As we enter Rabi’ Al-‘awal, the month of the prophet’s (saw) birth, I have decided to read a book recommended to me by so many: Muhammad (saw) by Martin Lings.
Though there are some errors (a critique by Sheikh Gibril Haddad can be found here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/52879411/Critical-Reading-of-Martin-Lings-GF-Haddad), what I have read so far has been so beautiful. Our prophet (saw) was such awonderful human being in every aspect. How I wish I could have met him and experienced his warmth and affection first hand. If only I could have been there to share in his struggles and victories. That opportunity has passed, but the opportunity to work in a way that will pleases him and Allah still exists. Perhaps I will be blessed with a true dream or have the blessing of sharing his company in paradise
At the end of February, inshallah I shall be taking my mother to visit the mosque and grave of our beloved prophet as part of our Umrah. The honour to being able to work and pay for my mother’s tickets is nothing in comparison to what she has done for me. May Allah preserve her for us and grant her a long life
This Umrah will also be my first insha’allah. I pray Allah accepts my “visa” to visit His sacred sanctuary and makes it a means for a new beginning insha’allah!
Praise be to God in all states and places.
Having reach the half way mark of the book ‘Muhammad ﷺ, I have rarely read a book that has moved me so much. Because of my bad etiquette (adab) of studying a book, I have only recently read into the life of Dr Martin Lings, author of the book through which you gain a real understanding for the love and spirituality that flows through his writings.
The following is a link to a tribute written by Sh. Hamza Yusuf along with a few extracts I found particularly moving.
I regret not having read his book till now, cast my legitimate concerns about what it may contain. And now, having learned more about the author, Im saddened by being unable to meet the great sage of Islam before he passed away
“Scholars are very careful about deeming someone a disbeliever (kafir) who may hold heterodox beliefs as a result of ta’wil. And interpretive statements that have been deemed heterodox can be found in the works of Ibn ‘Arabi, Sidi ‘Abd al-Karim al-Jili, Emir ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri, Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi and others. And despite all of those illustrious men suffering attacks from some of the great as well as less than great scholars of Islam, the community of scholars and believers alike have, notwithstanding such views, taken the good of such scholars and point out the areas of concern while adhering to the majority view where they may differ.
“The Perennialist Muslims in the West constitute a highly educated cadre largely made up of converts, who have done some of the finest work on Islamic materials and have presented Islam in a beautiful and illuminating manner that has made it accessible to people it would normally not have reached, and with an aesthetic and intellectual dimension that is sorely absent from many of the mainstream efforts. In spite of the aforementioned concerns, to dismiss their noble endeavours is unconscionable and mean-spirited.
“In my subsequent meetings with Dr. Lings the issue of Perennialism did not arise nor was I inclined to mention it. My respect for his scholarship, discernable spirituality and metaphysical insights, not to mention the fact that he was more than twice my age in years and three times my age in Islam all demanded I listen attentively to his wisdom and learn from his character. He was a highly-educated Muslim who as the keeper of Oriental manuscripts at the British Museum had spent much of his adult life reading some of the finest Arabic manuscripts ever put to pen by Muslims, entirely aware of the orthodox position, and had read much finer arguments than those I would be able to muster. I chose to set aside the position I was taught and still adhere to and benefit from a unique English Muslim sage in a bereft and derelict age of folly. As Dr. Lings was a man who spoke when he had something to say and said things that resulted from intense deliberation, I took copious notes on all of my visits.
“I believe Dr. Lings was a true Muslim, a man who put God at the center of his life and purpose. I feel immensely honored to have known him and to have benefited from his knowledge through his books and his presence. May Allah have mercy on his soul and sanctify his secret.”