[Taken from Introduction to Islam by Muhammad Hamidullah (Centre Culturel Islamique, Paris, 1969), with some changes to make it more readable. The changes are marked by pairs of brackets like around this paragraph.]
IN the annals of men, individuals have not been lacking who conspicuously devoted their lives to the socio-religious reform of their connected peoples. We find them in every epoch and in all lands. In India, there lived those who transmitted to the world the Vedas, and there was also the great Gautama Buddha; China had its Confucius; the Avesta was produced in Iran. Babylonia gave to the world one of the greatest reformers, the Prophet Abraham (not to speak of such of his ancestors as Enoch and Noah about whom we have very scanty information). The Jewish people may rightly be proud of a long series of reformers: Moses, Samuel, David, Solomon, and Jesus among others.Read more...
About 3500 years ago, the Pharaoh of Egypt had declared himself Lord, ruling his nation as if life and death were in his hands. There were people in Egypt, mostly the Israelites, who believed in One God, but were made slaves and severely persecuted to the extent that their boys were killed as they were born. The land was also filled with magicians and witchcraft was the fashion of the day. Paganism was prevalent including the cow worship.
Centuries have passed since the Pharaohs ruled Egypt and much has changed. The scientific and technological advancements have made us live luxuriously in many ways. Many in America believe in One God, live in prosperity and are far removed from the like of the persecutions of the Pharaohs of the past. At the same time, magic and witchcraft still exist in the American life, but in ways which are very different from the time of the Pharaohs. An example of such presence can be seen in the Harry Potter books and paraphernalia. Paganism also has its presence, for example, in the customs of Halloween. The Holy scriptures acknowledge existence of magic, but forbid its practice.
"Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead." (Deuteronomy 18:10-11)
The story of Prophet Moses’ encounter with the magicians appears in several places in the Holy Scriptures. Below is one such narration:Read more...
|The Vanguard of Migration (in the Cause of Allah)|
After the endorsement of the Second ‘Aqabah Pledge and the establishment of a petite Muslim state in a vast desert surging with disbelief and ignorance — the most serious gain in terms of Islam —, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) gave his leave for the Muslims to migrate to Madinah, the nascent Muslim state.
Migration to Madinah, in terms of personal interests, was no more than material waste and sacrifice of wealth, all in return for personal safety only. Even here, the migrant could not expect full security; he was liable to be robbed or even killed either at the beginning or end of his departure. The future was foggy, pregnant with various unpredictable sorts of sorrows and crises.
Bearing all this in mind, the Muslims began to migrate, while the polytheists spared no effort in hindering and debarring them, knowing beforehand that such a move implied unimaginable threats and unthinkable destructive dangers to their whole society:
Shortly afterwards Abu Jahl, and his brother Al-Harith came to Madinah to see their third brother ‘Ayyash. They cunningly tried to touch the most sensitive area in man, i.e. his relation with his mother. They addressed him claiming that his mother had sworn she would never comb her hair, nor shade herself off the sun unless she had seen him. ‘Ayyash took pity on his mother, but ‘Umar was intelligent enough to understand that they wanted to entice ‘Ayyash away from Islam so he cautioned him against their tricks, and added “your mother would comb her hair if lice pestered her, and would shade herself off if the sun of Makkah got too hot for her.” These words notwithstanding, ‘Ayyash was determined to go and see his mother, so ‘Umar gave him his manageable docile camel advising him to stick to its back because it would provide rescue for him if he perceived anything suspicious on their part. The party of three then set forth towards Makkah. As soon as they covered part of the distance, Abu Jahl complained about his camel and requested ‘Ayyash to allow him to ride behind him on his camel. When they knelt down to the level of the ground, the two polytheists fell upon ‘Ayyash and tied him. They rode on into Makkah shouting at people to follow their example with respect to ‘fools’
These are just three self-explanatory models of the Makkans’ reaction towards anyone intending to migrate. Nevertheless, the believers still managed to escape in successive groups and so rapidly that within two months of the Second ‘Aqabah Pledge, entire quarters of Makkah were deserted. Almost all the followers of Muhammad had migrated to their new abode, except Abu Bakr, ‘Ali, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) himself, and those helpless noble souls who had been detained in confinement or were unable to escape. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) , together with Abu Bakr and ‘Ali, had made all the necessary preparations for migration but was waiting for leave from his Lord.
It is noteworthy that most of the Mwho had migrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), came back to Madinah to join the rest of the Muslims there.
The situation was no doubt critical in Makkah but Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was not at all perturbed. Abu Bakr was, however, urging the Prophet to depart from that town. He was also eagerly waiting for an opportunity to accompany Muhammad (Peace be upon him) on this eventful journey. But the Prophet told him that the time had not yet come; the Lord had not given him the command to migrate. In anticipation of the Command of Allâh, Abu Bakr had made preparations for the journey. He had purchased two swift camels and had fed them properly for four months so that they could successively stand the ordeals of the long desert journey.
|In An-Nadwah (Council) House - The Parliament of Quraish|
The polytheists were paralysed by the carefully planned and speedy movement of Muhammad’s followers towards their new abode in Madinah. They were caught in unprecedented anxiety and got deeply worried over their whole pagan and economic entity. They already experienced Muhammad (Peace be upon him) as an influential leader; and his followers as determined, decent and always ready to sacrifice all they had for the sake of the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him). Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj tribes, the would-be-hosts of the Makkan Muslims, were also known in Arabia for their might and power in war, and judicious and sensible approach in peace. They were also averse to rancour and prejudice for they themselves had had bitter days of inter-tribal warfare. Madinah , itself, the prospective headquarters of the ever-growing Islamic Call, enjoyed the most serious strategic position. It commanded the commercial routes leading to Makkah whose people used to deal in about a quarter of a million gold dinar-worth commodities every year. Security of the caravan routes was crucial for the perpetuity of prosperous economic life. All those factors borne in mind, the polytheists felt they were in the grip of a serious threat. They, therefore, began to seek the most effective method that could avert this imminent danger. They convened a meeting on Thursday, 26th Safar, the year fourteen of Prophethood / 12th September 622 A.D., i.e. two and a half months after the Great ‘Aqabah Pledge. On that day, “the Parliament of Makkah” held the most serious meeting ever, with one item on the agenda: How to take effective measures with a view to stopping that tidal wave. Delegates representing all the Quraishite tribes attended the meeting, the most significant of whom were:
On their way to An-Nadwah House, Iblis (Satan) in the guise of a venerable elderly man standing at the door interrupted their talk and introduced himself as a man from Najd curious enough to attend the meeting, listen to the debate and wish them success to reach a sound opinion. He was readily admitted in.
There was a lengthy debate and several proposals were put forward. Expulsion from Makkah was proposed and debated in turn but finally turned down on grounds that his sweet and heart-touching words could entice the other Arabs to attack them in their own city. Imprisonment for life was also debated but also refused for fear that his followers might increase in number, overpower them and release him by force. At this point, the arch-criminal of Makkah, Abu Jahl bin Hisham suggested that they assassinate him. But assassination by one man would have exposed him and his family to the vengeance of blood. The difficulty was at last solved by Abu Jahl himself, who suggested that a band of young men, one from each tribe, should strike Muhammad simultaneously with their swords so that the blood-money would be spread over them all and therefore could not be exacted, and his people would seek a mind-based recourse for settlement. The sinful proposal was unanimously accepted, and the representatives broke up the meeting and went back home with full determination for immediate implementation.