The Prophet and the people who opposed him

Abdul Malik Mujahid

Bleeding from head to toe, battered and exhausted, he was faced with a choice. Should he or shouldn't he seek to destroy the people who had just humiliated him by having their children chase him out of town while throwing stones at him? And this was simply for sharing his message and seeking help for his people.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was in Taif, a lush town of green palm trees, fruits and vegetables, about 50 miles southeast of his arid hometown Makkah. He was hoping that perhaps the people of this town would be receptive to his message, which had been rejected by most of the Makkans for over a decade.

But the people of Taif proved just as cruel and intolerant. Not only did they scorn his message of God's Oneness, they turned their youth against the Prophet. In the face of this misery, an angel was sent and presented him with an option: have the whole town be destroyed, by God's will, for such arrogance and hatefulness.

He could have done it. He could have asked that this valley of cruel people be crushed. But he didn't.

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The end cry of the righteous

Allah Subhanuhu wa-T'ala says in the Holy Quran:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ الصَّالِحَاتِ يَهْدِيهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ بِإِيمَانِهِمْ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهِمُ الأَنْهَارُ فِي جَنَّاتِ النَّعِيمِ

دَعْوَاهُمْ فِيهَا سُبْحَانَكَ اللَّهُمَّ وَتَحِيَّتُهُمْ فِيهَا سَلاَمٌ وَآخِرُ دَعْوَاهُمْ أَنِ الْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Surely those who believe (in the truths revealed in the Book) and do righteous deeds their Lord will guide them aright because of their faith. Rivers shall flow beneath them in the Gardens of Bliss. Their cry in it will be: 'Glory be to You, Our Lord!', and their greeting: 'Peace!'; and their cry will always end with: 'All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe. (10:9-10)

The sequence of ideas presented here is quite significant because answers have been systematically provided to a number of highly relevant basic questions. Let us look at these answers in their sequence. Why will the righteous enter Paradise? The answer is: because they have followed the straight way in their worldly life. That is, in all matters and in every walk of life, in all affairs relating to the personal or collective life they have been righteous and have abstained from false ways.
This gives rise to another question: how were the righteous able to obtain a criterion that would enable them to distinguish, at every turn and crossroad of life, between right and wrong, between good and evil, between fair and unfair? And how did they come to have the strength to adhere to what is right and avoid what is wrong? All this, of course, came from their Lord Who bestowed upon them both the guidance which they needed to know the right way and the succour required to follow it. In answer to why their Lord bestowed upon them this guidance and succour, we are reminded that all this was in consideration for their faith.
It is also made clear that this reward is not in lieu of merely a verbal profession to faith, a profession that is no more than a formal acceptance of certain propositions. Rather, the reward is in consideration for a faith that became the moving spirit of a believer's character and personality, the force that led him lo righteous deeds and conduct. We can observe in our own physical lives that a person's survival, state of health, level of energy, and joy of living all depend upon sustenance from the right kind of food. This food, once digested, provides blood to the veins and arteries, provides energy to the whole body and enables the different limbs to function properly.
The same holds true of man's success in the moral domain. It is sound beliefs which ensure that he will have the correct outlook, sound orientation and right behaviour that will ultimately lead to his success. Such results, however, do not ensue from that kind of believing which either consists of a mere profession to faith, or is confined to some obscure corner of man's head or heart. The wholesome results mentioned above can only be produced by a faith which deeply permeates man's entire being, shaping his mental outlook, even becoming his instinct; a faith which is fully reflected in his character, conduct and outlook on life. We have just noted the importance of food. We know that the person who, in spite of eating remains like one who has not partaken of any food, would not be able to enjoy the healthy results that are the lot of the person who has fully assimilated what he ate. How can it be conceived that it would be different in the moral domain of human life? How can it be that he who remains, even after believing, like the one who does not believe, will derive the benefit and receive the reward meant for those whose believing leads to righteous living?

"...their cry will always end with: 'All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the universe."

This should remove any misconceptions about Paradise which seem to have been formed by some people of frail understanding. Subtly, the verse suggests that when people are admitted to Paradise, they will not instantly pounce upon the objects of their desire as the starved and hungry are wont to do when they observe food. Nor will they frantically go about giving vent to their lusts, impatiently demanding their cherished objects of enjoyment - beautiful women, wine, dissolute singing and music.
The fact is that the men of faith and righteousness who are admitted to Paradise will be those who, during their life in the world, have embellished their lives with sublime ideas and noble deeds, who have refined their emotions, who have oriented their desires in the right direction, and who have purified their conduct and character. Thus, the nobility which they have developed in their personalities will shine in even greater splendour when they set their feet in the pure and clean environment of Paradise. Those same traits which characterized their behaviour in the world will appear with even greater lustre.
The favourite occupation of such people in Paradise will be the same as during their life on the earth - to celebrate the praise of God. Likewise, their relationships in Paradise will be imbued with feelings of mutual harmony and concern for each other's well-being as had been the case in this world.
(Tafheemul Quran)

The Year of Grief

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Abu Talib’s Death

In Rajab, the tenth year of the Prophethood, Abu Talib fell ill and passed away, six months after leaving the confinement at Ash-Sh‘ib. In another version, Abu Talib breathed his last in Ramadan, three days prior to the death of Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her). On the authority of Al-Musaiyab, when Abu Talib was on the death bed, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) entered the room where he saw Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Omaiyah. He requested his uncle:

  • “My uncle, you just make a profession that there is no true god but Allâh, and I will bear testimony before Allâh (of your being a believer)”.
  • Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Omaiyah addressing him said: “Abu Talib, would you abandon the religion of ‘Abdul-Muttalib?” The Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) constantly requested him (to accept his offer), and (on the other hand) was repeated the same statement (of Abu Jahl and ‘Abdullah bin Abi Omaiyah) — till Abu Talib gave his final decision and he stuck to the religion of ‘Abdul-Muttalib and refused to profess that there is no true god but Allâh. Upon this the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) remarked:

  • “By Allâh, I will persistently beg pardon for you till I am forbidden to do so (by Allâh)”.
  • It was then that Allâh, the Magnificent and Glorious revealed this verse:

  • “It is not (proper) for the Prophet and those who believe to ask Allâh’s forgiveness for the Mushrikûn (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allâh) even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are the dwellers of the Fire (because they died in a state of disbelief).” [9:113]
  • And it was said to the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him):

  • “Verily! You [O Muhammad (Peace be upon him) ] guide not whom you like.” [28:56]
  • It goes without saying that Abu Talib was very much attached to Muhammad (Peace be upon him) . For forty years, Abu Talib had been the faithful friend — the prop of his childhood, the guardian of his youth and in later life a very tower of defence. The sacrifices to which Abu Talib exposed himself and his family for the sake of his nephew, while yet incredulous of his mission, stamp his character as singularly noble and unselfish. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) did his best to persuade his octogenarian uncle to make profession of the true faith, but he remained obdurate and stuck to the paganism of his forefathers, and thus could not achieve complete success. Al-‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib narrated that he said to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) “You have not been of any avail to your uncle (Abu Talib) (though) by Allâh, he used to protect you and get angry on your behalf.” The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: “He is in a shallow fire, and had it not been for me, he would have been at the bottom of the (Hell) Fire.”

    Abu Sa‘id Al-Khudri narrated that he heard the Prophet (Peace be upon him) say, when the mention of his uncle was made, “I hope that my intercession may avail him, and he be placed in a shallow fire that rises up only to his heels.”

     

     

    Khadijah passes away to the Mercy of Allah

    Only two months after the death of his uncle, did the Messenger of Allâh (Peace be upon him) experience another great personal loss viz., the Mother of believers, his wife Khadijah passed away in Ramadan of the tenth year of his Prophethood, when she was sixty-five years old, and he was fifty. Khadijah was in fact a blessing of Allâh for the Prophet (Peace be upon him). She, for twenty-five years, shared with him the toils and trials of life, especially in the first ten years of his ministry of Prophethood. He deeply mourned over her death, and once he replied in an honest burst of tender emotions:

  • “She believed in me when none else did. She embraced Islam when people disbelieved me. And she helped and comforted me in her person and wealth when there was none else to lend me a helping hand. I had children from her only.”
  • Abu Hurairah reported that Gabriel came to Allâh’s Messenger (Peace be upon him) and said: “Allâh’s Messenger, lo, Khadijah is coming to you with a vessel of seasoned food or drink. When she comes to you, offer her greetings from her Lord, and give her glad tidings of a palace of jewels in Paradise where there is no noise and no toil.”

    These two painful events took place within a short lapse of time and added a lot to his grief and suffering. The Makkans now openly declared their campaign of torture and oppression. The Prophet (Peace be upon him) lost all hope of bringing them back to the right path, so he set out for Al-Ta’if seeking a supportive atmosphere. But there too, he was disappointed and he sustained unbearable tortures and maltreatment that far outweighed his miserable situation in his native town.

    His Companions were on equal footing subjected to unspeakable torture and unbearable oppression to such an extent that his closest friend, Abu Bakr, to escape pressure, fled out of Makkah and wanted to leave for Abyssinia (Ethiopia) if it were not for Ibn Ad-Daghanah who met him at Bark Al-Ghamad and managed to dissuade him from completing his journey of escape and brought him back under his protection.

    Tdeath of Abu Talib rendered the Prophet (Peace be upon him) vulnerable, and the polytheists availed them of that opportunity to give free rein to their hatred and highhandedness and to translate them in terms of oppression and physical tortures. Once an insolent Quraishite intercepted him and sprinkled sand on his head. When he arrived home, a daughter of his washed the sand away and wept. “Do not weep, my daughter. Allâh will verily protect your father.” The Prophet (Peace be upon him) said.

    Rapid succession of misfortunes, led the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to call that period, ‘the year of grief and mourning’. Thenceforth, that year bore that appellation.

     

     

    His Marriage to Sawdah (May be please with her) in Shawwal, the tenth year of Prophethood

    The death of Khadijah left the Prophet (Peace be upon him) lonely. The name of Sawdah was suggested to him for marriage which he accepted. This lady had suffered many hardships for the sake of Islam. She was an early convert to the Islamic Faith and it was by her persuasion that her husband had embraced Islam. On the second emigration to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), Sawdah had accompanied her husband As-Sakran bin ‘Amr. He died on their way back to Makkah leaving her in a terrible state of destitution. She was the first woman for the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to marry after the death of Khadijah. Some years later she granted her turn with the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to her co-wife, ‘Aishah.

    Short Quotes

    You will find with Allah

    وَأَقِيمُواْ الصَّلاَةَ وَآتُواْ الزَّكَاةَ وَمَا تُقَدِّمُواْ لأَنفُسِكُم مِّنْ خَيْرٍ تَجِدُوهُ عِندَ اللّهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

    (2:110) And establish the Salat and pay the Zakat. you will find with Allah whatever good you send forward for your future; Allah is watching everything you do.