The Character of the Prophet ﷺ is a set of talks by Imam Zaid Shakir that explores the character of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and how, through our engagement with hadith, we can recreate this in our own lives.
This is a set of four talks recorded in Turkey in 2012 in which Imam Shakir focuses on five key hadiths concerning the nature and social mannerisms of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. With his engaging rhetoric and rapport with his audience, Imam Shakir delivers this outstanding collection of talks which educate as well as offer Muslims practical advice on perfecting their religion.
Imam Shakir, aside from being a world famous Islamic scholar and lecturer, is one of the co-founders (along with the renowned Hamza Yusuf and Hatem Bazian) of the Zaytuna College in California, an institution that strives to combine the study of the humanities and liberal arts with the study of Islamic doctrine and philosophy. This college is chiefly concerned with the melding of cultures and experiences, an area of study which is imperative to our global age, with rates of conversion in the Western world rising yearly. This cultural coalescence is a vein that connects all four parts of this programme.
In the first two parts of this collection Imam Shakir examines hadiths focused on the concept of ‘divorcing the dunya’ through the realisation that our world is transient and our lives should be lived with the sole purpose of reaching paradise. Imam Shakir leads his audiences though the ways they can achieve this in our everyday lives using the best of examples, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Imam Shakir’s style of speech is refreshing as he tackles huge philosophical concepts, both clarifying and contextualising their ancient wisdom. He observes the trappings of the modern world and dissects how the same well-known hadiths about the Prophet ﷺ used by so many generations before still yield merit.
This doctrine of detachment from the physical world also encourages Muslims to detach themselves from materialism and mitigate jealousy of other’s possessions armed with the knowledge that everything is provided by God in accordance with His will and an individual’s fate. Therefore a greater focus on spiritual wellbeing is a cornerstone of Islamic belief and follows the example of the Prophet ﷺ. This emphasis on spiritual growth and divorcing oneself from the dunya is however by no means a rejection of creation, with kindness to friends, family, animals and even strangers illustrated countless times by the example of the Prophet ﷺ.
Championing good treatment of people and generosity of spirit was the Prophet’s ﷺ example and is a belief at the heart of countless hadith, and the focus of the last two parts of these talks. He addresses this practice in relation to the importance of cultivating loving and gentle familial relationships, citing that the best of Muslims are those who are gentle with their family members. He also examines the influence that cultivating happiness and positivity within oneself has as a key to treating others with respect and in turning away from the toxic stern-faced masculinity that pervades many Muslim cultures. He reminds us to prioritise the tranquillity of the home, generosity to strangers and continuous God-consciousness following the example of the Prophet ﷺ, a moving reminder of our main duties as believers.
Imam Shakir’s delivery is informative, emotional and often humorous providing viewers with the option to treat these talks as educational and memorise hadith through the Imam’s guided recitation or simply as an engaging podcast. However audiences choose to approach this collection they are sure to be left with an enlightened and refreshed view of familiar hadith reframed in a modern context. It offers practical advice to Muslims with attainable solutions to better their relationship with Allah through the disregard of this transient physical world whilst caring for its inhabitants.