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Reader's Reflection: Al-Shama'il al-Muhammadiyya

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This is a beautiful work that has been made with much love, care and devotion. Indeed the whole subject of the work is love and beauty. The Shama'il is a collection of over 400 hadith on the Prophet s.a.w. compiled by the Hadith Master Imam Muhammad ibn Isa al-Tirmidhi (died 279 AH). Of all the compilations of Hadith on the Prophet s.a.w., the Shama'il is the most celebrated, not least because it is as much a devotional text that connects us to the ever-present grace of the Prophet s.a.w. as it is an authentic and thorough work of hadith.

The present edition of the Shama'il, that contains the Arabic text as well as English translation and notes by Abdul Aziz Suraqah and Shaykh Mohammed Aslam, is a landmark work. The publisher's decision to adopt the traditional Hashiya format with commentary text running at an angle all around the margins of the main text is an inspired one. In the Malay world, this format is known colloquially (and perhaps affectionately) as kitab berjanggut. You can still see examples of this style in manuscripts displayed in the British Library and various museums throughout the world. The publisher and designer have revived the Hashiya style for modern readers and they are to be congratulated for taking traditional Islamic bookmaking out of the museums and into our homes. Alhamdulillah.

What makes us doubly honoured and proud to stock this book is the fact that the designer of this work is a Singaporean. We are privileged to call this designer a friend and we know that he spent many many hours designing this book line by line and page by page.

The Shama'il is, as I have said, a work of beauty. We must remember that beauty – with its symmetry, harmony, and proportionality – points to truth. This work points and connects us to the Most Truthful One s.a.w.

The Shama’il comes just weeks after the publication of a new edition of the Qasida al-Burdah of Imam al-Busiri. We can’t help but feel that we are approaching a moment in our time when scholars, translators, publishers, and readers collectively realise that the aching void in the hearts of Muslims the world over is the space where the love for the Prophet s.a.w. used to fill and illuminate. Love for the Prophet s.a.w. is the lifeblood of our community. It unites us, nourishes us and lifts our aspiration and vision towards the Everlasting.

May the love for the Prophet s.a.w. give life to our hearts!

Al-Shama'il al-Muhammadiyya
Imam al-Tirmidhi
Abdul Aziz Suraqah, Mohammed Aslam (translation and notes)
IMAM GHAZALI INSTITUTE AND CITY OF KNOWLEDGE ACADEMY

 

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