The Book of Hadith: Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad from the Mishkat al Masabih Paperback – Nov 1 2008
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"In the process of discovering and exploring the profound utility of these Prophetic sayings, we discover many levels. They show the deep humanity, kindness, and beneficence of the Prophet at a time when there is a pressing need to correct not only the many distortions about him, whether motivated by ignorance or malice, but also the widespread misconceptions about the intrinsically beautiful Islam which he revealed to us. We also find that the Hadith enunciate and clarify doctrine and offer commentary upon it. They offer guidance for the deepening of knowledge, the improvement of conduct and character, and the strengthening of faith. Finally, and above all, they remain a luminous spiritual source of inspirational material for the transformation of Hearts, for without the Heart no injunction can ever be fully internalized, lived and embodied."
The selections of Hadith are very well chosen and arranged. The English translations are clear and beautiful. Topical groups included are as follows:
On Islam, Iman (Faith), and Ihsan (Righteousness)
Afflictions and Death
Generosity, Kindness & Zakat (Charity)
The Station of the Qur'an
Matters of Dress and Appearance
Dreams and Divination
Character, Behavior, and Adab (Courtesy)
The Mi'raj (Night Journey)
The Death of the Messenger of God
Highly recommended for anyone who is interested increasing their knowledge and understanding of Islam.
The chapters that describe the behaviors of the Prophet Muhammad are the most enjoyable and refreshing to read. But it is the introduction by Jeremy Hezel Thomas that I think is the most important part of the book, especially when he talks about two of the most controversial topics; apostasy and offensive jihad. The one verse from the Quran that is dissected is 9:29 and Muhammad Asad is quoted as saying that it does not command unprovoked aggression against non-believers. Even Ibn-Tamyia, one of the most conservative Muslims in history, said that apostasy is only punishable by death when it involved "enmity and aggression towards Muslims."
After the Prophet died, Abu Bakr did not start a war for the sake of waging war and forcing people to convert to Islam or gaining territory. "Rebellious tribes marched on Medina" and rejected paying the zakat and rejected the authority of Abu Bakr because they refused to follow anyone besides the Prophet. War was waged to uphold the authority of the state and to keep the Islamic ummah intact.
Lastly, the book tells us that Muslims are a community of the middle way which is quoted from verse 2:143 and also a hadith and that should draw us to be moderate in every respect of life and this is exemplified when the Prophet told Abu Bakr to raise his voice while Umar was told to lower it.
However I so enjoyed this collection of the saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as they point to his compassionate character, his incredible wisdom and the sweet spirit of Islam.
I highly recommend this book to Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike.
My favorite: Muhammed sent his wife to get his prayer mat from the temple. His wife commented that she was during menses, (and it might not be appropirate for her to go to temple, and touch his prayer matt, while she was on her period. She was "unclean". "Typical Jewish Red Tent Thinking.") Mohammed's answer, "You aren't menustrating with your hands, are you? Go get my matt."
Very enlightening treatment of women at a time, when women weren't always treated well. Not what we think of in Islam. Funny sayings for everything from kids stealing from his garden, throwing rocks at his house, dealing with relatives. dealing with drunk servants.
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