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The Seerah (Biography) of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him

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#1 [Permalink] Posted on 12th February 2020 05:39

Assalamu alaikum, just thought to share this .

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It's in part insha'Allah I ll share it here




The Importance of the Science of Sirah


Based on The Prophet of Islam by Muhammad Hamidullah


The development of the morals and soul of the human being is the most important endeavor a human being can undertake. Although a number of different methods have been followed to realize this aim in different eras, the most indispensable resource in this effort for all times and places is the human model that can be found in the personalities of leaders.


At the head of these historical personalities that are at the peak of morals and the soul are the prophets. Each prophet has realized this development within their own characters. For example, Jesus, peace and blessings be upon him, taught friendship and forgiveness, patience and endurance, peace and tranquility, contentment and humility. However, Prophet Jesus' teachings do not contain moral rules for governing or administration. Again, to give another example, the laws that Moses and Noah taught people do not instruct in universal mercy or brotherhood.


This means that every age has been dependent on one of these holy personalities. The needs of every age have been satisfied by one of the prophets.


However, humanity was awaiting the insan-i kamil (perfected human). This person would not just be a ruler and a commander, but at the same time would be a person who had taqwa(God consciousness/piety), who was a communal leader, but also a humble person and a faithful follower of Allah; this person would be generous and gracious, but also content with the little he had. This perfect person, this Prophet, was the highest point and the greatest success of mankind.


But, as all mortals, this being was not eternal. For this reason it was necessary that his every word, his every action be recorded, that every trait belonging to him be identified and his every state be described for future generations.


It is interesting that before the advent of Islam the life of no prophet or founder was recorded in a way that was in keeping with historical dimensions. This is true for the leaders of other great religions, in addition to the last two prophets before Prophet Muhammad, Jesus and Moses. It was true to such an extent that even among Christians there are many researchers who are not convinced that such a person as Jesus ever lived. The only individual among all religious leaders whose entire life, with all the events, all his actions, all his campaigns, even the way he dressed, the lines of his face, how he spoke and walked, his nature, his style of etiquette, eating, drinking, sleeping, laughing, working, in all the details, has been recorded is Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.


While the biography of anyone can be informative and important from the aspect of teaching about life, the position of the study of Prophet Muhammad's life and personality, known as Sirah, among all the other sciences, cannot be denied. Moreover, if we are to consider that all the religious beliefs and practices are established on the trustworthy nature of the individual, then the importance of Sirah becomes even greater. The Prophet is a person to be followed. He was the first to interpret the Revelation. He was one who had been cleansed of sins by Allah; he was the pure and unadulterated essence of humanity. Sirah is valuable because it presents this eternal example to Muslims. When Muslims read Sirah they perceive the gradual coming to life of Islam.


The science of Sirah has ceased to be something that only gives historical information, particularly after the recent sketches directed against the personality of the Prophet which hurt feelings of respect and commitment to Islam; they have now become an important source on which all our beliefs of our faith rest. In this state the science of Sirah is relevant alongside Kalam (theology), because the one who taught us to believe and what to believe in matters of ghayb (i.e. those that are beyond this world, which are invisible and mysterious) was the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. In particular, this is true for the Quran, the source of our beliefs. The Revelation came to us via Prophet Muhammad and it was brought into our lives with his explanations and his example. We have taken all the actualizations of the religion from him and if we do not have faith in the Prophet then our belief is not accepted by Allah; thus, every detail about the Messenger of Allah and his character has a great importance for affirming our faith and our commitment to Islam. We cannot even be Muslims if we do not follow the road that Prophet Muhammad guided us on. To know and understand the Prophet incorrectly can open the way to damaging practices that can alter the religion and give rise to incorrect trends.


The life of Prophet Muhammad is not to be learned only as his example as an individual. His life is of importance to us also for the examples it presents in institutional development and in the progress of Muslim societies in aspects of law, the economy, social and political arenas, international relations, and in times of war and peace.


Understanding Prophet Muhammad will help us to understand the Quran, as he always acted in a way that was in keeping with the spirit of the Holy Quran on all matters. In fact, without knowing the details of the important events in Prophet Muhammad's life it is not possible to correctly understand the parts of the Quran that were revealed during these events. In short, in the same way that it always has been, the moral character of Prophet Muhammad is the sole means to perfectly understand the religion of Islam. Without knowing the life of Prophet Muhammad one cannot correctly understand any of the sciences of Islam. Almost all of these sciences derive separate religious rulings from the Prophet's life, and from this aspect "The Life of the Prophet" forms the source of all our religious information.


Those who want to study the moral character of Prophet Muhammad, which is the essence of the message he brought and the most perfect reflection of human life, need to take the following points into consideration:


1.The things he taught were recorded under his personal supervision and were protected with great care for following generations.


2.Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, at no time claimed that the honor of being Allah's Messenger was his alone; quite the contrary, he stated that Allah had sent messengers to all nations before his birth. But the messages that these prophets brought were not protected due to the wars and revolutions that have occurred throughout the sad history of mankind, and therefore Prophet Muhammad had been sent to revivify these messages. He promised that the message he brought would be protected in such a way that it would not change, and therefore there would be no need for another prophet to be sent; this promise has been realized.


3.From the first day of the divine revelation Prophet Muhammad addressed the message to the entire world; he did not limit himself to one nation or certain centuries; he recognized no differences of race or class.


4.Absolutely evil people", like "absolutely good people" are a rare exception in human society and most people fall into the category of "average people". Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, did not limit himself to only those with angelic natures. He addressed his message to the greater majority of people, that is, the average man.


5.There is no lack of great leaders, great conquerors, great reformers, great saints, etc in the history of mankind; however, most of these have only had value in their own particular arena. The phenomenon of all these qualities being gathered in one place, in just one person, has only ever occurred with Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. This situation forms a perfect example that indicates the "balance" which a believer must achieve in their own lives.


6.From the aspect of the quality of reformer, it is enough to state that Prophet Muhammad was a teacher and instructor in Islam. From the aspect of a beloved servant of Allah and one who lived the doctrine he brought himself, when we examine the life of Prophet Muhammad we can see total perfection and innocence. As a social reformer, in a country in which there was total chaos and fighting, he started from nothing and within ten years managed to establish a state that measured more than 3 million square kilometers, covering the entire Arabian Peninsula, including Iraq and Palestine's southern regions. In a short space of time, he left behind an establishment to his caliphs that would extend towards Europe, Asia and Africa in as short a time as fifteen years. As a conqueror, in all the battles he fought the total number of lives lost on both sides was not more than a few hundred. In addition, the people who lived in these lands pledged their allegiance to the Prophet. In fact, Prophet Muhammad was the ruler not of bodies, but of the heart. While still alive his achievements in teaching the religion were so great that 150,000 believers gathered at Arafat during the Farewell Pilgrimage, and we can estimate that many more Muslims were unable to participate in the pilgrimage that year due to the events of the time.


7.Prophet Muhammad never perceived himself as being above practicing the rules and laws that he ordered for the believers. Quite the opposite, he prayed, he fasted and he gave zakat that was well over the amounts that he had ordered.


8.Prophet Muhammad was interested in all the manifestations of human life; he introduced guidelines or rulings in every area, be it beliefs, the spiritual world, morals, economics, politics, in individual and social arenas, in spiritual and material matters. He left us the best example of what was to be done in all these areas with his own actions.


There are one or two other matters that a Muslim who understands the importance of knowing the life and personality of Prophet Muhammad should take into account in connection with this process:


If we are to remember that historical information that is not based on a certain geography is more like fiction, then when studying the Prophet's life the importance of knowing the area in which is life and activities took place becomes apparent. For example, the verse that states that when someone wanted something from the wives of the Prophet they were to request it from behind a curtain; we know, from referring to the conditions of the day, that there were no doors, but a rug or cloth curtain was hung there, or some of the Prophet's wives lived in houses consisting of one room. The verse was revealed so that the curtains would not be opened to disturb the privacy of the Prophet's wives. If we are ignorant of these conditions we could be misled into thinking that the Prophet's wives were not able to converse with anyone without there being a curtain between them. It is not possible to understand the history of any nation if we do not now the natural circumstances of the people or the time.


The Quran is addressed to mankind. In this situation an important foundation for correctly perceiving the events that occurred is formed if we are aware of the psychology of the people in the Time of Ignorance.


The Sirah covers the period during which the revelation continued. The events that occurred at this time carry a divine character and it is for this reason that anyone who is trying to understand the events of this period would be misled if they were only to examine them on the human dimension. It is striking that both the lives of the Prophet and the Companions took place in a religious struggle; it is necessary to evaluate the events in the light of a Divine plan.


A Muslim who examines the moral character of Prophet Muhammad not only needs to take into account all these matters, they also have to have good and correct intentions; otherwise it is possible to find whatever one seeks in any text. The Quran is a guide for those who have taqwa; however, the same verses can merely increase the disbelief of those without faith. Ulterior motives, feelings of prejudice, jealousy and enmity, pursuit of pleasure and self-justification allow us to twist the texts we are reading to what suits us.

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#2 [Permalink] Posted on 12th February 2020 05:50

1 - Makka before Islam


By Dr. Casim Avcı

 

Prophet Muhammad, God’s Messenger and the last prophet, was born in the city of Makka. Makka is in the west of the Arabian Peninsula, lying between Asia, Europe and Africa, within the Hejaz region. It is important to be aware of the history of Makka, the Ka’ba and the Quraysh tribe in order to understand the life of the Prophet.


The known history of Makka dates back to the time of Prophet Abraham, but there is not much information about any earlier history. Prophet Abraham brought his infant son Ishmael and his wife Hagar to Makka, upon the command of God, leaving them there and himself returning to Palestine. 


The valley of Makka is described as an "uncultivable valley" (14:37), being a desert with a hot, dry climate. Thus, Hagar and Ishmael were soon very thirsty. According to religious accounts, just as Hagar, who had been running between the Safa and Marwa Hills in order to find water, had become desperate and abandoned hope for her son's life, a source of water sprung from under the feet of her son. The source was an abundant spring called zamzam and subsequently became a stopping place for caravans.  After a certain time, the Jurhum tribe from Yemen settled in the outer sections of Makka. Ishmael learned Arabic from them and married a girl from this tribe. 


Prophet Abraham, who was living in Palestine, paid occasional visits to Hagar and Ishmael. On his third visit to Makka, Prophet Abraham, in accordance with Divine decree, began to construct the Ka’ba with his son Ishmael. It can be understood from certain verses of the Qur’an (2:127; 3:96; 22:26) that the Ka’ba had existed before the time of Abraham; however it had been destroyed and its location was lost over time until Prophet Abraham once again found its place and rebuilt it. (1) Although there is no information about who built the Ka’ba before Abraham, it is recorded in some sources that it was built by Prophet Adam or his son Seth. When Prophet Abraham completed the construction of the Ka’ba, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him and taught him how to perform the pilgrimage (hajj).

The administration of Makka and the Ka’ba, which had been the duty of Ishmael, passed to the Jurhum tribe after him. 


The Jurhum tribe first accepted the religion conveyed by Ishmael, but later deviated with time, performing immoral acts, stealing gifts that were brought to the Ka’ba, and mistreating the visiting pilgrims. After a certain time, the Khuza’a tribe, which had migrated to Makka from Southern Arabia, defeated the Jurhum tribe in a battle and removed them from the city. The Jurhum tribe returned back to Yemen, their homeland, after removing the Black Stone from its place and covering over the zamzam well to disguise its location. The Ishmaelites did not take part in the battle due to their small number, and they continued to stay in the city after making an agreement with the Khuza’a tribe. Amr ibn Luhay, one of the leading figures of the Khuza’a tribe, broke the tradition of monotheism and allowed for the emergence of idolatry when he took over the administration of Makka and the Ka’ba.


The Quraysh, under the leadership of Qusay ibn Kilab, an ancestor of Prophet Muhammad five generations removed, took over the administration of Makka in the first part of the fifth century after defeating the Khuza’a tribe. Accordingly, the services of the Ka’ba, which represented great honor and respect, passed to the Quraysh. Qusay gathered the branches of Quraysh, living around Makka, and he placed them around the Ka’ba. In addition, by making the necessary arrangements, Qusay gained control of the following services: the administration of Makka, or presidency of council chambers


 (Dar al-Nadwa); military command 


(Kiyada); the right to present the standard to the standard-bearer


 (Liwa); maintenance of the Ka’ba; possession of the keys and the control of the Ka’ba


 (Hijaba or Sidana); supply of water for the pilgrims


 (Sikaya); and accommodation for the pilgrims (Rifada). 


The Dar al-Nadwa, which he commissioned, continued its existence up to the Islamic period as a meeting place where important issues were discussed and decided upon, and various official ceremonies were held.


The administration of Makka and the services of the Ka’ba were continued by the descendants of Qusay ibn Kilab after his death. Hashim ibn ‘Abd Manaf, the grandson of Qusay and an ancestor of Prophet Muhammad three generations removed, worked hard to provide food and water for both the pilgrims who came to Makka and the Quraysh tribe. Hashim, known for his generosity, and his brothers ‘Abdu Shams and Nawfal made trade agreements with Byzantium, Yemen, Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia) and Iran. 


They also signed nonaggression pacts with the tribes along the trade routes. Accordingly, trade in Makka gained international importance. The Quraysh were able to make journeys for trade without threat to Yemen and Abyssinia in the winter, and to Syria and through Anatolia in the summer because of the prestige they had earned from the provision of their Ka’ba services. On his way to Syria, Hashim went to Yathrib (Madina) and resided there for a while, marrying Salma, the daughter of ‘Amr ibn Zayd from the tribe of Banu Najjar. ‘Abd al-Muttalib (Shayba), Prophet Muhammad’s grandfather, was their child. 


Hashim died in Gaza in Palestine during one of his travels, and was buried there. ‘Abd al-Muttalib stayed in Madina for eight years and was later brought to Makka by his uncle Muttalib. ‘Abd al-Muttalib was raised by his uncle and the latter transferred the leadership of the tribe to him before his death. After a dream, ‘Abd al-Muttalib located the place of the zamzam well that had been covered by the Jurhum tribe on their departure from Makka, and he reopened the well. He undertook the duty of bringing food and water to the pilgrims.


The religious and commercial importance of Makka, in addition to its geographical location, attracted the attention of states such as Byzantium, Iran (Sassanid Empire) and Abyssinia. Abraha, the Yemeni governor of the kingdom of Abyssinia, built a church in San'a to try to prevent the visits of the Arabs to the Ka’ba. When this attempt failed, he decided to destroy the Ka’ba and destroy Makka's status as a religious center by invading it and preventing the commercial activities of its inhabitants. Abraha and his army came as far as the area surrounding Makka and camped there. The Prophet’s grandfather ‘Abd al-Muttalib, the leader of the Hashimite branch of the Quraysh, met Abraha and reminded him that the Owner of the Ka’ba, known as Bayt Allah God’s Sacred House would protect it. Abraha ordered his soldiers to strike, but the elephant in front of his army refused to take a step towards the Ka’ba. 


According to the Qur’anic chapter entitled The Elephant (105:1-5) his army was destroyed by small stones that were dropped by birds flying overhead, sent by God. This incident was called the Incident of the Elephant, and the year in which it occurred was called the Year of the Elephant. The fact that Abraha's attempt failed caused the Arabs to place more importance on the pilgrimage than was ever seen before. As a result, the prestige of Makka and the Quraysh was raised.


Makka was the leading city of the three prominent cities of the Hejaz region, the other two being Yathrib (Madina) and Ta’if. Makka, the point of intersection on the roads leading to Yemen to the south, the Mediterranean to the north, the Persian Gulf to the east, and the Red Sea port of Jeddah to the west, was located at an economically strategic point. Moreover, the Ka’ba was located in the city, thus making the city the religious center of Arabia. People from all parts of Arabia would come to visit the Ka’ba during certain months of the year and trade would increase in the city. People would set up fair grounds and poetry competitions would be held. As Makka was unsuitable for agriculture due to geographical conditions, trade constituted the essence of business life.


Like the rest of the Arabian Peninsula in general, idolatry was also prevalent in Makka. The number of idols in the Ka’ba and its surroundings was 360; the biggest of these idols was Hubal, the most important Qurayshi idol. In addition to this, there were idols in most of the houses. Arabs accepted that God was the creator and ruler of the skies and the earth, but they worshiped the idols, which they thought would bring them closer to God. They deviated from the monotheistic belief that commanded they worship God alone, and thus they committed the sin of idolatry by associating partners with God. Yet, although their numbers were not great in Makka, there were the Hanif who still practiced the monotheistic belief that had been introduced by Prophet Abraham.


1) Sadettin Ünal, "Kabe," DIA, XXIV, 15-16.


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#3 [Permalink] Posted on 12th February 2020 06:02

2 - Lineage of the Prophet


Dr Casim Avcı


The lineage of Prophet Muhammad can be traced back to Prophet Ishmael, the son of Abraham, through Adnan, a descendent twenty-one generations removed. Thus, the northern Arabs, of which the Prophet’s family was a part, were called Ishmaelites or Adnanis. (The other branch of Arabs was the Kahtanis, who resided in southern Arabia.)


The Prophet Muhammad himself traces his lineage back to Adnan. It is known to be as follows: Muhammad, son of 'Abd Allah, son of 'Abd al-Muttalib (Shayba), son of Hashim, son of ‘Abdulmanaf, son of Qusayy, son of Kilab, son of Murra, son of Ka‘b, son of Luayy, son of Ghalib, son of Fihr (Quraysh), son of Malik, son of Nadr, son of Kinana, son of Khuzayma, son of Mudrikah, son of Elias, son of Mudar, son of Nizar, son of Ma’ad, son of Adnan. Prophet Muhammad was the son of 'Abd Allah ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib, a member of the Hashimite family of the Quraysh tribe which was the Adnani branch of the descendents of Prophet Ishmael.


3 - The Birth of Prophet Muhammad


Prophet Muhammad was born in the city of Makka, which is located in the Hijaz region on the western part of the Arabian Peninsula. His exact date of birth is not known. The reason for this is that no particular calendar was used among the Arabs at that time. According to common opinion, he was born 50 to 55 days after the Incident of the Elephant in the month of Rabi' al-awwal on a Monday. Different estimates state that the date of birth of Prophet Muhammad was April 20, (Rabi' al-Awwal 9) 571 or June 17, (Rabi' al-Awwal 12) 569 Monday. The first was suggested by the Egyptian astronomer Mahmud Pasha al-Falaki (1302/1885), and the second by the famous Muslim scholar of our time Muhammad Hamidullah (2002).


Prophet Muhammad’s father was ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, from the Banu Hashim branch of the Quraysh, and his mother was Amina, the daughter of Wahb ibn ‘Abdumanaf, who was a member of the Banu Zuhra branch of the Quraysh tribe. The Prophet was their only child.


‘Abd Allah, was a handsome young man admired by his friends. He had a beauty and brightness in his face that the other young men lacked. This is considered to be the "light of nubuwwa" (the light of Prophethood, Nur al-Muhammadi) that belongs to Prophet Muhammad. Some accounts state that when ‘Abd Allah’s father (the Prophet’s grandfather) ‘Abd al-Muttalib found the zamzam well and repaired it, some of the prominent members of the Quraysh tried to ridicule and humiliate him. At that time, ‘Abd al-Muttalib had only one son, Harith, and he was defenseless against them. He vowed that if he had ten sons he would sacrifice one. His supplication later being accepted, he had ten sons and thereupon saw a dream in which he was reminded of what he had sworn; ‘Abd al-Muttalib decided to draw lots among his sons to determine which one would be sacrificed. ‘Abd Allah, his youngest, was chosen. ‘Abd al-Muttalib decided to sacrifice him but many people opposed him, especially his daughters. While deciding how to perform his sacrifice, he received some advice that he should draw a lot between ‘Abd Allah and ten camels, which were sacrificial animals at that time. But again ‘Abd Allah was chosen. ‘Abd al-Muttalib continued to draw lots, each time increasing the number of camels by ten. When the number of camels reached 100, the camels were chosen and ‘Abd al-Muttalib sacrificed these 100 camels. In this way, he saved his beloved son ‘Abd Allah. Prophet Muhammad once said, "I am the son of two sacrifices" referring to the sacrifices of his father ‘Abd Allah and his ancestor Ishmael, son of Abraham, both of which were prevented.


‘Abd Allah refused many marriage proposals in his adolescence and eventually, upon his father's advice, he married Amina, the daughter of Wahb. ‘Abd Allah was eighteen years old when he married. While on his way back from Syria, where he had gone for purposes of trade, he stopped in Yathrib (Madina) and visited ‘Adi ibn Najjar, his father's uncle. However, ‘Abd Allah became ill, thus having to stay with relatives for a month, and died thereafter. He was buried in Yathrib. When ‘Abd al-Muttalib learned of ‘Abd Allah's condition, he sent his elder son Harith to Yathrib, but ‘Abd Allah died before Harith’s arrival in the city. The Prophet was thus born without a father. Holding the view that ‘Abd Allah will not suffer any pain in the afterlife, the majority of Islamic scholars maintain that he will be granted deliverance as he did not live to see the Prophethood of his son.


Prophet Muhammad’s mother, Amina, held a position of respect among the young women of the Quraysh. Her father Wahb was a prominent member of the Zuhra tribe. ‘Abd al-Muttalib and his son ‘Abd Allah asked for Amina's hand from her father, or according to another account, from her paternal uncle Wuhayb. Upon a response in the affirmative, the marriage was conducted. According to the custom of the times, the couple stayed in Amina's house for the first three days of the marriage. It is accepted that after the marriage took place, the light of Prophethood on ‘Abd Allah's forehead was transferred to Amina. There are accounts in Islamic sources pertaining to supernatural incidents which took place throughout Amina's pregnancy. According to one account, Amina had a dream during her pregnancy and she was told in this dream that she would give birth to an important person and she was told to name this child Muhammad or Ahmad. The accounts which assert that Amina felt no pain during delivery, are also among these. Again, according to another famous account, Prophet Muhammad was born already circumcised. What is more, he had been washed by the angels and the Seal of Prophethood had been stamped on his back. Upon receiving the glad tidings that his grandson had been born, ‘Abd al-Muttalib held a banquet in his grandson’s honor, during which he named the newborn Muhammad. ‘Abd al-Muttalib said that he named him as such so that people would remember him with kindness.

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#4 [Permalink] Posted on 12th February 2020 06:04

4 - The Prophet's Childhood and Adolescence.


Dr Casim Avcı


After his birth, Prophet Muhammad stayed with his mother Amina for a while and then, as per tradition, was handed over to his wet-nurse. The purpose of entrusting children to a wet nurse was so that they could be raised in the desert --a healthier environment in which to grow up when compared to the city-- and so that they could learn fluent Arabic. In accordance with this tradition, Prophet Muhammad was given to Halima bint Abi Dhuayb, who was a member of the Sa'd ibn Bakr branch of the Hawazin tribe. In a year of famine, Halima had gone to Makka with her husband and other Bedouin women who earned a living through nursing; however, she was unable to find a child from a rich family to nurse. But when she learned that Muhammad had lost his father she did not hesitate to take him, and she agreed to be his wet nurse so that she would not return home empty-handed. Halima brought Prophet Muhammad back to Makka two years later; however, Amina wanted her child to stay with Halima for a little longer, as she believed that the desert air was good for her child and, according to some accounts, there was a plague in Makka. Prophet Muhammad stayed with his wet nurse until he was five or six years old and was then brought to Makka and handed over to his mother. Halima’s husband was Harith ibn Abdil ’Uzza. The couple’s children, ‘Abd Allah, Unaysa and Shayma, were the Prophet’s foster siblings.


According to narration, Halima and Harith witnessed great abundance and blessing after taking Prophet Muhammad in their care; their camels and sheep began to provide much more milk than they had before. In addition, the sources reveal that the Splitting of the Chest (shaqq al-sadr) incident occurred during the time Prophet Muhammad was staying with his wet nurse. This was an event in which two angels descended to earth, split open Muhammad's chest, removed his heart and purified it from all evils, washing it with heavenly water and then putting it back in its place. It is recorded that when Halima and Harith learned about this incident they were very anxious as they were unable to explain certain extraordinary characteristics of Muhammad that they had witnessed many times before; they now thought that it would be better for the child to be back with his family.


When Prophet Muhammad reached the age of six, his mother Amina took him in her care, and together with her helper Umm Ayman, took him to Yathrib (Madina). While there, they visited the grave of her husband ‘Abd Allah and the members of the Banu Najjar, who were considered uncles of the family due to ‘Abd al-Muttalib's mother. After staying in Yathrib for a month Amina, still young at the time, became ill and later died in Abwa --located 190 km from Madina-- while on the way back to Makka. It is said that before her death, Amina looked at her child and said: "All living things perish. All things new get old. All things in abundance diminish. All things great disappear. Certainly I too will die, but I will always be remembered, because I leave to the world my son as a benevolent future." Orphaned with the death of his mother, Muhammad was brought back to Makka by Umm Ayman and entrusted to the care of his grandfather ‘Abd al-Muttalib. Prophet Muhammad revisited Abwa in the sixth year following the Emigration (628 AD) and visited his mother's grave. Tidying the grave with his own hands, he shed tears as he remembered the affection and compassion of his mother. Greatly affected by his grief, the Companions could not hold back their tears and cried with him.


‘Abd al-Muttalib took great care of Muhammad, as the precious gift from his son ‘Abd Allah, who had died at an early age. He would sit at the table and eat with Muhammad, offer him the seat of honor located in the shadow of the wall of the Ka’ba, take him to the meetings in Dar al-Nadwa (Council Hall) over which he presided, and through all his actions, tried his utmost to ensure that his grandson did not feel the absence of fatherly compassion and love. More than eighty years-of-age at the time, ‘Abd al-Muttalib passed away not long after he had handed over the custody and protection of his grandson, then eight years-of-age, to the latter’s paternal uncle, Abu Talib. Abu Talib was born from the same father and mother as the Prophet's father. He loved his nephew more than his own children, believing that the child had brought fortune to the family, and he made great efforts to raise him well. He would take Muhammad with him on some of his journeys. And so, when the Prophet was nine (or twelve) years old and his uncle had decided to go to Syria for trade, he wanted to accompany Abu Talib. Seeing his nephew’s insistence on this, Abu Talib took the Prophet with him on his journey. The caravan stopped in Bosra, located in Syria. A monk called Bahira, living in a monastery, invited the caravan to join him for a meal. After Bahira told Abu Talib that Muhammad was the awaited Prophet foretold in the Bible, he cautioned Abu Talib against some of the dangers that his nephew could face and advised Abu Talib to protect his nephew well. Upon this warning, Abu Talib ended his journey and returned to Makka.


It is known that when Prophet Muhammad was about ten years old he worked as a shepherd for a period of time in order to help his uncle Abu Talib, who had a large family. He would later refer to this time during his Prophethood saying, "There has never been a Prophet who did not herd sheep." When his Companions asked, "Did you herd sheep O Messenger of God?" he replied, "Yes. I herded the sheep of Makka."


Abu Talib's wife Fatima bint Asad took great care of Muhammad, caring for him more than her own children. The Prophet never forgot the goodness of his aunt when he grew up. He would visit her in her house in Madina and would sometimes sleep there in the afternoons. Very grieved when she passed away, the Prophet used his own shirt for her shroud and personally led her funeral prayer. When speaking of his sadness to those around him, he showed his great sense of loyalty with the following words: "I was a child who was in need of her custody. She would feed me even if her children were hungry. She would leave her children and comb my hair. She was like my mother." Abu Talib stood by his nephew after he became a Prophet and although Prophet Muhammad's persistent requests that Abu Talib accept Islam were never answered, Abu Talib did his best to protect Prophet Muhammad, both as a child and later when he became a Prophet.


There were frequent wars between the Arab tribes in the Age of Ignorance, so much so that there would even be warfare during the sacred months (Dhu al-Qa'dah, Dhu al-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab) during which bloodshed was prohibited. Such battles were known as fijar (sacrilegious) wars because of their being fought in the sacred months. The Prophet was compelled to join such a war in his later teens. The most reliable account states that the Prophet and his uncles participated in the great battle that broke out between the Quraysh-Kinanah and Qays-'Aylan alliances, but that he did not actually fight in the war, rather protecting the belongings of his uncles, deflecting arrows with his shield and then collecting them to give to his uncles. It is thought that he was either fourteen, fifteen, seventeen or twenty years old at the time.


Prophet Muhammad participated in a meeting when he was twenty for a league known as the Hilf al-Fudul (the Alliance of the Virtuous). The Hilf al-Fudul was drawn up to prevent injustices that were being carried out against the weak and defenseless who came to Makka for pilgrimage or trade, and to prevent the tribal wars that broke out frequently. The Hilf al-Fudul was drawn up under the auspices of Zubayr ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Prophet Muhammad's uncle, and under the leadership of Jud'an at-Taymi, the richest, oldest and most influential tribal leader in Makka.


Those who joined the league took an oath that they would protect everyone in Makka who encountered injustice, be they natives or foreigners, acting as one and helping each other financially to ensure that justice was served. Prophet Muhammad talked about this alliance, praising it, and said: "I was present in ‘Abd Allah ibn Judan's house when they concluded a pact so excellent that I would not change my part in it even for a herd of red camels; if I was asked now, in Islam, to take part in it, I would gladly agree." According to an account by Balazuri, in the Islamic period Abu Jahl refused to pay the price of something that he had purchased from a man who was a member of the Arash. A polytheist who knew the hostility of Abu Jahl towards the Prophet jokingly told the aggrieved trader that he could apply to the Prophet who was in the Ka’ba and that the Prophet would give him his money back. Upon hearing these words, the trader went to the Ka’ba, explained the situation to Prophet Muhammad and asked for his help. The Prophet went to Abu Jahl's house and took back the money without any confrontation.


Prophet Muhammad made his living through trade, like many of the Quraysh in Makka. He embarked on his career in trade by helping Abu Talib, who was involved in trading cloth and grain. Prophet Muhammad continued this trade when his uncle became older. It is known that Prophet Muhammad traveled to various places for purposes of trade, such as to the Hubasha trade fair when he was a teenager, to Yemen once or twice, to the Mushakkar and Daba fairs in eastern Arabia, and even to Abyssinia. As a result of these journeys, Prophet Muhammad not only learned about the necessities of commercial life, but also became acquainted with the people living in certain regions of Arabia, and learned about their languages, dialects, religions, and political and social conditions. There is consensus among the sources that Prophet Muhammad lived an honest life and remained removed from the wrongdoing prevalent in the Age of Ignorance and came to be known, at the age of twenty-five, as Muhammad al-Amin or Al-Amin (the Trustworthy) because of his decency, bravery, compassion, fairness, and his honesty and reliability in commercial life. The Makkan trader ‘Qays ibn Saib stated that he had many commercial dealings with Prophet Muhammad and that he had never come across a partner in trade who was better than he. He said: "When he set out on a journey, I would refer to him some transactions that needed to be carried out for me. After the journey he would not return to his house until he had told me about the transactions in such a way as would make me content. In contrast, when I set out on my travels and he gave me some transactions to perform, upon my return he would only ask whether I was healthy and in good spirits, unlike other people, who only questioned me on issues relating to their business."

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#5 [Permalink] Posted on 14th February 2020 05:35
5 - Marriage to Khadija

Dr Casim Avcı

Khadija was the daughter of Khuwaylid ibn Asad, a prominent member of the Quraysh. Her grandfather Qusayy was related to ancestors of Prophet Muhammad. Khadija, who was married twice before marrying the Prophet, was a noble, beautiful and rich woman. She received several marriage proposals from leading figures of the Quraysh after the death of her second husband, but she refused all of them. Khadija made her living through trade, with people whom she considered reliable. Upon advice she had received, Khadija contracted a partnership agreement with Prophet Muhammad, known in society as a dependable young man of high morality. She asked him to go to Syria for trade with her slave Maysara. This journey to Syria was very successful in terms of trade. Khadija was very pleased with this success and witnessed his reliability and trustworthiness firsthand. Listening to Maysara’s awe-inspiring words of praise of the Prophet’s virtues and behavior, Khadija trusted Muhammad even more and her feelings of admiration for him grew stronger as the days went by. According to narration, Khadija proposed marriage to Prophet Muhammad some time after this, either personally or via a woman named Nafisa bint Umayya (Munya). Coming as a surprise to him, the Prophet accepted this proposal after some consideration. Abu Talib and the Prophet’s other uncles asked for Khadija's hand in marriage from her uncle ‘Amr ibn Asad, as her father was no longer alive at the time. Upon receiving an affirmative reply, the marriage was conducted. Prophet Muhammad moved from Abu Talib's house to Khadija's house and thus a happy household was formed. It is recorded that Prophet Muhammad was twenty-five years old and Khadija was forty years old at the time. There are accounts, however, which assert that Khadija was younger than forty at the time of the marriage.

The couple had seven children; Qasim, Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthum, Fatima, ‘Abd Allah (Tayyib), and Tahir. ‘Abd Allah and Tahir died before the Prophethood of Muhammad. Some sources state that Tayyib and Tahir were two different children, while others assert that these were both nicknames for ‘Abd Allah. Except for his youngest daughter Fatima, the Prophet's children all died before him. Fatima lived six months after the Prophet’s demise. Prophet Muhammad assumed the kunya, or name honorably given to a child’s father, Abu al-Qasim because of his eldest son Qasim. Two others joined the household of the Prophet during his marriage with Khadija. One of them was Zayd ibn Harith, a slave given to him by Khadija, whom he set free and later adopted. The second was ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib, the son of his uncle Abu Talib, who is narrated to have been five years old at the time and who he took in, in support of his uncle; Abu Talib faced great financial difficulty due to a drought which occurred in Makka. The Prophet later wed his daughter Fatima to ‘Ali and his lineage continued through his much-loved grandchildren Hasan and Husayn.

Khadija ceaselessly supported Prophet Muhammad, both materially and spiritually, throughout their marriage of twenty-five years. Being the first person to believe in the Prophet, Khadija remained by his side during the most difficult of times. She is the first wife of the Prophet and the mother to all his children with the exception of Ibrahim. The Prophet never forgot her goodness and her devotion. As is known, Prophet Muhammad did not marry any other woman while Khadija was alive, and contracted all his other marriages after her passing, based upon several important reasons. The Prophet always remembered Khadija with kindness and once said of her: "God has not given me better than her. She believed in me at a time when everyone else denied my Prophethood. She affirmed me when everyone else spurned me. She put all her wealth at my service when other people withheld theirs from me. And what's more, God gave me children through Khadija."

6 - The Ka'ba Arbitration

The Prophet Muhammad’s arbitration between the major clans of the Quraysh tribe during the renovation of the Ka’ba, when he was thirty-five years old carries great importance. The Quraysh wanted to rebuild the Ka’ba in 605 AD as it had been damaged by fire and flooding. During that time, news of a Byzantine ship running aground at the port of Shuaiba near Jeddah reached Makka. According to reports, the ship filled with marble, timber and iron for the repairs of a church in Abyssinia had been sent from Egypt to Abyssinia at the command of the Byzantine emperor. Qurayshi chief Walid ibn Mughira and others went to Shuaiba, and just as they purchased the timber from the ship, they also invited the ship’s carpenter and construction foreman, Baqu, to Makka to help repair the Ka’ba. During the repairs, in which Muhammad worked alongside his uncle ‘Abbas carrying stones and assisting him, the Ka’ba was reconstructed; however, a dispute broke out as to the placement of the Black stone.

No clan chief wanted to relinquish this great honor of reinserting the Black Stone to any other. There were even those who suggested fighting for the right. Eventually Abu Umayya ibn Mughira, a leader from among the Quraysh, suggested that all agree to the decision of the first person to enter from the Banu Shayba gate of the Ka’ba; the Quraysh agreed and awaited that person whose decision would be binding. When the people around saw that Muhammad entered through that gate they expressed their pleasure, saying, "There he is, Al-Amin (the Trustworthy), there is Muhammad". The future Prophet of Islam spread his mantle on a piece of cloth on the ground and, placing the Black Stone on it, invited the chiefs of the four major clans entrusted with repairing the Ka'ba to each take one corner of the cloth. When they raised the Black Stone to the spot where it was to be inserted, the Prophet took it and inserted it firmly in its position. As a result, potential clan war among the Quraysh was prevented.
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#6 [Permalink] Posted on 14th February 2020 05:36
7 - The First Revelation

Dr Casim Avcı

Prophet Muhammad was appointed as a Messenger by God when he was forty years old. After the repairs of the Ka’ba and his inserting the Black Stone back in its place, people began to notice that Muhammad tended towards thinking about God and seeking the ways of belief in and worship of Him. Not once showing any interest in the idols of the Makkans or those of the many other Arab tribes, he reached the conclusion of the futility of worshipping idols, by way of reason and conscience. It is quite possible that he was thinking along the same lines as the small number of Hanif who were trying to practice the monotheistic religion of Abraham. However, while experiencing the sorrow of not knowing what to do and how to do it, Muhammad began to take pleasure in withdrawing into solitude; as of the few years prior to his Prophethood, in the month of Ramadan, he began to retreat in the secluded cave of Mount Hira, as had done his grandfather ‘Abd al-Muttalib and other members of the Quraysh.

When Muhammad ran out of food, he would go to the city, help the poor, circumambulate the Ka’ba, take food from his home and return to the cave. From time to time, he would take Khadija with him. According to a narration from A'isha, during this period the Prophet began having "sadiq (true) dreams" and this period continued for six months; the dreams that he saw in this period became a reality one-by-one. There are also accounts in the sources that state that during this period, Prophet Muhammad heard voices greeting him with the words, "Peace be upon you, O Messenger of Allah,” but when he turned around and looked to find no one there he would thus become quite anxious; authentic narrations state that these voices came from rocks and trees. Due to the above-mentioned incidents, some of them miraculous in nature, it is possible to say that this period constituted a phase of preparation for revelation.

In the year 610, during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan, when Prophet Muhammad was in the cave of Hira, Archangel Gabriel appeared to him; it is thought that this could have occurred on the twenty-seventh night and according to some accounts on a Monday. Gabriel informed Muhammad that God had assigned him as a Prophet. This first revelation was reported by Prophet Muhammad as follows: "That night Gabriel came to me and said ‘Read (Iqra’). I responded, ‘I am not of those who read'. Upon this, the angel took me; pressed me until it was almost too much to bear. Then he released me and said, ‘Read'. I again replied ‘I am not of those who read' He embraced me again firmly and said, ‘Read'. When I responded ‘What shall I read?' the angel embraced me till I had no more strength left and after releasing me the angel read these verses to me: “Read in and with the Name of your Lord, who has created – Created human from a clot clinging (to the wall of the womb). Read, and your Lord is the All-Munificent, who has taught (human) by the pen – Taught human what he did not know." (Al'Alaq, 96:1-5). After this incident, Muhammad became anxious and fearful; he left Hira and went to his home, went to bed and told his wife Khadija to cover him. After Muhammad woke up, he told his wife what he had experienced. Khadija told Muhammad that she believed in him and reassured him by saying; "God will never disgrace you. You maintain good relations with your kin, you bear the burden of the weak, you help the poor and the needy, serve your guests generously, and assist those who are afflicted by calamity." Then she took Prophet Muhammad to Waraqa ibn Nawfal, her cousin. An old Christian Scholar well-versed in the Holy Bible, Waraqa listened to Muhammad and then told him that the being who came to him was the Angel of Revelation who was sent by God to all the Prophets. He then added: "They will call you a liar; they will treat you badly. They will wage a war against you and drive you out of this city. If I live to see those days, I will help you for the sake of Allah." After Waraqa completed his words, he leaned towards Muhammad and kissed him on the forehead. With the support of Khadija and the explanations of Waraqa, the Prophet returned to his home feeling much relieved.

8 - Interruption in the Course of Revelation

A break in revelation occurred for some time following the first revelation. The interruption that Divine revelation underwent when the gravity and difficulty of the first revelation had scarcely passed, caused Prophet Muhammad great anxiety. He would frequently go to the cave of Hira and await the Archangel Gabriel, yet the angel would not appear, despite the many days that had passed. These days were days of immense unease for the Prophet, who began to think that God had forsaken him. Called Fatrat al-Wahy (Cessation of Revelation) in the sources, the length specified therein for the duration of this period ranges from a few months up to three years. However, it is possible to suggest that the account mentioning three years was confused with the three-year period of inviting people to Islam in secrecy --as will be elaborated later-- and that the duration of the break in revelation was actually much less.

Prophet Muhammad saw Archangel Gabriel next on his return from Hira one day and, again overtaken by fear and trepidation, went back home and lay in his bed. Appearing to the Prophet in his home, Gabriel recited the first few verses of the Qur’anic chapter entitled Al-Muddathir (The Covered One, 74:1-5). These verses stated that the time had now come to convey the Divine message to the people, enjoined, first and foremost, reliance on God when fulfilling this duty, and instructed the shunning of all impurity.

In is also related that it was during this time that Archangel Gabriel taught the Prophet how to perform the ritual ablution for prayer as well as the prayer itself; the sources recount that the Prophet, in turn, taught Khadija what he had learned from Gabriel and that they prayed together in their home.
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#7 [Permalink] Posted on 14th February 2020 05:37
9 - The First Muslims

Dr Casim Avcı

With the Divine command to convey God’s message to the people, Prophet Muhammad now started to invite those around him to the religion of Islam. This invitation continued for up to three years in secret. After Khadija, his close friend Abu Bakr, ‘Ali ibn Abu Talib and Zayd ibn Harith, his daughters Zaynab, Ruqayya and Umm Kulthum all became Muslims. In addition to these, Abu Bakr's close friends ‘Uthman ibn Affan, Zubayr ibn ‘Awwam, 'Abd al-Rahman ibn al-'Awf, Talha ibn 'Ubaydullah, Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas, 'Uthman ibn Mad'un, Sa'id ibn Zayd, ‘Ayyash Ibn Abu Rabi’a and his wife Asma bint Salama, Abu 'Ubayda ibn Jarrah, Arqam ibn Abu al-Arqam, Abu Salama, Ja‘far ibn Abu Talib and 'Ubayda ibn Harith were among the individuals who came to Prophet Muhammad and accepted Islam.

During this period, Prophet Muhammad performed the prayer in his own house, at secluded foothills, in the Sacred Mosque during the midday quiet and was sometimes able to perform his worship together with other Muslims. In the meanwhile, he recited to them the Qur’anic verses that had been revealed to him, and continued his suhba, or his spiritual conversations about belief in God’s Oneness and Unity and obedience to Him, the Day of Judgment where human beings would be held to account for all their deeds in the world, as well as morality and virtue.

He was careful not to convene and perform congregational worship in places and at times where the Makkan polytheists gathered. During this period of secrecy the Prophet and the Muslims assembled in the house of Arqam ibn Abu al-Arqam, who had accepted Islam at a young age; Arqam’s house was located at the foot of Safa Hill. Alongside being a place where they could comfortably meet with those coming to Makka for pilgrimage, the house of Arqam provided a place of solidarity where the Muslims could meet with Prophet Muhammad. Activities in the house continued until 'Umar ibn al-Khattab’s becoming Muslim. Dar al-Arqam (the House of Arqam), a phrase used in the sources to indicate the time when the Companions embraced Islam, assumed its place in history through the role that it played in Islam’s conquering hearts.

10 - Open Invitation

The Beginning of the Public Invitation
The public invitation to Islam started in Makka after the fourth year of Prophethood. The Prophet Muhammad’s first and most important addressees were the Quraysh. Placing their idols in and around the Ka’ba, the Quraysh had managed both the major and minor pilgrimages (hajj and ‘umra) since the time of Abraham and Ishmael, and for this reason held a position of privilege and esteem among the other tribes. They erected the idols of various tribes both inside and around the Ka’ba in order take full advantage of the visiting pilgrims. Difficult days awaited the Prophet who continued to invite members of his family and his close friends to Islam. This was because he was now instructed to openly convey the truths revealed to him to the Makkan polytheists (Al-Hijr, 15:94) and commanded to warn all those he could reach, starting with those closest to him. (Ash-Shu’ara 26:214).

The Prophet began this arduous struggle, which was to continue for close to twenty years until the conquest of Makka, with a feast to which he invited his closest relatives. About forty-five people, members of the Banu Hashim and Banu al-Muttalib clans of the Quraysh tribe, attended this banquet. However, after the meal, the Prophet’s uncle Abu Lahab took the floor and, not giving the Prophet a chance to speak, said: “I have never seen a person bring as bad a thing to his tribe as you have brought.” Upon this, all the guests left. Greatly saddened by this adverse outcome the Prophet organized another meeting a few days later. Explaining to his invitees that God was one, that He had no partner or equal, that he himself believed and trusted in Him and that he would not lie to his guests, the Prophet continued his words by saying: “I have been sent as a Messenger to you, in particular, and to all humanity, in general. I swear by God you will die just as you fall asleep, you will be resurrected just as you wake from sleep. You will be called to account for your deeds. You will receive reward in response for your goodness and punishment in response to your evil. Both Paradise and the Fire are eternal.

You are the first I have warned.” The Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib declared that he was impressed by the Prophet’s words and that he would support him, but that he would not abandon the religion of his forefathers. His other uncle Abu Lahab told his relatives to prevent the Prophet, that they would be humiliated if they accepted his invitation and that they would be killed if they protected him. Upon hearing this Abu Talib declared that he would protect his nephew so long as he lived. Abu Lahab and his wife were in constant opposition to the Prophet, showed bitter enmity towards him, and in particular followed him when he met with people who came from outside Makka only to contradict him, announce him a liar and sorcerer and claim that he had caused dissension within his tribe. It is for this reason that a Qur’anic chapter bearing Abu Lahab’s name was revealed, stating that both he and his wife were doomed to perish in the Fire. (Al-Masad, 111:1-5). Despite the fact that the Qur’an contains explicit statements of the words, actions and even intentions of those who showed hostility to the Prophet and the Muslims, none of their names, with the exception of Abu Lahab, have been mentioned.
Climbing to the top of the hill of Safa one day, the Prophet decided to convey the message of Islam to all the people of Makka, declaring to all those gathered there: "If I were to inform you that an enemy host was about to attack you from behind that hill, would you believe me?" They answered, "Yes, we would. We have never before seen you lie." The Prophet then said, "God has commanded me to warn my nearest relatives. You are my tribe of the nearest kindred.

I will not be able to do anything for you in the Hereafter unless you proclaim that there is no deity but God."
The leading figures of the Quraysh had not opposed Prophet Muhammad's invitation to Islam too sternly in the beginning. However, when the Prophet began reciting the revelations criticizing idolatry and announcing that the idolaters would be doomed to the Fire, they started to see his message as a great threat, began to show bitter hostility, and took to doing whatever they could to prevent his inviting others to this message. Moreover, they were concerned that the triumph of belief in One God and the subsequent end of idolatry would lead to their losing their superiority in the eyes of the other Arab tribes, as well as their commercial prospects and advantages. On the other hand, the Quraysh, who possessed a strong ancestral culture as the natural result of tribal allegiance, assigned great value to those traditions inherited from their forebears.

They considered idol worship as a cult that needed to be preserved without question and, reiterating this issue frequently, refused to abandon the beliefs and worship of their forefathers. The morality of the Quraysh was also not at a level that would have made it easy for them to accept the invitation of the last prophet. In a Makkan society where an ignorant mentality was prevalent, alongside harmful habits such as alcohol indulgence, gambling, adultery and lying, the earning of unlawful profits, as well as exploitation and oppression fed by financial power and feelings of tribal superiority were also dominant. Criticizing these attitudes, the Qur’an announced that superiority among human beings was based on reverence to the Creator and compassion to His creation (al-Hujurat, 49:13); it warned that those who acted otherwise would be subjected to punishment in the Hereafter.

The Quraysh began to humiliate and insult Prophet Muhammad when they saw that he was gaining support as time went by and due to his criticism of their beliefs and attitudes; after a certain time they did not refrain from resorting to violence. The sources at times provide detailed accounts of the ruthless punishment, torment and torture that the Makkan polytheists inflicted on the Muslims. In particular, the persecution exacted by notorious Makkans such as Abu Jahl, Abu Sufyan, Abu Lahab, Umayya ibn Khalaf, Walid ibn Mughira, 'Uqba ibn Abi Mu'ayt and Hakam ibn Abi al-‘As constituted a great stain upon humanity.

Those most affected by their persecution were families, slaves and concubines who came from outside Makka. They would be left to starve, laid out on the hot desert sands and have rocks piled on top of them. The Yasir family endured the most brutal of these tortures. Coming to Makka in search of his missing brother, Yasir was taken under the protection of Abu Huzayfa from the Banu Makhzum tribe and married his concubine Sumayya. The famous Companion, 'Ammar ibn Yasir was born of this marriage. Yasir, Sumayya and ‘Ammar were among the first Muslims and responded with patience to the torment and torture of the polytheists. Eventually, Sumayya, killed under Abu Jahl’s brutal torture, earned the title of the first martyr in the history of Islam.

Yasir was also killed under torture on the same day. ‘Ammar, who survived, reached the point where he was no longer able to bear the excruciating torment and was forced to speak in favor of the idols Lat and ‘Uzza and against the Prophet. Just as soon as he escaped the persecution, he went to Prophet Muhammad and explained the situation to him. The Prophet, seeing the great distress that ‘Ammar suffered, asked him what he had felt while uttering those words. ‘Ammar replied that there was no change whatsoever in his faithful heart. Upon this, informing him that there was nothing wrong with his behaving in such a manner under these conditions providing he kept his belief, the Prophet advised him to act in the same manner if he were subjected to the same treatment again. (See also An-Nahl 16:106).

Those weak and enslaved, such as Bilal al-Habashi, Suhayb (from Rum/Byzantium), Habbab ibn Arat and Abu Fukayha and concubines such as Zinnire, Umm Ubays, Nahdiyya and Lubayna also faced great torment for the sake of their beliefs. Among the slaves, Bilal al-Habashi, the first person to accept Islam after Khadija, was subjected to severe torture by his master Umayya ibn Khalaf. He was dragged through the streets of Makka, a rope being tied around his neck and given to the hands of children. At noon, Umayya ibn Halaf would lay him out on hot sands, put huge scorching stones on his chest, demand him to abandon belief in the One God, and profess belief in the Lat and ‘Uzza idols instead. Notwithstanding all this suffering, Bilal, having great difficulty breathing, would proclaim his unwavering belief saying, “He is One! He is One!” On the other hand, well to do Muslims were also exposed to various kinds of persecution and punishment. For instance, ‘Uthman's uncle Hakam ibn Abi al-‘As exerted great pressure on him by cutting off his financial support and tried to thus force him to abandon his belief. Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas faced the resistance of his mother. A verse was even revealed for this reason, stating that obedience to parents was not necessary when they urged their children to deny God (Luqman, 31:15). Abu 'Ubayda ibn Jarrah faced great hostility from his father after becoming Muslim. 'Abd Allah ibn Mas'ud was beaten unconscious because he publicly recited God’s revelation at the Ka’ba; he was left covered in blood. While Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr was the son of an affluent family and grew up in prosperity, he faced strong reaction from his family because of his acceptance of Islam and was deprived of any kind of financial support with even his clothes being taken from him.

When Abu Dharr from the Ghifar tribe announced his having become Muslim, the Makkan polytheists beat him thrice leaving him for dead. Holding a position of repute in Makka, Abu Bakr had a place of worship surrounded by strong and high walls constructed in the garden of his house, because praying or reciting the Qur’an in public had been outlawed. Above and beyond these, the streets that Prophet Muhammad himself used had filth and thorns thrown on them, his house was stoned, and there was even an attempt to suffocate him with tripe being thrown onto him during his prostration in prayer. His uncle Abu Lahab and his wife Umm Jamil, Abu Sufyan’s younger sister, in particular caused the Prophet much grief. Umm Jamil forced her two sons to divorce their wives, both of whom were Muhammad's daughters. Upon this, the Qur’anic verse mentioned below was revealed: “May both hands of Abu Lahab be ruined, and ruined are they! His wealth has not availed him, nor his gains. He will enter a flaming Fire to roast; And (with him) his wife, carrier of firewood (and of evil tales and slander), Around her neck will be a halter of strongly twisted rope.” (Al-Masad, 111:1-5)

Far from turning the Muslims away from their religion, the torture, threats, oppression and cruelty of the Makkan polytheists only served to strengthen their faith. The trial and hardship that the Muslims endured in the way of God only increased their resolve and demonstrated what a valuable treasure belief was. Not knowing what to do in the face of the effect that the Qur’an, addressing both hearts and minds, was having on the people, the Quraysh began to speak against the Qur’an and disseminate misinformation in relation to it. They claimed that the Prophet was a soothsayer, madman or a poet, that he learned the Qur’an from a Christian, and that this book was either a spell or an ancient fable. Nonetheless, these fabricated claims of the polytheists were constantly refuted with verses revealed to the Prophet and Divine declaration.
The Quraysh met with the Prophet’s uncle Abu Talib three times in order to try to prevent Prophet Muhammad conveying the message of Islam.

Abu Talib averted the first demand with his conciliatory words. When the Quraysh used threatening words in the second meeting, he called the Prophet and told him that he could take a stand against his tribe no longer. Understanding this to mean that his uncle would no longer keep him under his protection, the Prophet declared, "If they placed the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand to abandon my cause, I would not until God made the truth prevail or I died in the attempt." Upon hearing this, Abu Talib consoled his nephew with the following words: “Go and say what you will. I swear by God that I will never turn you over to them.” In their third appeal, the Quraysh proposed the following: “Hand your nephew over to us and let us give you Walid ibn Mughira’s son ‘Umara as a son.” Abu Talib rejected this proposal with a vengeance. In the meantime, some of the Quraysh met with Prophet Muhammad himself and tried to dissuade him from his mission. 'Utba ibn Rabi'a for instance said: "If by what you are doing, you want wealth, we will give you enough of it so that you will be the richest man among us; if you want position and prestige, we will make you our ruler.” In fact, he even went so far as to say, “If you are acting as such because of a mental illness, we will arrange for the best physicians and have you cured.” After ‘Utba completed his speech, the Prophet knelt and recited the first verses of Sura al-Fussilat (41:1-6) and told him that he was a Prophet appointed by God. Although ‘Utba was deeply affected and bewildered by the verses as well as the Prophet’s words, he did not accept Islam.

Hamza and 'Umar ibn al-Khattab's Acceptance of Islam

The conversion of two people in the early Makkan period of conveying the message of Islam holds particular significance. The first of these is the Prophet’s uncle Hamza and the other is 'Umar ibn al-Khattab. In the sixth year of Prophethood (616), a concubine who had witnessed Abu Jahl and his men insulting the Prophet related what she saw to Hamza who had come to circumambulate the Ka’ba on his return from a hunt. Overtaken by rage at what he heard, Hamza struck the head of Abu Jahl with the bow that he held in his hand and declared his acceptance of Islam saying, “I too have accepted the religion of Muhammad. Let him who has the courage come and fight me!” In the house of Arqam at the time, the Prophet was exceedingly pleased at his uncle having accepted Islam.

Showing great effort to ease the suffering of Muslims in their conveying God’s message to the people, the Prophet, at the same time, prayed for the guidance of certain powerful and influential individuals. One of these individuals was ‘Umar. Historian Ibn Ishaq relates that ‘Umar left his house one day with the intention to kill the Prophet, but went to his sister Fatima’s house first, having learned on the way that that she too had accepted Islam. He beat his brother-in-law and sister after having heard them recite the first verses of the Qur’anic chapter entitled Ta-Ha. Upon seeing Fatima’s determination and her being covered in blood, ‘Umar felt great remorse and asked to see the pages that they had been reading. Deeply moved and affected by the first verses of Ta-Ha and Abasa, ‘Umar went to the house of Arqam, where the Prophet was at the time, and declared his belief in Islam. The Prophet’s responding to ‘Umar’s acceptance of Islam with proclamations of God’s greatness was echoed by those in the adjoining room. Thereafter, all those in the house left together and headed for the Ka’ba.
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#8 [Permalink] Posted on 14th February 2020 05:39
11 - Emigration to Abyssinia

Dr Casim Avcı

As Islam gradually spread in Makka, the attitudes of the Makkan polytheists towards the Muslims became even harsher and their verbal opposition was now joined with physical intervention. Experiencing utmost anguish and sorrow at the oppression and torture that his Companions suffered, but being unable to prevent these, the Prophet advised the Muslims to emigrate to Abyssinia where they could freely practice their religion and where they would be safe and secure. The Christian king of Abyssinia, the Negus Asham, was a just ruler who treated his subjects well. Indicating as such, the Prophet said: “Go to Abyssinia if you wish. For, therein is a ruler in whose land no one is oppressed. That land is one of fairness and justice. Stay there until God grants ease.” Upon this advice, a convoy of Muslims comprising eleven men and four women set out for Abyssinia from the port of Shuayba in the year 615. Included in the convoy were important names in Islamic history such as ‘Uthman and his wife, the Prophet’s daughter Ruqayya, Zubayr ibn ‘Awwam, Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr, 'Abd al-Rahman ibn al-'Awf, and Abu Salama and his wife Umm Salama.

This incident, which bears importance as the first hijra, or emigration in Islam, also enabled Prophet Muhammad to make contact with Africa in the first years of his Prophethood. It became clear, from the reports of ‘Uthman who returned to Makka one year later that the Muslims had been well received there. For this reason, a second larger convoy emigrated to Abyssinia, under the leadership of Ja'far ibn Abi Talib. With this convoy, the number of people who emigrated to Abyssinia reached 108. In response to the increasing number of Muslim emigrants, the Quraysh sent a delegation to Abyssinia to request the return of the Makkans who had emigrated there. The Negus called representatives from the Muslims also, in order to hear claims from both sides.

Ja'far ibn Abi Talib spoke on behalf of the Abyssinian emigrants. His words are significant in terms of exemplifying the great transformation that Islam brought about in its first addressees. Ja’far told the Negus: “O King, we were a people in a state of ignorance and immorality, worshipping idols and eating carrion, committing all sorts of abomination and shameful deeds, breaking the ties of kinship, mistreating guests, and the strong among us exploited the weak. We remained in this state until God sent us a Prophet, one of our own people, whose lineage, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and integrity were well-known to us. He called us to worship God alone, and to renounce the stones and the idols which we and our ancestors used to worship besides God. He commanded us to speak the truth, to honor our promises, to be kind to our relations, to be helpful to our neighbors, to cease all forbidden acts, to abstain from bloodshed, to avoid obscenities and false witness, and not to appropriate an orphan’s property nor slander chaste women. We believed in him and what he brought to us from God.” After hearing both sides, the Negus refused the request of the Quraysh that the Muslims be returned.

The Muslims stayed in Ethiopia for quite some time. Thirty-three people from the Abyssinian emigrants returned to Makka in 620 after the end of the boycott which will be described later. Some of the remaining emigrants willingly left Abyssinia for Madina after the Emigration (Hijra), while the last group returned in the 7th year following the Emigration (628). In the meantime, while the Quraysh sent another delegation after the Battle of Badr to again request the return of the Muslims, the Negus once again rejected their demands.

12 - The Boycott

The Quraysh decided to counteract the power of influence that the Prophet gained with Hamza and ‘Umar’s acceptance of Islam; stating that they would not abide by the existing ties of kinship and law with the Banu Hashim and the Banu Muttalib, they declared these two clans as enemies and forbade any communication, trade and any contract of marriage with them. They wrote up the terms of such a boycott and hung them on the wall of the Ka’ba. In the face of this social boycott, Abu Talib gathered his nephew and his nephew’s followers in the “Valley of Abu Talib” (Shi’bu Abi Talib) with the purpose of protecting them. The Prophet moved here from the House of Arqam where he had continued his efforts to convey Islam.

With the exception of Abu Lahab and his sons who chose to side with the polytheists, all members of the Banu Hashim and Banu Muttalib, whether Muslim or not, were forced to move there and live under boycott for a period of up to three years (616-619). Khadija and Abu Talib exhausted all their wealth in these years of hardship. Outside of the pilgrimage season and the sacred months, it was not possible to engage in trade activities or leave for the purpose of buying or selling. On the days when trade was permitted, the polytheists would make things very difficult for them by increasing the prices. Finally, some right-minded individuals such as the son of Abu Talib’s sister Zuhayr ibn Umayya, and Hisham ibn ‘Amr, spoke to leading members of the Quraysh Mut'im ibn 'Adi and Zam’a ibn Aswad; after gaining both their support, they went to the Valley of Abu Talib and released those living there, thus putting an end to the boycott.
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