THE SECOND PHASE
"And warn your tribe [O Muhammad (Peace be upon
him) ] of near kindred." [26:214].
This was the first verse to be revealed in this concern.
It is included in Sûrah Ash-Shu'arâ (Chapter
26 - The Poets) which relates the story of Moses (Peace be upon him) from
his early days of Prophethood going through his migration with the Children
of Israel, their escape from the Pharaoh and his folk, and the drowning
Pharaoh and his hosts. This Chapter in fact narrates the different stages
that Moses (Peace be upon him) passed through in his struggle with Pharaoh
and the mission of calling his people unto Allâh. Moreover, it includes
stories that speak about the terrible end in store for those who belied
the Messengers such as the people of Noah, 'Ad, Thamud, Abraham, Lout
and Ahlul-Aikah (Companions of the Wood). (A group of people who
used to worship a tree called Aikah)
Chronologically, this Chapter belongs to the middle
Makkan period, when the contact of the light of Prophecy with the cultural
milieu of pagan Makkah was testing the Makkans in their most arrogant
mood. The Message that this Chapter communicates is in brief: "The
Truth is insurmountable. When the spirit of Prophecy came to Makkah, it
was resisted by the votaries of evil; but Truth, unlike falsehood, is
bound to stay, whereas falsehood is surely perishable."
In obedience to Allâh's Commands, Muhammad (Peace
be upon him) rallied his kinsmen of Bani Hashim with a group of Bani Al-Muttalib
bin 'Abd Munaf. The audience counted forty-five men.
Abu Lahab immediately took the initiative and addressed
the Prophet (Peace be upon him): "These are your uncles and cousins,
speak on to the point, but first of all you have got to know that your
kinspeople are not in a position to withstand all the Arabs. Another point
you have got to bear in mind is that your relatives are sufficient unto
you. If you follow their tradition, it will be easier for them than to
face the other clans of Quraish supported by the other Arabs. Verily,
I have never heard of anyone who has incurred more harm on his kinspeople
than you." The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) kept
silent and said nothing 7in that meeting.
He invited them to another meeting and managed to secure
audience. He then stood up and delivered a short speech explaining quite
cogently what was at stake. He said: "I celebrate Allâh's praise,
I seek His help, I believe in Him, I put my trust in Him, I bear witness
that there is no god to be worshipped but Allâh with no associate.
A guide can never lie to his people. I swear by Allâh, there is
no god but He, that I have been sent as a Messenger to you, in particular
and to all the people, in general. I swear by Allâh you will die
just as you sleep, you will be resurrected just as you wake up. You will
be called to account for your deeds. It is then either Hell forever or
the Garden (Paradise) forever."
Abu Talib replied: "We love to help you, accept
your advice and believe in your words. These are your kinspeople whom
you have collected and I am one of them but I am the fastest to do what
you like. Do what you have been ordered. I shall protect and defend you,
but I can't quit the religion of 'Abdul-Muttalib."
Abu Lahab then said to Abu Talib: " I swear by
Allâh that this is a bad thing. You must stop him before the others
do." Abu Talib, however, answered: "I swear by Allâh to
protect him as long as I am alive."
After the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) became sure of Abu
Talib's commitment to his protection while he called the people unto Allâh,
he stood up on Mount As-Safa one day and called out loudly: "O Sabahah!
* " Septs of Quraish came to him. He called them to testify to
the Oneness of Allâh and believe in his Messengership and the Day
of Resurrection. Al-Bukhari reported part of this story on the authority
of Ibn 'Abbas 9May Allah be pleased with him). He said: "When the following
verses were revealed:
"And warn your tribe [O Muhammad (Peace be upon
him) ] of near kindred." [26:214]
The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) ascended
Mount As-Safa and started to call: "O Bani Fahr! O Bani 'Adi (two
septs of Quraish)." Many people gathered and those who couldn't,
sent somebody to report to them. Abu Lahab was also present. The Prophet
(Peace be upon him) said: "You see, if I were to tell you that there
were some horsemen in the valley planning to raid you, will you believe
me?" They said: "Yes, we have never experienced any lie from
you." He said: "I am a warner to you before a severe torment."
Abu Lahab promptly replied: "Perish you all the day! Have you summoned
us for such a thing?" The verses were immediately revealed on that
"Perish the two hands of Abi Lahab..."
Muslim reported another part of this story on the authority
of Abu Hurairah (May Alah be pleased with him) — He said: "When
the following verses were revealed:
"And warn your tribe [O Muhammad (Peace be upon
him) ] of near kindred." [26:214]
The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) called
all the people of Quraish; so they gathered and he gave them a general
warning. Then he made a particular reference to certain tribes, and said:
"O Quraish, rescue yourselves from the Fire; O people of Bani Ka'b,
rescue yourselves from Fire; O Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad (Peace be
upon him) , rescue yourself from the Fire, for I have no power to protect
you from Allâh in anything except that I would sustain relationship
It was verily a loud suggestive Call stating unequivocally
to the closest people that belief in his Message constituted the corner-stone
of any future relation between him and them, and that the blood-relation
on which the whole Arabian life was based, had ceased to exist in the
light of that Divine ultimatum.
The Prophet's voice kept reverberating in Makkah until
the following verse was revealed:
"Therefore proclaim openly (Allâh's Message
— Islamic Monotheism), that which you are commanded, and turn
away from Al-Mushrikûn (polytheists)." [15:94]
He then commenced discrediting the superstitious practices
of idolatry, revealing its worthless reality and utter impotence, and
giving concrete proofs that idolatry per se or taking it as the media
through which an idolater could come in contact with Allâh, is manifest
The Makkans, on their part, burst into outrage and disapproval.
Muhammad's (Peace be upon him) words created a thunderbolt that turned
the Makkan time-honoured ideological life upside down. They could ill
afford to hear someone attaching to polytheists and idolaters, the description
of straying people. They started to rally their resources to settle down
the affair, quell the onward marching revolution and deal a pre-emptive
strike to its votaries before it devours and crushes down their consecrated
traditions and long standing heritage. The Makkans had the deep conviction
that denying godship to anyone save Allâh and that belief in the
Divine Message and the Hereafter are interpreted in terms of complete
compliance and absolute commitment, and this in turn leaves no area at
all for them to claim authority over themselves and over their wealth,
let alone their subordinates. In short, their arrogated religiously-based
supremacy and highhandedness would no longer be in effect; their pleasures
would be subordinated to the pleasures of Allâh and His Messenger
and lastly they would have to abstain from incurring injustices on those
whom they falsely deemed to be weak, and perpetrating dreadful sins in
their everyday life. They had already been fully aware of these meanings,
that is why their souls would not condescend to accept this 'disgraceful'
position not out of motives based on dignity and honour but rather because:
"Nay! (Man denies Resurrection and Reckoning.
So) he desires to continue committing sins." [75:5]
They had been aware of all these consequences but they
could afford to do nothing before an honest truthful man who was the highest
example of good manners and human values. They had never known such an
example in the history of theifolks or grandfathers. What would they do?
They were baffled, and they had the right to be so.
Following careful deliberations, they hit upon the only
target available, i.e. to contact the Messenger's uncle, Abu Talib and
request him to intervene and advise his nephew to stop his activities.
In order to attach a serious and earnest stamp to their demand, they chose
to touch the most sensitive area in Arabian life, viz., ancestral pride.
They addressed Abu Talib in the following manner: "O Abu Talib! Your
nephew curses our gods; finds faults with our way of life, mocks at our
religion and degrades our forefathers; either you must stop him, or you
must let us get at him. For you are in the same opposition as we are in
opposition to him; and we will rid you of him." Abu Talib tried to
appease their wrath by giving them a polite reply. The Prophet (Peace
be upon him), however, continued on his way preaching Allâh's religion
and calling men hitherto, heedless of all their desperate attempts and
During those days, Quraish had another serious concern; the proclamation
of the Call had only been a few months old when the season of pilgrimage
was soon to come. Quraish knew that the Arab delegates were coming within
a short time. They agreed that it was necessary to contemplate a device
that was bound to alienate the Arab pilgrims from the new faith preached
by Muhammad (Peace be upon him). They went to see Al-Waleed bin Al-Mugheerah
to deliberate on this issue. Al-Waleed invited them to agree on a unanimous
resolution that could enjoy the approbation of them all. However, they were
at variance. Some suggested that they describe him as Kahin, i.e.,
soothsayer; but this suggestion was turned down on grounds that his words
were not so rhymed. Others proposed Majnun, i.e., possessed by jinn;
this was also rejected because no insinuations peculiar to that state of
mind ware detected, they claimed. "Why not say he is a poet?"
Some said. Here again they could not reach a common consent, alleging that
his words were totally outside the lexicon of poetry. "OK then; let
us accuse him of practising witchcraft," was a fourth suggestion. Here
also Al-Waleed showed some reluctance saying that the Prophet (Peace be
upon him) was known to have never involved himself in the practice of blowing
on the knots, and admitted that his speech was sweet tasting root and branch.
He, however, found that the most plausible charge to be levelled against
Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was witchcraft. The ungodly company adopted
this opinion and agreed to propagate one uniform formula to the effect that
he was a magician so powerful and commanding in his art that he would successfully
alienate son from father, man from his brother, wife from her husband and
man from his clan.
It is noteworthy in this regard to say that Allâh
revealed sixteen verses as regards Al-Waleed and the cunning method he
contemplated to manipulate the people expected to arrive in Makkah for
pilgrimage. Allâh says:
"Verily, he thought and plotted; so let him
be cursed! How he plotted! And once more let him be cursed, how he
plotted! Then he thought; then he frowned and he looked in a bad tempered
way; then he turned back and was proud; then he said: 'This is nothing
but magic from that of old; this is nothing but the word of a human
being!' " [74:18-25]
The most wicked of them was the sworn enemy of Islam
and Muhammad (Peace be upon him), Abu Lahab, who would shadow the Prophet's
steps crying aloud, "O men, do not listen to him for he is a liar;
he is an apostate." Nevertheless, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) managed
to create a stir in the whole area, and even to convince a few people
to accept his Call.
The series of persecutions started late in the fourth year of Prophethood,
slowly at first, but steadily accelerated and worsened day by day and month
by month until the situation got so extremely grave and no longer tolerable
in the middle of the fifth year, that the Muslims began to seriously think
of feasible ways liable to avert the painful tortures meted out to them.
It was at that gloomy and desperate time that Sûrah Al-Kahf
(Chapter 18 — The Cave) was revealed comprising definite answers to
the questions with which the polytheists of Makkah constantly pestered the
Prophet (Peace be upon him). It comprises three stories that include highly
suggestive parables for the true believers to assimilate. The story of the
Companions of the Cave implies implicit guidance for the believers to evacuate
the hot spots of disbelief and aggression pregnant with the peril of enticement
away from the true religion:
The young men said to one another): And when you
withdraw from them, and that which they worship, except Allâh,
then seek refuge in the Cave, your Lord will open a way for you from
His Mercy and will make easy for you your affair (i.e. will give you
what you will need of provision, dwelling, etc.)18:16].
Next, there is the story of Al-Khidr (The Teacher of
Arabia) and Moses (Peace be upon him) in a clear and delicate reference
to the vicissitudes of life. Future circumstances of life are not necessarily
the products of the prevalent conditions, they might be categorically
the opposite. In other words, the war waged against the Muslims would
in the future assume a different turn, and the tyrannous oppressors would
one day come to suffer and be subjected to the same tortures to which
the Muslims were then put. Furthermore, there is the story of Dhul-Qarnain
(The Two Horned One), the powerful ruler of west and east. This story
says explicitly that Allâh takes His righteous servants to inherit
the earth and whatever in it. It also speaks that Allâh raises a
righteous man every now and then to protect the weak against the strong.
Sûrah Az-Zumar (Chapter 39 — The
Crowds) was then revealed pointing directly to migration and stating that
the earth is spacious enough and the believers must not consider themselves
constrained by the forces of tyranny and evil:
"Good is (the reward) for those who do good
in this world, and Allâh's earth is spacious (so if you cannot
worship Allâh at a place, then go to another)! Only those who
are patient shall receive their rewards in full without reckoning."
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) had already known that
Ashamah Negus, king of Abyssinia (Ethiopia), was a fair ruler who would
not wrong any of his subordinates, so he permitted some of his followers
to seek asylum there in Abyssinia (Ethiopia).
In Rajab of the fifth year of Prophethood, a group of
twelve men and four women left for Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Among the emigrants
were 'Uthman bin 'Affan and his wife Ruqaiyah [the daughter of the Prophet
(Peace be upon him)]. With respect to these two emigrants, the Prophet
(Peace be upon him) said:
"They are the first people to migrate in the
cause of Allâh after Abraham and Lot (Peace be upon them) ."
They sneaked out of Makkah under the heavy curtain of
a dark night and headed for the sea where two boats happened to be sailing
for Abyssinia (Ethiopia), their destination. News of their intended departure
reached the ears of Quraish, so some men were despatched in their pursuit,
but the believers had already left Shuaibah Port towards their secure
haven where they were received warmly and accorded due hospitality.
In Ramadan of the same year, the Prophet (Peace be upon
him) went into the Holy Sanctuary where there was a large host of Quraish
polytheists, including some notables and celebrities. Suddenly he began
reciting Sûrah An-Najm (Chapter 41 — The Star). The
awe-inspiring Words of Allâh descended unawares upon them and they
immediately got stunned by them. It was the first time for them to be
shocked by the truthful Revelation. It had formerly been the favourite
trick of those people who wished to dishonour Revelation, not only not
to listen to it themselves but also to talk loudly and insolently when
it was being read, so that even the true listeners may not be able to
hear. They used to think that they were drowning the Voice of Allâh;
in fact, they were piling up misery for themselves, for Allâh's
Voice can never be silenced, "And those who disbelieve say:
"Listen not to this Qur'ân, and make noise
in the midst of its (recitation) that you may overcome." [41:26].
When the unspeakably fascinating Words of Allâh
came into direct contact with their hearts, they were entranced and got
oblivious of the materialistic world around them and were caught in a
state of full attentiveness to the Divine Words to such an extent that
when the Prophet (Peace be upon him) reached the stormy heart-beating
"So fall you down in prostration to Allâh
and worship Him (Alone)." [53:62]
The idolaters, unconsciously and with full compliance,
prostrated themselves in absolute god-fearing and stainless devotion.
It was in fact the wonderful moment of the Truth that cleaved through
the obdurate souls of the haughty and the attitude of the scoffers. They
stood aghast when they perceived that Allâh's Words had conquered
their hearts and done the same thing that they had been trying hard to
annihilate and exterminate. Their co-polytheists who had not been present
on the scene reproached and blamed them severely; consequently they began
to fabricate lies and calumniate the Prophet (Peace be upon him) alleging
that he had attached to their idols great veneration and ascribed to them
the power of desirable intercession. All of these were desperate attempts
made to establish an excusable justification for their prostrating themselves
with the Prophet (Peace be upon him) on that day. Of course, this foolish
and iniquitous slanderous behaviour was in line with their life-consecrated
practice of telling lies and plot hatching.
News of this incident was misreported to the Muslim
emigrants in Abyssinia (Ethiopia). They were informed that the whole of
Quraish had embraced Islam so they made their way back home. They arrived
in Makkah in Shawwal of the same year. When they were only an hour's travel
from Makkah, the reality of the situation was discovered. Some of them
returned to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), others sneaked secretly into the city
or went in publicly but under the tutelage of a local notable. However,
due to the news that transpired to the Makkans about the good hospitality
and warm welcome that the Muslims were accorded in Abyssinia (Ethiopia),
the polytheists got terribly indignant and started to mete out severer
and more horrible maltreatment andtortures to the Muslims. Thereupon the
Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) deemed it imperative to permit
the helpless creatures to seek asylum in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) for the
second time. Migration this time was not as easy as it was the previous
time, for Quraish was on the alert to the least suspicious moves of the
Muslims. In due course, however, the Muslims managed their affairs too
fast for the Quraishites to thwart their attempt of escape. The group
of emigrants this time comprised eighty three men and nineteen or, in
some versions, eighteen women. Whether or not 'Ammar was included is still
a matter of doubt.
Quraish could not tolerate the prospect of a secure
haven available for the Muslims in Abyssinia (Ethiopia), so they despatched
two staunch envoys to demand their extradition. They were 'Amr bin Al-'As
and 'Abdullah bin Abi Rabi'a — before embracing Islam. They had
taken with them valuable gifts to the king and his clergy, and had been
able to win some of the courtiers over to their side. The pagan envoys
claimed that the Muslim refugees should be expelled from Abyssinia (Ethiopia)
and made over to them, on the ground that they had abandoned the religion
of their forefathers, and their leader was preaching a religion different
from theirs and from that of the king.
The king summoned the Muslims to the court and asked
them to explain the teachings of their religion. The Muslim emigrants
had decided to tell the whole truth whatever the consequences were. Ja'far
bin Abi Talib stood up and addressed the king in the following words:
"O king! we were plunged in the depth of ignorance and barbarism;
we adored idols, we lived in unchastity, we ate the dead bodies, and we
spoke abominations, we disregarded every feeling of humanity, and the
duties of hospitality and neighbourhood were neglected; we knew no law
but that of the strong, when Allâh raised among us a man, of whose
birth, truthfulness, honesty, and purity we were aware; and he called
to the Oneness of Allâh, and taught us not to associate anything
with Him. He forbade us the worship of idols; and he enjoined us to speak
the truth, to be faithful to our trusts, to be merciful and to regard
the rights of the neighbours and kith and kin; he forbade us to speak
evil of women, or to eat the substance of orphans; he ordered us to fly
from the vices, and to abstain from evil; to offer prayers, to render
alms, and to observe fast. We have believed in him, we have accepted his
teachings and his injunctions to worship Allâh, and not to associate
anything with Him, and we have allowed what He has allowed, and prohibited
what He has prohibited. For this reason, our people have risen against
us, have persecuted us in order to make us forsake the worship of Allâh
and return to the worship of idols and other abominations. They have tortured
and injured us, until finding no safety among them, we have come to your
country, and hope you will protect us from oppression."
The king was very much impressed by these words and
asked the Muslims to recite some of Allâh's Revelation. Ja'far recited
the opening verses of Sûrah Maryam (Chapter 19 — Mary)
wherein is told the story of the birth of both John and Jesus Christ,
down to the account of Mary having been fed with the food miraculously.
Thereupon the king, along with the bishops of his realm, was moved to
tears that rolled down his cheeks and even wet his beard. Here, the Negus
exclaimed: "It seems as if these words and those which were revealed
to Jesus are the rays of the light which have radiated from the same source."
Turning to the crest-fallen envoys of Quraish, he said, "I am afraid,
I cannot give you back these refugees. They are free to live and worship
in my realm as they please."
On the morrow, the two envoys again went to the king
and said that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and his followers blasphemed
Jesus Christ. Again the Muslims were summoned and asked what they thought
of Jesus. Ja'far again stood up and replied: "We speak about Jesus
as we have been taught by our Prophet (Peace be upon him) , that is, he
is the servant of Allâh, His Messenger, His spirit and His Word
breathed into Virgin Mary." The king at once remarked, "Even
so do we believe. Blessed be you, and blessed be your master." Then
turning to the frowning envoys and to his bishops who got angry, he said:
"You may fret and fume as you like but Jesus is nothing more than
what Ja'far has said about him." He then assured the Muslims of full
protection. He returned to the envoys of Quraish, the gifts they had brought
with them and sent them away. The Muslims lived in Abyssinia (Ethiopia)
unmolested for a number of years till they returned to Madinah.
In this way Quraish's malicious intentions recoiled
on them and their machination met with utter failure. They came to fully
realize that the grudge they nursed against he Muslims would not operate
but within their realm of Makkah. They consequently began to entertain
a horrible idea of silencing the advocate of the new Call once and for
all, through various channels of brutality, or else killing him. An obstinate
difficulty, however, used to curtail any move in this direction embodied
by the Prophet's uncle Abu Talib and the powerful social standing he used
to enjoy as well as the full protection and support he used to lend to
his nephew. The pagans of Makkah therefore decided to approach Abu Talib
for the second time and insisted that he put a stop to his nephew's activities,
which if allowed unchecked, they said, would involve him into severe hostility.
Abu Talib was deeply distressed at this open threat and the breach with
his people and their enmity, but he could not afford to desert the Messenger
too. He sent for his nephew and told him what the people had said, "Spare
me and yourself and put not burden on me that I can't bear." Upon
this the Prophet (Peace be upon him) thought that his uncle would let
him down and would no longer support him, so he replied:
"O my uncle! by Allâh if they put the
sun in my right hand and the moon in my left on condition that I abandon
this course, until Allâh has made me victorious, or I perish
therein, I would not abandon it." The Prophet (Peace be upon
him) got up, and as he turned away, his uncle called him and said,
"Come back, my nephew," and when he came back, he said,
"Go and preach what you please, for by Allâh I will never
He then recited two lines of verse pregnant with meanings
of full support to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) and absolute gratification
by the course that his nephew had chalked out in Arabia.
Quraish, seeing that the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) was
still intent on his Call, realized that Abu Talib would never forsake his
nephew even if this incurred their enmity. Some of them then went to see
him once more taking with them a youth called 'Amarah bin Al-Waleed bin
Al-Mugheerah, and said, "O Abu Talib! we have brought you a smart boy
still in the bloom of his youth, to make use of his mind and strength and
take him as your son in exchange for your nephew, who has run counter to
your religion, brought about social discord, found fault with your way of
life, so that we kill him and rid you of his endless troubles; just man
for man." Abu Talib's reply was, "It is really an unfair bargain.
You give me your son to bring him up and I give you my son to kill him!
By Allâh, it is something incredible!!" Al-Mut'im bin 'Adi, a
member of the delegation, interrupted saying that Quraish had been fair
in that bargain because "they meant only to rid you of that source
of hateful trouble, but as I see you are determined to refuse their favours."
Abu Talib, of course, turned down all their offers and challenged them to
do whatever they pleased. Historical resources do not give the exact date
of these two meetings with Abu Talib. They, however, seem more likely to
have taken place in the sixth year of Prophethood with a brief lapse of
time in between.
Now that all the schemes and conspiracof Quraish had failed, they resorted
to their old practices of persecution and inflicting tortures on the Muslims
in a more serious and brutal manner than ever before. They also began to
nurse the idea of killing the Prophet (Peace be upon him). In fact, contrary
to their expectations, this new method and this very idea served indirectly
to consolidate the Call to Islam and support it with the conversion of two
staunch and mighty heroes of Makkah, i.e. Hamzah bin 'Abdul-Muttalib and
'Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him).
'Utaibah bin Abi Lahab once approached the Prophet (Peace
be upon him) and most defiantly and brazenly shouted at him, "I disbelieve
in: "By the star when it goes down." [53:1] and in "Then
he (Gabriel) approached and came closer." [53:8] In other words:
"I do not believe in any of the Qur'ân." He then started
to deal highhandedly with Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and laid violent
hand on him, tore his shirt and spat into his face but his saliva missed
the Holy face of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Thereupon, the Prophet
(Peace be upon him) invoked Allâh's wrath on 'Utaibah and supplicated:
"O Allâh! Set one of Your dogs on him."
Allâh responded positively to Muhammad's supplication,
and it happened in the following manner: Once 'Utaibah with some of his
compatriots from Quraish set out for Syria and took accommodation in Az
- Zarqa'. There a lion approached the group to the great fear of 'Utbah,
who at once recalled Muhammad's words in supplication, and said: "Woe
to my brother! This lion will surely devour me just as Muhammad (Peace
be upon him) supplicated. He has really killed me in Syria while he is
in Makkah." The lion did really rush like lightning, snatched 'Utbah
from amongst his people and crushed his head.
It is also reported that a wretched idolater from Quraish,
named 'Uqbah bin 'Abi Mu'ait once trod on the Prophet's neck while he
was prostrating himself in prayer until his eyes protruded.
More details reported by Ibn Ishaq testify to the tyrants'
deeply-established intentions of killing the Prophet (Peace be upon him).
Abu Jahl, the archenemy of Islam, once addressed some of his accomplices:
"O people of Quraish! It seems that Muhammad (Peace be upon him)
is determined to go on finding fault with our religion, degrading our
forefathers, discrediting our way of life and abusing our gods. I bear
witness to our god that I will carry a too heavy rock and drop it on Muhammad's
head while he is in prostration to rid you of him, once and for all. I
am not afraid of whatever his sept, Banu 'Abd Munaf, might do." The
terrible unfortunate audience endorsed his plan and encouraged him to
translate it into a decisive deed.
In the morning of the following day, Abu Jahl lay waiting
for the arrival of the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) to
offer prayer. The people of Quraish were in their assembly rooms waiting
for news. When the Prophet (Peace be upon him) prostrated himself, Abu
Jahl proceeded carrying the big rock to fulfill his wicked intention.
No sooner had he approached closer to the Prophet (Peace be upon him)
than he withdraw pale-faced, shuddering with his hands strained the rock
falling off. Thereupon, the people watching hurried forward asking him
what the matter was. He replied: "When I approached, a male-camel
unusual in figure with fearful canines intercepted and almost devoured
me." Ibn Ishaq reported that the Prophet (Peace be upon him), in
the context of his comment on the incident, said "It was Gabriel
(Peace be upon him) , if Abu Jahl had approached closer, he would have
killed him. " Even so the tyrants of Quraish would not be admonished,
contrariwise, the idea of killing the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was
still being nourished in their iniquitous hearts. On the authority of
'Abdullah bin 'Amr bin Al-'As, some people of Quraish were in a place
called Al-Hijr complaining that they had been too patient with the Prophet
(Peace be upon him), who suddenly appeared and began his usual circumambulation.
They started to wink at him and utter sarcastic remarks but he remained
silent for two times, then on the third, he stopped and addressed the
"O people of Quraish! Hearken, I swear by Allâh
in Whose Hand is my soul, that you will one day be slaughtered to
pieces." As soon as the Prophet (Peace be upon him) uttered his
word of slaughter, they all stood aghast and switched off to a new
style of language smacking of fear and even horror trying to soothe
his anger and comfort him saying: "You can leave Abul Qasim,
for you have never been foolish."
'Urwa bin Az-Zubair narrated: I asked Abdullah bin 'Amr
bin Al-'As to tell me of the worst thing that the pagans did to the Prophet
(Peace be upon him). He said: "While the Prophet (Peace be upon him)
was praying in Al-Hijr of Al-Ka'bah, 'Uqbah bin Al-Mu'ait came and put
his garment around the Prophet's neck and throttled him violently. Abu
Bakr came and caught him by his shoulder and pushed him away from the
Prophet (Peace be upon him) and said: "Do you want to kill a man
just because he says, My Lord is Allâh?"
In a gloomy atmosphere infested with dark clouds of iniquity and tyranny,
there shone on the horizon a promising light for the oppressed, i.e. the
conversion of Hamzah bin 'Abdul-Muttalib in Dhul Hijjah, the sixth year
of Prophethood. It is recorded that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) was
one day seated on the hillock of Safa when Abu Jahl happened to pass by
and accused the religion preached by him. Muhammad (Peace be upon him),
however, kept silent and did not utter a single word. Abu Jahl went on unchecked,
took a stone and cracked the Prophet's head which began to bleed. The aggressor
then went to join the Quraishites in their assembly place. It so happened
that shortly after that, Hamzah, while returning from a hunting expedition,
passed by the same way, his bow hanging by his shoulder. A slave-girl belonging
to 'Abdullah bin Jada'an, who had noted the impertinence of Abu Jahl, told
him the whole story of the attack on the Prophet (Peace be upon him) . On
hearing that, Hamzah was deeply offended and hurried to Al-Ka'bah and there,
in the courtyard of the Holy Sanctuary, found Abu Jahl sitting with a company
of Quraishites. Hamzah rushed upon him and struck his bow upon his head
violently and said: "Ah! You have been abusing Muhammad (Peace be upon
him); I too follow his religion and profess what he preaches." The
men of Bani Makhzum came to his help, and men of Bani Hashim wanted to render
help, but Abu Jahl sent them away saying: "Let Abu 'Ummarah alone,
by Allâh I did revile his nephew shamelessly." In fact, Hamzah's
conversion derived initially from the pride of a man who would not accept
the notion of others humiliating his relative. Later on, however, Allâh
purified his nature and he managed to grasp the most trustworthy hand-hold
(Faith in Allâh). He proved to be a source of great strength to the
Islamic Faith and its followers.
Another significant addition to the strength of Islam was the conversion
of 'Umar bin Al-Khattab in Dhul-Hijjah, the sixth year of Prophethood, three
days following the conversion of Hamzah. ] He was a man of dauntless courage
and resolution, feared and respected in Makkah, and hitherto a bitter opponent
of the new religion. The traditional account reveals that the Prophet (Peace
be upon him) once raised his hands in prayer and said:
"O Allâh! Give strength to Islam especially
through either of two men you love more: 'Umar bin Al-Khattab or Abu
Jahl bin Hisham."
'Umar, obviously, was the one who merited that privilege.
When we scrutinize the several versions that speak of
'Umar's conversion, we can safely conclude that various contradictory
emotions used to conflict with one another within his soul. On the one
hand, he used to highly regard the traditions of his people, and was habituated
to the practice of indulgence in wine orgies; on the other hand, he greatly
admired the stamina of the Muslims and their relentless dedication to
their faith. These two extreme views created a sort of skepticism in himind
and made him at times tend to believe that the doctrines of Islam could
bear better and more sacred seeds of life, that is why he would always
experience fits of outrage directly followed by unexpected enervation.
On the whole, the account of his conversion is very interesting and requires
us to go into some details.
One day, 'Umar bin Al-Khattab set out from his house,
and headed for the Holy Sanctuary where he saw the Prophet (Peace be upon
him) offering prayer and overheard him reciting the Sûrah Al-Hâqqah
(Chapter 69 — The Reality) of the Noble Qur'ân. The Words
of Allâh appealed to him and touched the innermost cells of his
heart. He felt that they derived from unusual composition, and he began
to question his people's allegations as regards the man-composed poetry
or words of a soothsayer that they used to attach to the Noble Qur'ân.
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) went on to recite:
"That this is verily the word of an honoured
Messenger (i.e. Gabriel or Muhammad (Peace be upon him) which he has
brought from Allâh). It is not the word of a poet, little is
that you believe! Nor is it the word of a soothsayer (or a foreteller),
little is that you remember! This is the Revelation sent down from
the Lord of the 'Alamin (mankind, jinns and all that exists)."
At that very moment, Islam permeated his heart. However,
the dark layer of pre-Islamic tendencies, the deep-seated traditional
bigotry as well as the blind pride in his forefathers overshadowed the
essence of the great Truth that began to feel its way reluctantly into
his heart. He, therefore, persisted in his atrocities against Islam and
its adherents unmindful of the pure and true-to-man's nature feeling that
lay behind that fragile cover of pre-Islamic ignorance and mentality.
His sharp temper and excessive enmity towards the Prophet (Peace be upon
him) led him one day to leave his house, sword in hand, with the intention
of killing the Prophet (Peace be upon him) . He was in a fit of anger
and was fretting and fuming. Nu'aim bin 'Abdullah, a friend of 'Umar's,
met him accidentally half way. What had caused so much excitement in him
and on whom was the fury to burst, he inquired casually. 'Umar said furiously:
"To destroy the man Muhammad (Peace be upon him) this apostate, who
has shattered the unity of Quraish, picked holes in their religion, found
folly with their wise men and blasphemed their gods." "'Umar,
I am sure, your soul has deceived you, do you think that Banu 'Abd Munaf
would let you walk on earth if you slain Muhammad (Peace be upon him)?
Why don't you take care of your own family first and set them right?"
"Which of the folk of my house?" asked 'Umar
angrily. "Your brother-in-law and your sister have apostatized [meaning
to say: They have become followers of Muhammad (Peace be upon him)] and
abandoned your religion."
'Umar directed his footsteps to his sister's house. As
he drew near, he heard the voice of Khabbab bin Aratt, who was reading
the Qur'ânic Chapter Tâ-Hâ (mystic letters, T.
H.) to both of them. Khabbab, perceiving the noise of his footsteps retired
to a closet. Fatimah, 'Umar's sister, took hold of the leaf and hid it.
But 'Umar had already heard the voice. "What sound was that I have
heard just now?" shouted the son of Khattab, entering angrily. Both
his sister and her husband replied, "You heard nothing." "Nay,"
said he swearing fiercely, "I have heard that you have apostatized."
He plunged forward towards his brother-in-law and beat him severely, but
Fatimah rushed to the rescue of her husband. Thereupon, 'Umar fell upon
his sister and struck upon her head. The husband and wife could not contain
themselves and cried aloud: "Yes, we are Muslims, we believe in Allâh
and His Messenger Muhammad (Peace be upon him) so do what you will."
When 'Umar saw the face of his dear sister besmeared with blood, he was
softened and said: "Let me see what you were reading, so that I may
see what Muhammad (Peace be upon him) has brought." Fatimah was satisfied
with the assurance, but said: "O brother, you are unclean on account
of your idolatry, none but the pure may touch it. So go and wash first."
He did so, and took the page and read the opening verses of the Chapter
Tâ-Hâ until he reached:
"Verily! I am Allâh! Lâ ilâha
illa Ana (none has the right to be worshipped but I), so worship
Me and offer prayers perfectly (Iqâmat-as-Salât),
for My Remembrance." [20:14].
'Umar read the verses with great interest and was much
entranced with them. "How excellent it is, and how graceful! Please
guide me to Muhammad (Peace be upon him) ." said he. And when he
heard that, Khabbab came out of concealment and said, "O 'Umar, I
hope that Allâh has answered the prayer of the Prophet (Peace be
upon him) , for I heard him say: 'O Allâh! Strengthen Islam through
either 'Umar bin Al-Khattab or Abu Jahl bin Hisham.'" 'Umar then
left for a house in Safa where Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had been holding
secret meetings along with his Companions. 'Umar reached that place with
the sword swinging by his arm. He knocked at the door. The Companions
of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) turned to see who the intruder was.
One of them peeped through a chink in the door and reeled back exclaiming:
"It is 'Umar with his sword." Hamzah, dispelling the fears of
his friends, said: "Let him in. As a friend he is welcome. As a foe,
he will have his head cut off with his own sword." The Prophet (Peace
be upon him) asked his Companions to open the door. In came the son of
Khattab. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) advanced to receive the dreadful
visitor, caught him by his garment and scabbard, and asked him the reason
of his visit. At that 'Umar replied: "O Messenger of Allâh
(Peace be upon him), I come to you in order to believe in Allâh
and his Messenger and that which he has brought from his Lord." Filled
with delight, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) together with his Companions,
cried aloud: 'Allâhu Akbar' (Allâh is Great).
The conversion of 'Umar was a real triumph for the cause
of Islam. So great and instant was the effect of his conversion on the
situation that the believers who had hitherto worshipped Allâh within
their four walls in secret now assembled and performed their rites of
worship openly in the Holy Sanctuary itself. This raised their spirits,
and dread and uneasiness began to seize Quraish.
Ibn Ishaq narrated on the authority of 'Umar (May Allah
be pleased), "When I embraced Islam, I remembered the archenemy of
Muhammad (Peace be upon him), i.e. Abu Jahl. I set out, and knocked at
his door. When he came out to see me, I told him directly that I had embraced
Islam. He immediately slammed the door repulsively denouncing my move
as infamous and my face as ugly." In fact, 'Umar's conversion created
a great deal of stir in Makkah that some people denounced him as an apostate,
yet he would never waver in Faith, on the contrary, he persisted in his
stance even at the peril of his life. The polytheists of Quraish marched
towards his house with the intention of killing him. 'Abdullah bin 'Umar
(May Allah be pleased with him) narrated: While 'Umar was at home in a
state of fear, there came Al-'As bin Wa'il As-Sahmy Abu 'Amr, wearing
an embroidered cloak and a shirt having silk hems. He was from the tribe
of Bani Sahm who were our allies during the pre-Islamic period of ignorance.
Al-'As said to 'Umar: What's wrong with you? He said: Your people claim
that they will kill me if I become a Muslim. Al-'As said: Nobody will
harm you after I have given protection to you. So Al-'As went out and
met the people streaming in the whole valley. He said: Where are you going?
They replied: We want son of Al-Khattab who has embraced Islam. Al-'As
said: There is no way for anybody to touch him. So the people retreated.
With respect to the Muslims in Makkah, 'Umar's conversion
had a different tremendous impact. Mujahid, on the authority of Ibn Al-'Abbas
(May Allah be pleased with him) related that he had asked 'Umar bin Al-Khattab
why he had been given the epithet of Al-Farouque (he who distinguishes
truth from falsehood), he replied: After I had embraced Islam, I asked
the Prophet (Peace be upon him): 'Aren't we on the right path here andHereafter?'
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) answered: 'Of course you are! I swear
by Allâh in Whose Hand my soul is, that you are right in this world
and in the hereafter.' I, therefore, asked the Prophet (Peace be upon
him) 'Why we then had to conduct clandestine activism. I swear by Allâh
Who has sent you with the Truth, that we will leave our concealment and
proclaim our noble cause publicly.' We then went out in two groups, Hamzah
leading one and I the other. We headed for the Mosque in broad daylight
when the polytheists of Quraish saw us, their faces went pale and got
incredibly depressed and resentful. On that very occasion, the Prophet
(Peace be upon him) attached to me the epithet of Al-Farouque. Ibn Mas'ud
(May Allah be pleased with him) related that they (the Muslims) had never
been able to observe their religious rites inside the Holy Sanctuary except
when 'Umar embraced Islam.
Suhaib bin Sinan (May Allah be pleased with him), in
the same context, said that it was only after 'Umar's conversion, that
we started to proclaim our Call, assemble around and circumambulate the
Sacred House freely. We even dared retaliate against some of the injustices
done to harm us. In the same context, Ibn Mas'ud said: We have been strengthened
a lot since 'Umar embraced Islam.
Shortly after the conversion of these two powerful heroes, Hamzah bin 'Abdul-Muttalib
and 'Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him), the clouds of
tyranny and oppression started to clear away and the polytheists realized
that it was no use meting out torture to the Muslims. They consequently
began to direct their campaign to a different course. The authentic records
of the biography of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) show that it had occurred
to the Makkan leaders to credit Muhammad (Peace be upon him) with ambition.
They, therefore, time and again plied him with temptation. One day some
of the important men of Makkah gathered in the enclosure of Al-Ka'bah, and
'Utbah bin Rabi'a, a chief among them, offered to approach the Prophet (Peace
be upon him) and contract a bargain with him whereby they give him whatever
worldly wealth he asks for, on condition that he keep silent and no longer
proclaim his new faith. The people of Quraish endorsed his proposal and
requested him to undertake that task. 'Utbah came closer to Muhammad (Peace
be upon him) and addressed him in the following words:
We have seen no other man of Arabia, who has brought
so great a calamity to a nation, as you have done. You have outraged our
gods and religion and taxed our forefathers and wise men with impiety
and error and created strife amongst us. You have left no stone unturned
to estrange the relations with us. If you are doing all this with a view
to getting wealth, we will join together to give you greater riches than
any Quraishite has possessed. If ambition moves you, we will make you
our chief. If you desire kingship we will readily offer you that. If you
are under the power of an evil spirit which seems to haunt and dominate
you so that you cannot shake off its yoke, then we shall call in skilful
physicians to cure you.
"Have you said all?" asked Muhammad (Peace
be upon him); and then hearing that all had been said, he spoke forth,
"In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent,
the Most Merciful. Hâ-Mîm. [These letters are one
of the miracles of the Qur'ân, and none but Allâh (Alone)
knows their meanings]. A revelation from Allâh, the Most Beneficent,
the Most Merciful. A Book whereof the verses are explained in detail;
— a Qur'ân in Arabic for people who know. Giving glad
tidings [of Paradise to the one who believes in the Oneness of Allâh
(i.e. Islamic Monotheism) and fears Allâh much (abstains from
all kinds of sins and evil deeds.) and loves Allâh much (performing
all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained)], and warning (of punishment
in the Hell-fire to the one who disbelieves in the Oneness of Allâh),
but most of them turn away, so they listen not. And they say: Our
hearts are under coverings (screened) from that to which you invite
us …" [41: 1-5]
The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) went
on reciting the Chapter while 'Utbah sitting and listening attentively
with his hand behind his back to support him. When the Messenger reached
the verse that required prostration, he immediately prostrated himself.
After that, he turned to 'Utbah saying: "Well Abu Al-Waleed! You
have heard my reply, you are now free to do whatever you please."
'Utbah then retired to his company to apprise them of the Prophet's attitude.
When his compatriots saw him, they swore that he had returned to them
with a countenance unlike the one he had before meeting the Prophet (Peace
be upon him) . He immediately communicated to them the details of the
talk he gave and the reply he received, and appended saying: "I have
never heard words similar to those ones he recited. They definitely relate
neither to poetry nor to witchcraft nor do they derive from soothsaying.
O people of Quraish! I request you to heed my advice and grant the man
full freedom to pursue his goals, in which case you could safely detach
yourselves from him. I swear that his words bear a supreme Message. Should
the other Arabs rid you of him, they will then spare you the trouble,
on the other hand if he accedes to power over the Arabs, then you will
bask in his kingship and share him his might." These words of course
fell on deaf ears, and did not appeal to the infidels, who jeered at 'Utbah
and claimed that the Prophet (Peace be upon him) had bewitched him.
In another version of the same event, it is related
that 'Utbah went on attentively listening to the Prophet (Peace be upon
him) until the latter began to recite Allâh's Words:
"But if they turn away, they say [O Muhammad
(Peace be upon him) ]: "I have warned you of a Sa'iqa
(a destructive awful cry, torment, hit, a thunder-bolt) like the Sa'iqa
which overtook 'Ad and Thamûd (people)." [41:13]
Here 'Utbah stood up panicked and stunned putting his
hand on the Prophet's mouth beseeching him: "I beg you in the Name
of Allâh and uterine ties to stop lest the calamity should befall
the people of Quraish." He then hurriedly returned to his compatriots
and informed them of what he had heard.
The new and welcome changes notwithstanding, Abu Talib still had a deep
sensation of fear over his nephew. He deliberated on the previous series
of incidents including the barter affair of 'Amarah bin Al-Waleed, Abu Jahl's
rock, 'Uqbah's attempt to choke the Prophet (Peace be upon him) , and finally
'Umar's (before conversion) intention to kill Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
The wise man understood that all of these unequivocally smacked of a serious
plot being hatched to disregard his status as a custodian of the Prophet
(Peace be upon him), and kill the latter publicly. In the event of such
a thing, Abu Talib deeply believed, neither 'Umar nor Hamzah would be of
any avail, socially powerful though they were.
Abu Talib was right. The polytheists had laid a carefully-studied
plan to kill the Prophet (Peace be upon him), and banded together to put
their plan into effect. He, therefore, assembled his kinsfolk of Bani
Hashim and Bani Al-Muttalib, sons of 'Abd Munaf and exhorted them to immunize
and defend his nephew. All of them, whether believers or disbelievers,
responded positively except his brother Abu Lahab, who sided with the