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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity
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Muhammad : A Prophet For All Humanity

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In making the Prophet Muhammad the …

In making the Prophet Muhammad the
greatest figure, and consequently one of the
most resplendent landmarks in human
history, God has bestowed his greatest favour
on mankind. Whoever seeks guidance cannot
fail to see him, for he stands out like a tower, a
mountain on the horizon, radiating light like a
beacon, beckoning all to the true path. It is
inevitable that the seekers of truth will be
drawn up to the magnificent pinnacle on
which he stands.

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  • 1. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity Table of ContentsTABLE OF CONTENTSTable of Contents................................................................2Introduction ........................................................................8 NOTES ...........................................................................151. From Adam to the Messiah .........................................16 NOTES ...........................................................................232. The Emergence and Legacy of the ProphetMuhammad ......................................................................24 NOTES ...........................................................................323. Exemplary Conduct .....................................................33 HUMILITY AND FORBEARANCE............................45 NOTES ...........................................................................594. Sublime Character ........................................................61 ABSENCE OF ACRIMONY.........................................70 NOTES ...........................................................................785. Lessons of the Prophet’s Life.......................................80 ~2~
  • 2. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity Table of Contents THE REWARDS OF RESTRAINT...............................80 NEVER YIELDING TO DESPAIR...............................88 THE PROPHET FORCED INTO EXILE .....................92 ABSOLUTE TRUST IN GOD.......................................95 REACHING A CONSENSUS ......................................97 AVOIDING CONFRONTATION .............................103 NOTES .........................................................................1116. The Path of the Prophet .............................................113 EVOLUTION NOT REVOLUTION ..........................113 UNSWERVING OBEDIENCE ...................................119 NOTES .........................................................................1297. The Revolution of the Prophet ..................................130 A COMPARISON .......................................................132 DIVINE SUCCOUR ....................................................138 EXALTATION OF THE WORD OF GOD ................145 A NEW NATION IS BORN .......................................149 ~3~
  • 3. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity Table of Contents THE BEST NATION ...................................................155 AVOIDING EXTRANEOUS ISSUES ........................162 FITTING IN WITH GOD’S SCHEME.......................166 NOTES .........................................................................1758. Rising above Events ...................................................1779. The Prophetic Method ...............................................183 STRENGTHENING ONESELF INWARDLY...........183 INWARD STRENGTH ...............................................185 THE EXTERNAL TARGET: MISSIONARY ACTIVITY ......................................................................................198 PATIENCE AND STEADFASTNESS .......................209 TRUSTING IN GOD...................................................220 NOTES .........................................................................22110. The Prophet in Makkah ...........................................223 THE BEGINNING OF THE PROPHET’S PUBLIC MISSION......................................................................227 THE PROPHET’S CALL ............................................235 ~4~
  • 4. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity Table of Contents THE APTITUDE OF THE ARABS ............................240 THE ALL–PERVASIVENESS OF THE PROPHET’S MESSAGE....................................................................247 FACTORS WORKING IN FAVOUR OF PREACHING WORK..........................................................................253 REACTION TO THE MESSAGE OF ISLAM ...........260 EXPULSION................................................................273 NOTES .........................................................................28111. Islam comes to Madinah ..........................................285 NOTE ...........................................................................29012. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinah................291 THE EMIGRANTS ARE MADE AT HOME ............293 VICTORY OF ISLAM .................................................307 NOTES .........................................................................32213. Victory and after.......................................................324 NOTES .........................................................................33514. The Termination of Prophethood ...........................337 ~5~
  • 5. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity Table of Contents NOTES .........................................................................34915. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miracle.......................351 SOCIAL UPHEAVALS...............................................357 LITERARY ADVANCEMENT ..................................369 NOTES .........................................................................38216. The Companions of the Prophet .............................384 ISLAM WAS SOMETHING THEY LOVED.............384 RECOGNISING THE PROPHET AT THE VERY BEGINNING ...............................................................386 ADHERING TO THE QUR’AN WHEN IT WAS STILL THE SUBJECT OF CONTROVERSY .............389 SPENDING ONE’S WEALTH FOR THE SAKE OF A TRUTH WHICH HAS YET TO BE ESTABLISHED 392 PLACING ONE’S OWN CROWN ON THE HEAD OF ANOTHER ............................................................394 REALIZING ONE’S OWN LIMITATIONS..............396 TAKING RESPONSIBILITY UPON ONESELF .......398 NOT BEARING GRUDGES .......................................400 ~6~
  • 6. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity Table of Contents DOING MORE THAN ONE IS LEGALLY BOUND TO.................................................................................401 AVOIDING CONTROVERSY, AND CONCENTRATING ON ONE’S BASIC GOAL ......404 BEING CONTENT TO REMAIN IN OBSCURITY..406 RATIONAL DECISIONS, DURING EMOTIONAL CRISES .........................................................................407 GROWING LIKE A TREE..........................................410 NOTES .........................................................................41317. Manifestation of Prophethood in the Present Dayand Age ...........................................................................414 NOTES .........................................................................439MUHAMMAD A PROPHET FOR ALL HUMANITY440 ~7~
  • 7. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity IntroductionINTRODUCTIONIn an American publication entitled The Hundred,the author mentions the one hundred people hebelieves to have exerted the greatest influence onhuman history. The author, Dr Michael Hart, wasborn into a Christian family, and received ascientific education. But at the top of his roll ofhonour he has placed neither Christ’s name, norNewton’s. There was one person, he believes,whose achievements excelled all others: that personwas the Prophet Muhammad. No one else has hadsuch an impact on the history of man. “He was theonly man in history,” he writes, “who wassupremely successful on both the religious andsecular levels.”1Just as to the American, Michael Hart, he is themost outstanding figure of human history, to theEnglish historian, Thomas Carlyle, he is “the hero ofthe Prophets.”In ancient times, when Abraham and Ishmael werebuilding the House in Makkah, they prayed for aprophet among their descendants. 2,500 years later, ~8~
  • 8. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity Introductionthis “hero,” the Prophet Muhammad, arose fromthe People of Makkah bringing with him specialdivine succour. The prayer of Abraham wasfulfilled, and with it the purpose of the prophets’coming to the world was achieved.Before Muhammad, history did not carefully recordthe lives of the prophets. From a strictly academicand historical point of view, then, theirprophethood was difficult to establish. The ProphetJesus was the last of the ancient line of prophets andhas a following of millions, yet so tenuous is hishistorical position that Bertrand Russell has hadoccasion to remark: “Historically it is quite doubtfulwhether Christ ever existed at all.” This is not thecase with the Prophet Muhammad, the last of theprophets. His life is so well-documented and clearlylaid down in history that anyone who studies hislife is forced to agree with Professor Philip Hittithat, “Muhammad was born in the full light ofhistory.”2The factor, which makes the greatest contribution tothe permanence of Muhammad’s prophethood, is theQur’an, that enduring miracle which was revealed to ~9~
  • 9. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity Introductionhim by God. If this miracle had been of the sameorder as those bestowed upon his propheticpredecessors, its effects would not have outlived him,and his prophethood would not have been acceptedin the way that it was by subsequent generations. Amiracle is a wondrous event which man, on his own,is unable to produce. This definition applies in fullmeasure to the Qur’an: it is beyond man even toemulate it. There is no doubt that the Qur’an is amiracle wrought by the Almighty.Muhammad’s role was exceptional in that he was tobe the last of the prophets. It had been so ordainedby God. The final revelation of God’s will was to beconveyed to the people by him and, for posterity,the scriptures had to be preserved by him andsubsequently by his devoted followers throughoutthe centuries. To ensure this train of events, theProphet had to bring about a great revolution thatwould give him a following the world over. Muhammad is the father of no man among you. He is the Prophet of God and the last of the prophets. God has knowledge of all things.3 ~ 10 ~
  • 10. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity IntroductionThe Prophet was chosen by God to give the kind ofguidance to people, which they needed if they wereto lead upright, virtuous lives. If people seeminglyhave complete control over what they do, it isbecause, in this world, they are on trial. If theillusion of free will causes them to act as theychoose, it is because they are being tested. TheProphets, in spite of their divine mission, cannotforce people to change their ways. All they can do iscommunicate the message with which God hasentrusted them: Yet what should Messengers do but give plain warning?4God has done the maximum to ensure that weshould not go astray in our journey through life. Hehas given us a conscience, enabling us todifferentiate between what is right and wrong, andhas placed us in a world based on justice. But -whenever man has failed to listen to his conscience,or was deaf to the silent message emanating fromevery object of God’s creation, God sent Hisprophets to bring him the truth, and so that theseGod-sent messages should not be incomprehensible ~ 11 ~
  • 11. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity Introductionto the people of many different lands, they werecommunicated to them in their own languages.In pre-Islamic times religious institutions hadbecome debased by the veneration of mere mortals;whereas the prophet Muhammad admitted of noother form of religion but that based on the worshipof the immortal God. Religious beliefs had veryfrequently been founded on superstition; but by himthey were established on the foundation of reality. Itwas he who taught people to conquer nature insteadof worshipping it, thus paving the way for thescientific era. And where political power had been inthe hands of one hereditary monarch, he showed theway to government by the people. While learninghad been based on conjecture and assumption, hetaught people to learn from observation of reality. Incases where human society had been vitiated bycruelty and oppression, he showed people how tolive together in justice and peace. These are allachievements of the Prophet Muhammad. Hechanged the tide of human history.From whatever angle one looks at history, ever-broadening reverberations of his impact will be ~ 12 ~
  • 12. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity Introductionmanifest. All that is best in human values, all theimportant advances of human civilization, aredirect or indirect results of the revolution hebrought about.His own personal life was a perfect example formankind. Because he himself was made to experienceall kinds of special conditions, he was able to providea model for living both at the individual and sociallevels. He showed us the life that God would like usto live on earth, for in all matters each and every oneof his actions was in accordance with the will of God.Not only did he establish the perfect pattern for theworship of God, but he also showed how God helpsthose who truly devote their lives to His service. Wecan see from his life how, if one fears God, there isnothing else that one need fear. If one remains patientin the face of provocation, He will pour oil ontroubled waters. If one rises above negative impulses,one can win over everyone, even enemies. If onesacrifices this world for the next, one will eventuallyhave the best of both worlds.Just as the farmer who cultivates his land bydivinely inspired methods reaps the best crop, so, at ~ 13 ~
  • 13. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity Introductionany time, can the followers of the Prophet prevailover others. God has provided all of the conditionsnecessary for and conducive to the dominance ofHis, the divine religion. By understanding andutilizing them, adherents of this religion can bringIslamic thought into pre-eminence.Between the time of the Prophet Abraham and thecoming of the Prophet Muhammad, two thousandfive hundred years elapsed. Throughout this periodthe stage was being set for the coming of theProphet. The Prophet, acting at God’s behest,played the role for which he was cast. That waswhy his mission was supremely successful.In making the Prophet Muhammad the greatestfigure, and consequently one of the mostresplendent landmarks in human history, God hasbestowed his greatest favour on mankind. Whoeverseeks a guide for himself cannot fail to see him, forhe stands out like a tower, a mountain on thehorizon, radiating light like a beacon, beckoning allto the true path. It is inevitable that a seeker of truthwill be drawn up to the magnificent pinnacle onwhich he stands. ~ 14 ~
  • 14. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity IntroductionDuring the fourteen hundred years that havepassed since the times of the Prophet Muhammad,the historical changes that have occurred, themassive advances in human knowledge that havetaken place, have all combined in support of Islam.The religion that the Prophet taught can still takepride of place over other religions. But, for this to beachieved, divinely-inspired methods have to beadopted. This rule, which applied to the Prophet,equally applies to his followers.NOTES1. Dr. Michael Hart, The Hundred, New York, 1978.2. Philip K Hitti, History of the Arabs, London, 1978.3. Qur’an, 33:40.4. Qur’an, 16:35. ~ 15 ~
  • 15. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 1. From Adam to the Messiah1. FROM ADAM TO THE MESSIAHAll of the prophets who came into this world hadan identical mission. They taught that man’s life onearth was but an infinitesimal part of his eternal life.In this world he was put to the test. Reward orpunishment would come in the next. After death, ifhe had followed the Lord’s path, he would find hiseternal abode in heaven. But, if he had strayed fromit, he would be plunged straight into hell. Hisdamnation would be everlasting. This was thereality of life taught by each and every one of theprophets.Adam was the first man on earth and also the firstprophet. He was succeeded by a long line ofprophets right up to the time of the Messiah.Altogether there have been some 124,000messengers of God, of whom 315 have beenprophets. They appeared in different lands andamong different peoples, preaching the word ofGod and exhorting people to live in fear of Him. Butvery few of those they addressed have ever provedwilling to give up their freedom for the sake of God. ~ 16 ~
  • 16. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 1. From Adam to the MessiahFew people, for instance, followed the ProphetYahya (John the Baptist) and he died a martyr’sdeath. When Lot left his people, only two of hisdaughters accompanied him. According to the OldTestament, only eight people entered the ark alongwith Noah. When Abraham left his native country,Iraq, the only people to accompany him were hiswife Sarah and his nephew Lot, although they werelater joined by his two sons, Ishmael and Isaac.Even after great missionary effort on the part ofJesus, the priests and religious authorities whoheard his teachings did not follow him, and evenhis twelve friends temporarily forsook him at themoment of truth.This was the unhappy lot of most of the prophets.The ties of kith and kin sometimes brought ahandful of followers to the more fortunate, but asoften as not, would-be prophets were forced by theinattention and insensitivity of those around themto live out their lives in solitude and persecution.This verse of the Qur’an very aptly sums upcommon attitudes to prophethood throughout thehistory of mankind: “Alas for the servants! Theylaugh to scorn every prophet that comes to them.”1 ~ 17 ~
  • 17. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 1. From Adam to the MessiahIn God’s sight, the prophets stand head andshoulders above the human race. Howextraordinary it is, then, that they are the very onesto whom the least historical importance has beenattached. History has fully chronicled the lives ofkings and soldiers, but not one single prophet’s lifehas been given its due place in the annals of history.Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), who was born onethousand years after the Prophet Moses, was noteven acquainted with Moses’ name. The reason isnot far to seek: most of the prophets were rejectedby their peoples; their homes were demolished;they were treated as outcasts from society; theyappeared so unimportant that no one deemed itnecessary even to make any mention of them.Why were the prophets treated in this manner?There was just one reason for this, and that wastheir criticism of current practices, especially of theestablished religious authorities, the priesthood.People love nothing more than being praised; andthey loathe nothing more than being criticised. Theprophets exposed the difference between right andwrong, making no compromise with their peoples.They were persistently pointing out the faults in ~ 18 ~
  • 18. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 1. From Adam to the Messiahpeople’s beliefs and actions. Consequently, peopleturned against them. If the prophets had taughtwhat everyone wanted to hear, they would neverhave been treated in this manner.Although this was the fate of most of the prophets,a few of them were spared, Joseph, Solomon andDavid being names that immediately spring tomind. But the power and prestige that theseprophets acquired was not due to the popularity oftheir teachings; they had an entirely separate origin.David was a young soldier in the army of theIsraelites under King Saul, during the time that theIsraelites and Philistines went to war with eachother. Among the army of Philistines was the giantGoliath. So powerful a fighter was he that no onewas prepared to do battle with him. King Saul thenannounced that he would give his daughter inmarriage to anyone who slew Goliath. David cameforward, challenged the giant, and killed him. Inthis way he became the son-in-law of the King ofIsrael. In a subsequent war, both King Saul and hisheir apparent were killed in battle. David wasthereupon crowned King of Israel. Solomon was ~ 19 ~
  • 19. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 1. From Adam to the MessiahDavid’s son, and succeeded to his father’s throne.As for Joseph, he was endowed by God with theability to interpret dreams and the King of Egypt,impressed by his ability, went so far as to entrustthe affairs of state to him. But the King stillremained head of state and he and his subjectscontinued to adhere to their pagan religion.This hostile treatment meted out to the prophetsthroughout the ages, deprived people of trueguidance and, what was even more serious, madethe preservation of the scriptures and teachings ofthe prophets impossible. Only a prophet’s followerscan preserve his teachings after him; but theprophets either had no followers, or so few as to beunable to counter the challenges of their society tothe preservation of the Holy Scriptures.The knowledge of God is eternal. He sees the futurejust as He does the past. He was aware, before thesending of the prophets, that this would be the fateof the human race. So He had decreed that Hewould remedy this situation at the end of theprophetic era by sending His own special envoy tothe world: a prophet whose task would be not only ~ 20 ~
  • 20. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 1. From Adam to the Messiahto preach religion, but also to exalt it above allothers on earth. He would be granted specialsuccour from God, enabling him to compel hispeople to bow to the truth. God would keep him onearth until he had rectified the perversions of thesociety around him. God’s own might would assistthe Prophet to vanquish his enemies. In this way thetrue religion would be established on solidfoundations and God’s word would be perpetuated,as it says in the Bible, “for the earth shall be filledwith the knowledge of the glory of God, as thewaters cover the sea.”2Translations and additions have taken the present-day Bible very far from the original. But it stillcontains multiple references to the coming of theProphet Muhammad. If one studies the Bibleobjectively, one will find certain references thatcannot be applied to anyone else. The very purposeof the mission of the Prophet Jesus was to announceto the world, and to the Jewish nation in particular,the coming of the final prophet. The “NewTestament” to which he referred was, in truth,Islam, for it marked the end of Jewish religioushegemony and projected the Children of Ishmael as ~ 21 ~
  • 21. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 1. From Adam to the Messiahthe true recipients of the word of God. Hence therise of the Prophet Muhammad.The Prophet Jesus came to the world six hundredyears before the last of the Prophets. In onereference to Jesus, the Qur’an has this to say: And remember the Prophet Jesus, who said to the Children of Israel: “I am sent forth to you by God to confirm the Torah already revealed and to give news of an apostle that will come after me whose name is Ahmad.”3The words “Ahmad” and “Muhammad” have thesame meaning: the praised one. In the Gospel ofBarnabas the name of the coming prophet is givenquite clearly as Muhammad. But since Christiansconsider the Gospel of Barnabas to be apocryphal,we do not consider it proper to quote from thatsource. We cannot even be sure whether Jesus, inhis prophecy, referred to Ahmad or Muhammad.Most probably he used a word with the samemeaning as these names.In his biography of the Prophet, Ibn Hisham quotesthe historian, Muhammad ibn Ishaq, the most ~ 22 ~
  • 22. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 1. From Adam to the Messiahauthentic source on the Prophet’s life, as saying thatwhen Jesus spoke in his mother tongue, Syrian, theword that he used of the coming prophet was“Munhamann” meaning “the praised one.” Thistraditionally accepted appellation was probablypassed on to him by Palestinian Christians who hadcome under Islamic rule. When the Bible wastranslated into Greek, the word became “Paraclete”.NOTESI. Qur’an, 36:30.2. Bible, Habakkuk, 2.14.3. Qur’an, 61:6. ~ 23 ~
  • 23. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 2. The Emergence and Legacy of the Prophet Muhammad2. THE EMERGENCE AND LEGACY OFTHE PROPHET MUHAMMADPoised between Africa, Asia and Europe, theArabian Peninsula lay at the very heart of theancient world. Yet no ambitious conqueror hadinvaded the territory; no ruler had sought to bring itunder his domain. All military campaigns had beenlimited to the area bordering Arabia—Iraq, Syria,Palestine and Lebanon. As for the ArabianPeninsula, no one had considered it worth fightingfor. True, its shores were lapped by three seas, butits interior offered little beyond inhospitable desertand barren mountains.Makkah was the central township of this land, itwas in this “uncultivable valley” in which it lay thatthe Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, on whom bepeace, was born. His father, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘AbdulMuttalib, died a few months before the birth of theProphet. He was only six years of age when hismother, Aminah, also passed away. For two yearshe was cared for by his grandfather, ‘AbdulMuttalib, and, when he too died, the Prophet’suncle, Abu Talib, became his guardian. Abu Talib’s ~ 24 ~
  • 24. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 2. The Emergence and Legacy of the Prophet Muhammaddemise occurred three years before the emigrationof the Prophet to Madinah. The Prophet then, at themost difficult stage of his life, was left without aprotector. But nature had endowed the Prophetwith a remarkable personality. Those who saw himin his youth used to remark: “This boy has a greatfuture.” His dignified and impressive personalitygrew with age. ‘Ali1 once commented, “Those whosaw him for the first time were filled with awe, andthose who came close to him grew to love him.” TheProphet’s noble character was undisputed, yetwhen in his fortieth year, he announced hisprophetic mission, people’s attitude to himchanged. They poured scorn on his claim toprophethood. “Look at this village boy who reckonshe’s in contact with the heavens,” they would say.His preaching mission extended over a meretwenty-three years. It was during this short timethat he brought about a revolution among the Arabtribes, the like of which the world had never seen.Within one hundred years this revolution hadvanquished both the Sassanian and the ByzantineEmpires. With the fall of these two great empires ofthe world, Islam annexed the territory extending ~ 25 ~
  • 25. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 2. The Emergence and Legacy of the Prophet Muhammadfrom Iran and Iraq to Bukhara in the east, while inthe west, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and then the wholeof North Africa also fell to Islam. And the torrentdid not halt there. In A.D. 711 Islam surged forwardacross the Straits of Gibraltar into the IberianPeninsula. In 732 a Frankish prince, Charles Martel,arrested the advance of Islam at Tours. Thenfollowed the Crusades, stretching over twocenturies, and after the Crusades the horrificonslaughts of the Tartar tribes. But despite theseattacks from outside, the Islamic Empire held itsown until the 15th century, when, due to infightingamong the Muslims themselves, Spain was lost.It was then the turn of the Turks and the Mughalsto be aroused by the spirit of Islam. In 1453 theTurks conquered Constantinople and advanced intoEastern Europe as far as Yugoslavia. A Turkisharmy remained encamped outside Vienna until1683. In the 16th century the Mughals establishedIslamic rule in India and Afghanistan. Over the lastthirteen centuries Muslims have spread to everycorner of the globe. Close on four-dozen countriesof Asia and Africa have come to constitute aMuslim world. According to the World Muslim ~ 26 ~
  • 26. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 2. The Emergence and Legacy of the Prophet MuhammadGazetter2 there are 900 million Muslims in the worldtoday.This was all the result of a twenty-three year effortconducted in Arabia under the Prophet’s guidance.In this short space of time, the Islamic revolutionnot only assured itself of a permanent place inhuman history; it also created a new history of itsown. Humans alone do not have it in them toaccomplish such a gigantic task; it can only be doneby God. The Islamic revolution was truly the workof God. When the Muslims were returning fromtheir victory at the Battle of Badr, they were met at aplace called Rauha by some well-wishers, whocongratulated them on the outcome of the fighting.“Why do you congratulate us?” asked Salmah ibnSalamah. “The enemy were just like tetheredcamels, and we duly slaughtered them.”3All of this was evidently pre-ordained by God. Fromthe bare Arabian Desert He raised up a people ofextraordinary tenacity, a people whose charactershad been tempered by their environment. Theyknew only acceptance or denial; for them there wasno third alternative. In them were preserved all the ~ 27 ~
  • 27. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 2. The Emergence and Legacy of the Prophet Muhammadnatural qualities needed for dedication to a cause.Added to this there was the fact that the two greatpowers of the day lay on the borders of theircountry. It was only natural that the mighty empiresof Rome and Persia should not take kindly to theemergence of a new power on their doorstep. Intheir attempt to arrest the rise of Islam, they wagedwar against the Muslims. In so doing, they forced theMuslims to fight back. This gave the Muslims thechance to conquer the empires of Rome and Persia,whose borders, at that time, extended to the farthestreaches of the known world. There is no doubtingthe fact that the conquests of Islam were not wars ofaggression against others; rather they were aresponse to aggression from others. They were warsof self-defence and never, in any country of theworld, have there been two minds on thejustification for such wars.Over and above the political significance of theseevents was the fact that the Islamic revolutionopened out hitherto unexplored opportunities forhumanity. It made God’s revealed religion ahistorical reality, something that it had not beenbefore. ~ 28 ~
  • 28. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 2. The Emergence and Legacy of the Prophet MuhammadIt ushered in the age of the press, ensuring thepreservation of the Qur’an for all time. It broughtthe age of democracy and freedom of speech to theworld, removing all artificial barriers that hadobstructed preachers in their call to truth. It madenew discoveries possible in the world of science,enabling religious truths to be proved andexplained on a rational, intellectual level.An even more important aspect of this revolutionwas that, through the Prophet, God showed theworld what would happen in the hereafter. His lifeand mission provided us with a preview of theevents of the next world. Those who accepted andpatterned their lives upon the truth that he broughtto them were made supreme, and that is how theywill remain forever in the hereafter, if God wills.The wicked, meanwhile, were made to taste thehumiliation that they would forever be a prey to inthe world to come.History shows that those who devote their lives toGod always appear in a passive and depressedcondition, while those devoted to wealth and poweralways seem to have their way in the world. Such is ~ 29 ~
  • 29. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 2. The Emergence and Legacy of the Prophet Muhammadthe sombre evidence of the history of saints andprophets. This state of affairs is quite contrary toreality, for, eventually, God will bestow everlastinghonour and glory upon His true servants, whileself-worshippers and worshippers of the world willforever be assigned to a pit of humiliation anddisgrace.This world is for our trial. Here, people have thechance to act as they please. That is why God doesnot hold anyone in check in this world. But once, atleast, by means of the prophet of Islam, God hasshown on earth the situation that will prevail in itsmost complete and permanent form in the nextworld.The companions of the Prophet, whose homes weredemolished, for whom the earth had become a placeof unmitigated oppression, who were robbed oftheir properties, who were so victimized andterrorized that they lived in constant fear ofextermination—these very people were raised to aposition of great honour. The Quraysh and theJews, the Romans and the Iranians, the Yemenis andthe Ghassanis4—those who took pride in their ~ 30 ~
  • 30. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 2. The Emergence and Legacy of the Prophet Muhammadwealth and power—were meanwhile reduced toignominy and disgrace.Every prophet who comes from God provides acriterion of divine justice. Through him Godannounces to humanity the decisions that HeHimself will announce in the next world. But theProphet of Islam gave such a display of divinejustice that it became a world experience; it becamean accepted historical reality. We could see with ourown eyes how God honoured His faithful servantsand degraded those who rebelled against Him.Heaven and hell were realities that would be mademanifest in the next world. But we had been given apreliminary glimpse of them in this world so thatwe might take heed.What really emerged with the prophethood ofMuhammad was the divinity of God Himself. Thatis why the New Testament foretells of hisprophethood as the “Kingdom of God.” There is nodoubting the fact that the revolution of the Prophethad great political and strategic implications. But itsmain importance is as an earthly manifestation ofGod’s glory, a revelation of divine justice. The ~ 31 ~
  • 31. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 2. The Emergence and Legacy of the Prophet Muhammadrevolution of the Prophet Muhammad showed us inadvance the realities that would come upon us instark and absolute form in the hereafter.NOTES1. The Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law.2. World Muslim Gazetter published by Mu’tamaral- ‘Alam-al-lslami, 19713. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, p. 153.4. Arabian kingdom prominent as a Byzantine ally in the 6th century A.D. ~ 32 ~
  • 32. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conduct3. EXEMPLARY CONDUCTThe Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, upon whom bepeace, was born in Arabia on 22 April A.D. 570, anddied on 8 June A.D. 632. He was a very handsomeand powerfully built man. His childhood gaveindications of the sublime and dynamic personalitythat was to emerge. As he grew up, the nobility ofhis personality used to have an effect on anyonebeholding him, but he was so soft-spoken and ofsuch genial disposition that anyone coming intoclose contact with him would learn to love him. Aperfectly balanced personality—tolerant, truthful,perspicacious and magnanimous—he presented thehighest example of human nobility. According toDaud ibn Husayn, he became known as he grewolder as the most chivalrous among his people,tolerant and forebearing, truthful and trustworthy,always the good neighbour. He would stay alooffrom all quarrels and quibbles and never indulged infoul utterances, abuse or invective. People even lefttheir valuables in his custody, for they knew that hewould never betray them. His unimpeachabletrustworthiness won for him the title of “al-Amin,” afaithful custodian, an unfailing trustee. ~ 33 ~
  • 33. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary ConductWhen he married at the age of twenty-five, hisuncle Abu Talib performed the marriage service.“There is no one to compare with my nephew,Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah,” he said. “He outshineseveryone in nobility, gentility, eminence andwisdom. By God, he has a great future and willreach a very high station.” Abu Talib did not utterthese words in the sense in which later eventsproved them to be true. He meant them in aworldly sense. Nature had endowed his nephewwith a magnetic and versatile personality. Hispeople would surely appreciate his qualities, andraise him to a high position. Abu Talib envisaged afuture of worldly success and accomplishment forhis nephew; this was the “great future” which hereferred to in his sermon.Without doubt the Prophet had every opportunityfor worldly advancement. He was born into a noblefamily of Makkah and his virtues guaranteed hissuccess in life. True, he had inherited just one cameland one servant from his father, but his inborn highqualities had impressed the richest woman inMakkah, Khadijah, a forty-year-old widowbelonging to a family of merchants. When the ~ 34 ~
  • 34. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary ConductProphet was twenty-five, she offered herself to himin marriage. Not only did marriage with Khadijahprovide the Prophet with wealth and property; italso threw open to him a vast field of business inArabia and beyond. The Prophet had everyopportunity, then, of leading a successful andcomfortable life. But he forsook all these things andchose something quite different for himself. Quiteintentionally, he took a road that could lead only toworldly ruin. Before his marriage, the Prophet hadearned his living in different ways. Now herelinquished all such activity, and dedicated himselfto his lifelong vocation—the pursuit of truth. Heused to sit for hours and ponder over the mysteriesof creation. Instead of socializing and trying to gaina position for himself among the nobles of Makkah,he would wander in the hills and dales of thedesert. Often he used to retire to the loneliness of acave in Mount Hira’—three miles from Makkah—and stay there until his meagre supply of food andwater was exhausted. He would return home toreplenish his supplies, and then go back to thesolitude of nature for prayer and meditation. Hewould beseech the Maker of the heavens and theearth for answers to the questions surging in his ~ 35 ~
  • 35. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conductmind. What is our true role in life? What does theLord require of us, as His servants? Whence do wecome and whither will we go after death? Unable tofind answers to these questions in the centres ofhuman activity, he betook himself to the stillness ofthe desert; perhaps, there, the answer would beforthcoming.The Romanian orientalist Konstan Virgil George(b. 1916) writes in his book, The Prophet of Islam: Until one has spent some time in the wilds of Arabia and the Middle East, one cannot begin to understand how the vastness and tranquility of the desert expands the human intellect and fortifies the imagination. There is a great difference between European and Arabian plants. There is no plant in the arid reaches of the desert that does not exude a sweet fragrance; even the acacia trees of this land are aromatic. The desert stretches for 3,000,000 square kilometres. Here it is as though man comes into direct contact with God. Other countries are like buildings in which massive walls obstruct one’s view; but ~ 36 ~
  • 36. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conduct there is nothing blocking one’s vision of reality in the vast open reaches of Arabia. Wherever one looks, one sees endless sands and fathomless sky. Here, there is nothing to stop one from consorting with God and His angels.1It was no small matter that a young man should betaking up this course in the prime of his life. He wasrenouncing worldly happiness and choosing a wayfraught with difficulties and sorrow. He had allconceivable means and opportunities for acomfortable life, but his turbulent soul did not findsatisfaction in them. He attached no value to themand could not rest content until he had unravelledthe mysteries of life. He sought to delve beyondexternal appearances, and seek out the reality oflife. Worldly gain and loss, comfort and distress,did not concern him; what mattered to him was theall-important question of truth and falsehood.This phase of the Prophet’s life is referred to thus inthe Qur’an: Did he not find you wandering and guide you?2 ~ 37 ~
  • 37. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary ConductThe word used in this verse for “wandering”(“dhallan”) can also be used to describe a treestanding alone in an empty desert. The Prophet,then, was like a lone tree standing amidst the vastwilderness of ignorance that was Arabia of the time.The idea of consolidating his position in this societywas abhorrent to him. He sought the truth, andnothing less than the truth could satisfy his soul.His quest had reached a point when life hadbecome an unbearable burden. The Qur’an looksback on that time: Have We not lifted up and expanded your heart and relieved you of the burden, which weighed down your back?3God, indeed, relieved him of his burden. He turnedin mercy to His Prophet, illuminating his path andguiding him on his journey. On February 12, A.D.610, the Prophet was sitting alone in his cave. Theangel of the Lord appeared before him in humanform and taught him the words, which appear atthe beginning of the ninety-sixth chapter of theQur’an. The Prophet’s quest had finally beenrewarded. His restless soul had joined in ~ 38 ~
  • 38. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conductcommunion with the Lord. Not only did God granthim guidance; He also chose Muhammad as HisProphet and special envoy to the world. Themission of the Prophet extended over the nexttwenty-three years. During this period the entirecontent of the Qur’an—the final divine scripture —was revealed to him.The Prophet of Islam discovered Truth in thefortieth year of his arduous life. If was anattainment that was not to usher in ease andcomfort, for this Truth was that he stood face to facewith an Almighty God. It was discovery of his ownhelplessness before the might of God, of his ownnothingness before the supernatural magnitude ofthe almighty. With this discovery it became clearthat God’s faithful servant had nothing butresponsibilities in this world; he had no rights.The meaning that life took on for the Prophet afterthe Truth came to him can be ascertained from thesewords: Nine things the Lord has commanded me. Fear of God in private and in public; Justness, whether in anger or in calmness; Moderation in ~ 39 ~
  • 39. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conduct both poverty and affluence; That I should join hands with those who break away from me; and give to those who deprive me; and forgive those who wrong me; and that my silence should be meditation; and my words remembrance of God; and my vision keen observation.4These were no just glib words; they were areflection of the Prophet’s very life. Poignant andwondrously effective words of this nature could notemanate from an empty soul; they themselvesindicate the status of the speaker; they are anoutpouring of his inner being, an unquenchablespirit revealed in verbal form.Even before the dawn of his prophethood, theProphet’s life had followed the same pattern. Themotivation, however, had been subconscious; nowit came on to the level of consciousness. Actionswhich had previously been based on instinctiveimpulses now became the well-conceived results ofprofound thinking. This is the state of one whoreduces material needs to a minimum; whose lifeassumes a unique pattern; who in body lives in thisworld, but in spirit dwells on another plane. ~ 40 ~
  • 40. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary ConductThe Prophet once said, A discerning person should have some special moments: a moment of communion with God; a moment of self-examination; a moment of reflection over the mysteries of creation; and a moment which he puts aside for eating and drinking.5In other words, this is how God’s faithful servantpasses the day. Sometimes the yearning of his soulbrings him so close to God that he finds somethingin communion with the Lord. Sometimes fear of theday when he will be brought before the Lord forreckoning makes him reckon with himself.Sometimes he is so overawed by the marvels ofGod’s creation that he starts seeing the splendoursof the Creator reflected therein. Thus he spends histime encountering the Lord, his own self, and theworld around him, while also finding time to caterfor his physical needs.These words are not a description of some remotebeing; they are a reflection of the Prophet’s ownpersonality, a flash from the light of faith thatilluminated his own heart. These “moments” were ~ 41 ~
  • 41. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conductan integral part of the Prophet’s life. One who hasnot experienced these states can never describethem in such a lofty manner. The soul from whichthese words emanated was itself in the state thatthey describe; through words that state of spiritualperfection was communicated to others.Before he received the word of God, this world—with all its shortcomings and limitations—appearedmeaningless to the Prophet. But now that God hadrevealed to him that besides this world there wasanother perfect and eternal world, which was thereal abode of man, life and the universe took onnew meaning. He now found a level on which hissoul could subsist, a life in which he could involvehimself, heart and soul. The Prophet now found areal world into which he could put his heart andsoul, a target for all his hopes and aspirations, agoal for all his life’s endeavours.This reality is discovered not merely on anintellectual level. When it takes root, it transformsone completely, and raises one’s level of existence.The Prophet of Islam provides us with a superlativeexample of this way of life. The greatest lesson ~ 42 ~
  • 42. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conductimparted by his life is that, unless one changes one’splane of existence, one cannot change one’s plane ofactions.When the Prophet Muhammad discovered thereality of the world hereafter, it came to dominatehis whole life. He himself became most desirous ofthe heaven of which he gave tidings to others, andhe himself was most fearful of the hell of which hewarned others. Deep concern for the life to comewas always welling up inside him. Sometimes itwould surge to his lips in the form of supplication,and sometimes in the form of heartfelt contrition.He lived on a completely different plane from thatof ordinary human beings. This is illustrated bymany incidents a few of which are mentioned here.Once the Prophet was at home with Umm Salamah.He called the maid-servant, who took some time incoming. Seeing signs of anger on the Prophet’s face,Umm Salamah went to the window and saw thatthe maid was playing. When she came, the Prophethad a miswak6 in his hand. “If it wasn’t for the fearof retribution on the Day of Judgement,” he told themaid, “I would have hit you with this miswak.” ~ 43 ~
  • 43. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary ConductEven this mildest of punishments was to beeschewed.The men taken prisoner in the Battle of Badr werethe Prophet’s bitterest enemies, but still histreatment of them was impeccable. One of theseprisoners was a man by the name of Suhayl ibn‘Amr. A fiery speaker, he used to denounce theProphet virulently in public to incite people againsthim and his mission. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattabsuggested that two of his lower teeth be pulled outto dampen his oratorical zeal. The Prophet wasshocked by ‘Umar’s suggestion. “God woulddisfigure me for this on the Day of Judgement, eventhough I am His messenger,” he said to ‘Umar.This is what is meant by the world being a planting -ground for the hereafter. One who realizes this factlives a life oriented towards the hereafter—a life inwhich all efforts are aimed at achieving success inthe next, eternal world; a life in which real value isattached—not to this ephemeral world—but to thelife beyond death. One becomes aware that thisworld is not the final destination; it is only a roadtowards the destination, a starting-point of ~ 44 ~
  • 44. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conductpreparation for the future life. Just as every action ofa worldly person is performed with worldlyinterests in mind, so every action of God’s faithfulservant is focused on the hereafter. Their reactions toevery situation in life reflect this attitude of lookingat every matter in the perspective of the life afterdeath, and of how it will affect their interests in thenext world. Whether it be an occasion of happinessor sorrow, success or failure, domination ordepression, praise or condemnation, love or anger—in every state they are guided by thoughts of thehereafter, until finally these thoughts become a partof their unconscious minds. They do not cease to bemortal, but their minds come to function only onmatters related to the world of immortality, makingthem almost forget their interest in worldly matters.HUMILITY AND FORBEARANCEThe Prophet was a man like other men. Joyousthings would please him while sad things wouldsadden him. Realization of the fact that he was firstand foremost God’s servant, however, preventedhim from placing more importance on his ownfeelings than upon the will of God. ~ 45 ~
  • 45. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary ConductTowards the end of the Prophet’s life MariahQibtiyah bore him a beautiful and vivacious son.The Prophet named him Ibrahim, after his mostillustrious ancestor. It was Abu Rafi’ who broke thegood news to the Prophet. He was so overjoyedthat he presented Abu Rafi’ with a slave. He usedto take the child in his lap and play with himfondly. According to Arab custom, Ibrahim wasgiven to a wet nurse, Umm Burdah bint al-Mundhir ibn Zayd Ansari, to be breast-fed. Shewas the wife of a blacksmith, and her small housewas usually full of smoke. Still, the Prophet used togo to the blacksmith’s house to visit his son,putting up in spite of his delicate disposition—with the smoke that used to fill his eyes andnostrils. Ibrahim, was just one and half years oldwhen, in the tenth year of the Hijrah (January A.D.632), he died. The Prophet wept on the death of hisonly son, as any father would: on this respect theProphet appears like any other human being. Hishappiness and his grief were that of a normalfather. But with all that, he fixed his heart firmlyon the will of God. Even in his grief, these were thewords he uttered: ~ 46 ~
  • 46. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conduct God knows, Ibrahim, how we sorrow at your parting. The eye weeps and the heart grieves, but we will say nothing that may displease the Lord.It so happened that the death of Ibrahim coincidedwith a solar eclipse. From ancient times people hadbelieved that solar and lunar eclipses were causedby the death of some important person. The peopleof Madinah began attributing the eclipse to thedeath of the Prophet’s son. This caused the Prophetimmense displeasure, for it suggested thispredictable astronomical event was caused out ofrespect for his infant son. He collected the peopleand addressed them as follows: Eclipses of the sun and moon are not due to the death of any human being; they are just two of God’s signs. When you see an eclipse, then you should pray to God.On one of his journeys, the Prophet asked hiscompanions to roast a goat. One volunteered toslaughter the animal, another to skin it, and anotherto cook it. The Prophet said that he would collectwood. “Messenger of God,” his companions ~ 47 ~
  • 47. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conductprotested, “we will do all the work.” “I know thatyou will do it,” the Prophet replied, “but that wouldamount to discrimination, which I don’t approve of.God does not like His servants to assert anysuperiority over their companions.”So humble was the Prophet himself that he oncesaid: By God, I really do not know, even though I am God’s messenger, what will become of me and what will become of you.7One day Abu Dharr al-Ghifari was sitting next to aMuslim who was black. Abu Dharr addressed himas “black man.” The Prophet was very displeasedon hearing this, and told Abu Dharr to makeamends “Whites are not superior to blacks,” headded. As soon as the Prophet admonished him,Abu Dharr became conscious of his error. He casthimself to the ground in remorse, and said to theperson he had offended: “Stand up, and rub yourfeet on my face.”The Prophet once saw a wealthy Muslim gatheringup his loose garment to maintain a distance from a ~ 48 ~
  • 48. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conductpoor Muslim sitting next to him. “Are you scared ofhis poverty clinging to you?” the Prophet remarked.Once the Prophet had to borrow some money froma Jew by the name of Zayd ibn Sa’nah. A few daysbefore the date fixed for the repayment of the debt,the Jew came to demand his money back. He wentup to the Prophet, caught hold of his clothes, andsaid to him harshly: “Muhammad, why don’t youpay me my due? From what I know of thedescendants of Muttalib, they all put off payingtheir debts.” ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab was with theProphet at the time. He became very angry, scoldedthe Jew and was on the point of beating him up. Butthe Prophet just kept smiling. All he said to the Jewwas: “There are still three days left for me to fulfillmy promise.” Then he addressed ‘Umar “Zayd andI deserved better treatment from you,” he said.“You should have told me to be better at paying mydebts, and him to be better at demanding them.Take him with you, ‘Umar, and pay him his due; infact, give him 20 sa’ahs (about forty kilos) of datesextra because you have alarmed him with yourthreats.” The most remarkable thing about thisepisode is that the Prophet could still behave with ~ 49 ~
  • 49. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conductsuch forbearance and humility even after beingestablished as head of the Muslim state of Madinah.So successful was the Prophet’s life that, during hislifetime, he became the ruler of the whole of Arabiaright up to Palestine. Whatever he said, as themessenger of God, was accepted as law. He wasrevered by his people as no other man has ever beenrevered. When ‘Urwah ibn Mas’ud was sent to himas an envoy of the Quraysh (A.H. 6), he was amazedto see that the Muslims would not let any water usedby the Prophet for ablution fall on the ground, butwould catch it in their hands, and rub it on theirbodies. Such was their veneration for him. Anas ibnMalik, the Prophet’s close companion says that inspite of the great love they had for the Prophet, outof respect they could not look him full in the face.According to Mughirah, if any of the Prophet’scompanions had to call on him, they would first tapon the door with their fingernails. One night, whenthe moon was full, the Prophet lay asleep, covered ina red sheet. Jabir ibn Samrah says that sometimes hewould look at the moon and sometimes at theProphet. Eventually he came to the conclusion thatthe Prophet was the more beautiful of the two. ~ 50 ~
  • 50. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary ConductArrows rained down on the Prophet from theenemy ranks, but his followers formed a ringaround him, letting the arrows strike their ownbodies. It was as though they were made of wood,not flesh and blood; indeed the arrows hung fromthe bodies of some of them like the thorns of acactus tree.Devotion and veneration of this nature can producevanity in a man and engender a feeling ofsuperiority, but this was not the case with theProphet. He lived among others as an equal. Nobitter criticism or provocation would make him losehis composure. Once a desert-dweller came up tohim and pulled so hard at the sheet he was wearingthat it left a mark on his neck. “Muhammad!” hesaid. “Give me two camel-loads of goods, for themoney in your possession is not yours, nor was ityour father’s.” “Everything belongs to God,” theProphet said, “and I am His servant.” He thenasked the desert-dweller, “hasn’t it made youafraid, the way you treated me?” He said not. TheProphet asked him why. “Because I know that youdo not requite evil with evil,” the man answered.The Prophet smiled on hearing this, and had one ~ 51 ~
  • 51. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conductcamel-load of barley and another of dates given tohim.The Prophet lived in such awe of God that he wasalways a picture of humility and meekness. Hespoke little and even the way he walked suggestedreverence for God. Criticism never angered him.When he used to put on his clothes, he would say:“I am God’s servant, and I dress as befits a servantof God.” He would sit in a reverential posture topartake of food, and would say that this is how aservant of God should eat.He was very sensitive on this issue. Once acompanion started to say, “If it be the will of God,and the will of the Prophet ... “ The Prophet’s facechanged colour in anger when he heard this. “Areyou trying to equate me with God?” he asked theman severely. Rather say: “If God, alone, wills.” Onanother occasion a companion of the Prophet said:“He that obeys God and His Prophet is rightlyguided, and he who disobeys them has goneastray.” “You are the worst of speakers,” theProphet observed, disliking a reference, whichplaced him in the same pronoun as the Almighty. ~ 52 ~
  • 52. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary ConductThree sons were born to the Prophet, all of whomdied in infancy. His four daughters, all by his firstwife, Khadijah, grew to adulthood. Fatimah was theProphet’s youngest daughter, and he was extremelyattached to her. When he returned from any journeythe first thing he would do, after praying two rak’at8in the mosque, was to visit Fatimah and kiss herhand and forehead. Jumai’ ibn ‘Umayr once asked‘A’ishah whom the Prophet loved most. “Fatimah,”she replied.But the Prophet’s whole life was moulded bythoughts of the hereafter. He loved his children, butnot in any worldly way. ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib,Fatimah’s husband, once told Ibn ‘Abdul Wahid astory about the Prophet’s most beloved daughter.Fatimah’s hands, he said, were blistered fromconstant grinding; her neck had become sore fromcarrying water; her clothes would become dirtyfrom sweeping the floor. When the Prophet hadreceived an influx of servants from some place, ‘Alisuggested to his wife that she approach her fatherand ask for a servant. She went, but could not speakto the Prophet because of the crowd. Next day, hecame to their house, and asked Fatimah what she ~ 53 ~
  • 53. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conducthad wanted to see him about. ‘Ali told the Prophetthe whole story, and said that he had sent her. “FearGod, Fatimah,” the Prophet said, “Fulfill yourobligations to the Lord, and continue with yourhousework. And when you go to bed at night,praise God thirty-three times, and glorify Him thesame number of times; exalt His name thirty-fourtimes, and that will make a full hundred. Thiswould be much better than having a servant.” “Ifthat is the will of God and His Prophet,” Fatimahreplied “then so be it.” This was the Prophet’s onlyreply. He did not give her a servant.The truth revealed to the Prophet was that thisworld did not spring up by itself, but was createdby one God, who continues to watch over it. Allmen are His servants, and responsible to Him fortheir actions. Death is not the end of man’s life;rather it is the beginning of another, permanentworld, where the good will enjoy the bliss ofparadise and the wicked will be cast into a raginghell. With the revelation of this truth also came thecommandment to propagate it far and near.Accordingly, ascending the height of the rock ofSafa, the Prophet called the people together. First he ~ 54 ~
  • 54. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conductmade mention of the greatness of God. Then hewent on to say: By God, as you sleep so will you die, and as you awaken so will you be raised after death: you will be taken to account for your deeds. The good will be rewarded with good and the evil with evil. And, for all eternity, the good will remain in heaven and the evil will remain in hell.One who goes against the times in his personal lifeis faced with difficulties at almost every step, butthese difficulties are not of an injurious nature. Theymay wound one’s feelings, but not one’s body. Atthe most, they are a test requiring quiet forbearance.But the position is quite different when one makes itone’s mission to publicly oppose convention—whenone starts telling people what they are required todo and what not to do. The Prophet was not just abeliever; he was also entrusted with conveying theword of God to others. It was this latter role thatbrought him into headlong collision with hiscountrymen. All forms of adversity—from the painof hunger to the trepidation of battle—were ~ 55 ~
  • 55. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conductinflicted on him. Yet throughout the twenty-threeyears of his mission, he always remained just andcircumspect in his actions. It was not that he had nohuman feelings in him and, therefore, incapable ofbitterness; it was simply that his conduct wasgoverned by the fear of God.Three years after the Prophet’s migration toMadinah, Makkan opponents mounted an assaulton Madinah and the Battle of Uhud took place. Atthe beginning, the Muslims held sway; but later ona mistake made by some of the Prophet’scompanions gave the enemy the chance to attackfrom the rear and sway the tide of battle in theirfavour. It was a desperate situation and many of thecompanions started fleeing from the field. TheProphet was left alone, encircled by the armedforces of the enemy. Like hungry wolves, theyadvanced upon him. The Prophet started calling tohis companions. “Come back to me, O servants ofGod,” he cried. “Isn’t there anyone who willsacrifice his life for my sake, who will fend theseoppressors off from me and be my companion inparadise?’ ~ 56 ~
  • 56. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary ConductImagine how dreadful the situation must havebeen, with the Prophet crying for help in thismanner. Some of his companions responded to hiscall, but such confusion reigned at the time thateven these gallant soldiers were not able to protecthim fully. ‘Utbah ibn Abi Waqqas hurled a stone atthe Prophet’s face, knocking out some of his lowerteeth. A famed warrior of the Quraysh, ‘Abdullahibn Qumayyah, attacked him with a battle-axe,causing two links of his helmet to penetrate his face.They were so deeply embedded that Abu ‘Ubaydahbroke two teeth in his attempt to extract them. Thenit was the turn of ‘Abdullah ibn Shahab Zuhri, whothrew a stone at the Prophet and injured his face.Bleeding profusely, he fell into a pit. When for along period the Prophet was not seen on the field ofbattle, the word went around that he had beenmartyred. Then one of the Prophet’s companionsspotted him lying in the pit. Seeing him to be alive,he cried jubilantly, “The Prophet is here!” TheProphet motioned to him to be silent, so that theenemy should not know where he was lying.In this dire situation, the Prophet uttered somecurses against certain leaders of the Quraysh, ~ 57 ~
  • 57. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conductespecially Safwan, Suhayl and Harith. How can apeople who wound their prophet ever prosper!’ heexclaimed. Even this was not to God’s liking, andGabriel came with this revelation: It is no concern of yours whether He will forgive or punish them. They are wrongdoers.9This admonition was enough for the Prophet andhis anger subsided. Crippled with wounds, hestarted praying for the very people who hadwounded him. Abdullah ibn Mas’ud later recalledhow the Prophet was wiping the blood from hisforehead, and at the same time praying: Lord, forgive my people, for they know not what they do.10Biographies of the Prophet are full of incidents ofthis nature, which show his life to be a perfectmodel for mankind. They show that we are God’sservants, and servants we should remain in everycondition. Being God’s humble servants, we shouldalways remain in a state of trepidation before ourLord and the life hereafter. Everything in the ~ 58 ~
  • 58. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conductuniverse should serve to remind us of God. In everyevent we should see the hand of the Almighty, and,for us, every object should portray God’s signs. Inall matters of a worldly nature, we shouldremember that everything will finally be referred toGod. Fear of hell should make us live humblyamong our fellows, and longing for paradise shouldimpress on us the significance of this world. Soconscious should we be of God’s greatness that anyidea of demonstrating our own greatness shouldappear ridiculous. No criticism should provoke usand no praise should make us vain. This is the idealhuman character, which God displayed to us in theconduct of His Prophet.NOTES1. Konstan Virgil George (b 1917), The Prophet of Islam.2. Qur’an, 93:7.3. Qur’an, 94:1-3.4. Hadith of Razin.5. Hadith of Ibn Hibban. ~ 59 ~
  • 59. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 3. Exemplary Conduct6. Miswak, a stick used as a dentifrice.7. Hadith of al-Bukhari.8. Rak‘at, section of prayer.9· Qur’an, 3:128.10. Hadith of Muslim. ~ 60 ~
  • 60. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Character4. SUBLIME CHARACTERIn the Qur’an the Prophet Muhammad is describedas being of “sublime character.”1 Here are twosayings of the Prophet, which throw light on whatthis “sublime character” consists of: Never debase your character by saying that if people treat you well, you will treat them well, and if they harm you, then you will do worse to them. Rather, become accustomed to being good to those who are good to you, and not wronging those who harm you.2 Join hands with those who break away from you, forgive those who wrong you, and be good to those who harm you.3The sublime character described here was displayedin its noblest form by the Prophet himself Suchcharacter is required of ordinary Muslims as anaccessory, but with the Prophet it was a basicrequisite.There are two levels of character, an ordinary and asuperior level. An ordinary character is based on ~ 61 ~
  • 61. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Characterthe principle: do as you have been done by. Such acharacter might be termed a “knee-jerk character,”for those possessed of such a character offer onlyreflex responses to treatment by others, breakingwith those who break with them, wronging thosewho wrong them, and harming those who harmthem.But the higher level of character is based on theprinciple: do as you would be done by. Thosepossessed of such a character deal with both friendand foe in the same principled manner, irrespectiveof how they have been treated. They arereconciliatory, even joining with those who breakwith them. They are compassionate, even to thosewho seek to harm them. They are forbearing, eventowards those who wrong them.According to the French philosopher, Voltaire(1694–1778), “No one is a hero to his valet.” Thereason for this is that a valet has access to a person’sprivate life, and in private life no one is perfect.Those close to a person usually do not hold him insuch high esteem as those who are further off. Thatis why they cannot come to think of him as a hero. ~ 62 ~
  • 62. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime CharacterBut this does not hold true for the ProphetMuhammad. History shows that the closer onecame to him, the more one was impressed by hisfine qualities.Once some members of the tribe of Banu Qayn ibnJasr attacked the camp of the Banu Ma’an, a branchof the Tay’ tribe. In the midst of plundering theycaptured an eight-year-old boy called Zayd, whomthey subsequently sold as a slave at the fair of‘Ukaz. It so happened that the latter came into theservice of the Prophet, having been presented by hisbuyers to Khadijah shortly before her marriage tothe Prophet. The boy’s father and uncle soon learntof his whereabouts, and came to Makkah to recoverhim and take him home with them. They met theProphet, and said that they would give anycompensation that he required, so long as hereturned the child to them. The Prophet said that hedid not want any compensation; if Zayd wanted togo with them, they could take him. He called Zayd,and asked him if he knew these people. Zayd saidthat he did: they were his father and uncle. “Theywant to take you with them.’ “I won’t leave you togo anywhere: Zayd replied. His father and uncle ~ 63 ~
  • 63. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Characterwere incensed on hearing this. “What, do youprefer slavery to freedom?’ they asked. “Do youwant to forsake your own folk, and live amongstothers?’ “I cannot prefer anyone to Muhammad.’Zayd replied, “not after seeing the qualities that hehas.’ They had no choice then but to go back homewithout him. Such was the charisma of the Prophet.This incident, which occurred before thecommencement of the Prophet’s mission, revealsthe tenderness that was inherent in his nature. TheQur’an has referred to this characteristic of his inthe following words: It was thanks to God’s mercy that you were lenient to them. Had you been cruel and hard- hearted, they would surely have deserted you.4It was this magnanimity of the Prophet that gavehim the power to capture people’s hearts: the closerone came to him, the more one would be won overby his noble character.The Prophet once said: “Honouring ties ofrelationship does not mean honouring your ties ~ 64 ~
  • 64. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Characterwith those who honour their ties with you; it meanshonouring your ties with those who severe their tieswith you.’ The well-known case of ‘A’ishah, wife ofthe Prophet and daughter of Abu Bakr, beingaccused of adultery, is an apt illustration of thisprinciple.This accusation brought against ‘A’ishah when shewas accidentally left behind while returning fromthe expedition to Banu al-Mustaliq (A.H. 6), thenrescued by a young companion of the Prophet bythe name of Safwan ibn al-Mu’attal was absolutelyslanderous. Indeed, the episode has become famousin Islamic history as the “case of the slander.’ One ofthe persons responsible for fabricating it and thenspreading it far and wide was a relative of AbuBakr named Mistah. When Abu Bakr learnt thatMistah was one of those who had defamed hisinnocent daughter, he cut off the allowance that heused to grant Mistah as a needy relative. When AbuBakr took this step, God revealed this verse of theQur’an to His Prophet: Let not the honourable and rich among you swear not to give to their kindred, the poor, ~ 65 ~
  • 65. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Character and those who have migrated for the cause of God. Rather, let them pardon and forgive. Do you not wish God to forgive you? He is Forgiving, Merciful.5That is, a person who is in need should not bedenied financial assistance because of hismisconduct. Rather one should pardon him andcontinue to help him.A man came up and insulted Abu Bakr one daywhen he was sitting with the prophet. Abu Bakrlistened but remained silent. The man continued toabuse him. Again Abu Bakr still held his peace.When the man kept on repeating his foul tirade,Abu Bakr could contain himself no longer, andanswered back. On hearing this, the Prophetimmediately got up and left. “Why have you leftyour place, Prophet of God?’ Abu Bakr enquired.“As long as you remained silent, Abu Bakr,’ theProphet replied, “God’s angel was answering foryou. But as soon as you burst out, the angel left.’Thus the Prophet illustrated that God requites anywrong done to one, as long as one does not oneselfretaliate. To one who seeks revenge God turns a ~ 66 ~
  • 66. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Characterdeaf ear. Obviously retribution will be morecomplete if it is left to God.The Prophet once borrowed some money from aJewish scholar. After a few days the Jew came todemand payment of his debt. “At the moment, Ihave nothing to pay you with,’ the Prophet toldhim. “I won’t let you go until you have paid meback,’ the Jew retorted. And so he stayed there,from morning until night, holding the Prophetcaptive. At this time the Prophet was theestablished ruler of Madinah: he had the power totake measures against the Jew. His companions,indeed, wanted to rebuke the man and chase himaway. But the Prophet forbade them to take anyaction. “A Jew is holding you captive,’ protestedone of them. “True,’ the Prophet replied, “but theLord has forbidden us to wrong anyone.” Nightturned to morning. With the light of dawn, theJew’s eyes opened. He was profoundly moved onseeing the Prophet’s tolerance, notwithstanding thelatter’s power to take action, and he thereuponembraced Islam. This Jew, a rich man, had detainedthe Prophet the day before on account of a fewpence; but the Prophet’s noble conduct had such an ~ 67 ~
  • 67. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Characterimpact on him that now he was willing to give allhis wealth to the Prophet, saying, “Spend it as youplease.’‘Abdullah ibn Abi al-Basma’ was once engaged in atransaction with the Prophet. It had not yet beencompleted when he had to go home on some urgentbusiness. “Wait here,” he said to the Prophet. “We’llsettle this affair when I come back.’ When hereached home, he became so engrossed in certaintasks that he forgot his promise. He remembered itthree days later and went back to that place wherehe found the Prophet still waiting. All he said to‘Abdullah ibn Abi al-Hasma’ was: “You have givenme a lot of trouble; I have been waiting here forthree days.’ Such conduct has a powerfulmagnetism, which even the most obdurate personcannot resist.Once a group of Rabbis came to the Prophet. Whenthey entered, instead of giving the normal ‘Assalamu‘alaykum’ greeting (Peace be upon you), they said‘Assamu ‘alaykum’, meaning “death to you.’ ‘A’ishahheard this, and was not able to contain herself“Death to you instead,’ she said. “May God damn ~ 68 ~
  • 68. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Characteryou.’ The Prophet told ‘A’ishah not to answer backin this manner. “God is gentle,’ he said, “and Helikes gentleness in every matter.’ In truth, there isno more effective method of winning a person’sheart than by returning soft words for harsh. It ispossible to withstand armed onslaught, but nobleconduct is a force in itself that no one can resist. It issure to prevail in all situations.What a terrible thing it must have been for a mansuch as the Prophet when, as night was falling, hefound the urchins of Ta’if chasing him out of townand pelting him with stones. Ta’if was the placewhere the Hijaz aristocracy used to while awaytheir summer days and the Prophet had made thefifty-mile trip from Makkah to call them to Islam.But the lords of Ta’if did not listen to his well-meaning words; instead they set the street-urchinson him, and they kept on chasing him until nighthad cast a veil between them and God’s Prophet.His body was covered in wounds. Bleeding fromhead to foot and utterly exhausted, he took refugein a vineyard. This, even for the most ordinary ofmen, would have been a traumatic experience. TheProphet once told his wife, ‘A’ishah, that it had ~ 69 ~
  • 69. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Characterbeen the hardest night of his life. But even at thisgravest of moments, the Prophet did not wish hisenemies any harm. All he said was: “Lord, guidethem, for they know not what they do.’ Such wasthe noble character of the Prophet, and it was thisnobility, which finally subdued his opponents andbrought the whole of Arabia within the Islamic fold.The force of his sublime spirit was enough toconquer all in its path. No prejudice, antagonism orcontumacy could withstand the magical power ofgood that was embodied in his person.ABSENCE OF ACRIMONYThe Prophet had made peace with the Quraysh atHudaybiyyah (A.H. 6) on three conditions: one wasthat if any Makkan accepted Islam and wanted tosettle in Madinah, he must be surrendered to theQuraysh. But if any of the Madinan Muslims shouldgo to Makkah, the Makkans would not send themback to Madinah. No sooner had this treaty beenmade than a Makkan youth by the name of AbuJandal escaped from Makkah and came toHudaybiyyah, his body bearing weals and bruiseswhere chains had abraded his skin. “Save me from ~ 70 ~
  • 70. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Characterthe enemy!’ he cried to the Muslims. This was anextremely sensitive moment. The companions of theProphet drew their swords. The sight of Abu Jandalhad aroused their feelings to such a degree thatmost of them wanted to break the treaty and savehis life. The Quraysh meanwhile reminded theProphet that this was an occasion on which hewould be obliged to abide by the pact that had beenmade between them. Finally the Prophet decidedthat he could not go back on the terms that hadbeen agreed upon. Painful as this decision was forthe Muslims, Abu Jandal was returned to theQuraysh. Ostensibly the Prophet was putting aninnocent victim of oppression back into the clutchesof his oppressors. But, in effect, he was acting on thehighest of moral principles. The oppressors in turnwere confounded and awestruck by such uniquelymoral conduct, and then it became no ordinarymatter for them to take Abu Jandal away andimprison him; rather the event became symbolic oftheir own degradation in contrast to the moralascendancy of Islam. The result of this was that thepeople of Makkah were won over by the highethical standards of Islam, which many of themstarted to embrace. Abu Jandal’s very presence in ~ 71 ~
  • 71. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime CharacterMakkah became a living testament to truth of theprophet’s faith. Even as a prisoner, Abu Jandalbegan to appear to his captives as a threat to theirnational security. Eventually they deemed itprudent to free him and deport him from Makkah.While the Prophet was living in Madinah, where hehad attained religious and political leadership, hesent some riders to Najd, the inhabitants of whichwere his sworn enemies. On the way, they cameacross the ruler of the city of Yamamah, Thamamahibn Uthal. They took him captive and brought himto Madinah, where they tied him up against a pillarof the mosque. The Prophet came to enquire afterhim. “If you kill me,” Thamamah said, “my peoplewill avenge my blood; and if you release me, I willalways be indebted to you. If it’s money you want,then I am ready to give you as much as you desire.”The Prophet did not kill Thamamah physically, butby his humane treatment he conquered the man’ssoul. After his release, Thamamah went to a nearbygarden, had a bath, and then returned to themosque. People wondered what he had come backfor. But when he proclaimed his conversion to Islamby pronouncing the testimony of faith in a loud ~ 72 ~
  • 72. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Charactervoice, people realized that, by releasing Thamamah,the Prophet had in effect taken him captive for alltime. Thamamah then went on a pilgrimage toMakkah. When the people of Makkah heard of hisconversion, they told him that he had lost his faith.“I have not lost my faith,” Thamamah answered.“Rather I have adopted the faith of God and HisProphet.” Thamamah, moreover, became a sourceof strength to Islam. Yamamah was one of the mainplaces from which the people of Makkah used tocollect grain. Thamamah told them that without thepermission of the Prophet Muhammad, he wouldnot provide them with a single grain. The case ofThamamah shows that noble conduct—though itmay appear to have no practical value—issomething which can win the world.Adopting a high code of ethics means practisingwhat one preaches; treating the weak with the samecourtesy and deference as one shows to the strong;setting the same standards for oneself as one setsfor others; never budging from one’s principles;maintaining a high moral bearing even when othersstoop to the depths of degradation. From this pointof view, the prophet of Islam stood at the highest ~ 73 ~
  • 73. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Characterpinnacle of human ethics, never abandoning thelofty standards that he preached. Expediency ordispute could not make him resort to unethicalconduct. No evidence could be more substantial inthis regard than that of his closest companions.Sa’id ibn Hisham belonged to the generationimmediately following that of the ProphetMuhammad, on whom be peace. He once asked‘A’ishah, the Prophet’s widow, about her latehusband’s character. “He was a personification ofthe Qur’an’, ‘A’ishah replied. That is to say, theProphet moulded his own life in accordance withthe ideal pattern of life, which he presented toothers in the form of the Qur’an. Anas ibn Malikserved the Prophet for ten years. He says that theProphet never even rebuked him. “When I didsomething, he never questioned my manner ofdoing it; and when I did not do something, he neverquestioned my failure to do it. He was the mostgood-natured of all men.” According to ‘A’ishah,the Prophet never beat a servant, a woman oranyone else. To be sure, he fought for what wasrighteous. Yet, when he had to choose between twoalternatives, he would take the easier course, ~ 74 ~
  • 74. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Characterprovided it did not involve sin: no one was morecareful to avoid sin than he. He never soughtrevenge—on his own behalf—of any wrong done tohim personally. Only if divine commandments hadbeen broken would he mete out retribution for thesake of God.It was this conduct on the part of the Prophet,which made him respected even in the eyes of hisenemies. His followers stood by him through allkinds of hardship and misfortune. He was as lovedin times of oppression as in times of victory andsupremacy. His immediate followers found himwithout blemish—just as he appeared from afar. Heprovided mankind with an inimitable model ofexemplary conduct. The principles on which theProphet based his life were in the same mould ashis sublime disposition. These principles neverwavered. They formed a permanent part of his life.He applied them in equal measure to those whofollowed his path and to those who had harmed oraggrieved him.Even in pre—Islamic times-known as the Age ofIgnorance—the office of gate-keeper of the Ka’bah ~ 75 ~
  • 75. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Characterhad been held in high esteem. From ancient timesthe task had been allotted to one particular family.In the time of the Prophet Muhammad a member ofthat family, ‘Uthman ibn Talhah retained it in hiscustody.Al-Bukhari, the greatest compiler of traditions ofthe Prophet, has related how the Prophet, before hisemigration to Madinah, once desired to go insidethe Ka’bah for worship. He asked ‘Uthman for thekeys, so that he could open the gate. ‘Uthmanrefused and insulted the Prophet. ‘Uthman,’ theProphet said, ‘perhaps you will see that one day Iwill have these keys in my hands. I will have thepower to dispose of them as I will.’ “It will be a dayof disgrace and woe for the Quraysh when the keysof the Ka’bah are handed over to one like you,’‘Uthman retorted.Then the time came when the Prophet conqueredMakkah and reigned supreme there. The first thinghe did on entering the holy city was to go to theHouse of God. Seven times he circumambulated theKa’bah. Then he summoned ‘Uthman ibn Talhah.According to one account, ‘Uthman had become a ~ 76 ~
  • 76. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime CharacterMuslim during the period in between the peace ofHudaybiyyah and the Conquest of Makkah. TheProphet took the keys from him, opened the gate ofthe Ka’bah, and went inside. He remained there fora while, demolishing the idols that remainedstanding within its walls.Then he came outside, holding the keys in hishands. On his lips was this verse of the Qur’an: God commands you to hand back your trusts to their rightful owners.6It was then that ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet’scousin and son-in-law, stood up: “God bless you,’he said to the Prophet, “but we Banu Hashim havealways been entrusted with the task of bearingwater for pilgrims. Now is the time to take over theoffice of gate-keeper as well.’ The Prophet did notreply to ‘Ali, and asked where ‘Uthman ibn Talhahwas. When he came forward, the Prophet handedthe keys over to him. ‘Uthman,’ he said, “here areyour keys. This is a day of righteousness andfulfillment of promises. They will remain in yourfamily from generation to generation. It is only awrongdoer who will take them away from you.’ ~ 77 ~
  • 77. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime CharacterThis action of the Prophet illustrates that Muslimsshould be meticulous in fulfilling obligations andreturning trusts. Even if they have been treatedacrimoniously by those with whom they aredealing, they should still pay them their full due.However much it may hurt them, they should neverdeny people their rights.When worldly people gain power, the first thingthey do is punish their opponents, removing themfrom their posts and installing their own henchmeninstead. All people who come to power think interms of supporters or opponents. Promotingsupporters and demoting opponents is an essentialpart of their policy. But when the Prophet of Islamgained power in Arabia, he did quite the opposite.He did not look at matters in terms of supportersand opponents; he considered only what was rightand fair. He buried all grudges and dealt witheveryone as justice and compassion would demand.NOTES1. Qur’an, 68:52. Hadith quoted in Mishkat al-Masabih. ~ 78 ~
  • 78. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 4. Sublime Character3. Hadith of Razin.4. Qur’an, 3:159.5· Qur’an, 24:22.6. Qur’an, 4:58 ~ 79 ~
  • 79. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Life5. LESSONS OF THE PROPHET’S LIFETHE REWARDS OF RESTRAINTIn the Qur’an, these words have been addressed tothe faithful: You have a good example in God’s Apostle for anyone who looks to God and the Last Day and remembers God always.1It is clear from this verse that, in the life of theProphet Muhammad, there is a perfect example forevery human being. But the only real beneficiarieswill be those whose apprehension of God is alreadyprofound, whose hopes and aspirations centre onGod, whose lives are lived in fear of thepunishment of the Lord. Those who cherish thethought of eternal bliss and truly yearn for it withevery fibre of their beings will be the ones to learnfrom the Prophet’s example.Why should this be so? The reason is that one has tobe sincere in one’s search for truth if one is going tofind it. If one “looks to God and the Last Day,” onewill be sincere with regard to them. Sincerity will ~ 80 ~
  • 80. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifeenable one to see the life of the Prophet in trueperspective, and draw the right lessons from it.This point can be understood from one example.The following saying of the Prophet is related in theHadith: One killed in defence of his property is a martyr. One killed in defence of his life is a martyr. One killed in defence of his religion is a martyr. One killed in defence of his family is a martyr.2As is clear from the text, this hadith is about being“killed,” not about fighting as such. The Prophetdid not mean that whenever there is a threat toone’s property, life, religion or family, one shouldimmediately resort to arms, even if one is slain as aresult. What he meant was that if, on any of thesegrounds, a believer is slain, then his or her death isone of martyrdom. The hadith, then, is not anincitement to fight; it is a promise of martyrdom tothose who are slain.Those who are not sincere in their attitude toreligion, however, who are more concerned with ~ 81 ~
  • 81. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifegiving their own personal whims the stamp ofprophetic sanction, will take the words of the hadithand use them to justify their selfish quarrels andnationalistic conflicts. Islam, they will say, teachesyou to stand up for your rights like a man; it urgesyou to fight in defence of your faith, your life andproperty, your family and relatives. If you arevictorious, then you have achieved your ends; andif you are defeated, then you are a martyr, and it isonly a fortunate minority who attain the heights ofmartyrdom.But those who fear God will look at the mattersoberly. After intense mind-searching they will askthemselves: if you are required to fight in defence ofyour property, life, religion and family, why thenare there cases in the Prophet’s life of his not doingso? Why, in the face of manifest oppression, did theProphet—on many occasions—adopt a passiveattitude and exhort others to do the same?The following incident, for instance, has been recordedby Ibn Hisham on the authority of Abu ‘Uthmanal-Nahdi. When Suhayb decided to emigrate toMadinah, the Quraysh said to him: “You came to us in ~ 82 ~
  • 82. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifean abject and destitute state. You became rich whilewith us, until eventually you reached your presentstate of wealth. Do you think we will let you run awayand take everything with you? If so you aremistaken!” Suhayb enquired, “If I hand over all of mywealth to you will you let me go then?” They said theywould, so Suhayb gave them everything he had.When the Prophet heard about this, he said: “Good forSuhayb! He has made a fine profit.”If the previously mentioned hadith means—in anabsolute sense—that one should fight and giveone’s life in defence of one’s property under anyconditions whatsoever, the Prophet should thenhave condemned Suhayb’s failure rather thanfelicitated him on his success.The case of Abu Jandal (see Part I, Chapter IV) alsoillustrates this point. When, at Hudaybiyyah, in theyear of A.H. 6 during peace negotiations with theQuraysh young Abu Jandal, bloodstained and inchains, pleaded with the Muslims not to send himback to the idolaters now that he had acceptedIslam, the Prophet ordered that, according to theterms of the treaty which had been agreed upon, he ~ 83 ~
  • 83. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifebe sent back to Makkah. “Abu Jandal,” he said, “bepatient. God will grant you, and those persecutedalong with you, release from your suffering.”If the previously mentioned hadith enjoined on oneto fight and be martyred irrespective of theconditions, the Prophet would not have urgedpatient resignation on Abu Jandal; rather he wouldhave told him to seek martyrdom; he and hiscompanions would have fought with great zeal atAbu Jandal’s side.During the same Hudaybiyyah encounter, theQuraysh told the Prophet that they would not lethim enter Makkah that year. Accepting this, theProphet returned to Madinah, without insisting onvisiting the House of God. This was an entirelyreligious affair; indeed, the Prophet had acted ondivine inspiration in setting out for Makkah withhis companions. Even so, he withdrew. If thepreviously mentioned hadith had referred tofighting and being martyred in an absolute sense,the Prophet would have insisted on visiting theHouse of God that year, whether he had succeededin his purpose or been martyred in the process. ~ 84 ~
  • 84. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Life‘Ammar ibn Yasir and his parents were slaves of theBanu Makhzum tribe in Makkah when theyaccepted Islam. Their conversion was completeanathema to the Banu Makhzum. They would takethe family out to the desert in the heat of noon andlay them down on the blazing sand, where theywould savagely torture them. They even went so faras to murder ‘Ammar’s mother. Relating thisincident, this is what the Prophet’s biographer, IbnHisham, writes: When the Prophet passed them by, from what I have heard, he would say to them: “Be patient, family of Yasir, heaven is your promised land.”3If the hadith mentioned above was meant in anabsolute sense, then the Prophet’s advice toYasir would have been tantamount toencouraging cowardice. The Prophet would thenhave never given such advice. Rather he wouldhave urged Yasir to fight and be martyred. Hehimself would have taken up this holy cause,whether the result had been Yasir’s release, orhis own martyrdom. ~ 85 ~
  • 85. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s LifeThe truth is that the example of the Prophet is opento more than one interpretation, and it may happenthat the wrong—or right—interpretation is made.Only if one is sincere will one interpret the situationcorrectly, and this can only be achieved through therealism that comes from the fear of God.When sincere people consider these incidents in theProphet’s life, questions such as those posed hereare bound to crop up in their minds. They are notjust seeking a meaning, which will serve their ends;rather they are seeking to ascertain the exact natureof the example imparted by the Prophet. Thisapproach keeps them from misinterpretation. Theywill look at the matter objectively, and God’s gracewill enable them to arrive at the heart of the matter.They will see that the secret lies in realizing onething: that trifling losses must be endured for thesake of great gain.The consideration that should be uppermost in abeliever’s mind is what serves the interests ofIslam, not their own personal interests. Theirpreoccupation must be with preaching themessage of Islam. If there is a clash between ~ 86 ~
  • 86. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifepersonal and preaching interests, then preachingof the faith must come first. It was in the interestof his preaching mission that the Prophet advisedpatience in the situations mentioned above. TheProphet endured all kinds of personal, financialand domestic losses in his life, just to ensure thecontinuation of his efforts to spread the faith. Heknew that the Muslims’ success in this life and thenext lay in their pressing on with missionarywork.When one has a purpose in life, that purposeassumes over-riding importance. One will bearlosses in life in order to achieve it. In the absence ofsuch a purpose one becomes preoccupied withevery trivial matter. Seeking to avoid small losses,one has to put up with even greater ones. Thepreachers of God’s word are the most purposefulpeople in the world: they endure small losses inpursuit of their greater aim. They avoid clashingwith others on any issue, for this would bedetrimental to their missionary work. They only actwhen forced to do so in self-defence, for this doesnot interfere with their greater goal. ~ 87 ~
  • 87. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s LifeBearing this in mind, let us look at some incidentsof great moral significance, which occurred duringthe life of the Prophet Muhammad.NEVER YIELDING TO DESPAIRThe tribal system prevalent in the time of theProphet was one, which afforded protection toindividuals. It was seldom that anyone couldsurvive without it. At the beginning of the periodhe spent in Makkah, the Prophet Muhammad, onwhom be peace, enjoyed the protection of hisuncle, Abu Talib, chieftain of the Banu Hashim. Inthe tenth year of his mission, Abu Talib died, andhis mantle descended upon Abu Lahab. Since AbuLahab refused to extend any protection to him, theProphet began seeking the protection of someother tribe, so that he could continue hispreaching work. It was for this purpose that hewent to Ta’if.Along with Zayd ibn Harithah, the Prophet madethe 65-mile journey to Ta’if, a fertile oasis south-eastof Makkah. He had some relatives in the town, butat that time power rested with three individuals:‘Abd Yalayl, Mas’ud and Habib. The Prophet met ~ 88 ~
  • 88. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifeall three of them, and all three refused to join him,or even extend their protection. “I will tear thecurtain of the holy Ka ‘bah, if God has made youHis Prophet,” one of them said. “Couldn’t God findanyone else to send as His Prophet,” added anothersneeringly. “I swear that I won’t speak to you!” saidthe third. “It would be an insult to you for me to doso if you are a true prophet, and an insult to myselfif you are false in your claims.”4Dispirited, the Prophet set out on the returnjourney. But still the people of Ta’if did not leavehim alone. They set the urchins upon him, and avolley of stone-throwing and abuse drove him outof town. Zayd tried to shield the Prophet with hisblanket, but with no success: he was wounded fromhead to foot.Some way out of town, there was a vineyardbelonging to two brothers by the name of ‘Utbahand Shaybah. It was dusk when the Prophetreached there, and he took refuge in it. His bodywas covered in wounds, but on his lips wereprayers. “Lord,” he cried, “help me; do not leaveme to fend for myself.” ~ 89 ~
  • 89. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Life‘Utbah and Shaybah were both idolators; butwhen they saw the Prophet’s condition, they tookpity on him. They had a Christian slave by thename of ‘Addas. They told him to fetch a fewbunches of grapes, and take them in a bowl beforetheir guest. ‘Addas did as he was told: he broughtsome grapes to the Prophet and requested him topartake of them. The Prophet recited the name ofGod as he took them in his hand to eat. ‘Addaslooked at the Prophet’s face. “By God,” he said, “itis not usual for people in this land to utter thesewords.” The Prophet asked ‘Addas where he camefrom, and what his religion was. ‘Addas repliedthat he was a Christian, and hailed from Ninevehin Iraq. “So you are from the town of the goodJonah, son of Matthew,” the Prophet observed.“How do you know Jonah, son of Matthew?”‘Addas retorted. “He was a prophet, and so am I,”the Prophet said. On hearing this, ‘Addas bowedbefore the Prophet, kissing his head, hands andfeet.‘Utbah and Shaybah were looking on. “Look,” theysaid to one another. “This fellow has corrupted ourservant.” “Shame on you.” they said to ‘Addas ~ 90 ~
  • 90. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifewhen he returned. “What were you kissing thefellow’s head, hands and feet for?” “Master,”‘Addas replied. “There is nothing greater than himon the face of the earth. He told me something thatno one but a Prophet can reveal.” “Shame on you!”they repeated. “Be careful that he does not turn youaway from your religion; for your religion is betterthan his.”In a single journey, God’s Prophet was treated inthree different ways by three different groups ofpeople: one pelted him with stones; a secondextended hospitality to him; a third acknowledgedhis prophethood.There is a great lesson to be learnt from this event, -namely, that there is no end to possibilities in thisworld. If you stand in an open plain, there is sure tobe a tree’s shade in which you can find rest. If youare treated cruelly by some, do not despair, for ifyou adhere to the path of truth, and do not respondin a negative way to such treatment by others, Godwill surely come to your assistance. Some may notrally to your cause, but you are sure to find a placein the hearts of others. ~ 91 ~
  • 91. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s LifeTHE PROPHET FORCED INTO EXILEThe Prophet Muhammad met with dire oppositionwhen he started his preaching mission in Makkahin the year A.D. 609. When he presented themessage of Islam before the disbelievers ofMakkah, they proudly pointed out that they werealready involved in great religious work. “Whyshould we become Muslims,” they protested,“when we already look after the Sacred Mosque,and give water to the pilgrims?” This verse of theQur’an was revealed in condemnation of theirargument: Do you pretend that He who gives a drink to the pilgrims and pays a visit to the Sacred Mosque is as worthy as a man who believes in God and the Last Day and strives for God’s cause? These are not held equal by God. He does not guide the wrongdoers. Those that have embraced the faith and migrated from their homes and striven for God’s cause with their wealth and their persons are held in higher regard by God. It is they who shall triumph. 5 ~ 92 ~
  • 92. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s LifeInitially, the message of the Prophet of Islam hadnothing but conceptual truth behind it. It was anabstract message, with no material grandeurattached. The Ka’bah in Makkah, on the other hand,had assumed the status of an institution, backed upby grand architecture and glorious historicaltraditions. To associate oneself with the Ka’bah wassocially acceptable; it had even become a symbol ofpride. To associate oneself with the message of theProphet of Islam, meanwhile, amounted to belief ina religion, which had not yet come into its own andhad no material benefits to offer.The people of Makkah, therefore, did whatever theycould to thwart him and he was subjected totorment upon torment. But his mission continued togain ground, and finally the message of Islamreached the people of Madinah, the majority ofwhom accepted Islam. Together with the Prophet,other Muslims were also persecuted in Makkah.The Prophet told them to go to Madinah, wherethey would be received by their Muslim brethren,who were ready to give them succour. One by one,the Muslims started emigrating to Madinah. Whenthe Quraysh heard about this scheme, they made ~ 93 ~
  • 93. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifeefforts to prevent the Muslims from leavingMakkah: some they beat up, some they tookcaptive; but somehow most of the Muslimsmanaged to reach their refuge in Madinah.Finally (A.D. 622) came the Prophet’s turn. TheQuraysh realized that, with the rest of the Muslimssafely installed in Madinah, it would not be longbefore the Prophet himself joined them. Leaders ofall the tribes of the Quraysh, except the BanuHashim, met in the great hall of Qusayy ibn Kilab’shouse, where all such meetings were held. Variousproposals were put forward, but finally all agreedthat a person from every tribe should attack and killMuhammad: his blood would thus be divided overall eleven tribes; the Banu Hashim, the tribe towhich the Prophet belonged, being unable to fightwith all of them, would accept compensationinstead. The next night, they surrounded theProphet’s house, waiting for the Prophet to emergeso that they could pounce on him and kill him.The Prophet knew exactly what was going on.Quietly, he continued his preparations. That night,according to plan, he left Makkah along with Abu ~ 94 ~
  • 94. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s LifeBakr. The Prophet realized that when news of hisdeparture reached the Quraysh, they would sendsearch parties in pursuit of him. So he and AbuBakr hid in a cave of Mount Thawr, four miles outof Makkah. They planned to stay there a few days,until the Quraysh called off their search, and thetwo could continue their journey to Madinah.The Quraysh horsemen started looking everywherefor the Prophet. It was not long before one brigadereached his hideout in Mount Thawr. There theywere, armed and standing at the mouth of the cave:the Prophet and Abu Bakr could even see their feet.Abu Bakr, sensing the critical danger they were in,said to the Prophet: “The enemy are upon us.”“Don’t worry,” the Prophet reassured him: “God iswith us. We are only two,” he continued calmly,“but how do you rate two men who have God as athird companion?”ABSOLUTE TRUST IN GODAnother such incident occurred during anexpedition made by the Prophet known as Dhat al-Riqa’ (A.H. 4). Recorded in al-Bukhari, as well as inbiographies of the Prophet, it is related by Jabir. ~ 95 ~
  • 95. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Life“Would you like me to kill Muhammad?”This terrible question was put by a member ofthe Banu Ghatfan tribe, Ghaurath ibnal-Harith, to his tribes people. The answerwas overwhelmingly in the affirmative, butthey wanted to know how it would bepossible. Ghaurath replied with confidence, “Ishall catch him unawares and kill him!” Andthis is exactly what he set out to do. When hereached the camp of Muhammad and hiscompanions, he chose his moment well. Hewaited until the Prophet and his companionshad settled down to rest, unarmed, in theshade of the trees. The Prophet lay all-alone,and his sword dangled from the branchesabove him. Ghaurath darted forward,snatched the weapon, then bore down on theProphet. “Who will save you from me?” hechallenged, no doubt savouring this moment.“God,” the Prophet replied quite simply.Daunted, Ghaurath said, “Take a look at thesword I am holding! Don’t you fear it?” “Ofcourse not,” the Prophet said. “Why should Ifear it, when I know that God will save me?”The supreme confidence of the Prophet’s ~ 96 ~
  • 96. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Life reply proved too much for Ghaurath, and his courage left him. Instead of attacking the Prophet, he put the sword back in its sheath and returned it to him. The Prophet then made him sit down, and called his companions. When they arrived, he told them the whole story. Ghaurath was petrified, expecting to be killed at any moment. But the Prophet let him go without inflicting any punishment on him.6Those who put absolute trust in God do not fearanything or anyone. The faith that God, a Live andAll- Powerful Being, is always there to help you,makes you bold in the face of every other power. Aperson’s greatest strength, when faced with anenemy, is fearlessness. Have no fear of any foe, andthe foe will start fearing you.REACHING A CONSENSUSShortly before the Battle of Badr (A.H. 2), theQuraysh had sent a huge caravan of merchandise,along with sixty men, to Syria. Although theQuraysh were subsequently defeated by theMuslims at Badr, their commander, Abu Sufyan, ~ 97 ~
  • 97. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifesuccessfully managed to steer this caravan, in whichthe people of Makkah had placed all their capital,home to Makkah by a coastal route. Defeat at Badrhad left the Quraysh thirsty for revenge onMuhammad and his followers. Their leaders,therefore, met in Dar al-Nadwah (The Hall ofConvention), where it was unanimously decidedthat the partners in the caravan should take theircapital only, leaving the profits to be devoted topreparations for war. The profits amounted to50,000 dinars, a huge sum in those days.The Quraysh made elaborate preparations, and inA.H. 3, advanced on Madinah.It was then that the Battle of Uhud took place, justthree years after the Prophet’s migration toMadinah. When news of the Quraysh’s advancereached the Prophet, he called his companionstogether. Most of them were inclined to meet theattack from within the city. The youthful elementamong them, however, were strongly opposed tothis. If we remain in the city, they contended, thenthe enemy will interpret it as a sign of cowardiceand weakness: the fight should be taken to them, ~ 98 ~
  • 98. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifeoutside the city. ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy, however,concurred, with the opinion of the leadingcompanions.7There were good grounds for the view that theattack should be met from within the city. Thegeography of Madinah had all the makings of anatural defence system. To the south wereorchards of date-palms, so thickly clustered as tomake an attack impossible from that side. To theeast and west high mountains provided a naturalbarrier to any invader. There was only one front,then, from which Madinah could be attacked. Thecity itself was a natural fortress. To leave itamounted to exposing oneself to enemy attack onall four sides, whereas from within the city therewas only one front that would have to bedefended. And indeed Madinah’s favourablelocation was subsequently taken advantage of inthe battle which later came to be known as theBattle of the Trench, in which the entire city wasprotected by the simple expedient of digging atrench on the open front to the north-west of thetown. ~ 99 ~
  • 99. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s LifeAlthough most of the leading companions, as wellas ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy, were in favour of meetingthe attack from within the city, the Prophet decidedto accede to the wishes of the younger Muslims:along with an army of one thousand, he left the cityand set off for Uhud. ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy wasdeeply offended to find that his obviously wise andproper advice, had been over-ruled. With a heavyheart, he went along with the army, but before theMuslims reached Uhud, he, along with 300followers, turned back. “He agreed with them andnot with me.” ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy lamented, “so Ifail to see why we should destroy ourselves on thisfield of battle.”8The Muslims’ defeat at Uhud vindicated theopinion of those who had been in favour of meetingthe attack from within the city. Accordingly, thisstrategy was duly adopted at the Battle of theTrench (A.H. 5). All the leading companions of theProphet, however, forgot their disagreement andremained in the Muslim army. Despite incurringheavy losses from having to bear the brunt of thebattle, they fought valiantly alongside the Prophet.Only ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy separated himself from ~ 100 ~
  • 100. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifethe Muslim force, and for this reason he becameknown as the “Leader of the Hypocrites.” Inprinciple, ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy’s opinion had beencorrect; it was also borne out by experience on thefield of battle; but, although he was in the right, hisdisobedience incurred God’s displeasure, and wasconsidered a form of transgression.Islam attaches great importance to consultation.Everyone has a right to put forward his or her pointof view. But no policy can be effectively pursued ifeveryone expects their own view to prevail, nomatter what the circumstances. Only one course hasto be followed, so when there is disagreement overwhat that course should be, not everybody’s viewcan be accommodated. True Muslims, then, should,after offering their opinion, forget about what theythink, and follow the directives of decision-makersas if their decisions were their own.There is no greater sacrifice than that of one’s ownopinion. Like a building, which can only beconstructed if a considerable number of bricks areburied in the ground, so a strong society can onlycome into being if individuals are ready to bury ~ 101 ~
  • 101. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifetheir own personal opinions—to act in unity withothers despite their disagreements. This is the onlyfoundation on which a community of individualscan be formed; it is as necessary to the foundationof human society as bricks are to the foundation of abuilding.During the year A.H. 8, an expedition was made toMuta. Part of Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari’sdescription of the expedition runs like this: Abu Qatadah tells us that the Prophet sent an army to Muta. He appointed Zayd ibn Harithah as commander; if he was martyred then Ja’far ibn Abu Talib was to take over; and if he in turn was killed in action the choice should fall on ‘Abdullah ibn Rawahah. Ja’far jumped up when he heard the Prophet’s decision, and said that he would not serve under Zayd. The Prophet told him to go along, “for you do not know what is best for you.” Then the army set off.9A believer is no angel; he is a mortal human beinglike any other. Still, there is an enormous differencebetween a believer and any other human being. ~ 102 ~
  • 102. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s LifeNon-believers do not know how to go back onmistaken and perverse notions once they have themfixed in their minds. Right or wrong, they stick totheir opinions. They follow their own desires ratherthan sound reason.A believer’s attitude, on the other hand, should bequite different. True believers are those who setthemselves straight when they are shown to be on awrong course, who correct themselves when theirmistakes are pointed out. Rather than being set intheir opinions, they should always be open tocriticism, always ready to rectify themselves, evenwhen this means doing something that they do notwant to do.A believer, then, is one who submits to truth, whiledisbelievers submit to nothing but their own selves.AVOIDING CONFRONTATIONThe year after the Battle of the Trench, in A.H. 6, theProphet Muhammad, on whom be peace, had adream in Madinah. In it he saw himself and hiscompanions visiting the House of God in Makkah.His companions were very pleased to hear this, for ~ 103 ~
  • 103. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifeit meant that, after a lapse of six years, they wouldsoon be going to Makkah and visiting the HolyKa’bah. In accordance with this dream, the Prophetset out for the holy city with 1400 of hiscompanions. When they reached Ghadir Ashtat,they heard that the news of their journey hadreached the Quraysh. Indignant at the idea of theMuslims visiting the House of God, they hadamassed an army, and vowed to preventMuhammad and his companions from enteringMakkah, although it was absolutely contrary toArab tradition to prevent anyone from visiting theKa’bah. The Prophet was acting under divineinspiration: perhaps that is why he remained calmwhen he heard of the Quraysh’s reaction. He wasinformed by his spies that Khalid ibn al-Walid,intent on blocking the Muslims’ path, had advancedwith two hundred cavalrymen to Ghamim. Onhearing this, the Prophet changed route, deviatingfrom a well-frequented path to a little-known andarduous route, which led him to Hudaybiyyah. Inthis way he avoided clashing with Khalid’s army.This is how the historian Ibn Hisham describes theevents: ~ 104 ~
  • 104. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Life “Who can show us a path not occupied by the Quraysh?” the Prophet asked. Someone volunteered to do so. He then proceeded to guide the Muslims by a route, which led through arduous, rocky and mountainous passes. The Muslims had great difficulty in crossing these passes, but when they had done so, and emerged upon an open plain, the Prophet called on them to seek forgiveness of God, and turn to Him. This they did, and the Prophet said that this was the word of forgiveness, which the Israelites had been called upon to utter, but they had failed to do so.10This was indeed a trying time for the Muslims, butthey had to face their trial with patience andforebearance. This was the path laid down for themby God. Even the slightest hesitation to follow thatpath was to be considered a transgression, forwhich forgiveness had to be sought. That is why theProphet urged his followers to repent and seekforgiveness for any weakness or irritability theymay have shown at that taxing time. Difficultieswere to be faced with fortitude. No impulse was tocause one to deviate from the path of God. ~ 105 ~
  • 105. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s LifeIn order to survey the situation the Prophet made ahalt at Hudaybiyyah, which is, situated nine milesfrom Makkah. From Hudaybiyyah he sent oneKharash ibn Umayyah on camelback to inform theMakkans that the Muslims had come to visit theHouse of God, not to do battle. On reachingMakkah, Kharash’s camel was slaughtered, andattempts were made to murder him as well, butsomehow he managed to escape and return toHudaybiyyah. The Prophet then sent ‘Uthman toappeal to the Makkans to refrain from hostilities,and tell them that the Muslims would return quietlyto Madinah after performing the rites of ‘Umrah.11The Makkans paid no heed, and took him prisoner.Later Mikraz ibn Hafs along with fifty men attackedthe Muslims camp at night, raining stones andarrows down on the pilgrims. Mikraz was captured,but no action was taken against him: he wasreleased unconditionally. Then, as the Muslimswere praying in the early morning, eighty menattacked them from Tan’im. They were also takencaptive and then allowed to go free unconditionally.Lengthy negotiations with the Quraysh ensued.Finally, a truce was made between the two sides. At ~ 106 ~
  • 106. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifefirst sight this truce amounted to an outright victoryfor the Quraysh and defeat for the Muslims. TheProphet’s followers could not understand how,when God had given them tidings of a visit to theHouse of God, the Prophet could have agreed toreturn to Madinah without performing the visit.They would be allowed to come the following year,but would have to leave the city after a stay of onlythree days. Humiliating clauses such as this,exacerbating as they were for the Muslims, were allaccepted unquestioningly by the Prophet. It seemedto be an acceptance of defeat.The Quraysh deliberately acted in an aggressivemanner in order to offend the Prophet. Theywanted to provoke him into initiating hostilities, sothat they could find an excuse for fighting him. Toprevent a visit to the Ka’bah was in itself quitecontrary to Arab tradition. Moreover, it was themonth of Dhu’l-Qa’dah, which was one of fourmonths, considered sacred in Arab lore, in whichfighting was prohibited. The Quraysh wanted tofight the Muslims, but they did not want to beaccused of having desecrated the holy month; theywanted to be able to lay the blame at the door of the ~ 107 ~
  • 107. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s LifeMuslims, who were few in number at that time, andnot even equipped for battle. There they were,stranded 250 miles from home, right on the borderof enemy territory. It was a perfect opportunity forthe Quraysh to unleash a savage onslaught on theMuslims, and give full vent to their antagonism.They did everything they could to provoke theMuslims into starting a fight, but the Prophetignored every provocation; he scrupulouslyavoided falling into their trap.The situation was so grave that Abu Bakr was theonly one of the companions not to feel that, inaccepting humiliating peace terms, they hadbowed before the aggressor. They were even moreastonished when a verse of the Qur’an wasrevealed which referred to the agreement as an“obvious victory.” “What kind of victory is this?”one of them protested. “We have been preventedfrom visiting the House of God. Our camels forsacrifice have not been allowed to proceed. God’sProphet has been forced to turn back fromHudaybiyyah. Two of our persecuted brethren,Abu Jandal and Abu Basir, have been handed overto their persecutors ... “ Yet it was this humiliating ~ 108 ~
  • 108. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifetreaty that paved the way for a great Muslimvictory.The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah appeared to be acapitulation before the enemy; but in fact it gave theMuslims an opportunity to strengthen themselves,and consolidate their position. The Prophetaccepted all the Quraysh’s demands, in return for asingle assurance from them, namely, that theywould cease all hostilities against the Muslims forten years. Continual raids and threats of warfarehad prevented the Muslims from pursuingconstructive missionary work. As soon as theProphet returned from Hudaybiyyah, he intensifiedmissionary work in and around Arabia, thegroundwork having been done beforehand. Nowthat peace prevailed, the message of Islam startedspreading like wildfire.People in their thousands, tribe after tribe, throngedto join the fold of Islam. Islam began spreadingbeyond the borders of Arabia too. Safe from theidolators of Makkah, the Prophet was able to takeaction against, and drive out, the Jews of Khaybar,who had missed no opportunity of helping the ~ 109 ~
  • 109. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Lifeenemies of Islam. He also turned his attention tobuilding up the strength of Islam in Madinah. Theculmination came within only two years of theTreaty of Hudaybiyyah: the Quraysh surrenderedwithout even putting up a fight. There was nofurther barrier now to the Prophet’s triumphantentry into Makkah. It was the deliberate impositionof a humiliating retreat from Makkah, which hadpaved the way for a great victory.People nowadays tend to resort to arms on theslightest provocation from their enemies. When thelosses of meaningless war are pointed out to them,they justify themselves by saying that they were notthe aggressors; the enemy had wickedly involvedthem in warfare. What they do not realize is thatnon-violence—does not mean remaining peacefulso long as no one is acting violently towards you; itis to refrain from violence even in face of violence—to refuse to be provoked even in face ofprovocation. Insidious plots should be met anddefeated by quiet deliberations. Deeply-rootedthough the antagonism of one’s foes may be, oneshould not let their antagonism become either astimulus or a vindication of one’s actions. ~ 110 ~
  • 110. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s LifeTo fight one’s enemies is no way to succeed in life.Only by avoiding conflict can one consolidate one’sstrength. Then by awe alone will one be able tooverpower one’s foes. To fight at the slightestprovocation, and ignore the need to quietly buildup one’s own strength, is to condemn oneself todestruction. Such conduct can never lead to successin this world of God. The Prophet achieved successby pursuing a policy of non-confrontation; how,then, can his followers succeed by pursuing a policyof confrontation? How can they be called hisfollowers when they are blind to his example? Howcan they expect him to intercede for them on theDay of Judgement?NOTES1. Qur’an, 33:21.2. Hadith of Tirmidhi, Nasal, Abu Dawud.3. Hadith of Ibn Hisham.4. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, vol. 2, p. 29.5. Qur’an, 9: 19 - 20. ~ 111 ~
  • 111. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 5. Lessons of the Prophet’s Life6. Ibn Hisham, Sirah vol. 3 and Ibn Kathir, Tafsir, vol. 1.7. Ibn Hisham, Sirah vol. 3, p. 7.8. Ibn Hisham, Sirah vol. 2, p. 29.9. Hadith reported by Abu Qatadah.10. Ibn Hisham, Sirah vol. 3, p. 357.11. A minor pilgrimage which, unlike Hajj proper, need not be performed at a particular time of the year, and which entails fewer ceremonies. ~ 112 ~
  • 112. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the Prophet6. THE PATH OF THE PROPHETEVOLUTION NOT REVOLUTIONThe word “sunnah” in Arabic means a path. In thereligious context it has come to refer to the mannerof life pleasing to God, which has been revealed toman through His Prophets. The word is used in theQur’an for all the forms which divine law has takenthroughout the ages.When God created the world, He also ordained apath that it should follow. He enforced this divinecourse so strictly on the world of nature that therecannot be the slightest deviation from it. But Goddid not impose His will on humanity. He gave usfreedom of thought and action: those who followedHis path of their own free will were to be rewardedwith paradise, while those who deviated from itwould be punished in hell-fire. God wishes to make this known to you and to guide you along the path of those who have gone before you, and to turn to you in mercy. He is Wise, Knowing.1 ~ 113 ~
  • 113. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the ProphetGod’s prophets came to the world to make thischosen path plain to us. In their words and deeds,they showed us how to live in accordance with thewill of God. It is this way of life, which is known inIslam as the sunnah, or path, of the prophets. Itcovers every aspect of life, from personal matters tosocial reform and nation-building. Those whoearnestly seek to be included amongst God’s chosenservants must follow the path of the Prophet in allrespects. In no walk of life should they considerthemselves free to tread another course.The most important practice of the Prophet’spersonal life was preaching the word of God. Astudy of his life shows that his greatest concern wasto bring people to the path of the Lord. That hisconcern had turned to anguish is clear from thisverse of the Qur’an: You will perhaps fret yourself to death on account of their unbelief. 2The Prophet said that one who disregarded hissunnah was not one of his community. Just as thisremark applies to the marriage contract and othersuch social obligations, so does it equally apply to ~ 114 ~
  • 114. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the Prophetthe duty of calling people to the path of God. Onlythose have the right to be called true followers ofthe Prophet, who, along with other obligationsenjoined by him, adopt this all-important practice ofthe Prophet as well.One aspect of the Prophet’s public mission was arealistic, step-by-step approach to everything hedid. In the application of theoretical standards, healways made allowances for practical realities. Hewas always careful to introduce social reformsgradually. In modern jargon, his approach can becalled evolutionary rather than revolutionary.‘A’ishah, the Prophet’s wife, has explained thisprinciple very clearly: The first chapters of the Qur’an to be revealed were short ones making mention of heaven and hell. Then, when people became conditioned to accept Islamic teachings, verses dealing with what is lawful and unlawful were revealed. And if injunctions like: “Do not drink wine,” and “Do not commit adultery,” had been revealed first of all, people would have refused to abandon these practices.3 ~ 115 ~
  • 115. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the ProphetWith the conquest of Makkah in the year A.H. 8, theProphet assumed full control over the Arabiancapital. Yet he did not seek immediateimplementation of Islamic laws in the House of Godin Makkah; whatever was to be done, he didgradually. Islamic rule had been established in theholy city when the pilgrimage of A.H. 8 took place,but it was performed according to ancient, pre-Islamic custom. Next year, the second pilgrimage ofthe Islamic era was performed with the idolatersfollowing their own customs, and the Muslimstheirs. It was only in the third year that the Prophetannounced that the pilgrimage would be performedentirely according to Islamic tenets. This pilgrimageis known as Hajjat al-Wida’ in Islamic history—thefarewell pilgrimage of the Prophet.It was instinctively abhorrent to the Prophet that theidolaters should come to the Sacred Mosque andperform the rites of pilgrimage according to theiridolatrous customs. Yet, despite the power that hewielded, he did not hurry to implement the Islamicsystem. Rather, he himself refrained from going toMakkah on a pilgrimage for two years after theconquest. “I would not like to go on a pilgrimage ~ 116 ~
  • 116. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the Prophetwhile the idolaters are coming there andperforming the rites of pilgrimage naked,” hewould say when the Hajj season arrived.Some Muslims went on Hajj in the year after theconquest of Makkah (A.H. 8), but the Prophet wasnot among them. The next year in A.H. 9, theMuslim party of pilgrims was led by Abu Bakr. Itwas after this that the idolaters were banned frommaking the pilgrimage. The prohibition came in thisverse of the Qur’an: Believers, know that the idolaters are unclean. Let them not approach the Sacred Mosque after this year is ended. 4The Prophet then sent his cousin ‘Ali to Makkah,with orders that he should mingle amongst thegathering of pilgrims, and proclaim that after thisyear no idolator would be allowed to come on Hajj,and tawaf (circumambulation of the House of God)in a naked state would not be permitted. Then, inthe third year, following the gradual elimination ofpolytheism, the Prophet undertook what was to behis final pilgrimage to the Sacred Mosque. ~ 117 ~
  • 117. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the ProphetThis shows how the Prophet was careful tointroduce reforms gradually. Even when hewielded power, he did not attempt to hurry Islamiclegislation; he allowed matters to take their naturalcourse, proceeding stage by stage until the desiredconclusion was reached; he would hold himselfback from introducing the desired measures, but hewould not seek to hold the polytheists back fromtheir activities until the time came when theythemselves were ready to refrain from them.There are many sides of the Prophet which have notgenerally been acknowledged as being important:for one thing, his realistic and gradual approach toeverything he did has never been hailed as being ofspecial significance. For instance, the Prophet livedin Makkah for thirteen years after thecommencement of his prophetic mission, but notonce during this time did he remonstrate againstthe continual desecration of the Kab’ah. Even afterconquering the city, he was in no hurry to abolishvain and frivolous customs. He waited for twoyears, despite the fact that he had the power to takeimmediate action. Only in the third year did heintroduce the reforms that he had in mind. ~ 118 ~
  • 118. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the ProphetA gradual approach reaps several advantages,which cannot be accrued from any other method. Itguarantees success in attaining one’s objectives.One who adopts this approach does not advancefurther until he is quite sure that he hasconsolidated his previous position. He does not lethimself be carried away by his own zeal, rather,taking external factors into account, he proceeds instep with the times. There can be no doubt that one,who is so cautious in his progress, will ultimatelyreach his goal.Moreover, there is less risk of incurring unnecessarylosses or liabilities. Those who seek to achieve toomuch too soon, find, inevitably, that they have tosurmount enormous obstacles before they are reallyin a position to do so. Such attempts can result inincalculable loss of life and widespread damage toproperty. Making amends for such imprudencecould take centuries.UNSWERVING OBEDIENCETowards the end of the Prophet’s life the fertileregions bordering pre-Islamic Arabia werecontrolled by the two great imperial powers of ~ 119 ~
  • 119. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the Prophetthe day—the Sassanians and the Byzantines. Tothe north lay the emirates of Basra andGhasasina, and the Roman province of Petraea,ruled through Arab chieftains. Roman influencethere had led most of the inhabitants to embraceChristianity. To the south and north-east were theemirates of Bahrayn, Yamamah, Yemen andOman, the last being known as the Mazunprovince. These states were under the Persian(Sassanian) Empire, and the religion of theirPersian masters—Zoroastrianism—had spreadamong their peoples.In the year A.H. 6 (A.D. 628), the Prophet had madea ten-year truce with the Quraysh at Hudaybiyyah.With peace on the home front, he sent letters to therulers of territories surrounding Arabia, invitingthem to accept Islam. One such letter was taken bythe Prophet’s envoy, Shuja’ ibn Wahb al-Asadi, toal-Harith ibn Abu Shimr of Ghasasina. The words inthe letter, “have faith in God, you will retain yoursovereignty” incensed the Arab chieftain. He threwthe letter aside, saying: “Who can take away mykingdom?” ~ 120 ~
  • 120. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the ProphetThe ruler of Basra, Shurab-bil ibn ‘Amr Ghassani,proved even more contemptuous. The Prophet sentHarith ibn ‘Umayr with a letter to this Romangovernor. He entered the town of Mu’tah, on theSyrian border, and was killed there by an Arab,acting at the behest of the governor.This act amounted to aggression by one state onanother, according to international conventions.There were also signs that the Roman army basedin Syria was planning to advance on Madinah:Byzantium could not tolerate the emergence anddevelopment of an independent power on Arabsoil.When news of Harith ibn ‘Umayr’s murderreached Madinah, the Prophet decided thatmilitary action would have to be taken against theperpetrators of such cold-blooded aggression. Hegave orders that the Muslims should gather—withtheir weapons—at a place called Harq. A force ofthree thousand, under the leadership of Zayd ibnHarithah, was assembled. After delivering someparting advice, the Prophet sent them on theirway to Syria. ~ 121 ~
  • 121. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the ProphetWhen the Muslim army arrived at Ma’an, in Syria,they pitched camp. The governor of Basra hadalready prepared for battle, and he was furtherencouraged by the news that the Roman emperor,Heraclius, had arrived in nearby Ma’ab with a forceof 1,00,000. The local Christian tribes, Lakhm,Juzam, Qayn, Bahra and Balli also rose in support oftheir Byzantine co-religionists, and agreed to fightunder the leadership of the Banu Balli chieftain,Malik ibn Zafilah. This Roman force of over 100,000,then, was amassed on the Syrian front, to meet aMuslim army of only 3,000 men.Zayd ibn Harithah was slain in battle, and twosubsequent leaders—Ja’far ibn Abi Talib and‘Abdullah ibn Rawahah, were also martyred afterhim. The collapse of the standard led to disarray inthe Muslims ranks. Then a soldier by the name ofThabit ibn Aqram came forward, lifted up thestandard, and cried out to his fellow Muslims:“Agree on, one leader!” “We have agreed on you,”they shouted back. Thabit, however, declined toaccept the command, and, asked for it to beconferred instead on Khalid ibn al-Walid. TheMuslims shouted their agreement. Hearing this, ~ 122 ~
  • 122. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the ProphetKhalid ibn al-Walid came forward, held aloft thestandard, and advanced on the Roman lines. TheByzantine forces were then forced to retreat.The outcome of this battle was indecisive, however,and there always remained the possibility that theArabs of Petraea, with Roman help, would advanceon Madinah and seek to stamp out the nascentpower of Islam. That threat had been felt as early asA.H. 5, when ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, on being askedby another companion if he had heard any news,replied: “What? Have the Ghasasina arrived?”The Prophet was fully aware of this threat, and hemade sure in his last days that full preparation hadbeen made for a force to combat the Petraean wingof the Roman army. The force which was recruitedincluded leading companions such as Abu Bakr and‘Umar, but the Prophet did not put them incommand. Instead he wisely appointed Usamah ibnZayd, who, besides being a courageous youngwarrior, was also spurred on by the fact that hisfather, Zayd ibn Harithah, had been killed by theRomans in the Battle of Muta. This army, however,was unable to advance during the lifetime of the ~ 123 ~
  • 123. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the ProphetProphet. With his death in A.H. 10, Abu Bakr wasappointed as the first Caliph, and it was he whofinally gave the order to march on Syria.After the death of the Prophet, news had startedpouring into Madinah of mass apostasy amongArab tribes. Most of the Arab tribes that embracedIslam after the conquest of Makkah in A.H. 8, hadconverted, impressed by the political dominance ofIslam, rather than from having undergone anyprofound intellectual transformation or fromhaving attained any such conviction as had theearlier followers of the Prophet. They had beenaccustomed to a free and easy life, and some of theIslamic injunctions—especially zakat 5 were morethan they could tolerate. Some months before thedeath of the Prophet, demagogues had arisen inYemen and Najd who exploited this situationputting forward a new brand of Islam, according towhich there was no need to pay zakat. To give theirwords more weight, these demagogues—notablyAswad and Musaylamah—laid claim toprophethood, for only then could they throw downa challenge to the zakat system. ~ 124 ~
  • 124. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the ProphetZakat was part of the religion revealed to theProphet Muhammad; they themselves would haveto pretend to prophethood in order to speak withthe same authority. Their “prophethood” becamevery popular among the tribes who looked uponzakat as a burden, and they flocked to these falseprophets’ support. Their morale received a boostwith the death of the Prophet in A.H. 10, andapostasy started spreading like wildfire, the onlyplaces remaining immune being Makkah, Madinahand Ta’if. There were reports, too, that these rebelswere preparing to attack Madinah.Much as the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, wanted thearmy to advance, most of the companions wereagainst this. “These Arab tribes are in the throes ofrevolt,” they said. “Madinah is liable to be attackedat any time. The army should stay to defendMadinah, rather than be sent to a distant land.”The other reservation they had were aboutUsamah’s leadership, for he was only seventeenyears of age and, worse, was the son of a slave.How, they thought, could great companions of theProphet serve under him, a mere stripling? An ~ 125 ~
  • 125. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the Prophetolder and more experienced general in war thanUsamah be appointed to lead that army.‘Umar, who had been with Usamah’s army,returned to Madinah to convey their message toAbu Bakr. The Caliph listened to what he had to sayabout the first matter, and replied: “Even if I am theonly one remaining in Madinah after the departureof the army, and I am left to be devoured by wildbeasts, still I cannot recall an army that the Prophethimself has despatched.” He dismissed the matterof Usamah’s youth and rank with these words:“What, are the Muslims still proud and arrogant, asin the time of ignorance?” Saying this, he himselfwent on foot to send the army on its way underUsamah’s command. With Usamah aloft on hismount, the Caliph of the Muslims walkedalongside, speaking with him on mattersconcerning the military campaign. He wanted toput an end to the Muslims’ misgivings aboutUsamah’s leadership, and this was the mostpractical and effective way of doing it. Theirreservations vanished on seeing the Caliph walkingalongside Usamah’s mount. ~ 126 ~
  • 126. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the ProphetAs news of the advance of Usamah’s army spreadaround Arabia, opponents saw in it a sign of theMuslims’ confidence. They presumed that theProphet’s followers must have considerablereserves of strength to be able to send an army sofar from Madinah at such a critical time. Theydecided to await the outcome of the Syriancampaign before attacking the city: if the Muslimsmet defeat, then they would be sufficientlyweakened for an offensive against their capital to befeasible.Usamah ibn Zayd’s army was eminently successfulagainst the Romans. The campaign, which lastedforty days, also proved that Usamah was the mostsuitable person for this expedition for, his fatherhaving been martyred fighting the Roman army atMuta, he was keen for revenge. A large number ofcaptives and great quantities of booty went backwith the Muslims to Madinah. The rebels lost hearton seeing this, and their revolt was quelled withcomparative ease. So it was that the Muslimsachieved success on both fronts, simply by havingdone as the Prophet said. ~ 127 ~
  • 127. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the ProphetThey thus provided a great lesson for subsequentgenerations of Muslims: that the place for Muslimsto test their strength was the outside world, notamong themselves. But successive generations ofMuslims have failed to learn this lesson, and in thepresent age the situation has deteriorated to thepoint where the Muslim world is locked in battlewith itself on every front.No one is ready to face any challenge outside theMuslim world, but all are willing to fight againsttheir own Muslim brethren. Undoubtedly thegreatest challenge facing the Muslims today is thedissemination of Islam in the outside world; butsince they are so busy fighting among themselves, itis not surprising that they have no time or energyfor this all-important task.There was another important reason for theProphet’s insistence on the despatch of the army.The Arab tribes had been fighting amongthemselves from time immemorial, and would startfighting again if not confronted with some externalfoe on whom to test their strength. Towards the endof his life, the Prophet averted this danger by ~ 128 ~
  • 128. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 6. The Path of the Prophetpitting them against the might of the Roman army.The Arabs now had an eminently suitable arena inwhich to display their valour. They no longer hadtime for the fratricide and plundering which hadhitherto been their way; instead, they turned theirattention to distant horizons, blazing their way—within just one-hundred years—to conquests thatspanned three continents.NOTES1. Qur’an, 4:26.2. Qur’an, 26:3.3. Hadith, Sahih, Al-Bukhari.4. Qur’an, 9:28.5. A portion of property, bestowed in alms. ~ 129 ~
  • 129. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophet7. THE REVOLUTION OF THEPROPHETIt is the will of God that His religion should reignsupreme on earth. He wishes it to enjoy anintellectual dominance over other systems ofthought. But for this to happen, certain conditionsmust prevail. The coming of the ProphetMuhammad was the culmination of a lengthyprocess, extending over thousands of years, duringwhich time the ground was fully prepared for hiswork. Conditions were created which wouldfacilitate the accomplishment of his mission. Whatthe Prophet had to do was understand theseconditions, and make wise use of them. This he did,giving Islam a position of intellectual ascendancy inthe world.Now, once again, a process has been continuingover the last one thousand years, in which God hascreated conditions conducive to Islamic revival. Ifthey are exploited to the full, Islam can once againcome to dominate world thought, just as it did inthe past. ~ 130 ~
  • 130. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetBut if these opportunities are to yield the maximumbenefit, it will require an intense struggle, whichonly those with profound knowledge ofcontemporary conditions will be able to undertake.It will be those who rise above reactionarypsychology and concentrate on positive action, whowill be fit for this task; people who can sacrificeevery other consideration, and devote themselveswholeheartedly to one overriding goal—theascendancy of Islam; those who steer clear of theconfusions of human thought, and are guided bydivine wisdom in their course of action. Such noblespirits will not be inspired by thoughts of nationalglory or material grandeur; it will be the greatnessof God alone that they seek to establish. It waspeople such as these who made Islam great in thepast—who gave Islam its position of intellectualdominance—and it is people such as these who cando so once again. If, on the other hand, we are luredby superficial slogans, and distracted by every pettyissue that arises, all we shall accomplish is thedestruction of the opportunities God has created forus. We shall never then be able to convertpossibilities into realities. ~ 131 ~
  • 131. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetA COMPARISONThe Islamic revolution that occurred in the time ofthe Prophet was achieved at the cost of only 1018lives. During the 23-years in which this revolutionwas completed, 80 military expeditions took place.The Prophet, however, only participated in some27 of them, and an even smaller number ofexpeditions actually involved any fighting. 259Muslims and 759 non-Muslims died in thesebattles—a total of 1018 dead. This is anextraordinarily small number of casualties to havebeen inflicted during such a great revolution—one, which changed the entire course of humanhistory. The Islamic revolution of the Prophet can,to all intents and purposes, be called a bloodlessrevolution.Contemporary Muslim writers and speakers arewrongly eulogistic in their comparison of theProphet’s revolution with modern non-Islamicrevolutions. They point with pride to the fact thatonly a thousand people died in the Islamicrevolution, while in the Russian revolution of 1917alone; 13 million people lost their lives. The ~ 132 ~
  • 132. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetdemocratic revolution in France also took a heavytoll, which ran into thousands.The Muslims like this comparison, because itgratifies their pride. But there is anothercomparison to be made here, which they have nevereven considered. Perhaps their failure to givethought to this second comparison is simply a wayof avoiding admonishment, for no one ever likesbeing admonished.It would mean taking the number of dead in theinitial Islamic missionary drive, and comparing itwith the toll that modern-day Islamic movementshave exacted; in other words seeing how manypeople died in the original Islamic revolution, andhow many have died in Muslim revolutionaryattempts of modern times. The 20th century hasseen grand Islamic revolutionary movements, great“holy crusades”, in the Muslim world. Just asMuslims compare the Prophet’s Islamic revolutionwith modern, non-Islamic, secular revolutions, soalso should they look at their own movements inthe light of the revolution of the Prophet, and seehow they stand up to the comparison. ~ 133 ~
  • 133. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetWere the Muslims to take this comparison, theywould be startled to find that their own movementsare, in relation to that of the Prophet, no better thanrevolutionary movements in the non-Muslim world.Just as non-Muslim revolutions have been highlyexpensive in human terms, so the death toll inMuslims’ revolutionary struggles has been incrediblyhigh: two and half million dead in the Algerian warof independence; 500,000 Muslim martyrs in theIndian freedom struggle; 10 million lives lost in theformation of the Muslim state of Pakistan. Thenumber of people who have given their lives forIslam in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Palestine and variousother countries, runs into millions. And for all that,these sacrifices have amounted to nothing. The effectsof the Prophet’s revolution were felt the world over,yet it was accomplished at the cost of only 1000 lives.Islamic movements of modern times, on the otherhand, have involved millions of human lives, yet,despite this, one cannot point to even a small area inwhich Islamic revolution has been truly successfuland effective.The matter does not end there. Far from beingsuccessful, our recent struggle has produced a ~ 134 ~
  • 134. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophettotally adverse effect. These words of the Bible ringexactly true with regard to our efforts of moderntimes: Ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. They that hate you shall reign over you. And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.1Such has been the story of modern Muslim history.With great gusto we conducted the Caliphate andpan-Islamic movements, and made untold sacrificesfor these causes, only to see the Muslim world splitup under numerous national governments. Westruggled for our country’s independence, but,when it came, other parties took hold of the reins ofgovernment. We suffered great losses in formingthe Islamic state of Pakistan, but, when it came intoexistence, secular leaders took control. We gave ourutmost to establish Islamic rule in Egypt, but finallypower fell into the hands—not of religiousgroups—but of military dictators. For nearly fortyyears we have been crusading for the end of the ~ 135 ~
  • 135. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetstate of Israel, making enormous human andmonetary sacrifices in the process, but all that hasactually happened has been the expansion andconsolidation of the Jewish state. And now, after theindescribable tribulations of the people of Iran, itwill not be long before we hear that the Islamicrepublic was only a stepping-stone for rule byunIslamic forces.These are the hard realities of our times. We canpull the wool over our eyes if we so please, but wecannot expect future historians to do likewise. True,they will be forced to say, the Russian revolutiontook a vast toll of human lives, but it also broughtabout great changes in world thought. It caused thecollapse of Tsarist, or monarchical rule, andreplaced it by a republican form of government; itestablished the ascendancy of the socialist economicsystem over capitalism. As for Islamic revolutionaryefforts, they have been even more costly in humanterms, but they have left no stamp on the pattern ofworld thought.The revolution of the Prophet’s time shows us thatif just a thousand people are ready to give ~ 136 ~
  • 136. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Propheteverything they have for the Islamic cause, thenGod does not let their sacrifices go unrewarded; Heestablishes the supremacy of Islam on earth. Inmodern times millions of Muslims have shownthemselves willing to make sacrifices, but God hasnot taken up our cause. Despite all our sacrifices,our efforts have been frustrated. This shows thatour efforts have been misdirected. If we had beenfollowing the straight path that God laid down forus, He would surely have made us successful, aspromised in this verse of the Qur’an: We have given you a glorious victory, so that God may forgive your past and future sins, and perfect His favour to you; that He may guide you to the right path and bestow on you His mighty help.2A farmer who sows wheat will reap wheat. He isnot telling the truth if he claims to have sownwheat, only for brambles to spring up in its place. Itjust does not happen that a wheat seed should yielda crop of brambles. Things do not work that way inthis world of God. So it is with our efforts inmodern times. If we had truly been following in the ~ 137 ~
  • 137. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetpath of the Prophet and his companions—if we hadmade sacrifices in the same spirit as they—withoutdoubt our mammoth efforts would have yieldedpositive results. It is no use deluding oneself intothinking that one is struggling in the path of Islam,when one’s efforts are not producing the resultswhich true Islamic struggle ought to ensure. Onemay live in a fool’s paradise in this world; trueparadise in the next world is for those who basetheir lives not on illusion and fantasy, but on reality.DIVINE SUCCOURAddressing the faithful, God says in the Qur’an,“Believers if you help God He will help you andmake you strong.”3 Here the words “helping God”mean fitting in with His scheme. God has set acertain pattern for making things happen in thisworld; He has created favourable circumstances,which, if properly exploited, will yield favourableresults. We can fit in with His scheme bycoordinating our own efforts with this pattern. Godstrengthens those who help Him in this way.Here is an example of what happens when one failsto do so. There was a priest, who wanted to see a ~ 138 ~
  • 138. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetlush tree standing in front of his house. “If I plant aseed,” he thought, “it will take at least ten years togrow into a full tree.”So what he did was to uproot a large tree and,hiring several labourers to transport it from whereit had stood, he installed it in front of his house.“Good,” he thought, “I have achieved ten yearswork in the space of a single day.” How shocked hewas, then, when next day he woke up to see theleaves of the tree withering away. By evening itsbranches were hanging limp, and within a few daysthe leaves had died and fallen to the ground; all thatremained in front of his house was a stump of drywood. A few days later the priest was visited by afriend, who found him walking restlessly in hisgarden. “What’s wrong?” he enquired. “Why areyou so upset today?” “I am in a hurry, but Godisn’t,” the priest answered, and went on to tell thewhole story of the tree. In whatever happens in theworld, there is a part played by God and a partplayed by man. It’s like a machine, which functionswhen two cog-wheels revolve in unison: one of thewheels is God’s and the other man’s. Man’s successcan only come from his keeping to God’s pace. If he ~ 139 ~
  • 139. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophettries to proceed at his own, he will break, becauseGod’s wheel is stronger than his.Over the millennia God has made certain provisionfor the growth of trees and plants: He has laid alayer of fertile soil on the surface of the earth; Hehas given them the heat that they need from thesun; He has provided them with water, and assistedtheir growth with alternation of the seasons; thenHe has created billions of bacteria which providethe roots with nitrogen. These arrangements are; soto speak, God’s cog-wheel. What we have to do isattach our own wheel to God’s, for only then willwe be able to use these opportunities to form a tree.Once our own wheel is attached to God’s, we haveonly to take a seed and plant it in the ground.Nature’s machine will then set to work, andproduction will ensue. If, on the other hand, weplant our tree on a rock, or sow a plastic imitationseed in the ground, or do as the priest did andtransplant a full-grown tree, then we have not setour own wheel at work with God’s; we have notfitted in with God’s scheme. We cannot expect,then, to see a lush tree growing in our garden. ~ 140 ~
  • 140. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetSo it is with the Islamic revolution. It likewisecomes from recognizing the opportunities that Godhas created, and using them well. True Islamicrevolution does not emerge from haphazard action.The initial Islamic revolution was achieved by a fewof God’s servants fitting their own wheel in withGod’s. Our sacrifices of modern times, on the otherhand, have all gone amiss because we have notfollowed God’s scheme. We have trodden the pathof our own desires, seeking to achieve by futile andirrelevant protests what can only come from wiseuse of the opportunities that God has afforded us.The generations following Adam, the first man onearth, all worshipped one God. Mankind, as theQur’an says, “were one community.”4 So thesituation continued for a few centuries, but soonworship of worldly phenomena, or polytheism,became prevalent. People found it difficult to focustheir attention on an invisible God, so they focusedit elsewhere, on visible objects, and in so doingreduced belief in God to the lowly and unimportantstatus of an abstract creed. It was at this time thatthe sun, moon and stars became objects of worship,and the mountains and oceans came to be thought ~ 141 ~
  • 141. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetof as gods. Divinity was even ascribed to thosemortals who stood out among their fellows. So itwas that, after a period of about 1000 years on earth,people saw the end of the conceptual dominance ofmonotheism, and their intellect became cloudedwith polytheistic thought. 5It was after the decline of other initial, monotheisticreligion that God started sending prophets to theworld. These prophets, however, never achievedenough popularity to eradicate polytheism andreassert the dominance of monotheism. At that timeprophets came to every part of the inhabitedworld— according to one hadith there were 124,000of them—but each and every one of them wasscorned and laughed at. When an individual rejects the truth, he or she does so for a reason; they do so because there is something, which occupies such an important place in their lives that they cannot forsake it, even for the truth. The Qur’an tells us the nature of the attachment that alienates individuals from the true message of the prophets: ~ 142 ~
  • 142. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetWhen their apostles brought them clear signs theyexulted in such knowledge as they had; but (soon)the scourge at which they scoffed encompassedthem.6What is meant by knowledge here is the corruptedform of religion, which people have been adheringto for so long that they have come to think of it assacred. Religion which has been passed on from onegeneration to the next in this manner becomeslodged in people’s minds. When they think of it,they think of the saints whose names are associatedwith it. It becomes a part of the establishment, thevery foundation of a people’s nationalinfrastructure. Enshrined in elaborate tradition, itassumes a position of dominance in society.When prophets visit such people as adhere toestablished polytheistic religion, their teaching ofmonotheism is a lone voice in that environment.They assert the truth of their teachings, but theirclaim is one, which has yet to receive the ratificationof history. They can only reason with their people,trying to persuade them to see the light. With theclamour of established religion on all sides, such ~ 143 ~
  • 143. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetquiet reasoning falls on deaf ears; the prophetsappear insignificant compared to the grandeursurrounding the faith of their people’s forefathers.Take the case of Jesus Christ, homeless and sleepingunder a tree, while the chief priest of the Jewsresided in the lavish splendour of the palace ofHaykal. 7 How could people accept someone whoslept under a tree as the bearer of truth rather thanthe occupant of the grand palace of Haykal? That iswhy people poured scorn on their prophets. Theyheld established figures in reverence: why, then,should they forsake them for an insignificantcreature without status? True, prophets of the pastwere also objects of their esteem, but these prophetshad become more national heroes than preachers oftruth in the eyes of their admirers.It is one thing to attach oneself to a message, andquite another to attach oneself to an institution.There is nothing more difficult than service carriedout in accordance with a message, and nothingeasier than service in the name of an institution. Allthat a message has in support of it is its conceptualtruth, while institutions are backed up by all sorts ofmaterial grandeur. It is those who extend their ~ 144 ~
  • 144. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetsupport to a message when it is backed up bynothing but simple truth who will find honour andrank in the sight of God. When it gains the status ofan institution, then support of it will earn one nocredit with God. Commitment to Islam as a messageis an act carried out for God. Commitment to Islamas an institution, however, is all too often enteredinto for the material benefits that accrue from it.EXALTATION OF THE WORD OF GODJust as traffic lights are erected at crossroads toguide and control traffic, so prophets have beensent by God to stand on the roads of life and showtravellers the road leading to heaven, and warnthem to steer clear of that which leads to hell. TheQur’an has put this in the following words: Thus We have made of you a people justly balanced, that you may be witnesses over the nations, and the Prophet a witness over yourselves. 8It was for this purpose that, when polytheism firstdisplaced monotheism as the predominant religionof mankind, prophets came to the world. Bestowing ~ 145 ~
  • 145. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Propheton them knowledge of truth, God sent them toguide people along the right path, and warn themto steer clear of evil. All of the prophets fullydischarged this responsibility. Their teaching oftruth was both understandable and reasonable.They left no stone unturned in their communicationof truth: those who believed in them becameworthy of paradise, while those who rejected themmade themselves fit only for hell.Yet God wanted more than mere proclamation oftruth on earth; He wanted it to be exalted onceagain. Proclamation of truth necessitates itscomplete exposition before us. It is to make truthabsolutely clear to all listeners, to enlightenthem, using the “wise and mild exhortation,”that the Qur’an prescribes for preachers oftruth.9 When this is done, people are left with noexcuse for not accepting the truth. They can nolonger say that they were left in ignorance. Theonly defence that people who fail to follow thetruth can offer is lack of awareness; where theyhave been shown every proof, there remains nopretext for denial. ~ 146 ~
  • 146. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetExaltation of the word of God is something morethan this. It means religious thought assumingascendancy over all other systems of thought. Theword of God does not become exalted on earth byany legislative or political programme; it can onlycome from a struggle on an intellectual level. It iswhen truth is engraved in people’s minds that theword of God becomes truly exalted, not when it iswritten in statute books. In this day and agemodern knowledge has stolen the limelight fromancient forms of knowledge: empirical science hastaken over from analogical philosophy as thedominant mode of thought; socialism is a moreprominent intellectual force than capitalism;democracy is a more forceful political theory thanmonarchy. These are all examples of conceptualascendancy, the dominance of one system ofthought over another. It is this nature of conceptualascendancy of truth over falsehood that must beachieved for the word of God to become exalted.God is able to do all things. It would have beeneasy for Him to make truth lord over all else, justas He has made the sun supreme over all otherforms of light. But, since we are being tested in ~ 147 ~
  • 147. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetthis world, God causes things to happen withinthe bounds of cause and effect. If events were tooccur miraculously, we would have no choice butto see the hand of God in them: there would be notest involved. It was within the bounds of causeand effect, then, that God set about establishingthe dominance of His word on earth. He createdall the necessary circumstances for theachievement of this end, and then sent a prophetcharged with the special task of bringing it tofruition. The Prophet’s task, therefore, was notonly to proclaim the truth, but also to make thetruth a predominant force on earth, thuscompleting God’s favour to mankind andallowing us to avail of the divine succour of whichtheir waywardness had deprived us: They seek to extinguish the light of God with their mouths; but God will perfect His light, much as the unbelievers may dislike it. It is He who has sent His apostle with guidance and the Faith of Truth, so that He may exalt it above all religions, much as the pagans may dislike it.10 ~ 148 ~
  • 148. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetA NEW NATION IS BORNThe Prophet Muhammad once said: “I am theprayer of Abraham.” The prayer he was referring towas that offered by Abraham when he was buildingthe Holy Ka ‘bah in Makkah: Lord, send forth to them an apostle of their own people (the Children of Ishmael) who shall declare to them your revelations and instruct them in the Book and in wisdom and purify them from sin. You are the Mighty, the Wise One.11Yet, approximately two and a half thousand yearselapsed between Abraham’s prayer and the birth ofthe Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet Zakariyya(Zachariah) prayed for a prophet-son,12 and withina single year his wife bore him Yahya (John theBaptist). Why was it, then, that Abraham’s prayer,which was of a similar nature, took so long to beanswered?The reason for this was that John the Baptist hadan immediate mission to carry out. He was toexpose the religious pretence of the Jews, by being ~ 149 ~
  • 149. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetmartyred at their hands, so that they would nolonger be fit to be bearers of the divine scriptures;another nation would have to come to replacethem. The Prophet Muhammad, on the other hand,had to reestablish the dominance of monotheismover polytheism. This could not be effectedwithout the necessary antecedents: conditionsconducive to this had to be created in the world; anation upright enough to aid the Prophet in itsaccomplishment of this task had to come intoexistence. All this took two and a half thousandyears to come about, in order that the event couldtake place within the bounds of cause and effect, asis the way of God.In accordance with this scheme, Abraham wascommanded to leave the civilized territory of Iraqfor the dry, barren reaches of Arabia, where he wasto settle along with his wife Hagar and sonIshmael.13 This was an uncultivable area, cut offfrom the rest of the world. Here, far from thetrappings of civilization, in the lap of nature, acommunity could be raised up in which all thenatural abilities were fully preserved. Abraham hadprayed for the emergence of a people submissive to ~ 150 ~
  • 150. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetGod, and this was a land ideally suited for thedevelopment of such a people: Lord, make us submissive to You; make of our descendants a nation that will submit to You.14A nation of unprecedented dynamism would berequired to establish the dominance of true religionon earth. Earlier generations, which had grown up inthe artificial environment of human civilization, hadlacked the dynamism and vitality needed to performthis task. This was the reason the previous prophetsfailed to elicit a positive response. A new nationwould have to grow up, nurtured under conditionsspecially suited to the cultivation of these qualities.This would involve a long process of humanreproduction, extending over several generations.This accounts for the 2500 year gap betweenAbraham’s prayer and its fulfillment: when the stagewas fully set, the prophet that he had prayed for wasborn to Aminah, the daughter of Wahab ibn ‘AbdManaf of the Banu Hashim in Makkah.Nothing but dry land and inhospitable rubbleawaited Abraham in Makkah when he arrived there ~ 151 ~
  • 151. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetwith his wife and infant son. Soon the water in theirflask finished and Ishmael started thrashing withhis hands and feet because of his great thirst. It wasthen that the spring of Zamzam gushed forth, a signthat although God had indeed made them face astiff test, He would not leave them to face it alone:they were engaged in God’s own work and Hewould always be there at crucial moments to grantthem succour. When Ishmael grew intoadolescence, Abraham dreamt that he wasslaughtering his child. He interpreted it as God’scommandment, and readied himself to carry it out.Then, as he held the knife poised over Ishmael’sthroat, a voice came from heaven telling him tostop, and sacrifice a lamb instead. This was signfrom God that Abraham would have to preparehimself for enormous sacrifices: but he was not inreality required to make them; it was the will tosacrifice that was desired. Once he had shown thathe could pass this test, he would be spared theactual deed. After all, God intended to useAbraham and his family in the enactment of a greatscheme; far from letting them pointlessly lay downtheir lives, He would protect them. ~ 152 ~
  • 152. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetIshmael grew up and married a girl of the Jurhamtribe, which had settled in Makkah after the waterof Zamzam had sprung up. Abraham was in Syriaat the time. One day he came on horseback whenIshmael was not at home; only his wife was thereand she did not recognize her father-in-law. “Wherehas Ishmael gone?” Abraham asked. “Hunting,” shereplied. “How is life treating you?” Abraham wenton, and Ishamel’s wife complained to him about thepoverty and hardship they had to endure.Abraham, as he was leaving, told her to convey hisgreetings to Ishmael and tell him to “alter histhreshold.” When Ishmael returned, she told himthe whole story. Ishmael realized that the visitorhad been his father, who had come to see howthings were going. By “altering his threshold,”Ishmael knew what his father had meant: he was tomarry a new wife, for this one was not suitable forthe creation of the progeny that God had in mind.So he divorced that wife and married someone else.After a period of time Abraham made anotherappearance on horseback. Again Ishmael was not athome. Abraham asked his new daughter-in-law thesame questions as he had put to the previous one.This time, however, Ishmael’s wife was all praise ~ 153 ~
  • 153. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetfor her husband and said that everything was finewith them; they had much to be thankful for.Abraham set off, and told her to convey hisgreetings to Ishmael, and to tell him to “keep histhreshold.” This wife was ideally suited to the taskin hand; Ishmael should keep her in wedlock.15So it was that, in the solitude of the Arabian Desert,the seeds of the progeny that was to be known asthe Children of Ishmael were sown. These were theinitial states of preparation of a people who, 2500years later, were to provide the Final Prophet withthe support he needed in performing history’s mostmammoth task.The qualities of the nation that grew up in thebarren expanses of the desert around Makkah canbe summed up in one word—al-muru’ah(manliness). This was the word of highest esteemthat Arabs used to describe essential humanqualities in a person. As an ancient Arab poet haswritten:If a person fails to achieve manliness when young,then he will find it hard to do so when he growsold. ~ 154 ~
  • 154. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetThis is how the eminent Arab historian, ProfessorPhilip K. Hitti, sums up the qualities of the peoplethat developed over hundreds of years in theArabian Desert: Courage, endurance in time of trouble (sabr), observance of the rights and obligations of neighbourliness (jiwar), manliness (muru’ah), generosity and hospitality, regard for women and fulfillment of solemn promises.16THE BEST NATIONThe nation that emerged from this 2500 yeardevelopment process was the nation most richlyendowed in human qualities that mankind had seen: You are the best nation that has ever been raised up for mankind.17Commenting on this verse, ‘Abdullah ibn al-’Abbassays that it refers to those who emigrated fromMakkah to Madinah along with the Prophet. In factthat small group of Muhajirs was representative ofall those Arabians who made up the group knownas the Companions of the Prophet. ~ 155 ~
  • 155. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetProphets of every age have confronted one majorobstacle: the adherence of their people to anancestral religion, which enjoyed unrivalledmaterial grandeur. They themselves, on the otherhand, were standing on the abstract ground oftruth and reason. This nation that had grown up inthe Arabian Desert was endowed with the uniqueability to recognize truth on an abstract level—before it had gained any external lustre. They hadbeen reared under open skies, in the wilderness ofthe vast desert, and had developed anextraordinary capacity for recognizing plain,unvarnished truth. They were prepared to give upeverything for the sake of truth when it was asolitary force, and one that appeared to havenothing to offer them in return. ‘Abdullah ibnMas’ud summed up these qualities of theCompanions in the following words: They were the cream of the Muslim community the most warm-hearted, the most knowledgeable, and the least formal. They were the ones that God chose to accompany His prophet, and to establish his religion. ~ 156 ~
  • 156. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetWhat polytheism had deprived man of more thananything was the ability to see truth on an abstractlevel. It had made him want to see a thing and feelit before he would believe it. The prophets whocame to the world spoke of a truth, which was anabstract force. This was something that theirpeoples could not appreciate; hence the scorn andridicule to which prophets have been subjected to inevery age.The polytheists had not denied the existence ofGod. What they had done was mould Him in theimage of insensate objects. Finding it difficult tofathom a God that could not be seen, they depictedHim in material or human forms, and made thesevisible objects the focus of their attention. Theobjects that they chose to revere were invariablythings that appeared great to them, so that when theprophets came they failed to achieve publicrecognition, for they appeared in the guise ofordinary people. At the time of their coming to theworld, no historical greatness was attached to them.It was only much later that they came to be thoughtof as national heroes. ~ 157 ~
  • 157. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetPart of Abraham’s prayer when he commenced theconstruction of the Ka’bah in Makkah went like this: And remember when Abraham said: “Lord, make this town one of peace. Preserve me and my descendants from serving idols. Lord, they have led many men astray. He that follows me shall surely belong to me, but if anyone turns against me, You are surely Forgiving, Merciful. Lord, I have settled some of my offspring in a barren valley near Your Sacred House, so that they may observe the prayer...”18Polytheism had reached its zenith in Abraham’stime. Wherever one turned, great monumentsglorifying idols were to be found. It appearedimpossible for the human intellect to rid itself of theshackles of polytheistic thought. It was at this timethat Abraham was commanded to settle in Makkah,and to start a new line of descent. God’s purposewas to raise a people in a land, which had not beenexposed to polytheistic influence, so that a nationwith minds elevated enough to shun externals andthink in terms of profound realities could develop. ~ 158 ~
  • 158. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetThe Qur’an characterizes the final product of thishuman progeny in the following words: God had endeared the Faith to you, and beautified it in your hearts, making unbelief, wrongdoing and disobedience abhorrent to you. Such are the rightly guided.19We can only understand this verse if we think ofthe situation that prevailed one and a halfthousand years ago, when the Companionsadopted the Faith. It was surrounded by a host ofvisible “gods” that they took an invisible God astheir own; from out of a multitude of worldlygreats, they recognized and believed in a prophetwho commanded no worldly stature. Islam at thattime was a religion strange to the world, but it wasthis outlandish religion that the Companions grewto love so much that they were willing to renounceeverything for it. In short, they saw truth when itwas still an abstract force, before it was backed upby the ratification of history, before it had becomea symbol of national pride. One had to be ready togive everything for it, and to expect nothing inreturn. ~ 159 ~
  • 159. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetOne outstanding example of the selflessnessinvolved in the act of faith at that time was theevent known as bay’at ‘aqbah thaniyah (The SecondOath of Allegiance), which was made before theProphet emigrated to Madinah. Just whenpersecution of Muslims in Makkah had reachedintolerable levels, some of them started spreadingthe message of Islam in Madinah, and soon itreached every home there. At that time some of thepeople of Madinah resolved to go to Makkah, swearallegiance to the Prophet, and invite him toemigrate to Madinah. Jabir al-Ansari later recalledhow, when Islam had spread to every house ofMadinah, they held consultations amongthemselves. “How long can we let the Prophetwander around the hills of Makkah, fearful anddistressed?” They said to one another. To those whojudged from appearances alone the very fact thatthe Prophet was alone, with few supporters, wasproof of his not being in the right: how could he beGod’s prophet, and be left in such an abject state?But the people of Madinah looked at the matter on amore profound level. They had realized the truth ofhis prophethood, and saw that by helping him theywould earn God’s grace and good favour. ~ 160 ~
  • 160. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetSeventy representatives of the people of Madinahtook this oath of allegiance. We can tell under whatprecarious conditions they did so from the accountof one of their number, Ka’b ibn Malik. He tells ofhow they surreptitiously joined a normal party ofpilgrims belonging to their tribe, pretending thatthey too were going on a pilgrimage. Near Makkah,when the others put up camp, the Muslims alsopretended to have fallen asleep. When a third of thenight had elapsed, however, they rose quietly fromtheir beds in order to keep their appointment withthe Prophet, proceeding to the place of rendezvous“like birds, creeping silently in the undergrowth. “20What an extraordinary time it must have beenwhen, with the Prophet rejected by the world, a fewindividuals arose, eager to follow him. At that timethe Prophet had no place in his own hometown; hehad been chased out of Ta’if with a volley of stone-throwing and abuse; no tribe was willing to granthim protection. Yet, under such adverse conditions,the people of Madinah recognized the truth of hisprophethood, and responded to his call. When theAnsar21 went forward to swear allegiance, one ofthem rose and asked: “Do you know what your ~ 161 ~
  • 161. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetoath of allegiance will entail? It will entail thedestruction of your properties and homes.” “Weknow,” they replied, “and it is an oath entailing thedestruction of our properties and homes that we areentering into.” They then asked the Prophet: “Whatwill be our reward if we are faithful till the end?”“Paradise,” the Prophet replied. “Give us yourhand,” they said to the Prophet, “so that we canswear allegiance to you.”The Ansar, en-masse, were giving their lives for atruth which was still disputed, for a reality whichhad found no place for itself in the world ofhumanity. It was an act, which no community,before them or after them, has ever emulated.AVOIDING EXTRANEOUS ISSUESIt is generally the issues that are called nationalisticin modern terminology that capture the imaginationof a people’s intelligentsia, and lead to theestablishment of popular movements. Issues of thisnature faced the Prophet Muhammad also, but hescrupulously avoided them. The success of hismission depended upon his conforming to thescheme of God, which had been evolving over the ~ 162 ~
  • 162. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetlast two and a half thousand years. If he hadbecome involved in irrelevant side issues, all theopportunities, which had been created, could havebeen ruined.The Arab border territory of Yemen had comeunder Ethiopian rule in A.D. 525, and Abrahah wasappointed governor. This audacious individuallaunched an attack on the Holy Ka ‘bah, aiming todemolish it and put an end to the central position itenjoyed by virtue of its being a place of pilgrimage.The year of his attack on the Ka’bah, with an armyof elephants, was also the year of the Prophet’s birth(A.D. 571): it was also the year of the Sassanians’attack on Yemen and its assimilation into thePersian Empire. Bazan became the new governor.When the Prophet Muhammad commenced hismission, the Persian emperor heard about him, andissued Bazan with instructions to order the newprophet to desist from his claims; “Otherwise,” theemperor said, “bring me his head.”22This shows how great the problems posed byforeign domination on the borders of Arabia hadbecome at the time the Prophet Muhammad ~ 163 ~
  • 163. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetcommenced his mission. The Prophet could haveincited his people to rise up against the foreigninvaders, and drive them out of Arabian territory.But to have done so would have been contrary toGod’s scheme. It was His will that the Prophetshould not clash with others over peripheral issues,but should concentrate on the central theme of hismission, which was to spread the word of God. Theconsequence was, as history bears witness, thatBazan, as well as most of the Christians residing inYemen, accepted Islam. What a leader in his placetaking up national issues would have attempted tosolve unscrupulously through political activities,the Prophet successfully solved by communicatingto others the ideas of Islam.After the death of Abu Talib, Abu Lahab becameleader of the Banu Hashim tribe. Since the newchieftain refused protection to the Prophet, thelatter was forced to seek the patronage of someother tribe. For this purpose he visited many tribes,among them the frontier-based Banu Shayban ibnTha’labah. The chief of this tribe, Musanna ibnHarithah, explained to the Prophet that his peoplelived close to the Persian border, a territory which ~ 164 ~
  • 164. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetthe Sassanian Emperor had allowed them to occupyonly on receiving assurance that they would notpreach any new doctrine, or give refuge to anyonewho did so. “Perhaps rulers would disapprove ofyour teachings,” the chieftain added.23This shows how foreign rule on the borders ofArabia constituted more than a political andterritorial encroachment on Arab sovereignty; itobstructed the Prophet’s missionary work as well.The Prophet could have used this as a pretext forstarting active resistance to foreign powers, sayingthat no missionary work could be accomplisheduntil all external obstructions had been eliminated.But to have done so in the initial stages of hismission would have constituted a deviation fromGod’s scheme, which was for the empires of Romeand Persia to become weak by fighting with eachother for twenty years. When the time finally camefor them to be conquered, it was they who had toshoulder the blame for the initiation of hostilities. Itwas, furthermore, relatively easy for the Muslims tosubdue them, paving the way for theunprecedented conquests of the post-prophetic era.If the Muslims had confronted Rome and Persia ~ 165 ~
  • 165. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetprematurely, when these empires were strong, andthey themselves weak, the outcome would havebeen the opposite.FITTING IN WITH GOD’S SCHEMEIf a farmer is to grow crops, he must fit his own cog-wheel in with God’s. Providence has created uniqueopportunities for crop cultivation on earth, but inorder to avail of them there are certain things that afarmer must do. On the surface of the earth, forinstance, lies a layer of fertile soil, which is quiteunique in the entire universe. But this soil, despiteits innate fertility, will not yield a crop unless it ismoist: the barrenness of the arid regions of the earthis due to a lack of such moisture. Now there isnothing in the universe, which will broadcast thisfact to farmers; they must find it out for themselvesby reading the silent signs of nature and then actingupon them. What a discerning farmer will do, then,is wait until the ground is moistened by rain beforeplanting. If there is no rain, he will irrigate his land.So will the great disseminator of truth. He will waitfor, or create, the right conditions to plant the seedsof truth in the hearts of mankind. This was the ~ 166 ~
  • 166. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetmethod followed by the Prophet Muhammad. Thespiritual ground of the Arabia to which he camewas moist and fertile, ready to produce great fruits.Still, the Prophet had to employ the correct methodsfor his mission to advance; to achieve success, hehad to fit in with God’s scheme. There was no otherway for him to utilize the opportunities that hadbeen provided.The basic principle of the Prophet’s teachingmission was that emphasis should be laid entirelyon matters pertaining to eternity. Under nocircumstances was his teaching to dwell on worldlyissues. The true issue confronting man is that of hiseternal fate. All other issues are transitory andsuperfluous. Worldly success and failure have nomeaning, for they are bound to end. It is on the nextworld, where success and failure will be abiding,that man should focus his attention.Furthermore, it was the Prophet’s aim to build asociety of upright individuals, and such a societycan only be formed if each separate individualbehave with moral rectitude. True and consistentmorality can come only from a profound belief in ~ 167 ~
  • 167. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetthe hereafter. Belief in the hereafter means that weare not free to act as we please but that we willexpect to be taken to task for our actions by God. Itrids one of wayward attitudes and makes one into adisciplined and responsible human being. If onereads the Qur’an and Traditions of the Prophet withan open mind, one will find that it is the life afterdeath, which receives most attention. Other mattersare mentioned, but only incidentally. Thefundamental purpose of the Prophet’s mission wasto concentrate people’s attention on the hereafter.The Prophet’s second principle was to scrupulouslyavoid any material conflict coming betweenhimself—the teacher—and those to whom he wasaddressing his teachings. No matter what price hadto be paid, he would let no worldly rivalry come inbetween himself and his congregation. Oneoutstanding example of this policy was the Treatyof Hudaybiyyah. By constantly waging war againstthe Muslims, the Quraysh had made Muslims andnon-Muslims into two separate parties eternally atloggerheads with one another. Both sides werespending all their time preparing for and engagingin warfare. In this treaty the Prophet accepted all ~ 168 ~
  • 168. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetthe Quraysh’s demands in return for a ten-yeartruce. The terms of the treaty were so one-sided thatmany Muslims considered it a humiliation; but, inreality, it paved the way for what the Qur’an calleda “clear victory.”24 This treaty put an end to theatmosphere of confrontation, which had developedbetween Muslims and non-Muslims. Muslims couldnow freely communicate the teachings of their faithto non-Muslims, who in turn were free to acceptthem. No worldly rivalry or prejudice now stood inthe way of dissemination of the faith. After thistreaty, and the conciliatory effect it had on non-Muslims, the message of Islam spread rapidlythroughout Arabia. In just two years, the number ofMuslims increased tenfold. There had seemed noway that Makkah could ever be conquered by forceof arms, yet it succumbed two years later to theforce of Islamic teachings.One important aspect of the Prophet’s method wascompassion towards his foes, even when they werewholly at his mercy. The reason for this was thathe did not look upon anyone as an enemy; he sawall men and women as potential recipients ofIslamic teachings, and was keen to give them every ~ 169 ~
  • 169. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetpossible chance to accept the faith. Oneoutstanding example of this magnanimity, whichthe Prophet displayed throughout his life, can befound in his treatment of the Quraysh afterMakkah had been conquered. The very people whohad been relentlessly persecuting the Prophet andhis followers for the previous twenty years, werenow at the Prophet’s mercy. But, rather thanpunish them for past crimes, he forgave them all.When the Quraysh were brought before him inchains he simply said to them, “Be on your way:you are all free men.” He pronounced suspendeddeath-sentences on some, but these too were freedwhen they appealed for clemency, eitherpersonally or through representatives. In all,seventeen people were sentenced to death, but ofthese only five —those who made no appeal—wereactually executed. In the Battle of Uhud theProphet’s uncle, Hamzah, had been slain byWahshi ibn Barb, after which Hind bint ‘Utbah hadmutilated Hamzah’s corpse. When the Prophetlearnt of this he said, in the heat of the movement,“If God makes me triumph over them, then I willmutilate three of them.”25 ~ 170 ~
  • 170. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the ProphetWahshi and Hind were both among the seventeenwhom the Prophet condemned to death. But whenthey appealed to him for clemency, he forgave themboth. It was God’s will that His Prophet should belenient and forgiving towards his enemies, for thispolicy harmonized with God’s scheme for thefurtherance of the Islamic cause.This principle is based on a profound insight intothe nature of human society. Human society is acomposite body of live, sensitive individuals, inwhom an urge for vengeance is kindled when oneof their number is harmed. Human beings are notlike pieces of stone, which show no reaction whenanother stone is broken. To suppress one individualis to invite rebellion from those associated with him,which means that the time, which could beprofitably spent on building up society, is fritteredaway in containing discontent. By forgiving all hispast enemies after the conquest of Makkah, theProphet ensured that at no future date wouldinsurrection rear its head. In fact, most of those heforgave accepted Islam and became a source ofstrength to it, one instance being that of ‘Ikrimah,the son of Abu Jahl, formerly an implacable ~ 171 ~
  • 171. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetadversary of the Prophet and his followers.Once the Prophet’s authority had been established,there were certain social reforms, which had to beundertaken. The Prophet was careful to proceedgradually in introducing such reform; he neverhastened to impose measures when people were notready to accept them.The people of Makkah were heirs to the religion ofAbraham, but they had distorted the true religion ofAbraham and taken up various kinds of innovatorypractices. For instance, in the time of Abraham, Hajj(pilgrimage) used to be performed in the lunarmonth of Dhu’l-Hijjah. Since a year, according tothe lunar calendar, is eleven days shorter than asolar year, its months do not revolve with theseasons. Hajj, then, sometimes fell in one seasonand sometimes in another. This went against theQuraysh’s commercial interests. They wanted Hajjto fall in the summer each year, and for this purposethey adopted a method known as nasi’. Thisconsisted of adding eleven days on to the lunarcalendar every year. After this intercalation theymaintained the names of the lunar months, but in ~ 172 ~
  • 172. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Propheteffect their calendar was a solar one. This meantthat for thirty-three years all dates were removedfrom their real place in the lunar calendar; everythirty-three years, when their annual addition ofeleven days to the calendar had run the course of acomplete year, Hajj would be performed on itsproper date according to the lunar calendar. One ofthe tasks entrusted to the Prophet was to put an endto all the Quraysh’s innovations and have Hajjperformed according to Abraham’s original system.The conquest of Makkah occurred in the month ofRamadan, A.H. 8. The Prophet was now ruler of thewhole of Arabia. He could have put an immediateend to all the Quraysh’s innovations. But instead hebided his time. There were just two years remaininguntil the completion of the full thirty-three yearcourse of nasi. The Prophet waited for these twoyears and although he was the conqueror ofMakkah, he did not perform Hajj during that time.Only in the third year after the conquest of Makkah(A.H. 10), did he participate in the pilgrimage. Thatwas the year when Hajj was performed on thecorrect date of Dhu’I-Hijjah, in accordance with thesystem established by Abraham. This was theProphet’s farewell pilgrimage, and during it he ~ 173 ~
  • 173. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetannounced that, in future, Hajj would be conductedin the same way as in that year. Thus he put an endto the manipulation of the lunar calendar for alltime. “Time has run its full course,” he announced.“It is now in the same position as it was when Godcreated the heavens and the earth. And there aretwelve months to a year in the sight of God.”26There was a profound reason for the Prophet’s delayin introducing this reform. When people have adheredto a certain religious practice for a number of years,they come to think of it as sacred and find extremedifficulty in changing their thinking. In two years time,Hajj would fall on the day desired by the Prophet, sohe avoided taking any premature initiatives, whichwould have made an issue of the matter. When thetime came for Hajj to fall naturally on its proper day,then he announced that this was the right day of theyear for Hajj to be performed, and it would in futurecontinue to be performed on the same day.From these examples, we can see how the Prophet’sentire policy was moulded by the wisdom withwhich he had been endowed by God. One can saythat he fitted his own cog-wheel in with God’s; his ~ 174 ~
  • 174. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophetevery move was designed to be in accordance withthe pattern set by God. It was for this reason that allhis efforts produced highly fruitful results.NOTES1. Bible, Leviticus, Chapter 26.2. Qur’an, 48:1-3.3. Qur’an, 47:7.4. Qur’an, 2:213.5. Qur’an, 36:30.6. Qur’an, 40:83.7. Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem.8. Qur’an, 2:143.9. Qur’an, 16:25.10. Qur’an, 61:8-9.11. Qur’an, 2: 129.12. Qur’an, 3: 30. ~ 175 ~
  • 175. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 7. The Revolution of the Prophet13. Qur’an, 14:37.14. Qur’an, 2: I28.15. Ibn Kathir, Tafsir.16. Philip K. Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 253.17. Qur’an, 3: 110.18. Qur’an, 14:35-37.19. Qur’an, 49: 7.20. Ibn Hisham, Sirah, vol. 2, p. 49.21. The people of Madinah who helped the Prophet.22. Ibn Hisham, Sirah.23. Ibn Kathir, Sirah.24. Qur’an, 48: 1.25. Ibn Kathir, Tafsir, vol.2, p. 352.26. Hadith, Ibn Jarir, Ibn Marduiyah. ~ 176 ~
  • 176. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 8. Rising above Events8. RISING ABOVE EVENTSThe Arabian Peninsula, in the period immediatelypreceding the coming of the Prophet Muhammad,was confronted with immense political problems.The two super powers of the day—the empires ofRome and Persia—lay to the west and east of theArabian Peninsula, and both had turned the landof the Arabs into their political playground. Themost fertile regions of the peninsula were underthe direct control of one or the other of these twopowers. Iraq had been annexed by the Persians,while Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon hadbecome part of the Byzantine Empire. Despite thenatural protective boundaries of the Red Sea tothe west and the Persian Gulf to the east, thelands, which bordered these seas, were notimmune from intrusions by their powerfulneighbours. Persian warships had no difficulty incrossing the Gulf of Oman and entering Arabterritory. The Red Sea also posed no barrier tointerference in Arab affairs from Egypt andEthiopia, both under the control of the ByzantineEmpire. ~ 177 ~
  • 177. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 8. Rising above EventsTribal chieftains had set up states in the innerregions of the Arabian Peninsula, but they tooenjoyed no real independence. The overalldominance of Rome and Persia meant that the onlyway these chieftains could preserve some measureof autonomy was by ruling as vassals for theseimperial powers. On the borders of Syria lay thestate of Ghasasina Arabiya subject to the RomanEmpire was ruled by Harith ibn Abi ShimrGhassani at the time of the Prophet Muhammad’smission. Then there was Busra which, besides beingunder the political control of the Romans, had alsobeen subjected to Roman cultural influence, withmany of its inhabitants accepting Christianity.On the Iraq border lay the state of Hirah ‘Arabiyahwhich was subject to Iran. There were also severalstates bordering the Persian Gulf, in which theinfluence of their Persian neighbour was stronglyfelt. Foremost among them was Bahrayn, ruled byMundhir ibn Sawa, where many of the inhabitantshad accepted the Zoroastrian religion. Two otherstates to have come under Persian influence in thisway were ‘Amman, ruled by the two sons ofJalandi—Jaifar and ‘Abd-and Yamamah, ruled by ~ 178 ~
  • 178. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 8. Rising above EventsHauzah ibn ‘Ali al-Hanafi. Rivalry between thePersian and Roman empires was intense, and theirrespective vassals in Arabia would participate inthe wars fought between them. Ghasasina, forinstance, would side with the Romans and Hirahwith the Persians. So it was that Arab blood wouldflow in pursuit of the super powers’ aims.In those times Yemen was far larger than it is today.It contained several small tribal governments, thelargest of which had its capital at San’a’. It wasthere that Najran was situated. Foreign rule inYemen had commenced around A.D. 343, when theRomans sent Christian missionaries to the region.These missionaries met with great success inNajran, and most of the country’s inhabitantsconverted to Christianity.Though this was a religious event, the Romans’rivals in Persia perceived it as a political threat. Itseemed to them as if the Roman Empire wasseeking to establish a foothold in the southernregion of Arabia. The Persians allied with theJewish tribes who had settled in Yemen after beingexpelled from Syria by the Romans in A.D. 70. ~ 179 ~
  • 179. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 8. Rising above EventsYusuf Dhu Nuwas was an Arab by birth, but hadaccepted Judaism. With Persian help he set up asemi-autonomous government in San’a’, under thesponsorship of the Sasanians. He then set aboutexterminating the Christians of Najran, many ofwhom were burnt alive in A.D. 534.The Romans now took steps to preserve their holdon the region. Ostensibly seeking to protect theYemenese Christians, they chose the Ethiopianking Najashi, a Christian, and loyal to theRomans, for fulfillment of their ends, and incitedhim to rise up against Yusuf Dhu Nuwas. Najashithen sent an army to the Yemen under theEthiopian chieftain Aryat. A short battle ensued,which ended with San’a’ being captured by theEthiopian force and Dhu Nuwas drowninghimself in the sea. Before long, however,Abrahah—a soldier in Aryat’s army—killed hiscommander and, having gained Najashi’s consent,set up his own government in San’a’. It was hewho, in A.D. 571, set out to attack the Holy Ka’bahin Makkah. He was succeeded by his sons, firstYaksum and then Masruq. ~ 180 ~
  • 180. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 8. Rising above EventsA member of the former royal family of the Yemen,named Sayf ibn Dhi-Yazan, was then filled with anurge to expel foreigners from his country and re-establish his ancestors’ dynasty. He started afreedom movement, but when local supportproved insufficient for the achievement of his aims,he went to the Iranian king Nawshyrwan in searchof military support. Nawshyrwan was quick toseize this golden opportunity: while an Iranianarmy under Dahraz was being prepared toadvance on the Yemen, Sayf ibn Dhi-Yazan died,but his son Ma’di Karb completed the arrangementfor bringing the Iranian force to his country.Crossing the Gulf of Oman, they landed atHadhramawt, and from there proceeded to San’a’.The alliance between Ma’di Karb and Dahraz wassuccessful in expelling the Ethiopians from theYemen. Ma’di Karb became king of San’a’, but anIranian military presence was retained, in effectturning the Yemen into a trans-oceanic Iranianprovince. There was an Iranian governor there atthe time of the advent of Islam. His name wasBazan and, after initial opposition, he lateraccepted Islam. ~ 181 ~
  • 181. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 8. Rising above EventsAll this goes to show how far Arabian territory hadbecome a prey to the expansionist designs of Romeand Persia at the time of the Prophet Muhammad’smission. In such a situation two paths were open toa reformer such as the Prophet. He could haveallowed himself to be carried by the tide of currentevents, and initiated political agitation against thecolonial powers that were threatening his land. Orhe could have concentrated on building up hispeople’s internal strength to such a degree that,with a slight effort on their part, the imperial edificewould crumble to the ground.The Prophet chose the second rather than the firstcourse. Abraha’s attack on the Holy Ka’bah ismentioned in the two chapters (105 and 106) of theQur’an entitled al Fil and Quraysh. The Qur’anexplicitly states that such threats should becountered by “worship.” This is the Islamic way.When a political threat is perceived, a solutionshould be sought—not on a political level—but on aspiritual level, on a level of worship. ~ 182 ~
  • 182. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Method9. THE PROPHETIC METHODSTRENGTHENING ONESELF INWARDLYThe story of Islam began in A.D. 610, when theProphet Muhammad received his firstrevelation. At that time he was the only Muslim,the only believer, in the whole world. In A.D.622 the Prophet emigrated from Makkah toMadinah. There he established an Islamic state,but its boundaries were extremely limited. Theyextended only to a few parts of the small townof Madinah, the larger portion remaining underthe control of Jewish tribes and Arabs who hadnot yet converted to Islam. The Prophet diedeleven years later. By the time of his death thefrontiers of Islam had spread throughout theArabian Peninsula and reached southernPalestine. An Islamic empire covering 1 millionsquare miles had come into existence. In justunder one century Islam had advanced throughNorth Africa to Spain on the western front, andfrom Spain to the frontiers of China in the east.There are still signs of Islamic influence in suchfar off places as Budapest, where a Muslim ~ 183 ~
  • 183. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodshrine, “Gul Baba,” still stands on the banks ofthe river Danube, and France where manychurch steeples contain stones with Arabicengravings—remnant of the 8th century A.H.,when southern France was a European provinceof the Caliph in Damascus. Two hundred yearsbefore, the people of Arabia had been drivingcamels; now they were leading the world.Baghdad had become the centre of the civilizedworld, taking over from Seleucia, Persepolis,Babylon and Rome as the major internationalseat of learning.These outstanding triumphs were the result of anextraordinarily simple programme, which theQur’an explains in these words: You who are wrapped up in your vestment, arise and give warning. Magnify your Lord, cleanse your garments, and keep away from all pollution. Bestow no favours expecting gain. Be patient for your Lord’s sake.1When summarized, this programme can be dividedinto three stages: ~ 184 ~
  • 184. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic MethodI. Personal reform, so that one worships God alone, corrects one’s moral standards and avoids all forms of sin and wrongdoing.2. Impressing on others the reality of their existence and final destiny—that they are God’s servants and will return to Him after death.3. Remaining steadfast in the face of difficulties, which afflict one in one’s attempt to reform both oneself and society.INWARD STRENGTHThe Islamic struggle is essentially a personal one,motivated by an overpowering urge for salvation inthe next world, a longing that God should forgive uswhen we come before Him. When Islam penetratesinto the depths of our consciousness, we becomeconcerned with one thing alone: how to earn God’sfavour and forgiveness. We immediately seek tomould our faith, ideas, character, actions and all we doin life in accordance with our over-riding concern toavoid displeasing God. It is on the hereafter that wefocus all our attention. We call others to Islam, makingsure that we are first good Muslims ourselves: ~ 185 ~
  • 185. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Method Say: “I was commanded to be the first to submit to Him.”2As far as its motivation is concerned, becoming the“first to submit to God” is an entirely individualaffair. But in its consequences this act has far-reaching implications for the whole of society. Avolcanic eruption starts within a mountain,invisible from the eyes of humankind. But whenthe eruption takes place, it illuminates the wholesurrounding area with its glow. So it is with thosewho first submit to God. The transformation thatoccurs within them has repercussions on theirentire environment. The same sequence can befound in the revelation of the Qur’an. The firstverse to be revealed were those dealing withpersonal reform. Later came the chapters dealingwith improvement of society at large. Comparingthis sequence with the method adopted by theProphet of Islam, Muhammad MarmadukePickthall, in the introduction to his translation ofthe Qur’an, writes: The inspiration of the Prophet progressed from inward things to outward things.3 ~ 186 ~
  • 186. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic MethodGenerally people consider assaults on the outsideworld to be the most worthwhile task in life. But thelesson of the Prophet’s life is that one should workto strengthen oneself inwardly. Individuals whohave consolidated themselves from within becomean irresistable force when they break out into theopen. How is it that a person becomes strengthenedinwardly? The Qur’an does not give us any magicalprescription for achievement of this purpose. It canonly be attained by faith, righteous actions andsteadfast perseverance. Firstly, divine truths shouldbe embedded in the depths of our hearts and minds.We should make every effort to fix our thoughts onthe next world, the world of eternal realities. Theattitude that we should cultivate is that we have norights in life, only responsibilities. Difficulties arebound to arise as we pursue the divine path. Ratherthan seek to lay the blame for them on others, weshould bear them in a spirit of quiet and humbleacceptance. These are the qualities that consolidateinward strength. The Prophet Muhammadprovided us with a perfect example of how tocultivate these qualities. He developed them to sucha degree that no one was able to withstand the forceof his character. When the Prophet exploded on the ~ 187 ~
  • 187. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodoutside world, almost all of the known worldcapitulated before him. People succumbed beforehis inspired character, for the strength of hispersonality came from within.In his article entitled “Bravery,” the renownedHindi writer, Sardar Pooran Singh (1882-1932),called the Prophet Muhammad the bravest man inhistory. He had to be to bring about such a greatrevolution in the Arabian Peninsula. His greatnesscan be judged from the fact that anyone who camein contact with him accepted him as his master.What kind of bravery is this which makes one sopowerful? In the words of Pooran Singh: To strive every moment, every hour, towards making oneself greater and greater is bravery. It is the cowards who say, “Go ahead.” While the brave say, “Step back” (move backwards). Cowards say, “raise the sword,” while the brave say “bring your head forward! The policy of the brave is to gather and increase strength from all quarters. The brave build up their inner reserves, marching ahead within themselves. As they can move the entire ~ 188 ~
  • 188. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Method world by moving the hearts of the people. Bravery does not consist of becoming emotionally overwrought and then cooling off like a piece of tin which heats up and cools off in no time. The fire may keep burning for centuries yet will not heat up the brave while centuries of snow may not be enough to dampen chill even the tip of the brave. People say, “Act, act, work, work” but all such talks seem futile. First create and gather the strength for work. It is futile to shout, Act, act, act!, without first creating and gathering the strength for work. One must grow and root oneself deep like a tree within oneself. The world does not stand on a heap of garbage where any cock can win fame and acclaim by mere crowing. The world, is rather borne aloft by the eternal principles of religious and spiritual truths. Whosoever fully associates with these truths emerges victorious.4The secret of this bravery does not lie in magicalprescriptions or spiritual exercises undertaken inseclusion. Exercises in the occult can delude in theworld of matter, but they are of no use to people ~ 189 ~
  • 189. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodgrappling with the day-to-day problems, whichconfront them. Real strength is that which leads usto overcome the problems of life.People really develop inner strength when theybecome free of all selfish ties; when they attain alevel of thinking in which all superficialconsiderations are cast aside and, as the Prophet putit, “they see things as they are.” Their thoughts andactions are not then guided by prejudice, anger,greed, hate, the lust for power, vanity, self-interestor any such base urge. This is what makes forstrength of character. It is an irresistable force in life,one which enables a person to face every test. Theinitiatives of those endowed with inward strengthare inevitably seen through to their conclusion.They make allowances for all eventualities, bothprobable and possible, in their decision-making.The more people oppose them, the more theyadhere to their position of truth and righteousness.An example of the manner in which the ProphetMuhammad’s inner strength provided solutions toall the problems that faced him can be found in thesituation that developed after the conquest of ~ 190 ~
  • 190. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic MethodMakkah. His strength of spirit manifested itself indifferent ways as the need arose. Sometimes it tookthe form of forgiveness, sometimes supremecourage, sometimes trust in God. Sometimes hissuccess was due to farsightedness. Sometimes heshowed how one who disavows self-interestbecomes an invincible force, who gains all byforsaking everything.After the Prophet Muhammad, on whom be peace,had captured Makkah in A.H. 8, some of theQuraysh fled to the tribes of Hawazin and Thaqif,and incited them to start a new war against theMuslims. The tribes responded by mobilizing alltheir manpower, and amassed a force of 20,000men. They met the Muslims on the field of Hunayn.The archers of Hawazin had concealed themselvesin a ravine and, when they rained their arrowsdown on the Muslims, about 11,000 of the 12,000strong army turned and fled. Yet, despite this initialsetback, the Muslims finally won an extraordinaryvictory. The reason for their recovery was the innerstrength of their leader, the Prophet Muhammadwho, at this critical juncture, showed no signs ofpanic, but was the epitome of “tranquility”5 and ~ 191 ~
  • 191. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodremained full of trust in God. Once his innerstrength came out into the open, he immediatelyaltered the course of battle. Standing up in the verymidst of the enemy, he called out to his panickingfollowers: I am the Prophet, and I do not lie: I am the grandson of ‘Abdul Muttalib.“To me, servants of God!” the Prophet called. Hiscousin Ibn ‘Abbas, had a loud voice. The Prophetasked him to issue this appeal to the fleeingsoldiers: “You who swore allegiance to the Prophetin the shadow of the Ridwan tree: you swore thatyou would give your lives for the Faith! Where areyou now?” When the Muslims saw that their leaderwas standing firm in face of the enemy, theyrealized that God’s help was with him. Theirflagging spirits were rekindled, and they returnedwith new determination to the field of battle. Sounbounded was their new-found enthusiasm thatthey would not even wait for their flounderingcamels to turn around: they jumped off the backs oftheir mounts and ran back to the field of battle onfoot. Suddenly the course of battle changed. Now it ~ 192 ~
  • 192. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodwas the enemy’s turn to take flight. The Muslimswon the day, along with booty amounting to 24,000camels, 40,000 goats and 40,000 ounces of silver.They also took some 6,000 prisoners.Despite this victory, the situation continued todeteriorate. The Thaqif were the second mostprominent tribe in the whole of Arabia. They alsoowned the only fortified town in the peninsula.They were now besieged in Ta’if, but during thethree weeks siege they inflicted more losses on theMuslims than they themselves had received atHunayn. Their opposition to Islam was so deep-rooted that when one of their number, ‘Urwah ibnMas’ud Thaqafi—who was reputed to be “dearer tohis people than sweet maidens”—came to theProphet and accepted Islam, they forgot theirprevious affection for him, and cruelly riddled himwith arrows.Once again the Prophet’s inner strength came to hisrescue. As the siege was tightened, ‘Umar asked theProphet to pray for the destruction of the people ofTa’if; but instead the Prophet prayed for theirguidance. He was entirely free of anger and ~ 193 ~
  • 193. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodprejudice in this treatment of them. After besiegingthe town for three weeks, he ordered his army toretreat. On his return from Ta’if, the Prophetreached Ji’ranah, where the spoils of the Battle ofHunayn had been stored. Here the Prophet had anopportunity to take reprisals against the Thaqifsally, Hawazin. But he did quite the opposite,accepting an appeal from a delegation of that tribefor the release of all their six thousand prisoners.His magnanimous treatment of them—he not onlyset them free, but also gave them clothes andprovisions for their journey—was bound to makean impression on them. And it did: the whole of theHawazin tribe, won over by the Prophet’sunbounded generosity, accepted Islam.The effects of this event were also felt in Ta’if. TheHawazin and the Thaqif were two branches of onelarge tribe. The Thaqif felt much more threatenedby the Hawazin’s conversion to Islam than they hadbeen by the siege of their city. The severance of theHawazin from their alliance was a mortal wound,which they knew would render them incapable ofdoing battle with the Muslims: ~ 194 ~
  • 194. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Method The Thaqif consulted among themselves. They saw that they would not now be able to fight against all the Arabs around them who had sworn allegiance to the Prophet, and accepted his Faith.6In the year A.H. 9 (A.D. 630) a delegation from Ta’ifarrived in Madinah. They expressed their willingnessto accept Islam, but only under certain quite unusualconditions. They denied right of passage to theMuslims’ army through their territory; they refusedto pay land tax; they declined to participate in jihad;they also said that they would not pray, or recognizeany ruler who was not from their tribe. The Prophetaccepted all their conditions, but made it clear thatthere was no good in a religion, which did notinclude bowing down to God. The Companions wereamazed that the Prophet should accept their Islam,along with all these reservations. But the Prophet waslooking further into the future, and put their minds atrest with these words: Once they have submitted to God, they will, after a while, give alms and strive in the path of God. 7 ~ 195 ~
  • 195. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic MethodImam Ahmad has related, on the authority of Anasibn Malik, that the Prophet used to grant anyrequest that people made before they acceptedIslam. One person who came to the Prophet wasgiven a herd of goats so large that they stretchedfrom one mountain to another. He then returned tohis people and urged them to accept Islam, “forMuhammad gives in such abundance that one neednever go wanting again.” But, as Ibn Kathir haspointed out, even if a person came to the Prophetseeking only the world, before a day had passed hewould undergo a transformation: the Prophet’sFaith would become dearer to him than all theworld has to offer.Once the matter of the Thaqif and the Hawazin hadbeen settled, another even more serious problemreared its head. The Muslims had accumulated amassive stock of booty in the victory over theHawazin. With great generosity, the Prophetdistributed these spoils among the new Makkanconverts. Some of the Ansar—the people who hadhelped the Prophet when he emigrated to theirtown—found this hard to bear. It seemed to themthat, now that the Prophet was re-established in his ~ 196 ~
  • 196. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodhome-town, he had adopted a chauvinistic attitudeand was showering his own people with riches justto please them. There is no doubt that the Prophetwas above such base motivations, but theresentment that the Ansar felt at being left out wasreal enough, and posed serious problems forMuslim unity. The Prophet’s sincerity of purpose,however, showed in the emphatic manner in whichhe removed their doubts.The Prophet called all the Ansar together in acourtyard, and addressed them in the followingmanner: “What is this that I am hearing about you?Is it not a fact you were lost, and God guided you,through me, to the right path. Whatever you werein need of He granted you in abundance--againthrough me. You were at war with one another andGod brought you together as one people aroundme?” Everyone shouted out their agreement. Thenthe Prophet continued: You have every right to say that we Muhajirs came to you as refugees, expelled from our own land, and that you gave us shelter; we were in need and you looked after us; we ~ 197 ~
  • 197. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Method were terrorized and you made us secure, friendless and you gave us company. Tell me, helpers, are you resentful just because I have given some new converts a trivial gift in order to raise their spirits, and make them secure in the Faith, while entrusting you with the great gift that God has bestowed upon you—that is Islam? Company of Helpers, are you not happy to see people take camels and goats home with them, while you return home with the Messenger of God? 8On hearing this speech, everyone broke down andwept. “We are happy with the Messenger of God!”they cried in unison. It was in this way that theProphet’s inner strength broke down every barrier,opened every door and surmounted every obstacle.It was his key to success in every situation in life.THE EXTERNAL TARGET: MISSIONARYACTIVITYWhen the Prophet Muhammad started his activestruggle, he was not motivated by any urge torevenge himself on an outside world that hadmistreated him. Usually popular movements are ~ 198 ~
  • 198. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodsparked off by some sort of instinct for revenge, butthe Prophet’s struggle was based on positiveconcepts of its own; it was not a negative reaction toan event, or to the way he had been treated byothers. Certainly, all the circumstances, whichusually cause political, social and economicreactions, leading to the establishment of popularmovements, were present in full force when theProphet was sent to the world. But it was not thesepoints that the Prophet dwelt on in hiscommunication of the Faith. He pursued his aimsunremittingly, according to the programmementioned at the beginning of this chapter, but hedid so without clashing with anyone on political,social or economic issues.When the Prophet commenced his mission, the landof the Arabs had become a prime target for attacksby the imperial powers of the day, who had beenespecially swift in annexing the comparativelyfertile and prosperous parts of the country. Thewhole of Syria, in the north of the peninsula, wasunder Roman rule, governed by Arab chieftainswho owed allegiance to Caesar. In the southernterritory of the Yemen, the Persians held sway, ~ 199 ~
  • 199. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodbeing ruled in the time of the Prophet by a governornamed Bazan. The only regions to have retainedtheir independence were Hijaz, Tahamah and Najd.Besides these, there were only rocky deserts, withthe occasional oasis standing out in the wilderness.The Caesars and the Khusraus considered Arabiatheir property: that was why, when the Prophetwrote to the Emperor of Persia inviting him toaccept Islam, that proud monarch tore up his letterand said indignantly: He writes to me—and he is my slave!Abrahah’s attack on the Ka’bah in the year of theProphet’s birth (A.D. 570) was part of thisencroachment of foreign powers on Arab territory.Before the advent of Islam, the Ka’bah had been acentre of idol-worship for the whole of Arabia:every tribe had erected its own idol there, andconsidered its precincts sacred. All through the yearpeople would flock to Makkah from far and wide topay their respects to the HolyKa ‘bah and makeofferings to the idols that were lodged there. Theeconomy of Makkah benefited greatly from thisconstant influx of pilgrims, and Abrahah desired to ~ 200 ~
  • 200. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methoddivert this great source of wealth towards his ownland—the Yemen, which lay south east of Makkah.He had shown his willingness to resort to anymeans for the achievement of his ends by killing theprevious Yemenese governor, taking over thecountry, and forcing the king of Abyssinia torecognize his authority in the province. A Christianby faith, Abrahah had built a huge church in thetown of San’a’, after which he launched an intensivepropaganda campaign to induce people to go onpilgrimages to it. In this way he hoped to divert thelucrative pilgrim trade from Makkah to San’a’. It isrecorded in Arab history that when all his effortsfailed, he set out to destroy the Ka’bah, so thatpeople would have nowhere left to make theirpilgrimage to, save the church that he had built inSan’a’. For this purpose he took an army ofelephants, which gained him the name of “Lord ofthe Elephants.” Even the names of some of thepeople who built his church are known. The Arabscalled the road that he passed along, ‘The Road ofthe Elephants.” The spring from which they drank,the gate through which they entered Makkah andthe year of their attack were also similarly named. ~ 201 ~
  • 201. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic MethodWhat most leaders would have done under suchadverse conditions was raise a popular movementagainst the political threat posed by foreign,imperial powers. They would have sought to ridtheir land of the yoke of foreign domination andrevived the nationalistic instincts of their people.But the Prophet of Islam refrained completely frominstigating any nationalistic freedom struggle of thisnature.There were also critical economic problems facingArabia when the Prophet came to the world.Arabia was an almost entirely arid land: in anagrarian age it had no agricultural foundation onwhich to base its economy. This was a problemthat affected every individual in the land, andcould easily have provided the incentive for apopular revolutionary movement. But the Prophetdid not capitalize on the economic problems’ of hispeople in any way. On one occasion the Makkangentry gathered in front of the Ka’bah after sunsetand summoned the Prophet. When he laid thebasic teachings of Islam before them this is howthey reacted to his message: ~ 202 ~
  • 202. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Method Muhammad, you know well that there is no country poorer or drier than ours. You know how hard it is for us to make a living. So pray to your Lord on our behalf that He should remove these dry mountains that have made life so difficult for us; that He should make our land fertile and make rivers, like those of Syria and Iraq, flow in its valleys.9In order to understand what made the leaders of theQuraysh speak to the Prophet in this manner, onehas to understand the geographical situation ofArabia. A chain of mountains that stretched alongthe coastline of Hijaz as far as Najd prevented seawinds from penetrating inland, with the result thatrainfall in the Arabian Peninsula, in contrast to thatof Iraq and Syria, was minimal. This geographicalsituation was at the root of Arabia’s economicproblems. Any budding leader could instantly haveattracted people’s attention by exploiting theseproblems. The Prophet, however, did not choosethis path. In fact, he did not pay any direct attentionto problems of this nature and devoted his effortsentirely towards preaching the oneness of God.History shows that the Prophet’s struggle in the ~ 203 ~
  • 203. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodfield of missionary activity had far-reaching effects,opening up new opportunities for the Arabs inpolitical and economic fields also. But it isimportant to realize that these advantages were anindirect result of the Prophet’s struggle: it was nottowards political and economic gain that he himselfdirected his efforts.The Prophet’s whole life shows that the matter towhich he attached basic importance was preachingof the faith. As soon as he started his active missionhe laid all other matter aside and concentratedsolely on propagating the message of Islam. First ofall he was determined to inform his kinsfolk that hehad been chosen to communicate the word of Godto humanity. For this purpose he called all hisrelatives about forty were invited of whom at leastthirty attended to a dinner. After dinner, headdressed his guests, but he met with little success.“Banu Muttalib,” he said, “I have been sent to youin particular, then to mankind as a whole. Who thenwill fulfill on my behalf my debts and mypromises? Who will look after my family while I amaway? Whoever does so will be my companion inparadise.” The Prophet repeated his words, but ~ 204 ~
  • 204. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodonly ‘All, who was a young boy at the time,responded positively. “I will, Prophet of God,” hesaid. “You, ‘All, you, ‘All!” came the Prophet’sreply.10One day Abu Jahal threw a stone at the Prophet,drawing blood from his face. The Prophet’s uncle,‘Abbas, heard about this. Though at that time‘Abbas had not accepted Islam, family pride movedhim to go and smite Abu Jahl in return. Then hecame back to the Prophet, “Nephew,” he saidtriumphantly, “I have taken your revenge.” “Itwould make me happier if you were to acceptIslam,” The Prophet replied.Once the leaders of the Quraysh came to Abu Talib,another of the Prophet’s uncles. “Abu Talib,” theysaid, “your nephew enters into our arenas and ourgatherings, and says things which upset us. Please,if you can manage it, stop him from doing so.” AbuTalib sent his own son, Aqil, to fetch the Prophet.When he had told his nephew what the Qurayshhad said, the Prophet raised his eyes up to heaven.“By God,” he said, “is anyone among you able tolight a fire from a flame of the sun? Well, I am no ~ 205 ~
  • 205. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodmore capable of forsaking the message that GodHimself has entrusted to me.” Having said this, theProphet broke down weeping.The Banu Hashim, to which tribe the Prophetbelonged, were the cream of Arab society. Since histribe was already in a dominant position in Arabia,some people thought that perhaps the Prophetwanted to consolidate his own authority and becrowned king. But the Prophet’s actions showedthat he was interested in only one thing, and thatwas to convey to people the importance ofpreparing themselves for the next world. Sopersistently would he emphasise this matter thatsometimes the leaders of the Quraysh would pleadwith him in almost desperate terms to leave themalone. “Muhammad,” Abu Jahl once said to him,“will you stop insulting our gods? If you just wantus to bear witness that you have communicatedyour message, then all right: we bear witness, youcertainly have communicated it.”The Prophet, however, was undeterred and went ondelivering his message. This infuriated the Qurayshstill further, and, they decided to ostracize the ~ 206 ~
  • 206. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodwhole of the Banu Hashim family. An interdictstopped inter-marriage and commercial relations.On learning of this the Banu Hashim moved to theplace known as Shi’b Abi Talib. While this interdictwas in force, preaching was confined to thoseaffected by it, and the Prophet took full advantageof this. These restrictions, however, came to an endtemporarily in the sacred months. The Prophet’sfamily used to benefit from this period of respite inthat they could conduct transactions. Then,gathering together the meat of sacrifice, they woulddry it for use during the rest of the year. But theProphet would use this time in a different manner:he would go to tents where various tribes werestaying, and communicate to them the message ofIslam.Imagine how precarious the Prophet’s situationmust have been when he was emigrating fromMakkah to Madinah. Yet even during this journey hedid not miss a single opportunity to preach Islam tothose he came into contact with. When he reachedGhamim, for instance, he communicated themessage of Islam to Baridah ibn Hasib, who then—along with eighty members of his family accepted ~ 207 ~
  • 207. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic MethodIslam. On reaching the mountain pass of Rakubah hemet two men whom he told about Islam, and whoaccepted the Faith. When the Prophet asked themtheir names, they said that they belonged to the tribeof Aslam, and were bandits. For this reason, theyexplained, they were called “Muhanan,” or “TheTwo Despicable Ones.” “No,” the Prophet told them,“you are two honourable ones.”11The Prophet Muhammad inculcated in hiscompanions the same attitude. It was not to be theiraim to conquer territory or accumulate spoils ofwar. Rather they were to become a source ofwealth—the wealth of true faith—for others. Whenthe Prophet entrusted ‘Ali with the Muslimstandard in the field of Khaybar, he told his cousinto proceed softly: “And when you reach their fields,call them to Islam and tell them what theirresponsibilities to God are. By God, if the Lordguides just one of them through you to Islam, thenthat will be better for you than a herd of redcamels.”Missionary activity was such a prominent part ofthe Prophet’s life, that if one were to put his whole ~ 208 ~
  • 208. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodstruggle under one heading, this would surely bethe one. He did not concentrate on political,economic and social issues, as leaders usually do;rather he devoted his entire time and energy topreaching the word of God. At first it may haveseemed that his single-mindedness was unjustified.But from the outcome of his efforts, it becameapparent that if we set our sights on the nextworld—as the Prophet did —then worldly goals areautomatically achieved.PATIENCE AND STEADFASTNESSThe third part of the Prophet’s mission, mentionedat the beginning of this chapter, was a steadfastforbearance in face of the difficulties encounteredon the divine path. The Arabic word for patience issabr. One of the words derived from the same rootis sabbarah, meaning hard, unfertile ground, whichdoes not accept any seed. Likewise a patient person,one endowed with sabr is one who does not letevents affect him, who never loses heart butpursues his goal with unflagging resolution.Courageous people are also called sabar, for they donot bend to pressure; they stand firm and ~ 209 ~
  • 209. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methoduncompromising, no matter how adverse thecircumstances may be.Patience is the most lofty virtue that one who hasadopted Islam as a cause can have. When Islam hasbecome a vital part of our life, it imbues us with anundying spirit which enables us “never to lose hearton account of what befalls (us) in the path ofGod”—never to weaken or cringe abjectly.12 Tobelieve in God is to trust in Him absolutely, and onewho trusts in God is the possessor of great strength:there is nothing that can weaken his or her resolve.Without patience, preachers of God’s word cannotcontinue their work for long. When they embark ontheir mission, they find that they are alone in acompany of strangers. They are restricted by God’scommandments, while others feel themselves freeto do as they like. Everything that they do is gearedtowards success and salvation in the next world,while all the avenues towards worldly success areopen before their adversaries. All their efforts areconcentrated on spiritual ends, while the politicaland economic expertise of others makes themstrong in the eyes of men. They maintain strict ~ 210 ~
  • 210. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodethical standards, while others’ actions are free ofall restrictions. The preachers of God’s word caneasily be affected by such matters. They may evenbe tempted to follow the madding crowd, and giveup their task. It may occur to them that if what theyare doing is so ineffectual, they may as well sparethemselves the trouble. This is where sabr comes totheir rescue, preventing them from giving up justbecause their words seem to be having no effect onothers: Therefore, have patience. God’s promise is true. Let not those who have no certainty make you impatient.13Sometimes, sabr takes on another form, and that issteadfastness and forbearance in the face ofpersecution from others. This was the methodadopted by all the prophets of God: They used tosay to their adversaries: ... We will endure your persecution patiently. In God let all the faithful put their trust.14The afflictions, which beset preachers of God’sword, are in fact an integral part of their mission. ~ 211 ~
  • 211. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic MethodThose they address are bound to show somereaction to their words, and sometimes it is going tobe violent and uncompromising. If they startbemoaning their treatment by others, the veryseriousness of their efforts to bring them over to thetrue faith is cast into doubt. Those who are reallyworking for God’s sake will not be affected by thereactions of others to what they are doing. Thedifficulties we encounter in pursuit of God’s goodpleasure, then, are really a test of our sincerity.Unless we have proved our sincerity, we cannotexpect our words to have an effect on others.When faced with enemy onslaughts people usuallytake retaliatory measures of their own: People aregenerally used to retaliating when they face anyunpleasant treatment by others. Sabr, on the otherhand, means to bear patiently whatever is metedout by the enemy. For instance, if Muslims in acertain country find themselves up against theeconomic bias of their non-Muslim compatriots, theway of sabr is not to start demanding equaltreatment, but is rather to make extra efforts oneselfto excel over others. Prejudice can only have anadverse effect when people of equal ability are ~ 212 ~
  • 212. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodcompeting for one job. If one of the contestantsclearly excels the others in ability, then not evenprejudice can deny him his rightful place.When the Muslims were economically isolated inMakkah in the time of the Prophet, some of thememigrated to Abyssinia, thus consolidating theirown position. The people of Makkah had made itimpossible for the Prophet’s followers to carry onwith their trading. What the Muslims did was tomove to a neighbouring country and pursue theirlivelihood there. So hardworking and honest werethey in their dealings that Najashi, the king ofAbyssinia, proclaimed that anyone who wronged aMuslim would have to pay the wronged party 8dirhams compensation. This was just one of theways in which God helped the Muslims re-establishthemselves, considering their patience in the face ofpersecution by others.Patience may appear to be a negative virtue, but, asfar as its results are concerned, it is a highly positiveone. Once we have realized the value of sabr, we donot take immediate retaliatory measures against ouroppressors; rather we look further into the future ~ 213 ~
  • 213. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodand set in motion a series of events, which lead tofinal success. Feelings run high when we have justbeen wronged. If we take immediate action, we maynot be able to consider rationally what we shoulddo: rather, we may act on the basis of our emotionsat the time. Patience, on the other hand, leads uscoolly and objectively to consider all thepossibilities open to us, and the real nature of thesituation we have to deal with. We are then in aposition to pursue a sound and solid policy.Impatience precipitates immediate action, tocontain the other party, while patience inclines us towait for the eternal laws of nature devised by Godto start working against our adversaries.When we combat our enemy with impatience, weare spurred on by superficial motives and baseemotions. We are bound to make mistakes anderrors of judgement, which only serve to weakenour case. When one is patient, on the other hand, adivine strength—intelligence—is born within us.Our intellect is a most extraordinary source ofstrength. It is able to look ahead, beyond temporaryobstacles and barriers, and plan for the future.Intelligence frees one from negative impulses and ~ 214 ~
  • 214. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodenables one to think on a profound level,penetrating to the very depths of a situation. Therewe discover secrets, which enable us to gain controlof our rival from all angles. He becomes like thequarry caught in the huntsman’s net: movementonly enmeshes him further and serves to tighten thehuntsman’s hold on him.The emigration from Makkah to Madinah was anexample of the Prophet’s patience. When theQuraysh had decided to kill the Prophet, the latterhad two options before him: either he could take uphis sword in self-defense, or he could leave Makkahfor some safer abode. The Prophet adopted thesecond course of action. He coolly thought thesituation over and decided on emigration toMadinah, where he would be able to continue thesame work, only in a different place. According to‘A’ishah, the Prophet used to come to their houseevery day in the period prior to the emigration.There he would hold consultations with her father,Abu Bakr. Preparations were made, in the utmostsecrecy, over a period of six months. Everythingwent according to plan, and finally the Prophet setout for Madinah, taking a dependable guide with ~ 215 ~
  • 215. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodhim. From the point of view of a zealous Muslimpolitical leader of the modern age, the emigrationwould appear as a flight, for what he wouldadvocate in a similar situation would be a fight tothe death; he would be looking no further aheadthan making a martyr of himself. But if one looks atthe results of the emigration of the Prophet, one cansee that it was clearly the greatest watershed inIslamic history.Patience also enables us to refrain from takingaction, and permits things to take their naturalcourse. Human nature is an unchangeable realitythat always exerts a strong influence on the course ofhuman life. Deep down, people always have a softspot for one who bears abuse quietly, for one whorefuses to be provoked even in face of the utmostprovocation. The human conscience naturally tendsto favour the oppressed rather than the oppressor.Great opportunities open out in the world of naturefor those who are denied them in the world of men:then, when they stand firm in face of persecution,they prove themselves to be in the right. The boycottthat was imposed on the Prophet and his family inthe seventh year of the prophetic mission was just ~ 216 ~
  • 216. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodsuch an example. As a result of this boycott thewhole of the Banu Hashim clan, with the exceptionof Abu Lahab, were besieged in a mountain ravine,called Shi’b Abi Talib. The manner in which thesepeople quietly endured all this cruel oppression wasbound to have an effect on the conscience of others.And it did. Within three years, people like Abu’l-Bakhtari, Hisham ibn ‘Amr, Zubayr ibn Umayyah,Zam’ah ibn al-Aswad and Mut’am ibn ‘Adi brokeaway from the ranks of the enemy, openlychallenging the propriety of the pact by which thisboycott had been imposed on the Banu Hashim. Thepact collapsed, and the Banu Hashim were rescuedfrom their terrible plight.The most important thing about patience is, that itqualifies one for divine succour. Patientperseverance in pursuit of a worthy cause meansputting one’s own affairs in the hands of the Lord ofthe Universe. It is inconceivable that those whotrust in Almighty God, for the sake of a just cause,should find themselves forsaken.There are various ways in which this divine succourmanifests itself. The human mind can neither ~ 217 ~
  • 217. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodunderstand nor fathom them. Some of the formswhich divine succour takes, however, have beenmentioned in the Qur’an. When Muslims confrontnon-Muslims in the field of battle, for instance,divine succour compensates for their inferiorresources: calmness and confidence enter the heartsof the believers, while fear weakens theiropponents: Believers, remember God’s goodness to you when there came against you hosts. We unleashed against them a wind and soldiers you could not see. God saw all that you were doing.15This verse deals with the Battle of the Trench (A.D.627) when God sent two things—wind and an armyof angels in support of the ‘believers. There isnothing, extraordinary about wind. There isnowhere that it does not blow. But at a special time,and in a special place, it was made to blow faster,thus assisting the believers. This shows that whenGod decides to help anyone, he makes normalphysical happenings assume a certain intensity,which ensures success. ~ 218 ~
  • 218. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic MethodAs for the army of angels, they did not come andwield their swords alongside the Muslims. Theyprovided psychological rather than militarysupport. What they did, as on several otheroccasions, was “give courage to the believers, andcast terror into the hearts of the infidels.”16 Theymade the enemy appear as a “smaIl band,” whilethe Muslims were made to appear as a “great army”in the eyes of their enemies.17During the reign of the second Caliph, ‘Umar (A.D.634-644), the Muslim army landed at Qadsiyyah, onthe threshold of Iran under the leadership of Sa’d ibnAbi Waqqas. They had to stay there longer thanexpected, and it was not long before their provisionsran out. Sa’d then sent a few men to look for somecattle, which they could eat. They met an Iranian,whom they asked whether there were any goats orcows around. Although—the Iranian was a shepherdhimself, he denied all knowledge of there being anyanimals in the vicinity. He had hidden his own flockin a dense jungle nearby on hearing of the presenceof the Muslim army. But then an ox called out: “Theshepherd is lying. We are here, in this under-growth.” On hearing the cry the Muslims entered ~ 219 ~
  • 219. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Methodthe wood, seized of a few of the beasts, and tookthem before Sa’d. When the rest of the army heardthe story they were very happy and interpreted it asa sign that God’s succour was with them.But, as the historian Ibn’ al-Taqtaqi has written, oneshould not be under the impression that the oxactually called out, “We are here,” in Arabic. Itlowed as oxen usually do, and from its sound theMuslims realized that cattle were hidden in theundergrowth.TRUSTING IN GODThe Qur’an sums up the Islamic method in thefollowing words: And if they incline to peace, incline you also to it, and put your trust in God. Surely He is the Hearing, the Knowing. Should they seek to deceive you, God is All-sufficient for you.18This shows that the true Islamic method is to pursueour aims peacefully. Even when there is a fear thatour opponents may deceive us, Muslims should stillput their trust in God, and be ready to make peace. ~ 220 ~
  • 220. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic MethodWhat this means is that we should concentrate ourefforts in that field of action where—without anyconfrontation with others—there are opportunitiesfor us to advance. As for other fields, those in whichno opportunities present themselves—one shouldlet the forces of nature go to work. If we reserve ourefforts for those areas in which we are able tooperate effectively, God will help us in otherswhere we can do nothing. If we leave the arena ofaction that has been allotted to us, and seek tooperate in some other where we have been affordedno opportunities, it is as if we have tried to functionnot from our own arena, but from God’s. To try tousurp God in His work can only lead to Hisdispleasure; it cannot earn us His succour.NOTES1. Qur’an, 74:1-7.2. Qur’an, 6:15.3. Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, The Glorious Qur’an, London, 1938.4. Sardar Pooran Singh, Article “Bravery.” ~ 221 ~
  • 221. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 9. The Prophetic Method5. Qur’an, 9:26.6. Ibn Hisham, TahzibSirah, vol.2, p. 107.7. Hadith of Abu Dawud.8. Hadith of Ahmad, on the authority of Ibn Ishaq.9. Tahzib Sirat Ibn Hisham, vol. 1, p. 67.10. Hadith related by AI-Bazar.11. Hadith of Ahmad, on the authority of Ibn Sa’d.12. Qur’an, 3:146.13. Qur’an, 30:60.14. Qur’an, I4:12.15. Qur’an, 33:19.16. Qur’an, 8:12.17. Qur’an, 8:44.18. Qur’an, 8:61-62. ~ 222 ~
  • 222. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkah10. THE PROPHET IN MAKKAHThere are two main periods of the ProphetMuhammad’s life: the Makkan and the Madinan,these names being derived from the towns ofMakkah and Madinah. Place names tend to assumehistorical significance over and above their literalmeaning, and Makkah and Madinah are noexceptions. They may originally have been justplace names, but now they have become symbolicof the two faces of the Islamic coin—two aspects ofthe process by which Islam has come to the world.On the one hand, Makkah is symbolic of “dawah,”or calling people to the faith, while, on the otherhand, Madinah is symbolic of revolution. One canput this another way and say that Makkah was theplace where the “dawah power” of Islam was firstactivated, while Madinah was the place where thispower actually achieved supremacy. This verse ofthe Qur’an tells the whole story of both Makkanand Madinan Islam: Muhammad is God’s Messenger. Those who are with him are hard on the unbelievers but merciful to one another. You see them bow ~ 223 ~
  • 223. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkah and prostrate themselves, seeking the grace of God and His good will. Their marks are on their faces, the traces of their prostrations. Thus they are described in the Torah and in the Gospel: (they are) like the seed which puts forth its shoot and strengthens it, so that it rises stout and firm upon its stalk, delighting the sowers. Through them God seeks to enrage the unbelievers. God has promised those of them who will believe and do good work forgiveness and a rich reward.1The reference to the Torah in this verse is madewith regard to the individual qualities of thecompanions of the Prophet. The reference to theBible shows their qualities when they came togetheras a group. Their individual qualities developed inMakkah, whereas their qualities as a communityemerged in Madinah.Biographies of the Prophet usually treat their subjectas if he were a person endowed with great magicalpowers, one who by mysterious means brought thewhole of Arabia under his wing. These books readlike fairy stories; even events, which have no ~ 224 ~
  • 224. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahmiraculous content, have been given a fancifulmiraculous interpretation. Take the case of Suhaybibn Sanan’s migration from Makkah to Madinah.When some Quraysh youths blocked his path,Suhayb pleaded with them: “If I let you have all myproperty, will you let me go?” They said that theywould. Suhayb had a few ounces of silver with him.He gave it all to them and carried on to Madinah.According to a tradition in Bayhaqi, Suhayb said thatwhen the Prophet saw him in Madinah he toldSuhayb that his trading, that is, his handing over ofhis property to the Quraysh, had been very profitable.Suhayb, according to the tradition, was astounded,for no one had arrived in Madinah before him whocould have brought the news. “It must have beenGabriel who told you,” he said to the Prophet.But the same event has been related by IbnMarduyah and Ibn Sa’d. According to them, Suhaybtold his own story in these words: I carried on until I reached Madinah. When the Prophet heard about my handing over my property to the Quraysh he said: “Suhayb has profited! Suhayb has profited!” 2 ~ 225 ~
  • 225. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahThe fact that the Prophet led such a simple lifemeans that it is simple for others to follow hisexample. He was a human being like any other, buthis life was a perfect pattern for others. Accordingto al-Bukhari, he used to stumble on the road likeanyone else. Indeed, the reason his congregationrefused to believe that he was the receiver of divinerevelation was the very fact that, to all appearances,the Prophet appeared just like any normal humanbeing: You make transactions in the town. You seek a livelihood just as we do.3The truth is that the greatness of the Prophet’s lifelies in its being a human event rather than a far-fetched tale of inimitable miraculous actions. TheProphet was God’s humble and very humanservant, and, having been chosen by God to spreadHis message, he was helped by Him at every criticalhour. In this sense his success was miraculous, butthe Prophet himself was in no way endowed withmiraculous powers. It is rather the human aspect ofhis life, which emerges from a study of the Qur’an. ~ 226 ~
  • 226. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahTHE BEGINNING OF THE PROPHET’S PUBLICMISSIONWhen, at the age of forty, the Prophet Muhammadreceived his first revelation, he reacted as anynormal human being would in such a situation. Hewas meditating in the Cave of Hira’ at the time.Petrified, he returned home, where his wifeKhadijah was waiting for him. Being an impartialjudge, she was in a position to view the situationobjectively. She was able to see that the Prophet’sexperience, far from being a bad dream, must havebeen a sign that he had been chosen by God. “Itcannot be,” she said, “God will surely neverhumiliate you. You are kind to your relatives; youalways give the weak a helping hand; you helpthose who are out of work to stand on their ownfeet again; you honour guests. When people are introuble you give them assistance.” 4The Prophet went about his task in a mannerbefitting one who was to preach a new message in asociety attached to traditional beliefs and customs.He proceeded cautiously, following an entirelynatural sequence. At first he had to work in secret. ~ 227 ~
  • 227. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahThis is how the historian Ibn Kathir describes anincident that occurred at the beginning of theProphet’s mission: ‘Ali, son of Abu Talib and cousin of the Prophet, came into the Prophet’s house while he and Khadijah were praying. He asked his cousin what they were about. The Prophet told him that this was God’s religion, the path that God had chosen Himself. It was to call people to this path that He had sent His prophets to the world. “Believe in One God,” the Prophet said. “He has no partner. Worship Him alone. Forsake the idols Lat and ‘Uzza.’ “I have heard nothing of this nature before today,” ‘Ali replied. “I cannot make a decision until I have talked the matter over with my father, Abu Talib.” But the Prophet did not want anyone to know about his secret until the time had come for it to be made public. “‘Ali,” he said. “If you are not ready to become a Muslim, keep the matter to yourself “‘Ali waited for one night, then God made his heart incline towards Islam. He went back to the Prophet early in the morning. “What was ~ 228 ~
  • 228. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkah it that you were telling me yesterday?” He asked. Bear witness that there is none worthy of being served save God. He is One. He has no partner. Forsake Lat and ‘Uzza, and disown all those who are set up as equals with God.” ‘Ali did this and became a Muslim. Then, in fear of Abu Talib, he used to come and see the Prophet secretly. ‘Ali kept his Islam a secret; he did not tell anyone about it.”5Even later, when the first Muslims among the tribesof Aws and Khazraj returned to Madinah, theyfollowed the same policy. According to thehistorian Tabarani, “They returned to their peopleand invited them, secretly, to embrace Islam.”Throughout his entire public mission, the Prophetwas very careful not to take any initiative until hewas quite sure that he possessed the necessaryresources. ‘A’ishah, wife of the Prophet anddaughter of Abu Bakr, tells how, when the Prophethad gathered 38 followers around him, Abu Bakrurged him to publicize his mission. Abu Bakr wasof the opinion that the prophet and his companionsshould go out into the open, and publicly preach ~ 229 ~
  • 229. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahIslam. But the Prophet said to him: “No, Abu Bakr,we are too few.” The same thing happened in thesixth year of the Prophet’s mission, when ‘Umaraccepted Islam. He protested to the Prophet: “Whyshould we keep our Islam a secret, when we areright. And why should others be allowed topublicize their faith, when they are in the wrong?”The Prophet gave ‘Umar the same reply that he hadgiven Abu Bakr several years earlier: “We are toofew, ‘Umar.” As long as the Prophet remained inMecca, he continued this cautious posture. Untilafter the emigration, with the consolidation ofMuslim ranks, when the armed Quraysh advancedon Madinah to extirpate the Islam and Muslimsthen permission was given to Muslims to counterthe Quraysh. The first battle fought between theMuslims and their antagonists was the Battle ofBadr. “Whoever is successful on this day,” theProphet said as the battle began, “will be successfulin times to come.” The meaning of the Prophet’sremark was that the time for Muslims to takepositive initiatives was only when they were in aposition to fashion a new future for Islam. If theiractions were not likely to produce such results, itwas better for them to be patient. ~ 230 ~
  • 230. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahOne thing is quite clear from biographies of theProphet. When the task of public preachingdevolved upon him, he became very conscious ofthe greatness of this task, realizing that it wouldrequire his complete and single-minded attention.He hoped that his family would look after himfinancially so that, freed from having to look for alivelihood; he would be able to concentrate on hispreaching work. He called ‘Abd al-Muttalib’sfamily together in his own house. There were aboutthirty family members at that time. The Prophettold them what his true mission in life now was. Heasked for their support, so that he would be free todischarge his prophetic duties. This is how ImamAhmad describes the incident, on the authority of‘A’ishah: “Banu Muttalib,” the Prophet said, “I have been sent to you in particular, and to the whole of mankind in general. Who will swear allegiance to me and become my brother and companion? Who will fulfill my debts and my promises on my behalf? Who will look after my family affairs for me? He will be with me in heaven.” Someone spoke up: “Muhammad, ~ 231 ~
  • 231. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkah you are an ocean. Who can come forward and accept such responsibility?” 6The Prophet’s own family were not ready to acceptresponsibility for him. ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib,the Prophet’s uncle, was financially in a position tolook after his nephew. Yet even he remained silent, forfear that this responsibility would devour his wealth.God, however, helped His Prophet, first through theProphet’s wife, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, and later onthrough Abu Bakr, whose wealth saw the Prophetthrough the years in Madinah.The Prophet displayed boyish enthusiasm in hisefforts to communicate the faith to others. Thehistorian Ibn Jarir tells, on the authority of‘Abdullah ibn al-’Abbas, how the nobles of theQuraysh had gathered around the Ka’bah one day,and called for the Prophet. He came quickly,thinking that they might be feeling some leaningstowards Islam. He was always eager that his peopleshould accept the guidance of Islam. The thought oftheir being doomed was a great distress to him. Ittranspired, however, that they had just wanted topick a quarrel. Acceptance of Islam was the last ~ 232 ~
  • 232. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahthing on their minds. The Prophet talked to them atlength, then went away in distress. Ibn Hishamtakes up the story: The Prophet returned to his home sad and disillusioned, for the hopes that he had for his people when they called him had been dashed. He had seen how far people were from accepting his message.7When the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Talib, lay dying,people came to him and asked him to settle mattersbetween his nephew and themselves before he died.“Take an undertaking from him on our behalf, andone from us on his behalf, so that he should havenothing to do with us, nor us with him,” they said.Abu Talib called his nephew, and asked him whathe wanted of the people. The Prophet replied thathe just wanted them to testify that there was noneworthy of being served save God, and forsake allother objects of worship. His people, however, wereunwilling to accept this. When everyone wentaway, Abu Talib said to his nephew: “You know, Idon’t think it was anything very difficult that youasked of them.” On hearing his uncle’s words, the ~ 233 ~
  • 233. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahProphet’s hopes soared, for now perhaps he wouldaccept Islam. “Uncle,” he said, “then why don’t youtestify to the oneness of God, so that I may be ableto intercede for you on the Day ofJudgement?”8 TheProphet was sorely disappointed that his unclenever accepted Islam.The dedication with which the Prophet appliedhimself to his task was total, all his mental andphysical energy being channelled into it. Not onlyhis time, but also his property went into thefurtherance of the Islamic cause. Before the start ofhis mission, the Prophet had become quite rich byvirtue of his marriage to the wealthy Khadijah. Atthe beginning of the Makkan period, the Qurayshsent ‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah to talk to the Prophet. AsIbn Kathir explains, he soon found himself beingwon over; (an event which was unfortunatelymisinterpreted by his kinsmen as being due to thelove of the Prophet’s wealth): Afterwards ‘Utbah stayed at home and did not go out to see anybody. “Fellow Quraysh,” Abu Jahl said, “It seems to me that ‘Utbah has become attracted towards Muhammad. He ~ 234 ~
  • 234. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkah must have been taken by the food that Muhammad offered him. This can only be due to some need of his. Let’s go and see him.” So off they went. “Utbah,” Abu Jahl said, “we have come to see you because we are sure that you have taken a liking to Muhammad and his religion. Look, if you want we can accumulate enough money to ensure that you will not have to go to him to be fed.” ‘Utbah became angry, and swore that he would never speak to Muhammad again! 9Similarly, Walid ibn Mughirah once came to see theProphet. When the latter recited some verses of theQur’an to him, Walid was very impressed by thestyle of the Book of God. When Abu Jahl heardabout this, he went to see Walid, and told him thatpeople would make a collection for him, because hewas obviously in need of some money, and hadgone to Muhammad for this purpose. The Prophet,then, was financially very well placed when hecommenced his mission. But when, after 13 years,he emigrated to Madinah, it was a very differentstory. He had nothing left, and had to borrow somemoney from Abu Bakr for the Journey. ~ 235 ~
  • 235. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahTHE PROPHET’S CALLLooked at from a logical point of view, the Islamiccall consists of certain constant, recurrent factors. Itis the same points—the oneness of God, theimportance and inevitability of the life after death,the need for people to understand their position asGod’s servants, and live as such according to theprophetic pattern—which are stressed again andagain. When these points come from the tongue ofthe preacher of God’s word, however, they take onthe hue of the preacher’s own person; he adds anelement of individuality to what are basicallyunvarying themes. This addition means that themessage of Islam, far from being a repetition of settexts, is expressed with irresistible vitality andspontaneity. One in meaning, it becomes diverse inthe forms it takes. Fixed though its topics are, itbecomes impossible to compile a complete list ofthem. The heart of the preacher of God’s word isfull of fear of God; it is his ardent desire to bring hisaudience on to the path of right guidance. Heknows that if he can bring God’s servants close toGod, God will be pleased with him. These factorsspur him on in his task. They ensure that his words, ~ 236 ~
  • 236. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahfar from being repetitive and monotonous, have aninspired air about them. Despite being one intheme, his message becomes varied in tone. Thepreacher of God’s word thinks first and foremost ofhis congregation. More than anything, he wantsthem to find right guidance. This means that hemakes allowances for the needs of every individualthat he is addressing, and casts his words in amould that will be understandable to them.No one followed this pattern more completely thanthe Prophet of Islam. Night and day, he was busypreaching the word of God. But his preaching wasfar from a bland repetition of certain set speeches.He used to take in consideration the nature of hiscongregation in formulating his message.On one occasion, in the early days in Makkah, theProphet preached Islam to Abu Sufyan and his wifeHind. This is how he framed his address: Abu Sufyan ibn Barb, Hind bint ‘Utbah. You are going to die, then you will be raised up. The good will then be admitted into heaven, and the wicked will enter hell. I am telling you the truth.10 ~ 237 ~
  • 237. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahThe historian Ibn Khuzaymah has recorded thefollowing conversation between a member of theMakkan nobility Hasin, and the ProphetMuhammad, on whom be peace “Tell me, Hasin,”the Prophet said, “how many gods do youworship?” “Seven on earth and one in heaven,”Hasin replied. “Whom do you call on when you arein trouble?” the Prophet asked. The one in heaven,”Hasin answered. “And whom do you call on whenyou have suffered loss wealth?” the Prophet askedagain. “The one in heaven came the same reply. “Healone answers your prayers,” the Prophet said,“Then why do you set up others as His equals?”11Imam Ahmad has reported, on the authority of AbuUmamah, that a man from a certain tribe came to theProphet, and asked him what teachings he hadbrought from God. “That relationships should bestrengthened and wrongful killing avoided. Roadsshould be left open. Idols should be broken. Only oneGod should be served; no others should be set upwith Him as His equals,” was the Prophet’s reply.After he had reached Madinah, however, when hesent a formal invitation to the people of Najran, he ~ 238 ~
  • 238. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahpresented his message in a different manner: I call you to serve God rather than men, and to acknowledge the sovereign power of God rather than that of men.12The Qur’an itself provided a constant andimportant basis of the Prophet’s preaching work.Whenever the Prophet met anybody, he wouldrecite a passage of the Qur’an to him. Often phraseslike, “He made mention Islam, and read some of theQur’an to them,” or “He presented the message ofIslam before them, and recited to them a passage ofthe Qur’an,” recurred in traditions concerning theProphet’s preaching mission. The Qur’an possessedextraordinary magnetism for the Arabs. Even someof the direst enemies of Islam used to steal up to theProphet’s house at night, put their ears to the wall,and listen to him reciting the Qur’an. The sublimestyle of the Qur’an used to have the most profoundimpact on the Prophet’s people. Take the case ofWalid ibn Mughirah who once came to the Propheton behalf of the Quraysh. When the Prophet readhim a passage of the Qur’an, Walid was soimpressed that he went back to the Quraysh and ~ 239 ~
  • 239. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahtold them that the Qur’an was a literary work ofsuch unsurpassable excellence that it overshadowedeverything else. Recitation of the Qur’an was, inthose days, a common method of preaching Islam.When Mus’ab ibn Zubayr was sent to Madinah as apreacher, he used to “talk to people, and recite apassage of the Qur’an to them.” That was whypeople came to know him as “al-Muqri”, the reciterof the Qur’an.During his time in Makkah the Prophet’s preachingwas always conducted on a refined intellectuallevel. It was dominated by the lofty literarystandard set by the Qur’an. The Prophet’sopponents, on the other hand, could offer onlyabuse and opprobrium in reply. Sensible people inMakkah could not help but come to the conclusionthat Muhammad’s opponents had nothing concreteto offer in support of their case. According to IbnJarir, some of the nobles of the Quraysh planned tocall a meeting and talk to the Prophet. Theirintention was “to place themselves above reproachas far as he was concerned” that is, to assure himthat they had nothing to do with the base tacticsbeing followed by the Prophet’s direst enemies. ~ 240 ~
  • 240. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahTHE APTITUDE OF THE ARABSNow we come to the factors that produce thereaction that Islamic preaching evokes. Howeveruntiring the efforts of the preacher, and no matterhow accurately he presents the true message ofIslam, it is more the disposition of his audience thatdetermines whether his call is accepted or not. Thecharacter of the Arabs was a valuable factor, whichcontributed towards their acceptance of Islam. Theywere simple human beings, brought up in simple,natural surroundings. Despite their superficialignorance and stubbornness, they retained thequalities of their environment. Thirty million squarekilometres of desert, the hot, bare, hard country inwhich they lived, was an ideal breeding ground forthe most lofty human values. An average Arab hadjust one source of income—his camel. But if he hadguests he would sacrifice this invaluable beast inorder to provide them with food. If a victim ofoppression took refuge with an Arab in his tent, heknew he had a friend who would give his own lifein defence of the wronged. Even plunderers didtheir looting in a chivalrous manner. If they wantedto snatch clothes and jewellery off a tribe’s ~ 241 ~
  • 241. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahwomenfolk, they would not allow themselves tosnatch them off the womens’ bodies with their ownhands: instead, they would tell the women to handover their valuables, and they themselves wouldlook in the opposite direction, so that they did notcatch sight of them while they were taking off theirclothes.It would be misleading to think of the desert Arabsas pure simpletons who knew nothing. They were ahighly intelligent, alert people, quick to penetrate tothe depths of a matter.Seven Muslim converts came to the Prophet from acertain tribe. They told him that they had learnt fivethings during the time of ignorance that precededIslam. They would adhere to these principles, theysaid, unless the Prophet gave them otherinstructions. The Prophet then asked them whatthese characteristics that they had inherited fromthe time of ignorance were. “Thankfulness in timesof affluence,” they answered, “and patience in timesof difficulty. Steadfastness on the field of battle andresignation to fate. We learnt not to rejoice overanother’s setbacks, even if it was one’s own enemy ~ 242 ~
  • 242. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahthat was afflicted.” “These people are intellectuals,men of letters,” the Prophet said when he heardthis. “They are cast in the mould of prophets. Howwonderful their words. “13Damad, a practising exorcist belonging to the tribeof Banu Azdashanuah once came to Makkah.People there told him about the Prophet. “He ispossessed by an evil spirit,” they said. Damad wentto see the Prophet, thinking that he might be able tocure him. But when he heard the Prophet’s words,his attitude changed. “I have heard soothsayers andconjurors,” he said. “I have seen the works of poets.But I have never come across anything of thisnature. Give me your hand,” he said to the Prophet.“Let me swear allegiance to you.” As was hiscustom, the Prophet did not give a long talk on thisoccasion. Actually this was all he said: Praise be to God. We praise Him and seek help from Him. One whom God guides, no one can send astray, and one whom God sends astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is none worthy of being served save God. He has no equal.14 ~ 243 ~
  • 243. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahIn these few words Damad found a wealth ofmeaning. “Say that again,” he requested theProphet. “Your words are as deep as the ocean.”15For an Arab there was no question of anydiscrepancy between words and deeds. He himselfwas true to his word, and expected others to be thesame. As soon as he comprehended the truth of amatter, he accepted it. According to the Prophet’sbiographer, Ibn Ishaq, the Banu Sa’d tribe sentDamam ibn Tha’labah to the Prophet on their behalfHe arrived in Madinah, sat his camel down near thegate of the mosque and tied it up. Then he wentinside. The Prophet was sitting there with hiscompanions. Damam was a brave and intelligentman. He stood in front of the gathering and asked:“Who among you is the son of ‘Abdul Muttalib?” “Iam,” the Prophet replied. “Muhammad,” Damamsaid, “I am going to ask you a few questions, andam going to be quite severe in my questioning. Ihope you won’t mind.” “Not at all,” the Prophetreplied. “You can ask what you like.” “Will youswear to me by the name of your God and the Godof those before you, and the God of those who willcome after you, that God has sent you as His ~ 244 ~
  • 244. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahProphet?” “By God, yes,” the Prophet replied. “Willyou swear to me,” Damam continued, “by the nameof your God, and the God of those before you, andthe God of those who will come after you, that Godhas told you to exhort us to worship Him alone andascribe no partners to Him; that He has commandedyou to tell us to forsake idol worship, and all thethings that our forefathers used to worship?” “ByGod, yes,” the Prophet replied. “I ask you to swearto me,” Damam said once again, “by the name ofyour God and the God of those before you, and theGod of those who will come after you that has Godcommanded that we should pray five times a day.”Damam then asked about zakat (alms), fasting, Hajj(pilgrimage) and all the other injunctions of Islam,framing each question in the same manner. Whenhe had finished his questioning, and the Prophethad given him the same simple answer to everyquestion, Damam spoke these words: I bear witness that there is none worthy of being served save God, and Muhammad is the Prophet of God. I shall discharge these obligations, and I shall avoid the things you have prohibited. I shall do no more and no less.16 ~ 245 ~
  • 245. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahHe then mounted his camel and rode away. Whenhe reached his people, he told them what hadhappened. Before the day was out, all the men andwomen who had been awaiting his home-cominghad accepted Islam.There was not a trace of hypocrisy in these people.They knew only acceptance or denial—nothing inbetween. When they made a promise, they fulfilledit, come what may. No threat of loss of life orproperty could prevent them from converting theirwords into actions. Such was the nature of the Arabtemperament. Historians have described thespeeches of both the Aws and the Khazraj—the twotribes of Madinah—on the occasion of the SecondOath of Allegiance. They have all the lustre, whichdistinguished their race. ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ubaydah hadthis to say: “People of Khazraj, do you know whatyou are committing yourselves to, swearingallegiance to this man? You are committingyourselves to war with men of all races. Thinkabout this. If, when you incur loss of life andproperty, you are going to send him back to hispeople, then, it is better that you do so now. If youdo so later on, it will mean humiliation for you in ~ 246 ~
  • 246. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahboth this world and the next. But if you think youwill be able to keep your promises, however muchloss you incur, and however many of your leadersare killed, then take him with you to Madinah. Thiswill be better for you in both this world and thenext.”Everyone said in unison that they would take theProphet with them, no matter what loss of life andproperty they incurred. “What will we have inreturn if we keep our word?” They asked theProphet. “Paradise,” he replied. “Hold out yourhand to us,” they cried out. He extended his handand accepted their allegiance. 17These were not mere words on the part of theAnsar; they were words borne out by actions. Evenwhen the Muslims became dominant, they did notdemand any political compensation for thesacrifices they had made. They were quite willing tolet the Caliphate remain in the hands of theMakkans. They did not seek reward in this world,but were content to leave this world to others and,to look forward to their reward in the next worldfrom God. ~ 247 ~
  • 247. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahTHE ALL–PERVASIVENESS OF THE PROPHET’SMESSAGEThe Prophet’s biographer, Ibn Ishaq, tells how theQuraysh nobility once gathered at the house of AbuTalib, the Prophet’s uncle. Among those presentwere ‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah, Shaybah ibn Rabi’ah, AbuJahl ibn Hisham, Umayyah ibn Khalf and AbuSufyan ibn Barb, all outstanding leaders of theQuraysh. Through Abu Talib, they asked theProphet what it was he wanted to them. ‘Just onething,” the Prophet replied. “If you accept it, youwill become lords over the Arabs. Even the peopleof Asia will capitulate to you.”18Monotheism is more than just a doctrine. It is thesecret of all forms of human success. To believe inone God is to give true expression to human nature.That is why this faith lodges itself in the depths ofthe human psyche. It even finds a place in thehearts of one’s enemies. Khalid ibn al-Walid becamea Muslim just before the conquest of Makkah, buthe had been conscious for quite some time beforethat of the truth of the message of Islam. Later on,he told of his early conviction that Muhammad, not ~ 248 ~
  • 248. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahthe Quraysh, was in the right, and that he shouldjoin forces with the Prophet of Islam. “I participatedin every battle against Muhammad,” he said. “Butthere was not one battle from which I did not goaway with the feeling that I was fighting on thewrong side.”19Many people are reported to have had inclinationstowards Islam long before they accepted the faith.Some even had dreams about Islam. One suchperson was Khalid ibn Sa’id ibn al-’As. He sawhimself in a dream standing on the edge of anenormous pit of fire. Someone was trying to pushhim in. Then the Prophet Muhammad came andrescued him from the pit of doom.Difficult though it may be to see the economicconnection in missionary work, there is an indirectlink of the utmost significance. When a personbecomes Muslim, all his resources are automaticallyput at the disposal of the Islamic cause. First it wasKhadijah, the Prophet’s wife, who provided theIslamic movement with financial assistance. ThenAbu Bakr, who had accumulated 40,000 dirhamsfrom his trading, put all his capital into the service ~ 249 ~
  • 249. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahof Islam. When he and the Prophet emigrated fromMakkah to Madinah, he took 6000 dirhams withhim—enough to finance the entire expenses of thejourney. ‘Uthman donated 10,000 dinars towardsthe expedition to Tabuk in A.H. 9. On one occasionalone, ‘Abd al-Rahman ibn ‘Awf gave 500 horses, tobe used in the service of the Islamic cause. So it waswith others who accepted Islam. Just as theythemselves entered the Islamic fold, so theirproperties became part of the Islamic treasury.Belief in one God is the only creed, which does notallow for any social distinction or racial prejudice. Forthis reason the masses flock to join any movementwhich rises on the basis of this creed. They realizethat under the banner of monotheism all peoplebecome equal in the real sense. As humble servants ofone great God, they all become true human beingswith a right to human dignity. By finding their trueplace in the world, they achieve the greatest positionthat man can aspire to. When Mughirah ibn Shu’bahentered the court of the Iranian warrior, Rustam, hemade a speech to the courtiers gathered there. As IbnJarir explains, his words had a devastating effect onall who heard them: ~ 250 ~
  • 250. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkah The lower classes said: “By God, this Arabian has spoken the truth.” As for the upper classes: they said, “By God, he has attacked us with words which our slaves will find irresistible. God damn our predecessors. How stupid they were to think lightly of this community.20When, in the thirteenth year of the Prophet’smission, he and Abu Bakr arrived in Madinah,about 500 people came to meet him. They greetedthe newcomers with these words: Welcome! You are both safe with us. We accept you as our leaders. 21It was the Prophet’s preaching alone which hadmade him leader of the people of Madinah. The firstinhabitant of Madinah to whom the Prophet hadpreached Islam was probably Suwayd ibn Samit al-Khazraji. When the Prophet had given him anoutline of the teachings of Islam, Suwayd said: “Itseems that your message is the same as mine.”“What’s your message?”, the Prophet asked. “Thewisdom of Luqman,” Suwayd replied. When theProphet asked him to explain the wisdom of ~ 251 ~
  • 251. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahLuqman, Suwayd recited a few poems. “I have theQur’an,” the Prophet said, “which is far superior tothis.” He then recited a few verses of the Qur’an,and Suwayd immediately accepted Islam. He wentback to Madinah and preached the message ofIslam to his own tribe, but they killed him. 22After this, a chieftain of Madinah, Abu’l HaysarAnas ibn Rafi’, came to Makkah. With him was agroup of youths of the Banu ‘Abd al-Ashhal tribe.They had come to Makkah to make an alliance withthe Quraysh on behalf of the Khazraj, one of themain tribes of Madinah who were embroiled in aconflict with the other main tribe, the Aws. TheProphet heard that they were in Makkah. He wentto see them and said: “Shall I tell you aboutsomething even better than what you have comefor?” He then went on to explain to them themeaning of belief in One God. There was a youthamong them called Ayas ibn Mu’adh, who told hispeople that what the Prophet had told them wasmuch better than what they had come for. Thedelegation, however, did not agree. “Leave usalone,” they said, “We are here on other business.”They returned to Madinah. Soon afterwards there ~ 252 ~
  • 252. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahwas waged the vicious and devastating battlebetween the Aws and Khazraj known as Bu’ath.According to Khubayb ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman, twopeople from Madinah, Sa’d ibn Zararah andZakwan ibn Qays, came to Makkah and stayed with‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah. When they heard about theProphet, they went to see him. The Prophet calledon them both to accept Islam and recited to them apassage of the Qur’an. They accepted the Prophet’sinvitation, and became Muslim. Rather than returnto the house of their host, ‘Utbah, they went straightback to Madinah after seeing the Prophet. Theywere the first to communicate the message of Islamto the people of Madinah. This was in the tenth yearof the Prophet’s mission, three years before theemigration to Madinah.In the following year, six people from the Khazrajtribe came to Makkah for Hajj. They becameMuslim, swore allegiance to the Prophet, and thenreturned to Madinah to propagate Islam there.Then, in the twelfth year of the Prophet’s mission,twelve people came to swear allegiance to theProphet. The oath that they took, at ‘Aqabah near ~ 253 ~
  • 253. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahMakkah, is famous in Islamic history as the FirstOath of ‘Aqabah. There followed another pact, inthe same place, the next year, in which 75 peopleparticipated.Contrary to what happened in Makkah, theoutstanding personalities of the city of Madinahaccepted Islam at the very outset. According totribal custom, people in those days used to followthe religion of their leaders. Islam, then, spreadquickly in Madinah. Soon there was not a singlehome into which Islam had not entered. It was onlynatural that, as the Muslims achieved a majority inMadinah, they should become the dominant forcein the city’s affairs. And so it was that, as Tabarinihas reported, “the Muslims were the mostinfluential people in the city.”FACTORS WORKING IN FAVOUR OFPREACHING WORKThere are always some who resist the corruption ofthe world they live in, and remain attached to theirown true, primordial, natures. This is true of everyday and age, but it was especially true of the Arabswhen the Prophet commenced his mission. Besides ~ 254 ~
  • 254. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahthe simple way of life to which they wereaccustomed, there was the legacy of the religion ofAbraham, which made many inclined to seek outthe truth, and turn away from idol-worship. Suchpeople were commonly known as hanif, or upright.Quss ibn Sa’idah and Waraqah ibn Nawfal wereamong these hunafa’. So was Jandub ibn ‘Amr al-Dawsi. During the period of ignorance thatpreceded Islam, he was known to have said: I know that there must be a Creator of all this creation, but I do not know who He is.23When he heard about the Prophet, he came with 75of his fellow tribesmen and accepted Islam. AbuDharr al Ghifari was another such person. As soonas he heard about he prophet, he sent his brother toMakkah to find out more about him. One sentenceof the account that Abu Dharr’s brother later gavehim ran as follows: I saw a man whom people call irreligious. I have never seen anyone who more resembles you.24People such as these had no trouble inunderstanding the truth of the Prophet’s message. ~ 255 ~
  • 255. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahThe preacher of God’s word is like a planter whogoes out to sow seeds. If sometimes his seeds fall onbarren round, there are other times when they fallin places, which produce a good yield, without theplanter even knowing it.Certain people took a considerable time to acceptIslam. This does not mean that the truth of Islamfinally dawned on them all of a sudden. TheProphet lived a life of the highest moral calibre.Moreover, he spent his whole time preaching theword of God. Even the opposition to the Prophetproved to be a factor in his favour: it meant that hispersonality and his message were topics ofconversation. All these things had contributed toplanting the seed of Islam in the minds of manyArabs. Adherence to tribal tradition, and ancestorworship were still extant, and this sometimes madeit appear that there was stiff opposition to Islam,but all the while, in people’s hearts the seed ofIslam was silently growing. It is generally thoughtthat ‘Umar’s acceptance of Islam, for instance, cameall of a sudden, under the influence of a certainevent. It would be more accurate, however, to saythat it was this event which put the final seal on his ~ 256 ~
  • 256. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahfaith, which had been developing for some timewithin his soul.Well before ‘Umar had accepted Islam, when heappeared to be in the forefront of the opposition tothe Prophet’s mission, some Muslims emigrated toAbyssinia. Umm ‘Abdullah bint Abi Hathmah wasone of them. She tells her own story in these words: We were setting off for Abyssinia. My husband, ‘Amir, had gone to collect some of his belongings. All of a sudden, ‘Umar ibn al- Khattab, a man who had subjected us to untold suffering and torment, came and stood next to me. He had not up to that point accepted Islam.” ‘Umm ‘Abdullah,” he said to me, “are you going away somewhere?” “We are,” I replied, “for you people inflict such suffering upon us, and torment us so, that we must go and seek a place for ourselves in God’s land. We will keep going until God releases us from our affliction.” “May God go with you,” ‘Umar said, and tears were running down his face as he was talking. I had never seen him act like this before. Then ~ 257 ~
  • 257. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkah he went on his way, and he was certainly very sad to see us leave Makkah.25In every day and age some ideas take root in thepopular psyche. Before these ideas are banished, nonew message, however rational it may be, canbecome acceptable. The opposition, which theArabs first presented to the message of Islam, wasnot just the result of stubbornness or expediency ontheir part. Rather, it was genuinely difficult forthem to understand how any religion whichdiffered from that of the patrons of the Holy Ka’bahcould be the true religion. Arab tribes living in thevicinity of Jewish areas were generally free of suchrestrictive creeds. They had often heard from theJews that it was written in their scriptures that aProphet would come among the Arabs. As thehistorian Tabarani explains, that was why it waseasier for the people of Madinah to see the truth ofIslam: When the Ansar heard the teachings of the Prophet, they remained silent. Their hearts were satisfied that what he preached was true. They had heard from the People of the Book ~ 258 ~
  • 258. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkah what the Final Prophet would be like. They recognized the truth of his message. They confirmed his teachings, and believed in him.26When the Prophet went to the fair of ‘Ukaz and,entering the tent of the Banu Kandah, explained histeachings, this is what one youth had to say inreply: My people, let us hurry and be the first to follow this man, for by God, the People of the Book used to tell us that a Prophet would arise from the Sacred Territory, and that his time has drawn nigh.27The Aws and Khazraj had become intellectuallyprepared, then, for the coming of an Arab Prophet.When he came, it was comparatively easy for themto accept him. As far as the people of Makkah wereconcerned, however, and most of their compatriotsalong with them, truth could only be seen in termsof who controlled the Ka’bah. In ancient Arabtradition, the Ka’bah was thought of as a king’scrown. In fact, its symbolism was of a higher ordereven than that of a crown, for the latter brings with ~ 259 ~
  • 259. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahit only political power, whereas one who held swayover the Ka’bah was heir to a wealth of spiritualtradition as well. As the following conversationbetween Dhu’l Jawshan al-Dubba’i and the Prophetshows, Arabs, in their simplicity, could think oftruth only in terms of who was in control of theHouse of God, the Ka’bah in Makkah: “Why don’t you accept Islam,” the Prophet said to Dhu’l Jawshan, “so that you may be counted among the first to have done so?” Dhu’I Jawshan said that he would not. The Prophet asked why. “I have heard that your people are after your blood,” Dhu’l Jawshan said. “Have you not heard about their defeat at Badr?” the Prophet asked. Dhu’I Jawshan said that he had. “We are only showing you the path of guidance,” the Prophet said. Dhu’I Jawshan said that he would not accept Islam, until he (the Prophet) had conquered Makkah, and won control of the Ka ‘bah. “If you live, you will see this happen,” the Prophet said. Dhu’l Jawshan says that later he was with his family in Ghawr when a rider came up. Dhu’l Jawshan asked him what was afoot. ~ 260 ~
  • 260. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkah “Muhammad has conquered Makkah and taken control of the Sacred Territory,” he said. “Woe betide me,” Dhu’l Jawshan said. “If only I had accepted Islam on that day: if I had asked Muhammad for an emerald he would have given it to me.28REACTION TO THE MESSAGE OF ISLAMWhen the Prophet of Islam commenced hispreaching mission, he met with exactly the reactionone would expect from a society hearing a newmessage. People were at a loss to grasp the meaningof his teachings. Once the Quraysh nobility sent‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah as their representative to theProphet. He made a long denunciation of theProphet and his teachings. When he had had hissay, the Prophet asked him: “Have you finished?”‘Utbah said that he had. “In the Name of God, theBeneficent, the Merciful,” the Prophet began, andthen went on to recite the first thirteen verses of thechapter of the Qur’an entitled Ha Mim al Sajdah.“Don’t you have anything else to say?” ‘Utbahasked indignantly. The Prophet said that he did not.When he returned to the Quraysh, they asked him ~ 261 ~
  • 261. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahwhat had happened, “I said whatever you wouldhave wanted me to say,” replied ‘Utbah. They askedwhether Muhammad had given any answer. ‘Utbahsaid that he had, but that the proofs he offered wereincomprehensible. All that he had gathered wasthat he was warning them of a thunderbolt like thatwhich had overtaken Thamud and Ad. “What hasbecome of you?” the Quraysh asked. “How is it thata person speaks to you in Arabic, and you do notunderstand what he says?” “Really, I didn’tunderstand anything,” ‘Utbah insisted. “All Igathered was that he mentioned a thunderbolt.”29Some people were only familiar with religion in aparticular, conventional form. To them, the messageof Islam just appeared to be an indictment of theirelders. Damad once came to Makkah to perform‘Umrah. He had occasion to sit in a gathering alongwith Abu Jahl, ‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah and Umayyahibn Khalf “He (Muhammad) has caused a split inour community,” Abu Jahl declared. “He thinks weare all fools, and considers our ancestors woefullyastray. He insults our idols.” “He is insane, withoutdoubt,” Umayyah added.30 ~ 262 ~
  • 262. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahWhen ‘Amr ibn Murrah al-Juhani preached Islamamong his own tribe, the Juhaynah, one of themspoke up: “May God make you taste the bitternessof life, ‘Amr. Do you want us to forsake our idols,disunite our people, and contradict the religion ofour righteous ancestors? The religion that thisQuraysh from Tahamah preaches has no affection,no graciousness to it.”He then went on to recite three verses, the last ofwhich went like this: He seeks to prove that our forefathers were fools. One who acts thus can never prosper.3ISome people were prevented by jealousy fromaccepting the message of Islam. The Prophet madeno secret of the fact that he was sent by God; heproclaimed the fact to all and sundry. But peoplealways find it very difficult to accept the fact thatsomeone else has been given a knowledge of realitythat they themselves have been denied. Bayhaqi hasrelated, on the authority of Mughirah ibn Shu’bah,how Abu Jahl once took the Prophet aside and saidto him, “By God, I know full well that what you sayis true, but one thing stops me from believing. The ~ 263 ~
  • 263. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahBanu Qusayy say that they are the gate keepers ofthe Ka’bah, and I agree with them. They say that itis their job to bear water for pilgrims, and again Iagree. They claim a place in the Dar al-Nadwah,and I agree that they have every right to it. They saythat it is their responsibility to carry the standard inbattle, and again I agree. Now they say that there isa Prophet among them. This I cannot accept.”32For some people it was the threat of financial loss,which prevented them from accepting the messageof Islam. The House of God at Makkah had beenturned into a house of idol worship before thecoming of the Prophet. People of every religion hadplaced their idols there. There were even statues ofJesus and Mary within the walls of the Ka’bah,which had thus become a place of pilgrimage forpeople of all denominations. This was why fourmonths had been made sacred--so that peoplewould be free to visit the Ka’bah during that time,without fear of being harmed or attacked on theway. During the four months that people used toflock to Makkah, Makkan traders did exceptionallygood business. Were the idols to be removed fromthe Ka’bah, people would stop visiting the city, and ~ 264 ~
  • 264. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahits inhabitants would suffer immense losses. Sothere were many people with a vested interest inthe continuance of polytheistic practices. Theyfeared that if monotheism were to spread in theland, Makkah would suffer drastically; the areawould be reduced to the uncultivable valley that itbasically was.Added to this, the Quraysh, due to their position aspatrons of the Ka’bah, had come to lord over tribesfar and wide. Their caravans used to travel east andwest, far beyond the boundaries of the peninsula. Inaccordance with long-standing pacts, they used todo business with tribes as far afield as Persia,Abyssinia and the Byzantine Empire. The Qurayshthought that their accepting Muhammad as aprophet could only result in neighbouring tribes—in fact all the polytheists of Arabia—breaking offthe commercial agreements they had made with theQuraysh. That would also be the end of theirhegemony over the Arabs. This is the meaning ofthe verse in the surah of the Qur’an entitled, al-Waqi’ah (The Event): “And have you made denialyour means of livelihood.”33 The allusion is to theQuraysh’s notion that, by denying the Prophet ~ 265 ~
  • 265. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahMuhammad, and the monotheistic religion hetaught, they were saving themselves from financialruin.Once the Prophet started to preach his message, hisperson became the subject of general curiosity.According to the historian Abu Ya’la, people whosaw him used to ask one another: “Is this him?” Hemight be travelling amidst a host in a caravan, butpeople would single him out for mention. Anyonewho came to Makkah would, among other things,take back news of the Prophet. “Muhammad, theson of, Abdullah, has laid claim to prophethood andthe son of Abu Qahafah has followed him,” theywould say. The Quraysh used to call the Prophet“muzammam,” meaning blameworthy, instead ofMuhammad, meaning praiseworthy. They used toaccuse him of insulting their ancestors. Once, as theProphet’s biographer Ibn Hisham has related, whenthe Prophet noticed the litter which his fellowQuraysh had put in the street on which he waspassing, he said in dismay: “What bad neighboursthe Banu ‘Abd al-Manaf are. “34While the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Talib, was alive, ~ 266 ~
  • 266. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahhis enemies were unable to take any action againsthim for, according to tribal custom, aggressionagainst the Prophet would have amounted toaggression against his whole tribe—the BanuHashim. Before he accepted Islam, ‘Umar ibnKhattab once set off with the intention of killingMuhammad, on whom be peace. It was onlysufficient for someone to say to him, “How are yougoing to live with the Banu Hashim if you killMuhammad?” for ‘Umar to change his mind. Thesame question faced anyone who sought to harmthe Prophet. Persecution in Makkah was mostlydirected against slaves who had become Muslimpeople who had no tribe to protect them.According to the Prophet’s close companion,‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud, in the early days in Makkahonly seven men actually came out into the openabout being Muslim: the Prophet himself, AbuBakr, ‘Ammar, Sa’id, Suhayb, Bilal and Miqdad.“As for the Prophet, God protected him throughhis uncle. As for Abu Bakr, his tribe looked afterhim. The rest would be seized by the idolators whowould put coats of armour on them, and lay themout in the boiling sun.”35 ~ 267 ~
  • 267. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahWhen the chief of the Banu Hashim, the Prophet’suncle, Abu Talib, died, an uncouth member of theQuraysh threw dirt at the Prophet and it stuck tohim. When the latter reached home, one of hisdaughters, Fatimah, brushed the dirt off him. “TheQuraysh did nothing nasty to me like this before,”the Prophet commented. It was only after the deathof Abu Talib that they committed mean acts ofaggression of this nature. As the Prophet’scompanion, Abu Hurayrah, has pointed out, “theQuraysh used to treat the Prophet very harshly afterthe death of his uncle.” “Uncle, how quickly I havefelt your loss,” the Prophet once lamented.36 TheQuraysh even started planning to do away with theProphet. It was during this period that Abu Jahlthrew the intestines of an animal on to the Prophet’shead, and ‘Uqbah ibn Mu’it tied a sheet around hisneck and pulled it tight in an attempt to strangulatehim. Fortunately, it was unsuccessful. Now thatAbu Talib was dead, it seemed as if there wasnothing to stop vicious attacks on the Prophet’sperson. The only thing that held people back wasthat nothing of this nature had happened before inArabia; for a member of the Banu Hashim to beattacked and killed by his own fellow Quraysh ~ 268 ~
  • 268. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahwould have been an action without precedent.Added to this, there were still people among theidolators whose consciences pricked them, who intheir heart of hearts supported the Prophet. The firsttime that Abu Jahl made a murderous attack uponthe Prophet, Abu’l Bakhtarl heard about it. He tooka whip and went to the Ka’bah, where Abu Jahl wassitting triumphantly with his associates. Abu’lBakhtari first made sure that Abu Jahl had reallyattacked the Prophet in this way, and, when itturned out that he had, he took his whip and struckAbu Jahl so hard on the head that the latter roaredwith pain.One can see from the history of various religionshow, even as a creed, polytheism has always beensuper-sensitive to criticism. But in ancient timespolytheism was more than just a creed; it providedthe very foundation of the structure of social orders.There were political reasons too, then, for thepeople’s fanatical attachment to polytheism. Thiswas the situation in Makkah, and it was for thisreason that the Prophet’s time there was such asupreme test of patience. Only a handful of peoplebelieved in him during the first three years of his ~ 269 ~
  • 269. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahmission. The town of Makkah was as devoid ofsupporters who would help the Prophet as it was ofshade-giving trees. Only four people managed toremain close to him-’Ali, Zayd, Abu Bakr andKhadijah—five if one includes the first person whowas born a Muslim, ‘A’ishah the daughter of AbuBakr.So the situation remained for three full years. Whenthe Prophet left his house, he was greeted withderisive jeers in the street, as if he were a madman.One day—on the instigation of Abu Jahl—a groupof people were abusing the Prophet. A passer-bywas unable to put up with the sight of a personfrom a noble Quraysh family being treated in thismanner. He went straight to the Prophet’s uncle,Hamzah. “Have you lost all sense of honour?” hesaid. “You are sitting back while people aredisgracing your nephew.” This was enough toignite Hamzah’s sense of Arab pride. He had aniron bow, which he took with him and went to seeAbu Jahl. Striking the Prophet’s oppressor, he said:“I have adopted Muhammad’s religion as my own.If you have it in you, do something about it.” 37 ~ 270 ~
  • 270. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahHamzah was famed as a fighter all over Arabia.After he took this action, people gained newcourage and the number of Muslims went up tothirty. At this time there were two highly influentialpeople in Makkah—’Umar ibn al-Khattab and AbuJahl ibn Hisham. The Prophet offered a prayer toGod: “Lord, strengthen Islam by means of ‘Umaribn al-Khattab or Abu Jahl ibn Hisham.” Thisprayer was accepted in the former’s case. In thesixth year of the Prophet’s mission, ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab accepted Islam. Along with him, severalother people converted, and the number of Muslimsincreased to forty. During this period the Muslimshad a hideout in Dar al-Arqam. According to thehistorian, Ibn Kathir, thirty-nine people used togather there.But such a small number could not combat themight of the conventional system, which innumbers and resources was far stronger. It was notlong before oppression of the Muslims startedagain. The Prophet was subjected to every form ofpersecution, but all attempts to kill him failed. Thetribal system was still protective to the Prophet. Noone could dare to take his life, for to do so would ~ 271 ~
  • 271. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahhave been to declare war on the whole of theProphet’s tribe. He was not the only prophet to bedefended in this way. The Prophet Shu’ayb’s peoplealso refrained from killing him for the same reason,despite their desire to do so: They said: “O Shu’ayb, we do not understand much of what you say to us. And we see you weak among us. But for your tribe, we would have stoned you. You are not dear to us.” 38The Quraysh once presented a demand to the chiefof the Banu Hashim, the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Talib,that he should expel his nephew from the tribe.Only then would they be able to slay the Prophet.Abu Talib’s honour prevented him from taking thisstep. When Abu Talib, at the Quraysh’s behest,asked his nephew to stop criticizing their gods, theProphet became concerned that his uncle was goingto hand him over to the Quraysh. But Abu Talibimmediately put his nephew’s mind at rest. “ByGod, I will never hand you over to anyone,” he toldhim.39When all else failed, the Quraysh decided, in theseventh year of the Prophet’s mission, to ostracize ~ 272 ~
  • 272. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahthe Banu Hashim. Abu Talib took his nephew, andthe whole of his family, out of Makkah, and theytook up their abode in ravine known after AbuTalib. Except for a few wild trees, there wasnothing in this mountain pass. For three yearsAbu Talib’s family lived on the leaves and roots ofthese trees. Their only respite was during the foursacred months, when the Banu Hashim used tocome to Makkah. They would take back animalsof sacrifice and live for a few months on the driedmeat that they prepared.After three years, in the tenth year of theProphet’s mission, the pact to ostracize him thatthe Quraysh had made among themselves cameto an end. The Banu Hashim were now able toreturn to Makkah. But the strain of the time inexile had been too much for Abu Talib, and hedied in the same year (A.D. 620). ‘Abd al-’Uzza,known as Abu Lahab, became chief of the BanuHashim. He was an implacable opponent of theProphet, and took the decision that Abu Talibhad held back from: he expelled the Prophet fromhis tribe. ~ 273 ~
  • 273. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahEXPULSIONTo expel an Arab from his tribe in those days waslike putting him out among a pack of wolves. Therewas no government in those days, responsible forthe safety of its citizens. There was only the tribalsystem, and one could only live under theprotection of a tribe. In the pilgrims’ tents in Minathe Prophet once preached his message to a certaintribe, but they refused to accept it. Still, one can tellfrom what one of their number, Maysirah ibnMasruq al-’Abbasi, had to say, that the Prophet’swords had made an impact on him. Ibn Kathirexplains how the Prophet’s hopes were raised withregard to Maysirah. “How well you have spoken,and how enlightening your words are. But my tribedoes not agree with me, and one cannot go againstone’s tribe.”40 That was how much a tribe meant toa person. What a grave matter it must have been,then, to be expelled from one’s tribe. The Prophetnow had nowhere to go in his own land. There wasno other option but to seek the protection of someother tribe. His first attempt in this direction washis journey to Ta’if. Later on he explained the wholeepisode to his wife ‘A’ishah, saying that he had ~ 274 ~
  • 274. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkah“presented himself before Ibn ‘Abd Yalil.” In thewords of ‘Urwah ibn Zubayr, “When Abu Talibdied, and the Prophet’s affliction became moreintense, he betook himself to the Thaqif tribe in thehope that they would grant him asylum andsupport.”41 But one can tell what savage treatmentthe Prophet received at their hands from this prayerthat he made on his return to Makkah: Lord, I complain to you of my weakness and helplessness. How vulnerable I am among men, most Merciful one! 42After his return to Makkah, the Prophet commentedthat it was just as well that the people of Makkahhad not heard about what had happened to him inTa’if. If they had, it would have made them evenmore audacious.43 The Prophet was unable to livewithin the city. He stayed outside, and sentmessages to various people, asking them to takehim under their personal protection so that he couldreturn to the city. Eventually Mut’im ibn ‘Adiagreed to extend protection to the Prophet, who,shielded by the swords of Mut’im’s sons, once againentered the city walls. ~ 275 ~
  • 275. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahFairs, attended by tribes from all over Arabia, usedto be held in various places in those days. TheProphet would go along and speak to differenttribes, in the hope that one of them would agree toextend him protection. He explained his plight tohis uncle ‘Abbas. “I am not safe here with you andyour relatives. Will you take me to the fairtomorrow, so that we can visit people in their tentsand talk to them?” he said to him. 44The Prophet would then go into people’s tents and,presenting himself before them, would enquirewhat protection they could afford him. He wouldtell them that his people had rejected him andexpelled him from their midst. “Protect me andgrant me refuge so that I can continue to preach thefaith that God has revealed to me.” Historians havementioned the names of fifteen tribes that theProphet approached individually, only to meet withone refusal after another. Although it wasconsidered a shameful matter for someone to seekrefuge of a tribe, and his request not be granted—infact, this was the first notable example in Arabhistory of a person spending several years lookingfor a tribe to take him in—no one was prepared to ~ 276 ~
  • 276. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahshoulder this responsibility in the case of theProphet. When a group from one tribe felt inclinedto take pity upon the Prophet, one of their eldersrebuked them: “His own tribe has expelled him andyou intend to grant him protection. What do youwant to do? Wage war upon the whole of the Arabnation?”45 He knew that to offer refuge to a personwho had been disowned by his own tribe was todeclare war against that tribe.It was the Quraysh that had expelled him, and theQuraysh were masters of the entire Arab peninsula.To grant asylum to one expelled by them was todeclare war on every Arab tribe—on everyone wholooked up to the Quraysh as their leaders andguardians of the Holy Ka’bah. That was why, whenthe Ansar were swearing allegiance to the Prophet,Abu’l Haytham ibn al-Tayyihan warned them: “Ifyou take him with you the whole Arab nation willdescend upon you with one accord.”46Added to this there was the fact that Arab bordertribes had made pacts with neighbouring foreignpowers. These tribes were afraid of repercussions ifthey took a controversial personality like the ~ 277 ~
  • 277. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in MakkahProphet with them. As Ibn Kathir has explained inAI-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, the Prophet once wentinto the tent of the Banu Shayban ibn Tha’labah inMakkah, and talked with their elders. They wereimpressed by the Prophet’s words but finallydecided that their position, on the border of Persia,was too precarious for them to take responsibilityfor the Prophet. As their spokesman, Hani ibnQubaisah, put it, they had made pacts with thePersian emperor, and “it might be that kings willnot take kindly to the message that you preach.” 47The Prophet was desperate to find a tribe thatwould afford him protection, for there was no otherway that he could continue his mission. Once hewent to see a tribe which went by the name of Banu‘Abdullah. After the Prophet had, as usual, calledthem to Islam and presented himself to them, in thehope that they would grant him asylum, he said:“Banu ‘Abdullah, what a beautiful name yourforefather had.” But they were untouched by hisevident good will and rejected his proposals. 48The last three years of the Prophet’s time in Makkahwere spent among various tribes, looking for one, ~ 278 ~
  • 278. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahwhich would grant him asylum. Yet despite hisuntiring efforts, not a single tribe was ready to takehim in. Some of the people he approached used totaunt him, saying, “Isn’t it high time that youdespaired of us?” Eventually God gave the tribes ofAws and Khazraj, which hailed from Madinah, thecourage to extend the Prophet their support. Therewas one special, psychological reason for theirdecision. In their vicinity dwelt Jewish tribes,notably the Jews of Khaybar, who had possession ofthe most fertile lands in the area as well as controlof the region’s commerce. Many of the Aws andKhazraj were given employment by them, but thework was so hard and the recompense soinadequate that it was more like slavery for them.(Mention is made of this by the Prophet when, afterthe emigration to Madinah, he had his companionsbuild the Prophet’s mosque with their own hands.According to Ibn Kathir, the Prophet commentedthat “this is not the labour of Khaybar; this is muchmore worthwhile and honest work.”) In a situationof economic domination by the Jews and theirexploitation of the Madinan tribes, fighting oftenbroke out between the Jews on the one side, and theAws and Khazraj on the other. The Jews used to ~ 279 ~
  • 279. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahderide these tribes, telling them that a Prophetwould soon come among the Arabs, and that whenhe did, they would join forces with him and totallyeliminate the Aws and Khazraj.When the Aws and Khazraj heard the teachings ofthe Prophet Muhammad, they recognized him asthe prophet the Jews had taunted them with, andthey made haste to accept him before the Jews coulddo so. There were, of course, other historicalreasons for it being comparatively easier for theAws and Khazraj to understand the messagebrought by the Prophet, and to believe in himpersonally then it was for the other tribes. They didnot deliberate long, therefore, before swearingallegiance to him.So the time, which the Prophet had been awaitingfor years, finally came. He had found a place inwhich, under tribal protection, he would be able tocontinue his struggle effectively. The Muslims ofMakkah and the surrounding territories would begathered together with one centre. The fact that themajority of the people of Madinah accepted Islammade it easier for the Muslims’ scattered resources ~ 280 ~
  • 280. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahto be brought together in one place, and used moreeffectively for the furtherance of the Islamic cause.When the Aws and the Khazraj swore allegiance,the Prophet quickly returned to his companions.“Praise God” he told them, “for today Rabi’ah’soffspring have as good as overcome the Persians.”49The Prophet saw how Islam had been strengthenedby the Ansar taking the Muslims in. He realizedthat it would now only be a matter of time beforethe Muslims conquered mighty Persia.The Prophet began to make preparations foremigration to Madinah. He was to take six monthsafter the conversion of the Aws and Khazraj to dothis. All this while he attempted to maintain theutmost secrecy, but still the idolators, the Quraysh,learnt of his plans to leave. They heard about therefuge that he had been granted in Madinah, andthe protection that the Ansar had extended to him.The fact that the Ansar had accepted Islam alsocame to their notice, and they learned too that theMuslims were gathering in Madinah. Plottingagainst the Prophet, they decided to take himcaptive at the moment of his departure and theneither kill him or keep him prisoner.50 But their ~ 281 ~
  • 281. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkahplans came to nothing. When all his arrangementswere complete, he succeeded in slipping awayquietly to his new abode.NOTES1. Qur’an, 48:29.2. Hadith related by lbn Marduyah and Ibn Sa’d.3. Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah.4. Hadith of aI-Bukhari and Muslim.5. Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 3, p. 24.6. Hadith, Imam Ahmad on the authority of’ A’ishah.7. Tahzib Sirat Ibn Hisham, p. 68.8. Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah.9. Ibid.10. Hadith of Ibn ‘Asakir.11. Al-Asabah, vol. 1. ~ 282 ~
  • 282. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkah12. Hadith of Imam Ahmad on the authority of Abu Umamah.13. Hadith, Kanz al- ‘Ummal, vol. 1, p. 69.14. Hadith of Muslim.15. Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 3, p 36.16. Ibid., vol. 5.17. Ibid., vol. 3, p. 162.18. Ibid., vol. II p. 123.19. Ibid., vol. 4.20. Tarikh al-Tabari, vol. 3, p. 36.21. AI-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 3.22. Tarikh al-Tabari, p.234.23. Ibn ‘Abdal-Barfi, AI-Isti’ab, vol. 2.24. Hadith of Muslim, on the authority of ‘ Abdullah ibn al-Samit.25. AI-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 3, p. 79. ~ 283 ~
  • 283. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkah26. Related by al-Tabarani.27. Abu Na’im, al-Dala’il.28. Hadith of Tabarani.29. Hadith of Bayhaqi.30. Al-Asabah, vol. 2, p. 210.31. Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol.2.32. Ibid., vol. 3.33. Qur’an, 56: 82.34. Tahzib Sirat Ibn Hisham, p. 86.35. Hadith of Imam Ahmad, on the authority of Ibn Mas’ud.36. Abu Na’im, al-Hilyah.37. Hadith of Tabarani.38. Quran 11: 91.39. Tahzib Sirat Ibn Hisham, p.60.40. Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 3. ~ 284 ~
  • 284. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 10. The Prophet in Makkah41. Abu Na’im, Dala’il al-Nubuwah.42. AI- Bidayah wa al- Nihayah, vol. 3.43. Tahzib Sirat Ibn Hisham, p.60.44. AI-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 3.45. Abu Na’im, Dala’il al-Nubuwah.46. Hadith of al-Tabarani.47· AI-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 3.48. Ibid.49. Ibid., vol. 3, p. 145.50. Hadith of al-Tabarani on the authority of ‘Urwah. ~ 285 ~
  • 285. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 11. Islam comes to Madinah11. ISLAM COMES TO MADINAHBefore the coming of Islam, the city of Madinah wasknown as Yathrib. Besides the two main tribes of theAws and Khazraj, some Jewish tribes lived in thearea, who had established their dominance bypursuing a policy of divide and rule. Their primeconcern had always been to keep their Arabneighbours weak and disunited. Just five years beforethe Prophet emigrated to Madinah, the Khazraj, at theinstigation of the Jews, rose up against the Aws. AnAws chieftain by the name of Abu’l Baysar Anas ibnRafi’ went to Makkah along with a few of his fellows,in order to seek the help of the Quraysh. The Prophet,hearing about their arrival, went to see them, andinvited them to accept Islam.One of their company, a youth by the name of Ayasibn Mu’adh, was impressed by the Prophet’s words.He told his companions that this was much betterthan what they had come for, but they did notagree. Abu’l Baysar threw some earth in Ayas’ facein disgust and told him to forget about whatMuhammad had said, for they had other, morepressing business of their own. ~ 286 ~
  • 286. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 11. Islam comes to MadinahThe Aws delegation returned without acceptingIslam. Soon afterwards the Aws and Khazraj foughta war known as Bu’ath. The enmity between thetwo tribes had become so strong that each wished toobliterate the other. In this war the Khazraj first hadthe ascendancy. Then the Aws, under Abu Usayd,defeated the Khazraj. They inflicted heavy losses onone another, even burning houses and orchards. Inthis way the Arabs weakened themselves by theirown internal warfare.It was the Jews who benefited from this war, andtheir ascendancy in Madinah was furtherconsolidated. When feelings cooled, responsiblepeople of both the Aws and the Khazraj realizedthat they had made a grave mistake. They hadplayed into the hands of their enemies. They hadweakened themselves and strengthened the Jews.Many people in both tribes realized the need torectify this situation. But this could be done only byboth tribes agreeing to forgive and forget. The bestway to achieve reconciliation would be byappointing a king to coordinate the peacemakingprocess. ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy of the Khazraj tribe, aman of personality and gifted with qualities of ~ 287 ~
  • 287. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 11. Islam comes to Madinahleadership, was chosen for this task. At this veryjuncture some Khazrajis travelled to Makkah on apilgrimage. There they met the ProphetMuhammad. He told them that God had sent himwith the true religion, and he called on them tobelieve in him. The Prophet’s words rang a bell intheir minds. They remembered that the Jews usedto tell them that a Prophet who would reignsupreme would soon be coming. The Jews used torejoice in the promise of his coming, for theyenvisaged joining forces with him to vanquish theArabs permanently. The people of Madinahrealized that this was the Prophet the Jews had toldthem about. Here was a golden opportunity toaccept him before the Jews could do so.So, expressing their belief in the Prophet, they saidto him: “We have left our people behind. No nationis torn by hostility and infighting as they are.Perhaps God will unite them through you. We willreturn to them and tell them about the religion wehave accepted. If our people unite on this faith, thenthere will be no one more powerful than you in thisland.”1 ~ 288 ~
  • 288. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 11. Islam comes to MadinahAfter this, the people of Madinah accepted Islam inlarge numbers. They became known as the Ansar,or helpers, of Islam. It was the selfless support theyoffered to Islam that enabled the Prophet’s religionto gain supremacy in Arabia.Five years before the Prophet’s emigration toMadinah, the people of that city had thoughtnothing of his message, and had rejected it out ofhand. Yet just five years later these same peopleaccepted Islam. The reason for this was that whenthey first met the Prophet they were preoccupied bymilitary considerations; they could think of nothingelse but how to subdue their enemies. This meantthat they had no time to give consideration tospiritual matters. God, and life after death,appeared to them to be extraneous issues, designedto divert them from their real aim.The Aws and the Khazraj poured all their resourcesinto the war of Bu’ath. All they received in return,however, was self-destruction. The very future ofthe two tribes was cast into doubt: it seemed as ifthe Jews would set them against one another untilthey were annihilated. These thoughts ushered in a ~ 289 ~
  • 289. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 11. Islam comes to Madinahchange of attitude. They began to think in terms ofpeace instead of war, of unity instead of civilconflict. They started setting their relations withtheir neighbours in a wider context than that of thebattlefield. They saw that the problem lay morebetween the Arab tribes of the Aws and Khazraj onone side, and the Jews on the other, than betweenthe two Arab tribes themselves. If the Aws andKhazraj could unite on a single platform, theywould be able to present a united front to the Jews.A unifying faith was just what they needed to healthe wounds of tribal conflict, and patch up thedifferences between the two tribes. And if theycould find a leader acceptable to both sides, hewould be able to see the process of reconciliationthrough to its completion. In the person of theProphet Muhammad, they found the leader and thefaith they needed. They rushed to accept hisreligion.It was Islam, then, that benefited indirectly from thewar of Bu’ath, for it made the Aws and Khazrajrealize the futility of war and seek peace amongthemselves. This peace they found in Islam, andthey united with one another as helpers of the ~ 290 ~
  • 290. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 11. Islam comes to MadinahProphet. “The war of Bu’ath,” ‘A’ishah once said,“was a war that God brought about to createsupport for his Prophet.”NOTE1. Tahzib Sirat lbn Hisham, vol.2, p. 38. ~ 291 ~
  • 291. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinah12. EMIGRATION—FROM MAKKAHTO MADINAHThe Prophet’s emigration from Makkah to Madinahwas the most important event of Islamic history.That is why the companions marked the beginningof the Islamic calendar with this event. But in orderto understand the real significance of theemigration, it is necessary to remove the dust oflegends and fairy tales that have, over the years,accumulated over the glass case of history.One of these myths has grown up over theProphet’s stay in the Cave of Thawr, on his wayfrom Makkah to Madinah. The Quraysh were hoton his heels, and to hide from them, he tookrefuge in the cave. The story goes that, after theProphet entered, God commanded a spider toweave a web at the door of the cave. Then Hecommanded a dove to come and lay an egg on topof the web, thus providentially—giving theimpression that the cave was uninhabited. But asis usual with such events, the facts of theProphet’s emigration to Madinah have beenexaggerated and distorted beyond recognition. ~ 292 ~
  • 292. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to MadinahThis is clear from a perusal of the actual historicalversion of what happened.As the historian Ibn Kathir has pointed out, themost reliable account of events is that given byImam Ahmad on the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn‘Abbas. This is how the account goes: They (the Quraysh) followed close on the heels of the Prophet, but when they reached the mountain, they lost trace of him. They then climbed the mountain, and passed by a cave. Noting a spider’s web on the mouth of the cave, they said to one another, “If he had entered this cave, the spider’s web would not have remained intact.”1It is not explicitly stated that the cave they saw wasthe cave of Thawr. Even if we accept that it was,then all that is clear from this account is that theysaw a spider’s web in the mouth of a cave. There isno mention of God commanding a spider to weavea web after the entry of the Prophet, or of Hismaking a dove lay its egg on top of the web. Suchadditions are fanciful, and are the result of wishfulthinking. ~ 293 ~
  • 293. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to MadinahThe greatest damage caused by such interpolationsis that they divert one’s attention to fantastic, far-fetched tales, and cause one to miss the real lesson,which is to be derived from purely factual accounts.THE EMIGRANTS ARE MADE AT HOMEThe manner in which the tribes of Madinah aidedthe Prophet is one of the most extraordinary eventsof history. Because of their assistance, they came tobe known as the Ansar—the Helpers. Usually whenpeople give something, it is in return for somefavour, or it is in order to ingratiate themselves withsomeone. There are also those who give offerings to“holy men,” because they think that to do so willcause blessings to descend on their families andproperties. But the emigration of the Prophet isperhaps the sole example in the annals of history ofpeople opening their doors to destitute and forlornrefugees when they themselves had nothing to gain,and probably a great deal to lose by doing so. Theaction of the Ansar was based entirely on theirdedicated commitment to the cause of Islam. Notonly did they accommodate the emigrants in theirhomes; they treated them as brothers and sisters, ~ 294 ~
  • 294. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahand shared their possessions with them. And theydid all this, fully conscious of the fact that theiraction involved much more than economic sacrifice.They knew full well that what they were doingwould arouse the hostility of the most powerfulfactions in both Arabia and Persia. There are nowords more fitting than those of ‘Ali to describethem: “They were true to their word, steadfast inadversity.”2When the Muhajirun forsook their own country forMadinah, every one of the Ansar was eager toextend hospitality to them. They even drew lotsamong themselves for the privilege of being able toentertain such noble guests. They handed over thebetter part of their properties to the Muhajirun. Andall this despite the fact that, in the oath of allegiancethey took, it was specifically laid down that otherswould be given priority over them. Though theyhad made the most extreme sacrifices for the sake ofIslam, they did not show the slightest disapprovalof this clause.3Despite all the assistance that was afforded him, theProphet did not have an easy life in Madinah. ~ 295 ~
  • 295. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to MadinahApprehensions that the whole of Arabia wouldunite against the Muslims proved only too true.This is how Ubayy ibn Ka’b, a companion of theProphet, describes the situation: When the Prophet and his companions arrived in Madinah and the Ansar gave them asylum, the Arabs united against them The Muslims used to remain in their armour, night and day. 4The Quraysh declared economic sanctions againstthe people of Madinah. All Arab tribes, followingthe Quraysh’s lead, severed links with the city.Internal resources ran far short of providing for theconsiderably increased population of Madinah, andthe expense of defending the city pushed theeconomy to its very limit. ‘Umar says that theProphet was restless with hunger all day inMadinah. There were not even enough rejecteddates for him to eat his fill. In later years someoneasked ‘A’ishah if they had a lantern. “If we had hadoil to burn a lantern,” she said, “we would havedrunk it.” The Muslims used to go out onexpeditions with hardly any provisions. Abu Musa ~ 296 ~
  • 296. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahtells of one expedition he made with the Prophet.“There was only one camel between six of us. Weused to take turns to ride on it. The skin beganpeeling off our feet from incessant walking, and weused to bind them with rags. That was why theexpedition came to be known as Dhat al-Riqa, (riqameaning rags or patches).” Food rations used to runso low that people used to suck dates rather thaneat them. Acacia leaves and locusts would make upthe rest of their diet. Added to this the Muhajirunhad to contend with a drastic change of diet. InMakkah they had been used to a diet of meat andmilk in Madinah dates constituted the majorportion of their diet. Tabarani has related anincident, which occurred one day when the Prophetcame to take the Friday congregational prayer. AMakkan Muslim called out to him: “Prophet of God,these dates have burnt our intestines. “5The emigration to Madinah was a watershed inIslamic history. From a practical point of view,Islam emerged from a purely missionary episodeand entered a period of active confrontation.During the period when he was solely concernedwith preaching, the Prophet used to work according ~ 297 ~
  • 297. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahto one hard-and-fast principle. He used to steerclear of all controversial issues and concentrateentirely on giving good news of the joys ofparadise, and warnings of the punishment of hell.He would avoid any discussion of political,economic and tribal affairs. When he preached themessage of Islam to the Banu ‘Amir ibn Sa’sa’ahtribe in the fair of ‘Ukaz, he assured them at thesame time that all he would do was pursue hispreaching work in a peaceful manner; he would notraise any extraneous issue. “I am God’s Prophet,”he said. “If I come amongst you, will you protectme so that I can continue to communicate mymessage? I will not force you on any matter.”6In Madinah preaching work still remained the basicpurpose of the Prophet’s mission. But the spectrumhad broadened, and now Islam had to take accountof social issues as well. The policy adopted by theProphet at this juncture was aimed at softeningpeople’s hearts towards Islam, so that the purposeof his mission could be achieved without conflict. “Ihave been assisted by the feelings of awe which Iinspire—this has been the equivalent of onemonth’s journey,” he once said. Usually his ~ 298 ~
  • 298. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahmissions were carried through to success by sheerforce of personality.There were two complementary aspects to thismethod: one was based on overawing theopponents of Islam, while the other was aimed atplanting in them the seed of love. The first meantaccumulating strength awesome enough toconvince the opponents of Islam that they could notbeat it and that being so, they had best come to itsfold. 7The second way was to offer gifts to the opponentsof Islam for softening their heart towards Islam andMuslims.8 The generosity that the Prophet showedto win people over to his cause was without peer.No one before or after him can lay claim to suchboundless munificence. Safwan ibn Umayyah, anoble of Makkah, went and hid in a mountainravine. After the Muslim conquest of Makkah theProphet extended an amnesty to him, and asked tosee him. After Hawazin had been subdued, theProphet was overseeing the distribution of spoils atJi’ranah. Safwan ibn Umayyah was with him. As yethe had not accepted Islam. Standing on the side of a ~ 299 ~
  • 299. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahgully, he gazed in wonderment at the goats andcamels swarming beneath him. “Abu Wahab,” theProphet enquired on seeing him, “would you likeall these cattle?” Safwan said that he would. “It’s allyours,” the Prophet told him. “No one but aProphet could be so generous,” Safwan replied. Heimmediately accepted Islam, and testified that therewas no one worthy of being served save God, andthat Muhammad was His servant and Prophet.9The Prophet’s numerous marriages were also partof this policy. Prime importance was attached in thetribal system to relationships through marriage.This gives us an insight into the marriages enteredinto by the Prophet after his emigration to Madinah.Through them relationships were established withcountless people, whose hearts then mellowedtowards his mission. The Prophet’s first marriagewas with Khadijah, a widow almost twice his age.Except for that one marriage, his other marriageswere entered into for the political and missionaryadvantages that accrued to Islam from them.The year after the Peace of Hudaybiyyah (A.D. 628),the Prophet—along with 2000 Muslims—went on a ~ 300 ~
  • 300. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahpilgrimage to the Holy Ka ‘bah. During his three-day stay in Makkah, he married a widow by thename of Maymunah bint al Harith. She had eightsisters, all of whom were married into distinguishedMakkan families. By marrying her, the Prophetbecame related to all these eight families. Khalid ibnal-Walid was Maymunah’s nephew, and she hadbrought him up as a son. So Khalid, the Quraysh’sgreatest warrior, became the Prophet’s step-son.After this Khalid did not join in any hostilitiesagainst the Muslims, and before long he himselfentered the fold of Islam. After his marriage toMaymunah the Prophet had arranged a weddingreception for the people of Makkah, but theQuraysh reminded him that—according to theterms of the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah—he was onlyallowed to remain in Makkah for three days. Hisperiod was up and he would have to leave the cityimmediately. The wedding reception, which wasaimed at attracting people to the faith, could nottake place. But Khalid ibn al-Walid and ‘Amr ibn al-’As had become Muslim together. So that on theirarrival in Madinah people exclaimed: “With thesetwo in the bag, Makkah has been tamed.” ~ 301 ~
  • 301. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to MadinahUmm Habibah, the daughter of Abu Sufyan, aprominent member of the Quraysh, and herhusband Ubaydullah ibn Jahsh accepted Islam andemigrated to Abyssinia. There, however, thehusband became a Christian. Not long after that hedied. Hearing of this, the Prophet madearrangements to marry Umm Habibah by proxy.After the death of Abu Jahl on the field of Badr,Abu Sufyan had become the most prominent leaderof the Quraysh. The Prophet would now be his son-in-law. The marriage had to be completed by proxy,for it was feared that if Umm Habibah returned toMakkah, her father would not allow the marriage.The ceremony was then conducted by Najashi, Kingof Abyssinia, and the bride left immediately forMadinah. With this relationship now established,Abu Sufyan’s enmity to the Prophet mellowed, andhe converted to Islam one day before the conquestof Makkah.The other aspect of this policy was that of “strikingterror” into the hearts of the enemies of Islam. Thisconsisted of mustering up enough strength andmaking such a show of it that there would be noneed to use it. The defeat of the Muslims at Uhud ~ 302 ~
  • 302. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinah(A.H. 3) could have turned into a rout if AbuSufyan had followed up his victory with anotherattack, instead of turning back to Makkah. Indeed,when he reached Ruha, he realized his mistake, andmade to turn once again on the Muslims’stronghold. But even at this time of utter disarray,the Prophet’s information system was still workingeffectively. He heard about Abu Sufyan’s intention,and decided to go out to meet him. Immediately hereassembled his shaken army and set off towardsMakkah. Contrary to his moral practice, which wasto maintain a veil of the utmost secrecy overmilitary manoevres, this expedition was given afanfare of publicity. When the Muslims reachedHamra al-Asad, eight miles from Madinah, AbuSufyan heard of the pursuit. Thinking that freshreinforcements must have arrived, he gave up hisidea of attacking Madinah and returned to Makkah.The Prophet turned back to Madinah when hebecame sure of the withdrawal of Abu Sufyan’sarmy.One year after the Battle of Mu’tah, which occurredin the month of Jumada al-Awwal, A.H. 8, theByzantine emperor started gathering his forces on ~ 303 ~
  • 303. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahthe Syrian border. The Ghassanids, along with otherRoman allies among Arab tribes in the region,followed the emperor’s lead. In response, theProphet advanced to Tabuk with an army of 30,000.The expedition to Tabuk was really a militarymanoevre, a pre-emptive strike. The aim was tostrike fear into the enemy, so that they would loseheart and abandon their hostile intentions. Whenthe Prophet reached Tabuk, he heard that Caesarwas not advancing to meet the Muslims but,instead, was beginning to withdraw his forces fromthe frontier. There was now no question of a battle,and Caesar’s very withdrawal had assured theProphet of a moral victory, which he decided toturn to his own political advantage. During his 20-day stay in Tabuk, he established contact with theneighbouring Arab tribes, who were at that timeunder Roman influence. The Christian chieftain ofDaumat al Jandal, Ukaydir ibn ‘Abd al-Malik al-Kindi, Yuhannah ibn Ruyah from Aylah, along withChristians of Maqna, Jarba and Azruh, agreed topay jizyah, a tax levied on non-Muslims livingunder the protection of a Muslim government,which guarantees the safety of their lives andproperty, and free exercise of their religion. ~ 304 ~
  • 304. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to MadinahThe same reason lay behind the expedition underUsamah, undertaken soon after the death of theProphet. Except for the tribes of Madinah the wholeof Arabia had risen in revolt when the Prophet died.Suddenly the Muslims found themselves at oddswith all their Arab countrymen. It appearedexpedient at the time to preserve all strength inMadinah, in order to counter the enemy within. Butrather than do this, Abu Bakr acted on a decisiontaken by the Prophet. A force of 700 men was sentto the Roman front under Usamah. Abu Hurayrahexplains the impact that this expedition had on therebellious Arab tribes: “When Usamah’s force passed those tribes by that were on the verge of apostasy, they would exclaim: “If the Muslims did not have great reserves of strength, they would never have despatched a force like this. Let us leave them to fight against the Romans.’ The Muslims fought against the Romans and defeated them, returning safely after doing battle with them. Seeing this, those who had been thinking of apostasy became firm in Islam.”10 ~ 305 ~
  • 305. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to MadinahWhen the Prophet reached Madinah, there were,besides a small minority of idolators, two maincommunities living there—the Jews and theMuslims. These two communities were split upinto several small groups. Neither was able topresent a united front. People were just waitingfor someone who would organize and unite them.When the Prophet realized that this was whatpeople wanted, he issued a decree in which Jewsand Muslims were recognized as communities intheir own right. “The Jews are a community alongwith the Muslims.... They shall have their religionand the Muslims theirs.” No encroachment wasmade on the customary rights and responsibilitiesof either Jews or Muslims, and acceptableconcessions were made to the sentiments of bothcommunities. A clause was added, however,which read as follows: Whenever there is a disagreement about something, the matter should be referred to God Almighty and to Muhammad.11This decree amounted to a political initiative which,in the most tactful and ingenious manner, ~ 306 ~
  • 306. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahintroduced Islamic constitutional government to thecity of Madinah.The Prophet’s departure to Madinah, instead ofappeasing the Quraysh, aroused their anger to newlevels of intensity. They saw that the Muslims wereall gathering in one place, and becoming stronger inthe process. Only two years elapsed before theProphet had to decide whether to meet the Quraysharmy outside the city, or allow them to enterMadinah and cast the newly built nest of Islam intodisarray. The Quraysh had 950 men in their army,while the Muslims numbered only 313. But theProphet’s insight told him that the Quraysh weremoved by solely negative impulses. Hatred of theMuslims, and jealousy of the Prophet, lay behindtheir aggression. The Muslims, on the other hand,were moved by the most positive and nobleinstincts. They had faith in God to spur them on, aswell as the certainty that they were fighting for atrue cause. The Muslims, then, were immeasurablymore strongly motivated than their foes. Besidesthis, Arab warfare was an individual affair. Everywarrior sought to make a name for himself byexhibiting his own bravery. Faith in God had ~ 307 ~
  • 307. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahremoved this weakness from the Muslims. TheProphet was the first person in Arab history tocommand his forces to pursue a united course ofaction, and fight in ranks. He stressed theimportance of fighting, not as individuals, but as aunit. The believers were urged to destroy theQuraysh’s individual strength with the strength ofsolidarity: God loves those who fight for His cause in ranks as if they were a solid cemented edifice.12It was faith and the Muslims’ ability to fight as oneunit that brought about the first victory of Islamichistory—the Battle of Badr.VICTORY OF ISLAMDefeat at Badr had the effect of further provokingthe Quraysh, and several battles, notably those ofUhud (A.H. 3) and the Trench (A.H. 5), ensuedwithin the space of a few years. The Muslims raninto severe difficulties during these campaigns. The800 who participated in the Battle of the Trench hadto suffer extreme cold, hunger and exhaustion. So ~ 308 ~
  • 308. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahmuch so that when the Prophet asked for someoneto volunteer for a spying foray into the enemycamp, no one stood up. Eventually the Prophetpersonally delegated this task to Huzayfah.There were also recurrent problems with the Jews ofMadinah who, in alliance with the Quraysh, werealways conspiring against the Muslims. Madinahwas besieged for twenty days during the Battle ofthe Trench. Finally the Quraysh were forced by aviolent sandstorm to make their way back toMakkah. Now that collaboration with the Qurayshhad been exposed, the Prophet chose this time tosolve this problem. There were three Jewish tribesin and around Madinah—the Banu Nadir, BanuQaynuqah and Banu Qurayzah. Immediately afterthe Battle of the Trench, they were besieged andexiled applying on them their own Judaic law. Thethreat that they had posed to the Muslims inMadinah was thus permanently eliminated.Then there was the problem of Khaybar. Six yearsafter the Prophet’s emigration, Madinah was anisland of Islam between the Quraysh in Makkah,400 kilometres to the south, and the Jews in ~ 309 ~
  • 309. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to MadinahKhaybar, 200 kilometres to the north. The Qurayshand the Jews were united in their enmity towardsIslam but neither being strong enough to take theMuslims on alone, they had entered intonegotiations aimed at setting out a plan of jointaction against the Muslims. The latter, for their part,were not in a position either to take on bothenemies at the same time.It was against this background that the Prophet,acting under divine inspiration, set out forMakkah in the year A.H. 6 along with 1400companions. He made it absolutely clear that theMuslims had no intention of fighting anybody,and were just going for Umrah. The sacrificialcamels, which the Muslims took along with them,provided further proof of their peacefulintentions. The camels were even given thesacrificial emblem, known as qaladah, so that thepeople of Makkah could be quite sure that theywere meant for sacrifice. This journey was alsoaimed at allaying the fears of the Quraysh that theMuslims intended to destroy the Ka’bah’sreligious and commercial status. ~ 310 ~
  • 310. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to MadinahAs expected, the Quraysh advanced to preventthe Muslims from entering Makkah. The twoparties met at Hudaybiyyah, some elevenkilometres from Makkah. Anxious to avoidhostilities, the Prophet set up camp then andthere. He then sent a message to the Quraysh,suggesting a peace treaty between the two sides.He impressed it upon his envoys that they hadnot come to fight anybody. “We have come aspilgrims. War has weakened and caused theQuraysh to suffer great losses. If they wish, I amwilling to make a truce with them: they shall notcome in between myself and the people duringthat time. If I emerge supreme, and they so wish,they can accept the religion, which others haveaccepted. If I do not emerge supreme, they willhave the right to do as they please. If the Qurayshrefuse this offer, I will fight with them in supportof my cause, even at the risk of losing my life.And what God wishes will come to pass.” I3The theme of this message shows that the Prophetwas appealing to a soft spot in the Quraysh’s ownpsyche. When the Prophet first commenced hispublic mission in Makkah, ‘Utbah ibn Rabi’ah came ~ 311 ~
  • 311. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahto him on behalf of the Quraysh. When he returnedto his people, this is what he had to say to them: Leave this fellow to carry on with his work for, God knows, he is never going to give it up. Do not prevent him from preaching to the Arabs. If he wins them over, then his honour will be your own. If they prevail over him, then, thanks to others, you will be free of him.14The Prophet thus appealed to the Quraysh in thevery terms of which they themselves had beenthinking; consequently, he was able to findsupporters of his peace initiative within the enemycamp itself.The Prophet sent the Quraysh this message, and atthe same time initiated various procedures aimed atinfluencing them. One of the Banu Kinanah camefrom Makkah to Hudaybiyyah to ascertain theMuslims’ intentions. When the Prophet heard abouthis impending arrival, he told his followers of theBanu Kinanah’s reverence for sacrificial camels, anddirected them to take the camels with them whenthey went out to meet him. They did so, chanting ~ 312 ~
  • 312. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahthe prayer of pilgrimage—”We are here at yourservice, Lord...”—at the same time. The Quraysh’senvoy was extremely impressed. On his return toMakkah he told the Quraysh that he was quite surethat the Muslims had come on a pilgrimage and forno other reason, and should be allowed to carry on.The very spectacle of 1400 Muslims displaying theirfaith in God also made a deep impact on theQuraysh. When one of their envoys came into theMuslim camp, the Muslims were all praying inranks, lined up behind the Prophet. He was highlyimpressed by the organization and discipline of theworshippers. When he returned to the Quraysh, hetold them that the Muslims worked as a unit: whenMuhammad made a move, all his followers didlikewise. Another envoy saw that when the Prophetperformed his ablutions, the Muslims rushed tocatch the water he had used in their hands before itcould touch the ground. He noticed the hush, whichdescended upon them when the Prophet wasspeaking, the reverence which prevented them fromlooking him straight in the eye. When this envoyreported back to the Quraysh, they were deeplyimpressed by his description of the Muslims’ ~ 313 ~
  • 313. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahloyalty and affection for their leader. ‘Urwah ibnMas’ud asked them: “Are you not as my fathers andsons?” The people told him that they were indeed.“Are you suspicious of me in any way?” he askedthem. They said not. “Well,” ‘Urwah continued,“this man (Muhammad) has made a fine proposalto you. Agree to it, and let me go to confer withhim.”15The Prophet made clear his intention to accept anydemand the Quraysh made, as long as it did notcontradict the law of God. The Quraysh displayedall manner of bigotry while the treaty was beingcompiled. They removed the words, “Muhammad,Messenger of God” from the draft and inserted“Muhammad, son of ‘Abdullah” instead. Takingoffence at the words “In the Name of God, theBeneficent, the Merciful,” they insisted on “In YourName, Oh God,” being written. They added aclause saying that any Quraysh who joined theMuslims would have to be returned. The Quraysh,on the other hand, would not have to do the samewith any Muslim who came to them. They refusedthe Muslims permission to enter Makkah for theirpilgrimage that year. These clauses were more than ~ 314 ~
  • 314. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahthe Companions could bear. ‘Urwah ibn Mas’udeven commented that those whom the Prophet hadgathered around himself were about to desert him.‘Urwah’s remark was too much for the normallyplacid Abu Bakr, who sternly rebuked him andsaid, “So you think that we will leave the Propheton his own?” But the Prophet himself refused to beprovoked. He accepted all the Quraysh’s demands,and completed a ten-year truce with them. As longas the truce lasted, the Quraysh were prevented—directly or indirectly—from participating in anyhostilities against the Muslims.This treaty weighed so heavily on the Muslims that,after it had been completed, no one responded torepeated calls by the Prophet for sacrifice of thecamels they had brought with them. It was withheavy hearts that finally they rose to make thesacrifice. So much so that when they shaved theirheads afterwards it seemed as if they were going tocut one another’s throats, so deep was their sorrow.But this truce, the terms of which appeared sounfavourable to the Muslims, was destined to reapincalculable benefits for them later. ~ 315 ~
  • 315. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to MadinahAt the time of the truce two main enemiesconfronted the Muslims—the Jews of Khaybar andthe Quraysh of Makkah. The Muslims were not yetstrong enough to confront both simultaneously. Toattack one would have been to provide the otherwith a golden opportunity to attack Madinah fromthe rear, thus demolishing the Muslims’ stronghold.Now the Prophet, by accepting all the Quraysh’sdemands, had consolidated a ten-year truce withone of the two. No longer could they conduct foraysagainst the Muslims. With the Quraysh out of hisway, the Prophet was now able to turn his attentionto the Jews of Khaybar. The attack on Khaybar(Muharram A.H. 7) followed in quick successionafter the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah (Dhu’l Qa’dah,A.H. 6), which finally solved the Jewish problem.Twenty thousand armed men were holding out inthe eight mighty fortresses of Khaybar. Thefortresses were also equipped with highlysophisticated defences. The story of the sacking ofthis fortified city is a long one, in which methods ofextraordinary military ingenuity were used. Thegate of the city was broken with a massive treetrunk, wielded by about fifty men. A few strong ~ 316 ~
  • 316. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahblows were enough to break the gate, allowing theMuslims to enter amidst a hail of arrows and stones.Four fortresses were captured in this manner. Therest took fright, opened their gates, and putthemselves at the mercy of the Muslim army.There remained the Quraysh to be subdued. TheProphet’s intuition told him to wait until they brokethe treaty before entering into the field of battlewith them. The Prophet knew the negativesentiments that spurred the Quraysh on in theirfight against the Muslims. Since the former weremotivated by feelings of jealousy, hate, greed andarrogance, the Prophet realized that they wouldstop short of no immoral and unreasonable actionin pursuit of their aims. His estimate provedcorrect. In Sha’ban A.H. 8, fighting erupted betweenthe tribes of Khuza’ah and Banu Bakr. The BanuBakr were allied to the Quraysh and the Khuza’ahto the Muslims. In blatant contradiction of the termsof the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, the Qurayshprovided their allies with clandestine support,enabling them to attack the Khuza’ah. This incidentoccurred just two years after the Treaty ofHudaybiyyah. During this time the number of ~ 317 ~
  • 317. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahpeople with the Prophet had risen from 1,500 to10,000. Along with them, the Prophet secretly setout for Makkah. So wise and diplomatic was hisstrategy that Makkah was conquered with next tono bloodshed: God has promised you many gains, which you will acquire, and thus He has given you this beforehand, and He has restrained the hands of men from you.16When the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah was signed, theProphet had been preaching for twenty years. Themessage of Islam had spread throughout theArabian Peninsula. There were people in every tribein whose hearts the Prophet’s religion had found aplace. But they still looked up to the Quraysh astheir leaders. Many who realized the truth of Islamwere unable to proclaim their faith out of fear of theQuraysh. They knew that declaration of Islamamounted to a declaration of war against themightiest tribe in Arabia. Now they heard that theMuslims and the Quraysh had agreed to curtailhostilities for ten years. The Quraysh would nolonger be able to take reprisals against people ~ 318 ~
  • 318. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahbecoming Muslims. There was now nothing to stoppeople from accepting Islam. It was as if a largecrowd had gathered at the gate of Islam. The gatewas thrown open with the Treaty of Hudaybiyyahand the crowds flocked in. As Ibn Shahab al-Zahriand others have pointed out, the Muslims gainedmore from the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah than fromany of their campaigns. The Prophet returned toMakkah two years later with 10,000 men, whereaspreviously the Muslims had numbered no morethan 3,000. This was a direct result of the removal ofthe greatest obstacle to acceptance of Islam—theanger and irritation of the Quraysh which wouldresult from such a move. Bara’ was one of theMuslims present at Hudaybiyyah. Bukhari hasrelated how he used to say to later-day people,those who considered the Conquest of Makkah tobe the great victory of Islam that the Companions ofthe Prophet used to consider the Peace Treaty ofHudaybiyyah as the outstanding victory.The economic blockade of Madinah was now lifted.Caravans from that city were now permitted to passfreely through Makkah. But Abu Jandal, Abu Basir,and others who had accepted Islam, had to be ~ 319 ~
  • 319. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahreturned to the Quraysh under the terms of thetreaty. Before long, however, they escaped and tookrefuge in Dhu’l-Marwah. So many Muslim convertsassembled in that place that it became a new,flourishing centre of Islam. From there they used toplay havoc with the Quraysh’s trading caravans.Finally the Quraysh were forced to abandon theirinsistence that anyone deserting the Quraysh for theMuslim camp would have to be returned to theQuraysh.The great lesson of Hudaybiyyah is that one shouldavoid impatience and should not judge matters byappearances alone. The outwardly unfavourableTreaty of Hudaybiyyah held great opportunities forthe Muslims, which only people of insight couldperceive. Ibn ‘Asakir has recorded some commentsof Abu Bakr on the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. “It wasthe greatest Islamic victory,” he said, “though onthat day people were too shortsighted to realize thesecrets between Muhammad and his Lord. Peopleare impatient but God is not. He lets matters taketheir course, until they reach the stage that heintends.” It is realism, which brings success in thisworld; but people want instant success, and are ~ 320 ~
  • 320. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahunwilling to go through the lengthy stages it takesto achieve it.After finishing with Khaybar, the Prophet began tomake preparations for another campaign. The targethe kept secret, not even telling Abu Bakr wherethey would be advancing. Only in Ramadan A.H. 8,when the Muslim army was actually directed to setout towards Makkah, did people realize where theywere heading. So stealthy and discreet was theiradvance that they reached Marr’uz-Zahran withoutthe Quraysh knowing that the Muslims were uponthem. The Prophet had prayed before he set out that“the spies and informers of the Quraysh” should berestrained until the Muslims entered the city ofMakkah.The Prophet went to amazing lengths to keeppreparations for the advance on Makkah secret. Hegave orders that Madinah should be cut off fromthe rest of Arabia: no one was to be allowed to enteror leave the city. A party under ‘Ali was sent toguard the roads leading to Madinah. It was theywho arrested Hatib ibn Abi Balta’ah’ s messenger,who was taking a letter to the people of Makkah ~ 321 ~
  • 321. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahwarning them of the danger to their city. AsTabarani reported on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbas,“every tribe provided manpower and weaponry infull measure.” No one was left behind. The army of10,000 was divided into groups of several hundredmen. Each division marched in ranks, led by acommander bearing a standard. The Prophet askedhis uncle (Abbas to let Abu Sufyan, an old opponentof the Prophet, witness the Muslims’ march. AbuSufyan watched from beside a narrow mountainpass as, row upon row, the Muslim army filed past.He could hardly believe his eyes. “Who has thepower to confront this army?” he exclaimed. “Ihave never seen anything like it.” The Prophet thuswent to great lengths to impress Abu Sufyan. At thesame time he announced that anyone entering AbuSufyan’s house would be safe. The result was thatAbu Sufyan himself appealed to the people ofMakkah to capitulate before Muhammad, for noone was strong enough to fight him. Events, whichfollowed the conquest of the city, proveconclusively that the extensive preparations werenot aimed at causing bloodshed: they were aimed atfrightening the Makkans into submission, so thatthe city could be captured for Islam without any ~ 322 ~
  • 322. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinahneed for fighting. As the Muslim army nearedMakkah, one of its leaders, Sa’d ibn ‘Ubadah, calledout: “Today is the day of battle!” The Prophet toldhim that it was not; it was the day of mercy. Sa’dwas then told to step down and the standard washanded over to his son instead.There were some engagements after the Conquestof Makkah, bringing the total number of militaryexpeditions that the Prophet conducted up toeighty. But now that the Muslims had gainedcontrol of the capital of Arabia, it entailed onlyminor skirmishes before all Arabia capitulated, andaccepted the Prophet as their leader.NOTES1. Hadith of Imam Ahmad on the authority of ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Abbas2. Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 3.3. Ibn Hisham, Tahzib Sirah, vol. I, p. 111.4. Kanzal-’Ummal, vol.1, p. 259.5. Al-Tabarani. ~ 323 ~
  • 323. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 12. Emigration—From Makkah to Madinah6. Abu Na’im, Dala’il al-Nubuwwah, p.100.7. Qur’an, 8:60.8. Qur’an, 9:60.9. Kanz al- ‘Ummal, vol. 5, p. 294.10. Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah, vol. 6, p. 305.11. Tahzib Sirat Ibn Hisham, p. 129.12. Qur’an, 61:5.13. Hadith, Sahih, al-Bukhari.14. Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah.15. Ibid.16. Qur’an, 48:20. ~ 324 ~
  • 324. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 13. Victory and after13. VICTORY AND AFTERVictors usually tend to be susceptible to two kindsof feelings—pride and vengeance. The Prophet ofIslam, however, after his conquest of Makkah inA.H. 8, displayed neither of these traits. His victorywas that of a Prophet of God. According to IbnIshaq, when the Prophet entered Makkah, his headwas bowed so low that people saw that his beardwas touching the camel’s saddle. Such was thehumility of the Prophet, even in his hour oftriumph. Standing at the door of the Ka’bah, theProphet delivered an address, in the course ofwhich he said, There is none worthy of being served save the One God. He has fulfilled His promise and offered succour to His slave. He alone has brought the hosts of enemies low.1He did not, in other words, claim any credit for thevictory: he attributed it entirely to God. Later on inthe same speech, he had this to say to the Quraysh: “What do you think I am going to do with you now?” “We think you will treat us well.” ~ 325 ~
  • 325. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 13. Victory and after they replied, “for you are our noble brother, and the son of our noble brother.” Then the Prophet said: “I say to you as Joseph said to his brothers: Let no reproach be upon you this day. Go, you are free.” 2At the very outset, then, the Prophet put vengeanceaside, thus eliminating all possibility of adversereaction on the part of his new subjects. A nationdefeated on the field of battle usually resorts toclandestine resistance. By granting a general amnestythe Prophet nipped resistance in the bud. Forces,which might have sought to destroy the fortress ofIslam, were thus engaged in the building of it.When the Prophet entered Makkah after theconquest of the city, he gave his commandersorders not to do battle with anyone unless theythemselves were attacked. He forgave all those whohad committed outrages against him. Only a few,who were to be killed “even if they took refugebeneath the curtain of the Ka’bah,” were sentencedto death. Ibn Hisham, and other biographers of theProphet, have mentioned them individually. Hereare their names, and the nature of their cases: ~ 326 ~
  • 326. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 13. Victory and after1. ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’d, who had become Muslim andbeen appointed as a scribe of revelation by theProphet. He later reneged and joined the infidels.After the Conquest of Makkah, when he heard thatthe Prophet had ordered his execution, he tookrefuge with his milk-brother ‘Uthman. The lattergave him shelter, then took him to the Prophet witha request once again to accept his conversion toIslam. The Prophet remained silent. Then ‘Uthmanasked a second time, whereupon the Prophetaccepted ‘Abdullah ibn Sa’d’s oath of allegiance.The latter subsequently became governor of Egyptduring the caliphate of ‘Umar and ‘Uthman,playing a major part in the conquest of Africa.2. ‘Abdullah ibn Khatal, who had previouslyaccepted Islam and been sent by the Prophet tocollect alms tax. A slave and one of the Ansar wentalong with him. Coming to a halt in their journey,‘Abdullah ibn Khatal told the slave to prepare achicken for a meal, but the slave went to sleepinstead, and was unable to prepare the food in time.‘Abdullah ibn Khatal became angry and killed theslave. Fearing that if he returned to Madinah, theProphet would exact retribution for the slave’s ~ 327 ~
  • 327. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 13. Victory and afterdeath, he reneged and joined the infidels. A poet, heused to recite verses abusing the Prophet. On theday Makkah was conquered, he wrapped himselfup in the curtain of the Ka’bah. When the Prophetwas told, he gave orders for ‘Abdullah ibn Khatal tobe killed in that very place. Abu Burzah and Sa’idibn Harith executed him in between the Black Stoneand the Place of Abraham.3. Fartana, who was ‘Abdullah ibn Khatal’s slave-girl. She also used to recite poems abusing theProphet. Her dances were a regular feature of theQuraysh’s wine drinking orgies. She was also killedalong with her master.4. Quraybah who was also ‘Abdullah ibn Khatal’sslave, and pursued the same profession as Fartana.Orders were given for her execution, but when shecame to the Prophet and sought asylum, her requestwas granted. She then became Muslim.5. Huwayrith ibn Nafidh ibn Wahab, another poetand who held Islam in very great contempt, whomade his name from heaping opprobrium upon theProphet. While ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib and theProphet’s daughters Fatimah and Umm Kulthum ~ 328 ~
  • 328. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 13. Victory and afterwere on their way from Makkah to Madinah,Huwayrith ibn Nandh followed them and stabbedtheir camel with a spear. The camel reared up andthe Prophet’s daughters fell to the ground. Orderswere given for his execution, which was carried outby ‘All.6. Miqyas ibn Subabah, Hisham ibn Subabah’sbrother. In the Dhu Qarad campaign, an Ansari hadkilled Hisham by mistake. After this Miqyas cameto Madinah and accepted Islam. He asked theProphet for compensation for his brother’s death,and his request was granted. He stayed in Madinahfor a few days, then killed the person responsiblefor his brother’s death, escaped to Makkah andreneged. The Prophet ordered that he be put todeath, and Numaylah ibn ‘Abdullah Laythi slewhim.7. Sarah, a slave-girl of ‘Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl, whorevelled in pouring scorn upon the Prophet.Permission was given for her to be put to death, butshe came to the Prophet and sought asylum, whichwas granted her, and she accepted Islam. Sheremained alive until the caliphate of ‘Umar. ~ 329 ~
  • 329. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 13. Victory and after8-9. Harith ibn Hisham and Zubayr ibn AbiUmayyah were also to be killed, but they tookrefuge in the house of their relative, Umm Ham bintAbi Jahl. ‘Ali followed them and swore that hewould not let them live. Umm Ham blocked ‘Ali’spath and, locking the two fugitives in her house,went to see the Prophet. She told him that ‘Alisought to kill two people to whom she had givenrefuge. “Whomsoever you have granted refuge, wehave also granted refuge, and whomsoever youhave taken into your asylum, we have also givenasylum,” the Prophet told her. ‘Ali was ordered tolet them go, and he did so.10. ‘Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahl who, following in hisfather’s footsteps, was an uncompromisingopponent of Islam. Seeing that he was sure to meethis end in Makkah, he fled to the Yemen. His wife,Umm Bakim bint Barith, who had accepted Islam,appealed to the Prophet for asylum on behalf of herhusband. Her request was granted, and she went tothe Yemen to collect ‘Ikrimah. He returned with herand became Muslim at the hand of the Prophet.After his conversion, he made great personal andfinancial sacrifices for Islam, finally meeting his ~ 330 ~
  • 330. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 13. Victory and afterdeath at Ajnadin while fighting against apostatesduring the caliphate of Abu Bakr.11. Habbar ibn al-Aswad, who had been responsiblefor great persecution of the Muslims. When theProphet’s daughter Zaynab, wife of Abu’l ‘As, wason her way from Makkah to Madinah, he stabbedher camel’s side with a spear. The camel went into afrenzy and Zaynab fell down. She was with child atthe time. Not only did she suffer a miscarriage, butthe effects of the mishap remained with her for therest of her life. Orders were given for him to bekilled, but he came to the Prophet and pleaded formercy. “Prophet of God,” he said, “forgive myignorance. Let me become a Muslim.” The Prophetforgave him.12. Wahshi ibn Harb, who had been responsible forthe death of the Prophet’s uncle Hamzah. Realizingthat the Muslims would kill him if they laid theirhands on him, he fled from Makkah to Ta’if. Lateron he came before the Prophet in Madinah, soughtforgiveness for his crime and offered to acceptIslam. The Prophet admitted him into the fold ofIslam and forgave him. He joined in the fight ~ 331 ~
  • 331. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 13. Victory and afteragainst the false prophet Musaylimah during thecaliphate of Abu Bakr. It was he who finally slewMusaylimah, with the very same weapon that hadmade a martyr of Hamzah.13. Ka’b ibn Zuhayr, a famous poet, who used towrite poems abusing the Prophet. He fled fromMakkah when the city was conquered and hisexecution was ordered, but he then came toMadinah, asked forgiveness, and beseeched theProphet to accept his allegiance. The Prophet did so,presenting Ka’b with his own sheet at the sametime.14. Harith ibn Talatil, a poet who used to pour scornon the Prophet through the medium of his poetry.The Muslims were permitted to slay him, and ‘Alidid so.15. ‘Abdullah ibn Zib’ari, yet another poet, whoused to express his contempt for the Prophet inverse. When, the Prophet ordered him to be killed,he fled to Najran. Later on he came to the Prophetrepented, and accepted Islam. The Prophet forgavehim. ~ 332 ~
  • 332. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 13. Victory and after16. Hubayrah ibn Abi Wahab Makhzumi, also apoet, who used to deride the Prophet’s mission. Hewas also on the list of those to be killed. He fled toNajran where he died an infidel.17. Hind bint ‘Utbah, the wife of Abu Sufyan. Herhatred of Islam was so great that, in the battle ofUhud, she extracted Hamzah’s heart and masticatedit. She was to be killed, but she came before theProphet, sought forgiveness and accepted Islam.After the Prophet had forgiven her and admittedher into the fold of Islam she went home and brokeall the idols in her house, saying: “Truly, you havemisled us.”It is clear, then, that all the seventeen men andwomen who were sentenced to death after theconquest of Makkah were guilty of specific crimes.Yet whichever of them sought forgiveness, or hadsomeone pleaded on his or her behalf, was forgiven.None of those who appealed for clemency waskilled. Of the seventeen who were sentenced todeath, eleven were forgiven, either directly orthrough some mediator. Five people who made noplea for clemency were put to death. One fled from ~ 333 ~
  • 333. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 13. Victory and afterMakkah, and died a natural death in a farawayland.In the wake of the Conquest of Makkah, how was itthat the Prophet forgave people who were guilty inthe sight of God? When a woman named Fatimahbelonging to the Banu Makhzum tribe, hadcommitted a theft, her kith and kin feared that herhand would be amputated. They approachedUsamah ibn Zayd who, they thought, being a closeassociate of the Prophet, would be in a position toensure that their relative escaped punishment.Usamah came to the Prophet and pleaded forclemency on behalf of Fatimah Makhzumi. TheProphet was visibly upset when he heard Usamah’swords. “Are you trying to persuade me with regardto limits that God has set down?” he asked. TheProphet then called people together and, deliveredan address. “By the power who has control over mysoul,” he said, “if my daughter Fatimah were tosteal, then I would certainly amputate her hand.”Fatimah Makhzumi received her due punishment,after which she repented and became a righteous,upright person.3 ~ 334 ~
  • 334. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 13. Victory and afterThis shows that no one is able to forgive awrongdoer when punishment has been prescribedby God. How was it, then, that the Prophet forgavepeople with such magnanimity after the Conquestof Makkah? The reason was that there is adifference between war crimes and crimescommitted under normal conditions. People cannotbe accorded remission of punishment for the latterform of crime. Crimes committed during wartime,on the other hand, can be forgiven when theperpetrators renounce their antagonism and seekclemency. Crimes committed under normalconditions are nullified when the punishment Godhas laid down is meted out, while war crimes areneutralized through surrender and an appeal formercy. The enemies of Islam in Arabia hadcommitted the most heinous crimes against theMuslims. Even so, the Qur’an announced that ifthey repented, what had gone before would beforgiven.4 Furthermore, if the enemy sues for peace,peace should be made, even if there is a danger ofthe peace terms being broken. If they incline to peace, make peace with them, and put your trust in God. Surely He is ~ 335 ~
  • 335. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 13. Victory and after the Hearing, the Knowing. Should they seek to deceive you, God is all-sufficient for you. He has made you strong with His help and rallied the faithfuls around you.5One of those sentenced to death and thensubsequently forgiven was ‘Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl.Along with his father, he had been an activeopponent of Islam, and had subjected the Prophetand his companions to all forms of persecution. Yet,when news came that ‘Ikrimah was coming toaccept Islam, the Prophet told his companions notto insult ‘Ikrimah’s father, “for abuse of the deadhurts the living.”It was magnanimity such as this, after the conquestof Makkah, that turned Islam’s most implacablefoes into staunch custodians of faith.NOTES1. Al-Bidayah wa al-Nihay’ah.2. HadIth, Zad al Ma ‘ad, lbn Qayyim.3. Hadith by al-Bukhari and Muslim. ~ 336 ~
  • 336. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 13. Victory and after4. Qur’an 8:38.5. Qur’an 8:61-62. ~ 337 ~
  • 337. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 14. The Termination of Prophethood14. THE TERMINATION OFPROPHETHOODIn the early years of the Prophet Muhammad’smission, a man who had come to Makkah on apilgrimage was asked on his return to his countrywhat was new in Makkah. “Muhammad hasclaimed prophethood,” he answered, but the onlyperson of any distinction who has become afollower of his is the son of Abu Qahafah (AbuBakr). From this answer one can tell what peoplethought of the Prophet in A.D. 6I0, when hecommenced his mission. In those days, hisopponents used to refer to him as if he were avillage lad, calling him Ibn Abi Kabshah, i.e. the sonof his village foster parents, simply in order toderide him. Those who preferred to be more politewould call him “a youth from the Quraysh.”This was how the Prophet was referred to in hisown lifetime. Now, centuries later, things havechanged. The prophethood of Muhammad is nolonger a controversial matter; it has become anestablished fact. Now, when one thinks of theProphet Muhammad, it is a great historical ~ 338 ~
  • 338. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 14. The Termination of Prophethoodpersonality that springs to mind, one who has beena subject of discussion for generation upongeneration over the last 1500 years. If this historywere to be taken away from the Prophet of Islam, hewould return to being “Ibn Abi Kabshah” in theeyes of men. Were this to happen, there is not ashadow of a doubt that the number of Muslims inthe world today would be counted in scores ratherthan in hundreds of millions. It is very difficult torecognize a prophet of God when he comes in theguise of ‘Ibn Abi Kabshah’. On the other hand, toaccept one who has become an established historicalpersonality is relatively easy. The Prophet of Islamhas now secured what the Qur’an calls a “positionof praise and glory.”1 Small wonder, then, thatthose who sing his praises run into thousands ofmillions.It was this factor, which contributed more thananything to the denial of prophets by their peoplesin previous ages. “This is just an ordinary person,”people would say. “Up till now we knew him by hiscommon name. How did he become a prophet ofGod all of a sudden?” “Whenever a prophet comesamong his people, this objection is raised, posing a ~ 339 ~
  • 339. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 14. The Termination of Prophethoodserious impediment to the acceptance by aprophet’s contemporaries of his teachings.All of the prophets, at the time of their emergence,were greeted with suspicion and scepticism. Thepsychological barrier preventing people frombelieving in one who, in their eyes, appeared likeanyone else, proved insurmountable for mostpeople. When they failed to believe in the prophets,however, they were punished according to the lawof God.Now God decided to send a prophet who wouldbreak down this barrier. There would be no roomfor doubt about whether his claim to prophethoodwas genuine or the result of over-zealous ambition.He would take his place in history as a prophet ofGod. His name would stand out in the seas of time,like a beacon beckoning people to belief. Therewould be no difficulty for people in recognizinghim as God’s Prophet, believing in him, andwinning a share in God’s eternal blessings.There are several traditions according to which theProphet is reported as saying that his followerswould be more numerous than those of any other ~ 340 ~
  • 340. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 14. The Termination of Prophethoodprophet. This is another way of making the samepoint. After Muhammad, on whom be peace, therewould be no other prophet. Never again would hisfollowers have to choose between belief anddisbelief. They would continue to grow in numberuntil the coming of the Last Day.A look at Israelite history will help to illustrate thispoint. The Jews who lived in the time of Jesusbelieved in God’s law as revealed to Moses. Yetwhen a new prophet—Jesus, the son of Mary—arose amongst them, they denied him. Theycontinued to believe in their own historic prophetand refused to believe in the prophet of their day.Seven hundred years later, the Prophet of Arabiawas sent to the world. By this time the number ofChristians in the world had increased considerably.History, however, was to repeat itself. Christianswere not prepared to believe in an Ishmaeli, ratherthan an Israeli Prophet. Again they retained theirfaith in a historically established Prophet—Jesus—but did not believe in a contemporary one—Muhammad. Except for a few Christians whoaccepted Islam, those who had been believers inJesus became disbelievers in his successor. ~ 341 ~
  • 341. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 14. The Termination of ProphethoodThanks to the termination of prophethood, thefollowers of Muhammad are never again going tohave to choose between an ancient Prophet and amodern one. Never again—at least in the presentworld—will they be forced to opt for the old orthe new—something which occurs in thecommunity of an historic Prophet when acontemporary Prophet visits them. Theinstallation of the Prophet Muhammad on thepinnacle of history, on what the Qur’an calls “aposition of praise and glory,”2 is one factorcontributing to his being “a mercy for allnations.” 3 Historically, the position of Muhammadas a Prophet of God cannot be questioned; that isthe nature of his position of praise and glory inthis world. On the Day of Resurrection, it will bemade manifest in the form of special divine favourbeing conferred upon him.It would be a mistake to think that the ProphetMuhammad’s elevation to such a position was asimple matter of selection. It was to bring arevolution in human history. Only an individual ofthe highest moral calibre, only one able to performunparalleled feats of self-sacrifice and steadfastness ~ 342 ~
  • 342. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 14. The Termination of Prophethoodwould be considered fit to be chosen. For this taskthe Lord saw fit to call upon Muhammad: You who are wrapped up in your vestment, arise and give warning. Magnify your Lord, cleanse your garments, and keep away from all pollution. Bestow no favours expecting gain. Be patient for your Lord’s sake.4The great soul “wrapped up in his vestment’responded to the call and participated in the divinescheme with wholehearted dedication, althoughmany were his trials and tribulations before theprophetic mission, which was to be a mercy for thewhole world, reached completion. The coming ofrepeated prophets, one after the other, to the world,had been a severe test for humanity. Now this erahad passed and there would be one acknowledgedProphet for all time, enabling people to enter intothe sphere of God’s mercy in an unendingprocession.With God’s choice of Muhammad, then,prophethood was given historical credibility. Thismeant that no more prophets had to come to theworld in future. But it was not merely a matter of ~ 343 ~
  • 343. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 14. The Termination of Prophethooddivine proclamation. Certain conditions had to befulfilled before this could happen. Firstly, God’scommandments relating to every walk of humanlife had to be revealed. This was duly accomplishedas the Qur’an itself states: “It is He who hasrevealed the Qur’an for you fully explained.”5Secondly, a perfect pattern had to be presentedbefore mankind. The Prophet Muhammad providedmankind with just such a “good example,”6 and thiscondition was fulfilled. Thirdly, there had to bearrangement for the permanent preservation of theQur’an. This task Almighty God took upon Himself:“It was We who revealed Qur’an, and We willcertainly preserve it.”7God’s way with previous prophets had been to sendthem with certain signs and miracles. The prophets,for their part, left no stone unturned in dischargingtheir duty to communicate the word of God to theirpeoples. In the process they proved that they hadbeen sent by God by performing wondrous acts. If,in spite of all this, people did not believe, then therewas no more that the prophets could do. It was nowtime for God’s angels to take action, bringing downpunishment on the disbelievers. ~ 344 ~
  • 344. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 14. The Termination of ProphethoodWith the final Prophet, however, it was decided thatthe people he addressed should not be subjected tothis form of divine punishment. Rather, the Prophethimself, along with his companions, were told thatthose who still did not believe and who actuallyattacked Islam would be punished at the hands ofthe Muslims.8 In other words, the task which usedto be performed by angels would be accomplishedby the hands of men.It was due to this divine verdict that even afteremigration and after having fully communicatedthe word of God to them until there remained norational ground for denial, yet, unlike the peoples inthe times of the previous prophets, they werevisited by no all-consuming manifestation of thewrath of God. Rather, the Prophet and hiscompanions were made to confront them on thebattlefield. God’s succour assisted the believersagainst their foes, and they emerged victorious. Soit was that God’s religion was established on theArabian Peninsula in the form of a State.It is God’s way to reveal His commandments in thecontext of relevant circumstances. Since the religion ~ 345 ~
  • 345. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 14. The Termination of Prophethoodthe Prophet left to the world had to be complete inevery detail, so had his mission to pass throughevery walk of human life. Only then would acorrect pattern of life dealing with matters of bothindividual and general concern be established forcoming generations. As Muslims continued toengage themselves in defuse against non-Muslimswho refused to believe and attacked them, thegranting of God’s revelation was nearingcompletion. Commandments relating to differentsituations were being revealed, not all at the sametime, but gradually, in accordance with theprevailing situations. The decision to havedisbelievers punished at the hands of Muslimsrather than by angels thus played an important partin the completion of Shari’ah, for only if the Prophetwere made to face every form of human situationwould he be able to display every facet of theIslamic way of life. The course that eventsthemselves took enabled the Prophet to show, notonly how one should live at home, but how oneshould conduct oneself on the battlefield, and inposition of power. The model that he left for cominggenerations covers every walk of life, and standspreserved until the coming of the Last Day. ~ 346 ~
  • 346. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 14. The Termination of ProphethoodThe provision that God made for the termination ofprophethood also produced circumstancesconducive to the preservation of the Qur’an, therevealed word of God. If previous scriptures hadnot been preserved in their original form, it wasbecause no protective power had emerged insupport of them. But the Prophet and hiscompanions fought against their adversaries andestablished Islamic rule in a substantial portion ofthe globe, so that the Book of God enjoyed stateprotection, its immunity from all attempts to changeor destroy it being thus ensured. The Qur’an waspreserved for one thousand years in this way, withone generation passing it on to the next under theprotective wing of an Islamic government. Thenmankind entered the age of the printing press, andthere was no further danger of the Qur’an beingdestroyed.It would be a mistake to think that all this wasaccomplished smoothly. In order to establish Islamas the ruling religion, thus ensuring thepreservation of the Book of God, the Prophet andhis companions had to suffer torments ofunbearable intensity. The pagans wanted to see ~ 347 ~
  • 347. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 14. The Termination of Prophethoodmiracles. The Prophet, too, would have liked tohave been able to produce miraculous signs of hisprophethood. But it was not to be. Instead, theProphet’s character and demeanour had to take theplace of miracles. The Prophet’s opponents were notvisited by any celestial or terrestrial punishmentfrom God, as had been the case with those whodenied the prophets of old. The Prophet and hiscompanions had themselves to do whatearthquakes and volcanoes had previously beenused for—punish the disbelievers. The Book of Godwas not revealed all at once; the period of revelationextended over twenty-three years. During this timethe Muslims, under the leadership of the Prophet,had to cross all the deep rivers and climb every highmountain of life, so that the path, which Goddesired His servants to follow, could be fullymapped out.The trials, which the Prophet and his companionsunderwent during this, period, reached a height ofintensity called in the Qur’an “a tremendousshaking.”9 The Prophet was given the immenselyarduous directive not to compromise in any waywith his oppressors.10 However difficult the ~ 348 ~
  • 348. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 14. The Termination of Prophethoodcircumstances, he and his companions were givenno leave to “stay behind,”11 in face of the call ofGod. Were the Prophet’s wives to demand as muchas two meals a day, then they were given notice tochoose between “this life and all its finery”, on theone hand, or God and His Messenger on the other.12The establishment of the prophethood, whichwould become a subject of “praise and glory”, wasthe most hazardous project in the entire annals ofhuman history. Even the Prophet was forced toadmit that he had been persecuted “as no otherProphet” had been. In the words of his wife‘A’ishah, he was “shattered” by the treatmentmeted out to him in spite of he and his companionshaving denied themselves the comforts, even thenecessities of life, in order to make the prophethoodof Muhammad “a mercy for all nations.”This is the great favour, which the ProphetMuhammad bestowed upon the human race.Because of it his followers have been called upon toinvoke peace and blessings upon him until the endof time. His family and his companions are alsoincluded in this invocation, for they stood by the ~ 349 ~
  • 349. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 14. The Termination of ProphethoodProphet through thick and thin, remaining withhim throughout the most gruelling afflictions. It isonly natural that those who acknowledge thefavour of the Prophet of Islam should express theirgratitude to him. The peace and blessings, whichMuslims invoke upon their Prophet, are anexpression of their gratitude in the form of prayer.As the Prophet himself said: “Miserly is the onewho hears mention of my name, and does notinvoke peace and blessing upon me.”13NOTESI. Qur’an, 17:79.2. Qur’an, 17:79.3. Qur’an, 2I:107.4. Qur’an, 74:1-7.5. Qur’an, 6:114.6. Qur’an, 33:21.7· Qur’an, 15: 9.8. Qur’an, 9:14. ~ 350 ~
  • 350. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 14. The Termination of Prophethood9. Qur’an, 33:11.10. Qur’an, 17:75.11. Qur’an, 9:119.12. Qur’an, 33:28.13. Hadith of Tirmidhi and Nasa’i. ~ 351 ~
  • 351. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miracle15. THE QUR’AN—THE PROPHET’SMIRACLEEvery Prophet is given a miracle—a sign. Themiracle of the Prophet of Islam is the Qur’an. Theprophethood of Muhammad, on whom be peace,was to be valid until the Last Day. It wasimperative, therefore, that his miracle also be one,which would last for all time. The Qur’an was,therefore, assigned to the Prophet as his everlastingmiracle.The Prophet’s opponents demanded miracles, suchas those performed by previous prophets, but theQur’an stated clearly that such miracles would notbe forthcoming.1 The Qur’an even had this to say tothe Prophet: If you find their aversion hard to bear (and would like to show them a miracle), seek if you can a burrow in the earth or a ladder to the sky by which you may bring them a sign. Had God pleased, He would have given them guidance, one and all. Do not be one of the ignorants.2 ~ 352 ~
  • 352. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s MiracleInstead, the revealed Book of God was made intoProphet’s miracle: They ask: “Why has no sign been given him by his Lord?” Say: “Signs are in the hands of God. My mission is only to give plain warning.” Is it not enough for them that We have revealed to you the Book which is recited to them? Surely in this there is a blessing and an admonition to true believers.3There are many different aspects of the Qur’an’smiraculous nature. Here we are going toconcentrate on just three:I. The language of the Qur’an—Arabic—has, unlikeother international languages, remained a livingform of communication over the ages.2. The Qur’an is unique among divine scriptures inthat its text has remained intact in the original form.3. The Qur’an challenged its doubters to produce abook like it. No one has been able to take up thischallenge, and produce anything comparable to theBook of God. ~ 353 ~
  • 353. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s MiracleThe languages in which all the ancient scriptureswere revealed have been locked in the archives ofhistory. The only exception is Arabic, the languageof the Qur’an, which is still current in the worldtoday. Millions of people still speak and write thelanguage in which the Qur’an was revealed nearly1500 years ago. This provides stunning proof of themiraculous nature of the Qur’an, for there is noother book in history which has been able to makesuch an impact on its language; no other book hasmoulded a whole language according to its ownstyle, and maintained it in that form over thecenturies.Take the Injil, known as the New Testament, ofwhich the oldest existing copy is in Greek and notAramaic, the language which Jesus is thought tohave spoken. That means that we only possess atranslated account of what the Prophet Jesus saidand did; and that too, in ancient Greek, which isconsiderably different from the modern language.By the end of the 19th century the Greek languagehad changed so much that the meaning of at least550 words in the New Testament—about 12% of theentire text—was challenged. At that time a German ~ 354 ~
  • 354. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miracleexpert, Adolf Deissman, discovered some ancientscrolls in Egypt. From them it emerged that biblicalGreek was in fact a colloquial version of classicalGreek. This language was spoken in Palestineduring the first century A.D. Deissman was able toattach meanings to some of the unknown words,but there are another fifty words whose meaningsare still unknown.4Ernest Renan (1823 - 1894) carried out extensiveresearch on Semitic languages. He wrote a book ontheir vocabularies, in which he had this to say aboutthe Arabic language: The Arabic language is the most astonishing event of human history. Unknown during the classical period, it suddenly emerged as a complete language. After this, it did not undergo any noticeable changes, so one cannot define for it an early or a late stage. It is just the same today as it was when it first appeared.5In acknowledging this “astonishing event of humanhistory” Renan, a French orientalist, is in factacknowledging the miraculous nature of the ~ 355 ~
  • 355. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s MiracleQur’an. It was the Qur’an’s phenomenal literarystyle, which preserved the Arabic language fromalteration, such as other languages, haveundergone. The noted Christian writer, JurgiZaydan (1861-1914) is one of the scholars to haverecognized this fact. In a book on Arabic literaturehe writes: No religious book has had such an impact on the language in which it was written as the Qur’an has had on Arabic literature.6World languages have changed so much over theages that no expert in any modern language is ableto understand its ancient form without the aid of adictionary. There have been two main causes oflanguage alteration—upheavals in the social orderof a nation and development of a language’sliterature. Over the centuries these factors havebeen at work in Arabic, just as in other languages.The difference is that they have not been able tochange the structure of the Arabic language. TheArabic that is spoken today is the same as thatwhich was current in Makkah when the Qur’an wasrevealed. Homer’s Ilyad (850 B.C.), Tulsi Das’ ~ 356 ~
  • 356. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s MiracleRamayan (A.D. 1623), and the dramas ofShakespeare (1564-1616), are considered literarymasterpieces of their respective languages. Theyhave been read and performed continuously fromthe time of their compilation until the present day.But they have not been able to keep the languagesin which they were written from alteration. TheGreek of Homer, the Sanskrit of Tulsi Das and eventhe English of Shakespeare, are now classical ratherthan modern languages.The Qur’an is the only book to have moulded alanguage in its own form, and maintained it in thatform over the ages. There have been variousintellectual and political upheavals in Arabcountries, but the Arabic language has remained asit was when the Qur’an was revealed. No changein Arab social order has been able to alter in anyway the Arabic tongue. This fact is a clearindication that the Qur’an came from asupernatural source. One does not have to look anyfurther than the history of the last 1500 years to seethe miraculous nature of the Book revealed to theProphet Muhammad. ~ 357 ~
  • 357. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s MiracleSOCIAL UPHEAVALSThe example of Latin shows how social upheavalsaffect languages. Though in latter days Italy becamethe centre of Latin, it was not originally a product ofthat country. Around the 12th century B.C., duringthe Iron Age, many central European tribes spreadout into surrounding regions. Some of them,especially the Alpine tribes, entered Italy andsettled in and around Rome. Their own languagemixed with the language of Rome, and that washow Latin was formed. In the third century B.C.Lubus Andronicus translated some Greek tales anddramas into Latin, thus making it a literarylanguage. The Roman Empire was established inthe first century B.C., and Latin became the officiallanguage. The strength of Latin was even furtherreinforced by the spread of Christianity. With thesupport of religious and political institutions, andbacked by social and economic forces, Latincontinued to spread until eventually it came tocover almost the whole of ancient Europe. At thetime of St. Augustine, Latin was at its peak, andright up to the Middle Ages it was considered themain international language. ~ 358 ~
  • 358. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s MiracleThe 8th century A.D. was an age of Muslimconquest. The Romans were forced to take refuge inConstantinople, which became the capital of theeastern half of the Empire, until in 1453 the Turkstook Constantinople and banished the Romans fromthis, their last stronghold. The decline of the RomanEmpire enabled various local languages to flourish,notably French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.Latin, the parent language, had a strong influenceon all of them, but itself remained only as theofficial language of the Roman Catholic Church. Nolonger a living tongue, it retained only historicinterest, and continued to be used to explaintechnical, legal and scientific terms. Without a goodgrasp of Latin, for instance, one cannot readNewton’s Principia in the original.Every classical language followed much the samepattern, changing along with social circumstancesuntil, eventually, the original language gave way toanother, completely changed one. Ethnicintegration, political revolutions, and culturalclashes always left a deep mark on the languagethat they affected. These factors have been at workon the Arabic language over the last 1500 years, but, ~ 359 ~
  • 359. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miracleamazingly, it has remained intact. Thisextraordinary resilience of the Arabic language isentirely due to the miraculous spell the Qur’an hascast on it.In the year A.D. 70, some Jewish tribes left Syriaand settled in Madinah, where the Arabic-speaking‘Amaliqah tribe lived. Along with the ‘Amaliqahs,the Jews took Arabic as their language, but theArabic that they spoke was different from commonArabic, retaining a strong Hebrew influence. Afterthe coming of Islam, Arabs settled in many parts ofAfrica and Asia where other languages besidesArabic were spoken. Their intermingling with otherraces, however, did not have any effect on theArabs’ language, which remained in its originalstate.In the very first century after the revelation of theQur’an, Arabic was exposed to the sort of forces,which cause a language to alter radically. This waswhen Islam spread among various Arab tribes, whobegan to congregate in major Muslim cities. Therewas considerable variety of intonation and accentamong the different Arab tribes. So much so that ~ 360 ~
  • 360. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s MiracleAbu ‘Amr ibn al-’Ula’ was moved to remark thatthe “Himyar tribe do not speak our language; theirvocabulary is quite different from ours.” ‘Umar ibnKhattab once took before the Prophet an Arabwhom he had heard reciting the Qur’an. The Arabhad been pronouncing the words of the Qur’an insuch a strange manner that ‘Umar was unable tomake out what part of the Book of God he wasreading. The Prophet once spoke to a visitingdelegation of some Arab tribe in their own dialect.It seemed to ‘Ali as if the Prophet was speaking in aforeign tongue.The main reason for this difference was variation inaccent. For instance, the Banu Tamim, who lived inthe eastern part of Najd, were unable to say theletter ‘j’, (jiim) and used to pronounce it as ‘y’ (Ye)instead. The word for mosque (masjid), they used topronounce ‘masyid’, and instead of’ shajarat’ (trees),they would say’ sharat’. ‘Q’ (Qaaf) they pronouncedas ‘j’, (je) calling a ‘tariq’ (road) a ‘tarij’, a ‘sadiq’(friend) a ‘sadij’, ‘qadr’ (value) ‘jadr’ and ‘qasim’(distributor) ‘jasim’. According to normal linguisticpatterns, the coming together of tribes who spokesuch varying dialects should have initiated a fresh ~ 361 ~
  • 361. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miracleprocess of change in the Arabic language, but thiswas not to be. The supreme eloquence of thelanguage of the Qur’an guarded Arabic from anysuch transformation. What happened instead hasbeen explained in the following words by Dr.Ahmad Hasan Zayyat: After the coming of Islam, the Arabic language did not remain the monopoly of one nation. It became the language of all those who entered the faith.7Then these Arab Muslims left their native land,conquering territory extending from Kashghar inthe east to Gibralter in the west. Persian, Qibti,Berber, Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Aramaic and Suryaniwere among the languages spoken by the peoplesthey came into contact with. Some of these nationswere politically and culturally more advanced thanthe Arabs. Iraq, bastion of an ancient civilizationand the cultural centre of major tribes, was one ofthe countries they entered. They mingled with theIranians, masters of one of the world’s two greatempires. The highly advanced Roman civilization,and an expanding Christian religion, were two of ~ 362 ~
  • 362. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miraclethe forces that they clashed with. Among thecountries they occupied was Syria, wherePhoenician, Ghassanid, Greek, Egyptian andCana’anian tribes had left behind outstandingtraditions in literature and ethics. Then there wasEgypt, the meeting place of oriental and occidentalphilosophy. These factors were more than enoughto transform the Arabic language, as had been thecase with other tongues exposed to similar forces.But they were rendered ineffective by the Qur’an, aspecimen of such unrivalled literary excellence thatno power could shake the language in which it hadbeen written.With the conquests of Islam, Arabic no longerbelonged to one people alone; it became thelanguage of several nations and races. When the“ajamis’8 of Asia and Africa accepted Islam, theygradually adopted Arabic as their language.Naturally, these new converts were not as proficientin speaking the language as the Arabs of old. Thenthe Arabs in their turn were affected by thelanguage spoken by their new co-religionists. Thedeterioration of Arabic was especially evident inlarge, cosmopolitan cities, where there was more ~ 363 ~
  • 363. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miracleintermingling of races. First it was the rank and file,those who did not pay much attention to the finerpoints of linguistics, who were affected. But thecultural elite did not remain immune either. A manonce came to the court of Ziyad ibn Umayyah andlamented. “Our fathers have died, leaving smallchildren,” with both “fathers” and “children” in thewrong case. Mistakes of this nature becamecommonplace, yet the Arabic language remainedessentially the same. Shielded by the Qur’an’ssupreme eloquence, written Arabic was notcorrupted by the degradation of the spoken version.It remained cast in the mould of the Qur’an.For proof of the Qur’an’s miraculous nature, onehas only to look at all the traumatic experiences thatArabic has been through over the last 1500 years. Ifit had not been for the protective wing of theQur’an, the Arabic language would surely havebeen altered. The unsurpassable model that wasestablished by the Qur’an remained the immutabletouchstone of standard Arabic.The fall of the Umayyad dynasty in the secondcentury Hijrah posed a great threat to the Arabic ~ 364 ~
  • 364. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miraclelanguage. The Umayyads had been a purely Arabdynasty. Strong supporters of Arab nationalism,they took their promotion of Arabic literature andlanguage almost to the point of partiality. Theircapital was situated in Damascus, in the Arabheartland. In their time, both the military and thecivil administration were controlled by Arabs.Now the Abbasids took over the reins of power.Iranian support had brought the caliphate to theAbbasids. It was inevitable then that the Iraniansshould maintain a strong influence on theiradministration. This influence led to the capitalbeing moved to Baghdad, on the threshold ofPersia. The Abbasids gave the Iranians a free handin affairs of government, but looked down on theArabs and their civilization, and made consciousefforts to weaken them, unlike the Umayyads whohad always preferred Arabs for high posts.With the wane of pro-Arab favouritism, Iranians,Turks, Syrians, Byzantine and Berber elements wereable to gain control over all affairs of society andstate. Marriages between Arabs and non-Arabsbecame commonplace. With the mixing of Aryan ~ 365 ~
  • 365. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miracleand Semitic civilizations, Arabic language andculture faced a new crisis. The grandsons of theemperors and lords of Persia arose to resurrect thecivilization of their forefathers.These events had a profound effect on the Arabiclanguage. The state that it had reached by the timeof the poet Mutanabbi (A.D. 915-965) is expressed inthe following lines: The buildings of Iran excel all others in beauty. As the season of spring excels all other seasons. An Arab youth goes amongst them, His face, his hands, his tongue, a stranger in their midst. Solomon, they say, used to converse with the jinns, but were he to visit the Iranians, he would need a translator.9It was the Qur’an’s literary greatness alone, whichkept Arabic from being permanently scarred bythese upheavals. The language always returned toits Qur’anic base, like a ship which, afterweathering temporary storms on the high seas,returns to the safety of its harbour. ~ 366 ~
  • 366. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s MiracleDuring the reign of the caliph Mutawakkil (A.H.207-247), large numbers of ‘Ajamis—especiallyIranians and Turks—entered Arab territory. In 656the Mongolian warrior Hulaku Khan sackedBaghdad. Later the Islamic empire received afurther setback when, in 898, Andalusia fell to theChristians. The Fatimid dynasty, which had heldsway in Egypt and Syria, did not last long either: in923 they were replaced by the Ottoman Turks inlarge stretches of Arab territory. Now the centre ofIslamic government moved from Cairo toConstantinople; the official language becameTurkish instead of Arabic, which continued toassimilate a number of foreign words and phrases.The Arab world spent five hundred and fifty yearsunder the banner of Ajami (non Arab) kings. Persian,Turkish and Mughal rulers even made attempts toerase all traces of the Arabic language. Arabiclibraries were burnt, schools destroyed; scholars ofthe language found themselves in disgrace. TheOttoman emperors launched an anti-Arabiccampaign, fittingly called “Tatrik al-’Arab”(Turkisation of Arabs) by the well-known reformerJamaluddin Afghani (1838-97). But no effort was ~ 367 ~
  • 367. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miraclestrong enough to inflict any permanent scar on theface of Arabic. Fierce attacks were launched onArabic language and literature by the Tartars inBukhara and Baghdad, by the Crusaders in Palestineand Syria, then by other Europeans in Andalusia.According to the history of other languages, theseassaults on Arab culture should have been sufficientto eradicate the Arabic language completely. Onewould have expected Arabic to have followed thepath of other languages and merged with otherSemitic tongues. Indeed, it would be true to say thatif Arabic had not come up against Turkish ignoranceand Persian prejudice, it would be spokenthroughout the Muslim world today. Still, its verysurvival in the Arab world was due solely to themiraculous effect of the Qur’an. The greatness of theQur’an compelled people to remain attached toArabic. It inspired some Arab scholars—Ibn Manzur(A.H. 630-711) and Ibn Khaldun (A.H. 732-808) beingtwo that spring to mind—to produce, in defiance ofthe government of the day, works of great literaryand academic excellence.Napoleon’s entry into Cairo (1798) ushered in theage of the printing press in the Middle East. ~ 368 ~
  • 368. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s MiracleEducation became the order of the day. The Arabiclanguage was invested with new life. Yet thecenturies of battering that Arabic had received wasbound to leave its mark: instead of pure Arabic, amixture of Arabic and Turkish had been taken asthe official language in Egypt and Syria.The situation changed again with the Britishoccupation of Egypt in 1882. They opposed Arabicwith all their strength, prescribing compulsoryEnglish in schools and eliminating other languagesfrom syllabi. The French did the same in areas overwhich they had gained control. With the colonialpowers forcing their subjects to learn theirlanguages, Arabic lived in the shadow of Englishand French for over one hundred years. Yet it stillremained in its original form. Certainly, itassimilated new words—the word “dabbabah’meaning tank, for instance, which had previouslybeen used for a simple battering ram. New styles ofwriting emerged. If anyone were to write a bookabout why people adopt Islam today, he might callit. “Li madha aslamna’ (Why we accepted Islam?),whereas in the old days rhythmical and decorativetitles were preferred. Many words were adopted by ~ 369 ~
  • 369. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miraclethe Arabic language—the English word “doctor”for example. But such changes were just on thesurface. Arabic proper still remained the same as ithad been centuries ago, when the Qur’an wasrevealed.LITERARY ADVANCEMENTOnce in a while, writers of outstanding status appearon a language’s literary scene. When this happens,the language in which they write undergoes somechange, for their literary masterpieces influence themode of popular expression. In this way languagesare continually passing through progressiveevolutionary stages, until eventually they becomequite different from their original form. With Arabicthis did not happen. At the very outset of Arabichistory, the Qur’an set a literary standard that couldnot be excelled. Arabic maintained the style set for itby the Qur’an. No masterpiece comparable to theQur’an was destined to be produced after it; soArabic remained cast in the mould of that divinesymphony.Take the example of English. In the 7th centuryA.D. it was just an ordinary local dialect, not geared ~ 370 ~
  • 370. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miracleto the expression of profound intellectual thought.For another five hundred years this situationcontinued. The Normans conquered England in1066 and, when the founding father of the Englishlanguage—Geoffrey Chaucer—was born around1340, the official language of their court was stillFrench. Chaucer himself had a command of Latin,French and Italian, besides his native English. This,along with his great gifts of scholarship, enabledhim to make English into an academic language. Touse Ernest Hauser’s words, he gave the Englishlanguage a “firm boost” with his Canterbury Tales.Chaucer transformed a dialect into a language,paving the way for fresh progress in times to come.For two hundred years English writers and poetsfollowed Chaucer’s guidelines. When WilliamShakespeare (1558-1625) appeared on the scene,English took another step forward. His dramas andpoems set a new literary standard, enabling Englishto march further forward. The coming of thescientific age two hundred years later had atremendous impact on every stratum of society.Language now began to follow the dictates ofscience. Prose became more popular than poetry, ~ 371 ~
  • 371. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miraclefactual expression more effective than story-telling.Dozens of poets and writers from Jonathan Swift(1667-1745) to T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) wererepresentative of this trend. They were the makersof the modern age of English literature throughwhich we are now passing.The same thing happened with other languages.Writers, or groups of writers, kept on emergingwho became more popular than their predecessors.Whenever they appeared, they steered the languageon a new course. Eventually every languagechanged so much that it became impossible for aperson to understand the ancient form of his owntongue without the aid of dictionaries andcommentaries.There is only one exception to his universal trend,and that is Arabic. The claim of the Qur’an, that noone would ever be able to write a book like it, hasbeen borne out to the letter. For further proof of thisfact, one need only look at the various attempts toproduce a work equal to the Qur’an that have beenmade over the centuries. All attempts have faileddismally. Musaylimah ibn Habib, Tulayhah ibn ~ 372 ~
  • 372. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s MiracleKhuwaylid, Nadr ibn al-Harith, Ibn al-Rawandi,Abu’l ‘Ala’ al-Ma’rri, Ibn al-Muqaffa’, Al--Mutanabbi, and many others, have tried their handat it but their efforts, like Musaylimah’sextraordinary reference to “God’s blessing uponpregnant women, extracting from them a sprightlylife, from between the stomach and the foetalmembrane”10 look ridiculous when compared withthe literary majesty of the Qur’an.But the greatest substantiation of the Qur’an’s claimthat no one would be able to write a work like it11comes from what Ernest Renan has called the“linguistic miracle” of the Arabic language. As withevery other language, masters of Arabic—greatpoets and writers—have appeared over the ages.But, in the 1500 years since the Qur’an wasrevealed, no one has been able to produce a workthat excelled the Qur’an. The standard that theQur’an set has never been improved upon. Arabichas remained on the course that the Qur’an set forit. If the Qur’an had ever been bettered, Arabicwould not have remained stable as it has. It wouldhave received a new impetus, and set out on a freshcourse. ~ 373 ~
  • 373. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s MiracleThe impact that the Qur’an has had on Arabic is likethat of a writer who produces a work ofunsurpassable literary excellence at the verybeginning of a language’s history. After such afigure has made his mark, no lesser writer canchange the face of the language. The Qur’an wasrevealed in the Arabic current at the time, casting itin a more elevated literary mould than had everbeen seen before or afterwards.By making vital additions to traditional modes ofexpression, the Qur’an opened the way forexpansion of the Arabic language. The use of word“One” (ahad) in the 112th chapter of the Qur’an,entitled “The Unity,” is a good example. Previouslyit had been used in the genitive to express “one ofus” for example, or for the “first day’ of the week,Saturday or Yawm al-Ahad. It was used for generalnegations, as in maja’ni ahadun—”no one came to seeme.” But in using ahad as an attribute of AlmightyGod, the Qur’an put the word to an entirely noveluse. The Qur’an brought many foreign words intoArabic usage, for instance istabraq from Persian,qaswarah from Abyssinian, sirat from Greek, yammfrom Syrian, ghassaq from Turkish, qistas from Latin, ~ 374 ~
  • 374. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miraclemalakut from Armaic and kafur from Hindi. TheQur’an tells us (25:60) that the idolators of Makkahwere baffled at the word rahman. They used to say,“What is this rahman? This was because the wordwas not Arabic. It had been taken from the Sabaeanand Hamiri languages. The Christians of Yemen andAbyssinia used to call God rahamnan. The Makkansconsidered the word foreign when it appeared in theQur’an in an arabicized form. They enquired whatrahman meant, being unaware of its linguisticbackground. Over one hundred non-Arabic words ofthis nature were used in the Qur’an, taken fromlanguages as far apart as Persian, Latin, Nabataean,Hebrew, Syrian, Coptic and many others.Although the Qur’an was revealed mainly in thelanguage of the Quraysh, words used by other Arabtribes were also included. ‘Abdullah ibn al-’Abbas,a Qurayshi Muslim, was puzzled when the wordfatir appeared in the Qur’an. “I did not know whatthe expression ‘Originator of the heavens and theearth’ meant,” he explained. “Then I heard an Arabsaying that he had ‘originated’ a well, when he hadjust started digging it, and I knew what the wordfatir meant.” Abu Hurayrah said that he had never ~ 375 ~
  • 375. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miracleheard the word sikkin until he heard it in thechapter, ‘Joseph’, of the Qur’an. “We always used tocall a knife (mudiyah),” he said.As Jalaluddln Suyuti has pointed out in al-Itqan,many words were pronounced differently byvarious Arab tribes. The Qur’an took some of thesewords, and used them in their most refined literaryform. The Quraysh, for instance, used the worda’ata for ‘he gave,’ while the Himyaris used topronounce it anta. The Qur’an preferred a’ata toanta. Likewise it chose ‘asabi’ rather than shanatirand dhi’b instead of kata’. The general trend ofpreferring Qurayshi forms was sometimes reversed,as in the phrase la yalitkum min a’malikum-”nothingwill be taken away from your actions”—which wasborrowed from the Banu ‘Abbas dialect.In giving old Arabic words and expressions newdepth and beauty, the Qur’an set a standard ofliterary excellence which no future writer couldimprove on. It revised certain metaphors,rephrasing them in a more eloquent form than hadbeen heard before. This was how an ancient Arabpoet described the impermanence of the world: ~ 376 ~
  • 376. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miracle Even if he enjoys a long period of secure life, every mother’s son will finally be carried aloft in a coffin.The Qur’an put the same idea in the poignantlysuccinct words: “Every soul shall taste death.”12Killing and plundering presented a major problemin ancient Arabia. Certain phrases had been coinedto express the idea that only killing could put anend to killing, and these were considered highlyeloquent in pre-Islamic days. “To kill some is togive life to the whole,” one of them went. “Killmore, so that there should be less killing,” and“Killing puts an end to killing,” were some otherexamples. The Qur’an expressed the idea in thesewords: “In retaliation there is life for you, oh peopleof understanding. “13In pre-Quranic days, poetry held an importantplace in Arabic, as in other languages of theworld. Poetical expression of ideas was givenpride of place in the literary arena. The Qur’an,however, left this beaten track, and used proseinstead of poetry. This in itself is proof that theQur’an came from God, for in the 7th century A.D. ~ 377 ~
  • 377. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miraclewho save God—who knows the future just as Heknows the past—could know that prose ratherthan poetry should be chosen as the medium fordivine scripture that was to last for all time. TheQur’an was addressed to future generations, andsoon poetry was going to become less importantas a mass medium of communication. Rhetoricallanguage was also very much in vogue before theQur’an, but for the first time in literary history,the Qur’an introduced a factual rather thanrhetorical style. The most famous topics forliterary treatment had previously been militaryand romantic exploits. The Qur’an, on thecontrary, featured a much wider spectrum,including matters of ethical, legal, scientific,psychological, economic, political and historicsignificance within its scope. In ancient times,parables were a popular mode of expression. Heretoo, the Qur’an trod new ground, adopting a moredirect method of saying things. The method ofreasoning employed in the Qur’an was alsoconsiderably different from that used in pre-Quranic times. Whereas purely theoretical,analogical proof was all that the world had knownprior to this the Qur’an introduced empirical, ~ 378 ~
  • 378. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miraclescientific reasoning. And to crown all itsachievements, the Qur’an expressed all this in arefined literary style, which proved imperishablein times to come.There was an ancient Arab saying that “thesweetest poem was the one with the most lies.”The Qur’an changed this introducing a new modeof “articulate speech” (55:4) based on real factsrather than hypothetical fables. Now Arabicfollowed the Qur’an’s lead. Pre-Islamic Arabicliterature was collected and compiled with thepreservation and understanding of that languageof the Qur’an in mind. Great departments oflearning, facilitating understanding of the Qur’anand explaining its orders and prohibitions, cameinto existence. The learning of Arabic grammar,syntax and etymology, Islamic theology andtraditions, as well as Qur’anic studies, were allaimed at helping us to understand the message ofthe Qur’an. Even the subjects of history andgeography were originally taken up us part of theArabs’ attempt to understand and practice theteachings of the Qur’an. There is no other examplein the history of the world of any single book ~ 379 ~
  • 379. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miraclehaving such an enormous impact on a people andtheir language.Through its development and improvement ofthe Arabic language, the Qur’an became knownas a superb literary masterpiece. Anyone whoknows Arabic can see the unique quality of theQur’an’s style as compared to any other work ofArabic literature. The Qur’an is written in adivine style totally different from anythinghumans can aspire to. We will close this chapterby relating a story, which clearly portrays thedifference between the work of God and that ofman. It is taken from Sheikh Tantawi’scommentary of the Qur’an: “On 13 June 1932,” Tantawi writes, I met an Egyptian writer, Ramil Gilani who told me an amazing story. One day he was with an American orientalist by the name of Finkle, with whom he enjoyed a deep intellectual relationship. “Tell me, are you still among those who consider the Qur’an a miracle?” whispered Finkle in Gilani’s ear, adding a laugh to indicate his ridicule of such belief ~ 380 ~
  • 380. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s MiracleHe thought that Muslims could only holdthis belief in blind faith. It could not bebased on any sound, objective reasoning.Thinking that his blow had really gonehome, Finkle was visibly pleased withhimself. Seeing his attitude, Gilani toostarted laughing. “Before issuing anypronouncement on the style of the Qur’an,”he said, “We should first have a look and seeif we can produce anything comparable to it.Only when we have tried our hand, shall webe able to say conclusively whether humanscan produce anything comparable to theQur’an or not.”Gilani then invited Finkle to join him inputting a Quranic idea into Arabic words.The idea he chose was: Hell is extremely vast.Finkle agreed, and both men sat down withpen and paper. Between them, they producedabout twenty Arabic sentences. “Hell isextremely vast,” “Hell is vaster than you canimagine,” “Man’s intellect cannot fathom thevastness of Hell, “and many examples of thisnature, were some of the sentences they ~ 381 ~
  • 381. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miracleproduced. They tried until they could thinkof no other sentence to express this idea.Gilani looked at Finkle triumphantly. “Nowthat we have done our best, we shall be ableto see how the Qur’an stands above all workof men,” he said. “What, has the Qur’anexpressed this idea more eloquently?’ Finkleenquired. “We are like little childrencompared to the Qur’an,” Gilani told him.Amazed, Finkle asked what was in theQur’an. Gilani recited this verse from SurahQaf: “On the Day when We will ask Hell:‘Are you full?’ And Hell will answer: ‘Arethere any more?”‘14 Finkle was startled onhearing this verse, Amazed at the supremeeloquence of the Qur’an, he openly admitteddefeat, “You were right, quite right,” he said,“I unreservedly concede defeat.” “‘For you toacknowledge the truth,” Gilani replied, “isnothing strange, for you are a man of letters,well aware of the importance of style inlanguage.” This particular orientalist wasfluent in English, German, Hebrew andArabic, and had spent all his life studying theliterature of these languages.15 ~ 382 ~
  • 382. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s MiracleNOTES1. Qur’an, 17: 59.2. Qur’an, 6:35.3. Qur’an, 29: 50-51.4. Xavier Lean-Dufour S.J., The Gospels and the Jesus of History, Desclee Co. Inc., New York, 1970, pp. 79 – 80.5. Emest Renan (1823-1894).6. Jurgi Zaydan (1861-1914), Adab al-Lughat al- ‘Arabiyyah.7. Dr. Ahmad Hasan Zayyat.8. Non-Arabs.9. Mutanabbi (A.D.915-965), Sharh Diwan al-Mutanabbi, Beirut, I983, p 384.10. Tahztb Sirat ibn Hisham, vol. 2, p. 121.11. Qur’an, 17:88.12. Qur’an, 3:185. ~ 383 ~
  • 383. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 15. The Qur’an—The Prophet’s Miracle13. Qur’an, 2:179.14. Qur’an, 50:30.15. Sheikh Tantawi, al-Jawahirifi Tafsiral-Quran al-Karim, Cairo, A.H. 1351, vol. 23, pp. 111-112. ~ 384 ~
  • 384. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 16. The Companions of the Prophet16. THE COMPANIONS OF THEPROPHETThe Companions of the Prophet—the Sahabah—stand alongside him in history just as they stoodalongside him during his lifetime, for they were theones selected by God to assist His messenger. Theyjoined with him in seeing his divine missionthrough to its proper conclusion. As ‘Abdullah ibnMas’ud said: “God chose them to accompany HisProphet, and to establish his religion.”Let us take a look at a few of the outstandingqualities of the Companions, which gave them theirplace in history.ISLAM WAS SOMETHING THEY LOVEDOne of the qualities of the Companions described inthe Qur’an was their attachment to the Faith.1 Ofthis, love is the ultimate expression; it is the highestfeeling we can have for something; it replaces allelse in our thoughts. Our attitude towards thebeloved is something instinctive. We know what todo and what not to do, because real feeling has ~ 385 ~
  • 385. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 16. The Companions of the Prophetdeveloped for the object of our love. Its joys andsorrows become our own. This was the intensity offeeling that the Companions had for Islam. Theyrejoiced in the success of their faith as a fatherrejoices when his son is successful. When Islamreceived a setback, they would not rest until theyhad redressed it.When one associates oneself with a cause—as theCompanions did with Islam—one needs no tellingabout what one’s attitude should be. Heartfeltenthusiasm shows the way. One is willing to giveeverything for it and place its interest above all else.Our losses on its behalf then become our gains, andthere can be no feeling of the diminution of ourpersonal worth in the face of its claims. Thedifficulties we encounter in its espousal are easilysurmounted because of the fervour with which weare imbued.There was nothing extraordinary or supernaturalabout the Companions. They were human beingslike any other. What made them stand out from therest of mankind was that the feeling of true love,which most people feel only for themselves, was felt ~ 386 ~
  • 386. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 16. The Companions of the Prophetby them for the faith of Islam. They built for thefuture of Islam as normal people build for their ownpersonal futures. Just as people put all their energyand wealth into the pursuit of their own interests,so did they put their all into the pursuit of Islamicinterests. It was the depth of their attachment toIslam, which enabled them to establish thesupremacy of the Faith.RECOGNISING THE PROPHET AT THE VERYBEGINNINGOne unique quality of the Companions was thatthey recognised a prophet who was theircontemporary. It is very difficult to recognize andbelieve in a prophet of one’s own day: this can begauged from the fact that no group except for theCompanions has ever managed to do so. At everystage of ancient history prophets were denied andridiculed when they appeared among their peoples.“You thought nothing of My prophets,” the Biblesays. Who were these people who “thoughtnothing” of the prophets? They were the very oneswho believed in both prophecy and divinerevelation. They had set up great institutions in the ~ 387 ~
  • 387. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 16. The Companions of the Prophetname of prophets. It was with great enthusiasm thatthey included days for the remembrance of variousprophets in their calendar: But it was only ancientprophets whom they revered in this manner. As forprophets of their own day, they made them objectsof ridicule and scorn.The Jews disbelieved in the Prophet Jesus, eventhough they believed in Moses. Despite theirveneration for Jesus, the Christians denied theProphet Muhammad. Even the Quraysh of Makkahprided themselves on being heirs of Abraham; butwhen the heir to Abraham’s prophetic legacy cameamong them, they attacked him and expelled himfrom the land.Why was there this discrepancy between people’streatment of ancient prophets on the one hand, andcontemporary prophets on the other? The reason forit was that ancient prophets were supported by themight of historical tradition. They become anessential part of a people’s national heritage. Peopleof later generations look back at prophets of old asupon sacred heroes—forgers of their nationalidentity. Clearly, few will resist faith when there is ~ 388 ~
  • 388. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 16. The Companions of the Prophetso much added incentive to believe. With acontemporary prophet, however, the situation isquite different. His prophethood is still acontroversial issue. His mission is surrounded in acloak of doubt. In order to believe in him, one has tosee through outward appearances. In order tofollow him, one has to bury all thoughts of oneselfDoubt prevails over the truth of his mission. Hisprophethood has not yet received the verification ofhistory. Under such conditions, it is the mostdifficult thing in the world to believe in a prophet,and actively participate in his mission. But it wasthis, no less, that the Companions were able to do:believe in a prophet of their own day as if he were aprophet of ancient times.During the Battle of the Trench (A.H. 5) Madinahwas besieged by the Quraysh and all of the Arabclans who had entered into an alliance with them.The siege was intensified until it became impossiblefor the Muslims to obtain even the basic necessitiesof life. At this time one of the Muslims said indesperation: “Muhammad used to promise us thatthe treasures of Khusrau and Caesar would be ours,and now here we are—unable even to relieve ~ 389 ~
  • 389. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 16. The Companions of the Prophetourselves in peace.” When this battle took place theProphet’s promise was just that—a promise; it wasnowhere near fulfillment, although now it is amatter of ancient history. The Companions,nevertheless, acknowledged the Prophet’s greatnessbefore his promises had become history. Those whoacknowledge his greatness today do so after thefulfillment of his promises, after history has put thestamp of greatness upon him. There is a world ofdifference between these two acknowledgements.One bears no comparison to the other. Today, evennon-Muslim historians have been compelled to allotpride of place in human history to the ProphetMuhammad. But, during his lifetime, recognizinghis greatness was a matter of extreme difficulty. Somuch so that this could only be done by those whohad been granted special grace by God.ADHERING TO THE QUR’AN WHEN IT WASSTILL THE SUBJECT OF CONTROVERSYThe Companions’ way of preaching the faith was totake a revealed portion of the Qur’an and recite it tothe people. For this reason the Companions whowent to Madinah to preach Islam were called ~ 390 ~
  • 390. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 16. The Companions of the Prophetmuqris—reciters of the Qur’an. In a modernenvironment, this would be nothing extraordinary.But when one leaves aside the 1400 years of historythat stand between us and the Companions, andimagines the conditions that prevailed in their time,their action appears in an entirely new perspective.At that time it was a mammoth task to stand amongstthe people and recite the Qur’an, one that no groupexcept for the Companions had ever performed.The picture that springs to mind with the mentionof the word “Qur’an” today is that of a book thathas, over 1400 years, established its greatnesswithout the slightest shadow of a doubt. Millions ofpeople the world over accept it as the Book of God.It has become a matter of personal pride to expressbelief in the Qur’an. At the time of revelation,however, the Qur’an did not enjoy this status. Manyof the Sahabahs’ contemporaries treated it as anobject of derision. “We have heard them,” saidsome speaking of the revelations. “If we wished, wecould speak the like. They are but fables of theancients.”2 “Fables of the ancients he has written,”they used to say. “They are dictated to him morningand evening.”3 ~ 391 ~
  • 391. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 16. The Companions of the ProphetTo believe in the Qur’an under such circumstanceswas like seeing future events as if they had alreadyhappened. It required vision enabling one to see aconcealed truth before it had become established inthe eyes of men. How difficult it must have been,then, to make the Qur’an the basis of one’spreaching mission. To do so amounted to anegation of personal greatness and the acceptanceof the greatness of another—one whose greatnesshad not yet been accepted by the world. When thefamous Arab poet Labid accepted Islam, he gave upwriting poetry. When someone asked why he haddone this, he replied; “What? After the Qur’an?” If apoet today was to relinquish his writing for thesame reason, he would be accorded tremendousacclaim and popular respect. In saying, “How can Iwrite poetry after the advent of the Qur’an,” hewould be looking at a Qur’an with a glorioushistory behind it. Labid said these words at the verybeginning of the Qur’an’s history. There is nocomparison between acknowledging the greatnessof something after history has cast a mantle ofgreatness upon it, and doing so beforehand. TheQur’an has explained the difference in these words: ~ 392 ~
  • 392. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 16. The Companions of the Prophet Those of you that gave of their wealth before the victory and took part in the fighting are not equal (to those who gave and fought thereafter). Their degree is greater.4SPENDING ONE’S WEALTH FOR THE SAKE OFA TRUTH WHICH HAS YET TO BEESTABLISHEDThe following incident has been related by Ibn AbiHatim on the authority of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ud.When the verse of the Qur’an—”Who will lend Goda goodly loan; it will be doubled for him manytimes”5 —was revealed, Abu Dahdah of the Ansarasked the Prophet if God really wanted them to“lend Him a loan,” The Prophet replied in theaffirmative. “Give me your hand,” Abu Dahdahsaid to the Prophet. The Prophet put his hand inAbu Dahdah’s as the latter told him that he wouldlend his whole orchard—consisting of six hundreddate palms—to his Lord. His wife Umm Dahdahwas in the orchard with her children at the time.Abu Dahdah came and told her to leave it, for hehad donated it to the Lord on High. “What a gooddeal you have made!” Umm Dahdah exclaimed,and immediately took her children and belongings ~ 393 ~
  • 393. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 16. The Companions of the Prophetout of the orchard. “How many trees luxuriant andladen with fruit—Abu Dahda will have inparadise,” the Prophet said of this donation.This incident is representative of a generaleagerness among the Companions to donate theirwealth for the sake of their faith. One must call tomind once again that this happened 1400 years ago.Were anyone to perform an act of similar charity inthe name of their religion today, it is quite possiblethat they would have great honours conferred uponthem by Muslims, which far exceeded theirexpenditure. But things were quite different in thetime of the Companions. To spend in the cause ofreligion in those days was to be condemned asinsane by society. Far from raising one to a highpinnacle of fame, it was like burying oneself in a pitof self-oblivion. The cause to which theCompanions devoted their lives and properties wasone surrounded in doubt. Historical evidence hadnot yet accumulated in support of it. The truth ofIslam had not yet become established in society atlarge. Yet the Companions donated their wealth forthe sake of their religion at that uncertain period ofIslamic history: Now, 1400 years later, the greatness ~ 394 ~
  • 394. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 16. The Companions of the Prophetof Islam has become an established fact, supportedby centuries of history. To spend on a cause whichhas not consolidated its place in society is of a verydifferent order from spending on a consolidatedestablished cause.PLACING ONE’S OWN CROWN ON THE HEADOF ANOTHERBefore the Prophet’s emigration to Madinah,‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy had stood out as a naturalleader in that city. His character, charisma andintelligence had led the people of Madinah tochoose him as their king. They considered him theright person to put an end to the civil strife andconflict, which had raged among them for so long.A ceremony was planned at which ‘Abdullah ibnUbayy was to be crowned king of Madinah.Arrangement for ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy’s coronationhad been completed when Islam first came toMadinah. The people of Madinah took naturally tothe new religion, and Islam won followers in everyhome. A delegation travelled to Makkah, wherethey met the Prophet and heard the teachings ofIslam from his lips. The impression that they ~ 395 ~
  • 395. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 16. The Companions of the Prophetreceived was that the person they needed to reignover their society was—not ‘Abdullah ibn Ubayy—but the Prophet Muhammad. On behalf of thepeople of Madinah, they asked the Prophet to cometo their town and take over as their leader. Theyswore allegiance to the Prophet at ‘Aqabah, anevent that proved a watershed in Islamic history.Quite apart from its far-reaching historicalimplications, this act of allegiance was anextraordinary feat. It was as if the people ofMadinah were taking the crown off their own head,and placing it on that of a stranger. People havealways been highly reluctant to take someone fromoutside their own nation or tribe as leader. Such amove was unheard of in ancient Arabia. In this caseit was rendered even more difficult by the fact thatthe “Muhammad” whom they were taking in wasnot the great historical personality that we knowtoday. He was a person who had been expelled byhis own people. Not only was he a controversialfigure, he was a homeless, destitute one as well. Thepeople of Madinah were giving him everything,with the promise of nothing in return. In the 20thcentury we have heard some western thinkers— ~ 396 ~
  • 396. Muhammad a Prophet For all Humanity 16. The Companions of the Prophetnotably Bernard Shaw—mention what a fine leaderof the western world a person like Muhammadwould make. To make an offer like this in the 6thcentury, however, was a very different matter, for atthat time the unique qualities of leadership that theProphet possessed had not become engraved on thepages of history.REALIZING ONE’S OWN LIMITATIONSThe Prophet Muhammad used to confer with hisCompanions over every matter that arose. Hewould call them together and, after explaining thesituation, ask them for their opinion. Though heappeared to be consulting with everyone, whatactually used to happen was that