Biography - Recorded History
Biography - Along with the large collection of hadiths, the biography (seerah) of Prophet Muhammad is well known as a part of recorded history. However, there is a subtle difference between hadith literature and the Prophet's biography. His biographers were historians who, within the first century after his death, began to gather all the facts they could from the various sources available. These included descriptions of battles and other events, descriptions of the Prophet's character, descriptions of people with whom he came in contact and various other biographical information. The early biographers had all they could manage to collect and record the abundant amount of material, and they expected that others would assume the task of confirming its authenticity. Thus, many of their statements began with the words, "It was said" or "They claimed", showing that the information had not yet been systematically verified. This is an expression of integrity seldom found among conventional historians.
Unfortunately, due to pressing matters of the time, research into the narrations was delayed, meaning that the biographies remained more or less on a par with other history books; yet they were in accord with one another on all major events and occurrences. Within the last century there has been renewed effort by a number of Muslim scholars to sift through this material, discard what is unconfirmed and retain that which can be verified. For this purpose they often refer the information to scholars of hadith, whose methodology is based on strict rules and defined principles. In this way, every statement given by a biographer can be evaluated.
Throughout its history the world has produced countless illustrious individuals. But as a rule they were figures who distinguished themselves in limited areas, such as political or military leadership. The stories of earlier prophets have become so polluted with fiction that an accurate and authentic account of their lives is no longer available. But this is not the case with Prophet Muhammad, who accomplished so much in so many diverse fields. Every detail of his private life and public speech has been documented and carefully preserved up to the present day. In fact, no biography of any human being has been preserved as well as his.
The Prophet's personality was noble and balanced and his lifestyle was all-encompassing. Within his sayings and his biography can be found that which concerns and relates to all people at all times: in ease or hardship, peace or war, victory or defeat. And within them can be found every feature of his character; for example: