore this concept with some concrete examples from Islamic history.

Hadith Mentioned
The Companion who was told to wash when wounded and died. (Abu Dawud)
“Drink the milk of the cow as it is a medicine, use its fat because it is a healing, but stay away from its meat, which has sickness.” (al-Hakim)

Quran Mentioned
“Andtake off your sandal” (20:12)

People Mentioned
Jalal Akbar
Imam Sirhindi
Last descendent of Genghis Khan


Ep. 43: Islamic Principles #11: Understanding the World Around Us

It’s not enough to simply know matters of religion to make sense of Islam, it’s equally important to know about the world around us and what it entails in great details. Without this skill set, our interpretations will be stuck in the past based on a completely antiquated worldview. This episode discusses why this important and what we can do to help.





Quran Mentioned
“We have not revealed the Quran to make you miserable.” (20:2)

Hadith Mentioned
“The best form of religion is that which is easy” (Muslim)
“There is no harm and reciprocating harm.” (Ibn Majah)

Ep. 42: Muhammad Zakariya, Master of Calligraphy

Muhammad Zakariya is one of the world’s most famous and recognized masters of Arabic calligraphy. Dedicating his life to the art and craft, Zakariya has emerged as one of the leading advocates of the importance of Islamic art. For people of my generation he is remembered as the artist behind the famous “Eid Stamp.” However, there is much more to the man and the master. While he continues to produce some of the most exquisite pieces of calligraphy, he is also training a new generation of young artists and calligraphers and accordingly is a major force for the preservation of this sacred art form.





Episode Notes
4:00 Hasan Chalabi
7:00 when the lesson shines
7:23 no money between teacher and student
8:25 on the development of Arabic calligraphy
9:58 love and calligraphy
11:48 chains of transmission and the early Arab calligraphers
16:15 importance of beauty and calligraphy to Islam
17:58 making reading more pleasant
19:18 Calligraphy and the Quran (the constitution of beauty)
26:20 the threat of the lack of art and beauty
30:00 the importance of rules of etiquette
30:40 Jews and the art of calligraphy with the Torah
32:00 the Madkhal of Ibn Hajj and answering “why”
34:20 turning your job into a form of worship (‘ibada)
36:28 Qadi ‘Iyad, and honoring the Prophet (God bless him and give him peace)
39:05 the centrality of the praise of the Prophet in calligraphy
47:00 The Prophet as a person through calligraphy
52:45 Having to start over in Turkey
1:01 an artist being self-distracting
1:05 making your own tools
1:07 on making the Eid stamp
1:14 His advice to understanding Islam today

Quran Mentioned
“In it are valuable books” (98:3)

People Mentioned
Hasan Celebi
Imam Ali
Zayd Ibn Thabit
Ibn Muqala
Ibn al-Bawwab
Ibn al-Hajj
Qadi Iyad
Sayyid Hossein Nasr
Hind Ibn Abi Hala
Um M‘abad

Books Mentioned
Madhkhal of Ibn Hajj
Shifa’ of Qadi ‘Iyad
Dal’il al-Khayrat

Further information can be found at Muhammad Zakariya’s Website.


Ep. 41: Islamic Holidays #4: The Birth of the Prophet

Celebrating the birth of our beloved Prophet ﷺ has been a custom of Muslim communities ever since the time of the Companions. To celebrate and commemorate his birth is to ultimately show thanks and gratitude to God for sending him ﷺ to us as a mercy. There is much to be thankful and happy for on this blessed occasion and over the ages it has served as a source of great spiritual outpouring from scholars and sages to the average pious Muslim.



Quran Mentioned
The chapter of the Elephant (chapter 105)
“We have not sent you except as a mercy to mankind” (21:107)


Hadith Mentioned
“I am a merciful gift” (al-Dārimī & al-Bayhaqi)


Selected Links
Blog post on the legality of the Mawlid
Seera books in English

  1. Revelation: The Story of Muhammad
  2. Muhammad: His life Based on the Earliest Sources
  3. Seera of Shibli Nomani

Portrait of a Prophet
Khaṣā’iṣ Book of Suyuti
Shifa of Qadi Iyad

Ep. 40: Thoughts on Islam and the Workplace, pt. 2

A follow up from my previous discussion on issues related to practicing Islam in the workplace. We spend an enormous time of our lives working and the transition from student to worker/employee can offer many challenges. This episode discuss some simple top-tier issues, and I hope to get deeper in a follow up episode or two. Enjoy!



Quran Mentioned
“No soul bears the sins of another.” 35:18
“To you is your faith, and to me is mine” 109:6
“no compulsion in religion.’ 2:256


Hadith Mentioned
“The smell of a fasting person’s mouth is more beloved to God than the smell of musk”, Bukhari & Muslim
“Traveling is a form of torture”, Bukhari
“all of you are shepherds and responsible for your flock.” Bukhari & Muslim
“begin with yourself, then those nearest you.” Muslim
“Whoever does not concern themselves with the affairs of the Muslims is not from them” Muslim


Selected Links
Hippocratic Oath