Faisal Bodi says that “The Beloved Prophet” by Zaahied Sallie is the first English language biography of the Prophet (pbuh) to be written entirely in stanzas, and a unique addition to the art of praising Muhammad through poetry.
Ever since the first odes to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were recited by his companions, Muslims down the ages have used the vehicle of poetry to adorn the personage of the Prophet (pbuh).
Whether it is the famous Burda of al-Busiri or the lesser known 100-line poem of Ibn Abi al-‘Izz al-Hanafi, hagiographical poems about Muhammad have extolled his virtues and achievements.
If this genre is intended to inspire love and adulation of the Prophet then “The Beloved Prophet” by Zaahied Sallie is a welcome, and unique, addition.
The book is an ode and a seerah but its uniqueness lies in the fact that it is the first English language biography of the Prophet to be written entirely in stanzas. It took Sallie four years to write it, and the painstaking lengths to which he has gone to beautify Muhammad’s life is testimony to his labour of love.
Organised into quatrains, each chapter deals with a significant event or milestone in the Prophet’s life, from his birth in the fabled Year of the Elephant, through the first revelation, the opposition of the Quraysh and the emigration to Medina, to his passing soon after the conquest of Mecca. Each verse, along with the accompanying illustration, brings to vivid life the characters and events that shaped the formative period of Islam.
Since this is meant to be a poem and not a comprehensive biographical account, it is necessarily succinct and probably best appreciated by those with something of a foreknowledge of the seerah. That being said, the language is so captivatingly ornate that I would happily recommend it for that reason alone to the uninitiated as I am sure it will inspire them to further reading.
It is only fitting that only the best language should be used to present the life of the best of all creation and Sallie has done an admirable job. Whether you’re a lover of language or a lover of the Prophet this work won’t let you down.
You can buy The Beloved Prophet by Zaahied Sallie and Saaid Rahbeeni (illustrator) here.