Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Who was Muhammad? What do we know historically, and does that differ from how he is seen by his followers and venerated today? Memories of Muhammad presents Muhammad as a lens through which to view both the genesis of Islamic religion and the grand sweep of Islamic history - right up to the hot button issues of the day, such as the spread of Islam, holy wars, the status of women, the significance of Jerusalem, and current tensions with Jews, Hindus, and Christians. It also provides a rare glimpse into how Muslims spiritually connect to God through their Prophet, in the mosque, in the home, and even in cyberspace.
This definitive biography of the founder of Islam by a leading Muslim-American scholar, Omid Safi, will reveal invaluable new insights, finally providing a fully three-dimensional portrait of Muhammad and the one billion people who follow him today.
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|Listening Length||9 hours and 57 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||January 05, 2012|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #69,671 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#63 in Islam (Audible Books & Originals)
#64 in Muhammed in Islam
#328 in Biographies of Religious Figures
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Dr. Safi’s “Memories of Muhammad” reveals an entirely different side of Islam, documenting how Muslims over the centuries have viewed and venerated Muhammad, in stark contrast to the puritanical version of Islam in vogue today. Rather than functioning as a spiritual “UPS man” whose role was merely to drop off the Qur’an, Muhammad himself was considered to be central to the revelation. Divine guidance came not only through the Qur’an, but through Muhammad, whom A’isha referred to as “the walking Qur’an”; His heart was the channel through which the Qur’an entered the world. In His lifetime, Muhammad acted as a gate through which flowed the tidings of Heaven and the mercy of God. But more than that, the Prophet was the model of the perfected and completed human being who brought together all of the divine qualities and attributes. Muhammad was the perfect mirror through which the divine qualities were reflected onto this terrestrial realm. (An example of this perspective is seen in the words of a Qawwali song: O Muhammad, Embodied Light, My Beloved, My Master, You are: The image of the perfection of love, The illumination of God’s beauty.) Indeed, divine self-revelation came through the Prophet; Muhammad bore the cosmic responsibility of being God’s representative on Earth. Muslim mystics have even asserted that the Light of Muhammad was the first thing that God created. The primordial manifestation of the Light of Muhammad was then embodied in every Prophet from Adam to Muhammad himself. Why hide these views in interfaith dialog? Even if they are not shared by Christians, they would be instantly understandable.
This book taught me that with the passing of time, the poets and scholars of Islam built on, elaborated, and found core truths in the Qur’an that anyone who loves God can recognize as beautiful. Muslim mystics developed the understanding that, “God is One. Reality is One. Humanity is One. Guidance is One. Existence is One.” Humanity is like members of one body; All races, classes, genders, and ethnicities are equal. Establishing this equality in our societal structures, however, cannot be achieved in isolation. It is futile to attempt to better the condition of humanity without first tending to the spiritual process of awakening. This awakening requires individuals to take responsibility for their spiritual lives. The Qur’an condemns those who blindly and unquestioningly follow the ways of their forefathers. The purpose of our lives is to know God and to mirror God’s attributes and divine qualities in this realm. Indeed, Muhammad compared his followers to stars that light up the spiritual night. God also desires an intimate relationship with us. The awe-inspiring, majestic quality of God (jalal) is complemented by God’s intimate tenderness (jamal) in his encounter with us. The heart is the earthly throne of God, the Lord of all worlds. Those who wholeheartedly submit their lives to God, who become intoxicated with the “wine” of His love, are not distracted by earthly riches, the promise of Paradise, or the threat of hellfire. No matter what circumstances God tests them with, whether fortune or misfortune, they trust in Him. In particular, reading the account of Muhammad’s ascension, and the poetry and devotion it has inspired, finally showed me why this faith is so loved.
Another reason I loved this book is because it reveals so clearly the soil from which my own Faith sprang. In addition to the high station of the Prophet and the relationship between God and man described above, I found other teachings to be strikingly familiar...for instance, the idea that God has guided humanity through sending prophets and messengers like Abraham, Moses, and Jesus throughout our history. Contemplating the words of the Qur’an led Muslims to understand that the same message was given to all the prophets, so all the prophetic traditions are one and all come from the One God. Since all the Prophets bring the same divine message, we should not differentiate between them or favor one over another. At least in the Sunni tradition, it is believed that the spiritual state of the cosmos gradually devolves with the passage of time after each period of revelation. Muhammad came to refresh humanity’s memory of the sovereignty of God. The Prophet spoke to the people at the level of their understanding, and His teachings progressed as his followers were able to understand more complex concepts. The way Muhammad’s revelation overturned errant practices is symbolically linked with the overturning of the Earth on the Day of Judgment. It is a small step from these insights to the concept of progressive revelation.
This book is a tremendous gift to those with no other window into the heart of Islam. However, as an outsider, I cannot put these views into the larger context of Islam today. Dr. Safi says forthrightly that he is from a Shiite background (although he presents Sunni views in a positive light as well). He also mentions that he is drawn to Sufism. Would the insights he shares be recognizable to Muslims around the world? Only to Persian Muslims? Are they mainly historical? I hope not. In any case, it is a beautiful heritage. If I could make this book assigned reading for all Americans, I would. It would go a long way towards eliminating the prejudice against Islam. You might want to buy an extra copy to share with neighbors who need it!
Without being overly zealous Omid Safi gives arguments about need of humanity to believe in God. To quote from the book "In the begnining we imagine God to be a slightly better version of ourselves, then the comforter of all that is missing from our lives, and then a king, before we finally realize that God is the Ultimate, the One, the perfection of Love, Majesty, and Beauty." God tells Muhammad PBUH "My heaven cannot contain me, nor can my Earth. But the heart of my faithful servant contains me". The one line which touched me the most from the book is "You can not know yourself without knowing God. You can not know God without knowing yourself."
He forcefully makes the point that the prophet Muhammad was sent as the mercy to all the worlds. He reminds Muslims to practice compassion and justice practiced by the last prophet to mankind. He mentions "For me, Muhammad represents the completion of the possibilities available to us as human beings, not because he is a superhuman, but precisely because he embodies the meaning of what it means to be fully human." Author refers an incident from the life of the prophet "on the way to Mecca, Muhammad saw a female dog that had given birth to a new litter of pups. Concerned that the commotion of an army ot ten thousand might disturb them, Muhammad bid one of his followers to stand guard over them, sheltering them"
Omid safi has done a beautiful job describing the Miraj (heavenly ascension) of the prophet, "Without the Miraj, Muhammad is the Warner who is sent to admonish society to abandon its heathen ways and return to God's path. With the Miraj, Muhammad also charts a path for humanity to ascend to the Divine." In another place Omid Safi summarizes the Quranic call of living by noting that "how one lives in the midst of humanity is related to how one sees God, and vice & versa. Theology and humanity are forever linked". Author reminds the readers " we can ascend to a height and a level of intimacy with God that angels dare not attempt".
Talking about war and violence "The Quran attests that Muhammad was predisposed by nature to despise war, but that God commanded him to undertake it when necessary: "Fighting is ordained for you, even though it be hateful to you Quran 2:216. The Quran emphasizes that when one has to confront enemy - those who, in the words of scripture, have driven one from one's home and oppressed a whole community- then the fighting must be undertaken in a noble fashion, with set bounds not to be exceeded." "And fight in God's cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression- for verily, God does not love aggressors. Quran 2:190"
On topic of social activism of the prophet author refers the spiritual practice of the prophet to link inner reflection with social action. He also mentions verses from the Quran regarding alleviating poverty in society, Quran 2:177 and one of the prophet's saying "Food for one person suffices two persons, and food for two persons suffices four persons, and food for four persons suffices eight persons".
For the first time I read different ways prophet is revered by different groups of Muslims (Sunni, Shia and Sufi). Omid Safi quotes Ali, the first male convert to Islam and one of the greatest Muslims (4th Caliph for Sunnis and 1st Imam for Shias) "I marvel at the creation of humanity: The human sees through a clear veil (the eye), speaks through a piece of meat, hears through a bone and cartilage, and breathes through a narrow opening". Author describes in brief the sacrifices of the grandson of the prophet when he with his family bravely fought against tyranny of the ruler Yazid. How he gave up everything (life of most of his family member and his own) and showed to Muslims how not to bow against tyranny and injustice, whatever the cost maybe.
Finally the author rues the fact that modern Muslims are neglecting the cosmic aspect of the prophet and are emphasizing the role of the prophet as a community leader and social engineer & wahhabi influence has destroyed many of the physical memories of the prophet including his place of birth etc. In the end he quotes Iqbal the famous Urdu poet from South Asia "Love of the prophet runs like blood in the veins of his community".
To understand Islam and Muslims, you have to understand the life of the prophet Muhammad from authentic sources. Other great works are by Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources and In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad .
The subject is complex and sensitive as religious people tend to hold on to their own view of things and many people like to read accounts of historical figures that collaborate their own view. This book is for reflecting people.
I am now interested in reading other works by this author.