Over the past 1400-years, literally thousands of books have been written, both by believers and non-believers on the different aspects of the life of the Prophet Muhammad (S). Even then it cannot be claimed that a true and exhaustive picture of his multidimensional life has been successfully projected. The gaps in the narratives call for the attention of serious minded researchers.
It is no doubt a great honor, to include ones name in the list of the biographers of the Prophet. It is also a great responsibility to present an accurate picture of his personality. Writers have often become so emotionally charged in their praise as to lose sight of objectivity. Some have turned critical of his life style. Non-believers, in particular were critical of his private life, especially of the part spent in Madina. After the establishment of an Islamic State, there was not much ground for criticism of his policies. Some writers however accused him of having resorted to forceful conversion and permitting the practice of slavery.
Many focused attention on his family life and found his multiple marriages the butt of denigration. They could not understand the reasons behind these marriages, and took a negative view of them.
In the last few years and especially after 9/11, interest in Islam and Islamic literature has increased tremendously. Non-believers are in a dilemma. On one hand, Islam is supposed to be a religion of peace, while on the other; terrorism associated with Muslims is on the rise. By making an attempt to depict an objective picture of the life of Prophet Muhammad (S), l have tried to underline the fact that Islam is not a religion of violence but of peace, and the life of the Prophet provides convincing evidence of this.
I am neither a student of history nor of Islamic studies. I belong to the discipline of Social Science. I have tried to look at his family life from a sociological perspective, an approach different from that of other writers. Since Sun rah, the traditions of the Prophet have been meticulously recorded by his followers, it holds a special significance in the life of Muslims. They are expected to acquire good knowledge of the private life of the Prophet. For the purpose of composing this book I had to undertake a deeper study of Sunnah. I could not read the original Arabic literature, as my knowledge of that language is limited. I thus had to rely on Urdu and English translations. When I started making a study of the subject, I found that there are numerous gaps and contradictions in regard to the private life of the Prophet. For instance, Prophet's date of birth was correctly recorded though he was like any other child of Quraish tribe. Not only that, the dates of the marriages of his father, Abdullah and his grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, have also been recorded correctly, but after three decades, when it came to the Prophet's own children, there is a lot of confusion. There is no authentic record about the number of his sons, the sequence of his children, and the age at which they died to mention only a few items.
Historians are quite sure about the dates of the deaths of his mother Amina and grandfather Abdul Muttalib, but confusion prevails over the deaths of his beloved wife Khadijah and his dear uncle Abu Talib. Further, there is no unanimity about the gap between the First and the Second Revelations of Quran. It has been put between a few weeks to two and a half years. Similarly different authors have given different time periods about his stay at Quba on his way to Madina. Most surprising is the fact that Ila, the temporary separation of the Prophet with his wives for one month, which was a significant event in his life, has not been recorded accurately. Some believe it was in 5th AH while some others claim that this event took place in 9th AH. All this confusion is in spite .that his companions and his wife Aisha, who has of the fact many traditions to her credit, were with him all the time. Of late, Aisha's age has become another controversial topic.
When I look at all these things, I feel somewhat depressed. For Islam is the second largest religion of the world, with a 0opulation of 1.3 billion. There are more than 56 countries where Muslims are in majority. Economically, several of these countries are fairly rich. In spite of these favourable factors, Muslims are far behind in the field of research. Books by Muslim writers keep appearing on various aspects of Islam but not many reflect the required level of scholarship.
My attempt to depict the life of the Prophet is a very modest one. My aim is to place at the disposal of young English speaking people, a wider view of the family life of the Prophet, so that they learn something from it to make their own lives more fruitful and happy. If I succeed in this, it would be a cause of joy in my life. The book may be of source of interest to those non-Muslims too who are keen to know more about Islam. I hope it will also be a valuable contribution to women studies.
In my efforts to write this book, I have received encouragement and help from various quarters. Although it is difficult to thank them all by name I must mention at least a few names. When the idea to write on this topic came to my mind, the first person with whom I discussed the topic was Mufti Sayeed of Pakistan who was on a visit to the USA. His encouragement helped me in undertaking the project. Abidullah Ghazi of IQRA was also a source of encouragement to me. Prof. Mohsin Usmani, of Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad, a renowned scholar and a man of extensive writings on Islamic literature has generously spared his valuable time in going through the first and the final drafts of my book. I am highly indebted to him. I am also grateful to Arif Hussaini (California) a civil servant of international repute and an author of many books who has taken great pains in going through the final draft of the book. I am also thankful to Prof Taqi Ali Mirza, a Retd. Prof. of Osmania University Hyderabad, who has also seen my final draft.
For the collection of information, I had to look into many public and private libraries. Hafiz Rabbani Ahmed of IAGD (Ml) and Mahmoud Akbar (MI) have very good personal collections and both of them kept the libraries at my disposal. I must acknowledge the help and support of my friends and well wishers like Padma Shree Mujtaba Hussain, a well known Urdu -writer and columnist of international repute, Hasan Chishti (Chicago), poet and a person of extraordinary generosity, Prof. Shahid Ali Abbasi, Head of the Dept. of Islamic Studies, Osmania University, Hyderabad and my young nephew, Rehan Khan (Canada).
The typing of the manuscript had taken place in Hyderabad, which was definitely a very strenuous job. It would not have been possible without the help of my dear old student Dr. Kaneez Zehra, lecturer in Public Administration, Maulana Azad Urdu University, Hyderabad and her hard working husband Zubair Hussain.
It was my family support that gave me encouragement to complete the work. My son Saleem Mohammad and my daughter- in- law Sofia, my daughters, Yasmeen and Nazneen and their husbands, Dr. Mahmood Ali Khan and Asad Raza Khan were always a source of constant support to me. My eldest grandson, Nabeel, a 12-year old student of HUDA Islamic School, was always keen to contribute his share of knowledge. I appreciate his spirit. I only pray to God that my book may be a source of inspiration to all of them and to make their lives more purposeful.