History & Biography of the Last Prophet
Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H)
The Lineage and Family of Muhammad (PBUH)
With respect to the lineage of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), there are three versions: The first was authenticated by biographers and genealogists and states that Muhammad’s genealogy has been traced to ‘Adnan. The second is subject to controversies and doubt, and traces his lineage beyond ‘Adnan back to Abraham. The third version, with some parts definitely incorrect, traces his lineage beyond Abraham back to Adam - Peace be upon him -.
After this rapid review, now sample details are believed to be necessary.
The first part: Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib (who was called Shaiba) bin Hashim, (named ‘Amr) bin ‘Abd Munaf (called Al-Mugheera) bin Qusai (also called Zaid) bin Kilab bin Murra bin Ka‘b bin Lo’i bin Ghalib bin Fahr (who was called Quraish and whose tribe was called after him) bin Malik bin An-Nadr (so called Qais) bin Kinana bin Khuzaiman bin Mudrikah (who was called ‘Amir) bin Elias bin Mudar bin Nizar bin Ma‘ad bin ‘Adnan.
The second part: ‘Adnan bin Add bin Humaisi‘ bin Salaman bin Aws bin Buz bin Qamwal bin Obai bin ‘Awwam bin Nashid bin Haza bin Bildas bin Yadlaf bin Tabikh bin Jahim bin Nahish bin Makhi bin Aid bin ‘Abqar bin ‘Ubaid bin Ad-Da‘a bin Hamdan bin Sanbir bin Yathrabi bin Yahzin bin Yalhan bin Ar‘awi bin Aid bin Deshan bin Aisar bin Afnad bin Aiham bin Muksar bin Nahith bin Zarih bin Sami bin Mazzi bin ‘Awda bin Aram bin Qaidar bin Ishmael son of Abraham - Peace be upon him -.
The third part: beyond Abraham - Peace be upon him - , Ibn Tarih (Azar) bin Nahur bin Saru‘ bin Ra‘u bin Falikh bin Abir bin Shalikh bin Arfakhshad bin Sam bin Noah - Peace be upon him - , bin Lamik bin Mutwashlack bin Akhnukh [who was said to be Prophet Idris (Enoch) - Peace be upon him -] bin Yarid bin Mahla’il bin Qainan bin Anusha bin Shith bin Adam - Peace be upon him -.
The Prophetic Family:
The family of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is called the Hashimite family after his grandfather Hashim bin ‘Abd Munaf. Let us now speak a little about Hashim and his descendants:
1. Hashim: As we have previously mentioned, he was the one responsible for giving food and water to the pilgrims. This had been his charge when the sons of ‘Abd Munaf and those of ‘Abd Ad-Dar compromised on dividing the charges between them. Hashim was wealthy and honest. He was the first to offer the pilgrims sopped bread in broth. His first name was ‘Amr but he was called Hashim because he had been in the practice of crumbling bread (for the pilgrims). He was also the first man who started Quraish’s two journeys of summer and winter. It was reported that he went to Syria as a merchant. In Madinah, he married Salma — the daughter of ‘Amr from Bani ‘Adi bin An-Najjar. He spent some time with her in Madinah then he left for Syria again while she was pregnant. He died in Ghazza in Palestine in 497 A.D. Later, his wife gave birth to ‘Abdul-Muttalib and named him Shaiba for the white hair in his head, and brought him up in her father’s house in Madinah. None of his family in Makkah learned of his birth. Hashim had four sons; Asad, Abu Saifi, Nadla and ‘Abdul-Muttalib, and five daughters Ash-Shifa, Khalida, Da‘ifa, Ruqyah and Jannah.
2. ‘Abdul-Muttalib: We have already known that after the death of Hashim, the charge of pilgrims’ food and water went to his brother Al-Muttalib bin ‘Abd Munaf (who was honest, generous and trustworthy). When ‘Abdul-Muttalib reached the age of boyhood, his uncle Al-Muttalib heard of him and went to Madinah to fetch him. When he saw him, tears filled his eyes and rolled down his cheeks, he embraced him and took him on his camel. The boy, however abstained from going with him to Makkah until he took his mother’s consent. Al-Muttalib asked her to send the boy with him to Makkah, but she refused. He managed to convince her saying: "Your son is going to Makkah to restore his father’s authority, and to live in the vicinity of the Sacred House." There in Makkah, people wondered at seeing Abdul-Muttalib, and they considered him the slave of Muttalib. Al-Muttalib said: "He is my nephew, the son of my brother Hashim." The boy was brought up in Al-Muttalib’s house, but later on Al-Muttalib died in Bardman in Yemen so ‘Abdul-Muttalib took over and managed to maintain his people’s prestige and outdo his grandfathers in his honourable behaviour which gained him Makkah’s deep love and high esteem.
When Al-Muttalib died, Nawfal usurped ‘Abdul-Muttalib of his charges, so the latter asked for help from Quraish but they abstained from extending any sort of support to either of them. Consequently, he wrote to his uncles of Bani An-Najjar (his mother’s brothers) to come to his aid. His uncle, Abu Sa‘d bin ‘Adi (his mother’s brother) marched to Makkah at the head of eighty horsemen and camped in Abtah in Makkah. ‘Abdul-Muttalib received the men and invited them to go to his house but Abu Sa‘d said: "Not before I meet Nawfal." He found Nawfal sitting with some old men of Quraish in the shade of Al-Ka‘bah. Abu Sa‘d drew his sword and said: "I swear by Allâh that if you don’t restore to my nephew what you have taken, I will kill you with this sword." Nawfal was thus forced to give up what he had usurped, and the notables of Quraish were made to witness to his words. Abu Sa‘d then went to ‘Abdul-Muttalib’s house where he stayed for three nights, made ‘Umra and left back for Madinah. Later on, Nawfal entered into alliance with Bani ‘Abd Shams bin ‘Abd Munaf against Bani Hashim. When Khuza‘a, a tribe, saw Bani An-Najjar’s support to ‘Abdul-Muttalib they said: "He is our son as he is yours. We have more reasons to support him than you." ‘Abd Munaf’s mother was one of them. They went into An-Nadwa House and entered into alliance with Bani Hashim against Bani ‘Abd Shams and Nawfal. It was an alliance that was later to constitute the main reason for the conquest of Makkah. ‘Abdul-Muttalib witnessed two important events in his lifetime, namely digging Zamzam well and the Elephant raid.
In brief, ‘Abdul-Muttalib received an order in his dream to dig Zamzam well in a particular place. He did that and found the things that Jurhum men had buried therein when they were forced to evacuate Makkah. He found the swords, armours and the two deer of gold. The gate of Al-Ka‘bah was stamped from the gold swords and the two deer and then the tradition of providing Zamzam water to pilgrims was established.
When the well of Zamzam gushed water forth, Quraish made a claim to partnership in the enterprise, but ‘Abdul-Muttalib refused their demands on grounds that Allâh had singled only him out for this honourable job. To settle the dispute, they agreed to consult Bani Sa‘d’s diviner. On their way, Allâh showed them His Signs that confirmed ‘Abdul-Muttalib’s prerogative as regards the sacred spring. Only then did ‘Abdul-Muttalib make a solemn vow to sacrifice one of his adult children to Al-Ka‘bah if he had ten.
The second event was that of Abraha As-Sabah Al-Habashi, the Abyssinian (Ethiopian) viceroy in Yemen. He had seen that the Arabs made their pilgrimage to Al-Ka‘bah so he built a large church in San‘a in order to attract the Arab pilgrims to it to the exclusion of Makkah. A man from Kinana tribe understood this move, therefore he entered the church stealthily at night and besmeared its front wall with excrement. When Abraha knew of that, he got very angry and led a great army – of sixty thousand warriors – to demolish Al-Ka‘bah. He chose the biggest elephant for himself. His army included nine or thirteen elephants. He continued marching until he reached a place called Al-Magmas. There, he mobilized his army, prepared his elephants and got ready to enter Makkah. When he reached Muhassar Valley, between Muzdalifah and Mina, the elephant knelt down and refused to go forward. Whenever they directed it northwards, southwards or eastwards, the elephant moved quickly but when directed westwards towards Al-Ka‘bah, it knelt down. Meanwhile, Allâh loosed upon them birds in flights, hurling against them stones of baked clay and made them like green blades devoured. These birds were very much like swallows and sparrows, each carrying three stones; one in its peak and two in its claws. The stones hit Abraha’s men and cut their limbs and killed them. A large number of Abraha’s soldiers were killed in this way and the others fled at random and died everywhere. Abraha himself had an infection that had his fingertips amputated. When he reached San‘a he was in a miserable state and died soon after.
The Quraishites on their part had fled for their lives to the hillocks and mountain tops. When the enemy had been thus routed, they returned home safely.
The Event of the Elephant took place in the month of Al-Muharram, fifty or fifty five days before the birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which corresponded to late February or early March 571 A.D. It was a gift from Allâh to His Prophet and his family. It could actually be regarded as a Divine auspicious precursor of the light to come and accompany the advent of the Prophet and his family. By contrast, Jerusalem had suffered under the yoke of the atrocities of Allâh’s enemies. Here we can recall Bukhtanassar in B.C. 587 and the Romans in 70 A.D. Al-Ka‘bah, by Divine Grace, never came under the hold of the Christians – the Muslims of that time – although Makkah was populated by polytheists.
News of the Elephant Event reached the most distant corners of the then civilized world. Abyssinia (Ethiopia) maintained strong ties with the Romans, while the Persians on the other hand, were on the vigil with respect to any strategic changes that were looming on the socio-political horizon, and soon came to occupy Yemen. Incidentally, the Roman and Persian Empires stood for the powerful civilized world at that time. The Elephant Raid Event riveted the world’s attention to the sacredness of Allâh’s House, and showed that this House had been chosen by Allâh for its holiness. It followed then if any of its people claimed Prophethood, it would be congruous with the outcome of the Elephant Event, and would provide a justifiable explanation for the ulterior Divine Wisdom that lay behind backing polytheists against Christians in a manner that transcended the cause-and-effect formula.
‘Abdul-Muttalib had ten sons, Al-Harith, Az-Zubair, Abu Talib, ‘Abdullah, Hamzah, Abu Lahab, Ghidaq, Maqwam, Safar and Al-‘Abbas. He also had six daughters, who were Umm Al-Hakim – the only white one, Barrah, ‘Atikah, Safiya, Arwa and Omaima.
3. ‘Abdullah: The father of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). His mother was Fatimah, daughter of ‘Amr bin ‘A’idh bin ‘Imran bin Makhzum bin Yaqdha bin Murra. ‘Abdullah was the smartest of ‘Abdul-Muttalib’s sons, the chastest and the most loved. He was also the son whom the divination arrows pointed at to be slaughtered as a sacrifice to Al-Ka‘bah. When ‘Abdul-Muttalib had ten sons and they reached maturity, he divulged to them his secret vow in which they silently and obediently acquiesced. Their names were written on divination arrows and given to the guardian of their most beloved goddess, Hubal. The arrows were shuffled and drawn. An arrow showed that it was ‘Abdullah to be sacrificed. ‘Abdul-Muttalib then took the boy to Al-Ka‘bah with a razor to slaughter the boy. Quraish, his uncles from Makhzum tribe and his brother Abu Talib, however, tried to dissuade him from consummating his purpose. He then sought their advice as regards his vow. They suggested that he summon a she-diviner to judge whereabout. She ordered that the divination arrows should be drawn with respect to ‘Abdullah as well as ten camels. She added that drawing the lots should be repeated with ten more camels every time the arrow showed ‘Abdullah. The operation was thus repeated until the number of the camels amounted to one hundred. At this point the arrow showed the camels, consequently they were all slaughtered (to the satisfaction of Hubal) instead of his son. The slaughtered camels were left for anyone to eat from, human or animal.
This incident produced a change in the amount of blood-money usually accepted in Arabia. It had been ten camels, but after this event it was increased to a hundred. Islam, later on, approved of this. Another thing closely relevant to the above issue goes to the effect that the Prophet (PBUH)once said:
"I am the offspring of the slaughtered two," meaning Ishmael and ‘Abdullah.
‘Abdul-Muttalib chose Amina, daughter of Wahab bin ‘Abd Munaf bin Zahra bin Kilab, as a wife for his son, ‘Abdullah. She thus, in the light of this ancestral lineage, stood eminent in respect of nobility of position and descent. Her father was the chief of Bani Zahra to whom great honour was attributed. They were married in Makkah, and soon after ‘Abdullah was sent by his father to buy dates in Madinah where he died. In another version, ‘Abdullah went to Syria on a trade journey and died in Madinah on his way back. He was buried in the house of An-Nabigha Al-Ju‘di. He was twenty-five years old when he died. Most historians state that his death was two months before the birth of Muhammad (PBUH). Some others said that his death was two months after the Prophet’s birth. When Amina was informed of her husband’s death, she celebrated his memory in a most heart-touching elegy.
‘Abdullah left very little wealth —five camels, a small number of goats, a she-servant, called Barakah – Umm Aiman – who would later serve as the Prophet’s nursemaid.
Muhammad’s Birth and Forty
Years prior to Prophethood
Muhammad (PBUH) the Master of Prophets, was born in Bani Hashim lane in Makkah on Monday morning, the ninth of Rabi‘ Al-Awwal, the same year of the Elephant Event, and forty years of the reign of Kisra (Khosru Nushirwan), i.e. the twentieth or twenty-second of April, 571 A.D., according to the scholar Muhammad Sulaimân Al-Mansourpuri, and the astrologer Mahmûd Pasha.
Ibn Sa‘d reported that Muhammad’s mother said: "When he was born, there was a light that issued out of my pudendum and lit the palaces of Syria." Ahmad reported on the authority of ‘Arbadh bin Sariya something similar to this.
It was but controversially reported that significant precursors accompanied his birth: fourteen galleries of Kisra’s palace cracked and rolled down, the Magians’ sacred fire died down and some churches on Lake Sawa sank down and collapsed.
His mother immediately sent someone to inform his grandfather ‘Abdul-Muttalib of the happy event. Happily he came to her, carried him to Al-Ka‘bah, prayed to Allâh and thanked Him. ‘Abdul-Muttalib called the baby Muhammad, a name not then common among the Arabs. He circumcised him on his seventh day as was the custom of the Arabs.
The first woman who ****led him after his mother was Thuyebah, the concubine of Abu Lahab, with her son, Masrouh. She had ****led Hamzah bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib before and later Abu Salamah bin ‘Abd Al-Asad Al-Makhzumi.
It was the general custom of the Arabs living in towns to send their children away to bedouin wet nurses so that they might grow up in the free and healthy surroundings of the desert whereby they would develop a robust frame and acquire the pure speech and manners of the bedouins, who were noted both for chastity of their language and for being free from those vices which usually develop in sedentary societies.
The Prophet (PBUH) was later entrusted to Haleemah bint Abi Dhuaib from Bani Sa‘d bin Bakr. Her husband was Al-Harith bin ‘Abdul ‘Uzza called Abi Kabshah, from the same tribe.
Muhammad (PBUH) had several foster brothers and sisters, ‘Abdullah bin Al-Harith, Aneesah bint Al-Harith, Hudhafah or Judhamah bint Al-Harith (known as Ash-Shayma’), and she used to nurse the Prophet (PBUH) and Abu Sufyan bin Al-Harith bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s cousin. Hamzah bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophet’s uncle, was ****led by the same two wet nurses, Thuyeba and Haleemah As-Sa‘diyah, who ****led the Prophet (PBUH).
Traditions delightfully relate how Haleemah and the whole of her household were favoured by successive strokes of good fortune while the baby Muhammad (PBUH) lived under her care. Ibn Ishaq states that Haleemah narrated that she along with her husband and a ****ling babe, set out from her village in the company of some women of her clan in quest of children to ****le. She said:
It was a year of drought and famine and we had nothing to eat. I rode on a brown she-ass. We also had with us an old she-camel. By Allâh we could not get even a drop of milk. We could not have a wink of sleep during the night for the child kept crying on account of hunger. There was not enough milk in my breast and even the she-camel had nothing to feed him. We used to constantly pray for rain and immediate relief. At length we reached Makkah looking for children to ****le. Not even a single woman amongst us accepted the Messenger of Allâh offered to her. As soon as they were told that he was an orphan, they refused him. We had fixed our eyes on the reward that we would get from the child’s father. An orphan! What are his grandfather and mother likely to do? So we spurned him because of that. Every woman who came with me got a ****ling and when we were about to depart, I said to my husband: "By Allâh, I do not like to go back along with the other women without any baby. I should go to that orphan and I must take him." He said, "There is no harm in doing so and perhaps Allâh might bless us through him." So I went and took him because there was simply no other alternative left for me but to take him. When I lifted him in my arms and returned to my place I put him on my breast and to my great surprise, I found enough milk in it. He drank to his heart’s content, and so did his foster brother and then both of them went to sleep although my baby had not been able to sleep the previous night. My husband then went to the she-camel to milk it and, to his astonishment, he found plenty of milk in it. He milked it and we drank to our fill, and enjoyed a sound sleep during the night. The next morning, my husband said: "By Allâh Haleemah, you must understand that you have been able to get a blessed child." And I replied: "By the grace of Allâh, I hope so."
The tradition is explicit on the point that Haleemah’s return journey and her subsequent life, as long as the Prophet (PBUH) stayed with her, was encircled with a halo of good fortune. The donkey that she rode when she came to Makkah was lean and almost foundered; it recovered speed much to the amazement of Haleemah’s fellow travellers. By the time they reached the encampments in the country of the clan of Sa‘d, they found the scales of fortune turned in their favour. The barren land sprouted forth luxuriant grass and beasts came back to them satisfied and full of milk. Muhammad (PBUH) stayed with Haleemah for two years until he was weaned as Haleemah said:
We then took him back to his mother requesting her earnestly to have him stay with us and benefit by the good fortune and blessings he had brought us. We persisted in our request which we substantiated by our anxiety over the child catching a certain infection peculiar to Makkah. At last, we were granted our wish and the Prophet (PBUH) stayed with us until he was four or five years of age.
When, as related by Anas in Sahih Muslim, Gabriel came down and ripped his chest open and took out the heart. He then extracted a blood-clot out of it and said: "That was the part of Satan in thee." And then he washed it with the water of Zamzam in a gold basin. After that the heart was joined together and restored to its place. The boys and playmates came running to his mother, i.e. his nurse, and said: "Verily, Muhammad (PBUH) has been murdered." They all rushed towards him and found him all right only his face was white.
Back to His Passionate Mother:
After this event, Haleemah was worried about the boy and returned him to his mother with whom he stayed until he was six.
In respect of the memory of her late husband, Amina decided to visit his grave in Yathrib (Madinah). She set out to cover a journey of 500 kilometers with her orphan boy, woman servant Umm Ayman and her father-in-law ‘Abdul-Muttalib. She spent a month there and then took her way back to Makkah. On the way, she had a severe illness and died in Abwa on the road between Makkah and Madinah.
To His Compassionate Grandfather:
‘Abdul-Muttalib brought the boy to Makkah. He had warm passions towards the boy, his orphan grandson, whose recent disaster (his mother’s death) added more to the pains of the past. ‘Abdul-Muttalib was more passionate with his grandson than with his own children. He never left the boy a prey to loneliness, but always preferred him to his own kids. Ibn Hisham reported: A mattress was put in the shade of Al-Ka‘bah for ‘Abdul-Muttalib. His children used to sit around that mattress in honour to their father, but Muhammad (PBUH) used to sit on it. His uncles would take him back, but if ‘Abdul-Muttalib was present, he would say: "Leave my grandson. I swear by Allâh that this boy will hold a significant position." He used to seat the boy on his mattress, pat his back and was always pleased with what the boy did.
When Muhammad (PBUH) was eight years, two months and ten days old, his grandfather ‘Abdul-Muttalib passed away in Makkah. The charge of the Prophet (PBUH) was now passed on to his uncle Abu Talib, who was the brother of the Prophet’s father.
Abu Talib took the charge of his nephew in the best way. He put him with his children and preferred him to them. He singled the boy out with great respect and high esteem. Abu Talib remained for forty years cherishing his nephew and extending all possible protection and support to him. His relations with the others were determined in the light of the treatment they showed to the Prophet (PBUH).
Ibn ‘Asakir reported on the authority of Jalhamah bin ‘Arfuta who said: "I came to Makkah when it was a rainless year, so Quraish said ‘O Abu Talib, the valley has become leafless and the children hungry, let us go and pray for rain-fall.’ Abu Talib went to Al-Ka‘bah with a young boy who was as beautiful as the sun, and a black cloud was over his head. Abu Talib and the boy stood by the wall of Al-Ka‘bah and prayed for rain. Immediately clouds from all directions gathered and rain fell heavily and caused the flow of springs and growth of plants in the town and the country.
Bahira, the Monk:
When the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) was twelve years old, he went with his uncle Abu Talib on a business journey to Syria. When they reached Busra (which was a part of Syria, in the vicinity of Howran under the Roman domain) they met a monk called Bahira (his real name was Georges), who showed great kindness, and entertained them lavishly. He had never been in the habit of receiving or entertaining them before. He readily enough recognized the Prophet (PBUH) and said while taking his hand: "This is the master of all humans. Allâh will send him with a Message which will be a mercy to all beings." Abu Talib asked: "How do you know that?" He replied: "When you appeared from the direction of ‘Aqabah, all stones and trees prostrated themselves, which they never do except for a Prophet. I can recognize him also by the seal of Prophethood which is below his shoulder, like an apple. We have got to learn this from our books." He also asked Abu Talib to send the boy back to Makkah and not to take him to Syria for fear of the Jews. Abu Talib obeyed and sent him back to Makkah with some of his men servants.
The ‘Sacrilegious’ Wars:
Muhammad (PBUH) was hardly fifteen when the ‘sacrilegious’ wars — which continued with varying fortunes and considerable loss of human life for a number of years — broke out between Quraish and Banu Kinana on the one side and Qais ‘Ailan tribe on the other. It was thus called because the inviolables were made violable, the prohibited months being included. Harb bin Omaiyah, on account of his outstanding position and honourable descent, used to be the leader of Quraish and their allies. In one of those battles, the Prophet (PBUH) attended on his uncles but did not raise arms against their opponents. His efforts were confined to picking up the arrows of the enemy as they fell, and handing them over to his uncles.
At the conclusion of these wars, when peace was restored, people felt the need for forming confederacy at Makkah for suppressing violence and injustice, and vindicating the rights of the weak and the destitute. Representatives of Banu Hashim, Banu Al-Muttalib, Asad bin ‘Abd Al-‘Uzza, Zahrah bin Kilab and Taim bin Murra were called to meet in the habitation of an honourable elderly man called ‘Abdullah bin Jada‘an At-Taimy to enter into a confederacy that would provide for the above-mentioned items. The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) shortly after he had been honoured with the ministry of Prophethood, witnessed this league and commented on it, with very positive words: "I witnessed a confederacy in the house of ‘Abdullah bin Jada‘an. It was more appealing to me than herds of cattle. Even now in the period of Islam I would respond positively to attending such a meeting if I were invited."
In fact, the spirit of this confederacy and the course of deliberations therein marked a complete departure from the pre-Islamic tribal-pride. The story that led to its convention says that a man from Zubaid clan came as a merchant to Makkah where he sold some commodities to Al-‘As bin Wail As-Sahmy. The latter by hook or by crook tried to evade paying for the goods. The salesman sought help from the different clans in Quraish but they paid no heed to his earnest pleas. He then resorted to a mountain top and began, at the top of his voice, to recite verses of complaint giving account of the injustices he sustained. Az-Zubair bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib heard of him and made inquiries into the matter. Consequently, the parties to the aforesaid confederacy convened their meeting and managed to force Az-Zubaidy’s money out of Al-‘As bin Wa’il.
Muhammad’s Early Job:
Muhammad (PBUH), had no particular job at his early youth, but it was reported that he worked as a shepherd for Bani Sa‘d and in Makkah. At the age of 25, he went to Syria as a merchant for Khadijah. Ibn Ishaq reported that Khadijah, daughter of Khwailid was a business-woman of great honour and fortune. She used to employ men to do her business for a certain percentage of the profits. Quraish people were mostly tradespeople, so when Khadijah was informed of Muhammad (PBUH), his truthful words, great honesty and kind manners, she sent for him. She offered him money to go to Syria and do her business, and she would give him a higher rate than the others. She would also send her hireling, Maisarah, with him. He agreed and went with her servant to Syria for trade.
His Marriage to Khadijah:
When he returned to Makkah, Khadijah noticed, in her money, more profits and blessings than she used to. Her hireling also told her of Muhammad’s good manners, honesty, deep thought, sincerity and faith. She realized that she homed at her target. Many prominent men had asked for her hand in marriage but she always spurned their advances. She disclosed her wish to her friend Nafisa, daughter of Maniya, who immediately went to Muhammad (PBUH) and broke the good news to him. He agreed and requested his uncles to go to Khadijah’s uncle and talk on this issue. Subsequently, they were married. The marriage contract was witnessed by Bani Hashim and the heads of Mudar. This took place after the Prophet’s return from Syria. He gave her twenty camels as dowry. She was, then, forty years old and was considered as the best woman of her folk in lineage, fortune and wisdom. She was the first woman whom the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) married. He did not get married to any other until she had died.
Khadijah born all his children, except Ibrahim: Al-Qasim, Zainab, Ruqaiyah, Umm Kulthum, Fatimah and ‘Abdullah who was called Taiyib and Tahir. All his sons died in their childhood and all the daughters except Fatimah died during his lifetime. Fatimah died six months after his death. All his daughters witnessed Islam, embraced it, and emigrated to Madinah.
Rebuilding Al-Ka‘bah and the Arbitration Issue:
When the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) was thirty five, Quraish started rebuilding Al-Ka‘bah. That was because it was a low building of white stones no more than 6.30 metres high, from the days of Ishmael. It was also roofless and that gave the thieves easy access to its treasures inside. It was also exposed to the wearing factors of nature — because it was built a long time ago — that weakened and cracked its walls. Five years before Prophethood, there was a great flood in Makkah that swept towards Al-Ka‘bah and almost demolished it. Quraish was obliged to rebuild it to safeguard its holiness and position. The chiefs of Quraish decided to use only licit money in rebuilding Al-Ka‘bah, so all money that derived from harlotry, usury or unjust practices was excluded. They were, at first, too awed to knock down the wall, but Al-Waleed bin Al-Mugheerah Al-Mukhzumi started the work. Seeing that no harm had happened to him, the others participated in demolishing the walls until they reached the basis laid by Abraham. When they started rebuilding its walls, they divided the work among the tribes. Each tribe was responsible for rebuilding a part of it. The tribes collected stones and started work. The man who laid the stones was a Roman mason called Baqum. The work went on in harmony till the time came to put the sacred Black Stone in its proper place. Then strife broke out among the chiefs, and lasted for four or five days, each contesting for the honour of placing the stone in its position. Daggers were on the point of being drawn and great bloodshed seemed imminent. Luckily, the oldest among the chiefs Abu Omaiyah bin Mugheerah Al-Makhzumi made a proposal which was accepted by all. He said: "Let him, who enters the Sanctuary first of all, decide on the point." It was then Allâh’s Will that the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) should be the first to enter the Mosque. On seeing him, all the people on the scene, cried with one voice: "Al-Ameen (the trustworthy) has come. We are content to abide by his decision." Calm and self-possessed, Muhammad (PBUH) received the commission and at once resolved upon an expedient which was to conciliate them all. He asked for a mantle which he spread on the ground and placed the stone in its centre. He then asked the representatives of the different clans among them, to lift the stone all together. When it had reached the proper place, Muhammad (PBUH) laid it in the proper position with his own hands. This is how a very tense situation was eased and a grave danger averted by the wisdom of the Prophet (PBUH).
Quraish ran short of the licit money, they collected, so they eliminated six yards area on the northern side of Al-Ka‘bah which is called Al-Hijr or Al-Hateem. They raised its door two metres from the level ground to let in only the people whom they desired. When the structure was fifteen yards high they erected the roof which rested on six columns.
When the building of Al-Ka‘bah had finished, it assumed a square form fifteen metres high. The side with the Black Stone and the one opposite were ten metres long each. The Black Stone was 1.50 metre from the circumambulation level ground. The two other sides were twelve metres long each. The door was two metres high from the level ground. A building structure of 0.25 metre high and 0.30 metre wide on the average surrounded Al-Ka‘bah. It was called Ash-Shadherwan, originally an integral part of the Sacred Sanctuary, but Quraish left it out.
A Rapid Review of Muhammad’s Biography before
Commissioning of the Prophethood
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was, in his youth, a combination of the best social attributes. He was an exemplary man of weighty mind and faultless insight. He was favoured with intelligence, originality of thought and accurate choice of the means leading to accurate goals. His long silence helped favourably in his habit of meditation and deep investigation into the truth. His vivid mind and pure nature were helpfully instrumental in assimilating and comprehending ways of life and people, individual and community-wise. He shunned superstitious practices but took an active part in constructive and useful dealings, otherwise, he would have recourse to his self-consecrated solitude. He kept himself aloof from drinking wine, eating meat slaughtered on stone altars, or attending idolatrous festivals. He held the idols in extreme aversion and most abhorrence. He could never tolerate someone swearing by Al-Lat and Al-‘Uzza. Allâh’s providence, no doubts, detached him from all abominable or evil practices. Even when he tried to obey his instinct to enjoy some life pleasures or follow some irrespectable traditions, Allâh’s providence intervened to curb any lapse in this course. Ibn Al-Atheer reported Muhammad (PBUH) as saying: "I have never tried to do what my people do except for two times. Every time Allâh intervened and checked me from doing so and I never did that again. Once I told my fellow-shepherd to take care of my sheep when we were in the upper part of Makkah. I wanted to go down to Makkah and entertain myself as the young men did. I went down to the first house of Makkah where I heard music. I entered and asked: ‘What is this?’ Someone answered: ‘It is a wedding party.’ I sat down and listened but soon went into deep sleep. I was awakened by the heat of the sun. I went back to my fellow-shepherd and told him of what had happened to me. I have never tried it again."
Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Jabir bin ‘Abdullah that he said: "While the people were rebuilding Al-Ka‘bah, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) went with ‘Abbas to carry some stones. ‘Abbas said: ‘Put your loincloth round your neck to protect you from the stones.’ (As he did that) the Prophet (PBUH) fell to the ground and his eyes turned skyward. Later on he woke up and shouted: ‘My loincloth... my loincloth.’ He wrapped himself in his loincloth." In another report: "His loins were never seen afterwards."
The authorities agree in ascribing to the youth of Muhammad (PBUH) modesty of deportment, virtuous behaviour and graceful manners. He proved himself to be the ideal of manhood, and to possess a spotless character. He was the most obliging to his compatriots, the most honest in his talk and the mildest in temper. He was the most gentle-hearted, chaste, hospitable and always impressed people by his piety-inspiring countenance. He was the most truthful and the best to keep covenant. His fellow-citizens, by common consent, gave him the title of Al-‘Ameen (trustworthy). The Mother of believers, Khadijah (PBUH), once said: He unites uterine relations, he helps the poor and the needy, he entertains the guests and endures hardships in the path of truthfulness.
In the Shade of the Message and Prophethood
In the Cave of Hira’:
When Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was nearly forty, he had been wont to pass long hours in retirement meditating and speculating over all aspects of creation around him. This meditative temperament helped to widen the mental gap between him and his compatriots. He used to provide himself with Sawiq (barley porridge) and water and then directly head for the hills and ravines in the neighbourhood of Makkah. One of these in particular was his favourite resort — a cave named Hira’, in the Mount An-Nour. It was only two miles from Makkah, a small cave 4 yards long and 1.75 yard wide. He would always go there and invite wayfarers to share him his modest provision. He used to devote most of his time, and Ramadan in particular, to worship and meditation on the universe around him. His heart was restless about the moral evils and idolatry that were rampant among his people; he was as yet helpless because no definite course, or specific approach had been available for him to follow and rectify the ill practices around him. This solitude attended with this sort of contemplative approach must be understood in its Divine perspective. It was a preliminary stage to the period of grave responsibilities that he was to shoulder very soon.
Privacy and detachment from the impurities of life were two indispensable prerequisites for the Prophet’s soul to come into close communion with the Unseen Power that lies behind all aspects of existence in this infinite universe. It was a rich period of privacy which lasted for three years and ushered in a new era, of indissoluble contact with that Power.
Gabriel brings down the Revelation:
When he was forty, the age of complete perfection at which Prophets were always ordered to disclose their Message, signs of his Prophethood started to appear and twinkle on the horizons of life; they were the true visions he used to experience for six months. The period of Prophethood was 23 years; so the period of these six months of true visions constituted an integral part of the forty-six parts of Prophethood. In Ramadan, in his third year of solitude in the cave of Hira’, Allâh’s Will desired His mercy to flow on earth and Muhammad (PBUH) was honoured with Prophethood, and the light of Revelation burst upon him with some verses of the Noble Qur’ân.
As for the exact date, careful investigation into circumstantial evidence and relevant clues point directly to Monday, 21st. Ramadan at night, i.e. August, 10, 610 A.D. with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) exactly 40 years, 6 months and 12 days of age, i.e. 39 Gregorian years, 3 months and 22 days.
‘Aishah, the veracious, gave the following narration of that most significant event that brought the Divine light which would dispel the darkness of disbelief and ignorance. It led life down a new course and brought about the most serious amendment to the line of the history of mankind:
Forerunners of the Revelation assumed the form of true visions that would strikingly come true all the time. After that, solitude became dear to him and he would go to the cave, Hira’, to engage in Tahannuth (devotion) there for a certain number of nights before returning to his family, and then he would return for provisions for a similar stay. At length, unexpectedly, the Truth (the angel) came to him and said, "Recite." "I cannot recite," he (Muhammad (PBUH)) said. The Prophet (PBUH) described: "Then he took me and squeezed me vehemently and then let me go and repeated the order ‘Recite.’ ‘I cannot recite’ said I, and once again he squeezed me and let me till I was exhausted. Then he said: ‘Recite.’ I said ‘I cannot recite.’ He squeezed me for a third time and then let me go and said:
"Read! In the Name of your Lord, Who has created (all that exists), has created man from a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood). Read! and your Lord is the Most Generous.’" [96:1-3]
The Prophet (PBUH) repeated these verses. He was trembling with fear. At this stage, he came back to his wife Khadijah, and said, "Cover me, ... cover me." They covered him until he restored security. He apprised Khadijah of the incident of the cave and added that he was horrified. His wife tried to soothe him and reassured him saying, "Allâh will never disgrace you. You unite uterine relations; you bear the burden of the weak; you help the poor and the needy, you entertain the guests and endure hardships in the path of truthfulness."
She set out with the Prophet (PBUH) to her cousin Waraqa bin Nawfal bin Asad bin ‘Abd Al-‘Uzza, who had embraced Christianity in the pre-Islamic period, and used to write the Bible in Hebrew. He was a blind old man. Khadijah said: "My cousin! Listen to your nephew!" Waraqa said: "O my nephew! What did you see?" The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) told him what had happened to him. Waraqa replied: "This is ‘Namus’ i.e. (the angel who is entrusted with Divine Secrets) that Allâh sent to Moses. I wish I were younger. I wish I could live up to the time when your people would turn you out." Muhammad (PBUH) asked: "Will they drive me out?" Waraqa answered in the affirmative and said: "Anyone who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should be alive till that day, then I would support you strongly." A few days later Waraqa died and the revelation also subsided.
At-Tabari and Ibn Hisham reported that the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) left the cave of Hira’ after being surprised by the Revelation, but later on, returned to the cave and continued his solitude. Afterwards, he came back to Makkah. At-Tabari reported on this incident, saying:
After mentioning the coming of the Revelation, the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) said: "I have never abhorred anyone more than a poet or a mad man. I can not stand looking at either of them. I will never tell anyone of Quraish of my Revelation. I will climb a mountain and throw myself down and die. That will relieve me. I went to do that but halfway up the mountain, I heard a voice from the sky saying ‘O Muhammad! You are the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) and I am Gabriel.’ I looked upwards and saw Gabriel in the form of a man putting his legs on the horizon. He said: ‘O Muhammad You are the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) and I am Gabriel.’ I stopped and looked at him. His sight distracted my attention from what I had intended to do. I stood in my place transfixed. I tried to shift my eyes away from him. He was in every direction I looked at. I stopped in my place without any movement until Khadijah sent someone to look for me. He went down to Makkah and came back while I was standing in the same place. Gabriel then left, and I went back home. I found Khadijah at home, so I sat very close to her. She asked: ‘Father of Al-Qasim! Where have you been? I sent someone to look for you. He went to Makkah and returned to me.’ I told her of what I had seen. She replied: ‘It is a propitious sign, O my husband. Pull yourself together, I swear by Allâh that you are a Messenger for this nation.’ Then she stood up and went to Waraqa and informed him. Waraqa said: ‘I swear by Allâh that he has received the same Namus, i.e. angel that was sent to Moses. He is the Prophet of this nation. Tell him to be patient.’ She came back to him and told him of Waraqa’s words. When the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) finished his solitary stay and went down to Makkah, he went to Waraqa, who told him: ‘You are the Prophet of this nation. I swear by Allâh that you have received the same angel that was sent to Moses.’"
Interruption of Revelation:
Ibn Sa‘d reported on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas that the Revelation paused for a few days. After careful study, this seems to be the most possible. To say that it lasted for three and a half years, as some scholars allege, is not correct, but here there is no room to go into more details.
Meanwhile, the Prophet (PBUH), was caught in a sort of depression coupled with astonishment and perplexity. Al-Bukhari reported:
The Divine inspiration paused for a while and the Prophet (PBUH) became so sad, as we have heard, that he intended several times to throw himself from the tops of high mountains, and every time he went up the top of a mountain in order to throw himself down, Gabriel would appear before him and say: "O Muhammad! You are indeed Allâh’s Messenger in truth," whereupon his heart would become quiet and he would calm down and return home. Whenever the period of the coming of the Revelation used to become long, he would do as before, but Gabriel would appear again before him and say to him what he had said before.
Once more, Gabriel brings Allâh’s Revelation:
Ibn Hajar said: ‘That (the pause of Allâh’s revelation for a few days) was to relieve the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) of the fear he experienced and to make him long for the Revelation. When the shades of puzzle receded, the flags of truth were raised, the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) knew for sure that he had become the Messenger of the Great Lord. He was also certain that what had come to him was no more than the ambassador of inspiration. His waiting and longing for the coming of the revelation constituted a good reason for his steadfastness and self-possession on the arrival of Allâh’s inspiration, Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Jabir bin ‘Abdullah that he had heard the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) speak about the period of pause as follows:
"While I was walking, I heard a voice from the sky. I looked up, and surely enough, it was the same angel who had visited me in the cave of Hira’. He was sitting on a chair between the earth and the sky. I was very afraid of him and knelt on the ground. I went home saying: ‘Cover me …, Cover me …’. Allâh revealed to me the verses:
‘O you (Muhammad (PBUH)) enveloped (in garments)! Arise and warn! And your Lord (Allâh) magnify! And your garments purify! And keep away from Ar-Rujz (the idols)!’" [74:1-5]
After that the revelation started coming strongly, frequently and regularly.
Some details pertinent to the successive stages of Revelation:
Before we go into the details of the period of communicating the Message and Prophethood, we would like to get acquainted with the stages of the Revelation which constituted the main source of the Message and the subject-matter of the Call. Ibn Al-Qayyim, mentioning the stages of the Revelation, said:
The First: The period of true vision. It was the starting point of the Revelation to the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH).
The Second: What the angel invisibly cast in the Prophet’s mind and heart. The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) said: "The Noble Spirit revealed to me ‘No soul will perish until it exhausts its due course, so fear Allâh and gently request Him. Never get so impatient to the verge of disobedience of Allâh. What Allâh has can never be acquired but through obedience to Him.’"
The Third: The angel used to visit the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) in the form of a human being and would speak to him directly. This would enable him to fully understand what the angel said. The angel was sometimes seen in this form by the Prophet’s Companions.
The Fourth: The angel came to him like the toll of a bell and this was the most difficult form because the angel used to seize him tightly and sweat would stream from his forehead even on the coldest day. If the Prophet (PBUH) was on his camel, the camel would not withstand the weight, so it would immediately kneel down on the ground. Once the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) had such a revelation when he was sitting and his thigh was on Zaid’s, Zaid felt the pressure had almost injured his thigh.
The Fifth: The Prophet (PBUH) saw the angel in his actual form. The angel would reveal to him what Allâh had ordered him to reveal. This, as mentioned in (Qur’ân), in Sûrah An-Najm (Chapter 53 - The Star), happened twice.
The Sixth: What Allâh Himself revealed to him in heaven i.e. when he ascended to heaven and received Allâh’s behest of Salât (prayer).
The Seventh: Allâh’s Words to His Messenger (PBUH) at first hand without the mediation of an angel. It was a privilege granted to Moses and clearly attested in the Qur’ân, as it is attested to our Prophet (PBUH) in the Sûrah Al-Isrâ’ (Chapter 17 - The Journey by Night) of the Noble Qur’ân.
Some religious scholars added a controversial eighth stage in which they state that Allâh spoke to the Prophet (PBUH) directly without a curtain in between. This issue remains however unconfirmed.
Proclaiming Allâh, the All-High; and the Immediate Constituents
The first Revelation sent to the Prophet (PBUH) implied several injunctions, simple in form but highly effective and of serious far-reaching ramifications. The angel communicated to him a manifest Message saying:
"O you (Muhammad (PBUH)) enveloped (in garments)! Arise and warn! And your Lord (Allâh) magnify! And your garments purify! And keep away from Ar-Rujz (the idols). And give not a thing in order to have more (or consider not your deeds of Allâh’s obedience as a favour to Allâh). And be patient for the sake of your Lord (i.e. perform your duty to Allâh)!" [74:1-7]
For convenience and ease of understanding, we are going to segment the Message into its immediate constituents:
The ultimate objective of warning is to make sure that no one breaching the pleasures of Allâh in the whole universe is ignorant of the serious consequences that his behaviour entails, and to create a sort of unprecedented shock within his mind and heart.
‘Magnifying the Lord’ dictates explicitly that the only pride allowed to nourish on the earth is exclusively Allâh’s to the exclusion of all the others’.
‘Cleansing the garments and shunning all aspects of abomination’ point directly to the indispensable need to render both the exterior and interior exceptionally chaste and pure, in addition to the prerequisite of sanctifying the soul and establishing it highly immune against the different sorts of impurities and the various kinds of pollutants. Only through this avenue can the soul of the Prophet (PBUH) reach an ideal status and become eligible to enjoy the shady mercy of Allâh and His protection, security, guidance and ever-shining light; and will consequently set the highest example to the human community, attract the sound hearts and inspire awe and reverence in the stray ones in such a manner that all the world, in agreement or disagreement, will head for it and take it as the rock-bed in all facets of their welfare.
The Prophet (PBUH) must not regard his strife in the way of Allâh as a deed of grace that entitles him to a great reward. On the contrary, he has to exert himself to the utmost, dedicate his whole efforts and be ready to offer all sacrifices in a spirit of self-forgetfulness enveloped by an ever-present awareness of Allâh, without the least sense of pride in his deeds or sacrifices.
The last verse of the Qur’ân revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) alludes to the hostile attitude of the obdurate disbelievers, who will jeer at him and his followers. They are expected to disparage him and step up their malice to the point of scheming against his life and lives of all the believers around him. In this case he has got to be patient and is supposed to persevere and display the highest degree of stamina for the sole purpose of attaining the pleasure of Allâh.
These were the basic preliminaries that the Prophet (PBUH) had to observe, very simple injunctions in appearance, greatly fascinating in their calm rhythm, but highly effective in practice. They constituted the trigger that aroused a far-ranging tempest in all the corners of the world.
The verses comprise the constituents of the new call and propagation of the new faith. A warning logically implies that there are malpractices with painful consequences to be sustained by the perpetrators, and since the present life is not necessarily the only room to bring people to account for their misdeeds or some of them, then the warning would necessarily imply calling people to account on another day, i.e. the Day of Resurrection, and this per se suggests the existence of a life other than this one we are living. All the verses of the Noble Qur’ân call people to testify explicitly to the Oneness of Allâh, to delegate all their affairs to Allâh, the All-High, and to subordinate the desires of the self and the desires of Allâh’s servants to the attainment of His Pleasures.
The constituents of the call to Islam could, briefly speaking, go as follows:
Testimony to the Oneness of Allâh.
Belief in the Hereafter.
Sanctifying one’s soul and elevating it high above evils and abominations that conduce to terrible consequences, besides this, there is the dire need for virtues and perfect manners coupled with habituating oneself to righteous deeds.
Committing one’s all affairs to Allâh, the All-High.
All the foregoing should run as a natural corollary to unwavering belief in Muhammad’s Message, and abidance by his noble leadership and righteous guidance.
The verses have been prefaced, in the voice of the Most High, by a heavenly call mandating the Prophet (PBUH) to undertake this daunting responsibility (calling people unto Allâh). The verses meant to extract him forcibly out of his sleep, divest him of his mantle and detach him from the warmth and quiet of life, and then drive him down a new course attended with countless hardships, and requiring a great deal of strife in the way of Allâh:
"O you (Muhammad (PBUH)) enveloped (in garments)! Arise and warn." [74:1-2]
Suggesting that to live to oneself is quite easy, but it has been decided that you have to shoulder this heavy burden; consequently sleep, comfort, or warm bed are items decreed to be alien in your lexicon of life. O Muhammad, arise quickly for the strife and toil awaiting you; no time is there for sleep and such amenities; grave responsibilities have been Divinely determined to fall to your lot, and drive you into the turmoil of life to develop a new sort of precarious affinity with the conscience of people and the reality of life.
The Prophet (PBUH) managed quite successfully to rise to his feet and measure up to the new task, he went ahead in a spirit of complete selflessness, relentlessly striving and never abating in carrying the burden of the great Trust, the burden of enlightening mankind, and the heavy weight of the new faith and strife for over twenty years, nothing distracting his attention from the awesome commission. May Allâh reward him, for us and all humanity, the best ending. The following research at hand gives an account in miniature of his long strive and uninterrupted struggle he made after receiving the ministry of Messengership.
Strife in the Way of the Cal
Three Years of Secret Call:
It is well-known that Makkah was the centre for the Arabs, and housed the custodians of Al-Ka‘bah. Protection and guardianship of the idols and stone graven images that received veneration on the part of all the Arabs lay in the hands of the Makkans. Hence the difficulty of hitting the target of reform and rectitude in a place considered the den of idolatry. Working in such an atmosphere no doubt requires unshakable will and determination, that is why the call unto Islam assumed a clandestine form so that the Makkans should not be enraged by the unexpected surprise.
The Early Converts:
The Prophet (PBUH) naturally initiated his sacred mission right from home and then moved to the people closely associated with him. He called unto Islam whomsoever he thought would attest the truth which had come from his Lord. In fact, a host of people who nursed not the least seed of doubt as regards the Prophet (PBUH), immediately responded and quite readily embraced the true faith. They are known in the Islamic literature as the early converts.
Khadijah, the Prophet’s spouse, the mother of believers, was the first to enter the fold of Islam followed by his freed slave Zaid bin Harithah, his cousin, ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, who had been living with him since his early childhood, and next came his intimate friend Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (Abu Bakr the truth verifier). All of those professed Islam on the very first day of the call. Abu Bakr, and from the first day he embraced Islam, proved to be an energetic and most zealous activist. He was wealthy, obliging, mild and upright. People used to frequent his house and draw nigh to him for his knowledge, amity, pleasant company and business. He invited whomever he had confidence in to Islam and through his personal efforts a good number of people converted to Islam, such as ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan Al-Umawi, Az-Zubair bin ‘Awwam Al-Asadi, ‘Abdur Rahman bin ‘Awf, Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas, Az-Zuhri and Talhah bin ‘Ubaidullah At-Tamimy. Those eight men constituted the forerunners and more specifically the vanguard of the new faith in Arabia. Among the early Muslim were Bilal bin Rabah (the Abyssinian), Abu ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah from Bani Harith bin Fahr (the most trustworthy of the Muslim Nation), Abu Salamah bin ‘Abd Al-Asad, Al-Arqam bin Abi Al-Arqam from the tribe of Makhzum, ‘Uthman bin Maz‘oun and his two brothers Qudama and ‘Abdullah, ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Harith bin Al-Muttalib bin ‘Abd Munaf, Sa‘id bin Zaid Al-‘Adawi and his wife Fatimah - daughter of Al-Khattab (the sister of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab), Khabbab bin Al-Aratt, ‘Abdullâh bin Mas‘ud Al-Hadhali and many others. These were the Muslim predecessors. They belonged to various septs of Quraish. Ibn Hisham, a biographer, counted them to be more than forty.
Ibn Ishaq said: "Then people entered the fold of Islam in hosts, men or women and the new faith could no longer be kept secret."
The Prophet (PBUH) used to meet and teach, the new converts, the religion in privacy because the call to Islam was still running on an individual and secret basis. Revelation accelerated and continued after the first verses of "O you wrapped in garments." The verses and pieces of Sûrah (chapters) revealed at this time were short ones with wonderful strong pauses and quite fascinating rhythms in full harmony with that delicate whispering setting. The central topic running through them focused on sanctifying the soul, and deterring the Muslims from falling prey to the deceptive glamour of life. The early verses used as well to give a highly accurate account of the Hell and the Garden (Paradise), leading the believers down a new course diametrically opposed to the ill practices rampant amongst their compatriots.
As-Salât (the Prayer):
Muqatil bin Sulaiman said: "Salât (prayer) was established as an obligatory ritual at an early stage of the Islamic Call, a two rak‘ ah (unit of prayer) Salât in the morning and the same in the evening;
"And glorify the praises of your Lord in the ‘Ashi (i.e. the time period after the mid-noon till sunset) and in the Ibkar (i.e. the time period from early morning or sunrise till before mid-noon)." [40:55]
Ibn Hijr said: "Definitely the Prophet (PBUH) used to pray before ‘The Night Journey’ but it still remains a matter of controversy whether or not the prayer was established as an obligatory ritual before imposing the rules of the usual five prayers a day. It is related that obligatory prayer was established twice a day, in the morning before sunrise and after sunset. It is reported through a chain of narrators that when the Prophet (PBUH) received the first Revelation, Gabriel - the angel, proceeded and taught him how to observe Wudu (ablution). When the Prophet (PBUH) had finished, he took a handful of water and sprinkled it on his loins.
Ibn Hisham reported that when it was time for prayers, the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) and his Companions went into a mountain valley to pray secretly. Abu Talib once saw the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) and Ali praying, he asked them what they were up to. When he got to know that it was obligatory prayer, he told them to stay constant in their practice.
The Quraishites learn about the Call:
This stage of the Call, even though conducted in a clandestine manner and on an individual basis, its news leaked out and assumed a public interest all over Makkah. In the beginning, the Makkan leaders did not care much about Muhammad (PBUH) and took no heed of his teachings. At first, they thought that Muhammad (PBUH) was merely a religious philosophist like Omaiyah bin Abi As-Salt, Quss bin Sa‘idah, ‘Amr bin Nufail and their ilk who used to philosophize on godship and religious obligations. But this attitude of indifference soon changed into real apprehension. The polytheists of Quraish began to watch Muhammad’s movements closely and anxiously for fear of spreading his Call and producing a change in the prevalent mentality.
For three underground years of activism, a group of believers emerged stamped by a spirit of fraternity and cooperation with one definite objective in their mind: propagating and deeply establishing the call unto Islam. For full three years Muhammad (PBUH) had been content to teach within a rather narrow circle. The time had, however, come to preach the faith of the Lord openly. The angel Gabriel had brought him down a further Revelation of Allâh’s Will to confront his people, invalidate their falsehood and crush down their idolatrous practices.
The Open Preaching
First Revelation regarding the Preaching
"And warn your tribe (O Muhammad (PBUH)) of near kindred." [26:214].
This was the first verse to be revealed in this concern. It is included in Sûrah Ash-Shu‘arâ (Chapter 26 – The Poets) which relates the story of Moses (PBUH) from his early days of Prophethood going through his migration with the Children of Israel, their escape from the Pharaoh and his folk, and the drowning Pharaoh and his hosts. This Chapter in fact narrates the different stages that Moses (PBUH) passed through in his struggle with Pharaoh and the mission of calling his people unto Allâh. Moreover, it includes stories that speak about the terrible end in store for those who belied the Messengers such as the people of Noah, ‘Ad, Thamud, Abraham, Lout and Ahlul-Aikah (Companions of the Wood). (A group of people who used to worship a tree called Aikah)
Chronologically, this Chapter belongs to the middle Makkan period, when the contact of the light of Prophecy with the cultural milieu of pagan Makkah was testing the Makkans in their most arrogant mood. The Message that this Chapter communicates is in brief: "The Truth is insurmountable. When the spirit of Prophecy came to Makkah, it was resisted by the votaries of evil; but Truth, unlike falsehood, is bound to stay, whereas falsehood is surely perishable."
Calling the Closest Kinspeople:
In obedience to Allâh’s Commands, Muhammad (PBUH) rallied his kinsmen of Bani Hashim with a group of Bani Al-Muttalib bin ‘Abd Munaf. The audience counted forty-five men.
Abu Lahab immediately took the initiative and addressed the Prophet (PBUH): "These are your uncles and cousins, speak on to the point, but first of all you have got to know that your kinspeople are not in a position to withstand all the Arabs. Another point you have got to bear in mind is that your relatives are sufficient unto you. If you follow their tradition, it will be easier for them than to face the other clans of Quraish supported by the other Arabs. Verily, I have never heard of anyone who has incurred more harm on his kinspeople than you." The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) kept silent and said nothing in that meeting.
He invited them to another meeting and managed to secure audience. He then stood up and delivered a short speech explaining quite cogently what was at stake. He said: "I celebrate Allâh’s praise, I seek His help, I believe in Him, I put my trust in Him, I bear witness that there is no god to be worshipped but Allâh with no associate. A guide can never lie to his people. I swear by Allâh, there is no god but He, that I have been sent as a Messenger to you, in particular and to all the people, in general. I swear by Allâh you will die just as you sleep, you will be resurrected just as you wake up. You will be called to account for your deeds. It is then either Hell forever or the Garden (Paradise) forever."
Abu Talib replied: "We love to help you, accept your advice and believe in your words. These are your kinspeople whom you have collected and I am one of them but I am the fastest to do what you like. Do what you have been ordered. I shall protect and defend you, but I can’t quit the religion of ‘Abdul-Muttalib."
Abu Lahab then said to Abu Talib: " I swear by Allâh that this is a bad thing. You must stop him before the others do." Abu Talib, however, answered: "I swear by Allâh to protect him as long as I am alive."
On Mount As-Safa:
After the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) became sure of Abu Talib’s commitment to his protection while he called the people unto Allâh, he stood up on Mount As-Safa one day and called out loudly: "O Sabahah!* " Septs of Quraish came to him. He called them to testify to the Oneness of Allâh and believe in his Messengership and the Day of Resurrection. Al-Bukhari reported part of this story on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas. He said: "When the following verses were revealed:
"And warn your tribe (O Muhammad (PBUH)) of near kindred." [26:214]
The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) ascended Mount As-Safa and started to call: "O Bani Fahr! O Bani ‘Adi (two septs of Quraish)." Many people gathered and those who couldn’t, sent somebody to report to them. Abu Lahab was also present. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "You see, if I were to tell you that there were some horsemen in the valley planning to raid you, will you believe me?" They said: "Yes, we have never experienced any lie from you." He said: "I am a warner to you before a severe torment." Abu Lahab promptly replied: "Perish you all the day! Have you summoned us for such a thing?" The verses were immediately revealed on that occasion:
"Perish the two hands of Abi Lahab..." [111:1]
Muslim reported another part of this story on the authority of Abu Hurairah — He said: "When the following verses were revealed:
"And warn your tribe (O Muhammad (PBUH)) of near kindred." [26:214]
The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) called all the people of Quraish; so they gathered and he gave them a general warning. Then he made a particular reference to certain tribes, and said: "O Quraish, rescue yourselves from the Fire; O people of Bani Ka‘b, rescue yourselves from Fire; O Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad (PBUH), rescue yourself from the Fire, for I have no power to protect you from Allâh in anything except that I would sustain relationship with you."
It was verily a loud suggestive Call stating unequivocally to the closest people that belief in his Message constituted the corner-stone of any future relation between him and them, and that the blood-relation on which the whole Arabian life was based, had ceased to exist in the light of that Divine ultimatum.
Shouting the Truth and the Polytheists’ Reaction:
The Prophet’s voice kept reverberating in Makkah until the following verse was revealed:
"Therefore proclaim openly (Allâh’s Message — Islamic Monotheism), that which you are commanded, and turn away from Al-Mushrikûn (polytheists)." [15:94]
He then commenced discrediting the superstitious practices of idolatry, revealing its worthless reality and utter impotence, and giving concrete proofs that idolatry per se or taking it as the media through which an idolater could come in contact with Allâh, is manifest falsehood.
The Makkans, on their part, burst into outrage and disapproval. Muhammad’s (PBUH) words created a thunderbolt that turned the Makkan time-honoured ideological life upside down. They could ill afford to hear someone attaching to polytheists and idolaters, the description of straying people. They started to rally their resources to settle down the affair, quell the onward marching revolution and deal a pre-emptive strike to its votaries before it devours and crushes down their consecrated traditions and long standing heritage. The Makkans had the deep conviction that denying godship to anyone save Allâh and that belief in the Divine Message and the Hereafter are interpreted in terms of complete compliance and absolute commitment, and this in turn leaves no area at all for them to claim authority over themselves and over their wealth, let alone their subordinates. In short, their arrogated religiously-based supremacy and highhandedness would no longer be in effect; their pleasures would be subordinated to the pleasures of Allâh and His Messenger and lastly they would have to abstain from incurring injustices on those whom they falsely deemed to be weak, and perpetrating dreadful sins in their everyday life. They had already been fully aware of these meanings, that is why their souls would not condescend to accept this ‘disgraceful’ position not out of motives based on dignity and honour but rather because:
"Nay! (Man denies Resurrection and Reckoning. So) he desires to continue committing sins." [75:5]
They had been aware of all these consequences but they could afford to do nothing before an honest truthful man who was the highest example of good manners and human values. They had never known such an example in the history of their folks or grandfathers. What would they do? They were baffled, and they had the right to be so.
Following careful deliberations, they hit upon the only target available, i.e. to contact the Messenger’s uncle, Abu Talib and request him to intervene and advise his nephew to stop his activities. In order to attach a serious and earnest stamp to their demand, they chose to touch the most sensitive area in Arabian life, viz., ancestral pride. They addressed Abu Talib in the following manner: "O Abu Talib! Your nephew curses our gods; finds faults with our way of life, mocks at our religion and degrades our forefathers; either you must stop him, or you must let us get at him. For you are in the same opposition as we are in opposition to him; and we will rid you of him." Abu Talib tried to appease their wrath by giving them a polite reply. The Prophet (PBUH), however, continued on his way preaching Allâh’s religion and calling men hitherto, heedless of all their desperate attempts and malicious intentions.
An Advisory Council to debar Pilgrims from Muhammad’s Call:
During those days, Quraish had another serious concern; the proclamation of the Call had only been a few months old when the season of pilgrimage was soon to come. Quraish knew that the Arab delegates were coming within a short time. They agreed that it was necessary to contemplate a device that was bound to alienate the Arab pilgrims from the new faith preached by Muhammad (PBUH). They went to see Al-Waleed bin Al-Mugheerah to deliberate on this issue. Al-Waleed invited them to agree on a unanimous resolution that could enjoy the approbation of them all. However, they were at variance. Some suggested that they describe him as Kahin, i.e., soothsayer; but this suggestion was turned down on grounds that his words were not so rhymed. Others proposed Majnun, i.e., possessed by jinn; this was also rejected because no insinuations peculiar to that state of mind ware detected, they claimed. "Why not say he is a poet?" Some said. Here again they could not reach a common consent, alleging that his words were totally outside the lexicon of poetry. "OK then; let us accuse him of practising witchcraft," was a fourth suggestion. Here also Al-Waleed showed some reluctance saying that the Prophet (PBUH) was known to have never involved himself in the practice of blowing on the knots, and admitted that his speech was sweet tasting root and branch. He, however, found that the most plausible charge to be levelled against Muhammad (PBUH) was witchcraft. The ungodly company adopted this opinion and agreed to propagate one uniform formula to the effect that he was a magician so powerful and commanding in his art that he would successfully alienate son from father, man from his brother, wife from her husband and man from his clan.
It is noteworthy in this regard to say that Allâh revealed sixteen verses as regards Al-Waleed and the cunning method he contemplated to manipulate the people expected to arrive in Makkah for pilgrimage. Allâh says:
"Verily, he thought and plotted; so let him be cursed! How he plotted! And once more let him be cursed, how he plotted! Then he thought; then he frowned and he looked in a bad tempered way; then he turned back and was proud; then he said: ‘This is nothing but magic from that of old; this is nothing but the word of a human being!’ " [74:18-25]
The most wicked of them was the sworn enemy of Islam and Muhammad (PBUH), Abu Lahab, who would shadow the Prophet’s steps crying aloud, "O men, do not listen to him for he is a liar; he is an apostate." Nevertheless, Muhammad (PBUH) managed to create a stir in the whole area, and even to convince a few people to accept his Call.
Attempts made to check the Onward March of Islam:
Having fully perceived that Muhammad (PBUH) could never be desisted from his Call, Quraish, in a desperate attempt to quell the tidal wave of the Call, resorted to other cheap means acting from base motives:
Scoffing, degrading, ridiculing, belying and laughter-instigating cheap manners, all of which levelled at the new converts in general, and the person of Muhammad (PBUH) in particular, with the aim of dragging the spirit of despair into their morale, and slackening their ardent zealotry. They used to denounce the Prophet (PBUH) as a man possessed by a jinn, or an insane person:
"And they say: O you (Muhammad Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã) to whom the Dhikr (the Qur’ân) has been sent down! Verily, you are a mad man." [15:6]
or a liar practising witchcraft,
"And they (Arab pagans) wonder that a warner (Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) has come to them from among themselves! And the disbelievers say: "This (Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) is a sorcerer, a liar." [38:4].
Their eyes would also look at the good man as if they would ‘eat him up’, or trip him up, or disturb him from the position of stability or firmness. They used all sorts of terms of abuse ‘madman’ or ‘one possessed by an evil spirit’, and so on:
"And verily, those who disbelieve would almost make you slip with their eyes through hatreds when they hear the Reminder (the Qur’ân), and they say: Verily, he (Muhammad (PBUH)) is a madman!" [68:51]
Amongst the early converts, there was a group who had unfortunately no strong clan at their back to support them. These innocent souls were ridiculed and jeered in season and out of season. Referring to such people, the highbrow Quraish aristocrats used repeatedly to ask the Prophet (PBUH), with jest and scorn:
"Allâh has favoured from amongst us?" [6:53]
And Allâh said:
"Does not Allâh know best those who are grateful?" [6:53]
The wicked used to laugh at the righteous in many ways:
They would inwardly laugh at their Faith, because they felt themselves so superior.
In public places, when the righteous passed, they used to insult and wink at them,
In their own houses, they would run them down.
Whenever and wherever they saw them, they reproached and called them fools who had lost their way. In the Hereafter, all these tricks and falsehoods will be shown for what they are, and the tables will be reversed. Allâh had said:
"Verily! (During the worldly life) those who committed crimes used to laugh at those who believed; and whenever they passed by them, used to wink one to another (in mockery); and when they returned to their own people, they would return jesting; and when they saw them, they said: ‘Verily! These have indeed gone astry!’ But they (disbelievers, sinners) had not been sent as watchers over them (the believers)." [83:29-33]
Distorting Muhammad’s teachings, evoking ambiguities, circulating false propaganda; forging groundless allegations concerning his doctrines, person and character, and going to excess in such a manner in order to screen off any scope of sound contemplation from the public. With respect to the Qur’ân, they used to allege that it was:
"Tales of the ancients, which he (Muhammad (PBUH)) has written down, and they are dictated to him morning and afternoon." [25:5]
The iniquitous went on ceaselessly inculcating in people’s ears that the Qur’ân was not a true Revelation:
"This (the Qur’ân) is nothing but a lie that he (Muhammad (PBUH)) has invented, and others have helped him at it." [25:4]
The wicked would also attribute to men of Allâh just such motives and springs of action as they themselves would be guilty of in such circumstances. The pagans and those who were hostile to the revelation of Allâh and Islam, could not understand how such wonderful verses could flow from the tongue of the Prophet (PBUH) without having someone to teach, and claimed:
"It is only a human being who teaches him." [16:103]
They also raised another baseless and superficial objection:
"Why does this Messenger (Muhammad (PBUH)) eat food and walk about in the markets (like ourselves)?" [25:7]
They were sadly ignorant and painfully at fault for they could not perceive that a teacher for mankind is one who shares their nature, mingles in their life, is acquainted with their doings, and sympathises with their joys and sorrows.
The Noble Qur’ân has vehemently refuted their charges and allegations and has explained that the utterances of the Prophet (PBUH) are the Revelations of the Lord and their nature and contents provide a bold challenge to those who attribute his Prophetic expressions to some base origin, at times to the mental throes of a dreaming reformer, at others to the effusion of a frenzied poet or the incoherent drivelling of an insane man.
Contrasting the Qur’ân with the mythology of the ancients in order to distract people’s interests from Allâh’s Words. Once An-Nadr bin Harith addressed the Quraishites in the following manner: "O Quraish! You have experienced an unprecedented phenomenon before which you have so far been desperately helpless. Muhammad (PBUH) grew up here among you and always proved to be highly obliging, the most truthful and trustworthy young man. However, later on when he reached manhood, he began to preach a new faith alien to your society, and opposed to your liking so you began to denounce him at a time as a sorcerer, at another as a soothsayer, a poet, or even an insane man. I swear by Allâh he is not anyone of those. He is not interested in blowing on knots as magicians are, nor do his words belong to the world of soothsaying; he is not a poet either, for his mentality is not that of a rambler, nor is he insane because he has never been witnessed to develop any sort of hallucinations or insinuations peculiar to madmen. O people of Quraish, it is really a serious issue and I recommend that you reconsider your attitude."
It is narrated that An-Nadr, at a later stage, headed for Heerah where he got conversant with the traditions of the kings of Persia and the accounts of people like Rustum and Asphandiar, and then returned to Makkah. Here he would always shadow the Messenger’s steps in whatever audiences the later held to preach the new faith and to caution people against Allâh’s wrath. An-Nadr would directly follow the Prophet (PBUH) and narrate to the same audience long tales about those people of Persia. He would then always append his talk with a question cunningly inquiring if he did not outdo Muhammad (PBUH). Ibn ‘Abbas related that An-Nadr used to purchase songstresses who would through their bodily charms and songs entice away from Islam anyone developing the least attachment to the Prophet (PBUH); in this regard, Allâh says:
"And of mankind is he who purchases idle talks (i.e. music, singing, etc.) to mislead (men) from the Path of Allâh." [31:6]
In a fresh attempt to dissuade Muhammad (PBUH) from his principled stand, Quraish invited him to compromise on his teachings and come to terms with their pre-Islamic practices in such a way that he quits some of his religion and the polytheists do the same. Allâh, the All-High says:
"They wish that you should compromise (in religion out of courtesy) with them, so they (too) would compromise with you." [68:9].
On the authority of Ibn Jareer and At-Tabarani, the idolaters offered that Muhammad (PBUH) worship their gods for a year, and they worship his Lord for a year. In another version, they said: "If you accept our gods, we would worship yours." Ibn Ishaq related that Al-Aswad bin Al-Muttalib, Al-Waleed bin Al-Mugheerah, Omaiyah bin Khalaf and Al-‘As bin Wa’il As-Sahmy, a constellation of influential polytheists, intercepted the Prophet (PBUH) while he was circumambulating in the Holy Sanctuary, and offered him to worship that they worshipped, and they worship that he worshipped so that, according to them, both parties would reach a common denominator. They added "Should the Lord you worship prove to be better than ours, then it will be so much better for us, but if our gods proved to be better than yours, then you would have benefit from it." Allâh, the Exalted, was decisive on the spot and revealed the following Chapter:
"Say: "O Al-Kâfirûn (disbelievers in Allâh, in His Oneness, in His Angels, in His Books, in His Messengers, in the Day of Resurrection, in Al-Qadar, etc.)! I worship not that which you worship, nor will you worship that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping, nor will you worship that which I worship. To you be your religion, and to me my religion (Islamic Monotheism). 
At the beginning of the fourth year of the Call, and for a period of some months, the polytheists confined their harassment tactics to the above-mentioned ones. But on realizing the futility of these procedures, they decided to organize a full-scale opposition campaign. They called for a general meeting and elected a committee of twenty-five men of Quraish notables with Abu Lahab, the Prophet’s uncle, as a chairman. Following some lengthy deliberations, they reached a decisive decision to take measures deemed to stop the tidal wave of Islam through different channels. They were determined to spare no effort, in combatting the new faith. They decided to malign the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) and put the new converts to different sorts of torture using all available resources. It was easy to put the resolutions relating to the new converts who were deemed weak into effect. As for the Prophet (PBUH), it was not easy to malign him because he had such gravity, magnanimity and matchless perfection of character that deterred even his enemies from committing any act of folly against him. He had, as well, Abu Talib, his uncle, who came from a noble descent and had an awe-inspiring clan to support him. This situation was a source of great worry to the infidels, but they felt that they could no longer exercise patience or show any tolerance before a formidable power marching steadily to annul their religious office and temporal authority.
Abu Lahab himself took the initiative in the new series of persecutions, and started to mete out countless aspects of harmful deeds, hatred and spite against Muhammad (PBUH). Starting with flinging stones at him, forcing his two sons to divorce their wives Ruqaiya and Umm Kulthum, the Prophet’s daughters, gloating over him on his second son’s death calling him ‘the man cut off with offspring’, and then shadowing his step during the pilgrimage and forums seasons to belie him and entice the bedouins against him and his Call. His wife, Umm Jameel bint Harb, the sister of Abu Sufyan had also her share in this ruthless campaign. She proved that she was not less than her husband in the enmity and hatred she harboured for the Prophet (PBUH). She used to tie bundles of thorns with ropes of twisted palm-leaf fibre and strew them about in the paths which the Prophet (PBUH) was expected to take, in order to cause him bodily injury. She was a real shrew, bad-tempered with abusive language, highly skilled in the art of hatching intrigues, and enkindling the fire of discord and sedition. She was deservedly stained as ‘the carrier of firewood’ in the Noble Qur’ân. On receiving this news, she directly proceeded to the Mosque with a handful of pebbles to hurl at the Prophet (PBUH). Allâh, the Great, took away her sight and she saw only Abu Bakr who was sitting immediately next to the Prophet (PBUH). She then addressed Abu Bakr most audaciously threatening to break his Companion’s mouth with her handful of pebbles, and recited a line of verse pregnant with impudent defiance: "We have disobeyed the dispraised one, rejected his Call, and alienated ourselves from his religion." When she had left, Abu Bakr turned to the Prophet (PBUH) and inquired about the matter. The Prophet (PBUH) assured him that she did not see him because Allâh had taken away her sight.
Abu Lahab and his household used to inflict those shameful examples of torture and harassment in spite of the blood relation that tied them for he was the Prophet’s uncle and both lived in two contiguous houses. Actually, few of the Prophet’s neighbours abstained from maligning him. They even threw the entrails of a goat on his back while he was performing his prayers. He always used to complain about that unbecoming neighbourliness but to no avail for they were deeply indulged in error.
Al-Bukhari, on the authority of Ibn Mas‘ud, narrated that once when the Prophet (PBUH) was prostrating himself while praying in Al-Ka‘bah, Abu Jahl asked his companions to bring the dirty foetus of a she-camel and place it on his back. ‘Uqbah bin Abi Mu‘ait was the unfortunate man who hastened to do this ignoble act. A peal of laughter rose amongst the infidels. In the meanwhile, Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet (PBUH), happened to pass that way. She removed the filth from her father’s back. The Prophet (PBUH) invoked the wrath of Allâh upon them, especially upon Abu Jahl, ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘a, Shaibah bin Rabi‘a, Al-Waleed bin ‘Utbah, Omaiyah bin Khalaf and ‘Uqbah bin Mu‘ait. It is recorded that all of them were killed in the battle of Badr.
Scandal-mongering and backbiting were also amongst the means of oppression that the chiefs of Makkah, in general, and Omaiyah bin Khalaf, in particular, resorted to in their overall process of evil-doing. In this regard, Allâh says:
"Woe to every slanderer and backbiter." [104:1]
‘Uqbah bin Al-Mu‘ait once attended an audience of the Prophet (PBUH) and listened to him preaching Islam. A close friend of his, Ubai bin Khalaf, heard of this. He could not tolerate any act of this sort, so he reproached ‘Uqbah and ordered him to spit in the Prophet’s holy face, and he shamelessly did it. Ubai did not spare any thinkable way to malign the Prophet (PBUH); he even ground old decomposed bones and blew the powder on him. Al-Akhnas bin Shuraique Ath-Thaqafi used to detract from the character of the Prophet (PBUH) in season and out of season. The Noble Qur’ân, in direct reference to this man’s ignominious deeds, attached to him nine abominable traits:
"And obey not everyone who swears much, — and is considered worthless, a slanderer, going about with calumnies, hinderer of the good, transgressor, sinful, cruel — after all that base-born (of illegitimate birth)." [68:10-13]
Abu Jahl’s arrogance and haughtiness blocked all avenues that could produce the least light of belief in his heart:
"So he (the disbeliever) neither believed (in this Qur’ân, in the Message of Muhammad (PBUH)) nor prayed!" [75:31]
He, moreover, wanted to debar the Prophet (PBUH) from the Noble Sanctuary. It happened once that the Prophet (PBUH) was praying within the precinct of the Sacred House, when Abu Jahl proceeded threateningly and uttering abusive language. The Prophet (PBUH) chided him severely to which Abu Jahl answered back defiantly claiming that he was the mightiest in Makkah; Allâh then revealed:
"Then, let him call upon his council (of helpers)." [96:17]
In another version of the same incident, the Prophet (PBUH) took Abu Jahl by his neck, rocked him severely saying:
"Woe to you [O man (disbeliever)]! And then (again) woe to you! Again, woe to you [O man (disbeliever)]! And then (again) woe to you!" [75:34, 35].
Notwithstanding this reproach, Abu Jahl would never wake up to himself nor did he realize his foolish practices. On the contrary, he was determined to go to extremes, and swore he would dust the Messenger’s face and tread on his neck. No sooner had he proceeded to fulfill his wicked intention than he was seen turning back shielding himself with his hands (as if something horrible in his pursuit). His companions asked him what the matter was. He said: "I perceived a ditch of burning fire and some wings flying." Later on, the Messenger commented saying, "If he had proceeded further, the angels would have plucked off his limbs one after another."
Such was the disgraceful treatment meted out to the Prophet (PBUH), the great man, respected as he was by his compatriots, with an influential man, his uncle Abu Talib, at his back to support him. If the matters were so with the Prophet (PBUH) what about those people deemed weak with no clan to support them? Let us consider their situation in some detail. Whenever Abu Jahl heard of the conversion of a man of high birth with powerful friends, he would degrade his prudence and intellect, undermine his judgement; and threaten him with dire consequences if he was a merchant. If the new convert was socially weak, he would beat him ruthlessly and put him to unspeakable tortures.
The uncle of ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan used to wrap ‘Uthman in a mat of palm leaves, and set fire under him. When Umm Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair heard of her son’s conversion, she put him to starvation and then expelled him from her house. He used to enjoy full luxurious easy life, but in the aftermath of the tortures he sustained, his skin got wizened, and he assumed a horrible physical appearance.
Bilal, the slave of Omaiyah bin Khalaf, was severely beaten by his master when the latter came to know of his conversion to Islam. Sometimes a rope was put around his neck and street boys were made to drag him through the streets and even across the hillocks of Makkah. At times he was subjected to prolonged deprivation of food and drink; at others he was bound up, made to lie down on the burning sand and under the crushing burden of heavy stones. Similar other measures were resorted to in order to force him to recant. All this proved in vain. He persisted in his belief in the Oneness of Allâh. On one such occasion, Abu Bakr was passing by; moved by pity, he purchased and emancipated him from slavery.
Another victim of the highhandedness of Quraish was ‘Ammar bin Yasir, a freed slave of Bani Makhzoum. He, along with his mother and father, embraced Islam in its early phase. They were repeatedly made to lie on the burning sand and were beaten severely. ‘Ammar was at times tossed up on embers. The Prophet (PBUH) was greatly moved by the atrocities which were being perpetrated upon ‘Ammar and his family. He always comforted them and raised his hand in prayer and said: "Be patient, you will verily find your abode in the Paradise." Yasir, the father, died because of repeated tortures. Sumaiyah, ‘Ammar’s mother was bayoneted to death by Abu Jahl himself, and thus merited the title of the first woman martyr in Islam. ‘Ammar himself was subjected to various modes of torture and was always threatened to sustain severe suffering unless he abused Muhammad (PBUH) and recanted to Al-Lat and ‘Uzza. In a weak moment, he uttered a word construed as recantation though his heart never wavered and he came back once to the Prophet (PBUH) who consoled him for his pain and confirmed his faith. Immediately afterwards the following verse was revealed:
"Whoever disbelieved in Allâh after his belief, except him who is forced thereto and whose heart is at rest with Faith —." [16:106]
Abu Fakeeh, Aflah, a freed slave of Bani ‘Abd Ad-Dar was the third of those helpless victims. The oppressors used to fasten his feet with a rope and drag him in the streets of Makkah.
Khabbab bin Al-Aratt was also an easy victim to similar outrages on every possible occasion. He experienced exemplary torture and maltreatment. The Makkan polytheists used to pull his hair and twist his neck, and made him lie on burning coal with a big rock on his chest to prevent him from escaping. Some Muslims of rank and position were wrapped in the raw skins of camels and thrown away, and others were put in armours and cast on burning sand in the scorching sun of Arabia.
Even the women converts were not spared, and the list is too long to include all of them. Zanirah, An-Nahdiyah and her daughter, Umm ‘Ubais and many others had their full share of persecution at the hand of the oppressors — ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab included — of course before his conversion to Islam.
Abu Bakr, a wealthy believer, purchased and freed some of those she-slaves, just as he did with regard to Bilal and ‘Amir bin Fuheirah.
The House of Al-Arqam:
In the light of these inhuman persecutions, the Prophet (PBUH) deemed it wise to advise his followers to conceal their conversion, in both word and deed. He took the decision to meet them secretly lest Quraish should get to know of his designs, and so take measures that might foil his goals. He also had in mind to avoid any sort of open confrontation with the polytheists because such a thing at this early stage would not be in the interest of the newly-born Call, still vulnerable and not fully fledged. Once, in the fourth year of Prophethood, the Muslims were on their way to the hillocks of Makkah to hold a clandestine meeting with the Prophet (PBUH), when a group of polytheists did observe their suspicious movement and began to abuse and fight them. Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas beat a polytheist and shed his blood and thus recorded the first instance of bloodshed in the history of Islam.
The Prophet (PBUH) on the other hand, used to proclaim the Islamic Faith and preach it openly with deep devotion and studious pursuit, but for the general welfare of the new converts and in consideration of the strategic interest of Islam, he took Dar Al-Arqam, in As-Safa mountain, in the fifth year of his mission, as a temporary centre to meet his followers secretly and instruct them in the Qur’ân and in the Islamic wisdom.
The First Migration to Abyssinia (Ethiopia):
The series of persecutions started late in the fourth year of Prophethood, slowly at first, but steadily accelerated and worsened day by day and month by month until the situation got so extremely grave and no longer tolerable in the middle of the fifth year, that the Muslims began to seriously think of feasible ways liable to avert the painful tortures meted out to them. It was at that gloomy and desperate time that Sûrah Al-Kahf (Chapter 18 — The Cave) was revealed comprising definite answers to the questions with which the polytheists of Makkah constantly pestered the Prophet (PBUH). It comprises three stories that include highly suggestive parables for the true believers to assimilate. The story of the Companions of the Cave implies implicit guidance for the believers to evacuate the hot spots of disbelief and aggression pregnant with the peril of enticement away from the true religion:
"(The young men said to one another): "And when you withdraw from them, and that which they worship, except Allâh, then seek refuge in the Cave, your Lord will open a way for you from His Mercy and will make easy for you your affair (i.e. will give you what you will need of provision, dwelling, etc.)" [18:16].
Next, there is the story of Al-Khidr (The Teacher of Arabia) and Moses (PBUH) in a clear and delicate reference to the vicissitudes of life. Future circumstances of life are not necessarily the products of the prevalent conditions, they might be categorically the opposite. In other words, the war waged against the Muslims would in the future assume a different turn, and the tyrannous oppressors would one day come to suffer and be subjected to the same tortures to which the Muslims were then put. Furthermore, there is the story of Dhul-Qarnain (The Two Horned One), the powerful ruler of west and east. This story says explicitly that Allâh takes His righteous servants to inherit the earth and whatever in it. It also speaks that Allâh raises a righteous man every now and then to protect the weak against the strong.
Sûrah Az-Zumar (Chapter 39 — The Crowds) was then revealed pointing directly to migration and stating that the earth is spacious enough and the believers must not consider themselves constrained by the forces of tyranny and evil:
"Good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world, and Allâh’s earth is spacious (so if you cannot worship Allâh at a place, then go to another)! Only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in full without reckoning." [39:10].
The Prophet (PBUH) had already known that Ashamah Negus, king of Abyssinia (Ethiopia), was a fair ruler who would not wrong any of his subordinates, so he permitted some of his followers to seek asylum there in Abyssinia (Ethiopia).
In Rajab of the fifth year of Prophethood, a group of twelve men and four women left for Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Among the emigrants were ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan and his wife Ruqaiyah (the daughter of the Prophet (PBUH)). With respect to these two emigrants, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
"They are the first people to migrate in the cause of Allâh after Abraham and Lot ."
They sneaked out of Makkah under the heavy curtain of a dark night and headed for the sea where two boats happened to be sailing for Abyssinia (Ethiopia), their destination. News of their intended departure reached the ears of Quraish, so some men were despatched in their pursuit, but the believers had already left Shuaibah Port towards their secure haven where they were received warmly and accorded due hospitality.
In Ramadan of the same year, the Prophet (PBUH) went into the Holy Sanctuary where there was a large host of Quraish polytheists, including some notables and celebrities. Suddenly he began reciting Sûrah An-Najm (Chapter 41 — The Star). The awe-inspiring Words of Allâh descended unawares upon them and they immediately got stunned by them. It was the first time for them to be shocked by the truthful Revelation. It had formerly been the favourite trick of those people who wished to dishonour Revelation, not only not to listen to it themselves but also to talk loudly and insolently when it was being read, so that even the true listeners may not be able to hear. They used to think that they were drowning the Voice of Allâh; in fact, they were piling up misery for themselves, for Allâh’s Voice can never be silenced, "And those who disbelieve say:
"Listen not to this Qur’ân, and make noise in the midst of its (recitation) that you may overcome." [41:26].
When the unspeakably fascinating Words of Allâh came into direct contact with their hearts, they were entranced and got oblivious of the materialistic world around them and were caught in a state of full attentiveness to the Divine Words to such an extent that when the Prophet (PBUH) reached the stormy heart-beating ending:
"So fall you down in prostration to Allâh and worship Him (Alone)." [53:62]
The idolaters, unconsciously and with full compliance, prostrated themselves in absolute god-fearing and stainless devotion. It was in fact the wonderful moment of the Truth that cleaved through the obdurate souls of the haughty and the attitude of the scoffers. They stood aghast when they perceived that Allâh’s Words had conquered their hearts and done the same thing that they had been trying hard to annihilate and exterminate. Their co-polytheists who had not been present on the scene reproached and blamed them severely; consequently they began to fabricate lies and calumniate the Prophet (PBUH) alleging that he had attached to their idols great veneration and ascribed to them the power of desirable intercession. All of these were desperate attempts made to establish an excusable justification for their prostrating themselves with the Prophet (PBUH) on that day. Of course, this foolish and iniquitous slanderous behaviour was in line with their life-consecrated practice of telling lies and plot hatching.
News of this incident was misreported to the Muslim emigrants in Abyssinia (Ethiopia). They were informed that the whole of Quraish had embraced Islam so they made their way back home. They arrived in Makkah in Shawwal of the same year. When they were only an hour’s travel from Makkah, the reality of the situation was discovered. Some of them returned to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), others sneaked secretly into the city or went in publicly but under the tutelage of a local notable. However, due to the news that transpired to the Makkans about the good hospitality and warm welcome that the Muslims were accorded in Abyssinia (Ethiopia), the polytheists got terribly indignant and started to mete out severer and more horrible maltreatment and tortures to the Muslims. Thereupon the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) deemed it imperative to permit the helpless creatures to seek asylum in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) for the second time. Migration this time was not as easy as it was the previous time, for Quraish was on the alert to the least suspicious moves of the Muslims. In due course, however, the Muslims managed their affairs too fast for the Quraishites to thwart their attempt of escape. The group of emigrants this time comprised eighty three men and nineteen or, in some versions, eighteen women. Whether or not ‘Ammar was included is still a matter of doubt.
Quraish’s Machination against the Emigrants:
Quraish could not tolerate the prospect of a secure haven available for the Muslims in Abyssinia (Ethiopia), so they despatched two staunch envoys to demand their extradition. They were ‘Amr bin Al-‘As and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Rabi‘a — before embracing Islam. They had taken with them valuable gifts to the king and his clergy, and had been able to win some of the courtiers over to their side. The pagan envoys claimed that the Muslim refugees should be expelled from Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and made over to them, on the ground that they had abandoned the religion of their forefathers, and their leader was preaching a religion different from theirs and from that of the king.
The king summoned the Muslims to the court and asked them to explain the teachings of their religion. The Muslim emigrants had decided to tell the whole truth whatever the consequences were. Ja‘far bin Abi Talib stood up and addressed the king in the following words: "O king! we were plunged in the depth of ignorance and barbarism; we adored idols, we lived in unchastity, we ate the dead bodies, and we spoke abominations, we disregarded every feeling of humanity, and the duties of hospitality and neighbourhood were neglected; we knew no law but that of the strong, when Allâh raised among us a man, of whose birth, truthfulness, honesty, and purity we were aware; and he called to the Oneness of Allâh, and taught us not to associate anything with Him. He forbade us the worship of idols; and he enjoined us to speak the truth, to be faithful to our trusts, to be merciful and to regard the rights of the neighbours and kith and kin; he forbade us to speak evil of women, or to eat the substance of orphans; he ordered us to fly from the vices, and to abstain from evil; to offer prayers, to render alms, and to observe fast. We have believed in him, we have accepted his teachings and his injunctions to worship Allâh, and not to associate anything with Him, and we have allowed what He has allowed, and prohibited what He has prohibited. For this reason, our people have risen against us, have persecuted us in order to make us forsake the worship of Allâh and return to the worship of idols and other abominations. They have tortured and injured us, until finding no safety among them, we have come to your country, and hope you will protect us from oppression."
The king was very much impressed by these words and asked the Muslims to recite some of Allâh’s Revelation. Ja‘far recited the opening verses of Sûrah Maryam (Chapter 19 — Mary) wherein is told the story of the birth of both John and Jesus Christ, down to the account of Mary having been fed with the food miraculously. Thereupon the king, along with the bishops of his realm, was moved to tears that rolled down his cheeks and even wet his beard. Here, the Negus exclaimed: "It seems as if these words and those which were revealed to Jesus are the rays of the light which have radiated from the same source." Turning to the crest-fallen envoys of Quraish, he said, "I am afraid, I cannot give you back these refugees. They are free to live and worship in my realm as they please."
On the morrow, the two envoys again went to the king and said that Muhammad (PBUH) and his followers blasphemed Jesus Christ. Again the Muslims were summoned and asked what they thought of Jesus. Ja‘far again stood up and replied: "We speak about Jesus as we have been taught by our Prophet (PBUH), that is, he is the servant of Allâh, His Messenger, His spirit and His Word breathed into Virgin Mary." The king at once remarked, "Even so do we believe. Blessed be you, and blessed be your master." Then turning to the frowning envoys and to his bishops who got angry, he said: "You may fret and fume as you like but Jesus is nothing more than what Ja‘far has said about him." He then assured the Muslims of full protection. He returned to the envoys of Quraish, the gifts they had brought with them and sent them away. The Muslims lived in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) unmolested for a number of years till they returned to Madinah.
In this way Quraish’s malicious intentions recoiled on them and their machination met with utter failure. They came to fully realize that the grudge they nursed against he Muslims would not operate but within their realm of Makkah. They consequently began to entertain a horrible idea of silencing the advocate of the new Call once and for all, through various channels of brutality, or else killing him. An obstinate difficulty, however, used to curtail any move in this direction embodied by the Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib and the powerful social standing he used to enjoy as well as the full protection and support he used to lend to his nephew. The pagans of Makkah therefore decided to approach Abu Talib for the second time and insisted that he put a stop to his nephew’s activities, which if allowed unchecked, they said, would involve him into severe hostility. Abu Talib was deeply distressed at this open threat and the breach with his people and their enmity, but he could not afford to desert the Messenger too. He sent for his nephew and told him what the people had said, "Spare me and yourself and put not burden on me that I can’t bear." Upon this the Prophet (PBUH) thought that his uncle would let him down and would no longer support him, so he replied:
"O my uncle! by Allâh if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left on condition that I abandon this course, until Allâh has made me victorious, or I perish therein, I would not abandon it." The Prophet (PBUH) got up, and as he turned away, his uncle called him and said, "Come back, my nephew," and when he came back, he said, "Go and preach what you please, for by Allâh I will never forsake you."
He then recited two lines of verse pregnant with meanings of full support to the Prophet (PBUH) and absolute gratification by the course that his nephew had chalked out in Arabia.
Once more Quraish approaches Abu Talib:
Quraish, seeing that the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) was still intent on his Call, realized that Abu Talib would never forsake his nephew even if this incurred their enmity. Some of them then went to see him once more taking with them a youth called ‘Amarah bin Al-Waleed bin Al-Mugheerah, and said, "O Abu Talib! we have brought you a smart boy still in the bloom of his youth, to make use of his mind and strength and take him as your son in exchange for your nephew, who has run counter to your religion, brought about social discord, found fault with your way of life, so that we kill him and rid you of his endless troubles; just man for man." Abu Talib’s reply was, "It is really an unfair bargain. You give me your son to bring him up and I give you my son to kill him! By Allâh, it is something incredible!!" Al-Mut‘im bin ‘Adi, a member of the delegation, interrupted saying that Quraish had been fair in that bargain because "they meant only to rid you of that source of hateful trouble, but as I see you are determined to refuse their favours." Abu Talib, of course, turned down all their offers and challenged them to do whatever they pleased. Historical resources do not give the exact date of these two meetings with Abu Talib. They, however, seem more likely to have taken place in the sixth year of Prophethood with a brief lapse of time in between.
The Tyrants’ Decision to kill the Prophet (PBUH) :
Now that all the schemes and conspiracies of Quraish had failed, they resorted to their old practices of persecution and inflicting tortures on the Muslims in a more serious and brutal manner than ever before. They also began to nurse the idea of killing the Prophet (PBUH) In fact, contrary to their expectations, this new method and this very idea served indirectly to consolidate the Call to Islam and support it with the conversion of two staunch and mighty heroes of Makkah, i.e. Hamzah bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib and ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab.
‘Utaibah bin Abi Lahab once approached the Prophet (PBUH) and most defiantly and brazenly shouted at him, "I disbelieve in: "By the star when it goes down." [53:1] and in "Then he (Gabriel) approached and came closer." [53:8] In other words: "I do not believe in any of the Qur’ân." He then started to deal highhandedly with Muhammad (PBUH) and laid violent hand on him, tore his shirt and spat into his face but his saliva missed the Holy face of the Prophet (PBUH) Thereupon, the Prophet (PBUH) invoked Allâh’s wrath on ‘Utaibah and supplicated:
"O Allâh! Set one of Your dogs on him."
Allâh responded positively to Muhammad’s supplication, and it happened in the following manner: Once ‘Utaibah with some of his compatriots from Quraish set out for Syria and took accommodation in Az-Zarqa’. There a lion approached the group to the great fear of ‘Utbah, who at once recalled Muhammad’s words in supplication, and said: "Woe to my brother! This lion will surely devour me just as Muhammad Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã supplicated. He has really killed me in Syria while he is in Makkah." The lion did really rush like lightning, snatched ‘Utbah from amongst his people and crushed his head.
It is also reported that a wretched idolater from Quraish, named ‘Uqbah bin ‘Abi Mu‘ait once trod on the Prophet’s neck while he was prostrating himself in prayer until his eyes protruded.
More details reported by Ibn Ishaq testify to the tyrants’ deeply-established intentions of killing the Prophet (PBUH). Abu Jahl, the archenemy of Islam, once addressed some of his accomplices: "O people of Quraish! It seems that Muhammad (PBUH) is determined to go on finding fault with our religion, degrading our forefathers, discrediting our way of life and abusing our gods. I bear witness to our god that I will carry a too heavy rock and drop it on Muhammad’s head while he is in prostration to rid you of him, once and for all. I am not afraid of whatever his sept, Banu ‘Abd Munaf, might do." The terrible unfortunate audience endorsed his plan and encouraged him to translate it into a decisive deed.
In the morning of the following day, Abu Jahl lay waiting for the arrival of the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) to offer prayer. The people of Quraish were in their assembly rooms waiting for news. When the Prophet (PBUH) prostrated himself, Abu Jahl proceeded carrying the big rock to fulfill his wicked intention. No sooner had he approached closer to the Prophet (PBUH) than he withdraw pale-faced, shuddering with his hands strained the rock falling off. Thereupon, the people watching hurried forward asking him what the matter was. He replied: "When I approached, a male-camel unusual in figure with fearful canines intercepted and almost devoured me." Ibn Ishaq reported that the Prophet (PBUH), in the context of his comment on the incident, said "It was Gabriel, if Abu Jahl had approached closer, he would have killed him." Even so the tyrants of Quraish would not be admonished, contrariwise, the idea of killing the Prophet (PBUH) was still being nourished in their iniquitous hearts. On the authority of ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘As, some people of Quraish were in a place called Al-Hijr complaining that they had been too patient with the Prophet (PBUH), who suddenly appeared and began his usual circumambulation. They started to wink at him and utter sarcastic remarks but he remained silent for two times, then on the third, he stopped and addressed the infidels saying:
"O people of Quraish! Hearken, I swear by Allâh in Whose Hand is my soul, that you will one day be slaughtered to pieces." As soon as the Prophet (PBUH) uttered his word of slaughter, they all stood aghast and switched off to a new style of language smacking of fear and even horror trying to soothe his anger and comfort him saying: "You can leave Abul Qasim, for you have never been foolish."
‘Urwa bin Az-Zubair narrated: I asked Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘As to tell me of the worst thing that the pagans did to the Prophet (PBUH). He said: "While the Prophet (PBUH) was praying in Al-Hijr of Al-Ka‘bah, ‘Uqbah bin Al-Mu‘ait came and put his garment around the Prophet’s neck and throttled him violently. Abu Bakr came and caught him by his shoulder and pushed him away from the Prophet (PBUH) and said: "Do you want to kill a man just because he says, My Lord is Allâh?"
The Conversion of Hamzah bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib:
In a gloomy atmosphere infested with dark clouds of iniquity and tyranny, there shone on the horizon a promising light for the oppressed, i.e. the conversion of Hamzah bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib in Dhul Hijjah, the sixth year of Prophethood. It is recorded that the Prophet (PBUH) was one day seated on the hillock of Safa when Abu Jahl happened to pass by and accused the religion preached by him. Muhammad (PBUH), however, kept silent and did not utter a single word. Abu Jahl went on unchecked, took a stone and cracked the Prophet’s head which began to bleed. The aggressor then went to join the Quraishites in their assembly place. It so happened that shortly after that, Hamzah, while returning from a hunting expedition, passed by the same way, his bow hanging by his shoulder. A slave-girl belonging to ‘Abdullah bin Jada‘an, who had noted the impertinence of Abu Jahl, told him the whole story of the attack on the Prophet (PBUH). On hearing that, Hamzah was deeply offended and hurried to Al-Ka‘bah and there, in the courtyard of the Holy Sanctuary, found Abu Jahl sitting with a company of Quraishites. Hamzah rushed upon him and struck his bow upon his head violently and said: "Ah! You have been abusing Muhammad (PBUH); I too follow his religion and profess what he preaches." The men of Bani Makhzum came to his help, and men of Bani Hashim wanted to render help, but Abu Jahl sent them away saying: "Let Abu ‘Ummarah alone, by Allâh I did revile his nephew shamelessly." In fact, Hamzah’s conversion derived initially from the pride of a man who would not accept the notion of others humiliating his relative. Later on, however, Allâh purified his nature and he managed to grasp the most trustworthy hand-hold (Faith in Allâh). He proved to be a source of great strength to the Islamic Faith and its followers.
The Conversion of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab:
Another significant addition to the strength of Islam was the conversion of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab in Dhul-Hijjah, the sixth year of Prophethood, three days following the conversion of Hamzah. He was a man of dauntless courage and resolution, feared and respected in Makkah, and hitherto a bitter opponent of the new religion. The traditional account reveals that the Prophet (PBUH) once raised his hands in prayer and said:
"O Allâh! Give strength to Islam especially through either of two men you love more: ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab or Abu Jahl bin Hisham."
‘Umar, obviously, was the one who merited that privilege.
When we scrutinize the several versions that speak of ‘Umar’s conversion, we can safely conclude that various contradictory emotions used to conflict with one another within his soul. On the one hand, he used to highly regard the traditions of his people, and was habituated to the practice of indulgence in wine orgies; on the other hand, he greatly admired the stamina of the Muslims and their relentless dedication to their faith. These two extreme views created a sort of skepticism in his mind and made him at times tend to believe that the doctrines of Islam could bear better and more sacred seeds of life, that is why he would always experience fits of outrage directly followed by unexpected enervation. On the whole, the account of his conversion is very interesting and requires us to go into some details.
One day, ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab set out from his house, and headed for the Holy Sanctuary where he saw the Prophet (PBUH) offering prayer and overheard him reciting the Sûrah Al-Hâqqah (Chapter 69 — The Reality) of the Noble Qur’ân. The Words of Allâh appealed to him and touched the innermost cells of his heart. He felt that they derived from unusual composition, and he began to question his people’s allegations as regards the man-composed poetry or words of a soothsayer that they used to attach to the Noble Qur’ân. The Prophet (PBUH) went on to recite:
"That this is verily the word of an honoured Messenger (i.e. Gabriel or Muhammad (PBUH) which he has brought from Allâh). It is not the word of a poet, little is that you believe! Nor is it the word of a soothsayer (or a foreteller), little is that you remember! This is the Revelation sent down from the Lord of the ‘Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists)." [69:40-43]
At that very moment, Islam permeated his heart. However, the dark layer of pre-Islamic tendencies, the deep-seated traditional bigotry as well as the blind pride in his forefathers overshadowed the essence of the great Truth that began to feel its way reluctantly into his heart. He, therefore, persisted in his atrocities against Islam and its adherents unmindful of the pure and true-to-man’s nature feeling that lay behind that fragile cover of pre-Islamic ignorance and mentality. His sharp temper and excessive enmity towards the Prophet (PBUH) led him one day to leave his house, sword in hand, with the intention of killing the Prophet (PBUH). He was in a fit of anger and was fretting and fuming. Nu‘aim bin ‘Abdullah, a friend of ‘Umar’s, met him accidentally half way. What had caused so much excitement in him and on whom was the fury to burst, he inquired casually. ‘Umar said furiously: "To destroy the man Muhammad this apostate, who has shattered the unity of Quraish, picked holes in their religion, found folly with their wise men and blasphemed their gods." "‘Umar, I am sure, your soul has deceived you, do you think that Banu ‘Abd Munaf would let you walk on earth if you slain Muhammad (PBUH)? Why don’t you take care of your own family first and set them right?"
"Which of the folk of my house?" asked ‘Umar angrily. "Your brother-in-law and your sister have apostatized (meaning to say: They have become followers of Muhammad (PBUH)) and abandoned your religion."
‘Umar directed his footsteps to his sister’s house. As he drew near, he heard the voice of Khabbab bin Aratt, who was reading the Qur’ânic Chapter Tâ-Hâ (mystic letters, T. H.) to both of them. Khabbab, perceiving the noise of his footsteps retired to a closet. Fatimah, ‘Umar’s sister, took hold of the leaf and hid it. But ‘Umar had already heard the voice. "What sound was that I have heard just now?" shouted the son of Khattab, entering angrily. Both his sister and her husband replied, "You heard nothing." "Nay," said he swearing fiercely, "I have heard that you have apostatized." He plunged forward towards his brother-in-law and beat him severely, but Fatimah rushed to the rescue of her husband. Thereupon, ‘Umar fell upon his sister and struck upon her head. The husband and wife could not contain themselves and cried aloud: "Yes, we are Muslims, we believe in Allâh and His Messenger Muhammad (PBUH) so do what you will." When ‘Umar saw the face of his dear sister besmeared with blood, he was softened and said: "Let me see what you were reading, so that I may see what Muhammad (PBUH) has brought." Fatimah was satisfied with the assurance, but said: "O brother, you are unclean on account of your idolatry, none but the pure may touch it. So go and wash first." He did so, and took the page and read the opening verses of the Chapter Tâ-Hâ until he reached:
"Verily! I am Allâh! Lâ ilâha illa Ana (none has the right to be worshipped but I), so worship Me and offer prayers perfectly (Iqâmat-as-Salât), for My Remembrance." [20:14].
‘Umar read the verses with great interest and was much entranced with them. "How excellent it is, and how graceful! Please guide me to Muhammad (PBUH)." said he. And when he heard that, Khabbab came out of concealment and said, "O ‘Umar, I hope that Allâh has answered the prayer of the Prophet (PBUH), for I heard him say: ‘O Allâh! Strengthen Islam through either ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab or Abu Jahl bin Hisham.’" ‘Umar then left for a house in Safa where Muhammad (PBUH) had been holding secret meetings along with his Companions. ‘Umar reached that place with the sword swinging by his arm. He knocked at the door. The Companions of the Prophet (PBUH) turned to see who the intruder was. One of them peeped through a chink in the door and reeled back exclaiming: "It is ‘Umar with his sword." Hamzah, dispelling the fears of his friends, said: "Let him in. As a friend he is welcome. As a foe, he will have his head cut off with his own sword." The Prophet (PBUH) asked his Companions to open the door. In came the son of Khattab. The Prophet (PBUH) advanced to receive the dreadful visitor, caught him by his garment and scabbard, and asked him the reason of his visit. At that ‘Umar replied: "O Messenger of Allâh (PBUH), I come to you in order to believe in Allâh and his Messenger and that which he has brought from his Lord." Filled with delight, Muhammad (PBUH) together with his Companions, cried aloud: ‘Allâhu Akbar’ (Allâh is Great).
The conversion of ‘Umar was a real triumph for the cause of Islam. So great and instant was the effect of his conversion on the situation that the believers who had hitherto worshipped Allâh within their four walls in secret now assembled and performed their rites of worship openly in the Holy Sanctuary itself. This raised their spirits, and dread and uneasiness began to seize Quraish.
Ibn Ishaq narrated on the authority of ‘Umar, "When I embraced Islam, I remembered the archenemy of Muhammad (PBUH), i.e. Abu Jahl. I set out, and knocked at his door. When he came out to see me, I told him directly that I had embraced Islam. He immediately slammed the door repulsively denouncing my move as infamous and my face as ugly." In fact, ‘Umar’s conversion created a great deal of stir in Makkah that some people denounced him as an apostate, yet he would never waver in Faith, on the contrary, he persisted in his stance even at the peril of his life. The polytheists of Quraish marched towards his house with the intention of killing him. ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar narrated: While ‘Umar was at home in a state of fear, there came Al-‘As bin Wa’il As-Sahmy Abu ‘Amr, wearing an embroidered cloak and a shirt having silk hems. He was from the tribe of Bani Sahm who were our allies during the pre-Islamic period of ignorance. Al-‘As said to ‘Umar: What’s wrong with you? He said: Your people claim that they will kill me if I become a Muslim. Al-‘As said: Nobody will harm you after I have given protection to you. So Al-‘As went out and met the people streaming in the whole valley. He said: Where are you going? They replied: We want son of Al-Khattab who has embraced Islam. Al-‘As said: There is no way for anybody to touch him. So the people retreated.
With respect to the Muslims in Makkah, ‘Umar’s conversion had a different tremendous impact. Mujahid, on the authority of Ibn Al-‘Abbas, related that he had asked ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab why he had been given the epithet of Al-Farouque (he who distinguishes truth from falsehood), he replied: After I had embraced Islam, I asked the Prophet (PBUH): ‘Aren’t we on the right path here and Hereafter?’ The Prophet (PBUH) answered: ‘Of course you are! I swear by Allâh in Whose Hand my soul is, that you are right in this world and in the hereafter.’ I, therefore, asked the Prophet (PBUH) ‘Why we then had to conduct clandestine activism. I swear by Allâh Who has sent you with the Truth, that we will leave our concealment and proclaim our noble cause publicly.’ We then went out in two groups, Hamzah leading one and I the other. We headed for the Mosque in broad daylight when the polytheists of Quraish saw us, their faces went pale and got incredibly depressed and resentful. On that very occasion, the Prophet (PBUH) attached to me the epithet of Al-Farouque. Ibn Mas‘ud related that they (the Muslims) had never been able to observe their religious rites inside the Holy Sanctuary except when ‘Umar embraced Islam.
Suhaib bin Sinan, in the same context, said that it was only after ‘Umar’s conversion, that we started to proclaim our Call, assemble around and circumambulate the Sacred House freely. We even dared retaliate against some of the injustices done to harm us. In the same context, Ibn Mas‘ud said: We have been strengthened a lot since ‘Umar embraced Islam.
Quraish’s Representative negotiates with the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH):
Shortly after the conversion of these two powerful heroes, Hamzah bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib and ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, the clouds of tyranny and oppression started to clear away and the polytheists realized that it was no use meting out torture to the Muslims. They consequently began to direct their campaign to a different course. The authentic records of the biography of the Prophet (PBUH) show that it had occurred to the Makkan leaders to credit Muhammad (PBUH) with ambition. They, therefore, time and again plied him with temptation. One day some of the important men of Makkah gathered in the enclosure of Al-Ka‘bah, and ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘a, a chief among them, offered to approach the Prophet (PBUH) and contract a bargain with him whereby they give him whatever worldly wealth he asks for, on condition that he keep silent and no longer proclaim his new faith. The people of Quraish endorsed his proposal and requested him to undertake that task. ‘Utbah came closer to Muhammad (PBUH) and addressed him in the following words:
We have seen no other man of Arabia, who has brought so great a calamity to a nation, as you have done. You have outraged our gods and religion and taxed our forefathers and wise men with impiety and error and created strife amongst us. You have left no stone unturned to estrange the relations with us. If you are doing all this with a view to getting wealth, we will join together to give you greater riches than any Quraishite has possessed. If ambition moves you, we will make you our chief. If you desire kingship we will readily offer you that. If you are under the power of an evil spirit which seems to haunt and dominate you so that you cannot shake off its yoke, then we shall call in skilful physicians to cure you.
"Have you said all?" asked Muhammad (PBUH); and then hearing that all had been said, he spoke forth, and said:
"In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. Hâ-Mîm. [These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur’ân, and none but Allâh (Alone) knows their meanings]. A revelation from Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. A Book whereof the verses are explained in detail; — a Qur’ân in Arabic for people who know. Giving glad tidings [of Paradise to the one who believes in the Oneness of Allâh (i.e. Islamic Monotheism) and fears Allâh much (abstains from all kinds of sins and evil deeds.) and loves Allâh much (performing all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)], and warning (of punishment in the Hell-fire to the one who disbelieves in the Oneness of Allâh), but most of them turn away, so they listen not. And they say: Our hearts are under coverings (screened) from that to which you invite us …" [41: 1-5]
The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) went on reciting the Chapter while ‘Utbah sitting and listening attentively with his hand behind his back to support him. When the Messenger reached the verse that required prostration, he immediately prostrated himself. After that, he turned to ‘Utbah saying: "Well Abu Al-Waleed! You have heard my reply, you are now free to do whatever you please." ‘Utbah then retired to his company to apprise them of the Prophet’s attitude. When his compatriots saw him, they swore that he had returned to them with a countenance unlike the one he had before meeting the Prophet (PBUH). He immediately communicated to them the details of the talk he gave and the reply he received, and appended saying: "I have never heard words similar to those ones he recited. They definitely relate neither to poetry nor to witchcraft nor do they derive from soothsaying. O people of Quraish! I request you to heed my advice and grant the man full freedom to pursue his goals, in which case you could safely detach yourselves from him. I swear that his words bear a supreme Message. Should the other Arabs rid you of him, they will then spare you the trouble, on the other hand if he accedes to power over the Arabs, then you will bask in his kingship and share him his might." These words of course fell on deaf ears, and did not appeal to the infidels, who jeered at ‘Utbah and claimed that the Prophet (PBUH) had bewitched him.
In another version of the same event, it is related that ‘Utbah went on attentively listening to the Prophet (PBUH) until the latter began to recite Allâh’s Words:
"But if they turn away, they say (O Muhammad (PBUH)): "I have warned you of a Sa‘iqa (a destructive awful cry, torment, hit, a thunder-bolt) like the Sa‘iqa which overtook ‘Ad and Thamûd (people)." [41:13]
Here ‘Utbah stood up panicked and stunned putting his hand on the Prophet’s mouth beseeching him: "I beg you in the Name of Allâh and uterine ties to stop lest the calamity should befall the people of Quraish." He then hurriedly returned to his compatriots and informed them of what he had heard.
Abu Talib assembles Bani Hashim and Bani Al-Muttalib:
The new and welcome changes notwithstanding, Abu Talib still had a deep sensation of fear over his nephew. He deliberated on the previous series of incidents including the barter affair of ‘Amarah bin Al-Waleed, Abu Jahl’s rock, ‘Uqbah’s attempt to choke the Prophet (PBUH), and finally ‘Umar’s (before conversion) intention to kill Muhammad (PBUH). The wise man understood that all of these unequivocally smacked of a serious plot being hatched to disregard his status as a custodian of the Prophet (PBUH), and kill the latter publicly. In the event of such a thing, Abu Talib deeply believed, neither ‘Umar nor Hamzah would be of any avail, socially powerful though they were.
Abu Talib was right. The polytheists had laid a carefully-studied plan to kill the Prophet (PBUH), and banded together to put their plan into effect. He, therefore, assembled his kinsfolk of Bani Hashim and Bani Al-Muttalib, sons of ‘Abd Munaf and exhorted them to immunize and defend his nephew. All of them, whether believers or disbelievers, responded positively except his brother Abu Lahab, who sided with the idolaters.
General Social Boycott
Four events of special significance occurred within less than four weeks — the conversion of Hamzah, the conversion of ‘Umar, Muhammad’s (PBUH) refusal to negotiate any sort of compromise and then the pact drawn up between Banu Muttalib and Banu Hashim to immunize Muhammad (PBUH) and shield him against any treacherous attempt to kill him. The polytheists were baffled and at a loss as to what course they would follow to rid themselves of this obstinate and relentless obstacle that had appeared to shatter to pieces their whole tradition of life. They had already been aware that if they killed Muhammad (PBUH) their blood would surely flow profusely in the valleys of Makkah and they would certainly be exterminated. Taking this dreadful prospect into consideration, they grudgingly resorted to a different iniquitous course that would not imply murder.
A Pact of Injustice and Aggression:
The pagans of Makkah held a meeting in a place called Wadi Al-Muhassab, and formed a confederation hostile to both Bani Hashim and Bani Al-Muttalib. They decided not to have any business dealings with them nor any sort of inter-marriage. Social relations, visits and even verbal contacts with Muhammad (PBUH) and his supporters would discontinue until the Prophet (PBUH) was given up to them to be killed. The articles of their proclamation, which had provided for merciless measures against Bani Hashim, were committed to writing by an idolater, Bagheed bin ‘Amir bin Hashim and then suspended in Al-Ka‘bah. The Prophet (PBUH) invoked Allâh’s imprecations upon Bagheed, whose hand was later paralysed.
Abu Talib wisely and quietly took stock of the situation and decided to withdraw to a valley on the eastern outskirts of Makkah. Banu Hashim and Banu Al-Muttalib, who followed suit, were thus confined within a narrow pass (Shi‘b of Abu Talib), from the beginning of Muharram, the seventh year of Muhammad’s mission till the tenth year, viz., a period of three years. It was a stifling siege. The supply of food was almost stopped and the people in confinement faced great hardships. The idolaters used to buy whatever food commodities entered Makkah lest they should leak to the people in Ash-Shi‘b, who were so overstrained that they had to eat leaves of trees and skins of animals. Cries of little children suffering from hunger used to be heard clearly. Nothing to eat reached them except, on few occasions, some meagre quantities of food were smuggled by some compassionate Makkans. During ‘the prohibited months’ — when hostilities traditionally ceased, they would leave their confinement and buy food coming from outside Makkah. Even then, the food stuff was unjustly overpriced so that their financial situation would fall short of finding access to it.
Hakeem bin Hizam was once on his way to smuggle some wheat to his aunt Khadijah when Abu Jahl intercepted and wanted to debar him. Only when Al-Bukhtari intervened, did Hakeem manage to reach his destination. Abu Talib was so much concerned about the personal safety of his nephew. Whenever people retired to sleep, he would ask the Prophet (PBUH) to lie in his place, but when all the others fell asleep, he would order him to change his place and take another, all of which in an attempt to trick a potential assassin.
Despite all odds, Muhammad (PBUH) persisted in his line and his determination and courage never weakened. He continued to go to Al-Ka‘bah and to pray publicly. He used every opportunity to preach to outsiders who visited Makkah for business or on pilgrimage during the sacred months and special seasons of assemblies.
This situation ultimately created dissension amongst the various Makkan factions, who were tied with the besieged people by blood relations. After three years of blockade and in Muharram, the tenth year of Muhammad’s mission, the pact was broken. Hisham bin ‘Amr, who used to smuggle some food to Bani Hashim secretly at night, went to see Zuhair bin Abi Omaiyah Al-Makhzoumy and reproached him for resigning to that intolerable treatment meted out to his uncles in exile. The latter pleaded impotence, but agreed to work with Hisham and form a pressure group that would secure the extrication of the exiles. On the ground of motivation by uterine relations, there emerged a group of five people who set out to abrogate the pact and declare all relevant clauses null and void. They were Hisham bin ‘Amr, Zuhair bin Abi Omaiya, Al-Mut‘im bin ‘Adi, Abu Al-Bukhtari and Zam‘a bin Al-Aswad. They decided to meet in their assembly place and start their self-charged mission from the very precinct of the Sacred House. Zuhair, after circumambulating seven times, along with his colleagues approached the hosts of people there and rebuked them for indulging in the amenities of life whereas their kith and kin of Bani Hashim were perishing on account of starvation and economic boycott. They swore they would never relent until the parchment of boycott was torn to piece and the pact broken at once. Abu Jahl, standing nearby, retorted that it would never be torn. Zam‘a was infuriated and accused Abu Jahl of telling lies, adding that the pact was established and the parchment was written without seeking their approval. Al-Bukhtari intervened and backed Zam‘a. Al-Mut‘im bin ‘Adi and Hisham bin ‘Amr attested to the truthfulness of their two companions. Abu Jahl, with a cunning attempt to liquidate the hot argument that was running counter to his malicious goals, answered that the issue had already been resolved sometime and somewhere before.
Abu Talib meanwhile was sitting in a corner of the Mosque. He came to communicate to them that a Revelation had been sent to his nephew, the Prophet (PBUH) to the effect that ants had eaten away all their proclamation that smacked of injustice and aggression except those parts that bore the Name of Allâh. He contended that he would be ready to give Muhammad (PBUH) up to them if his words proved untrue, otherwise, they would have to recant and repeal their boycott. The Makkans agreed to the soundness of his proposition. Al-Mut‘im went to see the parchment and there he did discover that it was eaten away by ants and nothing was left save the part bearing (in the Name of Allâh).
The proclamation was thus abrogated, and Muhammad (PBUH) and the other people were permitted to leave Ash-Sh‘ib and return home. In the context of this trial to which the Muslims were subjected, the polytheists had a golden opportunity to experience a striking sign of Muhammad’s Prophethood (the white ants eating away the parchment) but to their miserable lot they desisted and augmented in disbelief:
"But if they see a Sign, they turn away, and say ‘This is continuous magic." [54:2]
The Final Phase of the Diplomacy of Negotiation
The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) left his confinement and went on preaching his Faith as usual. Quraish, likewise, repealed the boycott but went on in their atrocities and oppression on the Muslims. Abu Talib, the octogenarian notable, was still keen on shielding his nephew but by that time, and on account of the series of tremendous events and continual pains, he began to develop certain fits of weakness. No sooner had he emerged victorious from the inhuman boycott, than he was caught in a persistent illness and physical enervation. The polytheists of Makkah, seeing this serious situation and fearing that the stain of infamy that the other Arabs could attribute to them in case they took any aggressive action against the Prophet (PBUH) after he had lost his main support, Abu Talib, took a decision to negotiate with the Prophet (PBUH) once more and submit some concessions withheld previously. They then delegated some representatives to see Abu Talib and discuss the issue with him. Ibn Ishaq and others related: "When a serious illness caught Abu Talib, the people of Quraish began to deliberate on the situation and reviewed the main features that characterized that period and which included the conversion of ‘Umar and Hamzah to Islam, coupled with the tremendous stir that Muhammad (PBUH) had created amongst all the tribes of Quraish. They then deemed it imperative to see Abu Talib before he died to pressure his nephew to negotiate a compromise on the various disputed points. They were afraid that the other Arabs might attribute to them the charge of opportunism."
The delegation of Quraish comprised 25 men including notables like ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘a, Shaibah bin Rabi‘a, Abu Jahl bin Hisham, Omaiyah bin Khalaf, Abu Sufyan bin Harb. They first paid tribute to him and confirmed their high esteem of his person and position among them. They then shifted to the new give-and-take policy that they claimed they wanted to follow. To substantiate their argument they alleged that they would refrain from intervening in his religion if he did the same.
Abu Talib summoned his nephew and apprised him of the minutes of his meeting with them, and said: "Well, my nephew, here are the celebrities of your people. They have proposed this meeting to submit a policy of mutual concessions and peaceful coexistence." The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) turned to them saying:
"I will guide you to the means by which you will gain sovereignty over both the Arabs and non-Arabs."
In another version, the Prophet (PBUH) addressed Abu Talib in the following words: "O uncle! Why don’t you call them unto something better?" Abu Talib asked him, "What is it that you invite them to?" The Prophet (PBUH) replied, "I invite them to hold fast to a Message that is bound to give them access to kingship over the Arabs and non-Arabs." According to Ibn Ishaq’s version, "It is just one word that will give you supremacy over the Arabs and non-Arabs." The Makkan deputies were taken by incredible surprise and began to wonder what sort of word was that which would benefit them to that extent. Abu Jahl asked, "What is that word? I swear by your father that we will surely grant you your wish followed by ten times as much." He said, "I want you to testify that there is no god worthy to be worshipped but Allâh, and then divest yourselves of any sort of worship you harbour for any deities other than Allâh." They immediately clapped their hands in ridicule, and said "How can you expect us to combine all the deities in one God. It is really something incredible." On their way out leaving, they said to one another, "By god this man (Muhammad (PBUH)) will never relent, nor will he offer any concessions. Let us hold fast to the religion of our forefathers, and Allâh will in due course adjudicate and settle the dispute between us and him." As regards this incident, Allâh revealed the following verses:
"Sâd: [These letters (Sâd, etc.) are one of the miracles of the Qur’ân and none but Allâh (Alone) knows their meanings]. By the Qur’ân full of reminding. Nay, those who disbelieve are in false pride and Apposition. How many a generation We have destroyed before them, and they cried out when there was no longer time for escape! And they (Arab pagans) wonder that a warner (Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) has come to them from among themselves! And the disbelievers say, ‘This (Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) is a sorcerer, a liar. Has he made the gods (all) into One God (Allâh). Verily, this is a curious thing!’ And the leaders among them went about (saying): ‘Go on, and remain constant to your gods! Verily, this is a thing designed (against you)! We have not heard (the like) of this among the people of these later days. This is nothing but an invention.’" [38:1-7]
The Year of Grief
Abu Talib’s Death:
In Rajab, the tenth year of the Prophethood, Abu Talib fell ill and passed away, six months after leaving the confinement at Ash-Sh‘ib. In another version, Abu Talib breathed his last in Ramadan, three days prior to the death of Khadijah. On the authority of Al-Musaiyab, when Abu Talib was on the death bed, the Prophet (PBUH) entered the room where he saw Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Omaiyah. He requested his uncle:
"My uncle, you just make a profession that there is no true god but Allâh, and I will bear testimony before Allâh (of your being a believer)".
Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Omaiyah addressing him said: "Abu Talib, would you abandon the religion of ‘Abdul-Muttalib?" The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) constantly requested him (to accept his offer), and (on the other hand) was repeated the same statement (of Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Omaiyah) — till Abu Talib gave his final decision and he stuck to the religion of ‘Abdul-Muttalib and refused to profess that there is no true god but Allâh. Upon this the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) remarked:
"By Allâh, I will persistently beg pardon for you till I am forbidden to do so (by Allâh)".
It was then that Allâh, the Magnificent and Glorious revealed this verse:
"It is not (proper) for the Prophet and those who believe to ask Allâh’s forgiveness for the Mushrikûn (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allâh) even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are the dwellers of the Fire (because they died in a state of disbelief)." [9:113]
And it was said to the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH):
"Verily! You (O Muhammad (PBUH)) guide not whom you like." [28:56]
It goes without saying that Abu Talib was very much attached to Muhammad (PBUH). For forty years, Abu Talib had been the faithful friend — the prop of his childhood, the guardian of his youth and in later life a very tower of defence. The sacrifices to which Abu Talib exposed himself and his family for the sake of his nephew, while yet incredulous of his mission, stamp his character as singularly noble and unselfish. The Prophet (PBUH) did his best to persuade his octogenarian uncle to make profession of the true faith, but he remained obdurate and stuck to the paganism of his forefathers, and thus could not achieve complete success. Al-‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib narrated that he said to the Prophet (PBUH) "You have not been of any avail to your uncle (Abu Talib) (though) by Allâh, he used to protect you and get angry on your behalf." The Prophet (PBUH) said: "He is in a shallow fire, and had it not been for me, he would have been at the bottom of the (Hell) Fire."
Abu Sa‘id Al-Khudri narrated that he heard the Prophet (PBUH) say, when the mention of his uncle was made, "I hope that my intercession may avail him, and he be placed in a shallow fire that rises up only to his heels."
Khadijah passes away to the Mercy of Allâh:
Only two months after the death of his uncle, did the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) experience another great personal loss viz., the Mother of believers, his wife Khadijah passed away in Ramadan of the tenth year of his Prophethood, when she was sixty-five years old, and he was fifty. Khadijah was in fact a blessing of Allâh for the Prophet (PBUH). She, for twenty-five years, shared with him the toils and trials of life, especially in the first ten years of his ministry of Prophethood. He deeply mourned over her death, and once he replied in an honest burst of tender emotions:
"She believed in me when none else did. She embraced Islam when people disbelieved me. And she helped and comforted me in her person and wealth when there was none else to lend me a helping hand. I had children from her only."
Abu Hurairah reported that Gabriel came to Allâh’s Messenger (PBUH) and said: "Allâh’s Messenger, lo, Khadijah is coming to you with a vessel of seasoned food or drink. When she comes to you, offer her greetings from her Lord, and give her glad tidings of a palace of jewels in Paradise where there is no noise and no toil."
These two painful events took place within a short lapse of time and added a lot to his grief and suffering. The Makkans now openly declared their campaign of torture and oppression. The Prophet (PBUH) lost all hope of bringing them back to the right path, so he set out for Al-Ta’if seeking a supportive atmosphere. But there too, he was disappointed and he sustained unbearable tortures and maltreatment that far outweighed his miserable situation in his native town.
His Companions were on equal footing subjected to unspeakable torture and unbearable oppression to such an extent that his closest friend, Abu Bakr, to escape pressure, fled out of Makkah and wanted to leave for Abyssinia (Ethiopia) if it were not for Ibn Ad-Daghanah who met him at Bark Al-Ghamad and managed to dissuade him from completing his journey of escape and brought him back under his protection.
The death of Abu Talib rendered the Prophet (PBUH) vulnerable, and the polytheists availed them of that opportunity to give free rein to their hatred and highhandedness and to translate them in terms of oppression and physical tortures. Once an insolent Quraishite intercepted him and sprinkled sand on his head. When he arrived home, a daughter of his washed the sand away and wept. "Do not weep, my daughter. Allâh will verily protect your father." The Prophet (PBUH) said.
Rapid succession of misfortunes, led the Prophet (PBUH) to call that period, ‘the year of grief and mourning’. Thenceforth, that year bore that appellation.
His Marriage to Sawdah in Shawwal, the tenth year of Prophethood:
The death of Khadijah left the Prophet (PBUH) lonely. The name of Sawdah was suggested to him for marriage which he accepted. This lady had suffered many hardships for the sake of Islam. She was an early convert to the Islamic Faith and it was by her persuasion that her husband had embraced Islam. On the second emigration to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), Sawdah had accompanied her husband As-Sakran bin ‘Amr. He died on their way back to Makkah leaving her in a terrible state of destitution. She was the first woman for the Prophet (PBUH) to marry after the death of Khadijah. Some years later she granted her turn with the Prophet (PBUH) to her co-wife, ‘Aishah.
Factors inspiring Patience & Perseverance
It is natural for sensible and mild-tempered people to meditate deeply on the factors that inspired those early Muslims that miraculous constancy and perseverance. It is normal to wonder how those people managed to tolerate unspeakable persecutions, and stand fast in the face of tyrannical tortures. With respect to these questions, we deem it wise just to touch on those underlying reasons:
Unshakable Belief in Allâh. The first and foremost factor is no doubt, unshakable Belief in Allâh Alone coupled with a wonderful degree of perception of His Attributes. A man with this Belief deeply averred in his heart will look at those foreseen difficulties as triflings and can under no circumstance compare with the sweetness of Belief:
"Then, as for the foam, it passes away as scum upon the banks, while that which is for the good of mankind remains in the earth." [13:17]
Other sub-factors that branch out from that Belief and assist in strengthening it and promoting long amity are:
Wholeheartedly-loved leadership. Muhammad (PBUH), the great leader of the Muslim community, and mankind at large, was an exemplary man in his perfect manners and noble attributes; no one could measure up to his endowments of nobility, honesty, trustworthiness and abstinence; unanimously and uncontestedly acknowledged even by his enemies. Abu Jahl himself, the great enemy of Islam, used repeatedly to say: "O Muhammad (PBUH), we are in no position to believe you, we rather disbelieve what you have brought us (Islam)." It is narrated that three people of Quraish each separately and secretly listened to some verses of the Noble Qur’ân. Later, this secret was uncovered and one of them asked Abu Jahl (one of the three) what he thought of what he heard from Muhammad (PBUH). He answered: We contested the honour of leadership and generosity with Banu ‘Abd Munaf and shared equal privileges competitively. They then began to boast saying that a Prophet rose among them whom Revelation came down upon from heavens. I swear we will never believe in him.
So Allâh said:
"… It is not you that they deny, but it is the Verses (the Qur’ân) of Allâh that the Zâlimûn (polytheists and wrong-doers) deny." [6:33]
One day, the disbelievers of Quraish leveled to him a cynical remark three times. He remained silent but for the third one he remarked, "O Quraish! Slaughter is in store for you." They were taken aback and ulterior fear filled their hearts to such an extent that the most hostile among them began to make up for their insult by the best friendly terms they could afford. When they slung the entrails of a camel on him while prostrating himself in prayer, he invoked Allâh’s wrath on them, and they immediately were caught in an inexpressible state of worry and were almost convinced that they would be destroyed. Ubai bin Khalaf used always to threaten he would kill Muhammad (PBUH). One day the Prophet (PBUH) retorted that he would kill him by Allâh’s Will. When Ubai received a scratch in his neck, on the day of Uhud, he, under the sense of horror, remembered the Prophet’s words and remarked, "I am convinced he would be able to kill me even if he spat on me." Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh said to Omaiyah bin Khalaf in Makkah, "I heard the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) one day say that the Muslims would surely kill you." Omaiyah was extremely panicked and swore he would never step out of Makkah. Even when Abu Jahl obliged him to march with them to fight the Prophet (PBUH) on the day of Badr, he bought the best and swift camels in Makkah in order that they hasten his escape. Even his wife warned him against going out reminding him of Sa‘d’s words, his reply was "By Allâh, I have no intention of going out with Quraish, I will disengage from them after a short distance."
That was the clear sense of horror and terror haunting his enemies wherever they were. His friends and companions, on the other hand, held him dearest to them, and he occupied the innermost cells of their hearts. They were always ready to defend him and secure his well-being even at the risk of their lives. One day, Abu Bakr bin Abi Quhafa was severely beaten by ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘a, a terrible polytheist. His whole body was almost bleeding and he was on the verge of death, yet when his people took him back home extremely indignant at his misfortune, he swore he would never eat or drink anything until they had told him about the well-being of his noble Companion, Muhammad (PBUH). That was the spirit of selflessness and sacrifice that characterized the behaviour of those early Companions.
The sense of responsibility. The early Companions were fully aware of the daunting responsibility they were expected to shoulder. They were also convinced that those charges were inescapable even though they were being persecuted for fear of the far-reaching ramifications, and the horrible impact that humanity would suffer in case they shirked their obligations.
Unwavering Belief in the truth of the Hereafter. This was the corner-stone that strengthened their sense of responsibility. There was a deep certainty established through the light of their religion that one day they would have to rise on the Day of Resurrection and account for all worldly deeds, small or big. They were sure that their future in the other world would depend wholly on their acts in their provisional life on earth, either to everlasting Garden (Paradise) or perpetual chastisement in Hell. Their whole life was divided between hope for Allâh’s mercy and fear of His punishment.
"… Who give that (their charity) which they give (and also do other good deeds) with their hearts full of fear (whether their alms and charities, etc., have been accepted or not), because they are sure to return to their Lord." [23:60]
They had already known that life with all its amenities and pains was worthless when compared with the Hereafter. Such deep convictions brought about in them a sense of indifference to all troubles and hardships that attended their life.
The Qur’ân. The verses and chapters of the Noble Qur’ân were attractively, forcefully and successively revealed at that gloomy and critical stage, supporting and advancing arguments on the truth and soundness of the principles of Islam, round whose axis the whole Call of Muhammad (PBUH) was revolving. They constituted the immune basis upon which the best and most wonderful Divinely decreed society was to be established. The Qur’ânic verses served also to excite the feelings of the believers, strengthen their selves on their course of patience and endurance and introduce them to the most purposeful examples and suggestive instructions:
"Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, ‘When (will come) the Help of Allâh?’ Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allâh is near!" [2:214]
"Alif-Lam-Mim. Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: ‘We believe’, and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allâh will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allâh knows all that before putting them to test)." [29: 1-3]
Mere lip profession of Faith is not enough. It must be tried and tested in the real turmoil of life. The test will be applied in all kinds of circumstances, in individual life and in relation to the environment around us to see whether we can strive constantly and put the Lord above self. Much pain, sorrow and self-sacrifice may be necessary, not because they are good in themselves, but because they will purify us, like fire applied to a goldsmith’s crucible to burn out the dross.
These verses also constituted an irrefutable answer to the false allegations of the disbelievers, and a clear ultimatum that smacked of the horrible consequences that would ensue in case they persisted in their disbelief. On the other hand, the Noble Qur’ân was leading the Muslims to a new world and enlightening them as to its features, the beauty of Lordship, the perfection of Godship, the impact of kindness and mercy and the manifestations of the yearned for Allâh’s pleasure. They implicitly connoted meaningful messages carrying glad tidings of definitely approaching Divine Mercy leading to eternal bliss in a blissful Garden (Paradise). They, at the same time, envisaged the end of the tyrants and disbelievers who would be brought to Divine Justice and then dragged through the Fire where they would taste the touch of Hell.
Glad tidings of success. Ever since the time they experienced the adversities of life, the Muslims had been certain that entrance into the fold of Islam did not entail involvement into hardships or digging one’s own grave. They had been aware that the Islamic Call had one goal, viz extermination of pre-Islamic tradition and destroying its iniquitous system, to go on parallel lines with extending its influence allover the earth and holding in firm control the political situation worldwide to lead humanity along a course conducive to Allâh’s Pleasure, and perfect enough to rid people of worshipping Allâh’s servant to worshipping Allâh, Himself. Glad tidings of this sort were being revealed sometimes explicitly and at other times implicitly, in a manner relevant to the situation. When the Muslims were forced to undergo constraints, or when their life was kept under continual restraint, there would be revealed verses telling identical stories of past Prophets with their people and the sufferings and pains they had experienced. The verses would also include suggestive clues to the final tragic end of the Makkan disbelievers envisaging their final perdition, yet and at the same time, bearing glad tidings to the believers and promising the true servants of vicegerency on earth to go with absolute success, and victory to attend the Islamic Call and its proponents.
Here we could adduce some of the verses of this category pregnant with glad tidings referring to the final victory that would crown the perseverance and patience of the Muslims:
"And, verily, Our Word has gone forth of old for Our slaves, — the Messengers, that they verily would be made triumphant. And that Our hosts, they verily would be the victors. So turn away (O Muhammad (PBUH)) from them for a while, and watch them and they shall see (the punishment)! Do they seek to hasten on Our torment? Then, when it descends into their courtyard (i.e. near to them), evil will be the morning for those who had been warned." [37:171-177]
In the same context, Allâh told His Prophet (PBUH):
"Their multitude will be put to flight, and they will show their backs." [54:45]
He also said:
"They will be a defeated host like the confederates of the old times." [38:11]
The Muslims who migrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia) had the following:
"And as for those who emigrated for the cause of Allâh, after suffering oppression, We will certainly give them goodly residence in this world, but indeed the reward of the Hereafter will be greater, if they but knew." [16:41]
In the context of the story of Joseph, there was:
"Verily, in Joseph and his brethren there were Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) for those who ask." [12:7]
i.e., the Makkans will receive the same fate that befell Joseph’s brothers, viz, failure and surrender. In another instance, Allâh speaks about the Messengers:
"And those who disbelieved, said to their Messengers: ‘Surely, we shall drive you out of our land, or you shall return to our religion!’ So their Lord inspired them: ‘Truly, We shall destroy the Zâlimûn (polytheists, disbelievers and wrong-doers). And indeed, We shall make you dwell in the land after them. This is for him who fears standing before Me (on the Day of Resurrection or fears My punishment) and also fears My threat." [14:13,14]
During the war between the Persians and the Romans, the disbelievers had a sincere wish that victory be the former’s lot, because both parties professed polytheism, whereas the Muslims prayed for a Roman victory because both groups believed in Allâh, His Messengers, Books, the Revelation and the Hereafter.
The war resulted in the overthrow of Rome by Persia. They were pro-Persian, as we have said, and in their hearts they hoped that the nascent movement of Islam, which at that time was, from a worldly point of view, very weak and helpless, would collapse under their persecution. But they misread the true signs of the times. They were told that they would soon be disillusioned in both their calculations, and it actually so happened when Heraclius carried his campaign into the heart of Persia and the Makkan Quraish were beaten off at Badr:
"And on that Day, the believers (i.e. Muslims) will rejoice (at the victory given by Allâh to the Romans against the Persians) with the help of Allâh." [30:4,5]
During the season of ‘Ukaz forum, and other such occasions, the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) himself would communicate not only glad tidings pertinent to the Garden (Paradise) but also news of promising prospects for the true believers in the Call of Islam. He would openly tell them that they would surely prosper, rule the whole of Arabia and subdue Persia if they professed the most serious pillar of Islam, i.e. the Oneness of Allâh.
Khabbab bin Al-Aratt once urged the Messenger to call upon Allâh to shield him against the adversities he was suffering at the hand of the polytheists. The Prophet’s face reddened and he remarked that the true believer must not precipitate things, it was incumbent upon a believer to undergo all the odds of life as much as he could, fearing nobody except Allâh until the religion was established, which would surely happen. The Prophet (PBUH) in this regard, referred to the perseverance that the Muslims had to show and the hardships they had to undergo in order to establish the land of Islam where peace and security would prevail all over it.
Glad tidings of better prospects for Islam and the Muslims were not confined to Muhammad’s followers, in fact they were being disclosed time and again to both believers and disbelievers. Whenever the two parties met, the latter would jeer at the former and mockingly say "Here are the sovereigns of earth who will defeat Chosroes and Caesar." But the believers, in anticipation of that shining and Godly-orientated future, would always persevere and tolerate all sorts of persecution and humiliation regarding them as summer clouds that would soon clear away.
The Prophet (PBUH), on his part, would always maintain and sustain his followers’ souls with the light of belief, sanctify them through inculcating the Qur’ânic wisdom in their hearts and cultivate their minds deeply with the spirit of Islam that would elevate them to a state of noble spirituality, pure heartedness and an absolute degree of freedom from the yoke of materialism, a high morale powerful enough to resist worldly lusts and consequently lead them from darkness to light. He would constantly teach them to be tolerant, forgiving and overpowering over their selves in order to get well established in their religion, disdain lust, and devote themselves to attaining the Pleasure of Allâh, yearning for the Garden (Paradise), enthusiasm in sciences relating to their faith, calling themselves to account, subordinating fleeing whims, holding under firm control all rage-provoking incidents and finally observing sobriety, patience and gravity.
Calling unto Islam beyond Makkah
In Shawwal (in the last of May or in the beginning of June 619 A.D.), ten years after receiving his mission from his Lord, the Prophet (PBUH) set out towards At-Ta’if, about 60 kilometres from Makkah, in the company of his freed slave Zaid bin Haritha inviting people to Islam. But contrary to his expectations, the general atmosphere was terribly hostile. He approached the family of ‘Umair, who were reckoned amongst the nobility of the town. But, to his disappointment, all of them turned deaf ear to his message and used abusive language as regards the noble cause he had been striving for. Three brothers from the chieftains of Thaqeef —‘Abd Yaleel, Mas‘ud and Habeeb — sons of ‘Amr bin ‘Umair Ath-Thaqafy met the Prophet (PBUH), who invited them to embrace Islam and worship Allâh, but they impudently jeered at him and refused his invitation. "He is tearing the cloths of Al-Ka‘bah; is it true that Allâh has sent you as a Messenger?" said one of them. "Has not Allâh found someone else to entrust him with His Message?" said the second. "I swear by Allâh that I will never have any contact with you. If you are really the Messenger of Allâh, then you are too serious to retort back; and if you are belying Allâh, then I feel it is imperative not to speak to." said the third. The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH), finding that they were hopeless cases, stood up and left them saying: "Should you indulge in these practices of yours, never divulge them to me."
For ten days he stayed there delivering his message to several people, one after another, but all to no purpose. Stirred up to hasten the departure of the unwelcome visitor, the people hooted him through the alley-ways, pelted him with stones and obliged him to flee from the city pursued by a relentless rabble. Blood flowed down both his legs; and Zaid, endeavouring to shield him, was wounded in the head. The mob did not desist until they had chased him two or three miles across the sandy plains to the foot of the surrounding hills. There, wearied and exhausted, he took refuge in one of the numerous orchards, and rested against the wall of a vineyard. At a time when the whole world seemed to have turned against him, Muhammad (PBUH) turned to his Lord and betook himself to prayer and the following touching words are still preserved as those through which his oppressed soul gave vent to its distress. He was weary and wounded but confident of the help of his Lord:
"O Allâh! To You alone I make complaint of my helplessness, the paucity of my resources and my insignificance before mankind. You are the most Merciful of the mercifuls. You are the Lord of the helpless and the weak, O Lord of mine! Into whose hands would You abandon me: into the hands of an unsympathetic distant relative who would sullenly frown at me, or to the enemy who has been given control over my affairs? But if Your wrath does not fall on me, there is nothing for me to worry about."
"I seek protection in the light of Your Countenance, which illuminates the heavens and dispels darkness, and which controls all affairs in this world as well as in the Hereafter. May it never be that I should incur Your wrath, or that You should be wrathful to me. And there is no power nor resource, but Yours alone."
Seeing him in this helpless situation, Rabi‘a’s two sons, wealthy Makkans, were moved on grounds of kinship and compassion, and sent to him one of their Christian servants with a tray of grapes. The Prophet (PBUH) accepted the fruit with pious invocation: "In the Name of the Allâh." The Christian servant ‘Addas was greatly impressed by these words and said: "These are words which people in this land do not generally use." The Prophet (PBUH) inquired of him whence he came and what religion he professed. ‘Addas replied: "I am a Christian by faith and come from Nineveh." The Prophet (PBUH) then said: "You belong to the city of the righteous Jonah, son of Matta." ‘Addas asked him anxiously if he knew anything about Jonah. The Prophet (PBUH) significantly remarked: "He is my brother. He was a Prophet and so am I." Thereupon ‘Addas paid homage to Muhammad (PBUH) and kissed his hands. His masters admonished him at this act but he replied: "None on the earth is better than he is. He has revealed to me a truth which only a Prophet can do." They again reprimanded him and said: "We forewarn you against the consequences of abandoning the faith of your forefathers. The religion which you profess is far better than the one you feel inclined to."
Heart-broken and depressed, Muhammad (PBUH) set out on the way back to Makkah. When he reached Qarn Al-Manazil, Allâh, the Almighty sent him Gabriel together with the angel of mountains. The latter asked the Prophet (PBUH) for permission to bury Makkah between Al–Akhshabain —Abu Qubais and Qu‘ayqa‘an mountains. Full narration of this event was given by ‘Aishah (the Prophet’s spouse). She said: "I asked the Prophet (PBUH) if he had ever experienced a worse day than Uhud. He answered that he had suffered a lot from those people (the idolaters) but the most painful was on the day of ‘Aqabah. I went seeking support from Ibn ‘Abd Yalil bin ‘Abd Kalal, but he spurned me. I set out wearied and grieved heedless of anything around me until I suddenly realized I was in Qarn Ath-Tha‘alib, called Qarn Al-Manazil. There, I looked up and saw a cloud casting its shade on me, and Gabriel addressing me: Allâh has heard your people’s words and sent you the angel of mountains to your aid. The latter called and gave me his greetings and asked for my permission to bury Makkah between Al-Akhshabain, the two mountains flanking Makkah. I said in reply that I would rather have someone from their loins who will worship Allâh, the All–Mighty with no associate." A concise meaningful answer fully indicative of the Prophet’s matchless character and the fathomless magnanimous manners.
The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) then came back to wakefulness and his heart was set at rest in the light of that invisible Divinely provided aid. He proceeded to Wadi Nakhlah where he stayed for a few days.
During his stay there, Allâh sent him a company of jinns who listened to him reciting the Noble Qur’ân:
"And (remember) when We sent towards you (Muhammad (PBUH)) Nafran (three to ten persons) of the jinns, (quietly) listening to the Qur’ân, when they stood in the presence thereof, they said: ‘Listen in silence!’ And when it was finished, they returned to their people, as warners. They said: ‘O our people! Verily! We have heard a Book (this Qur’ân) sent down after Moses, confirming what came before it, it guides to the Truth and to a Straight Path (i.e. Islam). O our people! Respond (with obedience) to Allâh’s Caller (i.e. Allâh’s Messenger Muhammad (PBUH)), and believe in him (i.e. believe in that which Muhammad (PBUH) has brought from Allâh and follow him). He (Allâh) will forgive you of your sins, and will save you from a painful torment (i.e. Hell-fire).’" [46:29-31]
The same incident is referred to in Sûrah Al-Jinn:
"Say (O Muhammad (PBUH)): "It has been revealed to me that a group (from three to ten in number) of jinns listened (to this Qur’ân). They said: ‘Verily! We have heard a wonderful Recital (this Qur’ân)! It guides to the Right Path, and we have believed therein, and we shall never join (in worship) anything with our Lord (Allâh).’" [72:1,2] … Till the end of the 15th verse.
From the context of these verses and their relevant interpretation, we can safely establish it that the Prophet (PBUH) was not aware of the presence of that group of jinns. It was only when Allâh revealed those verses that he came to know of it. The verses also confirm that it was the first time they came. However, the context of the different versions suggests that the jinns repeated their visits later on. The presence of that company of jinns comes in the context of the Divine support given to His Messenger, and constitutes a propitious sign of ultimate victory and success for the Call of Islam. It provides an unshakable proof that no power however mighty could alter what is wrought by Allâh:
"And whosoever does not respond to Allâh’s Caller, he cannot escape on earth, and there will be no Auliyâ (protectors) from him besides Allâh (from Allâh’s punishment). Those are in manifest error." [46:32]
"And we think that we cannot escape (from the punishment of) Allâ h in the earth, nor can we escape (from the punishment) by flight." [72:12]
Given this support and auspicious start, depression, dismay and sadness that used to beset him since he was driven out of At-Ta’if, he turned his face towards Makkah with fresh determination to resume his earlier plan to expose people to Islam and communicate his Message in a great spirit of zeal and matchless enthusiasm.
Zaid bin Harithah, his companion, addressing the Prophet (PBUH) said, "How dare you step into Makkah after they (Quraish) have expatriated you?" The Prophet (PBUH) answered: "Hearken Zaid, Allâh will surely provide relief and He will verily support His religion and Prophet."
When he was a short distance from Makkah, he retired to Hira’ Cave. Whence he despatched a man from Khuza‘ah tribe to Al-Akhnas bin Shuraiq seeking his protection. The latter answered that he was Quraish’s ally and in no position to offer protection. He despatched the messenger to Suhail bin ‘Amr, but to no avail, either. Al-Mut‘im bin ‘Adi, a notable in Makkah, however, volunteered to respond to the Prophet’s appeal for shelter. He asked his people to prepare themselves fully armed and then asked Muhammad (PBUH) to enter into the town and directly into the Holy Sanctuary. The Prophet (PBUH) observed a two-Rak‘a prayer and left for his house guarded by the heavily-armed vigilant ‘Adi’s.
It has been reported that later Abu Jahl, the archenemy of Islam, asked Mut‘im if his behaviour suggested protection or conversion, the latter replied it was merely protection. Abu Jahl was relieved and said that he would give Muhammad protection for his sake.
The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) never forgot Mut‘im’s favour. At the conclusion of the battle of Badr, he declared publicly that if Mut‘im had been still alive and asked for the release of the Quraishite captives, he would not deny him his request.
Islam being introduced to Arabian Tribes and Individuals
In Dhul Qa‘dah, the tenth year of Prophethood, i.e. July 619, the Prophet (PBUH), returned to Makkah to resume his activities. The time for pilgrimage to Makkah was approaching so he hastened to introduce people both tribes and individuals to Islam and call upon them to embrace it, just as it was his practice since the fourth year of his Prophethood.
On the authority of Az-Zuhri, of the tribes that Islam was introduced to, we could speak of Banu ‘Amir bin Sa‘sa‘ah, Muharib bin Khasfa, Fazarah, Ghassan, Murrah, Haneefah, Saleem, ‘Abs, Banu Nasr, Banu Al-Buka’, Kindah, Kalb, Al-Harith bin Ka‘b, Udhrah and people of Hadrmout. Islam was not introduced to them in one single year but rather repeatedly from the fourth year till the last pre-migration season of pilgrimage. They however, remained obdurate and none of them responded positively.
The following is a resume of aspects relating to the Prophet’s appeals as regards the new faith he was preaching:
He visited a sept of Banu Kalb known as Banu ‘Abdullah. He called them to Allâh’s Message and entreated them to accept it for the sake of Allâh Who had chosen a beautiful name for their father, but without avail.
He called on Bani Haneefah in their habitation, but received very repugnant treatment.
He addressed Bani ‘Amir bin Sa‘sa‘ah in their encampment, calling them to abandon idolatry and join him. One of them called Buhairah bin Firras, answered him back: "Should we give you allegiance and Allâh give you power over your opponents, will you give us right to inheritance and succeed you in power?" The Prophet replied: "The whole affair lies in Allâh’s Hands. He gives the power to whomever He desires." The man commented: "Do you expect us to incur the wrath and vengeance of the Arabs without the least hope of leadership? We can in fact readily dispense with your offers."
When Banu ‘Amir returned to their habitations, they narrated the story to an elderly man who had lingered behind because he was too old. They told him, "A young man of Quraish of Bani ‘Abdul Muttalib, claiming that he is a Prophet, contacted us, asked for support and invited us to embrace his religion." The old sheikh was struck by the news, and wondered if there was no way of making amends for the loss of that opportunity and swore, "He is really Ishmaelite (he descends from Ishmael). He is the Truth (he is a real Prophet). How did it happen that you misjudged his words?"
The Prophet (PBUH) was not dismayed at all. He persisted in his mission for the fulfillment of which he had been commissioned to strive despite all odds. He did not confine his efforts to the tribes but also conducted contacts with individuals from some of whom he was able to receive a favourable response. Moreover, later in the same season, some of them did believe in his Prophethood and entered the fold of Islam. The following list included some of those early converts:
Swaid bin Samit. He was an intelligent discreet poet from Yathrib (Madinah). During his stay in Makkah for pilgrimage (or lesser pilgrimage), he encountered the Prophet (PBUH) who invited him to embrace Islam. At this invitation, Swaid imparted to the Prophet some sound words from Luqman’s wisdom. The Prophet approved of that wisdom but told the man that he had something far better. He recited some verses from the Qur’ân, the man listened meditatively and the words appealed to his originally pure nature and accepted Islam as his faith at once. He was killed in the battle of Bu‘ath. That was in the eleventh year of the Prophethood.
Eyas bin Mu‘adh. He was still a youth from Aws tribe. He came as a member of delegation seeking alliance with Quraish against another rival tribe dwelling in Madinah, Al-Khazraj. The Prophet (PBUH) met them and advised them to follow a better course than that they had in mind. He introduced himself and Islam to them, apprised them of his mission and narrated some verses from the Noble Qur’ân. Eyas’s heart immediately absorbed the Divine Message and agreed with the Prophet (PBUH). Abul Haisar Anas bin Rafi‘, a member of the delegation disapproved of the boy’s behaviour and silenced him by hurling some dust into his face. The people then left Madinah after having failed in establishing alliance with Quraish. Shortly after arrival in Madinah, the boy breathed his last acclaiming Allâh’s Name and celebrating His Glory.
Abu Dhar Al-Ghifari. He used to live in the suburbs of Yathrib. News of the Islamization of Swaid bin Samit and Eyas bin Mu‘adh reached him and constituted a turning point in his life per se. He sent his brother to Makkah for more details about the Prophet’s intentions. The man came back and reported to Abu Dhar that the ‘said man’ enjoined good and forbade evil. Abu Dhar was not satisfied and decided that he himself should go out and probe the real situation. After some attempts to identify the person of the Prophet (PBUH), he managed to meet him though not without some difficulties due to the antagonistic atmosphere within which the proponents of the new faith were trying to work their way. No sooner than Abu Dhar was exposed to the real nature of Islam, he embraced it. Despite the Prophet’s earnest plea not to divulge his new move, Abu Dhar went directly to the Holy Sanctuary where he publicly declared that he had testified to the Oneness of Allâh and Prophethood of Muhammad. The heathens all around hurried and began beating him. He almost died when Al-‘Abbas intervened warning against killing someone whose tribe was in full command of the strategic commercial caravan routes leading to Makkah. The event recurred in the following morning with the same man to come to the scene and rescue him.
Tufail bin ‘Amr Ad-Dausi. He was an honest poet and chief of Ad-Daus tribe inhabiting an area close to Yemen in South Arabia. He arrived in Makkah in the eleventh year of Prophethood. Great reception ceremonies were accorded to him on his advent. The Makkans soon started to inculcate in his ears all sorts of antipathy against the Prophet (PBUH). They even alleged that he had caused the most horrible societal schism, dividing all sorts of social life even the family ties were subject to his schemes and plans of dissension. They even warned him against speaking or even listening to him. The man overpowered by these pleas, complied by their requests. He even stuffed his ears with a piece of cotton in order not to hear any word of his. However, when this tribesman entered the mosque, he saw Muhammad (PBUH) observing his prayer and out of curiosity, he approached him for it was a Divine Will to hear the Prophet’s sound and appealing words. The temptation to hear more was irresistible so he followed the Prophet (PBUH) into his house, briefed him on his advent and all the story of the people of Quraish. The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) recited some verses of the Noble Qur’ân and the man managed to taste something exceptionally beautiful and discern the truth latent within. He embraced Islam and testified that there was no god but Allâh and that Muhammad was His Messenger. He then said that he was an influential man among his people and that he would call them to profess Islam, yet he wanted the Prophet (PBUH) to equip him with a supportive sign that would ease his future task. It was in fact a Divinely bestowed light in his whip. He called his father and wife to embrace Islam and they did respond. His people lagged a little but he exhorted them fervently and was fully successful. He and seventy or eighty of his followers emigrated to Madinah after the Trench Battle. He was a perfect fighter in the cause of Allâh and was martyred in Al-Yamama events.
Dhumad Al-Azdi. He came from Azd Shanu’a in Yemen, specialist in incantation. He arrived in Makkah to hear the fools there say that Muhammad (PBUH) was out of his mind. He decided to practise his craft on the Prophet (PBUH), who on seeing him said: "Praise is to Allâh, we entertain His praise and seek His help. Whomsoever Allâh guides, none will lead astray, and whomsoever Allâh leads astray, none will guide. I testify there is no god but Allâh and Muhammad is His servant and Messenger." Dhumad heard the words and requested the Prophet (PBUH) to echo them again, and he was granted his wish thrice. Here he said: "I have heard the soothsayers, sorcerers and poets, but never have I experienced the sweetness of your words." He then gave a pledge of a sincere convert.
Hope inspiring Breezes from the Madinese:
It was during the pilgrimage season, in the eleventh year of Prophethood, that the Islamic Call found the righteous seeds through which it would grow up to constitute tall trees whose leaves would foster the new faith and shelter the new vulnerable converts from the blows of injustices and high-handness of Quraish. It was the Prophet’s wise practice to meet the delegates of the Arabian tribes by night so that the hostile Makkans would not debar him from achieving his objectives. In the company of his two truthful Companions ‘Ali and Abu Bakr, he had an interesting talk regarding Islamization with Bani Dhuhal, but the latter suspended their conversion. In pursuit of the same objective, the Prophet and his Companions passed by ‘Aqabat Mina where they heard people talking. They went at their heels until they encountered six men from Yathrib, all of whom from Khazraj tribe: As‘ad bin Zurarah, ‘Awf bin Harith, Rafi‘ bin Malik, Qutbah bin ‘Amir, ‘Uqbah bin ‘Amir and Jabir bin ‘Abdullah. The last two being from Aws and the former four from Khazraj.
The Madinese always heard the Jews say that a Prophet was about to rise, for the time for a new dispensation had arrived. Him they would follow and then smite their enemies as the children of ‘Ad and Iram had been smitten.
"Of what tribe are you?" asked the Prophet. "Of the tribe of Khazraj," they replied. "Are you the allies of the Jews?" The Prophet enquired. They said: "Yes." "Then why not sit down for a little and I will speak to you." The offer was readily accepted for the fame of Muhammad (PBUH) had spread to Madinah and the strangers were curious to see more of the man who had created a stir in the whole area. The Prophet (PBUH) presented to them an expose of Islam, explained its implications, and the responsibilities that fell upon the men who accepted it. When the Prophet (PBUH) concluded his talk, they exchanged among themselves ideas to the following effect: "Know surely, this is the Prophet with whom the Jews are ever threatening us; wherefore let us make haste and be the first to join him."
They, therefore, embraced Islam, and said to the Prophet, "We have left our community for no tribe is so divided by hatred and rancour as they are. Allâh may cement our ties through you. So let us go and invite them to this religion of yours; and if Allâh unites them in it, no man will be dearer than you."
The handful of Madinese converts remained steady to the cause and they preached the Islam with full zeal and devotion with the result that they succeeded in winning adherents for Islam from amongst their fellow citizens and hardly was there a house in Madinah not talking curiously and enthusiastically about the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH).
Marriage of the Prophet (PBUH) to ‘Aishah:
In Shawwal of the same year, the Prophet (PBUH) concluded a marriage contract with ‘Aishah , ‘the truth verifier’, when she was six of age and consummated his marriage with her in Shawwal, the year 1 A.H. in Madinah when she was nine.
Al-Isra’ and Al-Mi‘raj
(The Miraculous Night Journey from Makkah
to the Farthest Mosque in Jerusalem,
and the Ascent through the Spheres of Heavens)
The last days of the Makkan phase of the Prophet’s life are noted for alternate fortunes ranging between two extremes: gradual success and continual persecution. However, glimpses of propitious lights were looming on the distant horizon, to ultimately materialize in the event of the Prophet’s Night Journey to Jerusalem and then Ascension through the spheres of the heavens.
As for its exact date, it is still controversial and no common consent has been reached. However, the majority of jurists is in favour of a date between 16-12 months prior to migration to Madinah. The following is a epitome of the details of that miraculous event narrated on the authority of Ibn Al-Qayyim.
The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) was carried in body from the Sacred Mosque in Makkah to the Distant Mosque in Jerusalem on a horse called Al-Buraq in the company of Gabriel, the archangel. There he alighted, tethered the horse to a ring in the gate of the Mosque and led the Prophets in prayer. After that Gabriel took him to the heavens on the same horse. When they reached the first heaven Gabriel asked the guardian angel to open the door of heaven. It was opened and he saw Adam, the progenitor of mankind. The Prophet (PBUH) saluted him and the other welcomed him and expressed his faith in Muhammad’s Prophethood. He saw the souls of martyrs on his right and those of the wretched on his left.
Gabriel then ascended with the Prophet to the second heaven, asked for opening the gate and there he saw and saluted John, son of Zachariya (Yahya bin Zakariya) and Jesus, son of Mary. They returned the salutation, welcomed him and expressed their faith in his Prophethood. Then they reached the third heaven where they saw Joseph (Yusuf) and saluted him. The latter welcomed the Prophet and expressed faith in his Prophethood. The Prophet, in the company of Gabriel, then reached the fourth heaven where he met the Prophet Enoch (Idris) and saluted him. Prophet Enoch returned the salutation and expressed faith in his Prophethood. Then he was carried to the fifth heaven where he met the Prophet Aaron (Harun) and saluted him. The latter returned the salutation and expressed faith in his Prophethood. In the sixth heaven he met Moses (Musa) and saluted him. The latter returned the salutation and expressed faith in his Prophethood. Muhammad (PBUH) on leaving, saw that Moses began to weep. He asked about the reason. Moses answered that he was weeping because he witnessed a man sent after him as a Messenger (Muhammad) who was able to lead more of his people to the Paradise than he himself did. Then Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) reached the seventh heaven and met Abraham (Ibrahim) (PBUH) and saluted him. The latter returned the salutation and expressed faith in his Prophethood. Then he was carried to Sidrat-al-Muntaha (the remotest lote tree) and was shown Al-Bait-al-Ma‘mûr [(the much frequented house) which is like the Ka‘bah (Sacred House) encompassed daily by seventy thousand angels, so that the angels who once encompassed it would not have their turn again till the Resurrection]. He was then presented to the Divine Presence and experienced the thrill of witnessing the Divine Glory and Manifestation at the closest possible propinquity. There the Lord revealed unto His servant that which He revealed, and ordained fifty daily prayers for him. On his return, he spoke to Moses that his followers had been enjoined to pray fifty times a day. Moses addressing the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Your followers cannot perform so many prayers. Go back to your Lord and ask for a remission in number." The Prophet (PBUH) turned to Gabriel as if holding counsel with him. Gabriel nodded, "Yes, if you desire," and ascended with him to the Presence of Allâh. The All-Mighty Allâh, Glory is to Him, made a reduction of ten prayers. He then descended and reported that to Moses, who again urged him to request for a further reduction. Muhammad (PBUH) once more begged his Lord to reduce the number still further. He went again and again in the Presence of Allâh at the suggestion of Moses for reduction in the number of prayers till these were reduced to five only. Moses again asked him to implore for more reduction, but he said: "I feel ashamed now of repeatedly asking my Lord for reduction. I accept and resign to His Will." When Muhammad (PBUH) went farther, a Caller was heard saying: "I have imposed My Ordinance and alleviated the burden of My servants."
There is however some difference as regards the issue whether the Prophet saw Allâh with his physical eye or not. Some interpreters say that seeing Allâh with his naked eyes was not confirmed. Ibn ‘Abbas, on the other hand, says that the word Ru’ya as used in the Noble Qur’ân signifies the observation with the help of the eye.
In Sûrah An–Najm (Chapter —The Star) we read:
"Then he approached and came closer." [53:8]
Here (he) refers to archangel Gabriel, and this context is completely different from that in the Prophetic tradition of Isra’ and Mi‘raj, where ‘the approach’ relates to that of the Lord, Glory is to Him.
Some significant suggestive incidents featured the ‘Night Journey’ of the Prophet, of which we could mention:
The Prophet’s breast was cleft by Gabriel, his heart extracted and washed with the water of Zamzam —a sacred spring in Makkah.
In the same context, there were brought to him two gold vessels. There was milk in one, while the other was full of wine. He was asked to choose either of them, so he selected the vessel containing milk and drank it. He (the angel) said: "You have been guided on Al-Fitrah or you have attained Al-Fitrah. Had you selected wine, your nation would have been misled." [It is a symbolic way of saying that good and evil in the form of milk and wine were brought before the Prophet and he instinctively made a choice for the good. It is very difficult to render the Arabic term ‘Fitrah’ into English. It denotes the original constitution or disposition, with which a child comes into this world, as contrasted with qualities or inclinations acquired during life; besides it refers to the spiritual inclination inherent in man in his unspoilt state].
The Prophet (PBUH) told that he saw two manifest rivers, — the Nile and the Euphrates — and two hidden ones. It appears that the two manifest rivers, the Nile and the Euphrates, symbolically describe the area in whose fertile valleys, Muhammad’s Message will settle, and the people whereof will always remain the adherent bearers of Islam that will be passed on from generation to another. They can by no means suggest that they well up from the Garden.
He had the opportunity to see Malik, the guardian of Hell, with a cheerless frowning face. Therein, he saw the Hell dwellers, of whom were those who unjustly eat up the property of the orphans. They have flews similar to those of camels, swallowing red-hot stones and then issuing out of their backs. There were also the people who take usury with bellies too big to be able to move around; they are trodden by the people of Pharaoh when these are admitted into Hell. In the same abode, he saw the adulterers offered tasty fatty meat and rotten smelly one but they make option for the latter. The licentious women were also there hanging from their breasts.
The ‘Night Journey’ raised a good deal of stir among the people and the sceptical audience plied Muhammad with all sorts of questions. He told them that he saw the camels of Makkan merchants to and fro. He also guided them to some of their animals that went astray. He informed them that he had drunk some of their water while they were fast asleep and left the container covered.
The disbelievers, however, found it a suitable opportunity to jeer at the Muslims and their creed. They pestered the Prophet (PBUH) with questions as to the description of the Mosque at Jerusalem, where he had never gone before and, to the astonishment of many, the Prophet’s replies furnished the most accurate information about that city. He supplied them with all the news about their caravans and the routes of their camels. However, all this increased in them nothing but flight from the Truth, and they accepted nothing but disbelief.
For the true Muslims, however there was nothing unusual about the Night Journey. The All-Mighty Allâh, Who is Powerful enough to have created the heavens and the earth by an act of His Will, is surely Powerful enough to take His Messenger beyond the heavens and show him those signs of His at firsthand which are inaccessible to man otherwise. The disbelievers on their part went to see Abu Bakr on account of this event, and he readily said: "Yes, I do verify it." It was on this occasion that he earned the title of As-Siddiq (the verifier of the truth).
The most eloquent and most concise justification of this ‘Journey’ is expressed in Allâh’s Words:
"... in order that We might show him (Muhammad) of Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, signs, etc.)" [17:1].
The Divine rules as regards the Prophets goes as follows:
"Thus did We show Abraham the kingdom of the heavens and the earth that he be one of those who have Faith with certainty." [6:75]
To Moses, his Lord said:
"That We may show you (some) of Our Greater Signs." [20:23]
In order that:
"He be of those who have Faith with certainty."
The Prophets, after seeing Allâh’s Signs, will establish their Faith on solid certainty too immune to be parted with. They are in fact eligible for this Divine privilege because they are the ones who will bear burdens too heavy for other ordinary people to carry, and in the process of their mission, they will regard all worldly ordeals and agonies too small to care about.
There are simple facts that emanate from this blessed Journey, and flow along into the flowery garden of the Prophetic biography; peace and blessings of Allâh be upon its author, Muhammad. The story of ‘the Night Journey’ as we see in the Noble Qur’ân is epitomised in the first verse of the Sûrah Isra’(Chapter 17 — The Journey by Night) then there is a quick shift to uncover the shameful deeds and crimes of the Jews, followed by an admonition saying that the Qur’ân guides to that which is most just and right. This arrangement is not in fact a mere coincidence. Jerusalem was the first scene of the Night Journey, and here lies the message directed to the Jews and which explicitly suggested that they would be discharged of the office of leadership of mankind due to the crimes they had perpetrated and which no longer justified their occupation of that office. The message suggested explicitly that the office of leadership would be reinstituted by the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) to hold in his hand both headquarters of the Abrahamic Faith, the Holy Sanctuary in Makkah and the Farthest Mosque in Jerusalem. It was high time for the spiritual authority to be transferred from a nation whose history got pregnant with treachery, covenant-breaching and aggression to another nation blessed with piety, and dutifulness to Allâh, with a Messenger who enjoys the privilege of the Qur’ânic Revelation, which leads to that which is best and right.
There, however, remains a crucial question waiting to be answered: How could this foreseen transition of authority be effected while the champion himself (Muhammad) was left deserted and forsaken stumbling in the hillocks of Makkah? This question per se uncovered the secrets of another issue which referred to a phase of the Islamic Call and the appearance of another role it was about to take up, different in its course and noble in its approaches. The forerunners of that new task took the shape of Qur’ânic verses smacking of direct and unequivocal warning accompanied by a severe ultimatum directed to the polytheists and their agents:
"And when We decide to destroy a town (population), We (first) send a definite order (to obey Allâh and be righteous) to those among them [ or We (first) increase in number those of its population] who are given the good things of this life. Then, they transgress therein, and thus the word (of torment) is justified against it (them). Then We destroy it with complete destruction. And how many generations (past nations) have We destroyed after Noah! And Sufficient is your Lord as an All-Knower and All-Beholder of the sins of His slaves." [17:16, 17]
Together with these verses, there were others revealed to show the Muslims the rules and items of the civilization upon which they could erect their Muslim community, and foreshadowing their ownership of a piece of land, exercising full freedom over it and establishing a coherent society around whose axis the whole humanity would rotate. Those verses in reality implied better prospects for the Prophet (PBUH) comprising a secure shelter to settle in, and headquarters safe enough to empower and embolden him to communicate his Message to all the world at large; that was in fact the inner secret of that blessed journey. For this very wisdom and the like we deem it appropriate to suggest that ‘the Night Journey’ took place either before the First Pledge of ‘Aqabah or between the two; after all, Allâh knows best.
The First ‘Aqabah Pledge
We have already spoken about six Madinese who embraced Islam in the pilgrimage season in the eleventh year of Prophethood. They promised to communicate the Message of Islam to their townsfolk.
The following year, on the occasion of the pilgrimage, there came a group of twelve disciples ready to acknowledge Muhammad as their Prophet. The group of men comprised five of the six who had met the Prophet (PBUH) the year before, the sixth who stayed away was Jabir bin ‘Abdullah bin Reyab, the other seven were:
Mu‘adh bin Al-Harith, Ibn ‘Afra, from Khazraj.
Dhakwan bin ‘Abd Al-Qais, from Khazraj.
‘Ubadah bin As-Samit, from Khazraj.
Yazeed bin Tha‘labah, from Khazraj.
‘Al-‘Abbas bin ‘Ubadah bin Nadalah, from Khazraj.
Abul Haitham bin At-Taihan, from Aws.
‘Uwaim bin Sa‘idah, from Aws.
They avowed their faith in Muhammad (PBUH) as a Prophet and swore: "We will not worship any one but one Allah; we will not steal; neither will we commit adultery, nor kill our children; we will not utter slander, intentionally forging falsehood and we will not disobey you in any just matter." When they had taken the pledge, Muhammad (PBUH) said: "He who carries it out, Allâh will reward him; and who neglects anything and is afflicted in this world, it may prove redemption for him in the Hereafter; and if the sin remains hidden from the eyes of the men and no grief comes to him, then his affair is with Allâh. He may forgive him or He may not."
The Muslim Envoy in Madinah:
After the Pledge (in the form of an oath had been taken) the Prophet (PBUH) sent to Yathrib (Madinah) Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair Al-‘Abdari, the first Muslim ‘ambassador’ to teach the people there the doctrines of Islam, give them practical guidance and make attempts at propagating the Islam among those who still professed polytheism. As‘ad bin Zurarah hosted him in Madinah. So prepared was the ground, and so zealous the propagation that the Islam spread rapidly from house to house and from tribe to tribe. There were various cheerful and promising aspects of success that characterized Mus‘ab’s task. One day Mus‘ab and As‘ad were on their way to the habitations of Bani ‘Abd Al-Ashhal and Bani Zafar, when they went into the premises of the latter clan. There they sat near a well conversing with some new converts. Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh and Usaid bin Hudair, chiefs of the two clans heard of this meeting, so Usaid approached the Muslims armed with his lance while the other Sa‘d excused himself on grounds that As‘ad was his maternal cousin. Usaid came closer cursing and swearing and accused the two men of befooling people weak of heart, and ordered that they stop it altogether. Mus‘ab calmly invited him to sit saying, "If you are pleased with our talk, you can accept it; should you hold it in abhorrence, you could freely immunize yourself against what you hate." "That’s fair," said Usaid, pierced his lance in the sand, listened to Mus‘ab and then heard some verses of the Noble Qur’ân. His face bespoke satisfaction and pleasure before uttering any words of approval. He asked the two men about the procedures pertinent to embracing Islam. They asked him to observe washing, purge his garment, bear witness to the Truth and then perform two Rak‘a. He responded and did exactly what he was asked to do, and then said there was a man (Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh) whose people would never hang back if he followed the Islam. He then left to see Sa‘d and his people. Sa‘d could immediately understand that Usaid had changed. To a question posed by Sa‘d, Usaid said that two men were ready to comply with whatever orders they received. He then managed a certain situation that provided the two men with a chance to talk with Sa‘d privately. The previous scene with Usaid recurred and Sa‘d embraced Islam, and directly turned to his people swearing that he would never talk with them until they had believed in Allâh, and in His Messenger. Hardly did the evening of that day arrive when all the men and women of that sept of Arabians embraced Islam with the exception of one, Al-Usairim, who hung back until the Day of Uhud. On that day he embraced Islam and fought the polytheists but was eventually killed before observing any prostration in the way of prayer. The Prophet (PBUH) commented saying: "He has done a little but his reward is great."
Mus‘ab stayed in Madinah carrying out his mission diligently and successfully until all the houses of Al-Ansar (the future Helpers) had Muslims elements, men and women. One family only stood obdurate to the Islamic Da‘wah (Call). They were under the influence of the poet Qais bin Al-Aslat, who managed to hold them at bay and screen off the Call of Islam from their ears until the year 5 A.H.
Shortly before the approach of the following pilgrimage season, i.e. the thirteenth year of Prophethood, Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair returned to Makkah carrying to the Prophet (PBUH) glad tidings about the new fertile soil of Islam in Madinah, and its environment rich in the prospects of good, and the power and immunity that that city was bound to provide to the cause of Islam.
The Second ‘Aqabah Pledge
The next year, thirteenth of Prophethood, June 622 A.D., during the pilgrimage season, over seventy converts from Madinah came in the trail of their polytheist people to perform the rituals of pilgrimage in Makkah. The oft-repeated question amongst them was "Isn’t it high time we protect Muhammad instead of leaving him forsaken, deserted and stumbling in the hillocks of Makkah?"
Shortly after arrival, they conducted clandestine contacts with the Prophet (PBUH) and agreed to meet him secretly at night in mid Tashreeq Days (the 11th, 12th and 13th days of Dhul Hijja) in a hillock at Al-‘Aqabah, the last year’s meeting place.
One of the leaders of the Ansâr (Helpers), Ka‘b bin Malik Al-Ansari, gave an account of the historic meeting which changed the whole course of the struggle between Islam and paganism, he said:
We set out for pilgrimage and struck a rendezvous in mid Tashreeq Days. We were accompanied by a celebrity and a notable of ours called ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Haram, who was still a polytheist. We disclosed to him our intention of meeting Muhammad (PBUH) and exhorted him to join our ranks and give up polytheism lest he should serve as wood for Hell in the Hereafter. He promptly embraced Islam and witnessed the serious meeting at Al-‘Aqabah.
That very night we slept with our people in our camps. After a third of the night had elapsed, we began to leave stealthily and met in a hillock nearby. We were seventy three men and two women Nusaibah bint Ka‘b from the Najjars and Asma’ bint ‘Amr from Bani Salamah. We waited for the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) until he came in the company of his uncle Al-‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib who (though himself not a Muslim), adjured us not to draw his nephew away from the protection of his own kindred unless we were fully prepared to defend him even at the risk of our lives. He was the first to speak:
"O you people of the Khazraj — the Arabs used to call the Ansâr (Helpers) Khazraj, whether from Khazraj or Aws — you all know the position that Muhammad holds among us. We have protected him from our people as much as we could. He is honoured and respected among his people. He refuses to join any party except you. So if you think you can carry out what you promise while inviting him to your town, and if you can defend him against the enemies, then assume the burden that you have taken. But if you are going to surrender him and betray him after having taken him away with you, you had better leave him now because he is respected and well defended in his own place."
Ka‘b replied: "We have heard your words, and now O Messenger of Allâh, it is for you to speak and take from us any pledge that you want regarding your Lord and yourself."
It was a definite stance showing full determination, courage and deep faith to shoulder the daunting responsibility and bear its serious consequences.
The Messenger of Allâh then preached the Faith, and the pledge was taken. Al-Imam Ahmad, on the authority of Jabir, gave the following details:
The Ansâr (Helpers) asked the Messenger of Allâh about the principles over which they would take a pledge. The Prophet answered:
To listen and obey in all sets of circumstances.
To spend in plenty as well as in scarcity.
To enjoin good and forbid evil.
In Allâh’s service, you will fear the censure of none.
To defend me in case I seek your help, and debar me from anything you debar yourself, your spouses and children from. And if you observe those precepts, Paradise is in store for you.
In another version narrated by Ka‘b, he said:
The Prophet (PBUH) began to speak, recited some Qur’ânic verses, called people unto Allâh, exhorted them to enter the fold of Islam and concluded saying: "I give you my pledge that you debar me from whatever you debar your women and children from." Here Al-Bara’ bin Ma‘rur, caught him by hand, and said: "Oh yes, we swear by Allâh, Who sent you as a Prophet in Truth, that we will debar you from whatever we debar our women from. Have confidence in us, O Messenger of Allâh. By Allâh, we are genuine fighters and quite reliable in war, it is a trait passed down to us from our ancestors."
Then ‘Abul Haitham At-Taihan interrupted and said: "O Prophet of Allâh! Between us and the Jews, there are agreements which we would then sever. If Allâh grants you power and victory, should we expect that you would not leave us, and join the ranks of your people (meaning Quraish)?" The Prophet (PBUH) smiled and replied:
"Nay, it would never be; your blood will be my blood. In life and death I will be with you and you with me. I will fight whom you fight and I will make peace with those with whom you make peace."
After the negotiations concerning the conditions of allegiance had ended, and all of the audience were unanimously agreed to ratify it, two men of the early generation of converts who had embraced Islam in the eleventh and twelfth years rose to their feet to apprise the others of the serious step they were about to take so that they could give their pledge fully aware of the whole affair and consequently be ready for the sacrifice they were expected to make. Al ‘Abbas bin Ubada bin Nadlah, in this context, remarked: "O you people of Khazraj! Do you know the significance of the pact that you are entering into with this man? You are in fact avowing that you will fight against all and sundry. If you fear that your property will be at stake or the lives of your nobles will be endangered, then leave him now, because if you do this after the pledge, it will be degrading for you both in this world and the world to come. But if you think that you can carry out what you are called upon to do in spite of the loss of precious lives and property, then undertake this heavy responsibility, and I swear by Allâh, that herein lies the good of this world and that of the next."
They replied, "We have already considered the loss of property and the murder of our notables, yet we pay him allegiance. But what is our reward if we observe all the items of this pact?" The Prophet replied: "Paradise is in store for you." Then they asked him to stretch out his hand, and they all stretched out their hands and took the pledge. Only at that time did As‘ad bin Zurarah come to realize the people’s readiness for sacrifice in the cause of Allâh.
On the authority of Jabir, who said: "When we started to pay allegiance to the Prophet (PBUH), As‘ad bin Zurarah stood up and gave the following short address: "Take it easy people of Yathrib! We have not covered that long distance except because we have had deep belief that he (Muhammad (PBUH) is the Messenger of Allâh. We are already convinced that following him entails departure from the pagan Arabs even if it were at the risk of our life. Should you preserve in this course, holdfast to it, and your great reward is placed in the Hand of Allâh, but if you are caught in fear, I admonish you to give it up just now, and then you would be more excusable by Allâh."
With respect to the two women, the pledge was taken orally for the Prophet (PBUH) had never shaken hands with a strange lady.
The Prophet (PBUH) then asked the group to appoint twelve deputies to preach Islam to their people in Madinah, to shoulder the responsibility of implementing the articles of this pledge and to guide the respective men of their own tribes in matters relating to the propagation of Islam. The deputies elected were nine from Al-Khazraj: As‘ad bin Zurarah bin ‘Ads, Sa‘d bin Ar-Rabi‘ bin ‘Amr, ‘Abdullah bin Rawahah bin Tha‘labah, Rafi‘ bin Malik bin Al-‘Ajlan, Al-Bara’ bin Ma‘rur bin Sakhr, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Haram, ‘Ubadah bin As-Samit bin Qais, Sa‘d bin ‘Ubadah bin Dulaim and Al-Mundhir bin ‘Amr bin Khunais. Three others were from Al-Aws: Usaid bin Hudair bin Sammak, Sa‘d bin Khaithamah bin Al-Harith and Rifa‘a bin ‘Abdul Mundhir bin Zubair. Once again, those twelve men were sworn to act as surety over the affairs of their people just as the Christ’s disciples did, and the Prophet would act as surety over his people, meaning all the Muslims.
Somehow or other, the news of these secret desert meetings with the Madinese leaked out. The Prophet immediately knew that it was a certain pudgy ugly devil, inhabited in Al-‘Aqabah, who discovered their meeting, and he threatened to settle his account with him as soon as possible.
On hearing this, Al-‘Abbas bin Nadlah said "By Allâh, Who has sent you in Truth, we are powerful enough to put the people of Mina (the Quraishites) to our swords tomorrow, if you desire." The Prophet (PBUH) said "We have not been commanded to follow that course. Now, back to your camps." They went back to sleep till morning.
No sooner did Quraish hear of this treaty than a kind of trouble-provoking tumult began to mushroom in all directions. They realized quite fully that an allegiance of this sort is bound to produce far-reaching ramifications of direct impact on their lives and wealth. The following day, a large delegation comprising the leaders and arch-criminals of Makkah set out for the camp of the Madinese to protest severely against the treaty. They addressed the Madinese: "O people of Khazraj, it transpired to us that you have come here to conclude a treaty with this man (Muhammad) and evacuate him out of Makkah. By Allâh, we do really hold in abhorrence any sort of fight between you and us."
The Madinese polytheists having known nothing about the secretly taken pledge, began to swear by Allâh and answered in good faith that there was no truth in the report. ‘Abdullah bin Ubai bin Salul, a Madinese polytheist, refuted their allegations denouncing them as null and void, claiming that his people would never initiate anything unless he gave them clear orders.
The Madinese Muslims, however, remained silent neither negating nor confirming. The Quraishite leaders seemed to be almost convinced by the arguments presented by the polytheists, and went back home frustrated. However, they did not fully acquiesce in the words they heard. They began to scrutinize the smallest details, and trace the minutest news till it was established beyond a shadow of doubt that the pact did take place, but that was after the Madinese pilgrims had left Makkah. In a fit of rage, they pursued the pilgrims but did not succeed in catching hold of anyone except Sa‘d bin ‘Ubadah. They subjected him to unspeakable tortures, but he was later rescued by Al-Mut‘im bin ‘Adi and Harith bin Harb bin Omaiya with whom he had trade relations.
That is the story of the Second ‘Aqabah Pledge, later known as the Great ‘Aqabah Pledge, effected in an atmosphere of love, allegiance and mutual support between Madinese believers and weak Makkan Muslims. This new spirit of affection, rapport and cooperation could never be attributable to a fleeing whim, on the contrary, it totally derived from an already deeply-established approach, viz. Belief in Allâh, His Messenger and His Book. It was a Belief so rooted in the selves that it managed to stand immune to all powers of injustice and aggression, and could be translated into miracles in the practical aspects of action and ideology pursuit. That sort of Belief was the real instrument for the Muslims to record in the annals of history unprecedented breakthroughs. We are also sure that the future will always remain wanting as regards those great achievements carried out by those great men.
Migration To Madinah
The Vanguard of Migration (in the Cause of Allah)
After the endorsement of the Second ‘Aqabah Pledge and the establishment of a petite Muslim state in a vast desert surging with disbelief and ignorance — the most serious gain in terms of Islam —, the Prophet (PBUH) gave his leave for the Muslims to migrate to Madinah, the nascent Muslim state.
Migration to Madinah, in terms of personal interests, was no more than material waste and sacrifice of wealth, all in return for personal safety only. Even here, the migrant could not expect full security; he was liable to be robbed or even killed either at the beginning or end of his departure. The future was foggy, pregnant with various unpredictable sorts of sorrows and crises.
Bearing all this in mind, the Muslims began to migrate, while the polytheists spared no effort in hindering and debarring them, knowing beforehand that such a move implied unimaginable threats and unthinkable destructive dangers to their whole society:
The first one to migrate was Abu Salamah, a year before the Great ‘Aqabah Pledge. When he had made up his mind to leave Makkah, his in-laws, in a desperate attempt to raise obstacles, detained his wife and snatched his son and dislocated his hand. Umm Salamah, after the departure of her husband and the loss of her son spent a year by herself weeping and lamenting. A relative of hers eventually had pity on her and exhorted the others to release her son and let her join her husband. She then set out on a journey of 500 kilometres with no help whatsoever. At a spot called At-Tan‘im, ‘Uthman bin Talhah came across her and offered to give her a ride to Madinah. She, along with her son, joined Abu Salamah in the village of Quba’, a suburb of Madinah.
Another instance of the atrocities of the polytheist Makkans, as regards migration, is Suhaib. This man expressed his wish to migrate and of course this was a source of indignation to the disbelievers. They began to insult him claiming that he had come into Makkah as a worthless tramp, but their town was gracious enough and thanks to them he managed to make a lot of money and become wealthy. They gave orders that he would not leave. Seeing this, he offered to give away all his wealth to them. They eventually agreed to release him on that condition. The Prophet heard this story and commented on it saying:
"Suhaib is the winner, after all."
Then, there was the story of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, ‘Ayyash bin Abi Rabi‘a and Hisham bin Al-‘Asi, who agreed to meet at a certain place one morning in order to leave for Madinah; ‘Umar and ‘Ayyash came but Hisham was detained by the Makkans.
Shortly afterwards Abu Jahl, and his brother Al-Harith came to Madinah to see their third brother ‘Ayyash. They cunningly tried to touch the most sensitive area in man, i.e. his relation with his mother. They addressed him claiming that his mother had sworn she would never comb her hair, nor shade herself off the sun unless she had seen him. ‘Ayyash took pity on his mother, but ‘Umar was intelligent enough to understand that they wanted to entice ‘Ayyash away from Islam so he cautioned him against their tricks, and added "your mother would comb her hair if lice pestered her, and would shade herself off if the sun of Makkah got too hot for her." These words notwithstanding, ‘Ayyash was determined to go and see his mother, so ‘Umar gave him his manageable docile camel advising him to stick to its back because it would provide rescue for him if he perceived anything suspicious on their part. The party of three then set forth towards Makkah. As soon as they covered part of the distance, Abu Jahl complained about his camel and requested ‘Ayyash to allow him to ride behind him on his camel. When they knelt down to the level of the ground, the two polytheists fell upon ‘Ayyash and tied him. They rode on into Makkah shouting at people to follow their example with respect to ‘fools’.
These are just three self-explanatory models of the Makkans’ reaction towards anyone intending to migrate. Nevertheless, the believers still managed to escape in successive groups and so rapidly that within two months of the Second ‘Aqabah Pledge, entire quarters of Makkah were deserted. Almost all the followers of Muhammad had migrated to their new abode, except Abu Bakr, ‘Ali, the Prophet (PBUH) himself, and those helpless noble souls who had been detained in confinement or were unable to escape. The Prophet (PBUH), together with Abu Bakr and ‘Ali, had made all the necessary preparations for migration but was waiting for leave from his Lord.
It is noteworthy that most of the Muslims who had migrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), came back to Madinah to join the rest of the Muslims there.
The situation was no doubt critical in Makkah but Muhammad (PBUH) was not at all perturbed. Abu Bakr was, however, urging the Prophet to depart from that town. He was also eagerly waiting for an opportunity to accompany Muhammad (PBUH) on this eventful journey. But the Prophet told him that the time had not yet come; the Lord had not given him the command to migrate. In anticipation of the Command of Allâh, Abu Bakr had made preparations for the journey. He had purchased two swift camels and had fed them properly for four months so that they could successively stand the ordeals of the long desert journey.
In An-Nadwah (Council) House - The Parliament of Quraish
The polytheists were paralysed by the carefully planned and speedy movement of Muhammad’s followers towards their new abode in Madinah. They were caught in unprecedented anxiety and got deeply worried over their whole pagan and economic entity. They already experienced Muhammad (PBUH) as an influential leader; and his followers as determined, decent and always ready to sacrifice all they had for the sake of the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH). Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj tribes, the would-be-hosts of the Makkan Muslims, were also known in Arabia for their might and power in war, and judicious and sensible approach in peace. They were also averse to rancour and prejudice for they themselves had had bitter days of inter-tribal warfare. Madinah , itself, the prospective headquarters of the ever-growing Islamic Call, enjoyed the most serious strategic position. It commanded the commercial routes leading to Makkah whose people used to deal in about a quarter of a million gold dinar-worth commodities every year. Security of the caravan routes was crucial for the perpetuity of prosperous economic life. All those factors borne in mind, the polytheists felt they were in the grip of a serious threat. They, therefore, began to seek the most effective method that could avert this imminent danger. They convened a meeting on Thursday, 26th Safar, the year fourteen of Prophethood / 12th September 622 A.D ., i.e. two and a half months after the Great ‘Aqabah Pledge. On that day, "the Parliament of Makkah" held the most serious meeting ever, with one item on the agenda: How to take effective measures with a view to stopping that tidal wave. Delegates representing all the Quraishite tribes attended the meeting, the most significant of whom were:
Abu Jahl bin Hisham, from Bani Makhzum;
Jubair bin Mut‘im, Tuaima bin ‘Adi, and Al-Harith bin ‘Amir representing Bani Naufal bin ‘Abd Munaf;
Rabi‘a’s two sons Shaibah and ‘Utbah besides Abu Sufyan bin Harb from Bani ‘Abd Shams bin ‘Abd Munaf;
An-Nadr bin Al-Harith (who had besmeared the Prophet (PBUH) with animal entrails) to speak for Bani ‘Abd Ad-Dar;
Abul Bukhtary bin Hisham, Zama‘a bin Al-Aswad and Hakeem bin Hizam to represent Bani Asad bin ‘Abd Al-‘Uzza;
Al-Hajjaj’s two sons Nabih and Munbih from Bani Sahm;
Omaiyah bin Khalaf from Bani Jumah.
On their way to An-Nadwah House, Iblis (Satan) in the guise of a venerable elderly man standing at the door interrupted their talk and introduced himself as a man from Najd curious enough to attend the meeting, listen to the debate and wish them success to reach a sound opinion. He was readily admitted in.
There was a lengthy debate and several proposals were put forward. Expulsion from Makkah was proposed and debated in turn but finally turned down on grounds that his sweet and heart-touching words could entice the other Arabs to attack them in their own city. Imprisonment for life was also debated but also refused for fear that his followers might increase in number, overpower them and release him by force. At this point, the arch-criminal of Makkah, Abu Jahl bin Hisham suggested that they assassinate him. But assassination by one man would have exposed him and his family to the vengeance of blood. The difficulty was at last solved by Abu Jahl himself, who suggested that a band of young men, one from each tribe, should strike Muhammad simultaneously with their swords so that the blood-money would be spread over them all and therefore could not be exacted, and his people would seek a mind-based recourse for settlement. The sinful proposal was unanimously accepted, and the representatives broke up the meeting and went back home with full determination for immediate implementation.
Migration of the Prophet (PBUH)
When the iniquitous decision had been made, Gabriel was sent down to Muhammad (PBUH)to reveal to him Quraish’s plot and give him his Lord’s Permission to leave Makkah. He fixed to him the time of migration and asked him not to sleep that night in his usual bed. At noon, the Prophet (PBUH) went to see his Companion Abu Bakr and arranged with him everything for the intended migration. Abu Bakr was surprised to see the Prophet (PBUH) masked coming to visit him at that unusual time, but he soon learned that Allâh’s Command had arrived, and he proposed that they should migrate together, to which the Prophet (PBUH) gave his consent.
To make the necessary preparations for the implementation of their devilish plan, the chiefs of Makkah had chosen eleven men: Abu Jahl, Hakam bin Abil Al-‘As, ‘Uqbah bin Abi Mu‘ait, An-Nadr bin Harith, Omaiyah bin Khalaf, Zama‘a bin Al-Aswad, Tu‘aima bin ‘Adi, Abu Lahab, Ubai bin Khalaf, Nabih bin Al-Hajjaj and his brother Munbih bin Al-Hajjaj. All were on the alert. As night advanced, they posted assassins around the Prophet’s house. Thus they kept vigil all night long, waiting to kill him the moment he left his house early in the morning, peeping now and then through a hole in the door to make sure that he was still lying in his bed. Abu Jahl, the great enemy of Islam, used to walk about haughtily and arrogantly jeering at Muhammad’s words, saying to the people around him: "Muhammad claims that if you follow him, he will appoint you rulers over the Arabs and non-Arabs and in the Hereafter your reward will be Gardens similar to those in Jordan, otherwise, he will slaughter you and after death you will be burnt in fire." He was too confident of the success of his devilish plan. Allâh, the All-Mighty, however, in Whose Hands lie the sovereignty of the heavens and earth, does what He desires; He renders succour and can never be overpowered. He did exactly what He later said to His Prophet:
"And (remember) when the disbelievers plotted against you (O Muhammad (PBUH)) to imprison you, or to kill you, or to get you out (from your home, i.e. Makkah); they were plotting and Allâh too was planning, and Allâh is the Best of the planners." [8:30]
At that critical time the plans of Quraish utterly failed despite the tight siege they laid to the Prophet’s house, the Prophet (PBUH) and ‘Ali were inside the house. The Prophet (PBUH) told ‘Ali to sleep in his bed and cover himself with his green mantle and assured him full security under Allâh’s protection and told him that no harm would come to him. The Prophet (PBUH) then came out of the room and cast a handful of dust at the assassins and managed to work his way through them reciting verses of the Noble Qur’ân:
"And We have put a barrier before them, and a barrier behind them, and We have covered them up, so that they cannot see." [36:9]
He proceeded direct to the house of Abu Bakr who, immediately accompanied him and both set out southwards, clambered up the lofty peak of Mountain Thawr, and decided to take refuge in a cave.
The assassins who laid siege to the house were waiting for the zero hour when someone came and informed them that the Prophet (PBUH) had already left. They rushed in and to their utter surprise, found that the person lying in the Prophet’s bed was ‘Ali not Muhammad (PBUH). This created a stir in the whole town. The Prophet (PBUH) had thus left his house on Safar 27th, the fourteenth year of Prophethood, i.e. 12/13 September 622 A.D.
Knowing already that Quraish would mobilize all its potentials to find him, he played a clever trick on them and instead of taking the road to Madinah in north side of Makkah as the polythiest would expect, he walked along a road least expected lying south of Makkah and leading to Yemen. He walked for 5 miles until he reached a rough rocky mountain called Thawr. There his shoes were worn out, some said he used to walk tiptoe in order not to leave a trail behind him. Abu Bakr - may Allah be pleased with him - carried him up the mountain to a cave called after the name of the mountain, Cave Thawr. Abu Bakr first entered to explore the cave and be sure that it was safe, closed all holes with pieces torn off from his clothes, cleaned it and then asked the Prophet (PBUH) to step in. The Prophet (PBUH) went in and immediately laid his head in Abu Bakr’s lap and fell asleep. Suddenly Abu Bakr’s foot was stung by a poisonous insect. It hurt so much that his tears fell on the Prophet’s face. The Prophet (PBUH) immediately applied his saliva on Abu Bakr’s foot and the pain went off on the spot. They confined themselves to this cave for three nights, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. ‘Abdullah, the son of Abu Bakr would go to see them after dusk, stay the night there, apprise them of the latest situation in Makkah, and then leave in the early morning to mix with the Makkans as usual and not to draw the least attention to his clandestine activities. ‘Amir bin Fuhairah, while in the company of other shepherds of Makkah tending his master Abu Bakr’s flock, used to stole away unobserved every evening with a few goats to the cave and furnished its inmates with a plentiful supply of milk.
Quraish, on the other hand, were quite baffled and exasperated when the news of the escape of the two companions was confirmed. They brought ‘Ali to Al-Ka‘bah, beat him brutally and confined him there for an hour attempting desperately to make him divulge the secret of the disappearance of the two ‘fugitives’, but to no avail. They then went to see Asma’, Abu Bakr’s daughter, but here also their attempts went in vain. While at her door Abu Jahl slapped the girl so severely that her earring broke up.
The notables of Makkah convened an emergency session to determine the future course of action and explore all areas that could help arrest the two men. They decided to block all avenues leading out of Makkah and imposed heavy armed surveillance over all potential exits. A price of 100 camels was set upon the head of each one. Horsemen, infantry and tracers of tracks scoured the country. Once they even reached the mouth of the cave where the Prophet (PBUH) and Abu Bakr were hiding. When he saw the enemy at a very close distance, Abu Bakr whispered to the Prophet (PBUH) : "What, if they were to look through the crevice and detect us?" The Prophet (PBUH) in his God-inspired calm replied:
"Silence Abu Bakr! What do you think of those two with whom the Third is Allâh."
It was really a Divine miracle, the chasers were only a few steps from the cave.
For three days Muhammad (PBUH) and Abu Bakr lived in the cave and Quraish continued their frantic efforts to get hold of them.
Someone called ‘Abdullah bin Uraiquit, who had as yet not embraced Islam, but was trusted by Abu Bakr, and had been hired by him as a guide, reached the cave after three nights according to a plan bringing with him Abu Bakr’s two camels. His report satisfied the noble ‘fugitives’ that the search had slackened. The opportunity to depart was come. Here Abu Bakr offered the Prophet (PBUH)the swift animal to ride on. The latter agreed provided that he would pay its price. They took with them the food provisions that Asma’, daughter of Abu Bakr, brought and tied in a bundle of her waistband, after tearing it into two parts, hence the appellation attached to her: "Asma’ of the two waistbands." The Prophet (PBUH), Abu Bakr and ‘Amir bin Fuhairah departed, and their guide ‘Abdullah bin Uraiquit led them on hardly ever trodden ways along the coastal route. That was in Rabi‘ Al-Awwal, 1st year A.H., i.e. September 622 A.D. The little caravan travelled through many villages on their way to Quba’. In this context, it is relevant to introduce some interesting incidents that featured their wearying journey:
One day they could find no shelter from the scorching heat so Abu Bakr - may Allah be pleased with her - cast a glance and found a little shade beside a rock. He cleaned the ground, spread his mantle for the Prophet (PBUH) to lie on and himself went off in search of food. He came across a shepherd, a bedouin boy, who was also seeking a shelter. Abu Bakr asked him for some milk and took it to the Prophet (PBUH), cooled it with some water and waited till the Prophet (PBUH) woke up and quenched his thirst.
Whoever asked Abu Bakr - may Allah be pleased with him -about the identity of his honourable companion, he would reply that he was a man who guided him on his way. The questioner would think that Muhammad (PBUH) was a guide, in terms of roads, whereas Abu Bakr used to mean guide to the way of righteousness.
Quraish, as we have already mentioned, had declared that whoever would seize Muhammad (PBUH) would receive a hundred camels as reward. This had spurred many persons to try their luck. Among those who were on the lookout for the Prophet (PBUH) and his companion in order to win the reward was Suraqah, the son of Malik. He, on receiving information that a party of four, had been spotted on a certain route, decided to pursue it secretly so that he alone should be the winner of the reward. He mounted a swift horse and went in hot pursuit of them. On the way the horse stumbled and he fell on the ground. On drawing a lot so as to divine whether he should continue the chase or not, as the Arabs used to do in such circumstances, he found the omens unpropitious. But the lust for material wealth blinded him altogether and he resumed the chase. Once more he met with the same fate but paid no heed to it. Again he jumped onto the saddle and galloped at a break-neck speed till he came quite close to the Prophet (PBUH). Abu Bakr’s heart agitated and he kept looking back while the Prophet (PBUH) remained steadfast and continued reciting verses of the Qur’ân.
The repeated stumbling of Suraqah’s horse and his falling off awakened him to the situation, and he realized that it was a constant warning of Allâh for his evil design which he contemplated against the Prophet (PBUH). He approached the travelling group with a penitent heart and begged of the Prophet (PBUH) forgiveness in all humility. He addressed the Prophet (PBUH) and his companion, saying: "Your people (the Quraishites) have promised a generous reward to anyone who captures you." He added that he offered them provision but they declined his offer. They only asked him to screen off their departure and blind the polytheists to their hiding place. Then the Prophet (PBUH) forgave him and confirmed it with a token written by ‘Amir bin Fuhairah on a piece of parchment. Suraqah hurried back to Makkah and tried to foil the attempts of those who were in pursuit of Muhammad (PBUH) and his noble companions. The sworn enemy was converted into an honest believer.
In a version by Abu Bakr - may Allah be pleased with her - , he said: "We emigrated while the Makkans were in pursuit of us. None caught up with us except Suraqah bin Malik bin Ju‘sham on a horse. I said: ‘O Messenger of Allâh, this one has caught up with us.’ The Prophet (PBUH) replied:
‘Don’t be cast down, verily, Allâh is with us.’"
The party continued its journey until it reached to solitary tents belonging to a woman called Umm Ma‘bad Al-Khuza‘iyah. She was a gracious lady who sat at her tent-door with a mat spread out for any chance traveller that might pass by the way. Fatigued and thirsty, the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions wanted to refresh themselves with food and some milk. The lady told them that the flock was out in the pasture and the goat standing nearby was almost dry. It was a rainless year. The Prophet (PBUH), with her permission, touched its udders, reciting over them the Name of Allâh, and to their great joy, there flowed plenty of milk out of them. The Prophet (PBUH) first offered that to the lady of the house, and he shared what was left with the members of the party. Before he left, he milked the goat, filled the container and gave it to Umm Ma‘bad. Later on, her husband arrived with slender goats hardly having any milk in their udders. He was astonished to see milk in the house. His wife told him that a blessed man passed by the way, and then she gave details about his physical appearance and manner of talk. Here Abu Ma‘bad realized on the spot that the man was the one whom Quraish were searching for and asked her to give full description of him. She gave a wonderful account of his physique and manners, to which we will go in detail later in the process of talking about his attributes and merits.
Abu Ma‘bad, after listening to his wife’s account, expressed a sincere wish to accompany the Prophet (PBUH) whenever that was possible, and reiterated his admiration in verses of poetry that echoed all over Makkah to such an extent that the people therein thought it was a jinn inculcating words in their ears. Asma’, daughter of Abu Bakr, on hearing those lines, got to know that the two companions were heading for Madinah . The short poem opened with thanks giving to Allâh having given them (the Ma‘bads) the chance to host the Prophet (PBUH) for a while. It then gave an account of the bliss that would settle in the heart of the Prophet’s companion whosoever he was; it closed with an invitation to all mankind to come and see by themselves Umm Ma‘bad, her goat and the container of milk that would all testify to the truthfulness of the Prophet (PBUH).
On his way to Madinah , the Prophet (PBUH) met Abu Buraidah, one of those driven by their lust for the reward of Quraish. No sooner did he face the Prophet (PBUH) and talk with him, than he embraced Islam along with seventy of his men. He took off his turban, tied it round his lance and took it as a banner bearing witness that the angel of security and peace had come to imbue the whole world with justice and fairness.
The two Emigrants resumed their journey. It was during this time that they met Az-Zubair at the head of a caravan returning from Syria. There was warm greeting and Az-Zubair presented to them two white garments which they thankfully accepted.
On Monday, 8th Rabi‘ Al-Awwal, the fourteenth year of Prophethood, i.e. September 23rd. 622, the Messenger of Allâh arrived at Quba’.
As soon as the news of Muhammad’s arrival began to spread, crowds came flocking out of Madinah . They would come every morning and wait eagerly for his appearance until forced by the unbearable heat of the midday sun to return. One day they had gone as usual, and after a long wait and watch they retired to the city when a Jew, catching a glimpse of three travellers clad in white winding their way to Madinah , shouted from the top of a hillock: "O you people of Arabia! Your grandfather has come! He, whom you have been eagerly waiting for, has come!" The Muslims immediately rushed holding their weapons, (to defend him) . The joyful news soon spread through the city and people marched forward to greet their noble guest.
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: "The shouts of ‘Allâhu Akbar’ (Allâh is Great) resounded in Banu ‘Amr bin ‘Auf. Muhammad’s (PBUH) elation correspondingly increased, but with rare sense of timing and propriety, called a halt. Serenity enveloped him and the evelation was sent down:
"... then verily, Allâh is his Maula (Lord, Master or Protector), and Gabriel, and the righteous among the believers, - and furthermore, the angels - are his helpers." [66:4]
‘Urwah bin Az-Zubair said: They received the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH), and went with them to the right. There Banu ‘Amr bin ‘Awf hosted him. That was on Monday, Rabi‘ Al-Awwal. He sat down silent, and Al-Ansar (the Helpers), who had not had the opportunity to see him before, came in to greet him: It is said that the sun became too hot so Abu Bakr stood up to shade him from the hot sun rays. It was really an unprecedented day in Madinah . The Jews could perceive concretely the veracity of their Prophet Habquq, who said: ‘God has come from At-Taiman, and the Qudus one from Faran Mount.’
Muhammad (PBUH) stayed in Quba’ with Kulthum bin Al-Hadm, a hospitable chief of the tribe of ‘Amr bin ‘Awf. Here he spent four days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday . It was during this period that the foundation of Quba’ Mosque was laid on the basis of pure piety.
‘Ali hung back in Makkah for three days to return the trusts, on behalf of the Prophet (PBUH), to their respective owners. After that he started his emigration journey to catch up with him at Quba’.
On Friday morning, the Prophet (PBUH), sent for Bani An-Najjar, his maternal uncles, to come and escort him and Abu Bakr to Madinah . He rode towards the new headquarters amidst the cordial greetings of his Madinese followers who had lined his path. He halted at a place in the vale of Banu Salim and there he performed his Friday prayer with a hundred others . Meanwhile the tribes and families of Madinah , the new name for Yathrib and a short form of ‘The Messenger’s Madinah (City)’, came streaming forth, and vied with one another in inviting the noble visitor to their homes. The girls of the Madinese used to chant beautiful verses of welcome rich in all meanings of obedience and dutifulness to the new Messenger.
Though not wealthy, every Ansar (Helper) was wholeheartedly eager and anxious to receive the Messenger in his house. It was indeed a triumphal procession. Around the camel of Muhammad (PBUH)and his immediate followers, rode the chiefs of the city in their best raiment and in glittering armour, everyone saying: "Alight here O Messenger of Allâh, abide by us." Muhammad (PBUH) used to answer everyone courteously and kindly: "This camel is commanded by Allâh, wherever it stops, that will be my abode."
The camel moved onward with slackened rein, reached the site of the Prophetic Mosque and knelt down. He did not dismount until it rose up again, went on forward, turned back and then returned to kneel down in the very former spot. Here, he alighted in a quarter inhabited by Banu Najjar, a tribe related to the Prophet (PBUH) from the maternal side. In fact, it was his wish to honour his maternal uncles and live among them. The fortunate host, Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari, stepped forward with unbounded joy for the Divine blessing appropriated to him, welcomed the Noble Guest and solicited him to enter his house.
A few days later, there arrived the Prophet’s spouse Sawdah, his two daughters Fatimah and Umm Kulthum, Usama bin Zaid, Umm Aiman, ‘Abdullah — son of Abu Bakr with Abu Bakr’s house-hold including ‘Aishah - may Allah be pleased with her - . Zainab was not able to emigrate and stayed with her husband Abi Al-‘As till Badr Battle.
‘Aishah - may Allah be pleased with her - said: "When the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) arrived in Madinah , both Abu Bakr and Bilal fell ill. I used to attend to their needs. When the fever took firm grip of Abu Bakr he used to recite verses of poetry that smacked of near death; Bilal, when the fit of fever alleviated, would also recite verses of poetry that pointed to clear homesickness." ‘Aishah - may Allah be pleased with her - added:
"I briefed the Prophet (PBUH) on their grave situation, and he replied: O Allâh, we entreat You to establish in our hearts a strong love for Madinah equal to that we used to have for Makkah, or even more. O Allâh, bless and increase the wealth of Madinah and we beseech You to transmute its rotten mud into wholesome edible fat."
[ Stages of the Call in Madinah ]
[ The First Stage in Madinah ]
he Status Quo in Madinah
at the Time of Emigration
Emigration to Madinah could never be attributable to attempts to escape from jeers and oppression only, but it also constituted a sort of cooperation with the aim of erecting the pillars of a new society in a secure place. Hence it was incumbent upon every capable Muslim to contribute to building this new homeland, immunizing it and holding up its prop. As a leader and spiritual guide, there was no doubt the Noble Messenger (PBUH), in whose hands exclusively all affairs would be resolved.
In Madinah, the Prophet (PBUH) had to deal with three distinctively different categories of people with different respective problems:
His Companions, the noble and Allâh fearing elite - may Allah be pleased with them all -
Polytheists still detached from the Islam and were purely Madinese tribes.
1. As for his Companions, the conditions of life in Madinah were totally different from those they experienced in Makkah. There, in Makkah, they used to strive for one corporate target, but physically, they were scattered, overpowered and forsaken. They were helpless in terms of pursuing their new course of orientation. Their means, socially and materially, fell short of establishing a new Muslim community. In parallel lines, the Makkan Chapters of the Noble Qur’ân were confined to delineating the Islamic precepts, enacting legislations pertaining to the believers individually and enjoining good and piety and forbidding evils and vices.
In Madinah , things were otherwise; here all the affairs of their life rested in their hands. Now, they were at ease and could quite confidently handle the challenges of civilization, construction, means of living, economics, politics, government administration, war and peace, codification of the questions of the allowed and prohibited, worship, ethics and all the relevant issues. In a nutshell, they were in Madinah at full liberty to erect the pillars of a new Muslim community not only utterly different from that pre-Islamic code of life, but also distinctive in its features in the world at large. It was a society that could stand for the Islamic Call for whose sake the Muslims had been put to unspeakable tortures for 10 years. No doubt, the construction of a society that runs in line with this type of ethics cannot be accomplished overnight, within a month or a year. It requires a long time to build during which legislation and legalization will run gradually in a complementary process with mind cultivation, training and education. Allâh, the All-Knowing, of course undertook legislation and His Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), implementation and orientation:
"He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger (Muhammad (PBUH) ) from among themselves, reciting to them His Verses, purifying them (from the filth of disbelief and polytheism), and teaching them the Book (this Qur’ân, Islamic laws and Islamic Jurisprudence) and Al-Hikmah (As-Sunna: legal ways, orders, acts of worship, etc. of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH))." [62:2]
The Prophet’s Companions - may Allah be pleased with them all - , rushed enthusiastically to assimilate these Qur’ânic rules and fill their hearts joyfully with them:
"And when His Verses (this Qur’ân) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith." [8:2]
With respect to the Muslims, this task constituted the greatest challenge for the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH). In fact, this very purpose lay at the heart of the Islamic Call and the Muhammadan mission; it was never an incidental issue though there were the matters that required urgent addressing.
The Muslims in Madinah consisted virtually of two parties: The first one already settled down in their abode, land and wealth, fully at ease, but seeds of discord amongst them were deeply seated and chronic enmity continually evoked; they were Al-Ansar (the Helpers). The second party were Al-Muhajirun (the Emigrants), homeless, jobless and penniless. Their number was not small, on the contrary, it was increasing day by day after the Prophet (PBUH) had given them the green light to leave for Madinah whose economic structure, originally not that prosperous one, began to show signs of imbalance aggravated by the economic boycott that the anti-Islamic groups imposed and consequently imports diminished and living conditions worsened.
The purely Madinese polytheists constituted the second sector with whom the Prophet (PBUH)had to deal. Those people had no control at all over the Muslim. Some of them nursed no grudge against the Muslims, but were rather skeptical of their ancestors’ religious practices, and developed tentative inclination towards Islam and before long they embraced the new faith and were truly devoted to Allâh. However, some others harboured evil intentions against the Prophet (PBUH) and his followers but were too cowardly to resist them publicly, they were rather, under those Islamically favourable conditions, obliged to fake amicability and friendliness. ‘Abdullah bin Ubai, who had almost been given presidency over Al-Khazraj and Al-Aws tribes in the wake of Bu‘ath War between the two tribes, came at the head of that group of hypocrites. The Prophet’s advent and the vigorous rise of the new spirit of Islam foiled that orientation and the idea soon went into oblivion. He, seeing another one, Muhammad (PBUH), coming to deprive him and his agents of the prospective temporal privileges, could not be pleased, and for overriding reasons he showed pretension to Islam but with horrible disbelief deeply-rooted in his heart. He also used to exploit some events and weak-hearted new converts in scheming malevolently against the true believers.
The Jews (the Hebrews), who had migrated to Al-Hijaz from Syria following the Byzantine and Assyrian persecution campaigns, were the third category existent on the demographic scene in Madinah. In their new abode they assumed the Arabian stamp in dress, language and manner of life and there were instances of intermarriage with the local Arabs, however they retained their ethnic particularism and detached themselves from amalgamation with the immediate environment. They even used to pride in their Jewish-Israeli origin, and spurn the Arabs around designating them as illiterate meaning brutal, naïve and backward. They desired the wealth of their neighbours to be made lawful to them and they could thus appropriate it the way they liked.
"… because they say: "There is no blame on us to betray and take the properties of the illiterates (Arabs)" [3:75]
Religiously, they showed no zeal; their most obvious religious commodity was fortunetelling, witchcraft and the secret arts (blowing on knots), for which they used to attach to themselves advantages of science and spiritual precedence.
They excelled at the arts of earning money and trading. They in fact monopolized trading in cereals, dates, wine, clothes, export and import. For the services they offered to the Arabs, the latter paid heavily. Usury was a common practice amongst them, lending the Arab notables great sums to be squandered on mercenary poets, and in vanity avenues, and in return seizing their fertile land given as surety.
They were very good at corrupting and scheming. They used to sow seeds of discord between adjacent tribes and entice each one to hatch plots against the other with the natural corollary of continual exhaustive bloody fighting. Whenever they felt that fire of hatred was about to subside, they would nourish it with new means of perpetuity so that they could always have the upper hand, and at the same time gain heavy interest rates on loans spent on inter-tribal warfare.
Three famous tribes of Jews constituted the demographic presence in Yathrib (now Madinah): Banu Qainuqua‘, allies of Al-Khazraj tribe, Banu An-Nadir and Banu Quraizah who allied Al-Aws and inhabited the suburbs of Madinah.
Naturally they held the new changes with abhorrence and were terribly hateful to them, simply because the Messenger of Allâh was of a different race, and this point was in itself too repugnant for them to reconcile with. Second, Islam came to bring about a spirit of rapport, to terminate the state of enmity and hatred, and to establish a social regime based on denunciation of the prohibited and promotion of the allowed. Adherence to these canons of life implied paving the way for an Arab unity that could work to the prejudice of the Jews and their interests at both the social and economic levels; the Arab tribes would then try to restore their wealth and land misappropriated by the Jews through usurious practices.
The Jews of course deeply considered all these things ever since they had known that the Islamic Call would try to settle in Yathrib, and it was no surprise to discover that they harboured the most enmity and hatred to Islam and the Messenger (PBUH) even though they did not have the courage to uncover their feelings in the beginning.
The following incident could attest clearly to that abominable antipathy that the Jews harboured towards the new political and religious changes that came to stamp the life of Madinah. Ibn Ishaq, on the authority of the Mother of believers Safiyah - may Allah be pleased with her - narrated: Safiyah, daughter of Huyayi bin Akhtab said: I was the closest child to my father and my uncle Abi Yasir’s heart. Whenever they saw me with a child of theirs, they should pamper me so tenderly to the exclusion of anyone else. However, with the advent of the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH)and setting in Quba’ with Bani ‘Amr bin ‘Awf, my father, Huyayi bin Akhtab and my uncle Abu Yasir bin Akhtab went to see him and did not return until sunset when they came back walking lazily and fully dejected. I, as usually, hurried to meet them smiling, but they would not turn to me for the grief that caught them. I heard my uncle Abu Yasir say to Ubai and Huyayi: "Is it really he (i.e. Muhammad (PBUH) )?" The former said: "It is he, I swear by Allâh!" "Did you really recognize him?" they asked. He answered: "Yes, and my heart is burning with enmity towards him"
An interesting story that took place on the first day, the Prophet (PBUH) stepped in Madinah, could be quoted to illustrate the mental disturbance and deep anxiety that beset the Jews. ‘Abdullah bin Salam, the most learned rabbi among the Jews came to see the Prophet (PBUH) when he arrived, and asked him certain questions to ascertain his real Prophethood. No sooner did he hear the Prophet’s answers than he embraced Islam, but added that if his people knew of his Islamization they would advance false arguments against me. The Prophet (PBUH) sent for some Jews and asked them about ‘Abdullah bin Salam, they testified to his scholarly aptitude and virtuous standing. Here it was divulged to them that he had embraced Islam and on the spot, they imparted categorically opposite testimonies and described him as the most evil of all evils. In another narration ‘Abdullah bin Salam said, "O Jews! Be Allâh fearing. By Allâh, the only One, you know that he is the Messenger of Allâh sent to people with the Truth." They replied, "You are lying." ... That was the Prophet’s first experience with the Jews.
That was the demo-political picture within Madinah. Five hundred kilometres away in Makkah, there still lay another source of detrimental threat, the archenemy of Islam, Quraish. For ten years, while at the mercy of Quraish, the Muslims were subjected to all sorts of terrorism, boycott, harassment and starvation coupled by a large scale painstaking psychological war and aggressive organized propaganda. When they had emigrated to Madinah, their land, wealth and property were seized, wives detained and the socially humble in rank brutally tortured. Quraish also schemed and made attempts on the life of the first figure of the Call, Muhammad (PBUH) . Due to their acknowledged temporal leadership and religious supremacy among the pagan Arabs, given the custodianship of the Sacred Sanctuary, the Quraishites spared no effort in enticing the Arabians against Madinah and boycotting the Madinese socially and economically. To quote Muhammad Al-Ghazali: "A state of war virtually existed between the Makkan tyrants and the Muslims in their abode. It is foolish to blame the Muslims for the horrible consequences that were bound to ensue in the light of that long-standing feud."
The Muslims in Madinah were completely eligible then to confiscate the wealth of those tyrants, mete out for them exemplary punishment and bring twofold retaliation on them in order to deter them from committing any folly against the Muslims and their sanctities.
That was a resume of the major problems that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had to face, and the complicated issues he was supposed to resolve.
In full acknowledgment, we could safely say that he quite honestly shouldered the responsibilities of Messengership, and cleverly discharged the liabilities of both temporal and religious leadership in Madinah. He accorded to everyone his due portion whether of mercy or punishment, with the former usually seasoning the latter in the overall process of establishing Islam on firm grounds among its faithful adherents.
The Prophet on the Battlefield
The Quraishites, mortified at the escape of the Prophet (PBUH) along with his devoted companions, and jealous of his growing power in Madinah, kept a stringent watch over the Muslims left behind and persecuted them in every possible way. They also initiated clandestine contacts with ‘Abdullah bin Uabi bin Salul, chief of Madinese polytheists, and president designate of the tribes ‘Aws and Khazraj before the Prophet’s emigration. They sent him a strongly-worded ultimatum ordering him to fight or expel the Prophet, otherwise they would launch a widespread military campaign that would exterminate his people and proscribe his women.
His pride wounded and kingship no longer his, ‘Abdullah bin Uabi bin Salul, a priori responded positively to his Quraishite co-polytheists. He mobilized his supporters to counteract the Muslims. The Prophet (PBUH) on hearing about this unholy alliance, summoned ‘Abdullah and admonished him to be more sensible and thoughtful and cautioned his men against being snared in malicious tricks. The men, on grounds of cowardice, or reason, gave up the idea. Their chief, however, seemingly complied, but at heart, he remained a wicked unpredictable accomplice with Quraish and the envious Jews. Skirmishes and provocations started to pave the way for a major confrontation between the Muslims and polytheists. Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh, an outstanding Helper, announced his intention to observe ‘Umrah (lesser pilgrimage) and headed for Makkah. There Omaiya bin Khalaf provided tutelage for him to observe the ritual circumambulation. Abu Jahl, an archenemy of Islam saw him in the Sacred Sanctuary and threatened he would have killed him if he had not been in the company of Omaiya. Sa‘d, fearlessly and defiantly, challenged him to committing any folly at the risk of cutting their caravans off.
Provocative actions continued and Quraish sent the Muslims a note threatening to put them to death in their own homeland. Those were not mere words, for the Prophet (PBUH) received information from reliable sources attesting to real intrigues and plots being hatched by the enemies of Islam. Precautionary measures were taken and a state of alertness was called for, including the positioning of security guards around the house of the Prophet (PBUH) and strategic junctures. ‘Aishah - may Allah be pleased with her - reported that Allâh’s Messenger (PBUH) lay down on bed during one night on his arrival in Madinah and said: Were there a pious person from amongst my Companions who should keep a watch for me during the night? She (‘Aishah - may Allah be pleased with her - ) said: We were in this state when we heard the clanging noise of arms. He (the Prophet (PBUH)) said: Who is it? He said: This is Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas. Allâh’s Messenger (PBUH) said to him: What brings you here? Thereupon he said: I harboured fear (lest any harm should come to) Allâh’s Messenger (PBUH), so I came to serve as your sentinel. Allâh’s Messenger (PBUH) invoked blessings upon him and then he slept.
This state of close vigilance continued ceaselessly until the Words of Allâh were revealed saying:
"Allâh will protect you from mankind." [5:67]
Here, the Prophet (PBUH) peeped from the dome of his house asking his people to go away, and making it clear that Allâh would take the charge of protecting him.
The Prophet’s life was not the only target of the wicked schemes, but rather the lives and the whole entity of the Muslims. When the Madinese provided the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions with safe refuge, the desert bedouins began to look at them all in the same perspective, and outlawed all the Muslims.
At this precarious juncture with Quraish, intent on pursuing their aggressive and devilish plans, Allâh, the All-High, gave the Muslims the permission to take arms against the disbelievers:
"Permission to fight is given to those (i.e. believers against those disbelievers), who are fighting them, (and) because they (believers) have been wronged, and surely Allâh is Able to give them (believers) victory." [22:39]
This verse was revealed in a larger context of Divine instructions to eradicate all aspects of falsehood, and hold in honour the symbols and rites of Allâh:
"Those (Muslim rulers) who, if We give them power in the land, (they) order for Iqamat-as-Salât: [i.e. to perform Salât (prayer) — the five compulsory, congregational prayers (the males in Mosques)], to pay the Zakat (obligatory charity), and they enjoin Al-Ma‘ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief, polytheism and all that Islam has forbidden) [i.e. they make the Qur’ân as the Law of their country in all the spheres of life]." [22:41].
Doubtlessly, the permission to fight was revealed in Madinah after emigration, not in Makkah, still the exact date where of is in doubt.
The permission to fight was already there, but in the light of the status quo, it was wise for the Muslims to bring the commercial routes leading to Makkah under their control. To realize this strategic objective, the Prophet (PBUH) had to choose either of two options:
Entering into non-aggression pacts with the tribes inhabiting either the areas adjacent to the routes or between these routes and Madinah. With respect to this course of action, the Prophet (PBUH) had already signed, together with the Jews and other neighbouring tribes, the aforementioned pact of cooperation and good neighbourliness.
Despatching successive armed missions for harassment along the strategic commercial routs.
Pre-Badr Missions and Invasions:
With a view to implementing these plans, the Muslims commenced real military activities, which at first took the form of reconnaissance patrols delegated to explore the geopolitical features of the roads surrounding Madinah and others leading to Makkah, and building alliances with the tribes nearby. The Prophet wanted to impress upon the polytheists and Jews of Madinah as well as the bedouins in its vicinity, that the Muslims had smashed their old fears, and had been too strong to be attacked with impunity. He also wanted to display the power of his followers in order to deter Quraish from committing any military folly against him which might jeopardize their economic life and means of living, and to stop them from persecuting the helpless Muslims detained in Makkah, consequently he would avail himself of this opportunity and resume his job of propagating the Divine Call freely.
The following is a resume of these missions and errands:
Saif Al-Bahr Platoon sent in Ramadan 1 A.H., i.e. 623 A.D. led by Hamzah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib and comprising 30 Emigrants with a definite task of intercepting a caravan belonging to Quraish. It was a caravan of 300 people including Abu Jahl bin Hisham. The two parties encountered each other and aligned in preparation for fighting. Majdi bin ‘Amr, on good terms with both sides, happened to be there and managed to prevent an imminent clash.
On that occasion, the Prophet (PBUH) accredited the first flag in the history of Muslims. It was white in colour and was entrusted to Kinaz bin Husain Al-Ghanawi, to carry.
In Shawwal, 1 A.H., i.e. April 623 A.D. The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) despatched ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Harith bin Al-Muttalib at the head of 60 horsemen of Emigrants to a spot called Batn Rabegh where they encountered Abu Sufyan at the head of a caravan of 200 men. There was arrow shooting but no actual fighting.
It is interesting to note that two Muslims, Al-Miqdad bin ‘Amr Al-Bahrani and ‘Utbah bin Ghazwan Al-Mazini, defected from the caravan of Quraish and joined the ranks of ‘Ubaidah. The Muslims had a white flag carried by Mistah bin Athatha bin Al-Muttalib bin ‘Abd Munaf.
In Dhul Qa‘dah 1 A.H., i.e. May 623 A.D. the Prophet (PBUH) despatched Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas at the head of 20 horsemen, and instructed them not to go beyond Al-Kharrar. After a five-day march they reached the spot to discover that the camels of Quraish had left the day before; their flag, as usual, was white and carried by Al-Miqdad bin ‘Amr.
Ghazwa Al-Abwa’ or Waddan. It was in Safar 2 A.H., i.e. 623 A.D. The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) set out himself at the head of 70 men, mostly Emigrants, to intercept a camel caravan belonging to Quraish, leaving behind Sa‘d bin ‘Ubadah to dispose the affairs in Madinah. When he reached Waddan, a place between Makkah and Madinah, he found none.
In the process of this campaign, he contracted a non-aggression pact with ‘Amr bin Makhshi Ad-Damari. The provisions of the pact go as follows:
"This is a document from Muhammad, the Messenger of Allâh concerning Bani Damrah in which he established them safe and secure in their wealth and lives. They can expect support from the Muslims unless they oppose the religion of Allâh. They are also expected to respond positively in case the Prophet sought their help."
This was the first invasion under the leadership of the Messenger of Allâh. It took fifteen days, with a white flag carried by Hamzah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib.
Buwat Invasion. It took place in Rabi‘ Al-Awwal 2 A.H., i.e. 623 A.D. The Prophet (PBUH), at the head of 200 companions, marched for Buwat to intercept a caravan belonging to Quraish comprising 100 Quraishites, Omaiya bin Khalaf among them, and 2500 camels. When he reached Buwat, the caravan had left. Before leaving Madinah, he mandated Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh to dispose the affairs until his return.
Safwan Invasion. In Rabi‘ Al-Awwal 2 A.H., i.e. 623 A.D. Karz bin Jabir at the head of a small group of polytheists raided the pastures of Madinah and looted some animals. The Prophet (PBUH)at the head of 70 men left Madinah to fight the aggressors. He went in their pursuit till he reached a place called Safwan near Badr but could not catch up with them. This invasion came to be known as the preliminary Badr Invasion. During his absence, the Prophet (PBUH) entrusted Zaid bin Harithah with the disposition of the affairs in Madinah. The standard was white in colour and entrusted to ‘Ali bin Abi Talib to carry.
Dhil ‘Ushairah Invasion. It was in Jumada-al-Ula and Jumada-al-Akhirah the first or second 2 A.H., i.e. November-December 623 A.D. The Prophet (PBUH) at the head of 150-200 Muslim volunteers, with 30 camels which they rode turn by turn, set out to intercept a Quraishite caravan. He reached Dhil ‘Ushairah but the camels had left some days before. These camels were the same that he went out to intercept on their return from Syria, and were the direct reason for the break out of the battle of Badr. In the process of this campaign, the Prophet (PBUH)contracted a non-aggression pact with Bani Madlij and their allies Bani Dhumrah. Abu Salama bin ‘Abd Al-Asad Al-Makhzumi was mandated to rule Madinah in his absence.
The Platoon of Nakhlah. It took place in Rajab 2 A.H., i.e. January 624 A.H. The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) despatched ‘Abdullah bin Jahsh Asadi to Nakhlah at the head of 12 Emigrants with six camels. ‘Abdullah was given a letter by the Prophet (PBUH) but was instructed to read it only after two days. He followed the instructions and discovered that he was asked to go on to a place called Nakhlah standing between Makkah and At-Ta’if, intercept a caravan for Quraish and collect news about their intentions. He disclosed the contents of the letters to his fellows who blindly obeyed the orders. At Nakhlah, the caravan passed carrying loads of raisins (dried grapes), food stuff and other commodities. Notable polytheists were also there such as ‘Amr bin Al-Hadrami, ‘Uthman and Naufal, sons of ‘Abdullah bin Al-Mugheerah and others... The Muslims held consultations among themselves with respect to fighting them taking into account Rajab which was a sacred month (during which, along with Dhul Hijja, Dhul Qa‘da and Muharram, war activities were suspended as was the custom in Arabia then). At last they agreed to engage with them in fighting. ‘Amr bin Al-Hadrami was shot dead by an arrow, ‘Uthman and Al-Hakam were captured whereas Naufal escaped. They came back with the booty and the two prisoners. They set aside one-fifth of the booty assigned to Allâh and His Messenger, and took the rest. The Messenger disapproved of that act and suspended any action as regards the camels and the two captives on account of the prohibited months already mentioned. The polytheists, on their part, exploited this golden opportunity to calumniate the Muslims and accuse them of violating what is Divinely inviolable. This idle talk brought about a painful headache to Muhammad’s Companions, until at last they were relieved when the Revelation came down giving a decisive answer and stating quite explicitly that the behaviour of the polytheists in the whole process was much more heinous and far more serious than the act of the Muslims:
"They ask you concerning fighting in the sacred months (i.e. 1st, 7th, 11th and 12th months of the Islamic calendar). Say, ‘Fighting therein is a great (transgression) but a greater (transgression) with Allâh is to prevent mankind from following the way of Allâh, to disbelieve in Him, to prevent access to Al-Masjid-Al-Harâm (at Makkah), and to drive out its inhabitants, and Al-Fitnah is worse than killing." [2:217]
The Words of Allâh were quite clear and said that the tumult created by the polytheists was groundless. The sacred inviolable sanctities had been repeatedly violated in the long process of fighting Islam and persecuting its adherents. The wealth of the Muslims as well as their homes had already been violated and their Prophet (PBUH) had been the target of repeated attempts on his life. In short, that sort of propaganda could deservedly be described as impudence and prostitution. This has been a resume of pre-Badr platoons and invasions. None of them witnessed any sort of looting property or killing people except when the polytheists had committed such crimes under the leadership of Karz bin Jabir Al-Fahri. It was, in fact, the polytheists who had initiated such acts. No wonder, for such ill-behaviour is immanent in their natural disposition.
Shortly afterwards, the two captives were released and blood money was given to the killed man’s father.
After this event, Quraish began to realize the real danger that Madinah could present with. They came to know that Madinah had always been on the alert, watching closely their commercial caravans. It was then common knowledge to them that the Muslims in their new abode could span and extend their military activities over an area of 300 miles. and bring it under full control. However, the new situation borne in mind, the Makkans could not be deterred and were too obstinate to come to terms with the new rising power of Islam. They were determined to bring their fall by their own hands and with this recklessness they precipitated the great battle of Badr.
The Muslims, on the other hand, and at the behest of their Lord, were ordered to go to war in Sha‘ban 2 A.H:
"And fight, in the way of Allâh those who fight you; but transgress not the limits. Truly, Allâh likes not the transgressors. And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (polytheism or calamity) is worse than killing. And fight not with them at Al-Masjid-Al-Harâm (the Sanctuary at Makkah), unless they (first) fight you there. But if they attack you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. But if they cease, then Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allâh) and (all and every kind of ) worship is for Allâh (Alone). But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimûn (polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)" [2:190-193]
Before long, Allâh again sent the Muslims a different sort of verses whereby teaching them ways of fighting, urging them to go to war and demonstrating relevant rules:
"So, when you meet (in fight - Jihâd in Allâh’s cause), those who disbelieve smite at their necks till when you have killed and wounded many of them, then bind a bond firmly (on them, i.e. take them as captives). Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom), or ransom (according to what benefits Islam), until the war lays down its burden. Thus [you are ordered by Allâh to continue in carrying out Jihâd against the disbelievers till they embrace Islam (i.e. are saved from the punishment in the Hell-fire) or at least come under your protection], but if it had been Allâh’s Will, He Himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight), in order to test you, some with others. But those who are killed in the way of Allâh, He will never let their deeds be lost. He will guide them and set right their state. And admit them to Paradise which He has made known to them (i.e. they will know their places in Paradise more than they used to know their houses in the world). O you who believe! If you help (in the cause of) Allâh, He will help you, and make your foothold firm." [47:4-7]
Shortly afterwards, Allâh began to dispraise the hypocrites, the weak at heart and cowardly elements:
"But when a decisive Sûrah (explaining and ordering things) is sent down, and fighting (Jihâd — the holy fighting) is mentioned (i.e. ordained) therein, you will see those in whose hearts is a disease (of hypocrisy) looking at you with a look of one fainting to death. " [47:20]
The prevalent exigencies required as a top priority exhorting the Muslims to fight. Any leader with a deep insight would order his soldiers to get ready for any sort of emergency, let alone the All-Knowing Exalted Lord, Who is at all times omniscient of the minutest details of affairs. The event of that skirmish with the polytheists dealt a heavy blow to the pride of Quraish and created a sort of horrible restlessness amongst them.
The aforementioned Qur’ânic verses, enjoining the Muslims to strive in the cause of Allâh, betrayed the proximity of blood clashes that would be crowned by a decisive victory for the Muslims, and final expulsion of polytheists out of the Sacred City, Makkah. They referred to rules pertinent to the treatment of captives and slaughtering the pagan soldiers till the war ended and laid down its burdens. All of these could act as clues to a final triumph that would envelop the strife of the Muslims towards their noble objectives.
Another event of great significance featured the same month Sha‘ban 2 A.H., i.e. February 624 A.D., which was a Divine injunction ordering that Al-Qiblah be changed from Jerusalem to the Sacred Mosque in Makkah. That was of a great advantage to the Muslims at two levels. First, it brought about a kind of social sifting, so to speak, in terms of the hypocrites of the Jews and others weak at heart, and revealed their true nature and inclinations; the ranks of the Muslims were thereby purged from those discord-prone elements. Second, facing a new Qiblah, the Sacred Mosque in Makkah, refers gently to a new role awaiting the Muslims to take up, and would start only after the repatriation of the Muslims to their Sacred City, Makkah for it is not logical for the Muslims to leave their Qiblah at the mercy of non-Muslims.
The Muslims, therefore, at the behest of Allâh and on account of those Divine clues, augmented their activities and their tendency towards striving in the cause of Allâh and encountering His enemies in a decisive battle were greatly intensified.
The Battle of Badr
(The First Decisive Battle in the History of Islam)
Reason of the Battle:
We have already spoken about Al-‘Ushairah Invasion when a caravan belonging to Quraish had escaped an imminent military encounter with the Prophet (PBUH) and his men. When their return from Syria approached, the Prophet (PBUH) despatched Talhah bin ‘Ubaidullâh and Sa‘id bin Zaid northward to scout around for any movements of this sort. The two scouts stayed at Al-Hawra’ for some days until Abu Sufyan, the leader of the caravan, passed by them. The two men hurried back to Madinah and reported to the Prophet (PBUH) their findings. Great wealth amounting to 50 thousand gold Dinars guarded by 40 men moving relatively close to Madinah constituted a tempting target for the Muslim military, and provided a potentially heavy economic, political and military strike that was bound to shake the entire structure of the Makkan polytheists.
The Prophet (PBUH) immediately exhorted the Muslims to rush out and waylay the caravan to make up for their property and wealth they were forced to give up in Makkah. He did not give orders binding to everyone, but rather gave them full liberty to go out or stay back, thinking that it would be just an errand on a small scale.
The Muslim army was made up of 300-317 men, 82-86 Emigrants, 61 from Aws and 170 from Khazraj. They were not well-equipped nor adequately prepared. They had only two horses belonging to Az-Zubair bin Al-‘Awwam and Al-Miqdad bin Al-Aswad Al-Kindi, 70 camels, one for two or three men to ride alternatively. The Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) himself, ‘Ali and Murthid bin Abi Murthid Al-Ghanawi had only one camel. Disposition of the affairs of Madinah was entrusted to Ibn Umm Maktum but later to Abu Lubabah bin ‘Abdul Mundhir. The general leadership was given to Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair Al-Qurashi Al-‘Abdari, and their standard was white in colour. The little army was divided into two battalions, the Emigrants with a standard raised by ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, and the Helpers whose standard was in the hand of Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh. Az-Zubair bin Al-‘Awwam was appointed to the leadership of the right flank, Al-Miqdad bin ‘Amr to lead the left flank, and the rear of the army was at the command of Qais bin Abi Sa‘sa‘ah. The General Commander-in-Chief was the Prophet (PBUH), of course.
The Prophet (PBUH), at the head of his army, marched out along the main road leading to Makkah. He then turned left towards Badr and when he reached As-Safrâ’, he despatched two men to scout about for the camels of Quraish.
Abu Sufyan, on the other hand, was on the utmost alert. He had already been aware that the route he was following was attended with dangers. He was also anxious to know about the movements of Muhammad (PBUH). His scouting men submitted to him reports to the effect that the Muslims were lying in ambush for his caravan. To be on the safe side, he hired Damdam bin ‘Amr Al-Ghifari to communicate a message asking for help from the Quraishites. The messenger rode fast and reached Makkah in frenzy. Felling himself from his camel, he stood dramatically before Al-Ka‘bah, cut off the nose and the ears of the camel, turned its saddle upside down, tore off his own shirt from front and behind, and cried: "O Quraish! Your merchandise! It is with Abu Sufyan. The caravan is being intercepted by Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions. I cannot say what would have happened to them. Help! Help!"
The effect of this hue and cry was instantaneous and the news stunned Quraish and they immediately remembered their pride that was wounded when the Muslims had intercepted Al-Hadrami caravan. They therefore swiftly mustered almost all of their forces and none stayed behind except Abu Lahab, who delegated someone who owed him some money. They also mobilized some Arab tribes to contribute to the war against the Prophet (PBUH). All the clans of Quraish gave their consent except Banu ‘Adi. Soon an excited throng of 1300 soldiers including 100 horsemen and 600 mailed soldiers with a large number of camels, was clamouring to proceed to fight the Muslims. For food supplies, they used to slaughter an alternate number of camels of ten and nine every day. They were however afraid that Banu Bakr, on account of old long deep-seated animosity, would attack their rear. At that critical moment, Iblis (Satan) appeared to them in the guise of Suraqa bin Malik bin Ju‘sham Al-Mudlaji — chief of Bani Kinana — saying to them: "I guarantee that no harm will happen from behind."
They set out burning with indignation, motivated by a horrible desire for revenge and exterminating anyone that might jeopardize the routes of their caravans:
"…boastfully and to be seen of men, and hinder (men) from the path of Allâh. " [8:47]
Or as the Prophet (PBUH) said:
"O Allâh these are the haughty and conceited; they have come defying Allâh and defying His Messenger."
They moved swiftly northward to Badr. On the way they received another message from Abu Sufyan asking them to go back home because the caravan had escaped the Muslims. Incidentally, Abu Sufyan, on learning the intention of the Muslims, led his caravan off the main route, and inclined it towards the Red Sea. By this manoeuvre, he was able to slip past the Madinese ambush and was out of their reach.
On receiving Abu Sufyan’s message, the Makkan army showed a desire to return home. The tyrant Abu Jahl, however haughtily and arrogantly insisted that they proceed to Badr, stay three nights there for making festivities. Now they wanted to punish the Muslims and prevent them from intercepting their caravans, and impress on the Arabs that Quraish still had the upper hand and enjoyed supremacy in that area.
Abu Jahl’s threats and insistence notwithstanding, Banu Zahrah, acting on the advice of Al-Akhnas bin Shuraiq, broke away and returned to Makkah. Thenceforth Al-Akhnas remained ‘the well-rubbed palm tree’ for Bani Zahrah and was blindly obeyed in all relevant matters.
Banu Hashim were also inclined to break away, but Abu Jahl’s threats made them desist from that idea.
The rest of the army, now 1000 soldiers, approached Badr and encamped themselves beyond a sand dune at Al-‘Udwat Al-Quswa.
‘The intelligence corps’ of the Madinese army reported to the Prophet (PBUH) that a bloody encounter with the Makkans was inescapable, and that a daring step in this context had to be taken, or else the forces of evil would violate the inviolable and would consequently manage to undermine the noble cause of the Islam and tread upon its faithful adherents. The Muslims were afraid that the pagan Makkans would march on and start the war activities within the headquarters of Islam, Madinah. A move of such nature would certainly damage and produce an infamous impact on the dignity and stance of the Muslims.
On account of the new grave developments, the Prophet (PBUH) held an advisory military emergency meeting to review the ongoing situation and exchange viewpoints with the army leaders. Admittedly, some Muslims feared the horrible encounter and their courage began to waver; in this regard, Allâh says:
"As your Lord caused you (O Muhammad (PBUH) ) to go out from your home with the Truth, and verily, a party among the believers disliked it, disputing with you concerning the Truth after it was made manifest, as if they were being driven to death while they were looking (at it)." [8:5, 6]
The Prophet (PBUH) apprised his men of the gravity of the situation and asked for their advice. Abu Bakr was the first who spoke on the occasion and assured the Prophet (PBUH) of the unreserved obedience to his command. ‘Umar was the next to stand up and supported the views expressed by his noble friend. Then Al-Miqdad bin ‘Amr got up and said: "O Messenger of Allâh! Proceed where Allâh directs you to, for we are with you. We will not say as the Children of Israel said to Moses ?- peace be upon him - :
"Go you and your Lord and fight and we will stay here;"
Rather we shall say:
"Go you and your Lord and fight and we will fight along with you."
By Allâh! If you were to take us to Bark Al-Ghimad, we will still fight resolutely with you against its defenders until you gained it."
The Prophet (PBUH) thanked him and blessed him.
The three leaders who spoke were from the Emigrants, who only constituted a minor section of the army. The Prophet (PBUH) wanted, and for the more reason, to hear the Helpers’ view because they were the majority of the soldiers and were expected to shoulder the brunt of the war activities. Moreover, the clauses of Al-‘Aqabah Pledge did not commit them to fighting beyond their territories.
The Prophet (PBUH) then said:
"Advise me my men!"
by which he meant the Helpers, in particular. Upon this Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh stood up and said: "By Allâh, I feel you want us (the Helpers) to speak." The Prophet (PBUH) directly said: "Oh, yes!" Sa‘d said: "O Prophet of Allâh! We believe in you and we bear witness to what you have vouchsafed to us and we declare in unequivocal terms that what you have brought is the Truth. We give you our firm pledge of obedience and sacrifice. We will obey you most willingly in whatever you command us, and by Allâh, Who has sent you with the Truth, if you were to ask us to plunge into the sea, we will do that most readily and not a man of us will stay behind. We do not grudge the idea of encounter with the enemy. We are experienced in war and we are trustworthy in combat. We hope that Allâh will show you through our hands those deeds of valour which will please your eyes. Kindly lead us to the battlefield in the Name of Allâh."
The Prophet (PBUH) was impressed with the fidelity and the spirit of sacrifice which his companions showed at this critical juncture. Then he said to them: "Forward and be of cheer, for Allâh has promised me one of the two (the lucrative course through capturing the booty or strife in the cause of Allâh against the polytheists), and by Allâh it is as if I now saw the enemy lying prostrate."
In the immediate vicinity of Badr, the Prophet (PBUH) and his cavemate Abu Bakr conducted a scouting operation during which they managed to locate the camp of Quraish. They came across an old bedouin nearby whom they manipulated and managed to extract from him the exact location of the army of the polytheists. In the evening of the same day, he despatched three Emigrant leaders, ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, Az-Zubair bin Al-‘Awwam and Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas to scout about for news about the enemy. They saw two men drawing water for the Makkan army. On interrogation, they admitted that they were water carriers working for Quraish. But that answer did not please some Muslims and they beat the two boys severely in order to exact from them an answer, even if it isn’t true, alluding to the caravan laden with wealth. The two boys thus lied, and so they were released. The Prophet (PBUH) was angry with those men and censured them saying: "On telling the truth, you beat them, and on telling a lie, you released them!" He then addressed the two boys and after a little conversation with them he learned a lot about the enemy: number of soldiers, their exact location and names of some of their notables.
He then turned to the Muslims and said: "Hearken, Quraish has sent you their most precious lives."
The same night it rained on both sides. For the polytheists it obstructed further progress, whereas it was a blessing for the Muslims. It cleaned them and removed from them the stain of Satan. Allâh sent rain to strengthen their hearts and to plant their feet firmly therewith. They marched a little forward and encamped at the farther bank of the valley. Muhammad (PBUH) stopped at the nearest spring of Badr. Al-Hubab bin Mundhir asked him, "Has Allâh inspired you to choose this very spot or is it stratagem of war and the product of consultation?" The Prophet (PBUH) replied "It is stratagem of war and consultation." Al-Hubab said: "This place is no good; let us go and encamp on the nearest water well and make a basin or reservoir full of water, then destroy all the other wells so that they will be deprived of the water." The Prophet (PBUH) approved of his plan and agreed to carry it out, which they actually did at midnight.
Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh suggested that a trellis be built for the Prophet (PBUH) to function as headquarters for the Muslim army and a place providing reasonable protection for the leader. Sa‘d began to justify his proposal and said that if they had been victorious, then everything would be satisfactory. In case of defeat, the Prophet (PBUH) would not be harmed and he could go back to Madinah where there were more people who loved him and who would have come for help if they had known that he was in that difficult situation, so that he would resume his job, hold counsel with them and they would strive in the cause of Allâh with him again and again.
A squad of guards was also chosen from amongst the Helpers under the leadership of the same man, Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh, in order to defend the Prophet (PBUH) in his headquarters.
The Prophet (PBUH) spent the whole night preceding the day of the battle in prayer and supplication. The Muslim army, wearied with their long march, enjoyed sound and refreshing sleep, a mark of the Divine favour and of the state of their undisturbed minds.
"(Remember) when He covered you with a slumber as a security from Him, and He caused rain to descend on you from the sky, to clean you thereby and to remove from you the Rijz (whispering, evil suggestions, etc.) of Satan, and to strengthen your hearts, and make your feet firm thereby." [8:11]
That was Friday night, Ramadan 17th., the year 2 A.H.
In the morning, the Prophet (PBUH) called his men to offer the prayers and then urged them to fight in the way of Allâh. As the sun rose over the desert, the Prophet (PBUH) drew up his little army, and pointing with an arrow which he held in his hand, arranged the ranks.
Quraish, on the other hand, positioned their forces in Al-‘Udwat Al-Quswa opposite the Muslim lines. A few of them approached, in a provocative deed, to draw water from the wells of Badr, but were all shot dead except one, Hakeem bin Hizam, who later became a devoted Muslim. ‘Umair bin Wahab Al-Jumahi, in an attempt to reconnoiter the power of the Muslims, made a scouting errand and submitted a report saying that the Muslim army numbered as many as 300 men keen on fighting to the last man. On another reconnaissance mission he came to the conclusion that neither reinforcements were coming nor ambushes laid. He understood that they were too brave to surrender and too intent on carrying out their military duties to withdraw without slaying the largest number possible of the polytheists. This report as well as kindred relations binding the two belligerent parties together, slackened the desire to fight among some of the Quraishites. To counteract this reason-based opposition advocated by a rival of his, ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘a and others, Abu Jahl started an anti-campaign seeking vengeance on Muhammad (PBUH) ’s followers for the Quraishites killed at Nakhlah. In this way, he managed to thwart the opposite orientation, and manipulated the people to see his evil views only.
When the two parties approached closer and were visible to each other, the Prophet (PBUH) began supplicating Allâh "O Allâh! The conceited and haughty Quraishites are already here defying You and belying Your Messenger. O Allâh! I am waiting for Your victory which You have promised me. I beseech You Allâh to defeat them (the enemies)." He also gave strict orders that his men would not start fighting until he gave them his final word. He recommended that they use their arrows sparingly and never resort to sword unless the enemies came too close.
Abu Jahl also prayed for victory, saying: "Our Lord, whichever of the two parties was less kind to his relatives, and brought us what we do not know, then destroy him tomorrow.". They were confident that their superior number, equipment and experience would be decisive. The Noble Qur’ân, with a play on the word, told them that the decision had come, and the victory — but not in the sense they had hoped for:
"(O disbelievers) if you ask for a judgement, now has the judgement come unto you and if you cease (to do wrong), it will be better for you, and if you return (to the attack), so shall we return, and your forces will be of no avail to you, however numerous it be, and verily, Allâh is with the believers." [8:19]
The first disbeliever to trigger the fire of the battle and be its first victim was Al-Aswad bin ‘Abdul Asad Al-Makhzumi, a fierce bad-tempered idolater. He stepped out swearing he would drink from the water basin of the Muslims, otherwise, destroy it or die for it. He engaged with Hamzah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib, who struck his leg with his sword and dealt him another blow that finished him off inside the basin.
The battle had actually started. Protected by armour and shields, ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘a stepped forth between his brother Shaibah and his son Al-Waleed bin ‘Utbah from the lines of Quraish and hurled maledictions at the Muslims. Three young men of the Helpers came out against them: ‘Awf and Mu‘wwadh — the sons of Harith, and ‘Abdullah bin Rawaha. But the Makkans yelled that they had nothing to do with them. They wanted the heads of their cousins. Upon this the Prophet (PBUH) asked ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Harith, Hamzah — his uncle, and his cousin ‘Ali - may Allah be pleased with him - to go forward for the combat. The three duels were rapid. Hamzah killed Shaibah, while ‘Ali killed Al-Waleed. ‘Ubaidah was seriously wounded but, before he fell, Hamzah fell upon ‘Utbah and with a sweep of his sword, cut off his head. ‘Ali and Hamzah carried ‘Ubaidah back with his leg cut off. He died four or five days later of a disease in the bile duct.
‘Ali was possessed of a deep conviction that Allâh’s Words were revealed:
"These two opponents (believers and disbelievers) dispute with each other about their Lord." [22:19]
These verses were revealed in connection with men of Faith who confess their Lord and seek to carry out His Will (i.e. Muhammad's (PBUH) followers at Badr Battle), and men who deny their Lord and defy Him (the people of Quraish).
The duel was followed by a few more duels but the Makkans suffered terrible defeats in all the combats and lost some of their most precious lives. They were too much exasperated and enraged and fell upon the Muslims to exterminate them once and for all. The Muslims, however, after supplicating their Lord, calling upon Him for assistance, were made to hold to their position and conduct a defensive war plan that was successful enough to inflict heavy losses on the attackers. The Prophet (PBUH) used to pray to his Lord ceaselessly persistently and day and night to come to their succour. When the fierce engagement grew too hot he again began to supplicate his Lord saying:
"O Allâh! Should this group (of Muslims) be defeated today, You will no longer be worshipped."
He continued to call out to his Lord, stretching forth his hands and facing Al-Qiblah, until his cloak fell off his shoulders. Then Abu Bakr came, picked up the cloak, and put it back on his shoulders and said: "O Prophet of Allâh, you have cried out enough to your Lord. He will surely fulfill what He has promised you."
Immediate was the response from Allâh, Who sent down angels from the heavens for the help and assistance of the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions. The Noble Qur’ân observes:
"Verily, I am with you, so keep firm those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who have disbelieved." [8:12]
Allâh, the All-Mighty, also inspired another message to His Messenger, saying:
"I will help you with a thousand of the angels each behind the other (following one another) in succession." [8:9]
The Prophet (PBUH), in his trellis, dozed off a little and then raised his head joyfully crying:
"O Abu Bakr, glad tidings are there for you: Allâh’s victory has approached, by Allâh, I can see Gabriel on his mare in the thick of a sandstorm."
He then jumped out crying:
"Their multitude will be put to flight, and they will show their backs." [54:45]
At the instance of Gabriel, the Prophet (PBUH) took a handful of gravel, cast it at the enemy and said: "Confusion seize their faces!" As he flung the dust, a violent sandstorm blew like furnace blast into the eyes of the enemies. With respect to this, Allâh says:
"And you (i.e. Muhammad (PBUH)) threw not when you did throw but Allâh threw." [8:17]
Only then did he give clear orders to launch a counter-attack. He was commanding the army, inspiring confidence among his men and exhorting them to fight manfully for the sake of their Lord, reciting the Words of Allâh:
"And be quick for forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth." [3:133]
The spirit he infused into his men was clearly witnessed by the valour of ‘Umair, a lad of sixteen, who flung away some dates he was eating crying out: "These (the dates) are holding me back from Paradise." So saying he plunged into the thick of the battle and died fighting bravely. Unique deeds of valour, deep devotion and full obedience to the Prophet (PBUH) were exhibited in the process of the battle. The army of the faithfuls was borne forward by the power of enthusiasm which the half-hearted warriors of Makkah miserably lacked. A large number of the polytheists were killed and the others began to waver. No wonder! The standard-bearers of Truth were given immediate help, and supernatural agencies (the angels), were sent to their assistance by their Lord to help them defeat the forces of evil.
The records of Hadith speak eloquently of the fact that the angels did appear on that day and fought on the side of the Muslims. Ibn ‘Abbas said: "While on that day a Muslim was chasing a disbeliever and he heard over him the swashing of a whip and the voice of the rider saying: ‘Go ahead Haizum’. He glanced at the polytheist who had (now) fallen down on his back. The Helper came to the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) and related that event to him. The Prophet (PBUH) replied: ‘You have told the truth. This was the help from the third heaven."
One of the Helpers captured ‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib, who said: "O Messenger of Allâh, by Allâh this man did not capture me. I was captured by a man who was bald and had the most handsome face, and who was riding a piebald horse, I cannot see him here among the people." The Helper interrupted: "I captured him, O Messenger of Allâh." The Prophet (PBUH) replied:
"Be quiet, Allâh the All-Mighty strengthened you with the help of a noble angel."
Iblîs, the archsatan, in the guise of Suraqah bin Malik bin Ju‘sham Al-Mudlaji, on seeing angels working in favour of the Muslims, and Quraish rapidly losing ground on the battlefield, made a quick retreat despite the polytheists’ pleas to stay on. He ran off and plunged into the sea.
The ranks of Quraish began to give way and their numbers added nothing but confusion. The Muslims followed eagerly their retreating steps, slaying or taking captive all that fell within their reach. Retreat soon turned into ignominious rout; and they flied in haste, casting away their armour, abandoned beasts of burden, camp and equipage.
The great tyrant Abu Jahl, however, on seeing the adverse course of the battle, tried to stop the tidal wave of the Islamic victory by nerving the polytheists and encouraging them by all means available and adjuring them by Al-Lat and ‘Uzza and all symbols of paganism to stand firm in place and retaliate against the Muslims, but to no avail. Their morale had already been drastically reduced to zero, and their lines broken down. He then began to realize the reality of his arrogance and haughtiness. None remained around him except a gang of doomed polytheists whose resistance was also quelled by an Islamic irresistible storm of true devotion-based valour and Islam-orientated pursuit of martyrdom. Abu Jahl was deserted and left by himself on his horse waiting for death at the hand of two courageous lads of the Helpers.
‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf related the following interesting story in this regard: I was in the thick of the battle when two youths, still seemingly inexperienced in the art of fighting, one on the right and the second on the left. One of them spoke in a secret voice asking me to show him Abu Jahl. I asked about his intention, to which he replied, that he had a strong desire to engage with him in a combat until either of them was killed. It was something incredible to me. I turned left and the other said something to the same effect and showed a similar desire. I acceded to their earnest pleas and pointed directly at their target. They both rushed swiftly towards the spot, and without a moment’s hesitation struck him simultaneously with their swords and finished him off. They went back to the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH), each claiming that he had killed Abu Jahl to the exclusion of the other. The Prophet ?(PBUH) asked if they had wiped the blood off their swords and they answered that they had not. He then examined both swords and assured them that they both had killed him. When the battle concluded, Abu Jahl’s spoils were given to Mu‘adh bin ‘Amr bin Al-Jumuh, because the other Mu‘awwadh bin Al-‘Afrâ’ was later killed in the course of the same battle. At the termination of the battle, the Prophet (PBUH) wanted to look for this archenemy of Islam, Abu Jahl. ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud found him on the verge of death breathing his last. He stepped on his neck addressing him: "Have you seen how Allâh has disgraced you?" The enemy of Islam still defiantly answered: "I am not disgraced. I am no more than a man killed by his own people on the battlefield." And then inquired "Who has won the battle?" Ibn Mas‘ud replied "Allâh and His Messenger." Abu Jahl then said with a heart full of grudge "You have followed difficult ways, you shepherd!" Ibn Mas‘ud used to be a shepherd working for the Makkan aristocrats.
Ibn Mas‘ud then cut off his head and took it to the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) who, on seeing it, began to entertain Allâh’s praise:
"Allâh is Great, praise is to Allâh, Who has fulfilled His Promise, assisted His servant and defeated the confederates alone."
He then set out to have a look at the corpse. There he said:
"This is the Pharaoh of this nation."
Some Significant Instances of Devotion:
The Prophet (PBUH) advised his companions to preserve the lives of Banu Hashim who had gone out to Badr with the polytheists unwillingly because they had feared the censure of their people. Among them, he named Al-‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul Muttalib and Abu Bukhtari bin Hisham. He ordered the Muslims to capture, but not to kill them. Abu Hudhaifah bin ‘Utbah showed great surprise and commented saying: "We kill our fathers, children, brothers and members of our clan, and then come to spare Al-‘Abbas? By Allâh! If I see him I will surely strike him with my sword." On hearing these words, the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH), addressing ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, said "Is it fair that the face of the Messenger’s uncle be struck with sword?" ‘Umar got indignant and threatened to kill Abu Hudhaifah; the latter later said that extreme fear had taken firm grip of him and felt that nothing except martyrdom could expiate for his mistake. He was actually killed later on during Al-Yamamah events.
Abu Al-Bukhtari bin Hisham had already done his best to restrain his people, the Makkans, from committing any act of folly against the Prophet (PBUH) while the latter was still in Makkah. He also neither hurt nor was reported to have uttered anything repugnant with regard to the Prophet (PBUH). He had as well been among the people who tried to invalidate the boycott alliance taken against Banu Hashim and Banu ‘Abdul Muttalib.
Here, however, in the battle of Badr he insisted on fighting unless his compatriot was spared. Al-Mujdhir bin Ziyad Al-Balwi, with whom he was engaged in combat, replied that the other was not included in the Prophet's (PBUH) recommendation. The combat went on to end in Al-Bukhtari’s death.
‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Awf and Omaiyah bin Khalaf had been close friends during the pre-Islamic era. When the battle of Badr ended, ‘Abdur-Rahman saw Omaiyah and his son among the captives. He threw away the armour he had as spoils, and walked with them both. Bilal, the Prophet’s caller for prayer, saw Omaiyah and soon all the torture he had been put to at the hand of this man dawned upon him, and swore he would have revenge on Omaiyah. ‘Abdur-Rahman tried to ease the tension and address embarrassing situation amicably but with no success. The Muslims gathered around and struck Omaiyah’s son with swords. At this point, ‘Abdur-Rahman called upon his old friend to run for his life but he was put to swords from different people and lay down dead. ‘Abdur-Rahman, completely helpless and resigned said: May Allâh have mercy on Bilal, for he deprived me of the spoils, and I have been stricken by the death of my two captives.
On the moral level, the battle of Badr was an inescapable conflict between the forces of good and those of evil. In this context, ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab did not spare the life of any polytheist even his uncle on the maternal side Al-‘As bin Hisham bin Al-Mugheerah.
Abu Bakr shouted at his son ‘Abdur-Rahman, still a polytheist and fighting with them, "Where is my wealth, you wicked boy?" The son answered that it was gone with the wind.
When the battle ended, the Muslims began to hold some polytheists in captivity. The Prophet (PBUH) looked into the face of Sa‘d bin Mu‘adh, the Head of the Prophet’s guards, and understood that he was hateful to taking the enemy elements as prisoners. Sa‘d agreed to what the Prophet (PBUH) said and added that it was the first victory for the Muslims over the forces of polytheism, and he had more liking for slaying them than sparing their lives.
On the day of Badr, the sword of ‘Ukashah bin Mihsan Al-Asdi broke down so the Prophet (PBUH) gave him a log of wood which he shook and it immediately turned into a long strong white sword. ‘Ukashah went on using that same sword in most of the Islamic conquests until he died in the process of the apostasy wars.
When the war activities had been concluded, Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair Al-‘Abdari saw his brother, still a polytheist, being handcuffed by a Ansari. Mus‘ab recommended that the Helper tighten the knot for the prisoner’s mother was wealthy enough to ransom her son. ‘Abu ‘Aziz, Mus‘ab’s brother, tried to appeal to his brother through the family ties, but the latter firmly replied that the Helper was more eligible for brotherhood than him.
When the Prophet (PBUH) ordered that the corpses of the polytheists be dropped into an empty well, Abu Hudhaifah bin ‘Utbah looked sadly at his dead father, who fought on the side of the polytheists. The Prophet (PBUH) noticed that and asked him about it. Hudhaifah said that he had never held the least doubt that his father met his fate deservedly, but added that he wished he had been guided to the path of Islam, and that is why he felt sad. The Prophet (PBUH) whispered in his ears some comforting words.
The outcome of the battle was as aforementioned an ignominious rout for the polytheists and a manifest victory for the Muslims. Fourteen Muslims were killed, of whom six were from the Emigrants and eight from the Helpers. The polytheists sustained heavy casualties, seventy were killed and a like number taken prisoners. Many of the principal men of Makkah, and some of Muhammad’s bitterest opponents, were among the slain. Chief of these was Abu Jahl.
On the third day, the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) went out to look at the slain polytheists, and said:
"What an evil tribe you were as regards your Prophet, you belied me but the others have believed; you let me down while the others have supported me; you expelled me, whereas the others have sheltered me."
He stood over the bodies of twenty-four leaders of Quraish who had been thrown into one of the wells, and started to call them by name and by the names of their fathers, saying: "Would it not have been much better for you if you had obeyed Allâh and His Messenger? Behold, we have found that our Lord’s promise do come true; did you (also) find that the promises of your Lord came true?" Thereupon, ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab said: "O Messenger of Allâh! Why you speak to bodies that have no souls in them?" The Prophet (PBUH) answered: "By Him in Whose hand is Muhammad’s soul! You do not hear better what I am saying than they do."
Reaction in Makkah:
The polytheists having received a large dose of disciplining and heavy defeat, fled away in great disorder in the vales and hillocks heading for Makkah panicked and too ashamed to see their people.
Ibn Ishaq related that the first herald of bad tidings was Al-Haisaman bin ‘Abdullah Al-Khuza‘i. He narrated to them how their notables were killed. People there did not believe him at first and thought that he had gone mad, but soon the news was confirmed and a state of incredible bewilderment overwhelmed the whole Makkan scene. Abu Sufyan bin Al-Harith gave Abu Lahab a full account of the massacre and the disgraceful rout they sustained, with emphasis on the role that the angels played in bringing about their tragic end. Abu Lahab could not contain himself and gave vent to his feelings of resentment in beating, abusing and slapping Abu Rafi‘, a Muslim, but reticent on his conversion, for reiterating the role of the angels. Umm Al-Fadl, another Muslim woman, greatly exasperated by Abu Lahab’s thoughtless behaviour, struck him with a log and cracked his head. Seven days later, he died of an ominous ulcer and was left for three days unburied. His sons, however, for fear of shameful rumours, drove him to a pit and keeping their distance, hurled stones and dust at him.
The defeat was a matter of great shame and grief for the Makkans. In almost every house there were silent tears for the dead and the captives. They were burning with humiliation and were thirsting for revenge. Wailing, lamenting and crying however were decreed strictly forbidden lest the Muslims should rejoice at their affliction.
Madinah receives the News of Victory:
Two heralds, ‘Abdullah bin Rawahah and Zaid bin Harithah were despatched to Madinah, to convey the glad tidings of victory to the Muslims there.
The multi-ethnic and ideological structure of Madinah featured different respective reactions. Rumour-mongers amongst the Jews and hypocrites spread news to the effect that the Prophet (PBUH) had been killed, and tried to impress their false assumption on the fact that Zaid bin Harithah was riding Al-Qaswâ’, the Prophet’s she-camel. Having reached, the two messengers imparted to the Muslims the happy news of victory, and furnished accurate information about the course of events in order to establish the sense of reassurance deep in the hearts of the anxious, but now, joyous Muslims. They immediately started acclaiming Allâh’s Name and entertaining His praise at the top of their voices. Their chiefs went out of the city to wait and receive the Prophet (PBUH) on the road leading to Badr.
Usamah bin Zaid related that they received the news of the manifest victory shortly after Ruqaiyah, the Prophet’s daughter, and the wife of ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan had been committed to earth. She had been terminally ill and the Prophet (PBUH) had asked ‘Uthman to stay in Madinah and look after her.
Before leaving the scene of the battle, dispute concerning the spoils of war arose among the Muslim warriors, as the rule relating to their distribution had not yet been legislated. When the difference grew wider, the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) suspended any solution whereof until the Revelation was sent down.
‘Ubadah bin As-Samit said: "We went out with the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) and I witnessed Badr with him. The battle started and Allâh, the Exalted, defeated the enemy. Some of the Muslims sought and pursued the enemy, some were intent on collecting the spoils from the enemy camp, and others were guarding the Messenger of Allâh (PBUH) and were on the alert for any emergency or surprise attack. When night came and the Muslims gathered together, those who had collected the booty said: "We collected it, so no one else has any right to it." Those who had pursued the enemy said: "You do not have more right to it than we do; we held the enemy at bay and then defeated them." As for the men who had been guarding the Prophet (PBUH), they also made similar claims to the spoils.
At that very time, a Qur’ânic verse was revealed saying:
"They ask you (O Muhammad (PBUH)) about the spoils of war. Say: ‘The spoils are for Allâh and the Messenger.’ So fear Allâh and adjust all matters of difference among you, and obey Allâh and His Messenger (Muhammad (PBUH)), if you are believers." [8:1]
On their way back to Madinah, at a large sand hill, the Prophet (PBUH) divided the spoils equally among the fighters after he had taken Al-Khums (one-fifth). When they reached As-Safra’, he ordered that two of the prisoners should be killed. They were An-Nadr bin Al-Harith and ‘Uqbah bin Abi Muait, because they had persecuted the Muslims in Makkah, and harboured deep hatred towards Allâh and His Messenger (PBUH). In a nutshell, they were criminals of war in modern terminology, and their execution was an awesome lesson to oppressors. ‘Uqbah forgot his pride and cried out, "Who will look after my children O Messenger of Allâh?" The Prophet (PBUH) answered, "The fire (of Hell)." Did ‘Uqbah not remember the day when he had thrown the entrails of a sheep onto the head of the Prophet (PBUH) while he was prostrating himself in prayer, and Fatimah had come and washed it off him? He had also strangled the Prophet (PBUH) with his cloak if it had not been for Abu Bakr to intervene and release the Prophet (PBUH). The heads of both criminals were struck off by ‘Ali bin Abi Talib.
At Ar-Rawhâ’, a suburb of Madinah, the Muslim army was received by the joyous Madinese who had come to congratulate the Prophet (PBUH) on the manifest victory that Allâh had granted him. Usaid bin Hudair, acting as a mouthpiece of the other true believers, after entertaining Allâh’s praise, he excused himself for not having joined them on grounds that the Prophet (PBUH)’s intention was presumably, an errand aiming to intercept a caravan of camels only, he added that if it had occurred to him that it would be real war, he would have never tarried. The Prophet (PBUH) assured Usaid that he had believed him.
The Prophet (PBUH) now entered Madinah as a man to be counted for in a new dimension — the military field. In consequence, a large number of the people of Madinah embraced Islam, which added a lot to the strength, power and moral standing of the true religion.
The Prophet (PBUH) exhorted the Muslims to treat the prisoners so well to such an extent that the captors used to give the captives their bread (the more valued part of the meal) and keep the dates for themselves.
Prisoners of war constituted a problem awaiting resolution because it was a new phenomenon in the history of Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) consulted Abu Bakr and ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab as to what he should do with the prisoners. Abu Bakr suggested that he should ransom them, explaining this by saying: "They are after all our relatives, and this money would give us strength against the disbelievers, moreover, Allâh could guide them to Islam." ‘Umar advised killing them, saying, "They are the leaders of Kufr (disbelief)." The Prophet (PBUH) preferred Abu Bakr’s suggestion to that of ‘Umar’s. The following day, ‘Umar called on the Prophet (PBUH) and Abu Bakr to see them weeping. He showed extreme astonishment and inquired about the situation so that he might weep if it was worth weeping for, or else he would feign weeping.
The Prophet (PBUH) said that a Qur’ânic verse had been revealed rebuking them for taking ransom from the captives rather than slaying them:
"It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war (and free them with ransom) until he had made a great slaughter (among his enemies) in the land. You desire the good of this world (i.e. the money of ransom for freeing the captives), but Allâh desires (for you) the Hereafter. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise. Were it not a previous ordainment from Allâh, a severe torment would have touched you for what you took." [8:67,68]
The previous Divine ordainment went as follows,
"Thereafter (is the time) either for generosity (i.e. free them without ransom) or ransom." [47:4]
Which included an area providing permission to take ransom, that is why no penalty was imposed. They were rebuked only for taking prisoners before subduing all the land of disbelief. Apart from this, the polytheists taken to Madinah were not only prisoners of war but rather archcriminals of war whom modern war penal law brings to justice to receive their due sentence of death or prison for life.
The ransom for the prisoners ranged between 4000 and 1000 Dirhams in accordance with the captive’s financial situation. Another form of ransom assumed an educational dimension; most of the Makkans, unlike the Madinese, were literate and so each prisoner who could not afford the ransom was entrusted with ten children to teach them the art of writing and reading. Once the child had been proficient enough, the instructor would be set free. Another clan of prisoners were released unransomed on grounds of being hard up. Zainab, the daughter of the Prophet (PBUH), paid the ransom of her husband Abul-‘As with a necklace. The Muslims released her prisoner and returned the necklace in deference to the Prophet (PBUH) but on condition that Abul-‘As allow Zainab to migrate to Madinah, which he actually did.
In captivity, there was also an eloquent orator called Suhail bin ‘Amr. ‘Umar suggested that they pull out his front teeth to disable him from speaking, but the Prophet (PBUH) turned down his suggestion for fear Quraish should retaliate in the same manner on one hand, and on the other for fear of Allâh’s wrath on the Day of Resurrection.
Sa‘d bin An-Nu‘man, a lesser pilgrim detained in Makkah, was released in return for setting Abu Sufyan’s son, a captive, free.
The Battle of Badr in its Qur’ânic Context:
The Chapter of Al-Anfal (spoils of war) was revealed on the occasion of the battle of Badr, Ramadan 17th 2 A.H. It constituted a unique Divine commentary on this battle.
Allâh, the All-High, in the context of this Chapter draws on major issues relating to the whole process of Islamization. Allâh, here draws the attention of the Muslims to the still lingering moral shortcomings in their character. He wants them to build an integrated, purified society. He speaks about the invisible assistance he sent down to His obedient servants to enable them to accomplish their noble objectives. He wants the Muslims to rid themselves of any trait of haughtiness or arrogance that might sneak in. He wants them to turn to Him for help, obey Him and His Messenger (PBUH).
After that He delineated the noble objectives for which the Messenger (PBUH) launched that bloody battle, and directed them to the merits and qualities that brought about the great victory.
The polytheists, hypocrites, the Jews and prisoners of war were also mentioned, being admonished to surrender to the Truth and adhere to it only.
The question of the spoils of war was resolved and the principles and basics relevant to this issue were clearly defined.
The laws and rules pertinent to war and peace were legalized and codified, especially at this advanced stage of the Islamic action. Allâh wanted the Muslims to follow war ethics dissimilar to those of pre-Islamic practices. The Muslims are deemed to outdo the others in ethics, values and fine ideals. He wants to impress on the world that Islam is not merely a theoretical code of life, it is rather mind cultivation-orientated practical principles. In this context, He established inter and intra-state relations.
The fast of Ramadan was established as an obligatory observance in the year 2 A.H., appended by the duty imposed upon Muslims of paying Zakat (alms tax, poor-due) in order to alleviate the burden of the needy Emigrants.
A wonderful and striking coincidence was the establishment of Shawwal ‘Eid (the Festival of the Fast-Breaking) directly after the manifest victory of Badr. It was actually the finest spectacle ever witnessed of Muslims leaving their houses praying, acclaiming Allâh’s Name and entertaining His praise at the top of their voices in recognition of His favour and grace, and last but not least, the support He rendered them and through which the forces of the Truth overpowered those of evil.
"And remember when you were few and were reckoned weak in the land, and were afraid that men might kidnap you, but He provided a safe place for you, strengthened you with His help, and provided you with good things so that you might be grateful." [8:26]
Hadith, Hadith Collections, and Searchable Hadith DatabaseA hadith is a saying of Muhammad or a report about something he did. Over time, during the first few centuries of Islam, it became obvious that many so-called hadith were in fact spurious sayings that had been fabricated for various motives, at best to encourage believers to act righteously and at worse to corrupt believers' understanding of Islam and to lead them astray. Since Islamic legal scholars were utilizing hadith as an adjunct to the Qur'an in their development of the Islamic legal system, it became critically important to have reliable collections of hadith. While the early collections of hadith often contained hadith that were of questionable origin, gradually collections of authenticated hadith called sahih (lit. true, correct) were compiled. Such collections were made possible by the development of the science of hadith criticism, a science at the basis of which was a critical analysis of the chain of (oral) transmission (isnad) of the hadith going all the way back to Muhammad. The two most highly respected collections of hadith are the authenticated collections the Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. (Sahih literally means "correct, true, valid, or sound.") In addition to these, four other collections came to be well-respected, although not to the degree of Bukhari and Muslim's sahih collections. These four other collections are the Sunan of Tirmidhi, Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, and Abu Da'ud. Together these four and the two sahih collections are called the "six books" (al-kutub al-sitta). Two other important collections, in particular, are the Muwatta of Ibn Malik, the founder of the Maliki school of law, and the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the founder of the Hanbali school of law.
Imam Nawawi's Forty Hadith (link fixed 17 August 2005) This selection of the sayings of the Prophet compiled by Nawawi, a very important medieval Islamic scholar, has been a favorite of Muslims since its compilation in the 13th century CE. (Back on line 1/18/98.)
Imam al-Nawawi's Forty Hadith recited and explained in both Arabic and English. This is especially useful for intermediate and advanced level students of Arabic Islamic texts.
A selection of hadith by Sir Abdullah Suhrawardy entitled Sayings of the Prophet. This has a useful topic index.
FortyHadith Qudsi Hadith in which the Prophet reports non-Qur'anic words of God are called hadith qudsi.
Mishkat al-masabih, an online book by a Muslim scholar Moulana Yunus Osman, deals with hadith in general but focuses on a popular collection of hadith that has been translated into English by James Robson.
The Sunna Project of the International Hadith Study Association Network (IHSAN)contains online their Hadith Encyclopedia database containing a searchable version of the Arabic text and indices of the Seven Canonical Hadith Collections: Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abi Daud, Sunan al-Tirmidhi,Sunan al-Nasa’i, Sunan IbnMajah and the Muwatta’ lik, as well as comments and footnotes. Until February 2003, this service will be in beta testing and be free of charge.
Biographies of the Compilers of the Primary Hadith Collections
Hadith Scholarship and the Critical Study of HadithBecause of the epistemological importance of hadith for Muslims, they developed an entire field of scholarship or science ('ilm) based on the study of hadith. The traditional Islamic study of hadith is outlined in The Science of Hadith page. A more detailed discussion is given in An Introduction to the Science of Hadith. by Suhaib Hassan.
A surprisingly high percentage of hadith scholars were women. Women Scholars of Hadith by Dr. Muhammad Zubayr Siddiqi, is a scholary and well-documented article on this subject.
A well-done annotated bibliography of hadith collections and scholarly studies on hadith is B. Sadeghi's Hadith Bibliography.
Sirah, Hagiographical Literature on the ProphetThe Prophet's life-story was transmitted by story tellers and then compiled in books called sirah (pronounced as seera.) In the works of this genre, the Prophet Muhammad's virtuous character is made clear. Even before receiving the revelation of the Qur'an, the Prophet Muhammad was well-known for his good character. One example of his character can be seen in the well-attested hadith transmitted by Umm al-'Ala', an Ansari woman [of Madina] who made the pledge to the Prophet. She narrated the following hadith: At the death of Abu Sa'ib 'Uthman ibn Maz'un, she said, "O Abu Sa'ib, I testify that God has enobled you." The prophet said, "How do you know that God has enobled him?" So I [Umm al-'Ala'] said, "May my father be sacrificed for you, O Messenger of God! Whom does God enoble?" Then the Prophet said, "As for him, [the] certainty [of death] has indeed come to him, and by God, I hope the best for him. By God, I do not know--even though I am the messenger of God--what will be done with me." She said, "By God, I never attested to anyone's piety after that." (Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari, vol. 1, p. 419-20; M. M. Khan, v. 2, p. 189-90 Jana'iz, bab 3, #2 (#334); Ibn Hajar, Irshad al-sari, vol. 2, p. 376-77). A well-written on-line Biography of the Prophet Muhammad is that of the contemporary Muslim scholar Muhammad Hamidullah.
A useful on-line translation of the first chapter of a widely read medieval Islamic text by the well-known Qadi Iyad deals with God's praise of and high regard for the Prophet Muhammad. The title, Kitab al-Shifa', means "The Book of Healing."
A prominent Christian scholar of Islam, W. Montgomery Watt, has written the following--generally positive--assessment of Muhammad as Prophet and Statesman.
One of the many critical events in the life of the Prophet Muhammad is the "Night Journey," when, while in a state of consciousness between wakefulness and sleep, he was taken from the Ka'ba (link fixed, Sept. 3, 2000) in Mecca to what the Qur'an (17:1) refers to as "Furthest Mosque" --in Jerusalem-- where the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque stand today. From there he was transported through the heavens and then back to this world during what is called his mi'raj (ascension).
Important Online Hadith Texts in Arabic
Comprehensive Downloadable Arabic Library for Research in Primary Islamic SourcesThis invaluable free service includes all the major hadith texts (and many of the minor ones) as well as works of hadith criticism, some important tafsirs, dictionaries, and works of fiqh. These can be downloaded --and NOW SEARCHED and READ ONLINE!!! (click on "English" to get the instructions in English)-- from the Al-Muhaddith Islamic Library and Search Program. They are essential for university libraries as well as for scholars who wish to pursue original research in Islamic primary sources. In addition to the hadith collections, one can also download various Arabic tafsirs such as Tafsir Jalalayn,Suyuti's al-Durr al-manthur (which uses hadith to clarify and expand on the meaning of the Qur'an), and an abridged version of the Tafsir al-Qurtubi.
The library includes as well a number of important general dictionaries such as Ibn Manzur's Lisan al-'Arab and Fayruzabadi's al-Qamus al-muhit; Ibn al-Athir's dictionary of rare words used in hadith, al-Nihayah fi gharib al-hadith; Asfahani's dictionary of the Qur'an, Mufradat alfaz al-Qur'an; and even an Arabic-English and English-Arabic dictionary.