Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reading Martin Lings' Biography of Prophet Muhammad (Part 1)


My summaries of Martin Lings' chapters of  Muhammad - His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. Dr. Lings who was also known as Abu Bakr Siraj Ad-Din, was born a Protestant. Born yesterday 24th January, 103 years ago, he died an accomplished Muslim in 2005. One whose body was buried in his England rose garden, whose spirit remained a fragrant flower among prominent Islamic scholars.

1. The House of God

One night,
childless Abraham was called out of his tent
and unto him God gave glad tidings
that his seeds would be as numerous as the brilliant stars,

The first seed it seemed, would come from Hagar
the handmaid of the two - Abraham & Sarah
who fled to seek solace from her Lord
for she had incurred Sarah's wrath and envy

God heard Hagar's plea
An angel comforted her
that a son she will bear
one she must name Ishmael
meaning 'God shall hear'

Thirteen years later
it was Sarah's turn
a second son of Abraham she bore
Isaac was the chosen name by God who destined
that Ismael shall remain blessed still

Sarah made Hagar & Ishmael leave
Mother and son in grief
So was Abraham, who was told by the Lord - let it be
From the two sons
Two great nations would come to be

Down the valley of Becca so barren
on the 'incense route'
Hagar and Ishmael left the caravan
overcame with thirst and without ration
Hagar went back and forth 7 times,
until an angel said:
"Stand up, carry the lad, for I will make him a great nation."

Great it was that water spring forth
from Ishmael's tiny feet, aplenty
making Zamzam well
earmarked for a site of The sanctuary

Ka'bah, a cubic it is
4 corners pointing to compass directions
with a heavenly stone on the East
one that was white and pristine
kept in Abu Qubays hill
blackened by our sins

God summoned Ibrahim:
"And proclaim unto men the pilgrimage,
that they may come
unto thee on foot
and on every lean camel
out of every deep ravine."

Two sites where Hagar had wandered
became a pilgrimage rite
of Safa & Marwah
when she told him of her past plight

And Abraham prayed in Canaan
amidst His bounties plentiful
of rich pastures of wheat and corn
"...incline unto them men's hearts,
and sustain them with fruits
that they may be thankful."

2. A Great Loss

From Arabia and beyond
great gifts were taken to Mecca
through pilgrims who kept coming by
for greater and lesser pilgrimage
honoring the Ka'bah

Ishmael's clans grew so many
some left Mecca taking stones from the holy sanctuary
performed rites over them
which later evolved into idols, one too many

God became remote and truth blurry
in His place were idols as mediators
The Jurhumites led the idolaters
controlling Mecca and Zamzam
eventually with sand they did bury

Then came Khuza'ah
forgetting the Holy Well too
no better he was than Jurhum
made Hubal a new Meccan idol

3. Quraysh of the Hollow

The chief of Khuza'ah
married his daughther to Qusay,
a Qurayshi
leader and guardian of Ka'bah

Quraish of the Hollow
were his close relatives
resided near the Sanctuary
Quraish of the Outskirts
his distant families
stayed in the outer rings
far from Qusay the new king
living in his grand House of Assembly

His first born was made to inherit
all privileges and entitlement
'Abd ad-Dar - the least promising of all four
leaving Abdul Manaf the pre-eminent
and son Hashim, who had more merit

But majority of the Qurayshi
soon gathered devising a plan
for Hashim to contest the ad-Dars
claiming rights for the stronger clan

The women of the Abdul Manaf
thought of a unique pact
in a perfume bowl, family and allies dipped their hands
marking the stones of Ka'bah
the Scented Ones thus pledged unity
against Abd ad-Dar - the Confederates of minority

The two almost fought a battle
forego enmity and settled
Abdul Manaf got hold of the tax levy
and food & drinks for pilgrims
The ad-Dars retained the Ka'bah's key
and remained in the House of Assembly

Hashim became increasingly popular
established the Caravan of Winter
and the Caravan of Summer

An oasis of Yathrib
in the north of Mecca
was a major stopover in the summer
where the Jews co-existed in harmony
alongside the Arabs - the children of Qaylah
Aws & Khazraj none other

Hashim married Salma
an influential Khazraj woman
who insisted that she kept her controls over Yathrib
together with their son, Shaybah
while Hashim was occupied with his travels
until he died in Gaza

Muttalib - Hashim's younger brother
had been managing the clan's duties in Mecca
made Shaybah his young nephew, a protege
groomed to be the next Quraysh leader
'Abd al-Muttalib as he was now known
surpassed both uncle and father

(To be continued with His tawfeek, bi-iznillah)


  1. MASYAALLAH...sister, when you said you 'summarized' the biography, are those above your words? Subhanallah truly they indeed beautiful. Never have I came across such concise yet detail articulation made by human, ever. Please plan to make a book for these wonderful poems. May I request the honor to post it on my FB walls, please? Jazakillahu khayran kathira

  2. Salam
    Dear Shila,
    MashaAllah tabarakallah, I merely summarized in my own words whatever little I understood from the chapters written by Martin Lings. Anyone who has read Martin Lings' biography of the Prophet (pbuh) would agree that his narration is deep and thorough and that doing a summary will not do justice to it.

    About 10 years ago, a group of young pious man from UK had gifted me with the book but I never could read it properly until recently. The only way for me to make sure I study the chapters is by doing a summary of them. I ask for your du'a so that Allah would continue to give me the tawfik to complete my studying and summarizing of the book. Yes it would be an honor to publish them someday bi-iznillah.
    And yes, you may post it on your FB walls as you wish.

    Thank you, your comments have encouraged me to keep working at it.


  3. Syukran Jazilan Ezza,
    Dr.Lings' books are indeed hard to digest, most of the time I need to read several times a sentence to get its meaning. I too often make either a ppt slides to capture essence of books I've read or tazkirah Ive attended so as not to loose the knowledge. Oh how I wish I can write poems like you do. Please do continue this awesome work, and please don't put aside the idea of publishing it, so that many can benefit. Am certain that it'll be a hit,insyAllah.

    will definitely visit ur blog for more!!