Sirah according to the shia school of thought in Islam.
* * * * *
"The Message of Holy Prophet of God"
By: Ayatollah Jafar Subhani
[ Abridged version ]
ANCESTORS OF THE PROPHET
BIRTH OF THE PROPHET
THE FIRST REVELATION
THE EVENT OF MIGRATION
THE BATTLE OF BADR
THE BATTLE OF UHUD
THE BATTLE OF AHZAB
PEACE TREATY OF HUDAYBIYAH
THE BATTLE OF KHAIBAR
THE CONQUEST OF MAKKAH
THE BATTLE OF HUNAYN
THE BATTLE OF TABUK
REPRESENTATIVES OF NAJRAN IN MADINA
THE FAREWELL HAJ
THE LAST HOURS OF THE PROPHET
In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful.
Since the time immemorial man has been seeking knowledge through his senses. Thus by perceiving things he tried to overcome his problems. In the process he made experiments and ultimately by trial and error he arrived at a workable solution for his problems. Based on this concept and practice, science developed enormously in dimensions and various fields of its applications.
In this modern age of science hundreds and thousands of research laboratories are engaging the attention of scientists who are making wonderful discoveries and inventions of unbelievably accurate gadgets and tools. Yet the only things that science has failed so far to capture is the social problem. Obviously, social problems are the human problems. And human problems are such that they cannot be precipitated in a test tube. To give credence to this fact one knows it very well that for instance, science has not yet been able to offer answers to the discord and hatred that exist among the people or the class distinction that is rampant in various strata of human society. History tells us of great civilisations that flourished in the past and ultimately perished. We are left with only the mute remains and dumb ruins which tell us the hoary past of the mankind. Science of course is discovering the facts of life through excavations, and by studying the relics and fossils embedded in the rocks. But despite all this no tangible results have come forward with regard to the man's manifold problems. Imam Ali gave a bit of his mind to his son which is pertinent to the relevant issue. He said: "My dear son! though the span of my age is not as large as that of some other people who have passed away before me, but I took great care to study their lives; assiduously I went through their activities, I contemplated over their deliberations and deeds, I studied their remains, relics and ruins; and I pondered over their lives so deeply that I felt as if I have lived and worked with them from early ages of history down to our times, and I know what did them good and what brought harm to them."
True, history has recorded all facts, pleasant and detestable, but what is to be regretted is that nobody ever cared to go into the depth of their root causes. As to the real solution of a problem, big or small, no effort on the part of man is traceable in history. Only unimportant matters have been dwelt upon with uncanny details. Since history is a recorded statement of events of the past, it owes its existence to its compilers. The people who wrote history were not immune from personal, racial or parochial prejudices and, therefore, its very purpose seems to have been defeated. On the face of the misinterpretation and fabrication of facts, an ordinary reader of history is at a loss to understand the truth of the matter. It is like a doctor who, if he has no correct information about the case-history of his patient, will not be able to diagnose the actual malady of his patient. One bright aspect of history of course is that it carries the life sketches of great men of the ancient past. These men in fact created history as they brought about revolution and change in the life pattern of mankind. Amongst such great personalities no one led as eventful, revolutionary and meaningful a life as Holy Rasul Muhammad did. None of them left such a lasting impression upon the society he sprang from as Holy Rasul did. This is a fact which has been acknowledged by almost all the historians whether of the East or of the West.
The study of the life of Rasul Muhammad, the greatest of all men, is thought-provoking, awe-inspiring and self-enlightening. A chain of events before and after the birth of this great man provides food for thought for anybody who has even a slight grain of intelligence and sense of proportion. The birth of Holy Rasul as a posthumous child and the death of his mother, Aminah, when he was only six, and his upbringing first by his grandfather and then by his uncle are something extraordinary. After passing an eventful life, his confinement to the Cave in Mount Hira and the subsequent Divine Revelation, the invitation to the religion of God, the resistance of the infidels and idolaters, their oppression and persecution, his continued steadfastness in upholding the Message of God during the first thirteen years of his prophethood in Makkah until the time of his migration to Madina, are the events finish have no parallel in history.
The last ten years of his life in Madina, his intensifying the efforts of his mission for the spread of Islam, his participating in the numerous battles with the infidels and the final conquest of Makkah are still greater events which are seemingly unbelievable, but have been recorded in history as miraculous achievements. Hundreds of books have been written on the life and mission of Holy Rasul but these cannot be taken as a complete treatise on his attributes and achievements. Especially the writings of the orientalists are punctuated with prejudices, errors and misinterpretations.
This book not only presents an inspiring material but it is also based on authentic historical documents. One of its salient features is that the author has taken extreme care in narrating historical events and at the same time he has endeavoured as a research scholar, to approach them with an analytical mind also. Another interesting feature of this book is that it is absolutely free from heresies and concocted stories invented by vested interests. In other words, it is quite in keeping with the required standard of the historical veracity. In short, it is addressed to the Muslims in general without any bias and prejudice.
We hope that this book will serve its noble purpose of enlightening the young generation who has a keen urge to acquire authentic and reliable information about the great Prophet of Islam, and trust our young Muslims will derive inspiration from this book in fashioning their lives in accordance with the dictates of God as well as the noble attributes of Holy Rasul and his Chosen Descendants.
[ Note on sourses: Ancient historians quoted are:
Ibn Athir, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Hisham, Halabi, Tabari, and Ibn Saad.
Other writers of tradition are also used such as:
Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad and Hakim.
For full references, see the printed version.]
Arabia is a big peninsula situated in the south-west of Asia. Its area is three million square kilometres. The area surrounding the Kaba in Makkah has been reverenced by Arabs as well as non-Arabs for centuries preceding the birth of Islam. As a mark of respect to it they considered warfare within the precincts of the Kaba to be unlawful and even Islam has recognised the area circumscribed by these limits to be inviolable.
Makkah, Madina and Taif are important cities of the Hijaz. Since ages the Hijaz has had two sea-ports. One of these is Jeddah which serves the people of Makkah, and the other is Yanbu' through which the people of Madina import most of their requirements. These two ports are situated on the coast of the Red Sea. Makkah is one of the most famous cities of the world and the most populous city of the Hijaz and is about 300 metres higher than sea level. As this city is located between two mountain ranges it cannot be seen from a distance. The present population of Makkah is about 200,000.
The history of Makkah dates from the time of Prophet Ibrahim. He sent his son Ismail along with his mother Hajar to the territory of Makkah to settle there. His son married in a tribe which lived at a nearby place. Prophet Ibrahim constructed the Kaba under God's command and thereafter settlement at Makkah commenced.
The land in the suburbs of Makkah is somewhat saline and not at all cultivable. According to some orientalists its poor geographical conditions have no parallel in the world.
Madina is a city located at a distance of 90 leagues to the north of Makkah. It has gardens and date-palm all around it and its land is better suited for plantation of trees as well as for cultivation of crops. Before Islam this city was called Yathrib.
ANCESTORS OF RASUL #
The object of giving an account of the life of Prophet Ibrahim is to make known the ancestors of Rasul for he was a descendant of Ismail who was the son of Ibrahim. And as these two venerable persons as well as many other noble forefathers of Rasul have a great share in the history of Arabia and Islam, it is appropriate that a brief account of their lives may be given here, because the events of the history of Islam have, like the rings of a chain, a perfect relationship with the events simultaneous with the dawn of Islam as well as those which are somewhat remote from it. For example, the protection and support accorded to Rasul by Abdul Muttalib, the favours bestowed upon him and the hardships suffered for his sake by Abu Talib, the greatness of the family of Hashim and the origin of the enmity of Bani Umayyah (with the family of Hashim) are considered to be very important events on which the history of Islam is based. It is for this reason that a chapter of the history of Islam is allocated to the discussion of these events.
Prophet Ibrahim was ordained by God to settle his son Ismail and his mother Hajar in the land of Makkah. He, therefore, moved them from Palestine to a deep valley (Makkah) which was absolutely barren. God was kind to them and favoured them with the spring of Zamzam. Ismail married in a tribe named Jarham, who had pitched their tents at a place near Makkah. His offspring were numerous. One of the descendednts was Adnan.
Ibrahim took the bridle of his riding animal and, with tears in his eyes, bade farewell to the land of Makkah as well as Hajar and his son. After a short time however, food and water available with the child and his mother was exhausted and the breast of Hajar also became dry. The condition of her son too began to deteriorate. A flood of tears flowed from the eyes of the banished mother and moistened her lap. In utter confusion she got up on her feet and reached the Safa mountain. From there she saw the spectacle of a mirage near Marwa mountain and ran towards it. However, the bitterness of the deceptive landscape disappointed her very much. The lamentations and uneasiness of her dear child made her run more fanatically in all directions Thus, she ran seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa to locate water, but eventually lost all hopes and returned to her son.
The child must have reached his last breath by that time and must have lost the capacity of weeping or crying any more. However, at that very moment the prayer of Ibrahim was granted. The tired and weary mother saw that limpid water had begun gushing out from beneath the feet of Ismail. The mother who was looking towards the last breaths of her son and believed that he would pass away after a few moments felt extremely happy on seeing this water. Both the mother and the son drank their fill and the clouds of despair and hopelessness which had cast their shadow on their lives were driven away by the wind of Divine blessings.
The appearance of this fountain, which is called "Zam Zam" since that day, made the birds of air fly over it and spread their broad wings like a cover on the heads of the afflicted mother and son. People of a tribe named "Jarham" who lived at a distance from this valley saw the birds going to and tro and came to the conclusion that water had become available in the vicinity. They sent two of their men to verify the position. After a good deal of wandering those persons reached the centre of Divine blessing. When they drew near they saw a woman and a child sitting by the side of a pool of water. Thev returned immediately and reported the matter to the chiefs of their tribe. The members of that tribe soon pitched their tents around this blessed fountain and Hajar was thus relieved of the hardship and bitterness of loneliness which she had been suffering. The growth and perfect sociability of Ismail became the cause of his making a matrimonial alliance with the Jarham tribe and thus benefit from their support and society. Ismail soon married a girl of that tribe. From their mother's side, therefore, his descendants are related to that tribe.
Ibrahim was again ordered by God to perform another journey to Makkah, to construct the Kaba there and to attract to that point the hearts of those who believe in monotheism.Quran testified that in the last days of the life of Ibrahim, Makkah had grown into a city, because, having performed his task, he had prayed to God in the following words:
Lord! Make this (Makkak) a land of safety. Preserve me and my descendants from worshipping idols. (Sura Abraham, 14:35)
And at the time of his arrival in the desert of Makkah he bad prayed: Lord! make this a land of peace (Sura Baqarah, 2:126).
The following are the names of the father and forefathers of Rasul in upward order:
Rasul Mohammed, Abdullah, Abdul Muttalib, Hashim, Abd-i Manaf, Qusayy, Kilab, Marra, Kaab, Loo, Ghalib, Fahr, Malik, Nazar, Kananah, Khuzamah, Mudrakah, Ilyas, Mazar, Nazar, Maad and Adnan.
The following are the names of the father and forefathers of Rasul in upward order:
Abdullah, Abdul Muttalib, Hashim, Abd-i Manaf, Qusayy, Kilab, Marra, Kab, Loo, Ghalib, Fahr, Malik, Nazar, Kananah, Khuzamah, Mudrakah, Ilyas, Mazar, Nazar, Maad and Adnan.
The genealogy of Rasul up to Maad son of Adnan is as reproduced above. However, there is a difference of opinion with regard to the number and names of intermediate persons from Adnan upwards upto Ismail. According to the report quoted by Ibn Abbas from Rasul, when the genealogy of Rasul reaches Adnan one should not proceed beyond it, because whenever, Rasul himself mentioned the names of his forefathers he did not proceed beyond Adnan, and ordered that other too, should not narrate the names of his other forefathers upto Ismail. He also said that what was commonly known amongst the Arabs regarding that portion of the pedigree was not correct. Hence we have also quoted that portion of his genealogy which is admittedly correct and now proceed to give detailed particulars of some of the persons concerned.
The above-mentioned persons are well-known in the history of Arabia and the history of Islam, too, has relationship with some of them. Hence, we give below an account of the lives of those from Qusayy upto the reverenced father of Rasul (Abdullah) and refrain from narrating the events of the lives of others who have no concern with the matter under discussion.
Qusayy was the fourth ancestor of Rasul. His mother, Fatima, married Kilab and gave birth to two children named 'Zohrah' and 'Qusayy.' The second of them was still an infant when Fatima's husband died. She then married another man named Rabia and accompanied him to Syria. Qusayy received fatherly support from Rabia till differences arose between him and Rabia's tribe, as a result of which they drove him away beyond the frontiers of their home-land. His mother was touched by the treatment meted out to him and decided to send him back to Makkah. The hand of destiny pulled him to Makkah. His hidden qualities enabled him to establish his superiority over the Makkans and especially the tribe of Quraysh. Within a short time he acquired the high governmental offices in Makkah and also became the custodian of the keys of the Kaba and the undisputed ruler of that city. Many remarkable events are associated with his name. One of these was that he encouraged the people to construct a house with the name of 'Darun Nadwah' adjacent to the Kaba and thus founded a Council Hall for the Arabs so that their dignitaries and chiefs might sit together in this public centre and solve their problems. He died in the 5th A.D. and left behind two sons named Abdud Dar and Abd Manaf.
He was the third ancestor of Rasul. His name was Mughirah and he enjoyed the title of 'Qamar al-Bat'ha' (the moon of Bat'ha). He was younger than his brother Abdud Dar, but enjoyed great respect amongst the people. He was very pious. He invited people to virtue, behaved well with them and maintained very good relations with his kinsfolk. Although he enjoyed a very honourable position in the society he never became a rival of his brother, Abdud Dar in the matter of acquisition of high offices connected with the Kaba. According to the will of Qusayy the rulership rested with Abdud Dar, but when the two brothers died their sons began quarrelling for various offices. After a good deal of contention and conflict they eventually got reconciled and divided the positions amongst themselves. It was decided that the custodianship of the Kaba and the chairmanship of 'Darun Nadwah' would remain with the children of Abdud Dar and the functions of providing drinking water to the pilgrims and their entertainment would be performed by the sons of Abd Manaf. This division of offices was still intact at the time of the advent of Islam.
He was the second forefather of Rasul. His real name was Amr and he enjoyed the title of 'Ala. He and Abd Shams were twins and their two other brothers were Muttalib and Nawfal. It is narrated by the historians that at the time of the birth of Hashim and Abd Shams a finger of the former was stuck on the forehead of the latter. Blood flowed profusely when they were separated from each other and the people took this occurrence to be a bad omen.
Halabi writes in his book on Seerah (life of the Prophet) that this bad omen later manifested its effect, because, after the advent of Islam, fierce battles were fought between Bani Abbas who were the decendants of Hashim and Bani Umayyah, who claimed their descent from Abd Shams.
This shows that the writer of Seerah has completely ignored the tragic events connected with the descendants of Ali, although the bloody drama which Bani Umayyah staged by shedding the pure blood of the progeny of Rasul is a glaring evidence of the existence of enmity between the two families. It is not, however, known as to why the said writer has failed to mention these events.
One of the particular points about the descendants of Abd Manaf, which are reflected in the battle-cries and literature of Arabia, is that they died at different places viz. Hashim died in Ghaza, Abd Shams in Makkah, Nawfal in Iraq and Muttalib in Yemen.
To quote an example of the magnanimity of Hashim it may be stated that whenever Zil-Hajj moon was sighted he came to the Holy Kaba, leaned on its wall and delivered a speech on the following lines:
'O people ot the tribe of Quraysh, you are the wisest and noblest amongst the Arabs. Your race is the best amongst all races. God has provided you accommodation by the side of His own House and has granted you superiority, in this regard over all other descendants of Ismail. O my kinsmen, beware! Pilgrims of the House of God are coming to you this month with extraordinary favour They are God's guests and it is your duty to receive them. There are many indigent persons amongst them, who will be coming from far off places. I swear by the Lord of this House that if I had been wealthy enough to entertain all the guests of God, I would not have insisted upon you to provide assistance. At present, however, I am going to spend all that I can afford, and which I have earned bv lawful means. I administer an oath to you in the name of the honour of this House that you will not spend, for this purpose, anything which you have usurped, or give or spend anything hypocritically or under compulsion. If anyone is not inclined to assist, he is at liberty not to spend anything.
For all intents and purposes the leadership of Hashim was for the welfare of the Makkans and had a great effect on the betterment of the conditions of their lives. Whenever a famine occured, his magnanimity did not permit that people should experience any hardship on this account. One of the outstanding steps, which he took for the advancement of the commerce of the Makkans, was the conclusion of an agreement with the ruler of Ghassan. It was in the wake of this agreement that similar agreements were concluded by his brother Abd Shams with the King of Ethiopia and by his two other brothers Muttalib and Nawfal with the Ruler of Yemen and the Emperor of Iran respectively. Merchandise could be exchanged freely with various countries. This agreement solved many difficulties and brought into existence a number of shopping centres in Makkah which also existed at the time of the advent of Islam. Besides this, one of the beneficial activities of Hashim was the establishment of journeying by the Quraysh to Syria in summer and to Yemen in winter. This practice continued for quite some time even after the birth of Islam.
Umayyah, son of Abd Shams, was jealous of the greatness and dignity of his uncle, Hashim, and endeavoured to attract the people to himself by bestowing gifts on them. However, inspite of his best efforts and obstructionist activities he could not divest Hashim of his position. On the contrary his vilification and slandering of Hashim increased honour and respect for the latter all the more in the hearts of the repeople.
The fire of jealousy continued to burn in the heart of Umayyah. At last he insisted upon his uncle that both of them should approach one of the sages (fortune-tellers) of Arabia and only he whom that sage confirmed to be fit for rulership should take the reins of administration in his hands.
Hashim's magnanimity did not permit him to enter into a dispute with his nephew. However, as Umavvah was very much insistent, he (Hashim) agreed to the proposal on two conditions. Firstly that whoever lost the case should sacrifice one hundred black-eyed camels during Haj season and secondly that he should remain out of Makkah for ten years. Now it so happened that, as soon as the Arab sage (the fortune-teller of Asfan) saw Hashim, he began praising him and decided the case in his favour. Umayyah was, therefore, obliged to leave Makkah and spend ten years in Syria.
The effects of this hereditary enmity continued to exist for 130 years after the advent of Islam and occasioned crimes which are unprecedented in the history of mankind. The above-mentioned story, besides bringing to light the fact as to how the enmity between the two families originated, also explains the reasons for the influence which Bani Umayyah enjoyed in Syria, and it becomes known that their old relations with the Syrians prepared ground for their rule in that area.
Salma, daughter of Amr Khazraji, was a virtuous woman, who had obtained divorce from her husband and was not prepared to remarry. While returning from Syria, during one of his journeys, Hashim stayed at Yathrib (Madina) for a few days and proposed to Salma. Salma was impressed by the nobility, affluence and character of Hashim and by the influence which he wielded amongst the Quraysh. She agreed to marry him on two conditions, one of which was that at the time of giving birth to a child she should be amongst her own people. According to this agreement she spent some time in Makkah with Hashim and when the time of her child-birth approached she returned to Yathrib. There she gave birth to a son who was named Shibah and later came to be known as Abdul Muttalib. The historians have mentioned the following reasons for the assumption of this title by Shibah:
When Hashim felt that his death was approaching, he said to his brother Muttalib "Brother! Find out your slave Shibah". And as Hashim (father of Shibah) had called his son, "the slave of Muttalib", he later came to be known as Abdul Muttalib (i.e. slave of Muttalib).
Another version is this: "One day, while a Makkan was passing through the streets of Yathrib, he saw many children practising archery. When one of the children won the match he said immediately "I am the son of the chief of Bat'ha (Makkah)". The man from Makkah came forward and asked the boy, 'who are you?". The reply was, "I am Shibah son of Hashim son of Abd Manaf".
On his return to Makkah that man informed Muttalib, the brother of Hashim and chief of Makkah, about this incident. The uncle was reminded of his nephew and, therefore, went to Yathrib. The bearing of the nephew personified before Muttalib the very personality of his brother and tears trickled down his cheeks. Both of them exchanged kisses of love and emotion. The mother was not willing to part with her son and objected to his being carried away to Makkah, but her objections and protests made the determination of Muttalib all the more stronger. Eventually Muttalib succeeded in achieving his purpose and, after having obtained the permission of the mother, made Shibah mount along with himself and proceeded to Makkah. During the course of the journey the scorching heat of the sun blackened the silvery face of the nephew and his dress was also worn and torn. For this reason, therefore, when the two arrived at Makkah, people thought that the young man was a slave of Muttalib. They whispered to one another "This young man (Shibah) is Muttalib's slave". And, although Muttalib announced time and again that the lad was his nephew, the wrong impression which had taken root in the minds of the people continued to persist. The result was that the nephew of Muttalib came to be known as Abdul Muttalib (the slave of Muttalib).
Still another version is this Abdul Muttalib was called so, because he had been brought up by his uncle and it was usual amongst the Arabs that whenever a person was brought up by another man he was called the slave of his benefactor.
Abdul Muttalib son of Hashim, the first ancestor of Rasul, was the chief of Quraysh and a renowned person. His entire social life was replete with brilliant attributes. As the events of his chiefship are also related to the history of Islam we narrate hereunder some of them.
There is no doubt about the fact that however resolute and strong a man may be, he is eventually influenced, to some extent, by his environment, and the habits and customs of the society affect his way of thinking. At times, however, some persons have an innate tendency to resist the factors governing their environments with great daring and courage, and keep themselves and their surroundings immune from all sorts of contamination.
The hero of our discourse was a perfect specimen of those people in whose lives we observe many brilliant points. If a person who, inspite of spending more than eighty years of his life amongst people who are habituated to idol-worship, drinking wine, usury and homicide, does not, throughout his life, let wine stain his lips and restrains people from committing murders drinking wine and doing wicked deeds, and prevents them from marrying the persons with whom marriage is prohibited, and from going round the Kaba unadorned, and remains firm in the matter of vows and promises till the last breath of his life, he is certainly one of those ideal men who are born rarely in human society. Of course, it was necessary that the person in whose body the light of Rasul (the greatest guide of humanity) had been deposited should be pure and free from every pollution.
From the brief anecdotes and instructive sayings ascribed to Abdul Muttalib it is learnt that everin those dark environments he was counted amongst those who believed in monotheism and in the Day of Judgement and used to say "An unjust person is punished in this very world. However, if, by chance, he dies before being duly punished, he will meet retribution for his actions on the Day of Judgement".
Harb son of Umayyah was a near relative of Abdul Muttalib. He was also considered to be one of the distinguished persons amongst the Quraysh. A Jew was the neighbour of Har'b. One day the Jew displayed harshness towards Har'b in one of the bazaars of Tahamah and hot words were exchanged between them. This incident culminated in the Jew being murdered at the instigation of Har'b. Abdul Muttalib came to know about the matter and severed his relations with Har'b. He also made efforts to realise blood-money from him and to pass it on to the survivors of the few. This brief anecdote is a specimen of the enthusiasm of this magnanimous person for helping the weak people and for dispensation of justice.
Year of the Elephant:
When a great event takes place in a nation, its root-cause is at times religious and occasionally national and political. It is usually admired by the masses and is for this reason treated to be the starting point of their history for past and future events, the last of which was the disturbance of the Year of the Elephant 570, the attack by Abraha to destroy the Kaba, which became the starting point of history for other events.
The event of the 'People of the Elephant' has been mentioned briefly in Quran and we shall, after narrating the story, mention the verses which have been revealed about it. The historians have stated the origin of the event to be as follows:
[ After Jews had Christians of Najran, near Makkah killed in a brutal way, Roman Emperor requested Negus, the King of Ethiopia tpo punish the Jews and those who helped them in the area. King Negus despatched an army under the command of an African named Abraha Ashram.]
Abraha vowed to destroy everything in his path including the Kaba. He put fighter elephants in the fore-front, and decided to pull down the House, the foundation of which had been laid by the champion of Divine monotheism Prophet Ibrahim.
He sent a message Quraysh tribe: "I can visualize the actual scene of the destruction of the Kaba. It is also certain that in the first instance Quraysh will resist. However, to ensure that their blood is not shed you should proceed to Makkah immediately. There you should contact the chief of Quraysh and tell him that my object is to destroy the Kaba and if Quraysh do not resist they will remain safe from molestation" The Chief of Quraysh, Abdul Muttalib replied: "We are not at all inclined to fight. The Kaba is the House of God. It is the House which was founded by Prophet Ibrahim. God will do whatever He deems fit". Then he told Abraha: "The House too has a Master who forestalls every intrusion upon it". On hearing this Abraha shook his head and said proudly "There is none so powerful as to keep me from achieving my object". Abdul Muttalib advised the people of Makkah: "Take refuge immediately in the valleys and on the hills along with your animals so that you may be safe from every harm".
Soon thereafter the people abandoned their homes and found shelter in the hills. At night all the hills and valleys were resounding with the cries of children, the lamentations of women and the noise made by the animals. In the very middle of that night Abdul Muttalib and some people descended the summit of a hill and reached the gate of the Kaba. He with flowing tears and burning heart, held the chain of the gate of the Kaba in his hand and recited a few verses addressing God. He spoke thus: "O God! We do not pin our faith on anyone except You, for remaining immune from their mischief and harm. O Lord! Hold them back from your Sanctuary. The enemy of the Kaba is he who is inimical to you. O Nourisher! Cut off their hands so that they may not pollute Your House. I have right over my own property, so I am endeavouring for its safety. However, safety of Your House is Your responsibility. Don't let that day come when the Cross becomes victorious over it, and the inhabitants of their lands encroach upon Your land and conquer it".
Early in the morning Abraha and his forces got ready to march towards Makkah. All of a sudden, however, a flock of birds appeared from the side of the sea, holding tiny stones in their beaks and claws. The shadow of the black birds made the sky above the encampment dark and their small and apparently insignificant weapons produced a very strange effect. The birds, armed with small stones, showered those stones under the command of God on the army of Abraha in such a manner that their heads were broken and their flesh was severed from their bodies.
One of the stones hit Abraha on his head, whereupon fear overpowered him and he began to tremble. He became sure that the wrath of God had descended on him. Then he cast an eye on his soldiers and observed that their bodies had fallen on earth like the leaves of the trees. He, therefore, immediately ordered those who had remained safe to return to Yemen and to proceed to San'a through the way they had come. The remaining army moved towards San'a but, while on their way, most of the soldiers perished on account of wounds and fear. And even Abraha reached San'a in such a condition that the flesh of his body was turn off and he died a very queer death.
This deadful and strange event became known throughout the world. The Quran narrates the story of the "People of the Elephant" in these words:
"Have you not considered how God dealt with the Army of the Elephant? Did He not foil their evil plots by sending against them flocks of birds which pelted them with stones, so that they became like left-over grass grazed by cattle. (Chapter 105).
On the face of it, these verses show that the people of Abraha were subjected to Divine wrath and the only cause of their death was these clay-stones which the birds were carrying and which were pelted on their heads, faces and bodies. A deep and minute study of these verses leads us to believe that the death of those people took place on account of these very unnatural weapons (apparently worthless and insignificant claystones but in fact very powerful and destructive things). As such these Divine verses cannot be interpreted to carry any meanings given to them by means of an explanation which is at variance with their apparent text, unless a positive proof about the correctness of such an explanation is advanced. We would like to mention the two important points here: First, that there should be no misunderstanding about the fact that by the above remarks we do not want to correct and explain the things which people attribute to the Prophets and religious leaders by way of hearsay - things which are not supported by any authentic evidence and have usually a superstitious aspect. What we mean to say is that according to the authentic evidence, which we have in hand, the Prophets of God performed some unusual acts to prove their relationship with the supernatural world. Our aim is to defend these kinds of miracles. Secondly, that we do not at all say that a miracle is an exception to the law of cause and effect. We fully respect this law and believe that all events of this world have causes and no phenomenon makes its appearance without a cause. However, what we say is that it is not necessary that the causes of the miracles should belong to the category of usual and material causes. thence, the miracles and unusual acts of the Prophets have causes which do not conform with the usual natural causes and everyone is not familiar with these mysteries.
The tumult of the 'Year of the Elephant', Abraha's death and the destruction of the enemies of the Kaba and Quraysh, made the Makkans and the Kaba very honourable in the eyes of the Arab world. Now no one could dare think of attacking Quraysh or doing them any harm or destroying the House of God. The common thinking was to this effect, that: "God has, for the sake of the honour of His House and for the honour and greatness of Quraysh, made their sworn enemy roll in dust and blood. In view of this Divine decree Quraysh and the Kaba have become respectable in the eyes of the People". They seldom reflected that this development had taken place simply for the sake of the protection of the Kaba and the greatness or smallness of Quraysh had nothing to do with it. This is proved by the fact that the enemy chiefs of that area had attacked Quraysh several times but had never been faced with such a situation.
This victory and success, which was secured without any toil and without even a drop of the blood of Quraysh being shed, created new thoughts in their minds and their conceit, pride and heedlessness increased. They now began to believe in the limitations of others, because they considered themselves to be the distinguished group among the Arabs and thought that they alone were the object of attention of three hundred and sixty idols and enjoyed their support. From the day they became unrestrained their revelry and voluptuousness knew no bounds. They quaffed cup after cup of palm-date wine and occasionally indulged in wine-drinking in the precincts of the Kaba, and according to their idiom, 'spent the best days of their lives' in the neighbourhood of idols made of stone and wood which pertained to the Arab tribes.
After the event relating to Abraha, who was himself a Christian, no Jew or Christian was permitted to enter Makkah, except as a hired worker of Makkan. In that case also it was obligatory upon him not to utter even a word about his faith and religion. Things had come to such a pass that they had abandoned some of the ceremonies of Haj, which were to be performed outside the sanctuary. For example, they were not prepared to perform the ceremony of staying at Arafah (it is a place beyond the "Haram" where the pilgrims are required to stay till sun-set on the 9th of the month of Zilhaj.) And this was in spite of the fact that their ancestors (the descendants of Ismail) considered stay at Arafah to be a part of the ceremonies of Haj and for their entire apparent superiority Quraysh were indebted to the Kaba and to these very Haj ceremonies, because it was on this account that the people were obliged to come to this barren place every year. But for the sanctuary no one would have been inclined to visit this place even once throughout one's life. From the point of view of social accountability such corruption and discrimination is unavoidable. It was therefore necessary that the environment of Makkah should have been submerged in corruption and pollution so that the world should have become ready for a basic revolution and a penetrating movement.
All these privations, feasting and drinking and lack of restraint were making the environment more and more ready for the appearance of a great reformer of the world and it was not without reason that when Waraqah bin Nawfal, the sage of Arabia, who had embraced Christianity during the last days of his life and had acquired knowledge of the contents of the Injeel (Gospel), spoke about God and the Prophets, he had to face the wrath of the Firaun of Makkah in the person of Abu Sufyan who used to say "We Makkans don't stand in need of God or the Prophets, as we enjoy the mercy and favours of our idols"
At the time Abdul Muttalib's son Abdullah was not more than twenty four years old. He took him straight to the house of Wahab son of Abd Manaf son of Zohrah and concluded Abdullah's marriage with Wahab's daughter Aminah, who was well-knowri for her purity and modesty. In the same assembly he (Abdul Muttalib) himself married Dalalah, a cousin of Aminah, who gave birth to Hamzah, the uncle who was of same age as Rasul.
By contracting marriage Abdullah opened a new chapter in his life and his apartment was lighted up by his having had a spouse in the person of Aminah. After some time he left for Syria for trade along with a caravan which was proceeding there from Makkah. The bell for departure was rung and the caravan proceeded on its way, carrying hundreds of hearts along with itself. At that time Aminah was pregnant. After a few months the van of the caravan appeared. A number of people went out of the city to receive their kinsfolk. Abdullah's old father was awaiting him and the curious eyes of his wife were also searching for him amidst the caravan, but unfortunately he was not visible anywhere. After making inquiries they learned that, while returning from Syria, Abdullah had been taken ill at Yathrib and had, therefore, stayed there with his relatives to take rest. On hearing this Aminah became very sad and tears trickled from her eyes.
Abdul Muttalib asked his eldest son Harith to go to Yathrib and to bring Abdullah along with him. On reaching there he learned that one month after the departure of the caravan Abdullah had died owing to the same ailment. On his return Harith informed Abdul Muttalib as well as Abdullah's widow of what had happened.
BIRTH OF THE PROPHET #
The dark clouds of ignorance had completely enveloped the Arabian Peninsula. Abominable and unlawful deeds, bloody campaigns, wide-spread plundering, and infanticide had obliterated all moral virtues, and placed the Arab society in a strange dclivity. The distance between their life and death had become very short. Just at this time the morning star of prosperity made its appearance and that dark atmosphere was illuminated with the auspicious birth of Rasul. Thus the preliminary step towards the foundation of the civilization and the advancement and prosperity of a backward nation was taken. Soon the beams of this light lit up the entire world and the foundation of learning, wisdom and civilization was laid.
The writers of "Seerah" (biographies of the Prophet) generally agree that Rasul was born in the "Year of the Elephant" in 570 A.D. As it is definite that he breathed his last in 632 A.D when he was 62 years old, so, the year of his birth must have been 570 A.D.
Almost all the traditionalists and historians are unanimous that Rasul was born in the month of Rabiul Awwal, but they differ about the date of his birth. It is well-known among the some traditionalists that he was born after sunrise on Friday, the 17th of Rabiul Awwal, whereas it is believed by the other scholars that his birth took place on the 12th of that month on Monday.
The seventh day approached. A sheep was slaughtered by Abdul Muttalib as an expression of gratitude to God and a number of persons were invited to the feast. In that magnificent celebration, which was attended by most of the Quraysh, he gave his grandchild the name "Muhammad". When it was enquired from him as to why he had named his child "Muhammad", while this name was very rare amongst the Arabs, he replied "I wished that he should be praised in the heavens as well us on earth". Hassan bin Thabit, says thus in this regard:
"The Creator derived the name of His Prophet from His own name. Whereas God is Praised ("Mahmud"), his Prophet is Praiseworthy ("Muhammad"). Both the words have been derived from the same root, and carry the same meaning".
From the day the newly-wedded daughter-in-law of Abdul Muttalib (lady Aminah) had lost her young and dignified husband she had been waiting for an opportunity to go to Yathrib and to see with her own eyes his last resting-place and in the meanwhile also to see her relatives in that city.
Eventually she decided that the proper time for her journey had arrived and her dear child had sufficiently grown up to accompany her. They made preparations for the journey and left for Yathrib along with Umme Aiman. They stayed there for one month. For the young child of Quraysh this journey was very severe and caused him spiritual pain, because he saw for the first time the house in which his father had breathed his last as well as the place where he was Iying buried and naturally, till that time, his mother had already told him many things about his father.
The pangs of grief were still fresh in his soul when another tragedy took place and gave him a new current of sorrow and sadness, because, while on his way back to Makka, he lost his mother also at a place called Abwa.
This unfortunate happening made Muhammad all the more dear in the eyes of the members of his family, and the only rose, which had survived this rose-garden, became all the more the object of affection and love of Abdul Muttalib. He loved him more than his own sons and gave him preference over everyone else.
A carpet used to be spread for the ruler of Quraysh (Abdul Muttalib) by the side of the Kaba. The chiefs of Quraysh as well as his own sons used to sit in a circle around the carpet. However, as and when his eyes fell on the souvenir of Abdullah he ordered that way might be made for him so that he might accommodate him on the carpet. Quran mentions Rasul's period of orphanhood in Sura Zuha and says: Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter? (Sura Zuha, 93 6)
The philosophy underlying the orphanhood of the newborn child of Quraysh is not very clear to us. We know only this much that the roaring torrent of accidents indicate a good purpose. In view of this we can guess that God willed that before the leader of mankind assumed the reins of affairs and commenced his leadership, he should taste the weal and woe, and experience the ups and downs of life so that he should develop a great forbearing and courageous spirit and with those sufferings should prepare himself to encounter in his later life a chain of hardships and deprivations as well as homelessness.
God had willed it that he should not be educated by any person and should not be under obligation to submit to anyone. From the very early days of his life he should be free and independent and procure the means of his advancement and elevation like a self-made man so that the people may realise that the inspiration in his case is not a human inspiration and his parents have had no part to play in moulding his character, way of thinking and bright future and his greatness and excellence have emanated from the fountain of revelation.
Heart-rending wordly accidents make appearance during the course of human life, one after the other, like huge waves of the sea and hurt the human soul.
The waves of grief still reigned over the heart God's Messenger when he had to encounter another great mishap. He was not yet more than eight years of age when he lost his grandfather. The death of Abdul Muttalib had so deep an impression on him that he kept weeping upto the very edge of his grave and never forgot him.
We shall speak about the personality and greatness of Abu Talib in a specific place later and shall prove his Islam and faith in Rasul with authentic evidence. However, for the present, it is only appropriate that we should narrate the events related to the guardianship of Rasul by Abu Talib.
There were a number of reasons which made it appropriate that Abu Talib should undertake the responsibility and the honour of looking after Rasul. He and Abdullah, father of Muhammad, were born of the same mother and he was also well-known for his generosity and goodness.
For this reason Abdul Muttalib selected him for the guardianship of his worthy grandson. The services rendered by him in this capacity are recorded in history in golden words and shall be narrated later.
When Rasul was fifteen years old, he took part in a battle along with his uncle. As this battle was fought in the months during which fighting is prohibited it is called the Battle of Fujjar.
During his boyhood as well as manhood the signs of strength, bravery, firmness and forcefulness were patent in the forehead of the darling of Quraysh. He participated in the war fought by Quraysh against the tribe of Hawazan. In the battle-front his duty was to ward off the arrows aimed at his uncles. In his Seerah book, Ibn Hisham quotes this sentence from Rasul: "I warded off the arrows from my uncles".
Participation in this [Fujjar] battle and that too at such a young age tells us about the unparalleled valour of Rasul and we understand as to why Imam Ali, the most valiant of the valiant, the Leader of the Believers, says "Whenever matters became difficult for us (the Muslim Soldiers) on the battle front we took refuge with God's Messenger and none of us was nearer to the enemy than Rasul himself.
The Arabs of that Age of Ignorance spent the whole year in fighting and plundering. Hewever, the continuance of this state of affairs deranged their lives. For this reason they did not fight during four months in a year (Rajab, Zilqad, Zilhaj and Muharram) so that their might open their trade markets during these four months and engage themselves in work and earning of livelihood.
It was customary for the Quraysh who were engaged in trade to visit Syria once every year. Abu Talib had determined to participate in the annual journey of Quraysh. As regards his nephew, whom he did not usually leave alone even for a while, he had decided to leave him behind in Makkah and to appoint some persons to look after him. However, when the caravan was about to move, tears trickled down the eyes of Muhammad and he extremely felt the separation from his guardian. The sad face of Muhammad aroused the sentiments of Abu Talib to such an extent that he felt compelled to bear the hardship involved and to take Muhammad along with himself.
This journey, undertaken by Muhammad at the age of twelve years, is considered to be one of the most pleasant journeys performed by him, because during this journey he passed through Madyan the Qura valley and the country of Samud and witnessed the beautiful natural sceneries of Syria. The caravan had not yet reached Syria when an incident occurred enroute at a place called Busra which upset the programme of Abu Talib's journey to some extent. The details of this incident are as follows:
For very many years a monk named 'Bahira' had been engaged in worship in his particular monastery situated at Busra. He possessed very deep knowledge of the Christian faith and was held in much respect by the Christians of that area. At times the trade caravans broke their journey at that place and the members of the caravans visited him to seek blessings. Fortunately Bahira happened to meet the trade caravan of Quraysh. His eyes fell on the nephew of Abu Talib who attracted his attention. His mysterious and deep look indicated the secret which was hidden in his heart. He stared on for a few moments and then suddenly broke the silence and asked "To whom is this boy related from amongst you?" Some of those present looked towards his uncle. Abu Talib said, "He is my nephew". Then Bahira said, "This boy has a brilliant future. He is the same promised Prophet whose universal prophethood, conquests and rule have been foretold in the Heavenly Books and the signs which I have read in the Books apply to him. He is the same Prophet, about whose name and about the name of whose father and regarding whose family, I have read in the religious books, and I know from where he is to rise and in what manner his religion will spread in the world. However, you must keep him hidden from the eyes of the Jews, for, if they learn about him, they will kill him".
Most of the historians say that the nephew of Abu Talib did not proceed beyond that place (Busra). However, it is not clear whether Muhammad's uncle sent him back to Makkah along with someone else (and this appears to be quite improbable after Abu Talib having heard from the monk that he should not separate his nephew from himself) or himself returned to Makkah along with him and discontinued his further journey. And sometimes it is said that he took Muhammad to Syria along with him, exercising much care about him.
Khadijah - The First Lady of Islam: #
The stringent financial conditions of his nephew prompted Abu Talib, who was himself one of the chiefs of Makkah and noblemen of Quraysh and was famous for his generosity, bravery and magnanimous disposition to arrange for a vocation for him. He therefore, said to his nephew: "Khadijah, daughter of Khuwaylad is one of the wealthy persons among Quraysh and her trade activities extend to Egypt and Ethiopia. She is on the look out for an honest man who should assume responsibility for her trade, participate on her behalf in the trade caravan of Quraysh and take her merchandise to Syria for sale. O Muhammad! What a good thing it would be if you introduce yourself to her".
The magnanimity and spiritual excellence of Rasul did not permit him that he should go to Khadijah direct, without any acquaintance, and in the absence of any request from her, and make such a proposal. He, therefore, replied to his uncle: "It is possible that Khadijah may herself send someone to me'. He said so, because he knew that he was well-known amongst the people as an 'honest' person. And the same thing did happen. When Khadijah came to know about their conversation she at once sent someone to Rasul saying: "The thing which has inspired my regard for you is your truthfulness, honesty and good morals. I am prepared to give you double of what I give to others and shall also send along with you two slaves, who will obey you in all circumstances''. Rasul related this thing to his uncle and the latter said "This offer is a source of your livelihood which God has bestowed upon you"
The caravan of Quraysh, which included the merchandise of Khadijah, got ready to move. Khadijah placed an easy-paced camel, a quantity of costly goods and two slaves at the disposal of her agent and ordered the slaves to be very respectful to him at all stages, never to object to what he did, and to obey him in all circumstances.
Eventually the caravan reached its destination and all its members made profit. However, the profit made by Rasul was comparatively more than that made by others and he also purchased certain things for being sold in the market-place of Tahamah.
After making a successful trip to Syria the caravan of Quraysh returned to Makkah. During this journey Rasul once again passed through the land of Ad and Samud. The silence of death which prevailed over the environments of that unruly nation invited his attention more and more to the other worlds. Moreover, the memories of the previous journey were also revived. He recollected the days when he had traversed those very deserts along with his uncle. The caravan of Quraysh drew near Makkah. Addressing Rasul the slave named Maysarah said, "It will be better if you enter Makkah before us and inform Khadijah about the affairs of trade and the extraordinary profit which we have made this year'. Rasul entered Makkah at a time when Khadijah was sitting in her upper chamber. She ran down to receive him and took him into the chamber. Rasul narrated, in a sweet manner, the matters relating to the merchandise. In the meantime Maysarah also arrived.
The slave of Khadijah (Maysarah) narrated to her exactly all that he had seen during the journey and all of which testified to the greatness and spirituality of Muhammad, 'the honest one'. He told her inter alia that during the journey 'the honest one' differed with a merchant about some matter. That man told him that he would accept his word if he swore by 'Lat' and 'Uzza' but the honest one said to him in reply. "I consider Lat and Uzza, whom you worship, to be the meanest and most despicable things on the face of the earth".
Maysara also added that in Busra 'the honest one' sat under a tree to take rest. In the meantime, a monk, who was sitting in his monastery, chanced to see him. He came and enquired about his name and then said "This man who is sitting under the shade of the tree is the very Prophet about whom I have read many good tidings in the Torah and the Gospel".
Till that time the financial and economic conditions of Rasul had not improved and he still needed financial help from his uncle, Abu Talib. His business matters were apparently not so firm as yet that he should choose a wife and set up a family.
His last journey to Syria, and that, too, in the capacity of the agent and representative of a wealthy and well-known lady of Quraysh (Khadijah) stabilised his financial and economic condition to some extent. His courage and skill attracted the admiration of Khadijah and she expressed her willingness to pay him, as a prize, something over and above the settled amount. However, Rasul accepted only that remuneration which had been agreed upon originally. He then proceeded to the house of Abu Talib and handed over to him all that he had earned, so as to ensure some relief for his uncle.
Abu Taiib had been waiting impatiently for his nephew who was the souvenir of his father (Abdul Muttalib) and his brother Abdullah. Tears trickled down his eyes as soon as he saw him. He was, nevertheless, very much pleased to learn about his business activities arid the profit that he had made, and expressed his willingness to place two horses and two camels at his disposal so that he could continue his business. As regards the money which he had earned during the said journey and had handed over to his uncle, he (Abu Talib) decided to utilize it for choosing a wife for his nephew.
In these conditions Rasul decided to choose a spouse for himself. The question, however, is as to how the lot fell upon Khadijah who had previously rejected the proposals of the most wealthy and influential men of Quraysh, like Uqbah bin Abi Mu'it, Abu Jahl and Abu Sufyan. What were the causes which brought together these two persons who were absolutely different from each other from the point of view of their respective lives, and which created such cordial relations, love and spiritual cohesion between them that Khadijah put her entire wealth at the disposal of Muhammad, and spent her wealth, which she gained from her business which extended upto Egypt and Ethiopia in the path of monotheism and for the exaltation of truth? And how was it that the house which was full of chairs studded with ivory and pearls and decorated with Indian silks and Iranian brocade curtains eventually became an asylum for the Muslims?
The causes of these events should be ascertained from the life history of Khadijah. However, the thing which is indisputable is that services, indulgence and self-sacrifice of this kind cannot certainly become permanent unless they have a firm, pure and spiritual origin.
Pages of history testify that this marriage was the outcome of the faith of Khadijah in the piety, chastity, virtue and honesty of Rasul, the dear one of Quraysh, and the life history of Khadijah and narrations about her attainments make this fact abundantly clear.
As she was a chaste and virtuous woman she wished to marry a pious and virtuous husband, and it was for this reason that Rasul said about her "Khadijah is one of the honourable ladies of Paradise". And the first woman who expressed faith in Muhammad was Khadijah. Imam Ali while describing, in one of his sermons, the pitiful condition of Islam in the early days of the prophetic mission of Rasul says "There was then no Muslim family except the family consisting of Muhammad, and his wife Khadijah. and I was its third member".
Ibne Athir says that a merchant named Afif came in Masjidul Harem and was very much surprised to observe the gathering there, and worship by a group consisting of three persons. He saw that Rasul was offering prayers along with Khadijah and Ali. On his return from the Masjid he met Abbas, the uncle of Rasul. He told him what he had seen and inquired about the factual position. Abbas said to him, "The leader amongst those three persons is claimant of Prophethood and the woman is his wife Khadijah and the third person is my nephew Ali". Then he added, "I am not aware of any person on the face of the earth who should be a follower of this religion except these three".
It is beyond the scope of this book to explain and quote the narratives which have come down about the excellence of Khadijah. It would, therefore, be better that we should explain the causes which occasioned this historical event (of marriage).
History tells us that Khadijah was prompted to marry Muhammad the 'honest man' of Quraysh owing to a series of spiritual causes:
First: When Khadijah enquired from Maysarah about the incidents related to the journey of Rasul he narrated to her the miracles which he had seen from him and also what he had heard from the monk of Syria. Khadijah felt excessive emotion within herself, which had its origin in her interest in the spirituality of Muhammad and she said to Maysarah involuntarily "Maysarah! That will do. You have doubled my interest in Muhammad. I hereby set you and your wife free and also place at your disposal two hundred dirhams. two horses and a costly dress ".
Thereafter she narrated what she had heard from Maysarah to Waraqah bin Nawfal, who was a sage of Arabia, and he said: "One who possesses these attributes is the Arabian Prophet".
Second instance: One day Khadijah was seated in her house while her bonds-women and slaves encircled her. One of the Jewish scholars was also present. By chance Rasul passed that way and the Jewish scholar saw him. He at once requested Khadijah to insist upon Muhammad that he should postpone his task and join that party for a few moments. Rasul accepted the request of the Jewish sage, which was based on observation of the signs of prophethood in his person. Khadijah then turned to the Jewish sage and said "When his uncles will become aware of your investigation and inquisitiveness they will display an adverse reaction, because they are afraid of the Jews about their nephew". The Jewish sage then replied: "How can it be possible that anyone should harm Muhammad, when the hand of destiny has reared him up for the last prophethood and for the guidance of the people?" Khadijah said: "On what authority do you say that he will come to hold this position?" He replied: "I have read the signs of the last Prophet in the Torah. His signs include three things that is his parents will die, his grandfather and uncle will support him, and he will choose for his spouse a woman, who will be the lady of Quraysh". Then he pointed to Khadijah and said: "Blessed is she who has the honour of being his life-mate".
Third: Waraqah, uncle of Khadijah, was one of the sages of Arabia. He had thorough knowledge of the Bible and used to say time and again: "A man will be raised by God from amongst Quraysh for the guidance of the people and he shall marry one of the richest ladies of Quraysh". And as Khadijah was the richest woman of Quraysh he occasionally said to her: "A day will come when you will marry the noblest man on earth!"
Forth event: One night Khadijah dreamt that the sun revolved above Makkah and then descended slowly and landed in her house. She related her dream to Waraqah bin Nawfal and he interpreted it thus: "You will marry a great man and he will become renowned throughout the world".
These are the incidents which make crystal clear the reasons for the inclination of Khadijah towards Rasul. This inclination was mostly due to her belief in the spirituality of Rasul.
This much is admitted that the proposal originated from the side of Khadijah herself; so much so that Ibn Hisham quotes that Khadijah expressed her inclination personally and said: "Cousin! On account of the relationship which exists between us and the greatness and respect which you enjoy amongst your people and the honesty, good manners and truthfulness which you evidently possess, I am earnestly inclined to marry you". The 'honest man' of Quraysh replied "I must inform my uncles about this and this task should be accomplished with their approval".
Most of the historians believe that Nafisah, daughter of Alyah conveyed the proposal of Khadijah to Rasul in the following manner:
She said, "O Muhammad! Why don't you illuminate the night-chamber of your life with the light of a spouse? Will you respond favourably if I invite you to beauty, wealth, gentleness and respect?" Rasul said "What do you mean?" She then mentioned Khadijah. Rasul said, "Is Khadijah prepared for this, when there is a world of difference between the conditions of my life and of hers?" Nafisah said, "I hold authority on her behalf and shall make her agree. You should fix a date for the purpose so that her agent (Amr bin Asad) may sit along with you and your kinsfolk and the ceremonies of marriage and rejoicing may be accomplished. Rasul talked about the matter with his honourable uncle. A grand party consisting of distinguished persons amongst Quraysh was organized. In the first instance Abu Talib delivered a sermon, commencing it with praise for God. As regards his nephew, he introduced him thus "My nephew Muhammad bin Abdullah is superior to any man of the tribe of Quraysh with whom he may be compared. Although he lacks every sort of wealth, yet wealth is a passing shadow, and origin and lineage is something permanent.
As Abu Talib had made in his sermon a mention of Quraysh and the family of Hashim, Waraqah, uncle of Khadijah said in reply "None amongst Quraysh denies your excellence. We earnestly wish to hold the string of your nobility. The marriage ceremony was then performed and the dowry was fixed at four hundred dinars. Some say that the dowry was twenty camels.
Age of Khadijah: It is usually said that at the time of marriage with Rasul, Khadijah was forty years old and was born fifteen years before the 'Year of the Elephant'. However, some writers have mentioned that her age at the time of marriage was lesser than this. Previously she had married twice. The names of her husbands were 'Ais bin Abid and Abu Halah and both of them had died. [Note: It is well-known that Khuwaylid, the father of Khadijah was killed in a Fujjar Battle and for this reason her uncle authorized marriage on her behalf. Thus the view, recorded by some historians that in the first instance Khuwaylid was not agreeable, but later he agreed, owing to the severe inclination of Khadijah, is baseless.]
Rasul's wife bore him six children. Two of them were sons - the elder one being Qasim and the younger one Abdullah. They are also called Tayyib and Tahir. She also gave birth to four daughters. Ibne Hisham writes: 'Their eldest daughter was Ruqayyah and the other three were Zaynab, Umme Kulsum and Fatimah'. The male children died before Muhammad was appointed to the prophetic mission, but the daughters continued to live.' [Note: Some historians say that Rasul's male children were more than two]
Zayd, the adopted son:
Zayd was the person whom the Arab bandits had captured from the frontiers of Syria and had sold him in the market-place of Makkah to Hakim, a relative of Khadijah. Hakim bin Hizam presented him to his aunt (Khadijah). As he was a virtuous and intelligent young man in all respects, Rasul developed a liking for him and Khadijah too made a gift of him to Rasul. At last, however, Zayd's father located his whereabouts after continuous inquiries. At that time Rasul permitted Zayd to go away with his father. However, in view of the love and kindness of Rasul for him, Zayd preferred to stay on with him. It was on this account that Rasul freed him, adopted him as his son; and married him to Zaynab, daughter of Jahash.
THE FIRST REVELATION #
In fact, the history of Islam commences basically from the day Rasul was appointed to the prophetic mission and brings a chain of incidents in its wake. The day Rasul was entrusted the task of guiding the people and the words "You are God's Messenger" were ringing in his ears, he assumed an onerous responsibility, the same great responsibility which was shouldered by all previous Prophets. On that day the policy of the 'honest one' of Quraysh became clearly known and his aim became more obvious. Before narrating the first incidents of the Prophethood of Muhammad it is essential that we should explain the following two matters: First: Necessity for the appointment of Prophets. Second: Influence of Prophets on the reformation of society.
God has infused means of development and perfection in the nature of every being and has equipped it with various facilities for traversing the path to perfection. Just cast a glance at a small plant. A large number of factors are active for its perfection. The roots of the plant operate to the maximum extent to provide it with the nutritious material and meet all its needs, and the various vessels distribute equitably the alimentary juice among all its branches and leaves. Look at a flower, whose structure is more wonderful than that of other vegetables. The bowl of the flower performs the duty of covering the surface of the buds and of protecting the petals and corolla of the flower. Similar is the case with the remaining mechanisms of the flower, all of which have been appointed for the nourishment of an animate being and perform their duty in the best possible manner. And if you take a step forward and cast a glance at the astonishing structure of the animal world you will see the factors which make them reach the bounds of perfection exist with them. If we wish to state this matter in scientific terms we would say that intuition for existence, which is a universal blessing of the mechanism of nature, has been endowed upon all created things. Quran has explained this real guidance in theses words: "He created every being and taught it how to live".
All creatures, right from the atom upto the great galaxies of the universe, have had their share of this common blessing. After taking complete measurement God has indicated the path of their gradual perfection and development and has specified factors for the training and evolution of everyone. And this is the very 'general guidance for existence' which rules the entire creation of the Universe without any exception. However, the question arises whether this natural urge for existence is sufficient also for that creature, which is the pick of the basket. Certainly not. The reason for this is that man also possesses, besides his material life, another life which is the very base of his existence. If a man had to live only a material and brainless life, like the fauna and flora, the material factor would have been sufficient for his speed, advancement and perfection. As, however, he happens to have two kinds of life; the secret of his prosperity and exaltation lies in the perfection of both of them. The first simple human being, who lived in caves and possessed a pure nature, and in whose natural disposition not the least deviation had taken place, did not need as much training as is required by the social man. However, when man takes a step forward and transforms his life into a collective one and the idea of co-operation is firmly rooted in his life and dominates it, deviations, which are incidental to social collisions and contacts, appear in his soul and bad habits and wrong ideas replace the pivot of natural thinking and upset the equilibrium and balance of the society. These deviations make the Creator of the world send educators to adjust the society and to reduce the evils which are the direct result of men living collectively, so that they may, with luminous torches and just laws, lead the society to the right path, which ensures all-round prosperity of the people. It goes without saying that living collectively, notwithstanding its being useful, also carries some evils in its lap and brings about numerous deviations. For this reason God has sent preceptors so that they may, as far as possible, diminish deviations and perverseness and put the wheels of the society on the right track by introducing clear laws.
We feel that the Prophets are the instructors of the people. Their business and duty is to train them and not to educate them and that the basis of their religion and laws - natural perception - is not something fresh or a new present. And if nature had not deviated and if ignorance and avarice had not overtaken it, it would have perceived the essence of the Divine law. Of course, what has been said above has been based on the words of the great leaders of Islam. Imam Ali says thus in Nahjul Balaghah about the aim of the Prophets: "He selected Prophets from amongst the descendants of Adam and obtained a promise from them to convey the revelations to the people and to spread the mission with which they had been entrusted. He sent them to demand from the people to fulfil their natural promise and recollect the forgotten blessings. Moreover, by their preachings they (the Prophets) should present the people with an ultimatum and to ask them to extract the gems of wisdom which have remained hidden in the treasures of their nature".
When we assert that the duty performed by the Prophets in the matter of training and reformation of the people is the same as performed by the gardener with regard to the rearing of a plant or when we say that for guiding the people and opening their natural perceptions, the Prophets are like a minerologist who extracts precious minerals from the core of the mountains, we do not say something extravagant. It may be explained in this way: From the very first stage of the formation of its nucleus a plant possesses every kind of capacity for development, growth and maturity. As soon as this plant begins to become active with the strengthening of its roots, the operation of different pharmaceutical mechanisms in open air and the acquisition of sufficient light, a movement appears in its entire being. At this stage the gardener is required to do two things. Firstly he has to make necessary conditions available for the strengthening of roots so that the latent vigour of the plant should develop. Secondly he has to restrain the deviations, so that as and when the internal energy of the plant takes a step, which prevents its thriving he should clip it. Hence it is not for the gardener to cause the plant to grow. On the contrary his duty is to provide and ensure necessary conditions so that the plant should divulge its latent perfection. The Creator or the Universe created man and endowed him with numerous innate energies and tendencies. He moulded his (man's) natural disposition with the light of monotheism and the worship of God as well as with the sense of equity, justice and compassion and the instinct of work and effort. These seeds begin growing automatically in the heart of man. However, his social life brings about deviations in him. The instinct of work and effort assumes the shape of greed and avarice, the love for prosperity and life appears in the guise of selfishness and ambition, and the light of monotheism and His worship assumes the garb of idolatry. In such circumstances the Messengers of God provide man with the light of revelation and the programme containing true conditions for growth and development, and balance the deviations and transgressions of instincts.
As you have observed the Leader of the Believers has said "At the time of the commencement of creation the Creator obtained a promise which is called the 'promise of creation' or the 'testament of creation and nature'. What is the object of this promise of creation? Its object is that God, after giving the people hundreds of useful instincts and by mixing with their disposition scores of decent manners, took a natural promise from them that they would follow good instincts and morals. For example, His giving the eyes to man amounts to a sort of taking promise from him that he would not fall in a well. Similarly giving the sense of recognition of God and that of doing justice etc. amounts to obtaining a promise from him that he would be pious and just. The duty of the Prophets is that they should persuade the people to act according to the testament of existence and to tear asunder the inauspicious veil which is put over his nature. It is for this reason that it is said that the foundation of heavenly religions is shaped by natural matters. You might say that man is like a mountain which has precious stones and gold atoms hidden in it, just as virtues, knowledge and morals are hidden in human nature in different shapes. When the Prophets and the spiritualists look minutely into the mountain of our soul they find that it has been kneaded into a number of high qualities and pure mentality and sentiments. Then they turn it back to the exigencies of nature by means of their teachings and programmes. They remind it the commandments of nature and conscience. They invite the attention of man to the qualities and the personality which is hidden within himself.
The Hira mountain is situated in the north of Makkah and one can reach its summit within half an hour. The surface at this mountain consists of slabs of black stone and no signs of life are found in it. In its northern point there is a cave which can be approached by man after crossing the stones. Its height is about as much as the stature of a man. Sunlight penetrates into a part of this cave and its remaining part is always dark. However. this very cave is a witness to such incidents about its close friend that even today people hasten to it with an ardent desire to hear about these incidents from its mute language and to reach its threshold, after undergoing many hardships, so as to enquire from it about the incident of 'revelation', as well as about a part of the life history of that great benefactor of mankind. And the cave also replies in its mute language: "This is the place of worship by the honourable one of Quraish. Before he attained to the office of prophethood he spent here many days and many nights. He had selected this spot, which was away from uproar, for the purpose of prayers and worship. He spent the entire month of Ramadan here, and at other times also he took asylum in this locality every now and then. So much so that his dear wife knew that as and when he did not come home he must be busy in prayers on the mountain of Hira. And when she sent people after him they found him meditating and praying at this place".
Before he attained to the office of prophethood he used to reflect much upon two matters: First: He studied thoroughly the book of existence and observed the luminositv, power and workmanship of God in the features of every existing thing. By conducting deep study of the skies and the stars and prudently considering the creatures on earth he was approaching nearer to his target day after day. Second: He meditated upon the onerous responsibility which, he knew, he had to shoulder. With all the corruption and deterioration of the human society of the that day, he did not consider its reformation to be something impossible. However, the enforcement of reformatory programme, too, was not devoid of difficulties and hardship. Hence, he observed the tumultuous life of the Makkans and the voluptuousness of Quraysh and reflected upon the ways and means of their reformation. He wondered at the people worshipping the lifeless and ineffective idols and showing humility before them and signs of discomfort appeared in his face. However, as he had not been ordained to mention the realities, he refrained from pointing them out to those people.
An Angel was appointed by God to recite a few verses to the 'honest one' of Quraysh by way of prelude and introduction to the Book of guidance and welfare, so as to bestow honour upon him by providing him with the garment of prophethood. The Angel was the Arch Angel Gabriel himself, and the particular day was the day of Muhammad's appointment to the office of prophethood. We shall speak about the determination of that day later. There is no doubt about the fact that to confront an Angel requires special preparedness. Unless the soul of a person is great and strong, he cannot bear the burden of prophethood, nor can he endure a meeting with an Angel. The 'honest one' of Quraysh had acquired such preparedness by means of prolonged prayers, excessive meditations and the blessings of God, and as stated by numerous writers of 'Seerah', Rasul saw, even before his appointment to the prophetic mission, dreams and visions, which were really as clear as daylight. After some time the most delightful hours for him were those during which he prayed in seclusion. His days were passing in this manner till, on the particular day, an Angel paced a tablet by his side and said: "Read..."
And Rasul on account of the fact that he was unlettered and had not learnt to read and write, replied that he was unable to read. The Arch Angel Gabriel pressed him severely and then asked him to Read. However, he repeated the same reply. The Angel again pressed him severely. This action was repeated thrice, and after the third pressure he suddenly felt within himself that he could read the writing on the tablet held by the Angel. He then read the following verses which are infact reckoned to be the introduction of the Book of human welfare:
"Read, In the Name of your Lord who Created. Created man from a clot of blood. Read, your Lord is the Most Bountiful One, Who taught by the Pen; taught man that which he knew not..." (96:1-5).
Arch Angel Gabriel accomplished his assignment and after the revelation Rasul also descended the mountain of Hira and proceeded towards Khadijah's house.
The above verses clearly indicate the programme of Rasul in a nutshell, and tell in obvious terms that the foundation of his religion is provided by recitation and reading, learning and wisdom and use of pen.
Many people lack power of going deep into some spiritual matters and this limit has bounded the light of their thinking. They imagine that this material world is the only world and anything other than matter is nothing. They claim experiments do not tell us to this (other world) and do not provide us with information about its existence. For example, the soul is not found by our tools in our laboratories under the microscope and, therefore, it must not necessarily have an external existence. This way of thinking is very limited, defective and mixed with vanity, whereby 'non-existence' has been concluded on account of 'lack of consciousness', and, as the tools available to the materialists do not extend to the [other] realities, they infer that its all baseless. The fact is the materialists have not been able to realise the truth even in regard to the existence of the Creator, not to speak of other metaphysical matters. It appears that if these people undertake discussions in a suitable atmosphere, free from spite and prejudice, the distance between materialism and Divinity will vanish quickly and the differences which have divided the scholars into two groups will disappear. Those who worship God have adduced scores of proofs regarding the existence of God, and have proved that these very natural sciences have guided them towards the Omnipotent; and that the wonderful system which governs the interior and the exterior of all beings, is in itself, a clear proof of the existence of its Creator. All things in the Universe, right from the Milky Way upto an atom, are advancing in accordance with a chain of regular laws, and it is not at all possible that a blind and deaf nature should originate and establish such a wonderful system. And it is this very argument of the 'good order of the Universe' which is the basis [of rational belief]. And as this argument is understandable and utilisable by different classes, most of the writings of a general nature have been based on it, and everyone has relied on it in one way or the other.
Belief in inspiration is the foundation of all prophethoods and heavenly religions and it rests on a powerful abstract soul which is capable of receiving Divine knowledge either without any intermediary or through an Angel. The sages have spoken about inspiration: "Inspiration means that God shows the true path to one of his chosen servants and imparts to him instruction in different branches of learning. An Angel is commissioned by God to convey a particular commandment to him. Quran was communicated to Rasul in this manner: "The Faithful Spirit (Gabriel) brought it down into your heart, that you might warn mankind in plain Arabic speech" [26:192].
The great soul of Rasul was illumined with the light of revelation. He recorded in his heart what he had heard from the Angel. After this incident the same Angel addressed him saying: "O Muhammad! You are God's Messenger and I am Gabriel". At times it is said that Rasul heard these words when he had descended the Hira mountain.
These two occurrences frightened and agitated him to some extent. The cause of fear and agitation was that a great responsibility had been entrusted to him and he had, on that day, discerned the reality which he had been seeking for a long time. However, this agitation of mind was natural to some extent and was not inconsistent with his faith about the truth which was communicated to him. Notwithstanding the fact that he was certain that what he had acquired was the message of God and he who had brought it was Gabriel, all his agitation was natural to a certain degree and was not out of place. This is so because however strong a person's soul may be and to whatever extent he may be related to the mechanism of the occult and the spiritual world, when he faces, in the first instance, an Angel, whom he has never seen before, and that too on the summit of a mountain, he is liable to experience such agitation, and that is why this agitation vanished later. Agitation of mind and unusual weariness made him proceed to the house of Khadijah. When he entered the house his dear wife observed signs of deep reflection and anxiety in his face and asked him what the matter was. Rasul related to Khadijah what had happened and also added the sentence 'I felt afraid of myself'. Khadijah looked at him with respect, prayed for him and comforted him by mentioning some of his good qualities. Amongst other things she said: 'You are kind to your kinsfolk, show hospitality to your guests and you are not afraid of bearing hardships in the right path. God will assist you'. By narrating these qualities of Rasul, Khadijah certainly intended to make him more hopeful about his success and advancement for the achievement of the object for which he had been commissioned. This fact can very well be confirmed by what she said. Then Rasul felt fatigued. He, therefore, turned to Khadijah and said, "Cover me". Khadijah covered him and soon afterwards he fell asleep.
We have already referred to Waraqah, and have mentioned that he was one of the sages of Arabia. It was a long time since he had embraced Christianity after studying the Gospel and was an eminent person in his own field. He was Khadijah's cousin. Rasul's dear wife related to Waraqah what she had heard from her honourable husband. Waraqah, after hearing Khadijah, replied to his cousin: "Your cousin is a truthful man, and what he has met with is the commencement of prophethood and Gabriel has descended upon him". The events, which we have so far mentioned, are extracts from historical narratives. These are the facts which have been related by successive writers and are found in all to history books. Other strange and false reports are not compatible with the life of that great man nor his standards. We feel that all these stories are a part of the Israelite programme and have been coined by the Jews and introduced into history.
The advancement of Islam and its penetration into different peoples took place gradually. In the terminology of Quran those persons who preceded all others in embracing and propagating Islam are called as-Sabiqun (the Foremost); and, in the early days of Islam this precedence was in itself a criterion of virtue and superiority and, even amongst these persons, one who preceded another one enjoyed a more honourable position. Hence, we should consult the authentic sources and decide, without any bias, as to who were the first amongst men and women who embraced Islam. It is an admitted historical fact that from amongst women, Khadijah was the first to embrace Islam, and there is no contradictory report on this point. Almost all the various historians are unanimous that the first amongst men to embrace Islam was Ali. As against this well-known statement there can also be found some rare statements, in history. Their narrators have chosen to state the reverse of it. For example, it is said that the first man to embrace Islam was either Zayd bin Harith or Abu Bakr.
The soul of Rasul had been illuminated with the light of revelation and he continuously meditated and reflected upon the onerous duty which the Almighty Lord had entrusted to him by saying: "O you who are wrapped up in your vestment, arise and give warning. Magnify your Lord." (74:1)
During three years the chiefs of Quraysh did not take the slightest liberty with Rasul and always respected him. He, too, did not openly criticize their idols and gods during this period and remained busy in maintaining special contacts with clear-sighted persons.
However, Quraysh also woke up on the very first instance when the special invitation to Rasul's near relatives and general invitation to the public commenced and his criticism of the idols and of the anti-human ways and manners of Quraysh began to be talked about.
They realized on that very day that there was a vast difference between his call and those of Waraqah and Umayyah. Secret and open opposition and strife, therefore, started. In the first instance he broke his silence before his relatives and thereafter pronounced his general call. There is no doubt about the fact that deep-rooted reforms, which influence all spheres of human life and change the course of society, mostly stand in need of two strong forces - the force of speech and the force of defence: First: The force of speech so that the speaker may be able to state facts in an attractive manner and should convey to the general public his own personal ideas or those which he receives from the world of revelation. Second: The force of defence so that in the event of danger he may be able to organize a defence line against the rush of the enemies. In the absence of this ability the flame of his invitation extinguishes in the very beginning.
The force of speech of Rasul was extraordinarily perfect and there is no denying the fact that he was a forceful speaker who could explain his religion with great eloquence. However, during the early days of his call, he was devoid of the second force, because, during these three years, he had been able to convert only about forty persons to his faith and it is evident that such a small group could not undertake his defence. Hence, in order to acquire a defence line and to organize a central nucleus, Rasul invited his own kinsmen to his faith before making a general call. In this way he removed the deficiency of the second force and was able to construct an important an important fortification against the possible dangers. This invitation was at least useful in the sense that even if his relatives were not inclined to his faith they stood up to defend him on account of their fraternal and tribal sentiments, till the time arrived when his invitation impressed some of the chiefs of the nation and made another group inclined to him. He also believed that the foundation of reforms rests on internal reform. Until a man attempts to restrain his own children and relatives from evil deeds, invitation extended by him to others can never be effective, because in that event the opponents will indulge in criticism and point out to him the conduct of his own relatives. In view of these considerations, God addressed Rasul about inviting his relatives with the words: "Admonish your nearest kinsfolk" (26:214); whereas with regard to the general call He said: "Reveal that for which you have been made responsible and keep away from the idolators, for We will protect you from the enemies.(15:94).
The manner of Rasul's invitation to his kinsfolk was very attractive, and the secrets of this manner of invitation become more clear later when the reality became manifest. While commenting on the verse "Admonish your nearest kinsfolk", almost all the exegetes and historians write that God ordered him to invite his nearest kinsfolk to his faith. After necessary circumspection Rasul ordered Ali, son of Abu Talib, whose age did not then exceed fifteen years, to procure food and also to arrange for milk along with it. Then he invited forty five elders from amongst Bani Hashim and also decided to divulge the hidden secret on that occasion. Unfortunately, however, when the meal was over, one of his uncles (Abu Lahab) said some privolous and baseless things and made the atmosphere uncongenial for the presentation of the subject of prophetic mission. Rasul, therefore, considered it expedient to defer the matter till the following day. On the next day, he again arranged a feast. After the meal was over he turned to the elders of his family and began his talk by praising God and announcing His Oneness. Thereafter he said: "Indeed, the guide of a community never lies to his people, I swear by God, besides whom there is no god, that I have been sent by Him as His Messenger, especially towards you and generally towards all the inhabitants of the world. Yes! O my kinsmen! You will die as if you were going to sleep and sometime thereafter you will be brought to life again and will receive a recompense according to your deeds. This recompense is the eternal Paradise of God and His perpetual Hell. No human being has ever brought a better thing for his people than that which I have brought for you. I have brought for you the blessings of this world as well as of the Hereafter. My Lord has ordered me to invite you towards Him. Which one of you will be my supporter so that he may become my brother, executor and successor amongst you?"
When the speech of Rasul reached this point, perfect silence had prevailed over the whole gathering and every one of those present was reflecting upon the greatness of the target and of his own fate in the long run. All of a sudden, Ali, who was then a fifteen year old young man, broke the silence prevailing in the assembly. He stood up and said in a forceful tone: "O Prophet of God! I am prepared to support you." Rasul ordered him to sit down. He repeated the invittion three times but none except the same fifteen year old young man gave him the same reply. He then turned to his kinsmen and said: "People! This young man is my brother, my vicegerent and successor amongst you. Listen to his words and obey him". At this stage the meeting came to an end and those present turned to Abu Talib with smiling faces and said: "Muhammad has directed you to follow your son and to take orders from him and has declared him to be your elder".
What has been written above is the gist of the detailed version quoted by most of the exegetes and historians in different words.
The proclamation of the successorship (imamate) of Ali in the early days of the Prophethood of Muhammad goes to show that these two offices are not separated from each other, and when God's Messenger was introduced to the people, his successor was also appointed and introduced on the same day and this shows by itself that prophethood and imamate are linked together and there is no distance between them. This event clearly proves the spiritual heroism and bravery of Imam Ali. For, in an assembly in which experienced and aged persons were drowned in reflection and astonishment, he pronounced his support and devotion with perfect boldness and expressed his enmity with the enemies of Rasul without treading the path of self-seeking politicians. Although at that time he was the youngest amongst those present so far as age was concerned, but this association with Rasul for a long time in the past had prepared his mind for the acceptance of the realities which the elders of the nation were reluctant to accept.
Distortion and misrepresentation of facts and concealment of realities is a clear case of crime and breach of trust; and during the course of Islamic history there has been a group of biased writers who have treaded this path and reduced the worth of their treatises on account of misrepresentations. The course of history and evolution of knowledge has, however, exposed them. Here is a specimen of misrepresentation of this type: Tabari has narrated the incident of invitation to the kinsfolk in detail in his Tafsir; but when he reaches the sentence: "Ali is my brother, vicegerent and successor" he alters the sentence and says: "Ali is my brother, and this and that". And there is no doubt about the fact that to omit the words "my vicegerent and successor" and to substitute for them the word "etc.'' is nothing short of breach of trust. It goes without saying that the thing which prompted Tabari to omit these two words and to substitute two allusive words for them is the very religious bias of his, because he did not consider Ali to be the vicegerent and immediate successor of Rasul. And as these two words clearly indicated that Ali was the executor and the immediate successor, Tabari considered it necessary to defend his own religious attitude. And then we come across the crime which has been committed by Dr Haykal, the former Education Minister of Egypt and the writer of "Hayat-i Muhammad" who has opened the path for the new generation for resorting to distortion of facts. It is rather strange that whereas in the preface of his book he has used very harsh words for the orientalists and accused them of distortion of facts and forgery, he himself commits the same thing, rather goes a step forward, because firstly, in the first edition he quoted the incident in a mutilated manner and, out of the two essential sentences, recorded only one (Rasul turned to the elders and said: "Who amongst you will be my supporter in this task so that he may be my brother, executor and successor"), but totally omitted the other sentence which Rasul uttered about Ali after expression of support by him, and did not at all mention that Rasul said about him: "This young man is my brother, vicegerent and successor." Secondly, in the second and third editions, he went one step forward and omitted both the sentences from the two places and thus struck an irreparable blow to his own position as well as to that of his book.
GENERAL INVITATION #
Three years had passed since the commencement of the prophetic mission of Rasul. After inviting his nearest kinsfolk, Rasul resorted to general invitation. During these three years he had guided some persons by special contacts to accept the Islamic faith, but this time he invited the general public openly to the religion of worshipping God, the One and the Unique One. One day he took his place on a high rock and said aloud: 'Ya Sabahah'! Rasul's call received attention. Some persons belonging to different families of Quraysh ran up to him. Then he turned to those assembled there, and said: "O people! Will you believe me if I tell you that your enemies have taken positions on the other side of this hill ( Safa) and intend attacking your lives and property?" All of them said, "We have never heard anything false from you throughout our lives". Then he said: "O people of Quraysh! Save yourselves from fire. I cannot do anything for you in the presence of God. I warn you of painful torture!" Then he added: "My position is like that of a watchman, who observes an enemy at a far-off point and immediately runs to his people for their safety and warns them of the impending danger by saying 'Ya Sabahah' in the particular manner". These sentences indicate the basis of his invitation and religion. Quraysh were more or less aware of his religion, but these sentences created such a fear in their hearts that one of the leaders of infidelity (Abu Lahab) broke the silence of the people and said: "Woe be to you! Did you call us for this thing?" Then the people dispersed.
How can success be attained? The secret of everyone's success lies in two things: Firstly, faith in one's aim and secondly steadfastness and effort in the path of its attainment. Faith is the inner stimulant which perforce pushes man to his object and invites him day and night to attain his aim, because he firmly believes that his welfare, supremacy, prosperity and good end are associated with it. And, in view of the interest which man takes in himself, whenever he develops faith and confidence the strength of his faith automatically directs and persuades him to overcome all difficulties and keeps him away from every doubt, notwithstanding the fact that his prosperity may be dependent upon the attainment of a specific target. For example, a sick man, who knows that his remedy and welfare lies in taking a bitter medicine, takes it easily, and a diver who believes that there are precious gems beneath the tides of the sea throws himself into the mouth of the tides without any apprehension; and returns to surface, after achieving his purpose. However, if the ailing person or the diver are doubtful about the achievement of their objects or do not at all believe in the usefulness of their job, they either do not take any steps in that direction or, even if they do, they are faced with hardship and anguish. Hence, it is the very strength of belief and faith which solves all difficulties. Nevertheless, there is no doubt about the fact that achievement of one's target is associated with difficulties and obstacles. It is, therefore, necessary for us to combat against those hurdles and to make necessary efforts in that behalf, so that all the obstacles may be removed with our full might. It has been said since olden times that wherever there is a flower (a prized object) there is also a thorn (difficulty) with it. The flower should, therefore, be plucked in such a way that the thorn does not prick one's hands or feet. Quran has mentioned this subject (that the secret of success in aims lies in faith in one's aim and steadfastness) in a short sentence and has said: "As for those who say: Our Lord is God, and then take to the right path..." (they rely on God, and remain steadfast, they will definitely succeed, and are helped by the Angels). (Sura Fussilat, 41:30).
As a result of the special contacts of Rasul before the 'general invitation' and his indefatigable efforts thereafter, a selected and faithful team came into existence against the forces of infidelity and idolatry. The Muslims, who had embraced Islam secretly before the 'general invitation', developed complete acquaintance with those who responded to Rasul's call thereafter and the bells of danger rang in all the assemblies of infidelity and polytheism. No doubt it was quite easy for the strong and well-equipped Quraysh to crush a newly-born movement, but the reason for their being afraid was that the members of the movement did not belong to only one family but persons belonging to various families had also embraced Islam. Hence it was not easy for Quraysh to take a decisive action. After mutual consultations the chiefs of Quraysh decided to remove the very foundation of this faith and the founder of the new religion by different means. They proposed to achieve this purpose by approaching him sometimes with allurements and at other times by extending to him various promises and occasionally by using threats and torture. For ten years Quraysh behaved in this manner and eventually they decided to kill Rasul. In order to save him, therefore, God ordered him to quit Makkah. During the aforesaid period the chief of the family of Bani Hashim was Abu Talib. He was a man who possessed a noble nature and a magnanimous spirit, and his house was an asylum for the needy and the orphans. Besides being the chief of Makkah and possessing some offices with regard to the Holy Kaba he enjoyed a very high position in the Arab society and as he had been the guardian of Rasul after the demise of Abdul Muttalib, the other chiefs of Quraysh approached him in the form of a group and addressed him thus: "O Abu Talib! Your nephew abuses our gods, speaks ill of our religion, laughs at our thoughts and beliefs and considers our forefathers misguided. Ask him to keep aloof from us or surrender him to us and refrain from supporting him". The elder of Quraysh and the head of the family of Bani Hashim replied to them in a tactful manner and in a soft tone, and consequently they abandoned their activities. However, Islam was penetrating and expanding day after day and the spiritual rapture of the religion of Rasul and the attractive and eloquent words of the Heavenly Book (Quran) were lending support to it. Rasul especially presented his religion before the people in the months in which fighting was prohibited, when a large number of pilgrims gathered in Makkah. His eloquent and sweet speeches and his attractive beliefs impressed many persons. In the meantime the Pharoah of Makkah also realized that Rasul had gained popularity amongst all the tribes and had acquired many followers amongst the settled and unsettled Arab tribes. They, therefore, decided to approach Rasul's only supporter (Abu Talib) once again and to make known to him the dangers to which the liberty of the Makkans and of their religion had become subjected owing to the propagation and expansion of Islam. Hence, they once again approached him jointly, and referring to their former demands spoke to him thus: "O Abu Talib! You are superior to us in the matter of nobility and age. However, we met you earlier and requested you to restrain your nephew from propagating the new religion, but you did not pay any heed to our words. The position had now become unbearable for us. We cannot tolerate any longer that a person should abuse our gods and should consider us to be foolish and ignorant. It is necessary for you to restrain him from all these activities, failing which we will fight against him as well as against you, who are his supporter, so that the duty of each group should become specific and one of them should be wiped out". Abu Talib, the distinguished supporter and defender of Rasul realized through his sagacity and perfect wisdom that it was appropriate to show forbearance to the people whose entire dignity of existence was now open to danger. He, therefore, adopted a peaceful attitude and promised that he would convey the sentiments of the chiefs to his nephew. No doubt this reply was given primarily with the object of quenching the fire of their wrath so that an appropriate way of solving the difficulty could be adopted later. Hence, after the departure of the chiefs he contacted his nephew and conveyed their message to him and incidentally, in order to test his faith in his own object, demanded a reply from him. However, while replying, Rasul uttered a sentence which is considered to be one of the outstanding and golden lines of history. Here is the text of his reply: "Dear uncle, I swear by God that even if they place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand (i.e. even if they provide me with rule over the entire world) I shall not desist from propagating my religion and pursuing my object, and shall continue my efforts until I overcome the difficulties and achieve my final goal or lay down my life for its sake". Thereafter Rasul's eyes were filled with tears on account of his love and enthusiasm for his object and he stood up and departed from his uncle's presence. His penetrating and attractive speech made such a wonderful impression on the chief of Makkah that, notwithstanding all the dangers to which he was exposed, he called back his nephew and said to him: "By God! I will not give up my support to you and you may very well pursue your object to its end".
The ever-increasing expansion of Islam disturbed Quraysh very much and they were keen to find out a solution to this problem. They assembled once again and were of the view that Abu Talib's support to Muhammad was possibly due to the fact that he had adopted him as his son and if that were so it was possible that they might take the most handsome young man to him and ask him to adopt him as his son. They, therefore, took with them Ammarah bin Walid bin Mughayrah, who was the most handsome of the Makkan young men, and approaching Abu Talib for the third time began complaining and threatening in these words: "O Abu Talib! Walid's son is a young man, who is a poet and is also handsome and intelligent. We are prepared to hand him over to you so that you may adopt him as your son and cease supporting your nephew". On hearing this Abu Talib was cut to the quick and shouted upon them with a burning face and said: "You are doing a great injustice to me. You wish that I should nurture your son and surrender my dearest child to you so that you may kill him. I swear by God that it will not be so". Mut'am son of Adi then stood up and said: "The offer made by Quraysh is quite fair, but you are not going to accept it". Abu Talib replied: "You have not been just and I am sure that you want to humiliate me and to instigate Quraysh to fight against me. However, you are free to do what you can".
Quraysh became sure that it was not at all possible to make Abu Talib agree to their suggestion and, although he did not declare openly to be a follower of Islam, he had a great faith in his nephew and dearly loved him. They, therefore, decided to refrain from entering into any discussion with him. They, however, thought of another plan and it was that they should allure Muhammad by offering him status, wealth, gifts and beautiful women so that he might abandon his call. They, therefore, went to the house of Abu Talib in the form of a group at a time when his nephew was also sitting with him. The spokesman of the group opening the talk said: "O Abu Talib! Muhammad has scattered our united ranks and has created dissension amongst us. He has laughed our intellect down and has ridiculed us and our idols. If he has been prompted to do so on account of his poverty and indigence we are prepared to place enormous wealth at his disposal. If he wants status we are ready to accept him as our ruler and will listen to him. And in case he is invalid and needs medical treatment we will bring an expert physician to attend upon him............." Abu Talib turned his face to Rasul and said: "The elders of your tribe have come and request that you should refrain from criticizing the idols so that they, too, may leave you alone". Rasul replied to his uncle thus: "I don't desire anything from them. As against these four offers they should accept one word from me so that, under its auspices they may rule the Arabs and make non-Arabs their camp followers". At this stage Abu Jahl stood up and said: "We are prepared to hear you ten times". Rasul replied: "My only word is that you should admit Oneness of the Lord". The unexpected words of Rasul were like cold water thrown on a hot kettle. They were so much engulfed in amazement coupled with disappointment and despair that they said involuntarily all at once: "Should we forsake 360 gods and worship only one God?" Quraysh left the house while their faces and eyes were burning with anger and they were thinking about the means for achieving their object. In the following verses of Quran this very incident has been related: It seems strange to the pagans that a man from their own people should come to them as a Prophet. The unbelievers have said, "he is only a lying magician ". They say, "Has he condemned all other gods but One? This is certainly strange". A group of the pagans walked out of a meeting with Rasul and told others, "Let us walk away. Be steadfast in the worship of your gods. This man wants to dominate you. We have heard nothing like this in the latest religion. This is only his own false invention. (Sura Saad, 38:4-7)
One of the most tragic periods of the life of Rasul began on the day on which he broke the seal of silence and the elders of Quraysh lost all hope of his accepting their offers in view of his well-known words: "By God! Even if you place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand so that I may abandon my call, I will not rest until God makes my religion prevail or I lay down my life for its sake". Till that time Quraysh had, during all their encounters with him, preserved his respect, but when they saw that all their conciliation offers had failed they were compelled to change the course of their thinking and to forestall the expansion of Islam at all costs and to utilize all means for this purpose. Hence the council of Quraysh decided unanimously to practice ridicule, torture and intimidation to restrain Rasul from pursuing his object. It is evident that a reformer who is anxious to guide the people of the whole world must observe patience and fortitude in the face of inconveniences, intimidations, dastardly attacks and corporal and mental blows, so that by and by he should be able to overcome difficulties, and this has been the policy of other reformers as well. We give below an account of some of the persecutions and tortures of Quraysh so that the extent of Rasul's patience and fortitude may become manifest. Besides the mental and spiritual factor (faith, steadfastness and fortitude) which helped him internally Rasul also possessed an external factor which ensured safety and support for him, and that was the support of Bani Hashim with Abu Talib at their head, because when Abu Talib came to know that Quraysh had taken a final and irrevocable decision to persecute his nephew, he called all the members of Bani Hashim and asked them to protect Muhammad. Some of them undertook to support and protect him on account of their faith and others agreed to do so in view of the bond of kinship. Out of them only three (namely Abu Lahab and two others whose names will be mentioned later along with other enemies of Rasul refrained from endorsing his decision. However, in spite of this, these defensive measures could not protect him from some unpleasant incidents and as and when the enemies found him alone they did not desist from doing him all sorts of harm. Here is an example of the tortures inflicted by Quraysh: 1. One day Abu Jahl saw Rasul in Safa and abused and grieved him. Rasul did not speak to him at all and went away to his house. Abu Jahl also went to join Quraysh who had assembled by the side of the Kaba. Hamzah, who was the uncle and foster-brother of Rasul, also returned on that day from hunting and was carrying his bow on his shoulder. It was customary with him that after returning to Makkah and before seeing his children and relatives, he went to the Kaba and performed 'tawaf' (circumambulation) and then went over to the different groups of Quraysh who gathered round the Kaba and exchanged greetings with them. On that day, after performing these ceremonies, he went to his house. By chance a slave-girl of Abdullah Jad'an, who had witnessed the aforesaid incident, came forward and said "O Abu Ammarah, (the patronymic of Hamzah) I wish that you had been here a few minutes earlier and had seen the incident which I have seen! Then you would have learnt how Abu Jahl has abused and persecuted your nephew". The words of the slave-girl made a strange impression on Hamzah and he decided to avenge his nephew's insult upon Abu Jahl before doing anything else. He, therefore, returned and saw Abu Jahl sitting amongst a group of Quraysh. Without speaking to anyone he raised his hunting bow and struck it on the head of Abu Jahl and his skull was injured. Then he said to him: "You abuse him (Rasul) and I have embraced his religion and am treading the same path which he treads. If you possess any strength, come on and fight with me". A group of persons belonging to the family of Makhzum then stood up to support Abu Jahl. However, as he was a clever and diplomatic person, he avoided every sort of quarrel and defence and said "I misbehaved with Muhammad, and Hamzah is entitled to feel uneasy about it". This admitted historical fact shows that Hamzah, who later became one of the greatest commanders of Islam was a highly influential and brave personality. He did all he could to protect and defend Rasul and strengthen the group of Muslims. As Ibn Athir says, Quraysh considered the Islam of Hamzah to be one of the greatest factors for the advancement and strength of the Muslims and they, therefore, resorted to other plans which will be mentioned later. Some other historians like Ibn Kathir Shami insist that: "The effect of the Islam of Abu Bakr and Umar was no lesser than the effect of the Islam of Hamzah, and the Islam of these two great caliphs became the means of the glory, strength and freedom of the Muslims''. Of course, there is no doubt about the fact that every person contributed to the strength and expansion of Islam, but, in spite of this, it can never be said that the effect of the Islam of these two caliphs was at par with the effect of the Islam of Hamzah. The reason for this conclusion is that Hamzah was the man who, on hearing that an elder of Quraysh had abused Rasul, went in quest of the culprit without informing anybody of his intention and took a very hard revenge on him. And none had the courage to oppose him or to fight with him. On the other hand Ibn Hisham, the great biographer of Islam, narrates an incident with regard to Abu Bakr which shows that when he joined the circle of the Muslims he did not possess the requisite strength to defend either himself or Rasul. The details of the incident are given below: One day Rasul was passing by a group of Quraysh. Suddenly those people encircled him and everyone of them began repeating, by way of ridicule, his words about the idols and the Day of Judgement and said: "Do you say this?" Rasul replied to them: "Yes. I am the person who says this". As Quraysh saw that there was none to defend Rasul they decided to kill him. A man, therefore, came forward and held the ends of his dress. Abu Bakr happened to be there by the side of Rasul. With tears in his eyes he stood up to support Rasul and said: "Is it proper that you should kill a man who believes in monotheism?" Later (for some reasons) those people desisted from maltreating Rasul and he went his own way, whereas Abu Bakr proceeded to his own house with an injured head. Although this incident may be an evidence of the Caliph's sentiments for and interest in Rasul it is, first of all, a firm evidence of his weakness and fear. It shows that at that time he did not possess either strength or an appreciable social status. And as a practical step by Quraysh against Rasul might have entailed evil consequences, they left him alone and directed the severity of their action towards his companion and broke his head. If you place the incident of Hamzah which clearly shows his valour and bravery side by side with this episode you can very well decide as to whose Islam had a greater effect in the early days of Islam on the honour, strength and fear of the unbelievers. You will soon read about the Islam of Umar. His Islam also, like that of his old friend, did not strengthen the defensive power of the Muslims. But for Ass bin Wail it was possible that the blood of the Caliph might have been shed on the day he embraced Islam, because he (Ass bin Wail) came and addressed the group, who wanted to kill Umar, in these words: "What do you want from a man who has adopted a faith for himself? Do you think that the family of Adi will surrender him easily?" This sentence shows that it was the fear of his family which made others spare him and defence by the families of those who belonged to them was something natural and usual and there was no difference in this regard between the low and the high. Yes! The base of defence of the Muslims was the house of Bani Hashim and the heavy burden of the task lay on the shoulders of Abu Talib and his family, for, as regards other persons who joined the Muslims they did not possess the requisite strength even to defend themselves, and the question of their Islam becoming the source of the dignity and exaltation of the Muslims did not, therefore, arise.
The ever-increasing advancement of Islam had made Quraysh very much uneasy. Every day a report regarding the inclination (to Islam) of one member or another of their tribe reached them. On this account, therefore, their anger was flaming out. One day the Pharaoh of Makkah, Abu Jahl, said in the assembly of Quraysh: "O people of Quraysh! You can see how Muhammad considers our religion to be worthless and abuses the faith of our forefathers and their gods, and declares us to be ignorant. By God I will lie in ambush for him tomorrow and will place a stone by my side; and when Muhammad goes into sajdah (prostration) I will strike that stone on his head. On the following day Rasul arrived in Masjidul Haram to offer his prayers and stood between 'Rukn-i Yamani' and the 'Black Stone'. A group of Quraysh who were aware of the intention of Abu Jahl were wondering whether or not he would succeed in his campaign. Rasul went into sajdah and his old enemy came out of the ambush and approached him. However, it was not long before he was struck with awe and he returned to Quraysh, trembling, and aghast, with a countenance distracted. All of them ran forward and said "O Aba Hakam! what has happened?" He said with a very weak voice which betrayed his fear and disturbance of mind "There appeared before my eyes a scene which I had never seen before in my life. It was for this reason that I abandoned my plan". It goes without saying that an unseen force had arisen by the command of God and had created a spectacle which protected Rasul from harm by the enemies in accordance with the Divine promise: "We shall protect you from the mischief of those who mock". Numerous instances of torture by Quraysh are recorded in the pages of history. Ibn Athir has allocated a chapter to this subject and has mentioned the names of the foremost enemies of Rasul in Makkah and the atrocities perpetrated by them. Whatever has been said above is only a specimen. Rasul found himself faced every day by a new persecution. For example, one day Uqbah bin Abi Muit saw Rasul performing 'Tawaf' and abused him. He twisted his turban round his neck and dragged him out of the Masjid. Some persons freed Rasul from his hands on account of fear of Bani Hashim. The torture and persecution to which Rasul was subjected by his uncle, Abu Lahab and his wife, Umme Jamil was unprecedented. He happened to be a next-door neighbour of theirs. They did not refrain from throwing any sort of dirt on him, and one day they threw the entrails of a sheep on his head. Eventually Hamzah, with a view to take revenge, thrust the same on the head of Abu Lahab.
How did the Quraysh persecute the converts? In the early days of the prophetic mission the advancement of Islam was the result of a number of factors, one of which, was the steadfastness of Rasul and his companions and supporters. Examples of the patience and fortitude of the leader of the Muslims have already been stated, whereas the forbearance and perseverance of the Muslims who lived in Makkah (the centre of polytheism and idolatry) deserves attention. An account of their sacrifices and steadfastness will be given in the chapters relating to events after Hijrah (migration to Madina). For the present we mention the tragic events connected with the lives of some old devotees of Rasul who lived in the shelterless environments of Makkah.
The parents of Bilal were amongst those persons who had been brought from Ethiopia to Arabia as captives. He himself (who later became the muazzin of Rasul) was the slave of Umayyah bin Khalaf. Umayyah was one of the sworn enemies of the great leader of the Muslims. As the kinsmen of Rasul had undertaken his own defence, Umayyah, with a view to take revenge, used to torture openly his slave who had been newly converted to Islam. He made him lie naked on hot sand during the hottest days, placed a big red-hot stone on his chest and addressed him in these words: "I will not release you until you die in this condition or abjure the faith of Muhammad, and worship 'Lat' and 'Uzza'. In spite of all this torture, however, Bilal replied him with only two words which are a clear proof of his firm faith. He said, 'Ahad! Ahad!' (God is One and I will never revert to the religion of polytheism and idolatry). Others wondered at the steadfastness of this black slave who was a captive in the hands of a hard-hearted person. So much so that Waraqah bin Nawfal, the Christian Arab scholar, wept on the condition of Bilal and said to Umayyah: "By God! If you kill him in this manner I will make his grave a sacred place to be visited by pilgrims ". At times Ummayah acted with still greater severity. He put a rope round the neck of Bilal and handed it over to the children so that they might drag him in the streets. Ummayah and his son were captured in the Battle of Badr, the first battle of Islam. Some Muslims were not in favour of killing Umayyah, but Bilal said: "He is the leader of infidelity and must be killed". On his insistence the father and the son were recompensed for their crimes and were put to death.
Arnmar and his parents were amongst the early Muslims. They embraced Islam when Rasul had selected the house of Arqam bin Abil Arqam as the rendezvous for the propagation of Islam. When the idolaters became aware of their having adopted the Divine religion they did not neglect torturing and persecuting them. Ibn Athir says: "The idolaters compelled these three persons to quit their house in the hottest season and to spend their time in the heat and the scorching wind of the desert. This torture was repeated so many times that Yasir succumbed to his troubles. One day his widow Sumayyah quarrelled with Abu Jahl on this account. That hard-hearted and cruel person thrust a spear in her heart and killed her also. Rasul was very much moved on account of the persecution to which they were subjected. One day he saw them being tortured. He turned his face to them with tears in his eyes and said "O family of Yasir! Be patient, for your place is in Paradise ". After the death of Yasir and his wife the idolaters tormented and tortured Ammar as well, as they had tormented Bilal. To save his life he had no alternative left but to abjure Islam, but he repented soon and ran to Rasul with a palpitating heart. He related the incident to Rasul, who enquired of him: "Has any instability taken place in your inner faith?" He replied: "My heart is abounding with faith". Rasul then said: "Do not entertain the least fear in your mind and keep your faith hidden to save yourself from their mischief". The following verse was revealed with regard to the faith of Ammar: (There shall be a grievous punishment for him) who disbelieves in God after believing in Him, other than him who is compelled while his heart is firm in his faith. (Sura Nahl, 16:106) It is said that Abu Jahl decided to take to task the family of Yasir who belonged to the class of the most unprotected persons in Makkah. He, therefore, ordered that fire end scourage might be made ready. Yasir, Sumayyah and Ammar were then dragged to the appointed place and tormented with the point of the sword and with the flames of fire and whipping. This persecution was repeated so many times that Yasir and Sumayyah consequently breathed their last, but they did not forsake the praise of Rasul till their last moments. The men of Quraysh who had witnessed this calamitous and tragic scene, notwithstanding the fact that they had unity of interest in defeating Islam, got the wounded and grief stricken Ammar released from the clutches of Abu Jahl so that he might bury his parents.
The Muslims who had embraced Islam secretly were telling among themselves that Quraysh had not heard Quran and it would be quite appropriate if one of them went into Masjid ul-Haram and recited some verses of the Holy Book with a loud voice. Abdullah, son of Masud expressed his willingness to do so. He came into the Masjid when Quraysh had assembled by the side of the Holy Kaba and recited the following verses with a loud and melodious voice: In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. It is the Merciful who has taught Quran. .....(Sura Rahman, 55:1-2) The eloquent verses of this Sura struck Quraysh with a strange awe. And in order to forestall the effect of the heavenly call which was reaching their ears through a defenceless person they all stood up and beat him so much that blood began to flow from his entire body and he returned to the companions of Rasul in a pitiable condition. They were, however happy that the invigorating voice had eventually reached the ears of the enemies. Whatever has been said above was by way of example, for otherwise the number of self-sacrificing devotees of Islam who endured the gravest hardships during the early days of Rasul's mission, and showed steadfastness in the path of achievement of their aim, is much larger However, we refrain from mentioning their names and the events of their lives for the sake of brevity.
Recognition of some enemies of Rasul is necessary in connection with some Islamic events which took place after migration, and we give below briefly the names and particulars of some of them: Abu Lahab: He was the neighbour of Rasul. He did not miss any opportunity of contradicting and torturing him and the Muslims. Aswad bin Abd Yaghus: He was a clown. As and when he saw the helpless and indigent Muslims he ridiculed them and said: "These poverty-stricken people consider themselves to be the kings of the world and think that they will soon possess the throne and the crown of the Emperor of Iran". However, death did not allow him to see with his own eyes as to how the Muslims had acquired the lands, thrones and crowns of Kaiser and Kisra. Walid bin Mughayrah: He was an old man of Quraysh who possessed enormous wealth. We shall record his conversation with Rasul in the following chapter. Umayyah and Abi sons of Khalaf: One day Abi brought the decayed and worn out bones of some dead persons to Rasul and asked: "Can your God restore these bones to life?" Right came the reply from the source of revelation: "Say, the Lord who created them first will bring them to life again". These two brothers were killed in the Battle of Badr. Abul Hakam bin Hisham: The Muslims used to call him Abu Jahl (father of ignorance) on account of his unwarranted enmity and fanaticism against Islam. He, too, was killed in the Battle of Badr. Ass bin Wail: He was the father of Amr Ibn Ass. He was the person who had given the nickname of 'Abtar' (childless) to Rasul. Uqbah bin Abi Muit: He was one of the most fierce enemies of Islam and never missed an opportunity to do harm to Rasul and the Muslims. There was also another group of the enemies of Islam including Abu Sufyan and others. The historians have recorded the particulars in detail and for the sake of brevity we refrain from reproducing them here.
How did Umar convert? The acceptance of Islam by everyone of the early Muslims was the effect of one cause or another and at times a very small incident became the means of the conversion of an individual or a group. The stimulant for the adoption of Islam by the second caliph is interesting. Although from the point of view of the chronological order of the events it would have been appropriate to record this incident after describing the migration of Muslims to Ethiopia, but we have considered it expedient to describe it here, as we have here mentioned some of the companions of Rasul. Ibn Hisham says, "Out of the family of Khattab (father of Umar) only his daughter Fatimah and her husband Saeed bin Zayd had embraced Islam. As in the early days of Islam Umar's relations with the Muslims were very inimical and he was considered to be one of the most obstinate enemies of Rasul, therefore, his sister and her husband always kept their faith concealed from him. In spite of this Khubab bin Art used to come to their house at appointed hours and taught them Quran. The confused condition of the people of Makkah had made Umar very sentimental, for he saw that dissension and disorder prevailed amongst them and the bright day of Quraysh had been changed into a dark evening. Umar, therefore, decided to go and cut off the root of dissension by killing Rasul. To achieve this purpose he was looking for the place where Rasul could be found. He was informed that he was in a house situated by the side of the bazaar of Safa, and forty persons like Hamzah, Abu Bakr, Ali etc. had undertaken to protect and defend him. Naim bin Abdullah who was one of the close friends of Umar says: "I saw Umar carrying his sword. I enquired about the purpose for which he was going. He replied thus: "I am going in search of Muhammad who has created dissension amongst Quraysh. He laughs at their wisdom and intellect, declares their religion to be worthless and belittles their gods. I am going to kill him". Naim says: "I said to him: You are deceived. Do you think the descendants of Abd Munaf will spare your life? If you are a peaceable person you should first reform your own house. Your sister Fatimah and her husband have become Muslims and follow the religion of Muhammad". Naim's words created a storm of wrath in the mind of Umar. Consequently he abandoned his previous plan and went to the house of his brother-in-law. When he reached near the house he heard the humming of someone who was reciting Quran with an impressive voice. The manner of Umar's arrival in his sister's house was such that she and her husband also became aware that he was about to enter. They, therefore, concealed the teacher of Quran in the back part of the house so that he might remain hidden from Umar's eyes. Fatimah also concealed a leaf on which verses of Quran were written. Umar said without any salutation or greeting: "What was this humming that I have heard?" They replied 'We have heard nothing". Umar said: "I have been informed that you have become Muslims and follow the religion of Muhammad". He uttered this sentence with great fury and attacked his brother-in-law. His sister then stood up to protect her husband. Umar attacked her also and seriously injured her head with the point of his sword. While blood was flowing from her head, the helpless woman said with great fervour of faith: "Yes. We have become Muslims and believe in God and His Rasul. Do whatever you like". The tragic plight of the sister, who was standing by the side of her brother with her face and eyes besmeared with blood and was speaking to him, made Umar tremble and he was sorry for what he had done. He, therefore, insisted that they should show him the relevant leaf so that he might ponder over the words of Muhammad. His sister fearing lest he should tear it up, put him on oath that he would not do so, and he also made a promise and confirmed it on oath that he would return the leaf after having gone through it. Then he took the sheet in his hand. A few verses were written on it. Their translation is given below: Taha. It was not to distress you that We revealed Quran. It is to admonish those who fear God. It is a revelation from Him who has created the earth and the lofty heavens. The Merciful who is firm in power. His is what the heavens and earth contain. He has knowledge of all that is secret and all that is yet more hidden. (Sura Taha, 20:1-6) These eloquent verses and the clear and firm words impressed Umar very much. The man, who was the most ruthless enemy of Quran and Islam a few minutes earlier, decided to change his mind. He went to the house about which he had already learnt that Rasul could be found there and knocked at the door. One of the companions of Rasul peeped through a hole and saw Umar standing with a sword in hand and waiting for the door to be opened. He returned at once and informed Rasul about the matter. Hamzah, son of Abdul Muttalib said: "Let him come in. If he has come with good intentions we shall welcome him, but if his intentions are not good we shall kill him". Umar's attitude towards Rasul reassured them and his open countenance and expression of sorrow and shame proved his real intentions. Eventually he embraced Islam at the hands of Rasul in the presence of his companions and thus joined the ranks of the Muslims.
What did the Quraysh say about the Quran? A discussion, which is purely about the essence of a miracle and the miraculous nature of Quran is beyond the scope of this book. However, historical discussions tell us that this Heavenly Book was the greatest and sharpest weapon of Rasul-so much so that the expert poets and the circles of prosody and oration were puzzled and astonished at the eloquence, melody and attraction of its words, sentences and verses, and all of them admitted that Quran of Muhammad stood at the highest level of eloquence and clarity and its mastery over the words and its way of expression was unparalleled. The impression, penetration, rapture and attraction of Quran was such that even the most severe enemies of Rasul trembled within themselves when they heard some of its verses and at times they became so much ecstasized that for quite some time they could not move from their places owing to amazement. Here is an example.
Walid was one of the judges of Arabia. Many difficulties of the Arabs were solved through him. He possessed enormous wealth. A group of Quraysh went to him for the solution of the problem of penetration of Islam in all houses and explained the matter to him and sought his opinion about Quran of Muhammad. They said to him: "Is Quran of Muhammad magic or divination or is it a sermon or a rhetoric which has been prepared by him". The sage of Arabia requested for time so that he might express his view after hearing Quran. Then he rose from his place and came to Rasul. He sat with him in 'Hajar-i Ismail' and said "Read something from your poetry". Rasul replied: "What I say is not poetry. Rather it is the word of God which He has sent down for your guidance". Then Walid insisted that he should recite Quran. Rasul recited the first thirteen verses of Sura Fussilat and when he reached this verse: If they give no heed, say "I have given you warning of the scourge which overtook Thamud and 'Ad', Walid trembled violently within himself. All his hair stood straight on his body and he got up in a state of astonishment and went home. He did not come out of his house for many days -so much so that Quraysh began ridiculing him and said: "Walid has given up the creed of his forefathers and has adopted the faith of Muhammad". Tabarsi says: "When Sura Ghafir was revealed to Rasul he recited it in a very attractive voice in order to communicate the Divine verses to the people. By chance Walid was then sitting by his side and heard these verses without being attentive: This Book is revealed by God, the Mighty One, the All-Knowing, Who forgives sin and accepts repentance; the Bountiful One, Whose punishment is stern. There is no god but He. All shall return to Him. None but the unbelievers dispute the revelations of God. Don't be deceived by their activities in the land........... These verses impressed the sage of Arabia very much. When Bani Makhzum came round him he commended Quran in these words: "Today I have heard from Muhammad a speech which does not belong to the category of the speeches of the human beings and the genii. It is very melodious and possesses a special beauty. Its branches are full of fruits and its roots abound with blessings. It is an outstanding narration and no other narration is as outstanding as this." He uttered these sentences and went his way and Quraysh thought that he had begun to believe in Muhammad's religion. According to a great scholar this was the first commendation and praise of Quran by a human being and a careful study of this speech makes the miraculous nature of Quran vis-a-vis Arab ignorance absolutely clear and it becomes evident that the reason of Quran being a miracle in their eyes was its unusual rapture, attraction, sweetness and melody, because they did not find such deliciousness and elegance in any other thing except Quran.
Utbah bin Rabiyyah was one of the elders of Quraysh. At the time when Hamzah embraced Islam the entire assembly of Quraysh was stricken with sorrow and grief and their chiefs feared that the Islamic faith would expand further. At that stage 'Atbah said: "I shall go to Muhammad and shall make some offers to him. It is possible that he may accept one of them and abandon the new religion". The chiefs endorsed his view. He, therefore, got up and went to Rasul who was then sitting in the Masjid. He offered to him wealth, authority and medical treatment in very gentle words. When he stopped speaking Rasul said to him: "Was it all that you wanted to say?" He replied: "Yes." Then Rasul said: "Just listen to these verses, for this is the reply to all that you have said". Ha Mim. A revelation from the Compassionate, the Merciful. It is a Book, the verses of which have been well expounded; an Arabic Quran for those who have understanding. Bearing good news and warning. But most of them ignore it and give no heed. (Sura Ha Mim, 41:1-4). Rasul recited some verses of this Sura. When he reached the thirty seventh verse he performed 'sajdah'. After this he turned to Utbah and said: 'O Aba Walid! Have you heard the Message of God?" Utbah had been somewhat enchanted by the Word of God. He had placed his hands behind his head, which rested on them. In this very condition he kept gazing on the face of Rasul for quite some time, as if he had been deprived of his power of speech. Then he got up from his place and went to the place where Quraysh had assembled. The chiefs of Quraysh had realized from his condition and countenance that he had been impressed by the words of Muhammad and had returned in a condition of humility coupled with distraction of mind. They were all watching intently to see Utbah's face. All of them asked him: "What has happened?" He said: "By God! I have heard from Muhammad a speech which I had never heard from anyone. By God! It is neither poetry, nor magic nor divination. I consider it expedient that we should leave him alone so that he may propagate his religion amongst the different tribes. If he is successful and acquires a land and a kingdom it will be considered to be a matter of pride for you and you will also benefit from it. And if he is defeated, others will kill him and you, too, will be at ease". Quraysh ridiculed Utbah for his remarks and views and said that he had been enchanted by the speech of Muhammad. These are two specimens of the views of two outstanding eloquent speakers of the Age of Ignorance and other specimens are also available.
One day, after sunset, the chiefs of Quraysh like Utbah, Shaybah, Abu Sufyan, Nazar bin Harith, Abul Bakhtari, Walid bin Mughayrah, Abu Jahl, Ass bin Wail etc. assembled by the side of the Kaba and decided to call Rasul and discuss the matter with him directly. They, therefore, sent someone to ask Rasul to participate in the meeting. On having been informed about the matter Rasul came hurriedly and joined their assembly, hoping to guide them to the right path. Conversation started from all sides and Quraysh repeated their grievances. They complained that dissension and discord had taken place amongst Quraysh, and expressed readiness for every sacrifice. In the end they made requests to Rasul which have been depicted in the following verses: They say: "(O Muhammad!) We will not believe in you until you make a spring gush from the earth before our very eyes, or cause rivers to flow in a grove of palms and vines; until you cause the sky to fall upon us in pieces, as you have threatened to do, or bring down God and the Angels in our midst; until you build a house of gold, or ascend to heaven; nor will we believe in your ascension until you have sent down for us a book which we can read (and which confirms your prophethood)." (Sura Bani Israil, 17:90-93) It is evident that all that they said was mere deceit, because palm and vine groves have nothing to do with the prophethood of a person and causing the sky to be torn to pieces and to fall down on earth is quite incompatible with the prophetic mission, whose object is to guide the people. Amongst their demands there was only one thing, which had a miraculous aspect and that was Rasul's ascension to heaven. And even if Rasul had performed this miracle they would not have believed in him, because they had made it clear that he must also send down a book which should confirm his prophethood! If Quraysh had been really keen to verify the truth of Rasul's claim his ascension -to heaven would have been a sufficient proof of it. However, they said that they would not be satisfied with it, because all demands of theirs were based on particular motives. Rasul replied to them: "Surely I am no more than a Messenger and cannot perform a miracle without the permission of God". [Note: Some of the Christian missionaries have argued on the basis of this and other verses that Rasul did not possess any miracle other than Quran. The falsity of this argument has, however, been clearly proved and the object of such verses made manifest in the Persian book entitled 'Risalati Jahani Pyambaran'.]
What was the sitimulant for Quraysh's obstinacy? This portion of the history of Islam is one of the points which deserves discussion, because one ponders as to why Quraysh quarrelled with Rasul to this extent, notwithstanding the fact that all of them considered him to be truthful and honest and had not till that time observed even the smallest shortcoming in him, and had heard fascinating and eloquent words from him, and had often seen him perform unusual deeds which were beyond the ambits of the laws of nature. A few things may be considered to be the cause or causes of this obstinacy:
1. Jealousy. Some of them did not follow Rasul, because they were jealous of him and wished that they themselves should possess this divine office. Quran says: They also say: 'Why was this Quran not revealed to some mighty man from the two towns'? (Sura Zukhruf,43:31) The exegetes while explaining the reason for the revelation of this verse (viz. the unbelievers objected as to why Quran was not revealed to one of the chiefs of Makkah or Taif) write thus: "Walid son of Mughayra once met Rasul and told him that he (Walid) was more suited for the office of Prophet as he enjoyed precedence over him (Rasul) in the matter of age, wealth and children. Umayyah bin Abi Salt was a person who used to talk about a prophet before the advent of Islam and was anxious to assume this high office himself. He did not, however, follow Rasul till the end of his life and used to instigate the people to oppose him. Akhnas, who was one of the enemies of Rasul, said to Abu Jahl: "What is your opinion about Muhammad?" He replied: "We and Abd-i Munaf quarrelled about nobility and greatness and we vied with them and adopted all possible ways and means to become their equals. Now that we have become their equals they say that revelation descends from heavens on a member of their family. By God! We will never believe in him. These are some specimens which clearly indicate the jealousy of the chiefs of Quraysh. There are also other such specimens which can be found in the pages of history.
2. Fear of the Last Day. This was the most effective cause for the obstinacy of Quraysh, because they were pleasure-seeking, voluptuous and easy-going people. The call of Rasul was opposed to the old habits of these persons who had enjoyed absolute freedom for centuries; and to give up bad habits entails great suffering and toil. Furthermore, hearing of the verses regarding torture, which threaten the pleasure-seeking, unjust and ignorant persons with severe punishment, created a strange fear in their hearts and made them very much disturbed and uneasy. When Rasul recited the verses mentioned below in the general gatherings of Quraysh with a pleasant voice, there appeared a tumult, which disturbed their merry-making. The Arabs who used to equip themselves for warding off all sorts of occurrences, cast lots with arrows, took omens with stones to procure safety, and considered the coming and going of birds to be the signs of occurrences, were not at all prepared to sit still unless they had acquired a guarantee against the torture of which Muhammad warned them. They, therefore, quarrelled with him so that they might not hear his good tidings and threats. Here are some of the verses which greatly disturbed the minds of the pleasure-seeking and ignorant Arabs: When the Day of Judgement comes man will avoid his brother, mother, father, wife and children. On that day everyone will be concerned with himself (Sura Abasa, 80:34-37) While sitting by the side of Kaba and drinking wine they suddenly heard these words: No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins, so that they may truly taste Our scourge. (Sura Nisa, 4:56). This made them so much disturbed and agitated that they involuntarily cast aside their cups and began trembling with fear. There were other reasons also which made them refrain from admitting the truthfulness of Islam. For example, one day Harith bin Nawfal, son of Abd-i Munaf came to see Rasul and said: "We know that what you warn us of is true and correct. However, if we express our belief in you the polytheist Arabs will turn us out of our land". The following verse was revealed in reply to such persons: "They say: If we accept your guidance, we shall be driven from our land. But have We not given them a sanctuary of safety".(Sura Qasas, 28:57)
At times they said: "Syria is the land which fosters prophets in its lap, and it has not been observed so far that a person should have been appointed to the prophetic mission in this desert (Makkah)". In imitation of the Jews some polytheists said: "Why is Quran revealed piecemeal? Why has it not been sent down as a whole like the Gospel and the Torah?" Quran reproduces their objection in these words: "The unbelievers say: 'Why was Quran not revealed to him in a single revelation?" Then it gives the following reply: We have revealed it thus, so that We may strengthen your faith. (Sura Furqan, 25:32) Undoubtedly unpleasant events and harsh occurrences have a great effect on human spirit and the only source of satisfaction for Rasul was the fresh words which he heard from his Lord, who ordered him to practice forbearance and fortitude, and by this means created a fresh spirit in his entire frame. It was for this purpose that Quran was revealed piecemeal. Furthermore, in the early days of Islam, some rules were formally recognized, but it was not appropriate to let them continue. It was not, therefore, possible that Quran should have been revealed in a single revelation.
Where did the persecuted Muslims go? Migration of a group of Muslims to Ethiopia is a clear proof of their faith and deep sincerity. With a view to get rid of the mischief and atrocities of Quraysh and to acquire a peaceful atmosphere for observing their religious ceremonies and worshipping God the One, they decided to leave Makkah and to forsake their wealth, business, children and relatives. They, however, wondered what to do and where to go, for they saw that idolatry prevailed throughout the Arabian Peninsula and there was not a single point where the name of God could be proclaimed aloud or the laws of Islam could be introduced. They, therefore, decided to place the matter before Rasul -the foundation of whose religion was laid on: "God 's land is spacious. Worship Me alone" (Choose that place for residence where you can worship God). (Sura Ankabut, 29:56). Rasul was fully aware of the pitiable condition of the Muslims. Although he himself enjoyed the support of Bani Hashim and they protected him from every harm, his devotees mostly consisted of slave-girls and slave-boys and some unprotected free men. The chiefs of Quraysh persecuted these helpless persons incessantly and, in order to forestall tribal wars, the powerful chiefs of various tribes tortured those persons of their tribes who had embraced Islam. An account of the torture and persecutions to which Quraysh subjected the people has already been given in the foregoing pages. It was on this account that when the companions of Rasul sought advice from him regarding migration he replied: "If you travel to Ethiopia it will be very profitable for you, because, on account of the presence of a mighty and just ruler, nobody is oppressed there and the land of that country is good and pure and you can live there till God provides you relief." No doubt a pure environment, where a worthy and just person is at the helm of affairs, is a specimen of Paradise and the only object of the companions of Rasul in occupying such a land was that they might perform their religious duties with perfect security and peace of mind. The penetrating words of Rasul had such a wholesome effect that soon after that those, who were already quite ready, packed their luggage and proceeded to Jeddah at night, either mounted or on foot, without their enemies (idolaters) becoming aware of their departure. The total number of those who migrated this time was ten and they included four Muslim women as well. It is worthy of note why Rasul did not mention other places. However, when the conditions then prevailing in Arabia and other places are studied the secret of the selection of Ethiopia becomes quite clear. The reason for this was that migration to places inhabited by the Arabs, who were usually idolaters, was dangerous. The idolaters were reluctant to receive the Muslims, either because they wished to please Quraysh, or because they loved the religion of their forefathers. The places in Arabia inhabited by the Christians and the Jews were not at all fit for migration, because they were fighting and quarrelling with each other for their spiritual penetration, and there was no room for a third rival. Furthermore, these two groups considered people of the Arab descent to be inferior and humble. Yemen was under the influence of the King of Iran and the Iranian authorities were not prepared to accommodate Muslims in that land, so much so that when Khusro Pervez received the letter from Rasul he at once wrote to the Governor of Yemen to arrest the new Prophet and send him to Iran. Hira, too, was under the domination of Iran like Yemen. Syria was far away from Makkah. Furthermore, Yemen and Syria were the markets for Quraysh and they had close relations with the people of these areas. If the Muslims had taken shelter there those people would have expelled them on the request of Quraysh, who had made a similar request to the King of Ethiopia who turned it down. During those days journey by sea, particularly with women and children, was an extraordinarily difficult job. Undertaking such a journey and abandoning means of livelihood was a sign of devotion and pure faith. Jeddah (and according to Jurji Zaydan the port of 'Shoaibiyah' of those days) was a developed trading port, and by chance two trading vessels were then ready to sail from there for Ethiopia. The Muslims, fearing pursuit by Quraysh, made known their intention to perform the journey and boarded the vessel in much haste, on payment of half a dinar. A report regarding the departure of the Muslims had also reached the ears of the chiefs of Makkah and they sent some persons to bring them back, but by the time they reached there, the vessel had left the coast of Jeddah and could not be seen. Pursuit of those, who had taken refuge in a foreign land only for the safety of their faith, is a clear proof of the villainy of Quraysh. The migrants had forsaken their property, children, residences and business, but the chiefs of Makkah were not prepared to leave them alone The elders of 'Darun Nadwah' feared the outcome of this journey and discussed amongst themselves the matters, which will be mentioned later. The members of this group did not belong to one family and according to Ibn Hisham, everyone of these ten persons belonged to a separate family. Another migration took place after this and the leader of these migrants was Ja'far son of Abu Talib. This migration was arranged with perfect freedom and some of the migrants were, therefore, successful in taking their women and children also with themselves. Consequently the number of the Muslims in Ethiopia reached eighty three and if we take into account the children who were taken there or were born in that land the number would exceed this figure. As Rasul had described, the Muslims found Ethiopia to be a prosperous country with a calm and free atmosphere. Umm Salama, the wife of Abi Salama, who later had the honour of marrying Rasul, says thus about that country: "When we settled in Ethiopia we found ourselves under the protection of the best patron. We did not meet with any trouble or hear any bad word from anyone". From the verses composed by some migrants it transpires that the atmosphere of Ethiopia was very pleasant. Details may be seen in the Seerah by Ibn Hisham.
When the chiefs of Makkah learned about the freedom and peaceful life of the Muslims in Ethiopia, the flames of rancour kindled in their hearts, they were disturbed by the happy life being led by them there, because that country had proved to be a haven for them. They were very much afraid lest the Muslims should have access to the Negus (ruler of Ethiopia) and they might be able to attract him to the religion of Islam and thus arrange the invasion of the Arabian Peninsula by a well-equipped army. The elders of 'Darun-Nadwah' conferred once again and unanimously decided to send representatives to the court of Ethiopia and to arrange for proper presents for the King and his ministers to earn their good will, and then to accuse the migrant Muslims of stupidity and ignorance and of inventing a religion. In order that their plan might meet with an immediate success they selected from amongst themselves two persons known for their cunning and deceitful activities. One of whom Iater became a juggler in the field of politics. The lot fell upon Amr ibn Ass and Abdullah bin Rabiah. The president of 'Darun Nadwah' instructed them that before meeting the ruler of Ethiopia they should present gifts to the ministers and have conversation with them in advance and should try to bring them round, so that when they met the king, they (the ministers) might support them. After having been briefed on these lines the said two persons proceeded to Ethiopia. The ministers of Ethiopia met the representatives of Quraysh and the latter, after presenting the gifts, spoke to them thus: "A group of our young men have abjured the creed of their forefathers and have invented a religion which is opposed to our religion as well as yours. They are now residing in your country. The elders and chiefs of Quraysh earnestly request the King of Ethiopia to expel them as soon as possible. Incidentally, we also desire that the council of ministers may support us in the presence of the King. And as we are fully aware of the shortcomings and ways and manners of these persons it will be expedient that the matter is not discussed with them at all and the head of the State should not also grant them an audience". The greedy and short-sighted persons (i.e. the ministers) assured them of their full support. On the following day the representatives of Quraysh were admitted in the royal court and after conveying their greetings and presenting the gifts they communicated the message of Quraysh to the King in the following words: "O honourable ruler of Ethiopia! Some foolish young men of ours have taken steps to propagate a religion which does not conform either with the official religion of your country or with that of their ancestors. These people have recently taken refuge in your country and are taking undue advantage of the freedom available in this State. The elders of Quraysh earnestly request your Majesty that orders may be issued for their expulsion so that they may return to their own country..." As soon as the speech of the representatives of Quraysh ended the voices of the ministers, who were sitting round the royal throne, became loud. All of them supported the representatives of Quraysh and confirmed what they had said. However, signs of anger appeared on the face of the wise and just Ruler of Ethiopia. Opposing his courtiers he thundered: "This cannot be. I can't hand over to these two persons, without proper investigation, the people who have taken refuge in my country. It is necessary that the condition and particulars of these refugees should be looked into. And I will return them to their country only after the statements of these two persons about them have been substantiated thorough scrutiny. On the other hand, if what these persons have said about them is not based on reality, I will not forsake them, but will render them more assistance". Thereafter a special emissary of the royal court was sent to the emigrant Muslims and he brought them before the King without providing them any prior information. Ja'far bin Abu Talib was introduced as the representative of those persons. Some of the Muslims were worried as to how he would address the Christian monarch of Ethiopia. To alleviate their anxiety Ja'far told them that he would communicate to the King exactly what he had heard from Rasul. The King of Ethiopia turned to Ja'far and said: "Why have you abjured the creed of your forefathers and adopted a faith which does not conform either to our religion or to that of your ancestors?" Jatfar replied: "We were an ignorant and idolatrous people. We did not avoid eating the dead bodies. We always indulged in abominable deeds. We had no respect for our neighbours. The weak and the helpless were oppressed by the strong. We quarrelled and fought with our kinsmen. We spent quite a long time in this manner till a person from amongst us, who has a very brilliant and pure past, rose up and invited us, under the commandment of God, to worship the One and only Deity, and declared the praise of idols to be despicable. He also ordered us to return the things entrusted to us by others; to avoid impurities, to behave well with our kinsmen and neighbours and to shun bloodshed, unlawful contacts, false evidence, usurpation of the property of orphans and imputing bad deeds to women. He has ordered us to offer prayers, to fast, and to pay taxes on our wealth. We have believed in him and occupied ourselves with the praise and worship of God the One. We consider that which He has declared lawful to be lawful. However, Quraysh have behaved with us cruelly and have tortured us day and night so that we might abjure our faith, revert to the worship of stones and idols and do all sorts of evil deeds. We resisted them for quite some time till our energy was exhausted. Despaired of our life and property we have taken refuge in Ethiopia to save our faith. The fame of the justice of the Ruler of Ethiopia attracted us like magnet and now also we have perfect faith in his justice." The appealing and fascinating speech of Ja'far impressed the King so much that he, with tears in his eyes, said to him: "Read something from the Heavenly Book of your Prophet". Ja'far recited some verses from Sura Maryam. He continued reciting these verses and fully explained the view-point of Islam about the chastity of Maryam and the elevated position of Prophet Jesus. He had not yet finished the Sura when the King and the bishops began to cry loudly and their beards and the pages of the books, which were lying open before them, became wet with their tears. For some time after this silence prevailed in the assembly and the humming ceased. Then the King intervened and said: "The words of their Prophet and that which Prophet Jesus brought have emanated from one and the same source of light. Be gone. I will never surrender them to you". Contrary to what the ministers and the representatives of Quraysh had expected, this meeting ended to their disadvantage and no ray of hope was left for them. Amr Ibn Ass, who was a diplomatic and cunning person, had a conversation with his friend Abdullah bin Rabiah and said to him: "We had better adopt another method tomorrow and it is possible that that method may end in the annihilation of the emigrants. Tomorrow I shall tell the King of Ethiopia that the leader of these refugees has a particular belief about Prophet Jesus, which does not at all conform to the fundamentals of Christianity". Abdullah checked him from doing so and pointed out that amongst the refugees there were also persons who were related to them. His advise was not, however, effective. On the following day they went to the royal court along with all the ministers. This time they pretended sympathy and support for the official religion of Ethiopia and criticized the beliefs of the Muslims with regard to Prophet Jesus and said: "These people have specific beliefs about Jesus which do not at all conform to the fundamentals and beliefs of the Christian World and the presence of such persons is dangerous for the official religion of your country. It should be possible for Your Majesty to enquire about it from them". This time also the wise Ruler of Ethiopia decided to investigate the matter and ordered that the immigrants should be brought before him. The Muslims pondered over the reason for their being called again. It appeared as if it had been revealed to them by inspiration that the purpose of their being called was to enquire about their beliefs with regard to the founder of Christianity. Once again Ja'far was introduced as their spokesman. He had already promised his friends that he would say only those things on the subject which he had heard from Rasul. The Negus turned to the representative of the refugees and said: "What is your belief about Prophet Jesus?" Ja'far replied: "Our belief with regard to Jesus is that which has been taught to us by our Rasul. He was the servant and Prophet of God. He was the Spirit and Word of God with which He blessed Maryam". The King of Ethiopia was very much pleased to hear the remarks of Ja'far and said: "By God! Jesus did not enjoy a higher position than this". The ministers and the deviated persons did not like this observation of the King. However, notwithstanding their views, he praised the beliefs of the Muslims and allowed them full freedom. He threw the presents of Quraysh before their representatives and said: "God has not taken any bribe from me while giving me this authority. It is not, therefore, appropriate that I should accumulate wealth by such means''.
Some persons who had migrated to Ethiopia left that country and returned to the Hijaz on account of false reports to the effect that Quraysh had embraced Islam. On their return, they came to know that the reports received by them were false and the pressure and persecution of the Muslims by Quraysh had not yet abated. Most of them, therefore, returned to Ethiopia and only a small minority entered Makkah, either secretly or under the protection of some mighty person of Quraysh. Uthman bin Maz'un entered Makkah under the protection of Walid bin Mughayrah and became safe from the atrocities of the enemy. He could, however, see with his own eyes that other Muslims were being persecuted and tortured by Quraysh. Uthman was very much grieved to observe this discrimination. He, therefore, requested Walid to declare publicly that the son of Maz'un was no longer under his protection so that he might also be in the same position in which other Muslims were, and should share their grief and sorrow. Walid, therefore, declared in the mosque: "From this moment Ibn Maz'un is not under my protection". And Uthman also said aloud: "I confirm it". Soon thereafter Labid, the Arabian poet, entered the mosque and began reading his well-known Qasidah (laudatory poem) in the big assembly of Quraysh. He said: "Everything except God is unreal and illusory". Uthman said: "You are right". Labid then read the second hemistich: "All the blessings of God are unstable". Uthman was disturbed and said: "You are mistaken. The blessings of the Hereafter are permanent and eternal". Labid took ill the objection of Uthman and said: "O Quraysh! Your circumstances have changed. In the past your assemblies were in good order and your companions did not feel any grief. Since when has this change occurred in your condition? Who is he?" One of those present said: "He is a foolish man who has abjured our creed and follows a man like himself. Don't pay heed to his words". Then the man rose and gave Uthman a strong slap in the face and blackened it. Walid bin Mughayrah said: "O Uthman! Had you remained under my protection you would not have suffered all this". Uthman replied: "I am under the protection of God". Walid said: "I am prepared to offer you protection once again". Uthman replied: "I shall not accept it at all''.
Consequent upon the propagation of Islam by the Muslim immigrants an inquiry mission visited Makkah on behalf of the religious centre of the Christians of Ethiopia. They met Rasul in the mosque and asked him certain questions. Rasul gave replies to their questions and invited them to embrace Islam and recited some verses of Quran before them. Quranic verses changed their mentality in such a way that tears began to flow from their eyes involuntarily and they immediately expressed belief in his prophethood and confirmed all the signs of the promised Prophet about whom they had read in the Gospel. Abu Jahl disliked this enthusiastic and well-concluded meeting. He said to those persons with much harshness: "The people of Ethiopia sent you on an inquiry mission and it was not the intention that you should abjure the religion of your ancestors. I don't think there are more stupid persons than yourselves on the face of the earth". Those persons uttered conciliatory words in reply to the Pharaoh of Makkah, who wanted to hide the invigorating rays of the sun, like a dark cloud, and thus put an end to the dispute.
The mission of the people of Ethiopia became a means of the awakening of Quraysh and they also decided to make investigation. A group of persons including Harith bin Nasr and Uqbah bin Abi Muit left for Yathrib (Madina) as representatives of Quraysh with a view to place the question of the 'prophethood' and 'call' of Muhammad before the Jews. The Jewish scholars advised the mission to ask Muhammad the following questions: 1. What is the reality of the soul? 2. Story of the persons who disappeared in bygone times (the people of the Cave). 3. The adventures of the man who travelled in the east and in the west of the world. (Dhulqarnayn). They told them that if Muhammad was in a position to reply to these questions they should rest assured that he is the chosen one of God, but if he failed to give the requisite replies they should consider him to be a liar who must be got rid of as early as possible. The representatives returned to Makkah in a very happy mood and informed Quraysh of the above-mentioned questions. A meeting was, therefore, arranged to which Rasul was also invited. Rasul told them that he was waiting for Divine revelation in connection with the three questions. Heavenly revelation came. Reply to the first question (regarding 'soul') is contained in Sura Bani Israil, 17:85. As regards the other two questions they have been replied to in detail in Sura Kahf 9-28 and 83-98. Detailed replies of Rasul to these three questions are found in the books of exegeses and need not be repeated here.
The ruling forces of idolatry were in a state of readiness throughout the Arabian Peninsula. Quraysh had organized their ranks to campaign against the worship of God the One. At the early stages they wished to make Rasul abandon his mission by alluring him and offering him wealth and authority, but were faced with his well-known reply: "By God! Even if you place the sun on my right hand and the moon on my left hand (i.e. give me authority over the entire world) I shall not abandon this mission". Then they started threatening, humiliating and persecuting his friends and were never tired of harming and torturing them. However, the heroism and steadfastness of his sincere friends made them succeed in this ordeal also, so much so that they purchased their perseverance in the path of Islam by abandoning their homes, and endeavoured to spread this sacred religion by migrating to Ethiopia. However, the operations of the ruling forces of idolatry to uproot the sapling of Islam had not yet ended. Rather they now sought to use a sharper weapon. This weapon was that of anti-Muhammad propaganda. Evidently torture and oppression could prevent from adopting Islam, only those persons, who were residing in Makkah. It could not be effective in respect of those who came to Makkah in groups during the sacred months, to perform the pilgrimage of the House of God. The pilgrims contacted Rasul in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity and even if they did not embrace his religion they at least became shaky about their own creed (idol-worship). And when they left Makkah after a few days and returned to their homes, they carried the name of Rasul and the story of the new religion to all the corners of Arabia. And this in itself was considered to be a severe blow to the rule of idolatry, and was a wonderful factor leading to the expansion of Islam. The elders of Quraysh, therefore, put another destructive programme into practice and wished to withhold by this means the expansion of Rasul's religion and thus to cut off his contacts with the Arab society.
The character of man can be understood best from under the veil of the abuses and calumnies of his enemy. In order to misguide the people the enemy always endeavours to make such accusations against his opponent as are palatable to the society to the extent of even one per thousand so that by spreading falsehoods and baseless things he may, as far as possible, diminish his honour and position. A wise enemy endeavours to impute such things to his opponent as are believed by some particular persons or are at least doubted by them. He does not, however, circulate about his opponent those things, which do not at all apply to him and have no bearing on his well-known and obvious mentality and deeds, because otherwise he would achieve results contrary to those desired by him. As such a proficient historian can study the real countenance of the other party from behind the falsehoods and calumnies and can learn about his social success and mentality even from behind the control tower of the enemy. It is so because a shamelessly fearless enemy does not avoid publishing a false charge which is to his advantage and derives maximum benefit from the sharp weapon of propaganda to the extent his thinking, intelligence and knowledge of the situation permit him. If, therefore, he does not associate anything undue with the other party it is because that person is free from every such weakness and the society is not, therefore, prepared to accept that stuff. The history of Islam shows that although Quraysh entertained unusual enmity and rancour against Rasul and were keen to pull down the newly-built edifice of Islam at all costs and to diminish the personality and position of its founder, they could not make full use of this weapon (i.e. calumny). They wondered what to say when the property of some of their own people was lying at his house (i.e. as trust) and his forty years' noble life had proved film to be an honest man. Could they possibly accuse him of sensuality? But how could they bring this word on their tongue? He began his manhood with a comparatively old woman and was still spending his days with her when Quraysh met to organize propaganda against him! They then reflected as to what they should say so that it might apply to him and at least one per cent of the people might accept it to be probably true. The elders of Darun Nadwah were puzzled as to how they should use this weapon against him. They, therefore, decided to place the matter before one of the sages of Quraysh and to implement his advice. An assembly was formed. Walid turned to Quraysh and said: "The Haj season is near and during these days people come to this city in large numbers to perform various obligations and ceremonies attached to Haj. Muhammad will make use of the opportunity afforded by the freedom available during these days and will propagate his religion. It will be better if Quraysh express their final view about him and his new religion. Hence, all should communicate only one opinion to the Arabs, because diversity of opinions will make their words ineffective". Having said this the sage of Arabia thought over the matter and said: "What should we say?" One of them suggested: "We should say that he is a soothsayer". Walid did not like this suggestion and said: "What Muhammad says is not like the words of the soothsayers". Another person proposed that they should call him insane. This proposal was also rejected by Walid, who said: "No signs of insanity are found in him". After much discussion they decided unanimously thus: "We should say that he is a magician, because his way of saying things is magical and the proof of this is that by means of his Quran he has created dissension amongst the Makkans, whose harmonious relations were proverbial, and has destroyed their unity. While commenting on Sura Muddaththir the exegetes have given another version of this matter. Thev say: "When Walid heard some verses of Sura Fussilat from Rasul, he was spell bound and it made his hair stand on end. He left for his house and did not come out again. Quraysh began ridiculing him and said that Walid had become a follower of the religion of Muhammad. They went to his house collectively and enquired from him about the reality of Muhammad's Quran. Whenever anyone of those present made a suggestion on the above lines he rejected it. Eventually he expressed the view that they should call Rasul a magician, on account of the discord which he had created between them, and should say that he has a magical way of saying things! The exegetes believe that the verses (11-26) of Sura Muddaththir commencing with "Leave to Me the man, whom I have created alone, up to "I shall make him suffer the torment of Hell', have been revealed about Walid ibn Mughayrah.
It is an admitted fact of history that from his early manhood Rasul was known for his uprightness and truthfulness, and even his enemies bent down their heads involuntarily before his high qualities. One of his outstanding attributes was that the people called him truthful and honest, so much so that the idol-worshippers used to deposit their belongings with him till ten years after the general invitation. As the invitation of Rasul was very unpleasant and indigestible for his enemies, their only effort was that they should turn away the people from him by means of words which could completely contaminate their minds. As they knew that attributing falsehood and calumny to Rasul would not impress the minds of the artless and simple idolaters they were compelled to deny his invitation by saying that the source of his views and thoughts was insanity which was incompatible with the qualities of piety and righteousness. They made many evil designs and practiced cunning and deceit in propagating this hypocritical imputation. On account of acute hypocrisy they pretended to be quite honest while making this imputation and expressed the matter in ambiguous terms and said: "Has he invented a lie About God, or is he mad?" (Sura Saba, 34:8). And this is the very devilish method which the enemies of reality adopt while denying great men and reformers of the society. Quran tells that this abominable method was not peculiar to the contemporaries of Rasul, as the enemies of earlier Prophets had also used this weapon to contradict them. It says: Thus whenever an apostle came to those that flourished before them they cried: 'Sorcerer!' or 'Madman!' Have they handed down this cry from one generation to the next? Surely they are transgressors all". (Sura Zariyat, 51: 52-53) The present Gospel (New Testament) also tells that when Jesus gave counsel to the Jews they said: 'There is satan in him and he talks incoherently. Why do you listen to him?' (see John 10:20 and 7:48, 52) No doubt if Quraysh had been in a position to slander Rasul on any other account they would not have desisted from doing so. However, for more than forty years the honourable life of Rasul checked them from uttering any other calumny against his character although they were ready to use the smallest thing against him. For example, he used to sit at times near Marwah with a Christian slave named Jabr. His enemies immediately took advantage of this practice of his and said: "Muhammad learns Quran from this Christian slave". Quran replies thus to their baseless accusation: "We know that they say that a man teaches him Quran. However, the language of the man whom they mention is non-Arabic, whereas this (Quran) is in clear Arabic."
The rusty weapon of propaganda against Rasul did not prove effective at all, because people realized through their wisdom and intelligence that Quran possesses a wonderful charm. They also felt that they had never before heard such sweet and meaningful words which immediately impressed one's mind. When the enemies did not profit by calumniating Rasul they thought of another childish plan and hoped that by putting it into practice they would be able to deprive him of the attention and belief of the people. Nazar bin Harith, who was one of the intelligent and experienced men of Quraysh who had spent a part of his life in Hira and Iraq possessed knowledge about the status of the kings and warriors of Iran like Rustam and Asfand Yar and of the beliefs of the Iranians about good and evil, was selected to campaign against Rasul. Darun Nadwah approved the idea that by displaying his art in the streets and bazaars and relating the stories of the Iranians and the adventures of their kings, Nazar should divert the attention of the people from Rasul to himself. In order to diminish the status of Rasul and to show his words and the verses of Quran to be valueless, he said repeatedly: "O people! What is the difference between my words and those of Muhammad? He tells you the tales of the people who were subjected to Divine wrath and fury, and I tell you the story of those who were very much blessed and have been ruling on the face of the earth for long long years". This plan was so foolish that it did not last for more than a few days. So much so that Quraysh themselves got tired of Nazar's words and deserted him. Some verses of Quran were revealed in this regard: "They say: 'Fables of the ancients he has written: they are dictated to him morning and evening'. Say: 'It is revealed by Him Who knows the secrets of the heavens and the earth. He is Forgiving and Merciful'. (Sura Furqan, 25:5-6)
Rasul knew very well that most of the people practiced idol-worship in imitation of the chiefs of the tribe and this practice was not deeply rooted in their hearts. In case, therefore, a change was brought about in the chiefs and he was successful in guiding one or two of them, most of the difficulties would be solved. He was, therefore, very keen to attract Walid bin Mughayrah (whose son Khalid later became a Muslim commander and conqueror), because he was the most aged and the most influential person amongst Quraysh and enjoyed respect and authority. He was called the sage of Arabia and his views were respected in various disputable matters. One day when Rasul was conversing with him (Walid) Ibn Umme Muktum, a blind man, approached Rasul and requested him to recite some verses of Quran for him. He insisted so much that Rasul disliked it, because it was not known as to when another opportunity to converse with the sage of Arabia in a peaceful atmosphere would come. He, therefore, turned away his face from Ibn Umme Mukrum and, with a frown on his brow, ignored him. This incident was over. However, Rasul was thinking about the matter when the first fourteen verses of Sura 'Abasa were revealed: He frowned and then turned away from a blind man who had come up to him. You never know. Perhaps he wanted to purify himself, or receive some (Quranic) advice which would benefit him. Yet you pay attention to a rich man, though you will not be questioned even if he never purifies himself. As for the one who comes to you earnestly (striving for guidance) and who has fear of God, you ignore him. This is an admonition. These verses are a reminder, so let those who want to follow its guidance do so. (Sura 'Abasa, 80: 1-17) Distinguished Ulema and research scholars amongst the true scholars consider this portion of the episode to be baseless and inconsistent with the good nature of Rasul and they say that the verses themselves do not indicate that it was he who frowned and turned away his face from the blind man. It has been quoted from Imam al-Sadiq that the person meant was one who belonged to the family of Umayyah. When Ibn Umm Muktum approached Rasul that man showed hatred for him and these verses were revealed to admonish him.
The idolatrous administration of Makkah had chalked out an extensive programme to check the expansion of Islam. They put their schemes into operation one after another, but failed to achieve their purpose. They carried on extensive propaganda against Rasul from time to time, but did not meet with any success. They saw that he was steadfast in his mission and the rays of the light of Divine monotheism were penetrating further day after day. The chiefs of Quraysh decided to prohibit the people from hearing Quran and in order to ensure the success of their scheme they posted spies in all parts of Makkah so that they might restrain the pilgrims and tradesmen, who visited Makkah, from contacting Muhammad and might stop, by all possible means, their hearing of Quran. The spokesman of the group circulated a declaration amongst the Makkans, about which Quran says: "The disbelievers say: 'Do not Iisten to this Quran but make a lot of unnecessary noise while it is being read so that perhaps you will defeat it'." (Sura Fussilat, 41:26) The most effective weapon used by Rasul which created a strange awe and fear in the hearts of the enemies was Quran itself. The chiefs of Quraysh could see that many sworn enemies of Rasul went to meet him just to ridicule or harm him, but as soon as they heard a few verses of the Holy Book they became his sincere followers. To prevent such occurrences Quraysh decided to prohibit their subordinates and supporters from hearing Quran and declared conversation with Muhammad to be unlawful.
The same people who strictly prohibited the hearing of Quran and punished all those who defied the declaration, came, after a few days, under the category of law-breakers and practically broke secretly the very law which they had themselves approved! One night Abu Sufyan, Abu Jahl and Akhnas bin Shariq left their houses and proceeded to the residence of Rasul, without the knowledge of one another. Everyone of them concealed himself in a corner and their object was to hear Quran of Muhammad, which he used to recite at night with a pleasant voice, while performing his prayers. All of them remained there till morning, without being aware of the presence of others, and heard Quran. In the morning they had to return to their houses. They met on the way and reproached one another saying that if the simple-minded people came to know about their activities what would they think about them? The same thing was repeated during the next night. It would seem that an inner urge and charm attracted them to the house of Rasul. At the time of their return they met again and exchanged mutual reproaches and decided not to repeat their action. However, the attraction of Quran was such that they again went to his house without the knowledge of one another and sat round it and heard Quran till morning. When they heard Quranic verses their fear increased every moment and they said to themselves: "In case the promises and the threats of Muhammad be true, we have led sinful lives". When it was dawn they left the house of Rasul for the fear of the simple-minded people and again met one another. All of them admitted that they could not withstand the attraction of the 'call' and the law of Quran. However, to prevent any unpleasant occurrences, they concluded a mutual agreement that they would not resort to this action again.
After implementing the first programme of hearing Quran to be unlawful, they started the second one. People residing in near and far off palaces, as and when they were inclined towards Islam, proceeded to Makkah The spies of Quraysh contacted them on the way or at the time of their arrival in Makkah and prevented them under different pretexts from embracing Islam. Here are two clear examples: 1. A'asha was one of the great poets of the Age of Ignorance and his verses were quoted in the assemblies of Quraysh. He heard about the commandments of God and the splendid teachings of Islam at the time when he had grown old. He lived at a place which was at a far-off distance from Makkah. The 'call' of Rasul had not yet been extended fully to that area, but even that which he had heard about Islam in brief terms created a great love for it in his heart. He composed a marvellous panegyric in praise of Rasul and did not consider a gift better than that he should recite it in the presence of Rasul. Although the number of the verses of this panegyric does not exceed twenty four, these are the best and the most eloquent verses recited in the praise of Rasul during those times. The text of these verses may be seen in his poetical works. The poet commends upon the sublime teachings of Rasul which had illuminated his mind. A'asha had not yet been fortunate enough to come to Rasul when the spies of the idol-worshippers contacted him and became aware of his feelings. They knew well that A'asha was a sensual person and was addicted to wine. They at once took advantage of his weak points and said: "O Abu Basir! The religion of Muhammad does not conform to your mentality and moral condition!" He said "Why not?" They replied: "He has declared adultery unlawful." He said: "I have nothing to do with it and this thing does not stand in the way of my embracing Islam". They added: "He has also banned drinking of wine". On hearing this he became somewhat uneasy and said: "I am not yet satiated with wine. I shall return now and shall drink wine to my fill for a period of one year and shall come next year and embrace Islam at his hands". He then returned, but death did not permit him to do what he had said, for he died the same year.
Tufayl bin Amr, who was a wise man and a melodious poet and enjoyed great respect in his tribe, came to Makkah. It was very detestable and annoying for Quraysh that Tufayl should embrace Islam. The chiefs of Quraysh and the jugglers of diplomacy, therefore, gathered round him and groaned and said: "That man who is offering his prayers by the side of the Kaba has destroyed our unity and created dissensions amongst us by his magical narrations and we are afraid that he would create a similar discord in your tribe also. It will, therefore, be much better if you do not converse with him at all". Tufayl says: "Their words impressed me so much that fearing that Muhammad's magical narrations might affect me, I decided not to speak with him or to hear what he said. In order to ward off the influence of his magic, therefore, I decided to put some cotton in my ears while performing 'tawaf', so that his voice should not reach me, while he was reciting Quran and offering his prayers. In the morning I entered the mosque after having put cotton in my ears and was not at all inclined to hear him speak. However, I don't know how it happened that all of a sudden some extremely sweet and charming words reached my ears and I enjoyed them very much. Upon this I said to myself: "Curse upon you! You are an eloquent and intelligent person. What is the harm if you hear what this man says? If he says something good you should accept it, otherwise you can very well reject it. I waited, however, so that I might not contact Rasul openly. At last Rasul proceeded to his house and entered it. I also obtained permission and entered his house. I told him the entire story and said: "Quraysh ascribe so many things to you, and in the beginning I had no intention of seeing you. However, the sweetness of Quran has drawn me to you. I now request you kindly to explain the nature of your religion and recite a portion of Quran to me". "Rasul made his religion known to me and recited some verses of Quran". Tufayl adds: "By God! I had never heard a narration more appealing and had never seen a law more moderate!" Then Tufayl said to Rasul: "I am an influential man in my tribe and shall take steps for the propagation of your religion". Ibn Hisham writes that he (Tufayl) was with his tribe till the Battle of Khaibar and remained busy in propagating Islam and joined Rasul in that very battle along with seventy or eighty Muslim families. He remained steadfast in Islam till he met his martyrdom in the Battle of Yamamah.
What is another attempt of the Quraysh about the falsehood of Gharnaiq? [Note: 'Gharaniq' is the plural of Gharnuq or Gharniq which means a sort of aquaic bird or a handsome youth.] It is possible that some of the readers may like to know the origin of the myth of 'Gharaniq', which has been quoted by some historians, and may incidentally become aware of the hands which have been busy in inventing and propagating falsehoods . The Jews, and especially their religious leaders, have been and are sworn enemies of Islam. A group of theirs like Ka'b Ahbar who had ostensibly embraced Islam was continuously busy in concealing the realities of Islam by coining falsehoods and publicizing baseless things by ascribing them to Rasul, and some of the Muslim writers, reposing confidence in all their co-religionists, accepted most of their forgeries without proper scrutiny and compiled them in the shape of tradition and history. Nowadays, however, more opportunities are available to the scholars for scrutinizing such matters and particularly a set of rules and methods has come into existence as a result of the efforts of the Muslim research scholars for distinguishing historical facts from myths. In the circumstances it is not at all proper for a writer, who is well-versed in religious matters, to accept as final whatever he comes across in a book and to quote it without verification.
It is said that the chiefs of Quraysh like Walid, 'As, Aswad and Umayyah met Rasul and proposed that, in order to remove their mutual differences, both the parties should acknowledge the gods of each other. At that moment 'Sura Kafirun' was revealed in reply to their proposal and Rasul was ordered to speak thus: "I do not worship that which you worship, nor do you worship Him whom I worship." Nevertheless, Rasul was fiery keen to reconcile with his people and wished that an order might be revealed which should lessen the gap between him and his kinsmen. One day he was sitting near the Kaba and reciting Sura Najm in a sonorous tone. When he reached these two verses. "Have you thought on al-Lat and al-Uzza and thirdly on Manat?" Satan suddenly made him utter another two sentences viz. "These are 'Gharaniq' who are high in position and their intercession is acceptable", and then he recited the remaining verses. When he reached the verse of sajdah (the last verse of the Sura) Rasul himself as well as all others present, whether Muslims or idolaters, performed sajdah before the idols, with the exception of Walid who was too old to do so. There was tumult and rejoicing amongst those who were present in the mosque and the idolaters said that Muhammad had spoken well of their gods. The news about the reconciliation of Muhammad with Quraysh reached those who had migrated to Ethiopia and consequently some of them returned from their place of residence (Ethiopia). However, on their return they found that once again the conditions had undergone a change and the Angel had brought revelation to Rasul and had asked him again to oppose the idolaters and had told him that Satan had made him utter those words and he (the Angel) had never spoken them! This is the gist of the fiction of 'Gharaniq' which the orientalists are very keen to quote with much grandiloquence.
You may suppose that Muhammad was not one of the chosen ones of God, but his wisdom and intelligence cannot be denied in any case. Now how can a wise man resort to such an act? Is it possible that an intelligent person who observes that the number of his followers is becoming larger day by day and the split in the ranks of the enemy is increasing, should, at such a juncture, do something which may lower down his position before his friends as well as of his enemies? Can you believe that the person who refused all offers of status and wealth by Quraysh for the sake of the Divine religion should once again introduce polytheism and idol-worship? Not to talk of Rasul, we cannot expect any such thing even from a reformer or an ordinary statesman.
What does intellect say about this fiction? 1. According to the verdict of intellect the Divine teachers are always immune from all sorts of errors on account of the strength of innocence they possess. But if it be agreed upon that they too are liable to commit mistakes and errors in religious matters the very basis of the confidence, which people repose in their words, crumbles down. Hence, it is necessary that we should test such historical events with the touchstone of our rational beliefs and should solve these ambiguities of history with our firm faith. And it goes without saying that the uprightness of Muhammad in propagation of the Divine religion would not allow the occurrence of such events. 2. The myth rests on the assumption that Rasul was tired of the responsibility which God had laid on his shoulders and was very much perturbed on account of the deviation and remoteness of his people. He was therefore, anxious to find out ways and means to improve their condition. However, wisdom ordains that the Prophets should be very patient and forbearing, their fortitude should be proverbial amongst all and they should never think of abandoning their mission. If this myth be a true and confirmed incident it would mean that the hero of our narrative had lost his fortitude and patience and his spirit had become depressed and tired. This thing is not, however, in consonance with the verdict of wisdom and does not also accord with Rasul's past and future life, as we know it. The inventor of this story has ignored the fact that Quran bears testimony to the falsehood of this story, because God has given him good tidings that falsehood would not enter his path. This is a Mighty Scripture. Falsehood cannot reach it from before or behind. (Sura Fussilat, 41:42) God has also given an absolute promise that He would protect Quran from every harm throughout human history. Surely we have revealed Quran and We will most surely be its Guardian. (Sura Hijr, 15:9) Hence, could it be possible that an outcast (Satan) should overpower the chosen one of God, insert falsehood in his Quran and make Quran, whose very foundation is laid on campaign against idol-worship, a promoter of the system of idolatry. It is strange that the inventor of this myth has sung a tuneless song and has calumniated the Oneness of God at that spot where a few moments earlier Quran has itself contradicted this calumniation, because in the second and third verses of the same Sura, God says: He (Rasul) does not speak out of his own fancy. This is an inspired revelation. He is taught by One who is Powerful and Mighty. (Sura Najm, 53:3 - 5) In spite of this positive tiding how could He leave His Prophet unprotected and allow that Satan should take possession of his mind and thoughts? We are sorry to discuss this myth to a greater extent than it deserves. But the fact is that our remarks are based on rational arguments and are useful for those who believe in the prophethood of Rasul. However, these arguments are not sufficient for the orientalists, whose hearts have not yet been illuminated by faith inand who quote and explain such myths to prove this religion to be of no consequence. With them, therefore, we should discuss the matter in another manner.
History tells us that when Rasul was reciting Sura Najm, the chiefs of Quraysh, most of whom were great poets and men of letters, were present in the mosque. One of them was Walid who was a sage and poet of Arabia and was well known for his wisdom and intelligence. And all of them heard the Sura up to its end and performed sajdah when it ended with the verse necessitating sajdah. The question, therefore, arises as to why these persons, who were great poets and scholars, were satisfied with only two sentences in praise of their gods, when the verses preceding and succeeding these sentences consist totally of admonition and condemnation of their gods. It is not known what opinion the inventor of this white lie had formed about those persons, whose mother-tongue was Arabic, who were considered to be the champions in the field of eloquence in the entire Arab society, and who knew the allusions and metaphors (not to speak of explicit things) of their language better than anyone else. Was it proper for them to be satisfied with the two sentences in praise of their gods and ignore the preceding and succeeding sentences? Not to talk of others, it is not possible to deceive even ordinary persons by fascinating sentences which are placed in a context which consists entirely of condemnation of their beliefs and conduct. Now we write down the relevant verses and place dots instead of these two sentences. You can very well decide whether these two sentences can be accommodated in the verses which have been revealed in condemnation of the idols: Have you thought on Lat and Uzza, and, thirdly on Manat? Is He to have daughters and you sons? This is indeed an unfair division! They (The idols) are but names which you and your fathers have invented. God has vested no authority in them. Can even a common man agree, on the basis of such contradictory sentences, to give up his enmity against, and to come to terms with a man whose religion he has endeavoured to uproot for ten years, and has placed his very existence in danger for that cause? [Note: lf you fill in the blank by inserting the translation of the two sentences in question ('These are gharaniq, who are high in position and their intercession is acceptable') you will certainly observe they will be contradictory to the verses preceding and succeeding them.]
The distinguished Egyptian scholar Muhammad Abdoh says: The word 'Gharaniq' has never been used for 'gods' in the Arabic language and poetry. The words 'Gharnuq' and 'Gharniq' are found in the lexicon and they mean a particular aquatic bird or a fair and handsome young man, and neither of these conveys the meaning of 'gods'.
Sir Willian Muir has considered the myth of 'Gharaniq' as an established fact of history and the evidence relied upon by him is this: "More than three months had not yet passed since the migration of the Muslims to Ethiopia and they were leading a peaceful life under the protection of the Negus. They would not have returned to Makkah to see their kith and kin if they had not received news about the reconciliation of Muhammad with Quraysh. It was, therefore, necessary that Muhammad should provide a means for peace and that means was the very story of 'Gharaniq'. However, one may very well ask this noted orientalist firstly as to why it should be necessary that the return of those people to Makkah was the result of a correct news. In every day life self-interested persons circulate thousands of false news amongst the people every now and then. It is, therefore, quite possible that some persons coined the news of reconciliation between Muhammad and Quraysh with a view to make the Muslims return to their own country from Ethiopia and consequently some of them believed in the news and returned, whereas others were not deceived and stayed on in Ethiopia. Secondly, even if it is supposed that Rasul wanted to make peace with Quraysh why should the foundation of that peace be laid on these two spurious sentences? As a matter of fact it would have been sufficient to win their hearts if he had made a solemn promise to keep absolutely quiet about their beliefs. In short the return of the migrants is no proof of the correctness of this myth and peace and reconciliation do not also depend upon uttering these two sentences.
How the Quraysh placed an economic blockade? The easiest and the most convenient method of knocking down the minorities of a society is a negative campaign which is based on unity and concord. A positive campaign necessitates various sources, because it becomes necessary that the fighting group should use modern weapons and should achieve their end by making physical and financial sacrifices and by surmounting hundreds of obstacles. It is evident that this type of campaign is associated with innumerable pains and sufferings. The wise rulers resort to such a campaign after making necessary arrangements and full preparations and do not implement such a programme unless no alternative except war is left for them. A negative campaign does not, however, require all this. It needs only one factor and that is the unity and concord of the majority. It means that a group of persons, whose object is to knock down the minority, unite sincerely and make a pact and swear that they would cut off relations with the opposing minority, disallow transactions with them, discontinue matrimonial alliances with them, would not permit them to partake in collective affairs and would not co-operate with them in personal matters. In such circumstances the earth, with all its extensiveness, becomes like a small and narrow prison for the minority and its pressure threatens them with annihilation every moment. At times the opposing minority submits at this juncture and obeys the decisions of the majority. However, such an opposing minority must consist of people whose opposition is not prompted by a spiritual aim. For example, they might have been campaigning to acquire wealth, important posts and official positions. When such persons sense danger and are faced with the hardships of blockade they, on account of their having no spiritual stimulant and their motives being purely material, prefer greater possible advantages to the transient pleasures and submit to the wishes of the majority. However, the people whose opposition is based on faith are not cowed down by such hardships. The pressure of blockade strengthens their faith and they face the blows and attacks of the enemy with the shield of patience and fortitude. Pages of human history bear testimony to the fact that the strongest factor for the perseverance and steadfastness of the minorities against the aims of the majorities is their strength of faith, and sometimes they sacrifice the last drop of their blood to achieve their object. And there are hundreds of evidences to prove the correctness of this statement.
The chiefs of Quraysh were very much disturbed due to the amazing advancement of Islam and were anxious to find a way out of this difficult situation. Embracing Islam by persons like Hamzah and inclination of the clear-sighted men of Quraysh towards it, as well as the freedom enjoyed by the Muslims in Ethiopia had also added to the perplexity and astonishment of the rulers of the time. They were also very sad on account of the failure of their plans, and, therefore, thought of a new one. They decided upon 'economic blockade' of the Muslims so as to withhold the penetration and expansion of Islam and restrain the founder and the followers of the Divine religion from activity. Hence the chiefs of the administration hung within the Kaba an agreement written by Mansur bin Akramah and endorsed by the grand council of Quraysh and they swore that the community of Quraysh would act till their death in the following manner: 1. Every sort of trade and business with the supporters of Muhammad shall be banned. 2. Association with them is strictly prohibited. 3. Nobody is entitled to establish matrimonial alliances with the Muslims. 4. Opponents of Muhammad should be supported in all circumstances. The text of the covenant with the above contents was endorsed by all the prominent persons of Quraysh and was put into operation in letter and spirit. Abu Talib, the distinguished supporter of Rasul, invited his kinsmen (descendants of Hashim and Abdul Muttalib) and made them responsible for the support of Rasul. He also decided that all the families should quit Makkah and take up their abode in a valley, known as the 'valley of Abu Talib', situated between the mountains of Makkah, should set up small houses and tents there, and be away from the environments of the idolaters. To forestall sudden attacks by Quraysh he also planned to construct watch towers there and to post there observers, who should report upon every new development. This blockade lasted for three years and the pressure and hardship suffered by them assumed unprecedented dimensions. The heart-rending cries of the children of Bani Hashim reached the ears of the stonehearted people of Makkah, but had no effect on them. Young persons and men ate only one date per head and at times they divided a date into two parts. Throughout these three years Bani Hashim came out of the valley only during the prohibited months (of fighting) when peace prevailed throughout the Arabian Peninsula. During these periods they made small purchases and again went back to the valley. Their great leader, Rasul too could propagate his religion only during these months. However, the right hand men and agents of Quryash practiced economic pressure even during these months, because they usually came to the shops and stores and as and when Muslims wished to purchase something they paid higher price for it and purchased it themselves, making it beyond the means of the Muslims to acquire it. Abu Lahab was especially active in this respect. He loudly addressed the people in the bazaar: "O people! Raise the prices and deprive the followers of Muhammad of their purchasing power". Hence, in order to ensure stabilization of the prices at a high level he himself purchased things at higher cost. For this reason the level of prices always remained high.
The pressure of hunger had reached such a stage that Saad Ibn Abi Waqqas says: "One night I was coming out of the valley in such a condition that I was about to exhaust all my faculties. Suddenly I saw a dried hide of a camel. I picked it up, washed, baked, and ground it. Thereafter I kneaded it with some water and used it for three days". The spies of Quraysh kept vigil on all the paths leading to the valley so that no one might carry any provisions to Bani Hashim. However, in spite of all this control, Hakim bin Hizam, nephew of Khadijah, Abul Ass bin Rabi' and Hisham bin Umar, loaded, every now and then, wheat and dates on camels at midnight and brought them near the valley. Then they wound the bridles of the camels round their necks and released them. At times rendering this assistance also created problems for them. One day Abu Jahl saw that Hakim had loaded a camel with provisions and was carrying it to the valley. He was very much annoyed with him and said: "I think I should take you before Quraysh and humiliate you". Their conflict was prolonged. Abul Bakhtari, who was one of the enemies of Islam, disapproved of the action of Abu Jahl and said: "He is carrying food for his aunt (Khadijah). You have no right to stop him from doing so". He did not content himself with this sentence only but also assaulted Abu Jahl. The severity of the action of Quraysh in implementing their covenant did not diminish the patience and fortitude of the Muslims. Eventually the piteous clamouring of the infants and the children, and the tragic condition of the Muslims aroused the sentiments of some persons. They very much regretted having endorsed the covenant and began to consider ways and means for the solution of the problem. One day Hisham bin Umar went to see Zuhayr bin Abi Umayyah who was the grandson (daughter's son) of Abdul Muttalib and said to him: "Is it proper that you should eat food and wear the best clothes whereas your kinsmen should remain hungry and naked? By God! If you had taken such a decision about the kinsmen of Abu Jahl and asked him to implement it he would never have agreed to do so". Zuhayr said: "I alone can't reverse the decision of Quraysh, but if someone else joins me I will tear up the covenant." Hisham said: "I am with you". He said: "Find out a third person also". Hisham stood up and went out to find Mut'am bin Adi. He met him and said to him: "I don't think you would like that two groups (Bani Hashim and Bani Muttalib), of the descendants of Abd Munaf, to which family you too have the honour to belong, should die". He said: "What can I do? One person can't do anything in the matter". Hisham replied: "Two other persons are also with you and they are myself and Zuhayr". Mut'am said: "It is necessary that some other persons should also cooperate with us". Hisham, then, mentioned the matter to Abul Bakhtari and Zam'a also, and asked them to co-operate. Consequently all of them agreed to meet in the mosque on the following day, early in the morning. The meeting of Quraysh took place and Zuhayr and his confidants participated in it. Zuhayr said, "It is only proper that today Quraysh should steer clear of this shameful stain. It is necessary that this cruel covenant should be torn up today, because the pitiable condition of the children of Hashim has made everyone uncomfortable". Abu Jahl interfered and said: "This proposal is not practicable at all and the covenant of Quraysh must be respected". From the other side Zam'a rose to support Zuhayr and said: "It must be torn up and we were not in favour of it from the very outset". From another corner some others, who were keen that the covenant should come to an end, supported Zuhayr. Abu Jahl realized that the matter was serious and prior consultations had taken place, and those people had already taken a decision in his absence. He, therefore, did not press his point and sat quite. Mut'am availed of the opportunity and went to the place where the covenant was Iying so as to tear it down. He, however, observed that the entire sheet had been eaten up by termite and only the words: "In the name of the Lord" (with which Quraysh commenced their writings) had survived." After observing the developments, Abu Talib related the matter to his nephew and consequently those who had taken refuge in the valley returned to their houses.
How did the death of Abu Talib effect Rasul? Economic blockade of the Muslims by Quraysh ended in failure on account of the intervention by some good-natured persons. Rasul and his supporters came out of the "Valley of Abu Talib" and proceeded to their homes after three years of exile, boycott and hardship. Their business and trade with the Muslims was restored and it could be hoped that their conditions would improve. However, Rasul was suddenly faced with a very painful event which left a very unwholesome effect on the morale of the helpless Muslims. The extent of the impact of this occurrence at that critical moment cannot be measured by any scale or balance, because the growth of an idea and thought depends on two factors i.e. freedom of speech and necessary strength to defend oneself against the dastardly attacks of the enemy. Hence, it so happened that when the Muslims were blessed with freedom of belief they lost the second factor because the distinguished supporter and defender of Islam breathed his last. On that day Rasul lost a supporter and defender who had been responsible for his protection and safety from the time he was only eight years of age till the day when he was passing through his 50th year. It was he who hovered round his person in the same manner in which a moth hovers round a candle. It was he, who provided Rasul with means of his livelihood till he himself became a man of means and gave him priority over himself as well as over his offspring. Rasul lost a personality whom Abdul Muttalib (the grandfather of Rasul) while breathing his last, had made his guardian with the following words: "O Abd-i Munaf ! "I am making you responsible for the protection of one who is the worshipper of One God like his father". Abu Talib said: "Dear father! Muhammad does not stand in need of any recommendation, because he is my own son as well as that of my brother". [Note: Sometimes it is said that the real name of Abu Talib was Imran. Some scholars are of the view that 'Abu Talib' was his real name and not his 'kunniyah' (patronymic).
Specimens of mutual love and kindness of different persons have been recorded in the pages of history. Usually, however, they are based on material and formal considerations and move round the pivot of wealth and beauty and the flame of love quenches within their selves in a very short time and is extirpated. However, the sentiments which are based on ties of kinship or faith in the spiritual excellence of the loved one do not peter out so soon. It so happened that the love of Abu Talib for Rasul was based on both these considerations, that is he believed in him and considered him a perfect man and a unique specimen of humanity, and he was also his nephew (real brother's son) whom he gave the position of brother and son in his heart. Abu Talib believed so much in his spirituality and purity that at the time of drought he took him to musalah (the prayer carpet) with himself and invoked God in the name of his proximity to Him and requested for rains for the afflicted people, and his prayer was granted by God. Many historians have quoted the following incident: Once Quraysh were faced with a terrible drought and the earth and the heavens withheld their blessings from them. They came to Abu Talib with tears in their eyes and requested him earnestly to go to musalah and pray to God for rains. Abu Talib held the hand of Rasul, who was then a young boy, and leaned on the wall of the Kaba and raising his head towards the sky, said: "O Lord! Send rains for the sake of this young boy (pointing towards Rasul) and favour us with your unlimited blessings". The historians write unanimously: "He prayed to God for rains when there was not a single patch of cloud on the sky, but a cloud then appeared immediately from the horizon. A part of the cloud spread in the sky above Makkah and the places round it. Thunder and lightening created great noise. All the places were flooded with water and everyone was happy."
Rasul was not yet twelve years of age when Abu Talib decided to go to Syria with a trading caravan of Quraysh. When the camels had been loaded and were about to move, and the bell for departure had been rung, the nephew of Abu Talib suddenly held the bridle of his camel and said with tears in his eyes: "Dear uncle! To whom are you entrusting me? I must go with you". A tear in the eyes of Muhammad then brought a flood of tears in the eyes of Abu Talib. At this critical time he decided, without any prior planning, to take his nephew with himself. Although Muhammad's place in the caravan had not been taken into account Abu Talib decided to bear the hardships involved in his accompanying him. He accommodated him on his own camel and was careful about him throughout. During that journey he observed some extraordinary things in Muhammad and composed verses about them. They are recorded in his poetical works.
From the point of view of stability no strength equals that of faith. The strength of faith in one's aim is the most powerful factor for the advancement of man in all walks of life. It prepares him to endure all inconveniences and hardships and makes him sacrifice his very life for the achievement of his sacred ideal. A soldier equipped with the strength of faith is totally successful. When he believes that to kill or to be killed in this path is a blessing, his victory and success is ensured. Before a soldier is armed with modern material weapons he must be equipped with the strength of faith, and his heart must be imbued with love for reality. His movements at the time of war and peace should be guided by faith. His going to war or his making peace are entirely for the defence of his faith. The thoughts and beliefs are the offspring of one's spirit and intellect. Just as a man loves his children, he also loves his ideas which issue from his intellect and spirit. Rather, his love for his faith is even greater than that for his children. Hence, he is prepared even to embrace death for the defence of his faith, but does not go to that extremity for the protection of his children. Man's love for wealth and position is limited. He goes after them only to that extent that he is not threatened with sure death. In the matter of his faith, however, he is prepared to court death and prefers honourable death to a life in which he is not allowed the freedom of faith. He observes that real life is that of a 'mujahid' (one who struggles) and repeatedly says: "Real life consists of faith and jihad". Just cast a glance at the life of Abu Talib, the distinguished supporter and defender of Islam, and of Holy Rasul. What was the stimulant for him in this path and what was the factor which persuaded him to go up to the edge of the precipice of annihilation, to forsake his life, wealth, position and tribe, and to sacrifice all of these things for the sake of Muhammad? It is an established fact that he had no material motives and he was not at all anxious to obtain any worldly gain from his nephew, because in those days Rasul himself did not possess any wealth. He did not want to acquire any position or office, because he already possessed the highest office in the society of those times and was the chief of Makkah and Batha. As a matter of fact it was possible that he might have lost even his prominent position and status on account of his defending Rasul, because his defence was the cause of the chiefs of Makkah rising against the family of Hashim and Abu Talib.
It is possible that some shortsighted persons may think that the reason for the sacrifices made by Abu Talib was his close relationship with Muhammad and it was on this account that he was prepared to lay down his very life for his sake. However, this idea is so baseless that a very brief reflection makes its stupidity evident, because the tie of blood relationship is never so strong that a person should sacrifice his entire being for one of his relatives and should offer his own son (Ali) as a sacrifice for his nephew, and be ready to see the one being cut to pieces for the sake of the other. At times fraternal sentiments do pull a man to the precipice of annihilation, but there is no sense in these sentiments being so acute for a particular person only, whereas Abu Talib made all these sacrifices for a particular person from amongst his relatives (i.e. Rasul) and did not do so with regard to other descendants of Abdul Muttalib and Hashim.
In view of what has been stated above the real stimulant for Abu Talib's sacrifices was spiritual and not material, and he was prepared to face every pressure of the enemy for the sake of Muhammad. It was so because he considered him to be a perfect specimen of excellence and humanity and had found his religion to be the best programme for acquisition of prosperity and happiness. As he was a lover of reality he naturally defended reality. This fact becomes evident from the verses of Abu Talib, as giving vent to his feelings he says that Muhammad is a Prophet like Prophets Moses and Jesus. Here is the translation of his verses: "Distinguished personalities should be aware that Muhammad is a Prophet and a guide like Prophets Moses and Jesus and every Prophet takes responsibility for the guidance of the people under the command of God. You may read about his qualities in the Heavenly Books with perfect correctness and this is a true statement and not a calumny on the unseen''. In another laudatory poem about his nephew he says thus: "Don't you know that we consider Muhammad to be a Prophet of God like Moses son of Imran and read about him in the earlier Books?'' The above-mentioned verses as well as many others which are found in the poetical works of Abu Talib and also in the inner folds of history and the books of traditions and exegeses clearly testify that the real stimulant for Abu Talib's defending Rasul was the defence of the true religion of Islam. We mention below some of the sacrifices made by him and you can very well decided, after necessary scrutiny, whether they could be motivated by anything other than true belief.
The chiefs of Quraysh held a meeting in the house of Abu Talib when Rasul was also present. They conversed with one another. The chiefs got up without achieving any result, and Uqbah bin Abi Muit began saying loudly: "Leave him alone. Advice is of no use. He should be assassinated; he should be finished off". Abu Talib was very much disturbed on hearing these sentences but could not do anything, because those people had come to his house as guests. It so happened that Rasul went out of his house that day and did not return till evening. His uncles went to his house but did not find him there. Suddenly Abu Talib recollected the words of 'Uqbah which he had uttered a few hours earlier and said to himself: "They have certainly killed my nephew and have finished his life". He thought that the die had been cast and it was necessary to protect Muhammad and take vengeance on the Pharaohs of Makkah. He called the descendants of Hashim and Abdul Muttalib and gave instructions that all of them should conceal sharp weapons under their clothes and arrive in Masjidul Haram collectively. Further, that each one of them should sit by the side of one chief of Quraysh and as soon as he himself said loudly: "O chiefs of Quraysh! I want Muhammad from you", they should rise up at once and each of them should kill the man sitting by his side and thus all the chiefs should meet their fate. When Abu Talib was about to leave, Zayd bin Harith entered the house all of a sudden and saw them in a state of readiness. He was wonder-struck on seeing this and said: "No harm has came to Rasul. He is in the house of a Muslim at present and is busy propagating Islam". Having said this he immediately went to Rasul and informed him of the dangerous decision taken by Abu Talib. Rasul then proceeded hastily to his house. As soon as Abu Talib saw his nephew's face tears trickled from his eyes and he said: "My nephew! Where have you been? Were you quite happy and safe from every harm during this time?" Rasul assured his uncle that no harm came to him from any quarters. Throughout that night Abu Talib kept thinking. He pondered over the matter and said to himself: "My nephew has not become the target of the enemy today, but Quraysh will not sit still until they kill him". He considered it expedient to got into the mosque along with the descendants of Hashim and Abdul Muttalib after sunrise, when Quraysh had assembled there, and to inform them about his decision so that they might possibly be over-awed and might not plan to kill Muhammad. The sun rose and the time arrived for Quraysh to leave their houses and to go and join their assemblies. They had not yet started conversing when the figure of Abu Talib appeared at a distance and they saw that some brave men were also accompany him. All became attentive and waited to see what Abu Talib had to say and with what aim he had come to the mosque along with all those men. Abu Talib stood before their gathering and said: "Yesterday Muhammad disappeared from us for some time. I thought that you had acted upon what 'Uqbah had said and had killed him. Hence, I decided to come to Masjidul Haram along with these men. I had also instructed them that each one of them should sit by the side of each one of you and as soon as they heard me speak aloud they should get up and attack you with their concealed weapons. However, luckily I found Muhammad alive and safe from any harm from you". Then he asked his men to take out their concealed weapons and ended his speech with these words: "By God! If you had killed him I would not have spared even one of you and would have fought with you to the last..." If you look into the life of Abu Talib you will find that he supported Rasul for full forty two years and peculiarly displayed great bravery and sacrifice during the last ten years of his life which were significant because of the appointment of Rasul to the prophetic mission and to his 'call' during that time. The only factor which kept him so steadfast was his strong faith and his pure belief in the sacred mission of Rasul. And if the sacrifices of his son, Imam Ali are also added to his own, the meaning of the verses of Ibn Abil Hadid, as translated below, becomes quite clear: "If Abu Talib and his son had not been there the religion would not have been successful. He supported and protected him (Rasul) in Makkah, and his son dived in the whirlpools of death in Yathrib for him."
At the time of his death Abu Talib said to his children: "I recommend Muhammad to you, because he is the trusted one of Quraysh and the truthful one of Arabia and possesses all the virtues. He has brought a religion, which has been accepted by the hearts, but the tongues have chosen to deny it on account of fear of taunts. I can see that the weak and the helpless of Arabia have got up to support Muhammad and believe in him, and he has also risen to help them breaking the ranks of Quraysh. He has humiliated the chiefs of Quraysh and devastated their homes and has made the helpless strong and given them status". He concluded his remarks with these words: "O my kinsmen! Become the friends and supporters of his faith (Islam). Whoever follows him becomes prosperous. If death had given me some more time, I would have warded off all the dangers that came to him". We have no doubt about it that he was quite sincere in expressing this wish, because his services and sacrifices, especially during the last ten years of his life, bear testimony to his truthfulness. Another evidence of his truthfulness is the promise he made to Muhammad at the commencement of the latter's prophethood, because when Rasul gathered all his uncles and kinsmen round himself and presented Islam to them Abu Talib said to him: "Arise, O' my nephew! You enjoy a high position. Your religion is the noblest of all religions. You are the son of a great man. If a tongue harms you, severer tongues will come forth to defend you and sharp swords will cut off the tongues of your enemies. By God! The Arabs will be as meek before you as the off-spring of an animal is before its mother".
It would be better if we enquire about the sincerity of faith of Abu Talib from his honest near ones, because the owner of a house knows better what is within it. 1. When Ali informed Rasul about the death of Abu Talib the latter wept bitterly. He directed Ali to arrange for his bathing, shrouding and burial ceremonies, and prayed to God for the salvation of the departed soul. 2. A mention was made about Abu Talib before Imam Zaynulabidin, the fourth Imam. He said: "I wonder why people doubt the faith of Abu Talib, when a woman cannot continue her matrimonial alliance with a non-Muslim husband after she has embraced Islam and Fatimah, daughter of Asad, was amongst those women who embraced Islam at a very early stage and still remained his wife till he breathed his last". 3. Imam Muhammad Baqir says: "The faith of Abu Talib was superior to the faith of many people and Ali ordered that Haj should be performed on his behalf." 4. Imam Ja'far Sadiq says: "Abu Talib was like the People of the Cave. They had faith in their hearts but pretended to be polytheists. For this reason they will be rewarded twice".
Following the people of Rasul's household the true Ulema are unanimous about the fact that Abu Talib was one of the distinguished personalities of Islam and when he breathed his last he possessed a heart which had perfect faith in Islam and was very sincere to the Muslims. These scholars have written many books and treatises on this subject.
How the journey and ascension to the heavens was made by Rasul? And what do the Quran, Hadith and history books say about it? The darkness of night had spread in the horizon and silence reigned over the face of nature. The time had arrived when the living creatures take rest and sleep so that they might recuperate for their activities on the following day. Rasul was also not an exception to this law of nature and he wished to take rest after offering his prayers. However, he suddenly heard a voice. It was the voice of the Arch Angel Gabriel who said to him: "This night you have to perform a very unique journey and I have been ordered to remain with you. You will have to traverse different parts of the world mounted on an animal named 'Buraq'." Rasul commenced his grand journey from the house of Umme Hani (sister of Ali ) and mounted on Buraq proceeded to Baytul Maqdis, situated in Jerusalem, which is also called Masjidul Aqsa. After a very short time he dismounted there and visited different parts of the mosque as well as Bethlehem which is the birth place of Jesus and also saw various other places associated with different Prophets. At some of these places he also performed two rak'ats of prayers. Thereafter he commenced the second part of his journey and proceeded from that place to the skies. He then observed the stars and the system of the world and conversed with the souls of the previous Prophets and also with the Angels of the heavens. He saw the centres of blessing and torture (Paradise and Hell) and also saw the places of the dwellers of Hell and Paradise from close quarters, and a consequently became fully aware of the secrets of creation, the extent of the Universe and the signs of the Omnipotent God. Then he continued his journey and reached 'Sidratul-Muntaha' and found it fully covered with splendour, magnificence and grandeur. Note: For understanding fully the meaning of 'Sidratul Muntaha' refer to books of exegeses.]
At this time his journey came to an end he returned through the way he had gone. During his return journey also he first came to Baytul Maqdis and then proceeded to Makkah. On the way he met a trading caravan of Quraysh who had lost a camel and were making a search for it. He drank some water from a container of theirs and threw the remainder on the ground and according to another narrative placed a cover on it. It was before daybreak when he dismounted in the house of Umme Hani from the animal which had taken him to the heavens. She was the first person to whom he related this matter and on the day following that night he made it known to the assemblies of Quraysh as well. The story of his 'ascension' and grand journey which was considered by Quraysh to be something impossible spread from mouth to mouth in all centres and made the chiefs of Quraysh all the more perplexed. According to their old habit Quraysh decided to refute him and said: "Even now there are some persons in Makkah who have seen Baytul Maqdis. If what you say is correct then give an account of its structure". Rasul not only described the structure of Baytul Maqdis but also mentioned the incidents which had occurred between Makkah and Baytul Maqdis and said: "On my way I met the caravan of such and such tribe who had lost a camel. They had a container full of water which was a part of their equipment. I drank some water from it and then covered it. At another place I met a group of persons whose camel had run away and had broken its leg". Quraysh said: "Tell us about the caravan of Quraysh". Rasul replied: "I saw them at Tan'im (a place from where the 'Haram' commences). A brown camel was going ahead of them and they had placed a litter on it and are now entering Makkah". Quraysh became very much excited on account of these definite news and said: "We shall now come to know about your truth or falsehood". However, it was not long before Abu Sufyan, the leader of the caravan, appeared and people made known to him in detail what Rasul had said. The above account is a gist of what has been stated in the books of exegeses and traditions.
The event of Mehraj of Rasul in the heavens has been mentioned clearly in two Suras of Quran and has also been alluded to in other Sura(s). We give here briefly the verses which clearly make a mention of Mehraj. In Sura lsra' it has been said Glory be to Him Who made His servant go by night from Masjidul Haram to Masjidul Aqsa, whose surroundings We have blessed, that We might show him some of Our signs. He alone hears all and observes all. This verse apparently mentions the following points: 1. In order to tell us that Rasul travelled through these worlds in a short time, not with human strength but through Divine strength, God commences His statement with "Glory be to Him!" which points to the fact that God is free from all defects and needs. He has also not contented Himself with this and has introduced Himself as the Agent of the journey by saying 'Asra' (God made him perform the journey). This favour was bestowed upon him so that the people might not think that the journey was performed according to natural laws and with usual means, and might, therefore deny its possibility. It has therefore, been clarified that it was undertaken through Divine Will and special favour of God. 2. This journey was undertaken at night. 3. Notwithstanding the fact that this journey commenced from the house of Umme Hani, daughter of Abu Talib, God has mentioned its starting-place to be Masjidul Haram. This is perhaps due to the fact that the Arabs consider entire Makkah to be the House of God and as such all its places are treated to be 'Masjid' and 'Haram'. Hence, God's saying that: "He made him journey from Masjidul Haram" is perfectly in order. According to some narratives, however, the journey started from Masjidul Haram itself. Although this verse states the starting point of the journey to be 'Masjidul Haram' and the end to be Masjidul Aqsa' there is nothing in it which may be inconsistent with Rasul's performing another journey to the heavens, because this verse mentions one part of the journey and the verses of Sura Najm deal with the another part of the schedule of the journey. 4. Rasul performed the journey with his body and soul together and not with his soul only. The words 'to His servant bear testimony to this, because the word 'servant' applies to 'body with soul'. In case Mehraj had been only spiritual the proper words to be used would have been 'to His servant's soul'. 5. The object of this grand journey was to make known to Rasul the various aspects of the existence of the great Universe. We shall elaborate this point later. The other Sura which clearly mentions the event of Mehraj is 'Sura Najm' and the verses which you will read below were revealed in this connection. When Rasul told Quraysh that he had seen physically the Arch Angel Gabriel, when he brought the first revelation, they disputed with him. Quran replies thus to their objection: "Why do you contend with Rasul about his having seen Gabriel? He beheld him once again near Sidratul Muntaha which is in the proximity of Paradise, which is the abode of good ones. It was when Sidratul Muntaha was covered with grandeur. His eyes did not wander, nor did they turn aside, for he saw some of his Lord's greatest signs".
The exegetes and the traditionalists have quoted many things about Mehraj and the things observed by Rasul but all of them are not final and indisputable. The great pious commentator and expert exegete, the late Allamah Tabrasi, has divided these narratives into four groups: 1. One group of the narratives is final and indisputable, for example, the fact of Mehraj and some of its particulars. 2. The reports which have been quoted in a correct manner but have not reached the stage of finality, although they conform to the principles and verdict of wisdom, for example, survey of Paradise and Hell, journey in the skies and conversation with the souls of the Prophets. 3. The reports which are not apparently acceptable but are capable of interpretation, for example, Rasul's conversation during the night of Mehraj with the dwellers of Paradise and Hell which can be explained away by saying that he observed their phantoms, figures and qualities. Exaggerated reports coined and circulated by the liars. For example, it is said at times that Rasul sat that night with God or that he heard the sound of His pen.
Though it was appropriate that this grand event should have been properly recorded in all respects, yet, for some reasons, differences have risen about it and one of them is about the date of its occurrence. Two great historians of Islam (Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham) say that this event occurred in the tenth year of Rasul's prophethood. The renowned historian Bayhaqi believes that it took place in the twelfth year of his prophethood. Some say that it occurred in the early days of his prophetic mission, whereas others say that the time of its occurrence was the middle period of the prophethood. And at times, in order to add up all these statements, it has been said that the Mehraj of Rasul took place more than once. However, we are of the view that the Mehraj in which daily prayers were made compulsory took place after the death of Abu Talib which occurred in the tenth year of the prophethood of Rasul. We conclude this, because it is one of the established facts of history and tradition that during the night of Mehraj God ordered that Rasul's followers should offer prayers five times a day and it is also learnt from history that prayers had not been made obligatory till the death of Abu Talib, because when he was on his death-bed the chiefs of Quraysh approached him to settle the dispute between them and his nephew and to prevent him from his activities and to take whatever he wanted as a recompense for it. Rasul who was present there addressed the chiefs thus: "I don't want anything from you except that you should confirm that there is no god but God and give up worshipping the idols". He uttered these words and did not at all mention 'salat' (prayers) or other articles of faith. This in itself shows that prayers had not been made obligatory till then, for, otherwise, mere declaration of faith devoid of a compulsory action like prayers would have been useless. And as regards the fact that he did not mention his own prophethood, it was because witnessing of monotheism implicitly means confirming of his prophethood. Besides this, the historians have also mentioned the embracement of Islam by persons like Tufayl bin Amr Dosi which took place a little earlier than migration (to Madina). At that time, too, Rasul contented himself with giving them instructions to acknowledge monotheism and his own prophethood but did not mention 'prayers'. Such incidents go to show that the time of the occurrence of the event in which prayers were made compulsory was only a little earlier than migration. Those who think that Mehraj took place earlier than the tenth year of the prophethood of Rasul are very much mistaken, because from the eighth up to the tenth year he was besieged in the 'Valley' and the pitiable condition of the Muslims did not make it expedient that they should have been subjected to an additional responsibility like 'prayers'. And as regards the years before the eighth, besides the fact that the pressure of Quraysh was so hard on the Muslims that they could not bear additional responsibilities, their number was also very small. At such a time, therefore, when the light of faith and its principles had not been infused in the hearts of an appreciable number of persons it appears very unlikely that an unusual responsibility like prayers should have been imposed on them As regards the mention made in a number of narratives that Imam Ali performed prayers along with Rasul for three years before the appointment of the latter to the prophetic mission and continued them later, it may be said that it meant special and unlimited prayers and not limited and conditional prayers with a fixed time. It is also possible that they might have been 'recommended' and 'nonobligatory' prayers.
The quality of Mehraj of Rasul has been a subject of discussion for long and much has been said about its being physical or spiritual, although Quran and the traditions clearly state that it was physical. [Note: The great genuine scholar Shaykh Tabrasi, has stated in his commentary of the Quran, Tafsir Majmal Bayan, that all true scholars are unanimous that the 'Mehraj' was physical.]
However, some scientific notions have prevented a group of persons from accepting this reality. Consequently they have resorted to their own interpretations and considered the Mehraj of Rasul to be purely spiritual and have said that only his spirit travelled through all the worlds and then returned to his sacred body. Some have gone a step further and say that all these events were a vision and Rasul saw different places and travelled through them in a dream. The statement of the last group is so much distant from logic and reality that it should not at all be considered as a part of the traditions and opinions relating to Mehraj. The reason for this is that when Quraysh heard that Muhammad had claimed that he had travelled through all these places during a night they became very uneasy and got up seriously to give him the lie, so much so that his Mehraj became the subject of discussion in all the assemblies of Quraysh. In case his travelling through these worlds had been only a vision there was no point in Quraysh rising up to refute him and to create all the tumult. This is so because if a person says that one night, while asleep, he has dreamt this and that it cannot become an object of dispute and strife, for a dream is after all a dream and many impossible things can be seen in it. For this reason, therefore, this view is not worth further scrutiny. Unfortunately, however, some Egyptain scholars like Farid Wajdi have adopted this idea and supported it with baseless statements. In spite of all this, however, it is only proper to pass it over.
Those people who have not been able to solve some minute points related to physical Mehraj have been compelled to resort to interpretation and have considered Rasul's Mehraj to have been a spiritual one. Spiritual Mehraj means meditation about the things created by God and observation of His Grandeur and Beauty and absorption in thoughts about Him and glorifying His name and eventual freedom from material ties and worldly interests and crossing through all possibilities and entering into internal and non-material stages. And after going through all this process a special proximity to God is acquired, and it is not possible to define it. If spiritual Mehraj means meditation about the Grandeur of God and the extent of the creation, such a Mehraj is undoubtedly not peculiar to Rasul as many Prophets and other enlightened and pure-hearted persons have also enjoyed this position, whereas the Qurtan mentions his Mehraj as something peculiar to him and an extraordinary distinction for him. Furthermore, Rasul had been in the aforesaid condition during many nights whereas Mehraj has been proved to be related to a particular night. The thing which has obliged these persons to hold the said view (i.e. the Mehraj was spiritual only) is the hypothesis of the well-known Greek astronomer, Ptolemy, which has enjoyed great value in the scientists' circles of East and West for a period of two thousand years and hundreds of books have been written about it, and it was considered till recently to be one of the established laws of natural sciences. It may be summarized as under: There are two types of bodies in the world, elemental and celestial. An elemental body consists of the four well-known elements (water, earth, air and fire). The first sphere which we observe is the sphere of earth which is the centre of the world. Then come the spheres of water, air and fire and everyone of them surrounds the other. Here the spheres come to an end and the celestial bodies begin. Celestial bodies means the nine skies which are connected with one another like the layers of an onion and are not at all capable of rending and conciliation and separation and union and no creature can move straight through them, because this would necessitate separation of the components of the sky from one another. Rasul's Mehraj being physical necessitates that he should ascend from the centre of the world in a straight line and should cross the four spheres and also rend the skies one after the other and the rending and conciliation of the skies is not possible and practicable according to Greek astronomy, the said thinkers have been obliged to consider Rasul's Mehraj to be only spiritual, as nobody can restrain a spirit from performing a journey.
These statements had some worth in those days when Ptolemy's astronomy had not yet lost its value in scientific circles and some persons sincerely liked it and were inclined to it. In such circumstances it was possible that we might have played with the intricacies of Quran and had explained away the clear verses of Quran as well as the traditions. These hypotheses have, however, lost their all-pervasive value and their baselessness has become evident. Only at times a mention of Ptolemy's astronomy is made in connection with the history of science. Furthermore, in view of the invention of various astronomical implements and powerful telescopes and descending of Apollos and Lunas on the surface of the moon, Venus and Mars and journeys of the astronauts on the moon have left no ground for these imaginary hypotheses. Nowadays the scientists consider the existence of four elemental spheres and nine inter-connected skies to be a mere myth and have not have not succeeded in seeing, with the help of scientific implements, astronomical tools and well-equipped eyes, the worlds which Ptolemy had created with his imagination and they consider to be valueless even view which is founded on his wrong hypothesis.
The leader of the Shaykhiyah sect (Shaykh Ahmad Ehsai) has sung another song in the pamphlet entitled 'Qatifiyah' and has tried to satisfy both the groups in a new manner. He says that Rasul went for Mehraj with a 'barzakhi' (Herculian) body. In this way, according to his own thinking, he has satisfied those who believe in physical Mehraj, because he has admitted that the Mehraj took place along with body and has also removed the difficulty with regard to the skies, because, in order to penetrate through the skies, it is not necessary for a 'barzakhi' body to rend them. [Note: Barzakhi body is like the body with which man performs all deeds in a dream. The pamphlet entitled 'Qatifiyah' is one of his 92 pamphlets which were published collectively with the name of "Jawame'ul Kalim". The text of his remarks is as under: "In the event of ascension as the body goes above it abandons the elements connected with every one of the spheres at that very place and moves on. For example, it leaves the element of air in the sphere of air and that of fire in the sphere of fire. And at the time of its return it regains all that it had abandoned". Hence, at the time of 'Mehraj', Rasul abandoned everyone of the four elements of his body (in the past the basic elements were considered to be four) in their respective spheres and went for Mehraj with a body which was devoid of these elements. Such a body cannot be an elemental body and can be nothing else than 'barzakhi' (according to his terminology a 'Herculian' body). In the book Sharh-i Ziarat, the Shaykh states that the nine skies are not capable of rending and conciliation.]
Nevertheless, the enlightened, truth-seeking and unbiased persons consider this view also to be worthless and opposed to Quran and clear text of the traditions, just like the previous view (the Mehraj being spiritual), because, as has already been said, when you place the verse of Quran relating to Mehraj before a linguist he will say that the speaker means the worldly elemental body or which the word 'abd' (servant) has been used in Quran and not the word 'Herculian', because the Arab society was not at all conversant with this and other similar words and in Sura Isra' only the common groups and individuals have been addressed. Now the factor which has prompted him to adopt this forced interpretation is that very Greek myth about the system of existence according to which it is firm like Lawh-i Mehfooz (The Protected Tablet). But now that all the scientists refute this view it is not at all proper that we should continue to follow it blindly. If the scholars of the past have said something on account of their being optimistic about the old astronomy they can be excused and are not much to blame, but it is not proper for us, during the present times, to ignore Quranic realities on account of a hypothesis which has been refuted by the body of scientists.
Some of those interested in natural sciences, who are anxious to fix a natural cause for every event and a physical agent, for every phenomenon, have chosen to deny the very basis of Mehraj and think that modern natural and scientific laws do not confirm to the Mehraj of Rasul. For example, they say: 1. Modern science says: In order to get away from the earth it is necessary to neutralize its gravity. If you fling a ball in the air, the power of gravity brings it back to the earth. With whatever force you fling it, it will come back to the earth again. If we wish to neutralize the gravity of the earth fully, so that the ball should move on and should not return to the earth, it will be necessary to fling at the minimum speed of 25,000 miles per hour. Hence, Rasul went out of the zone of gravity and became weight-less. But here the question arises as to how he performed the journey at this speed without necessary facilities. 2. The atmosphere in which one may breathe does not exist beyond a few kilometers of the earth. Thereafter, as we go higher, air becomes thinner and still more unfit for breathing and occasionally we reach a point where there is no air at all. How did Rasul manage to live without oxygen while performing his journey in the aforesaid regions? 3. The mortal rays and celestial stones destroy every terrestrial body which is touched by them. They do not, however, reach the earth on account of their collision with the regions of air and in fact these regions serve as a coat-of-mail for the inhabitants of earth. In the circumstances, by what means did Rasul remain safe from these mortal rays? 4. Human life is deranged as and when the pressure of air increases or decreases and man can live in only a particular pressure of the air which does not exist in the upper regions. 5. The speed at which Rasul performed his journey was decidedly more than the speed of light. Light travels at the speed of 300,000 kilometers per second and modern science has proved that no body can travel at a higher speed than that of light. Keeping this scientific law in view, how did Rasul commence his journey at a speed higher than that of light and then returned safe and sound?
When we stretch the natural laws to this extent the number of difficulties crosses the limit of those enumerated above. However, we enquire from these gentlemen the purpose of explaining these natural laws. Do they mean to say that journey in the upper worlds is impossible? It should be said in reply that fortunately the scientific research by the astronomers of Eastern and Western blocs has made this matter something usual and possible, because, by their sending into space the first artificial satellite in 1957, which was given the name of 'Sputnic', it became clear that the power of gravity can be neutralized by means of a rocket. Similarly by their sending space-ships carrying astronauts by means of rockets it became clear that the thing which man considered to be an obstacle in the way of his journeying in the upper worlds is remediable with the help of science and technology, and, with these industrial and scientific tools available to him, man can solve the problems of mortal rays and the difficulty about the lack of air in which one could breathe. And even now the sciences relating to space are in a state of expansion and the scientists are confident that after some time it will be possible for them to lead their lives in one of the celestial spheres and they will travel quite easily to the moon and to Mars. [Note: All these modern activities go to show that landing of man on the surface of the spheres is possible. And the thing which man does by scientific methods is done by his Creator by means of His Great Will.]
These scientific and technical developments clearly show that such an activity is hundred per cent possible and is not something beyond reason. It is possible that some persons may argue that such a journey cannot be undertaken without scientific and mechanical implements and as Rasul did not possess these resources during the night of Mehraj how could he travel in such worlds without them? Reply to this statement becomes quite clear from our foregoing discussions about the miracles of the Prophets and especially from the detailed narrative which we have penned earlier about the events of the 'Year of the Elephant' and the incident of Abrahah's army being killed with small stones, for it is an established fact that the things which ordinary persons do with implements and scientific tools can be done by the Prophets with the blessings of God, and without any apparent and external means. Rasul went to Mehraj with the blessing of God to Whom the entire creation belongs and Who is the Creator of this wonderful system. It is He who has given gravity to the earth and cosmic rays to the sun, and has created different layers in the atmosphere. And He can take these things back and control them whenever He likes. In case the schedule of the historical journey of Rasul was accomplished under the command of God all these laws decidedly surrender before His absolute Will and are in the grip of His power every moment. In the circumstances what difficulty should there be if the Lord who has given gravity to the earth and cosmic rays to the heavenly bodies should take His chosen servant out of the centre of gravity with His unlimited power and without any apparent means? God who has created oxygen can certainly create air for His chosen Prophet in the areas where air does not exist. The efficacy of a miracle is basically different from that of the natural causes and the strength of man. We should not consider the strength of God limited like our own. If we cannot perform a job without means we should not say that the Omnipotent God cannot also perform it. From the point of view of difficulty and its solution the bringing to life of the dead, the transformation of a rod into a boa and keeping Prophet Yunus alive in the belly of a fish in the depth of the sea-the events which have been confirmed by the Heavenly Books and have been narrated for us-are not unlike the Mehraj of Rasul. In short all the natural causes and external impediments are controlled and conquered by the Will of God. His Will does not concern only that which is an impossibility, but besides that He can do whatever He likes, whether or not man possesses strength for it or not. No doubt we are addressing here those people who recognize God with the qualities and attributes which are peculiar to Him and who believe that He is Omnipotent and can do whatever He wills.
A person asked the fourth Imam: "Is there a particular place for God?" He replied: "No". The man said: "Then why did He make His Prophet journey through the skies?" The Holy Imam replied: "He made him ascend so that he might become aware of the expanse of the Universe and see and hear wonderful things, the like of which had not been seen and heard by the eyes and ears before". It is no doubt necessary that the last Prophet should enjoy such a position that he should rely on his vast information and should be able to send a message to the people of the 20th century, who are still thinking of travelling to the moon and to Mars, that he did this performance without any means and his Creator was kind to him and made him fully aware of the system of creation.
# After the event of ascensiont the tenth year of the prophetic mission came to an end with all its agreeable and disagreeable events. During this year Rasul lost two great defenders and supporters. In the first instance the chief of the family of Abdul Muttalib, the distinguished defender of Rasul and the prominent personality of Quraysh viz. Abu Talib breathed his last. The pangs of this tragedy were still fresh in the heart of Rasul when the death of his dear wife Khadijah aggravated his pain. Abu Talib was the protector of the life and honour of Rasul and Khadijah served Islam with her immense wealth. [Note: Ibn Saad says that the death of Khadijah took place one month and five days after that of Abu Talib. Others like Ibn Athir, however, believe that she died earlier than him.]
From the commencement of the eleventh year of the prophetic mission Rasul was spending his time in an atmosphere which was replete with enmity and grudge against him. His life was in constant danger and he was deprived of all the possibilities of the propagation of Islam. Ibn Hisham writes that after a few days of the death of Abu Talib a Qurayshite threw some dust on the head of Rasul and he entered his house in the same condition. The eyes of one of his daughters fell on his pitiable condition. Crying loudly and with tears trickling from her eyes she rose, brought some water and washed the head and face of her dear father. Rasul consoled her and said: "Don't cry. God is the Protector of your father". then he said: "While Abu Talib was alive Quraysh did not succeed in doing anything unpleasant against me". On account of the biting atmosphere of Makkah Rasul decided to go to some other environments. In those days Taif was a thriving centre. He, therefore, decided to go there alone and contact the chiefs of 'Saqif' tribe and invite them to Islam so that he might possibly achieve success in this manner. After arriving at Taif he met the chief and elders of that tribe and explained to them the religion of monotheism, and asked for their support and assistance. However, his words had not the least effect on them and they said: "In case you are the chosen one of God it will be inviting torture to refute you and if your claim is false you are not fit to be talked to". Rasul understood from this flimsy and childish logic of theirs that they wanted to avoid him. He, therefore, rose and took a promise from them that they would not say anything about the matter to others, because it was possible that the low and mean elements of 'Saqif' tribe might make it a pretext to harm him and might take undue advantage of his being alone and away from his home town. However, the elders of the tribe did not keep their promise and instigated the loafers and simpletons against him. Suddenly Rasul found himself encircled by a group of person who wanted to use all methods to tease him. He saw no alternative but to take refuge in a garden which belonged to two persons named 'Atbah and Shibah. Rasul entered the garden with great difficulty and then the said persons ceased to pursue him. 'Atbah and Shibah were wealthy Qurayshites who also possessed a garden in Taif. When Rasul entered the garden sweat was flowing down his head and face and some parts of his sacred body had also been hurt. He sat down involuntarily under the vine which rested on the trellis and began to utter the following supplication: "O Lord! I present my weakness and lack of strength before You. You are the kind Nourisher. You are the helper of the weak. To whom are You abandoning me? These and many other invocations which we have briefly quoted, strongly impress the hearts, because they are supplications by a person who has spent fifty years of his life with great honour and dignity under the protection of self-sacrificing supporters, but now his circumstances have undergone such change that he has taken refuge in the enemy's garden and is waiting for his fate with an exhausted and wounded body. The sons of Rabiyyah, though idol-worshippers and enemies of Islam, were very much touched to see the pitiable condition of Rasul They, therefore, ordered a Christian slave of theirs, named Adas, to take to him a receptacle full of grapes. 'Adas took the grapes to Rasul and placed the same before him and looked at his face somewhat intently. In the meantime an interesting incident took place. The Christian slave observed that while eating the grapes Rasul said: "In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful". He was very much surprised to hear this and, breaking the seal of silence, said: "The people of the Peninsula are not acquainted with these words and I have not so far heard anyone of them uttering them. People of this area begin their work with the names of 'Lat' and 'Uzza'. Rasul enquired from him about his birth-place and his religion. He stated that he belonged to Naynavah and was a Christian. Rasul then said: "Do you hail from the place to which the pious man Yunus (Jonah) son of Mata (Mathew) belonged?" He was all the more surprised to hear this and again enquired: "How do you know Yunus son of Mata?" Rasul replied: "My brother Yunus was God's Prophet like myself". Rasul's words which showed signs of truthfulness made a strange impression on 'Adas and he was attracted towards him involuntarily. He prostrated himself, kissed Rasul's hands and feet and expressed faith in his religion. Thereafter he took leave of him and returned to the owners of the garden. The sons of Rabiyyah were very much surprised to observe the spiritual revolution which had taken place in the Christian slave. They enquired from him: "What conversation did you have with this stranger and why did you show so much humility before him?" The slave replied: "This person who has now taken refuge in your garden is the chief of the entire humanity. He has told me things which only Prophets know and he is the very Promised Prophet". The sons of Rabiyyah were very much annoyed to hear the slave's words. Apparently, however, they said benevolently: "This man should not estrange you from your old faith. And the religion of Jesus which you follow at present is better than his".
The intensity with which the people pursued Rasul ended with his taking refuge in the garden of the sons of Rabiyyah. However, he had to return to Makkah now, and even this return was not free from difficulties, because his only defender had since departed from the world and it was possible that at the time of his arrival in Makkah he might have been captured and killed. Rasul decided to spend a few days in Nakhlah (a place situated between Makkah and Taif). His idea was to send some one from there to one of the chiefs of Quraysh so that he might procure 'security' for him and then he might enter his birth-place under the protection of some such person. However, he could not find at Nakhlah anyone who might go to Makkah on his behalf. Later he left Nakhlah for Mount Hira. There he met a Khazai Arab and asked him to go to Makkah and speak to Mut'am bin Adi, who was one of the towering personalities of Makkah, for his (i.e. Rasul's) 'security'. The man went to Makkah and conveyed the message of Rasul to Mut'am. Although Mut'am was an idol-worshipper he accepted the request of Rasul and said: "Muhammad should come straight to my house. My sons and I shall protect his life". Rasul entered Makkah at night and went direct to the house of Mut'am and spent the night there. Next morning Mut'am said to Rasul: "Now that you are under my protection it will be in the fitness of things if Quraysh should also know about it. Hence, to proclaim this it is necessary that you should accompany me to Masjidul Haram". Rasul accepted the idea and got ready to go there. Mut'am ordered his sons to arm themselves and encircle Rasul. Then they entered the mosque. Their arrival in Masjidul Haram was very impressive. Abu Sufyan who had been lying in wait for Rasul since long was very much annoyed to observe this scene and abandoned the idea of molesting him. Mut'am and his sons sat down and Rasul started performing 'tawaf'. After performing 'tawaf' he left for his house. Soon afterwards Rasul left Makkah for Madina and the beginning of the year of 'migration' Mut'am passed away in Makkah. The news of his death reached Madina and Rasul remembered him for his goodness. The poet of Islam, Hassan bin Thabit, recited some verses in memory of his services. The great Prophet remembered him on various occasions. So much so that when, after the Battle of Badr, Quraysh were returning to Makkah after having sustained great loss and leaving behind a number of persons, who were captured by the Muslims, Rasul remembered Mut'am and said: "If Mut'am had been alive and had asked me to release all the captives or to gift them to him, I would not have rejected his request".
The tedious journey to Tatif undertaken by Rasul makes abundantly clear his steadfastness and forbearance and the fact that he never forgot the services rendered by Mut'am at a particular time tells us about his sublime habits and high morals. However, over and above these two qualities of Rasul, we can well imagine how appreciative he must have been for the valuable services rendered him by Abu Talib. Mut'am lent support to Rasul for a few hours or for a few days, but his noble uncle defended him throughout his life. Mut'am did not suffer even one-thousandth part of the hardships and tribulations which Abu Talib suffered. And when Rasul was willing to release all the captives of Badr or to gift them away to Mut'am for the sake of services rendered by him for a few hours what would he do in lieu of the services rendered by his dear uncle? It is necessary that the person, who supported Rasul for full forty two years and risked his own life during the last ten years to protect him, should enjoy a very high position in the eyes of Muhammad, the leader of humanity. And then there is a clear difference between these two persons. Mut'am was a polytheist and an idol-worshipper, whereas Abu Talib was considered to be one of the great personalities of the world of Islam.
During Haj season the Arabs assembled at various places like 'Ukaz', 'Majannah' and 'Zil-Majaz'. Great poets and speakers sat at elevated places and entertained the people with their verses and speeches which depicted bravery, self-praise and love Rasul availed of this opportunity like the Prophets of the past. And on account of being secure from molestation by the idol-worshippers owing to fighting being unlawful during the prohibited months he mounted a high place, turned to the people and addressed them thus: "Acknowledge the Oneness of God so that you may attain deliverance. With the strength of faith you can control the entire world, can make the people obey your orders and can find place in Paradise in the next world".
During Haj season Rasul contacted the chiefs of Arabia and saw all of them in their respective lodgings and presented the reality of his religion before them. At times, when Rasul was busy conversing with them Abu Lahab appeared on the scene and said: "O people! Don't believe in what he says, because he is campaigning against the religion of your ancestors and his words are baseless". The opposition of Rasul's uncle reduced the effect of his sermons amongst the heads of the tribes and they said to themselves "If his religion were true and profitable members of his own family would not have opposed him''.
During the past times 'Wadiul Qura' (the Valley of Qura) was the trade route from Yemen to Syria. After passing by the side of Makkah the trading caravans of Yemen entered this long valley and along with it there were some green and pleasant regions, one of them being the old city of Yathrib, which became known later as 'Madinatur Rasul' (the city of Rasul). Two famous tribes known as 'Aws' and 'Khazraj', who were Yemenite Arab migrants (Qehtani) had settled in this region since the well known tribes of the Jews (Bani Qurayzah, Bani Nuzayr and Bani Qaynqa'), who had migrated from the northern areas of the Peninsula, had also settled there. Every year a group of Yathrib Arabs went to Makkah to perform Haj ceremonies, and Rasul contacted them. These contacts provided the preliminaries for 'migration', and centralized the scattered strength of Islam at that point. Many of these contacts did not prove fruitful. Notwithstanding this however, the pilgrims from Yathrib, on their return to their homeland, mentioned the appearance of the new Prophet as the most important news and attracted the attention of the people of that area to this great event. We, therefore, mention here some of these meetings which took place during the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth years of the prophetic mission. From a deep study of these events the reasons for the migration of Rasul from Makkah to Yathrib (Madina) and the centralization of the strength of the Muslims at that place become quite clear: 1. As and when Rasul learned that an important person from amongst the Arabs had arrived in Makkah he contacted him immediately and presented his religion to him. One day he heard that Suwayd bin Samit had come to Makkah. He met him at once and explained the realities of his sacred religion to him. Suwayd thought that these realities were perhaps the wise sayings of Luqman which he had already with himself. Rasul, however, said: "The sayings of Luqman are good, but what God has revealed to me is better and sublimer, because it is the torch of guidance which sheds light everywhere. Thereafter Rasul read out some verses to him, and he embraced Islam. Then he returned to Madina. He was killed by Khazrajites before the Battle of 'Bu'ath'. He breathed his last while reciting 'Shahadatain' (i.e. acknowledging that there is no god but God and Muhammad is His servant and Prophet). 2. A group of persons belonging to the tribe of 'Bani 'Amir' met Rasul and said: "We shall believe in your prophethood on the condition that you make us your successors (caliphs)". Rasul replied: "This thing concerns God and I do not possess any authority in the matter. They then declined to embrace Islam and returned to their tribe saying that it meant that they should take up the cudgels for it and others should enjoy the profit. On reaching home they mentioned the matter to an old man of their tribe who had not been able to perform Haj on account of infirmity. The enlightened old man blamed them and said: "It is the very luminous star which has risen from the horizon of reality". 3. Anas bin Rafe' came to Makkah along with a group of persons belonging to the tribe of Abdul Ashhal and Ayas bin Muaz was also amongst them. Their object was to seek military assistance from Quraysh to fight against the Khazrajites. Rasul joined their meeting and explained his religion to them and also recited some verses of Quran for them. Ayas, who was a courageous man, stood up and embraced Islam and said: "This religion is better than the assistance of Quraysh for which you have come here". (He meant that Islam is a surety for all-round prosperity, because it roots out homicide and all factors of destruction and deceit). Acceptance of Islam by this man without the inclination of the head of the tribe made Anas very angry. To quench his uneasiness he took sand in both of his hands, threw it on the face of Ayas and said: "Keep quiet. We have come here to seek assistance from Quraysh and not to embrace the religion of Islam". Rasul then got up and later the said group returned to Madina. The Battle of Bu'ath took place between Aws and Khazraj. Ayas, who remained steadfast in his faith till the last moment of his life, was killed in this battle.
The Battle of Bu'ath is one of the historical battles which took place between the two tribes of Aws and Khazraj. Bani Aws were victorious in this battle and they burned the palm grove of the enemy. Thereafter war and peace took place alternately. Abdullah bin Ubay who was one of the chiefs of Bani Khazraj did not participate in this battle and had, therefore, held in respect by both the tribes. It appeared that the two parties had got fully exhausted and, therefore, became very much inclined towards peace. Both the tribes insisted that Abdullah should become the ruler after compromise. They even prepared a crown for him so that he might wear at the appropriate time. However, this scheme failed on account of the inclination of a group of Khazrajites towards Islam. And in the meantime Rasul met six Khazrajites at Makkah and they accepted his invitation.
During Haj season Rasul met six persons belonging to the tribe of Khazraj and asked them whether they had concluded a pact with the Jews. They replied in the affirmative. Thereupon he said to them: "Please sit down so that I may tell you something". They sat down and heard his words. Rasul read out some verses of Quran to them. This had a good effect on them and they embraced Islam immediately. The thing which made them inclined to Islam was that they had heard from the Jews that a Prophet of Arabian descent, who would introduce the religion of the Oneness of God and would wipe out idol-worship, would be appointed by God soon and they, therefore, thought that before the Jews stole a march on them they themselves should assist him and thereby become victorious over their enemies. The said group of persons turned to Rasul and said: "The fire of war constantly kindles between us. We hope that God will quench it by means of your sacred religion. We are now returning to Yathrib and shall present your religion to the people. If all of them accept it there will be no one else who should be more respectable for us than you". These six persons made continuous efforts to propagate Islam in Yathrib. So much so that there was no house left there where Rasul was not talked about.
The continuous propagation by those six persons proved fruitful and a group of the residents of Yathrib embraced Islam. In the twelfth year of the prophetic mission another group consisting of twelve persons came from Yathrib and met Rasul at 'Aqabah and concluded the first Islamic agreement. The most famous out of these persons were As'ad bin Zurarah and 'Ubadah bin Samit. The text of the agreement, concluded after their embracing Islam, was this: "We have concluded an agreement with Rasul that we shall be duty-bound to act thus: "We shall not associate anyone with God We shall neither steal nor commit adultery. We shall not kill our children. We shall not slander one another and shall not fail to perform good deeds". Rasul promised that if they acted according to the agreement their place would be in Paradise, but if they were disobedient it was for God to forgive them or torture them. In the terminology of the historians this 'Bay'at' (Oath of allegiance) is called 'Bay'atun Nisa' (Bay'at of the women), because at the time of the conquest of Makkah Rasul took a similar 'Bay'at' from women. These twelve persons returned to Yathrib with their hearts abounding with faith and became very active in propagating Islam. They also wrote a letter to Rasul requesting him to send a missionary for them so that he might teach them Quran. Rasul sent Mus'ab bin Umayr for their guidance. Under the guidance of this able missionary the Muslims used to assemble round him in the absence of Rasul and to perform congregational prayers.
There was a great tumult amongst the Muslims of Yathrib. They were anxiously waiting for the arrival of Haj season so that, besides performing Haj ceremonies, they should see Rasul from near and declare their readiness to render every service to Islam and to enlarge the range of the agreement from the point of view of quantity as well as quality. A Haj caravan of Yathrib consisting of more than five hundred persons left for Makkah. It included seventy three Muslims, out of whom two were women, and the remaining persons were either indifferent or half inclined towards Islam. The said group met Rasul in Makkah and requested that a time might be appointed for them for the performance of the ceremonies of 'Bay'at'. Rasul said: "We shall meet at Mina in the night of the 13th of Zil-Haj, when the people are asleep in the Valley of 'Aqabah" (It is a defile near Mina). The 13th night of Zil-Haj arrived. Rasul was the first to reach 'Aqabah along with his uncle Abbas. A part of the night passed. The polytheists of Arabia went to sleep. The Muslims got up from their places one after the other and came to 'Aqabah secretly. Abbas, Rasul's uncle, was the first to speak out thus: "O Khazarajites! You have expressed your support for the religion of Muhammad! You should be aware that he is the most dignified person of his tribe. All Bani Hashim, whether they believe in his religion or not, are responsible for his defence. However, Muhammad is now inclined towards you and desires to be amongst you. If you are confident that you will abide by your agreement and will protect him from every harm from his enemies, we are prepared to let him go with you. However, if you are not capable of defending him in difficult circumstances you are free to forsake him here and let him spend his life amongst his kinsmen with great dignity and respect ". At this time Bura' bin Ma'rur stood up and said: "By God! Had there been anything in our hearts other than that which we have said with our tongues we would have expressed it. We have no other intention than sincere compliance with the agreement and sacrifice in the path of Rasul". Then the Khazrajites turned towards Rasul and requested him to say something. Rasul recited some verses and stirred their inclination towards Islam. Thereafter he said: "I take this oath from you that you will defend me in the same manner in which you defend your children and the members of your family". Upon this Bura' rose up again and said: "We are the children of campaign and combat and have been trained as warriors. We have inherited these qualities from our ancestors". In the meantime, when the entire gathering had been filled with excitement, the voice of Khazrajites, which was a sign of their unusual fervour became louder. Abbas, while holding the hand of Rasul, said: "Spies have been appointed upon us and it is, therefore, necessary that you should speak in a low voice". Bura' bin Ma'rur, Abul Haytham bin Tayhan and As'ad bin Zurarah then rose from their places and put their hands on the hand of Rasul by way of 'Bay'at'. Thereafter all those present performed 'Bay'at, one after the other. While taking the oath Abul Haytham said: "O Prophet of God! We have concluded pacts with the Jews and now there is no alternative but to ignore them. It would not, therefore, be appropriate that you should leave us one day and return to your own people". Rasul replied: "If you have made an agreement of peace with someone, I consider it respectable". Then he added "Select twelve persons from amongst you as your representatives in the same manner in which prophet Moses son of Imran selected twelve leaders out of Bani Israel, so that, in difficult circumstances, you may reply to their views". Thereafter twelve representatives of the Ansar (nine from Khazraj and three from Aws) were introduced to Rasul. Their names and particulars are recorded in history. The performance of 'Bay'at' was finalized in this assembly and Rasul promised that he would leave Makkah at an appropriate time and go to Yathrib. Then the gathering dispersed.
Now the question arises as to why the people of Yathrib who were at a distance from the centre of the propagation of Islam, submitted to the authority of Rasul more readily than the Makkans (with all their proximity to him) and why a few short meetings between him and the people of Yathrib had a greater impact than his thirteen years propagation in Makkah. It may be said that the following two things were the cause of the advancement of Islam in Yathrib: 1. People of Yathrib were the neighbours of the Jews since long and every now and then a mention was made in their meetings and assemblies about the appointment of an Arabian Prophet to the prophetic mission. So much so that the Jews used to tell the idol-worshippers of Yathrib that the expected Arabian Prophet would promote Judaism arid destroy idolworship. These discourses created a strange readiness in the minds of the people of Yathrib for accepting the faith for which the Jews were waiting, so that when six Khazrajites met Rasul for the first time they embraced Islam at once and said to one another: "It is the same Prophet whom the Jews are awaiting and it is, therefore, necessary that we should express belief in him earlier than them". Hence, one of the objections raised by Quran against the Jews is this: "You used to threaten the idol-worshippers with the appointment to prophethood of the Arabian Prophet and gave good tidings of his arrival to the people and quoted his signs from the Torah. Why do you turn away your face from him now?" It says: Now that a Book confirming their own has come to them from God, they deny it, although they know it to be the truth and have long prayed for help against the unbelievers. May God's curse be upon the infidels! (Sura Baqarah, 2: 89) 2. Another factor which might have prompted the people of Yathrib to embrace Islam was their mental and physical exhaustion. The harassment caused by disputes spreading over a period of one hundred and twenty years had exhausted their patience. They were well-nigh fed up with their lives and found all doors of hope and salvation closed before them. Only a study of the Battle of Bu'ath, which was one of the battles fought by the people of Yathrib against one another, provides a clear view of their condition. In this battle Bani Aws, who were defeated initially ran away to Najd. The victorious adversaries (Khazrajites) taunted them. The chief of Bani Aws (Huzayr) felt it very much. He thrust his spear in his thing, dismounted his horse, called out to his people in a loud voice and said: "I shall not rise from my place until I am killed". The steadfastness of Huzayr stirred the spirit of dignity, valour and defence among the defeated warriors. They decided to return at any cost and defend their interests. Having lost all hope of life they began a desperate fight. When a self-sacrificing army fights with firm faith it is always victorious. Hence the defeated Bani Aws were again successful. They defeated Bani Khazraj and burned their palm-groves. Thereafter war and peace continued for long and they had to face hundreds of unpleasant, depressing and tiring events. Both the groups were unhappy about their condition and wanted to find a solution for it and wished for a gleam of hope. It was for this reason that when the six Khazrajites heard the words of Rasul they felt that they had found what they had lost and said: "Maybe God may relieve us of this discord through you". These were some of the reasons which induced the people of Yathrib to welcome the invitation of Islam with open arms.
Quraysh now assumed an attitude of apathy, and as Islam had not made any appreciable advancement in Makkah, they were under the impression that its decline had started and its edifice would soon crumble down. Suddenly the news of the second agreement at 'Aqabah fell amongst them like a bomb-shell. The heads of the idolatrous administration came to know that in the darkness of the preceding night seventy three persons belonging to Yathrib had concluded an agreement with Rasul that they would defend him in the same manner in which they defended their children. This news created a strange fear in their hearts and they said to themselves: "Now the Muslims have acquired a base in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula and it is possible that they will collect their scattered forces and will begin preaching the religion of the Oneness of God and will by this means threaten the central government of idolatry in Makkah with war and danger". To investigate the matter further the chiefs of Quraysh contacted the Khazrajites in the morning and said: "It has been reported to us that last night you concluded a defence pact with Muhammad and have promised him that you will fight against us". They, however, swore that they did not desire to wage war against them. The caravan of the pilgrims from Yathrib consisted of about 500 persons. Out of them only seventy three had performed 'Bay'at' in 'Aqabah at midnight whereas others were asleep at that time and knew nothing of the matter. Hence, those who were not Muslims swore that nothing of the sort had happened and the entire story (of the pact) was a mere fiction. The Khazrajite, Abdullah bin Obay, the preliminaries of whose chiefship of entire Yathrib had already been provided, said: "No such thing has been done and the people of Khazraj tribe don't do anything without consulting me". Then the chiefs of Quraysh rose up so that they might make further investigations in the matter. The Muslims, who were present in the meeting, realized that their secret had been divulged. They, therefore, decided to make the best use of the available time and said to themselves: "Before the persons concerned are identified it will be better if we return home and get out of Makkan influence". The haste which was observed in some persons of Yathrib intensified the doubts of Quraysh about the agreement and they concluded that the report received by them was correct. They, therefore, pursued all those persons who belonged to Yathrib. Fortunately, however, they commenced their pursuit when it was too late and the Haj caravan had already crossed the reach of Makkans. They could lay their hands on only one Muslim and he was Saad bin Ubadah. According to Ibn Hisham Quraysh captured two persons out of whom one was Saad and the other was Manzar bin 'Umar. The second one escaped from their hands. As regards Saad, however, they caught him by the hair of his head with great harshness and dragged him on the ground. A man from amongst Quraysh was very much moved to see Saad in this pitiable condition and said to him: "Do you have a pact with someone in Makkah?" Said replied: "Yes. I do have a pact with Mut'am bin Adi, because I protected his trade from larceny and provided him asylum when he crossed through Yathrib". The Qurayshite who wanted to rescue him from this impasse approached Mut'am and said to him: "A Khazrajite has been captured and is being subjected to severe torture by Quraysh. He now wants your support and is waiting for your help. Mut'am came and saw that it was Saad bin Ubadah-the same man under whose protection his trading caravan used to reach its destination safely every year. He secured his release and sent him to Yathrib. The friends of Saad and the Muslims who came to know about his arrest decided to get him released. They were thinking on these lines when Saad suddenly appeared from a distance. After joining them he related his woeful story to them.
The orientalists are keen to insist that the advancement of Islam took place through sword. In this regard they say things which will be replied to, one by one, when we describe the battles of Islam against the unbelievers. At present, however, we wish to invite the attention of the readers to an incident which took place at Yathrib before 'migration'. It proves clearly that in the beginning the penetration and advancement of Islam took place only by means of its sweetness and the clearness of its rules and regulations, which captivated the hearts of the people. Here are the details of the incident: Mus'ab bin Umayr was a missionary and a great orator of Islam who had been sent by Rasul to Yathrib on the request of As'ad bin Zurarah. These two persons decided to invite the chiefs of Yathrib to Islam by means of logical argument. One day they entered a garden where some Muslims were present and Saad bin Muaz and Usayd bin Huzayr, who were the chiefs of Bani Abdul Ashhal, could also be seen there. Saad turned towards Usayd and said: "Unsheathe your sword and go to these two men and tell them to desist from propagating the religion of Islam and not to deceive our simple-minded people with their speeches and narrations. As As'ad bin Zurarah is my cousin (maternal aunt's son) I feel shy of facing him with a naked weapon". Usayd stood in the way of the two men with an angry face and a naked sword and uttered the above-mentioned words with a harsh voice. The great orator Mus'ab bin Umayr who had learnt the method of propagation from Rasul addressed Usayd thus: "Is it possible that you should sit with us for a while so that we may have mutual conversation. If what we say is disagreeable to your mind, we shall return the way we have come". Usayd said: "You have said something reasonable". He, therefore, sat down for a moment and sheathed his sword. Mus'ab recited a few verses of Quran. The luminous realities of Quran and their attraction and sweetness coupled with the forceful logic of Mus'ab overpowered him. He lost all control over himself and asked: "How can one become a Muslim?" They replied: "Confess the Oneness of God, wash your body and dress with water and offer prayers". Usayd, who had come to shed the blood of these two persons, acknowledged with an open mind, the Oneness of God and the prophethood of Rasul. He took bath, washed his dress and then returned to Saad, humming the 'Shahadatain' (Acknowledgement of the Oneness of God and Prophethood of Muhammad) Saad bin Muaz was waiting for him very anxiously. Suddenly Usayd appeared with a happy and glowing face. Saad bin Muaz turned to those present and said: "By God! Usayd has changed his faith and has not achieved the object for which he went". Usayd came up and explained the matter. Saad bin Muaz got up in extreme anger so as to check the two persons from propagating Islam and shed their blood. However, the same thing, which had happened to Usayd, happened to him. He too had to surrender before the strong logic and the attractive and sweet words of Mus'ab. Signs of remorse appeared on his face for what he had decided upon, and now he declared his allegiance to Islam. He bathed then and there and purified his clothes. Thereafter he turned to his people and said to them: "What position do I enjoy amongst you?" They replied: "You are the head and chief of our tribe". Then he said: "I shall not speak with any man or woman of my tribe unless they embrace Islam". The words of the chief were passed on from mouth to mouth to all the members of the tribe and within a short time and before even seeing Rasul the entire tribe of Bani Abdul Ashhal embraced Islam and became defenders of this sacred religion. We find many specimens of such incidents in the inner folds of history. They clearly prove the baselessness of the remarks of the orientalists about the causes of the advancement of Islam, because in these incidents force or money were not at work and the persons concerned had neither seen Rasul, nor had they any contact with him. There was no other factor at work in these cases except the rational conduct of a Muslim orator which brought about a wonderful spiritual revolution within the tribe.
Support rendered by the people of Yathrib to the Muslims awakened Quraysh once again from their carelessness. They renewed their persecution and torture and got ready once again to check the influence and advancement of Islam. The companions of Rasul complained about the pressure and torture by the unbelievers and sought permission to migrate to some other place. Rasul asked them to give him some time (to take a decision). After a few days he said to them: "The best place for you is Yathrib. You can very easily migrate to that place one by one". After orders had been given to the Muslims to migrate they left Makkah on one pretext or the other and proceeded to Yathrib. However, at the very early stage of 'migration' Quraysh came to know about the secret of these journeys. They, therefore, prevented all sorts of travelling and decided to bring back all those who were on their way (to Yathrib). They also decided that in case a person migrated along with his wife and children and his wife was a Qurayshite, they would not permit him to take her with him. In spite of all this they refrained from shedding blood and continued persecuting and torturing the Muslims. Fortunately, however, their activities did not prove fruitful. However a large number of Muslims escaped from the grip of Quraysh and joined the people of Yathrib-so much so that except Rasul and Ali, and the Muslims who had been detained or were sick, no other Muslim was left in Makkah. The coming together of Muslims in Yathrib alarmed Quraysh all the more. In order, therefore, to destroy Islam all the heads of the tribe assembled in Darun Nadwah and deliberated over the situation. All their proposals were, however, frustrated by the special policies of Rasul. Eventually he also migrated to Yathrib in the month of Rabiul Awwal in the fourteenth year of his appointment to the prophetic mission.
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See here: http://shiabook.blogspot.com/2009/02/blog-post.html