THE MESSAGE

ID Book

The Message

By: Ayatullah Ja'far Subhani

Ansarian Publication

P.O. Box 187

22 Shohada Ave. Qom Islamic Republic of Iran

Tel: 0098 251 7741744

Fax: 0098 251 7742647

PREFACE

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Since the time immemorial man has been seeking knowledge through his senses. Thus by perceiving things he tried to overcome his problems. In the process he made experiments and ultimately by trial and error he arrived at a workable solution for his problems. Based on this concept and practice, science developed enormously in dimensions and various fields of its applications.

In this modern age of science hundreds and thousands of research laboratories are engaging the attention of scientists who are making wonderful discoveries and inventions of unbelievably accurate gadgets and tools. Yet the only things that science has failed so far to capture is the social problem. Obviously, social problems are the human problems. And human problems are such that they cannot be precipitated in a test tube. To give credence to this fact one knows it very well that for instance, science has not yet been able to offer answers to the discord and hatred that exist among the people or the class distinction that is rampant in various strata of human society.

History tells us of great civilisations that flourished in the past and ultimately perished. We are left with only the mute remains and dumb ruins which tell us the hoary past of the mankind. Science of course is discovering the facts of life through excavations, and by studying the relics and fossils embedded in the rocks. But despite all this no tangible results have come forward with regard to the man's manifold problems.

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Imam Ali gave a bit of his mind to his son which is pertinent to the relevant issue. He said: "My dear son! though the span of my age is not as large as that of some other people who have passed away before me, but I took great care to study their lives; assiduously I went through their activities, I contemplated over their deliberations and deeds, I studied their remains, relics and ruins; and I pondered over their lives so deeply that I felt as if I have lived and worked with them from early ages of history down to our times, and I know what did them good and what brought harm to them."

True, history has recorded all facts, pleasant and detestable, but what is to be regretted is that nobody ever cared to go into the depth of their root causes. As to the real solution of a problem, big or small, no effort on the part of man is traceable in history. Only unimportant matters have been dwelt upon with uncanny details.

Since history is a recorded statement of events of the past, it owes its existence to its compilers. The people who wrote history were not immune from personal, racial or parochial prejudices and, therefore, its very purpose seems to have been defeated. On the face of the misinterpretation and fabrication of facts, an ordinary reader of history is at a loss to understand the truth of the matter. It is like a doctor who, if he has no correct information about the case-history of his patient, will not be able to diagnose the actual malady of his patient.

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One bright aspect of history of course is that it carries the life sketches of great men of the ancient past. These men in fact created history as they brought about revolution and change in the life pattern of mankind.

Amongst such great personalities no one led as eventful, revolutionary and meaningful a life as Prophet Muhammad did. None of them left such a lasting impression upon the society he sprang from as the Prophet of Islam did. This is a fact which has been acknowledged by almost all the historians whether of the East or of the West.

The study of the life of Prophet Muhammad, the greatest of all men, is thought-provoking, awe-inspiring and self-enlightening. A chain of events before and after the birth of this great man provides food for thought for anybody who has even a slight grain of intelligence and sense of proportion.

The birth of the Prophet as a posthumous child and the death of his mother, Aminah, when he was only six, and his upbringing first by his grandfather and then by his uncle are something extraordinary.

After passing an eventful life, his confinement to the Cave in Mt Hira and the subsequent Divine Revelation, the invitation to the religion of Allah, the resistance of the infidels and idolaters, their oppression and persecution, his continued steadfastness in upholding the Message of Allah during the first thirteen years of his prophethood in Makkah until the time of his migration to Madina, are the events finish have no parallel in history.

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The last ten years of his life in Madina, his intensifying the efforts of his mission for the spread of Islam, his participating in the numerous battles with the infidels and the final conquest of Makkah are still greater events which are seemingly unbelievable, but have been recorded in history as miraculous achievements.

Hundreds of books have been written on the life and mission of the Prophet but these cannot be taken as a complete treatise on his attributes and achievements. Especially the writings of the orientalists are punctuated with prejudices, errors and misinterpretations.

This book not only presents an inspiring material but it is also based on authentic historical documents. One of its salient features is that the author has taken extreme care in narrating historical events and at the same time he has endeavoured as a research scholar, to approach them with an analytical mind also.

Another interesting feature of this book is that it is absolutely free from heresies and concocted stories invented by vested interests. In other words, it is quite in keeping with the required standard of the historical veracity. In short, it is addressed to the Muslims in general without any bias and prejudice.

We hope that this book will serve its noble purpose of enlightening the young generation who has a keen urge to acquire authentic and reliable information about the great Prophet of Islam, and trust our young Muslims will derive inspiration from this book in fashioning their lives in accordance with the dictates of Allah as well as the noble attributes of the Holy Prophet and his Chosen Descendants.

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Chapter 1

ARABIAN PENINSULA THE CRADLE OF ISLAMIC CULTURE

Arabia is a big peninsula situated in the south-west of Asia. Its area is three million square kilometres almost double the area of Iran six times that of France ten times that of Italy and eighty times that of Switzerland.

This peninsula is of the shape of an irregular rectangle and is bounded by Palestine and the Syrian desert in the north by Hira the Tigris the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf in the east by the Indian Ocean in the south and by the Red Sea in the west. Hence it is circumscribed on the western and southern sides by sea and on the northern and eastern sides by the desert and the Persian Gulf.

From olden times this territory has been divided into three regions:

(1) The northern and western region which is called the Hijaz.

(2) The central and eastern region which is called the Arabian Desert; and

(3) The southern region which is called Yemen.

Within the Peninsula one comes across plenty of vast deserts and hot sandy tracts which are almost uninhabitable. One of these deserts is Badyah Samawah which is nowadays called Nafud. There is also another vast desert which extends up to the Persian Gulf and is now called ar-Rub'ul Khali. Formerly one part of these deserts was named Ahqaf and the other was called Dehna.

On account of the presence of these deserts about one third of the area of the Peninsula is barren and unfit for habitation. Only at times small quantities of water can be found in a few areas as a result of rains in the heart of the deserts and some of the Arab tribes drive their camels and cattle to those places for grazing.

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The climate of the Peninsula is extremely hot and dry in the deserts and central tracts humid in the coastal areas and temperate in some localities It is dire to its unwholesome climate that its population does not exceed fifteen million.

In this territory there is a mountain range which stretches from south to north. Its maximum height is about 2470 metres.

From times immemorial gold and silver mines and precious stones have been the sources of the wealth of the Peninsula. From amongst the animals the Arabs reared camels and horses. As regards birds pigeons and ostriches were more abundant than others.

In modern times the biggest source of income of Arabia is extraction of oil and gas. The centre of oil reserves of the Peninsula is the city of Zahran which is called Dahran by the Europeans. This city is situated in the Saudi Arabian district called Ahsa' in the neighbourhood of the Persian Gulf.

In order that the esteemed reader may become more acquainted with the conditions of Arabia we now proceed to give a somewhat detailed description of the three regions mentioned above.

1. The Hijaz constitutes the northern and western region of Arabia and extends from Palestine to Yemen adjacent to the coast of the Red Sea. It is a hilly tract which embraces many barren deserts and rugged areas.

This region enjoys more fame in history than all others. It is however evident that this fame has been occasioned by a chain of spiritual and religious matters. For example even during the present times the Ka'bah the House of God which is situated in this region is the Qiblah of hundreds of millions of Muslims of the world.

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The area surrounding the Ka'bah has been reverenced by Arabs as well as non-Arabs for centuries preceding the birth of Islam. As a mark of respect to it they considered warfare within the precincts of the Ka'bah to be unlawful and even Islam has recognised the area circumscribed by these limits to be inviolable.

Makkah Madina and Ta'if are important cities of the Hijaz. Since ages the Hijaz has had two sea-ports. One of these is Jeddah which serves the people of Makkah and the other is Yanbu' through which the people of Madina import most of their requirements. These two ports are situated on the coast of the Red Sea.

MAKKAH

It is one of the most famous cities of the world and the most populous city of the Hijaz and is about 300 metres higher than sea level. As this city is located between two mountain ranges it cannot be seen from a distance. The present population of Makkah is about 200000.

A SHORT HISTORY OF MAKKAH:

The history of Makkah dates from the time of Prophet Ibrahim. He sent his son Isma'il along with his mother Hajar to the territory of Makkah to settle there. His son married in a tribe which lived at a nearby place. Prophet Ibrahim constructed the Ka'bah under Allah's command and thereafter settlement at Makkah commenced.

The land in the suburbs of Makkah is somewhat saline and not at all cultivable. According to some orientalists its poor geographical conditions have no parallel in the world.

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MADINA

Madina is a city located at a distance of 90 leagues to the north of Makkah. It has gardens and date-palm all around it and its land is better suited for plantation of trees as well as for cultivation of crops.

Before Islam this city was called Yathrib but after the Holy Prophet's migration to this city it was renamed as Madina tur Rasul (City of the Prophet). Later however the last word was dropped for the sake of abbreviation and it began to be called only Madina. History tells us that the first people who settled here were a group of Amaliqah. Those who followed them were a sect of the Jews and the tribes of Aws and Khazraj who came to be known amongst the Muslims as Ansar (helpers).

Unlike other regions of Arabia the Hijaz remained safe from the raids of the conquerors and the traces of the civilisations of Rome and Iran two big empires of the world before the birth of Islam cannot be observed here. This was so because its barren and uninhabitable lands did not make it worth while for the foreigners to undertake military expeditions to occupy it and then to return empty-handed after facing thousands of difficulties necessarily involved in gaining control over it.

In this connection the following story may be studied carefully. It has been quoted by the Greek historian Diodore (B.C.): "When the great Greek Chief Demetrius arrived at Patra (one of the oldest cities of the Hijaz) with the intention of occupying Arabia the residents of the city said to him O Greek Chief! Why should you fight with us? We live in a desert in which indigence of all sorts is the source of livelihood. We have selected this dry and barren desert so that we may not have to obey the orders of anyone. So please accept our insignificant gifts and presents and refrain from occupying our territory. And incidentally, if you are inclined to persist in your intentions, we do hereby announce that in the near future you will be confronted with thousands of difficulties and hardships. And be it known to you that the 'Nabtis' are not inclined to give up their way of life. In case, therefore, you held some of our people as captives by force and wish to carry them away this will be of no use to you, because they will be malevolent and misbehaving slaves only and will not be prepared to change their way of life . The Greek chief accepted their message of peace and good-will and abandoned the idea of attacking and occupying the Arabian territory ".[1]

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2. The central and eastern region which is called 'The Arabian Desert' and is inclusive of the Najd Zone is a sparsely populated plateau. After coming into power of the Saudi family the district of Riyaz which is their capital has become one of the important centres of Arabia.

3. The length of Yemen the south-western region of the Peninsula is about 750 kilometres from north to south and about 400 kilometres from west to east and its area has be estimated to be sixty thousand miles. However formerly its area was even more than this and during the last half century part of it (Aden) remained the protectorate of Britain. Thus Najd and Aden constitute its northern and southern boundaries respectively the Red Sea is on its west and on the eastern side it touches the ar-Rub'ul Khali desert.

The most well-known city of Yemen is the historical city of San'a and its most important sea-port is Hudaydah which is situated on the coast of the Red Sea.

The territory of Yemen is the richest in the Peninsula and possessed a brilliant and dignified civilisation in the past. Yemen was the seat of government of Tababi'ah Kings who ruled for a very long period. Before the advent of Islam Yemen was a great centre of business and commerce and was in fact considered to be the 'cross-roads' of Arabia. It possessed very rich mines like gold silver and other precious stones extracted therefrom. They were exported to other countries

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The traces and relics of the civilisation of Yemen of those days are still available. During a period when means for executing burdensome tasks were not available to man the ingenious people of Yemen managed to erect attractive and lofty buildings by dint of their hard labour.

The kings of Yemen though undisputed rulers of the territory did not hesitate from enforcing the constitution drawn up and approved by the learned men of the land and excelled others in the promotion of agriculture and horticulture. Minute regulations were drawn up and enforced for cultivation of farms and irrigation of agricultural lands and gardens. In this respect this country is considered to be one of the distinguished and developed countries of that age.

The famous French historian Gustave Le Bon says In the whole of Arabia there is no region more luxuriant and more fertile than Yemen''.

Idrisi, the celebrated historian of the twelfth Century, writes thus about the city of San'a, Here is situated the capital of Arabia and the seat of the government of Yemen. The buildings and palaces of this city are famous throughout the world. Even its ordinary buildings and houses are built of hewn stones".

These surprising monuments which have been discovered as a result of recent excavations and investigations by the orientalists prove the existence of a wonderful civilisation in different parts of Yemen of olden times namely Ma'arib San'a and Bilqis.

In the city of Ma'arib (the famous city of Saba) there existed many lofty buildings with doors and arches ornamented with gold. Similarly gold and silver vessels as well as bedsteads made of metal were found there in abundance"[2]

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One of the historical monuments of Ma'arib was its famous dam whose traces are still available. It was destroyed by a flood which has been referred to in the Qur'an as the 'Iram flood'.

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[1] Tamaddun-i Islam wa Arab pp. 93 - 94.

[2] Tamaddun-i Islam wa Arab page 96.

Chapter 2

ARABIA BEFORE ISLAM

To know the conditions prevailing in Arabia before the advent of Islam we can avail ourselves of the following sources:

1. The Old Testament (notwithstanding all the alterations that have been made in it)

2. Writings of the Greeks and the Romans during the Middle Ages.

3. Islamic history as recorded by Muslim scholars and

4. Ancient relics which have been obtained through excavations conducted by the orientalists which reveal facts to some extent.

Notwithstanding the above-mentioned sources numerous matters relating to the history of Arabia have not yet become fully clear and continue to remain an insoluble enigma. However as the study of the conditions of Arabia before the advent of Islam constitutes a preamble to our discourse; but our real aim is the analysis of the life of the Holy Prophet of Islam therefore we give below a condensed account of some particular and well known aspects of the life of pre-lslamic Arabs.

It is an admitted fact that since times immemorial the Arabian Peninsula has been inhabited by many tribes some of which have become extinct in the course of time. However in the history of this land the following three tribes which were later sub-divided into different clans have attained greater fame than others:

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1. The Ba'idah: Ba'idah means extinct and these people are so named because owing to their continuous disobedience they were obliterated from the face of the earth as a consequence of celestial and terrestrial calamities. Possibly these were the very tribes of 'Ad and Thamud which have been mentioned time and again in the Holy Qur'an.

2. The Qehtaniyans: They are the descendants of Ya'rab bin Qehtan. They inhabited Yemen and other parts of southern Arabia and are called the full-blooded Arabs. The Yemenites of today and the tribes of Aus and Khazraj which constituted two big tribes of Madina in the early days of Islam are of Qehtaniyan descent. The Qehtaniyans possessed many states. They made strenuous efforts for the development of Yemen and have left a number of civilisations as their memorial. Their inscriptions are being studied now according to scientific methods the Qehtaniyan history has thus been revealed to some extent. Whatever is said about pre-lslamic culture and civilisation of Arabia is totally related to this group of the Arabs and is confined to the region of Yemen.

3. The Adnaniyans: They are the descendants of Isma'il son of the Prophet Ibrahim. A detailed account of the genealogy of this tribe will be given at a later stage but briefly speaking the position is this: Prophet Ibrahim was ordained by Allah to settle his son Isma'il and his mother Hajar in the land of Makkah. He therefore moved them from Palestine to a deep valley (Makkah) which was absolutely barren. Almighty Allah was kind to them and favoured them with the spring of Zamzam. Isma'il married in a tribe named Jarham who had pitched their tents at a place near Makkah. His offspring were numerous. One of them was Adnan who was removed a few generations from Ismai'l.

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The descendants of Adnan were sub-divided into many tribes. The tribe which acquired fame from amongst them was that of Quraysh and Bani Hashim formed a part of it.

GENERAL MORALS OF THE ARABS

What we mean by this are the social morals and manners which prevailed amongst the Arabs before Islam. Some of these customs were usually followed by all Arabs. The common and praiseworthy qualities of the Arabs may generally be summarised thus in a few sentences.

The Arabs of the Age of Ignorance (period before the advent of Islam) and especially the descendants of Adnan were generous and hospitable by nature. They seldom committed breach of trust. They considered violation of promise to be an unpardonable

sin. They were very much devoted to their faith and were fully endowed with the quality of eloquence. They possessed remarkably sharp memory. They could easily learn verses and speeches by heart. In the art of versification and poetry they excelled all others. Their bravery was proverbial. They possessed great skill in horsemanship and archery. They considered fleeing from the enemy to be very odious and abominable.

We could also perhaps recount some more good qualities of theirs. However as opposed to this a series of their immoral and mean habits which had to some extent assumed the shape of second nature with them obliterated the splendour of all their achievements and if a window had not been opened for them from the invisible the scroll of their human life would have been rolled up and they would have fallen precipitately into the dreadful abyss of non-existence. In other words if the soul-nourishing sun of Islam had not shone on their hearts in the middle of the 6th century of the Christian era you would not have seen any trace of the Arabs today and the story of Baidah Arabs would have been repeated.

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On account of lack of proper guidance and instruction and prevalence of immorality and superstitions the Arabs were leading a life similar to that of beasts. History has recorded for us stories of their fifty-year wars and hundred-year wars and those too for very small and insignificant reasons.

This anarchy lack of law and order and absence of an authoritative government which might control the situation and deal properly with the rebels became the reason for the Arabs leading a nomadic life and for their migrating every year along with their animals to places in the deserts where water and fodder could be found. Whenever they came across water and greenery at any place they pitched their tents round it. However as soon as they could locate a better place they resumed their wanderings in the desert.

These wanderings and the state of homelessness were occasioned by two things; first of them being the unwholesome geographical conditions of the area and the other being their indulging in excessive bloodshed which obliged them to undertake constant travelling and migration.

WERE THE PRE-ISLAMIC ARABS CIVILISED?

As a result of his studies about the conditions of the Arabs of the age of ignorance the author of the book entitled "Tamaddun-i Islam wa Arab' has concluded that they had been civilised for ages. According to him the dignified and lofty buildings erected by them in different parts of Arabia and their commercial relations with the various advanced nations of the world testify to their being civilised for a people who were in a position to construct such grand edifices even before the appearance of the Rornans and had trade relations with the great nations of the world could not be called barbarians.

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Again at another place he has cited the literature of the Arabs and their possessing a perfect language as evidence in support of his claim that they owned a deep-rooted civilisation. He says: "Supposing that we had not known anything about the ancient history of the Arabs we could even then reject the theory of their being an uncivilised people because whatever applies to the language of a nation also applies to its civilisation and culture. It is possible that they may make their appearance all of a sudden but their elements are undoubtedly very ancient and take shape gradually during a long span of time. It is not possible that an excellent language related with its literature should spring up without any premise. Furthermore establishment or relations with civilised nations is always a means of progress for a talented people".

The said author has allocated a number of pages of his book to prove the existence of an expansive civilisation amongst the Arabs of the pre-lslamic age and has placed reliance in this connection on three things namely (1) their having had an excellent language (2) establishment by them of relations with advanced nations and (3) wonderful buildings of Yemen mentioned by Herodote and Artemidor the two renowned historians who lived before the birth of Prophet 'Isa as well as by Mas'udi and other writers of Islamic history.[1]

There is no doubt about the fact that there did exist civilisations of short duration in different parts of Arabia but the

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arguments advanced by the said author are not sufficient to prove that civilisation and culture were present in all parts of this land.

Firstly the perfection of a language is accompanied by other traces of civilisation but basically Arabic cannot be treated to be an independent language not related with Hebrew Syriac Assyrian and Chaldean because as confirmed by the philologists all these languages were inter-connected at one time and had branched out from one language. In the circumstances the possibility is that Arabic attained perfection along with Hebrew and Assyrian and appeared as a separate language only after achieving such perfection.

Having trade relations with developed nations of the world is of course an evidence of the progress and civilisation of the Arabs. However the question is whether all parts of Arabia had such relations with other nations or possibly the Hijaz was devoid of them? Furthermore relations with Iran and Byzantium of the two provinces of 'Hira' and 'Ghassan' situated in the region of the Hijaz do not also serve as evidence of their possessing a civilisation because their position was that of satellites which may virtually be called colonies. Even today there are many countries in Africa which form a part of the colonies of western powers but do not possess any trace of European civilisation and culture. Nevertheless it is not possible to deny that there existed a wonderful civilisation in Saba and Ma'arib in the region of Yemen. For besides what has been said about it in the Old Testament and by Herodote and others the renowned historian Mas'udi says thus about Ma'arib "It was surrounded on all sides by beautiful buildings shady trees and running brooks. The area of this region was so extensive that even an agile horseman could not cover its length and breadth within a month; and a traveller whether riding or walking on foot did not see the sun while traversing the country from one end to the other because the roads were covered up on both sides by shady trees. The land was developed and prosperous and water was abundant. And its stable government was well known throughout the world". [2]

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It should however be kept in mind that these instances do not guide us to a civilisation which should have prevailed in all regions of Arabia and especially in the Hijaz which certainly did not possess any trace of this civilisation. So much so that even Gustave Le Bon says thus in this behalf 'with the exception of its northern frontiers Arabia remained immune from the raids of foreigners and none could occupy it. The great conquerors of Iran Rome and Greece who ransacked the entire world did not pay the least attention to Arabia".

And even if it is supposed that these stories are true with regard to all regions of the Arabian Peninsula all that can be said with certainty is that at the time of the dawn of Islam no trace of those civilisations was extant as the Holy Qur'an mentions this subject and says: O Arabs! Before accepting Islam you were on the brink of an abyss of fire. He saved you through Islam. (Surah Ale Imran 3:103)

The pages of Nahjul Balaghah while narrating the conditions of the pre-lslamic Arabs bear living testimony to the effect that from the point of view of way of life intellectual decadence and moral deterioration they were in a very deplorable state. Here we quote an illuminating statement of All the Commander of the Faithful. In one of his sermons he sets forth the state of affairs in pre-Islamic Arabia in the following manner "The Lord appointed Muhammad to warn the people of the world and to act as the trustee of His revelation and His Book. And you Arabs were spending your days with the worst faith and in the worst places. You were residing in stony places and amongst deaf snakes (which did not move because of any sound). You drank muddy water and ate coarse food (e.g. lizards and flour of date-palm stones). You shed the blood of one another and sought separation from your kith and kin. You had installed idols amongst you. You did not refrain from sins" (Nahjul Balaghah sermon 26).[3]

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Here instances of the barbaric conditions of Arabs of the Age of Ignorance have been quoted. As a specimen we reproduce below the story of As'ad bin Zurarah which throws light on various traits of the people of the Hijaz.

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[1] Tamaddun-i Islam wa Arab pp. 78 - 102.

[2] Murujuz Zahab vol. 111 page 373.

[3] This book is published in English by the Islamic Seminary under the caption: Peak of Eloquence.

AS'AD BIN ZURARAH MEETS THE HOLY PROPHET

For quite a long time a furious war had been raging between the tribes of 'Aws' and 'Khazraj' (of Yathrib). During this time As'ad bin Zurarah one of the chiefs of Khazraj made a journey to Makkah for strengthening the power of his tribe. His intention was to seek military and financial assistance from Quraysh to subdue his one hundred years old enemy (i.e. the tribe of Aws). Owing to his old relations with 'Atbah bin Rabiyyah he stayed with him. He told him the purpose of his visit and requested him for help. His old friend ('Atbah) however replied in these words: "Just at present we cannot accede to your request because we ourselves are in a strange fix. A man has risen from amongst ourselves. He insults our gods considers our ancestors to have been frivolous and stupid. With his sweet words he has attracted some of our young men and has thus created a deep cleavage amongst us. Except the Haj period he spends most of his time in Sha'b (Mountain Pass) of Abu Talib. During Haj period however he emerges from there and takes his place in Hajar-i Isma'il. There he invites people to his faith.

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As'ad decided to return home without contacting other chiefs of Quraysh. However in keeping with the old Arab custom he decided to perform the pilgrimage of the House of Allah (the Ka'bah) before his departure. But 'Atbah warned him lest while he was going round the Ka'bah he should hear the bewitching words of the new Prophet and be attracted to him. To solve this problem 'Atbah suggested to As'ad to thrust cotton in his ears so that he might not hear the Prophet.

As'ad slowly stepped into Masjidul Haram and began going round the Ka'bah. During the first round he glanced at the Holy Prophet and saw him sitting in Hajar-i Isma'il while a number of Hashimites were guarding him. Fearing the magic of the Prophet's words he (As'ad) did not go to him. Eventually however while going round the Ka'bah he reflected within himself and felt that he was doing a very foolish thing in avoiding the Prophet because people might question him about this affair on his return to Yathrib and it would be necessary for him to give them a satisfactory reply. He therefore decided to obtain first-hand information about the new religion without any further delay.

He came forward and saluted the Prophet with the words An'am Sabahan (Good Morning) according to the custom prevalent in the Age of Ignorance. The Holy Prophet however said to him in reply that Allah had prescribed a better form of salutation. He said that when two persons meet each other they should say Salamun Alaykum. Then As'ad requested the Holy Prophet to explain and clarify to him the aims and objects of his religion. In reply the Holy Prophet recited for him two verses: Muhamad say Let me tell you about what your Lord has commanded: Don't consider anything equal to God; Be kind to your parents; Don't murder your children out of fear of poverty (for We give sustenance to everyone) Don't even approach indecency either in public or in private. Don't murder for no reason anyone whom God has considered respectable. Thus your Lord guides you so that you may think. Don't handle the property of the orphans except with a good reason until they become mature and strong. Maintain equality in your dealings by the means of measurement and balance. (No soul is responsible for what is beyond it's ability). Be just in your words even if the party involved is one of your relatives; and keep your promise with God. Thus does your Lord guide you so that you may take heed. (Surah An'am 6 152 - 153) which in fact draws a true picture of the mentality and ways of life of the Arabs of the age of ignorance. These two verses which mention the ailment as well as the remedy for a people who had been at logger-heads with one another for as many as one hundred and twenty years made a very deep impression on As'ad. He embraced Islam immediately and requested the Holy Prophet to send some one to Yathrib in the capacity of a missionary of Islam.

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We feel that if we go deep into these two verses it will be sufficient to make us dispense with discussions and studies about the conditions of the Arabs of the Age of Ignorance for they abundantly clarify the extent to which chronic moral ailments were threatening the very existence of those people. We give below the contents of those verses with very brief explanation:

1. I have been sent on my Prophetic Mission to obliterate polytheism and idol-worship.

2. Goodness to parents occupies the top-most place in my message.

3. According to my sacred law killing of children due to fear of poverty is the worst possible deed.

4. I have been appointed to restrain human beings from doing bad deeds and to keep them away from every uncleanliness whether it be open or hidden.

5. My law provides that man-slaughter and bloodshed without just cause are absolutely forbidden.

6. Misappropriation of property belonging to orphans is prohibited.

7. My law is based on justice. Hence according to it selling under-weight is unlawful.

8. I do not charge anyone with more than he can bear.

9. The tongue and speech of man which are a resplendent mirror reflecting his mentality should be utilised in support of truth and reality and a person should speak nothing but the truth even though it may cause him loss.

10. Be true to the covenants which you have made with Allah. This has been ordained by your Lord and it is essential for you to follow it.[1]

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From the contents of these two verses and the manner in which the Holy Prophet conversed with As'ad it can very well be realised that the Arabs had developed all these base qualities and for this very reason the Holy Prophet read but at the very outset these two verses for As'ad as the aim of his mission. In the circumstances is it possible to agree to the claim made by some persons that an expansive civilisation existed for ages in all parts of Arabia?

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[1] A'lamul Wara' pp. 35 - 40 and Biharul Anwar vol.XIX pp. 8 -11.

RELIGION IN ARABIA

When Prophet Ibrahim hoisted the standard of the worship of Almighty Allah and raised the foundations of the Holy Ka'bah with the assistance of his son Isma'il some people gathered round him and the rays of his sun-like personality illuminated their hearts. However the extent to which this great soul could combat with idol-worship and form compressed rows of the worshippers of Allah is not known for certain.

During many periods and especially amongst the Arabs belief in the worship of God was mostly accompanied by polytheism and by the faith that idols were manifestations of the Deity. Out of their various beliefs the Holy Qur'an has mentioned one such belief saying If you ask them who created the heavens and the earth they are bound to answer: "The Almighty the All-knowing created them (Surah al-Zukhruf, 43:9). We serve them (i.e. idols etc.) only that they may bring us nearer to God. (Surah al-Zumar, 39:3 ) .

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Ali, the Commander of the Faithful, describes the religious conditions of the Arab peoples in the following words:

People of those days possessed various creeds and different heresies and were divided into many sects. One group likened Allah to His creatures (and believed that He possessed limbs). Others brought about changes in His names (for example the idol-worshippers who had adopted 'Lat' from Allah and 'Uzza' from Aziz). There was also a group who pointed to those other than Him. Later He guided them through the Holy Prophet and made them conversant with the knowledge of Divinity"[1]

The enlightened people amongst the Arabs worshipped the sun and the moon. The renowned Arab historian Kalbi who died in the year 206 A.H. writes thus: "The tribe named Bani Malih worshipped the genii and the tribes of Humayr Kananah Tamim Lakham Tai Qays and Asad worshipped the sun the moon the Dabran (a star in the sign of the zodiac named Taurus) the Jupiter the Canopus the Dog-star and the Mercury respectively. However the degraded section of the society which formed majority of the inhabitants of Arabia besides worshipping the idols of their own families and tribes worshipped another 360 idols and ascribed the daily happenings to one of them".

The reasons for the birth of idol-worship in the areas of Makkah after the passing away of the Holy Prophet Ibrahim will be discussed later. However it is an admitted fact that in the early days this practice was not so perfect. In the beginning the Arabs considered the idols to be mere interceders and gradually imagined them to be possessing power. The idols arranged round the Ka'bah were entitled to affection and respect by all tribes but the idols of the tribes were adored by a particular group only. Every tribe allocated a specified place to its idols to ensure their safety. The office of custodian of the keys of the temples in which idols were installed was hereditary and was handed down from one person to another.

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Family idols were worshipped by the members of a family every day and night. While proceeding on journey they rubbed them with their bodies. While travelling they worshipped the desert stones. When they reached a halting place they selected four stones. Out of these they worshipped the most beautiful one and used the remaining three as a stand for the fire-place to cook food.

The people of Makkah had great attachment for the sanctuary. While proceeding on a journey they picked up stones from its precincts and installed and worshipped them whenever they broke the journey. Possibly these were the very 'ansab' (the installed ones) which have been interpreted as smooth and amorphous stones. As opposed to these were the 'awthan' which meant well shaped and painted idols made from hewn stones.

As regards 'asnam' however they were idols made with moulded gold or silver or carved out of wood.

Humility of Arabs before the idols was really surprising. They believed that by offering sacrifices they could win their good-will. And after offering sacrifice of an animal they rubbed its blood on the head and the face of the idol. They also consulted the idols in big and important matters. This consultation was through sticks on one of which they wrote 'Do' and on the other 'Don't do'. Then they stretched their hand picked up one of the sticks and acted according to the writing on it.

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[1] Nahjul Balaghah Sermon 1.

THINKING OF THE ARABS ABOUT MAN AFTER DEATH

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The Arabs explained away this difficult philosophical problem in this manner: After the death of a person his soul comes out of his body in the shape of a bird called 'Hamah wa Sada' which resembles an owl and it laments continuously by the side of the corpse its lamentations being very dreadful and frightening. When the dead person is buried his soul takes up its abode in the aforesaid manner by his grave and stays there for ever. At times it goes and sits on the roof of the house of his children to get itself acquainted with their conditions.

If a person dies an unnatural death the said bird incessantly cries "Asquni . . . . . . . Asquni. . . . . . . . . " (i.e. quench my thirst with the blood of my murderer) and does not become quiet till revenge is taken on the murderer.

It is here that the real position becomes crystal clear to the esteemed reader and he learns that the history of Arabia before Islam and that after the dawn of Islam are antithetical to each other. Whereas the former is the tale of killing and burying alive of female children plundering woe and misery and idol-worship the latter tells us about kindness to orphans generosity and sympathy for humanity and worship of the One.

Of course a group of the Jews and the Christians also lived in the same society but displayed aversion to idol-worship. The principal seat of the Jews was Yathrib whereas the Christians resided in Najran. Unfortunately these two communities had also become involved in deviations with regard to the Oneness of Allah.

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LITERATURE OR THE STEREOSCOPE OF THE MENTALITY OF A NATION

The best means of analysing the spirit and intellect of a nation is the literary works and stories inherited by it. The literature poetry and stories of every community represent its beliefs serve as criteria for its culture and display its way of thinking. Literature of every nation is like a painted tableau which makes us visualise the life of a family as well as a chain of natural scenes and tumultuous multitudes or theatres of war and plunder.

The poetry of the Arabs and the proverbs current amongst them can more than anything else show the real character of their history. A historian desirous of becoming fully acquainted with the real spirit of a nation should not as far as possible ignore its various intellectual monuments like poetry prose proverbs stories etc. Fortunately the Muslim scholars have as far as possible recorded the literature of the Arabs pertaining to the age of ignorance.

Abu Tamam Habib bin Aws (died 2 31 A.H.) who is reckoned to be one of the Shi 'ah men of letters and has to his credit verses in praise of Shi'ah leaders of faith has collected a large number of poems composed during the age of ignorance and has arranged them in ten sections as Epic poems -Threnodies Literature - Lyric poems pertaining to the period of youth - Satires of individuals and tribes - Verses appropriate for hospitality and generosity - Eulogies - Qualities natural disposition and character - Wit and humour; and Maligning women.

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The Muslim scholars and literary men have written many commentaries on this book to explain the meanings of the words and the intent of the poets. The book itself has been translated into many foreign languages some of which have been mentioned in Mu'jamul Matbu'at (page 297).

POSITION OF WOMEN AMONGST THE ARABS

The tenth section of the above-mentioned book makes it abundantly clear that women were subjected to a peculiar degradation amongst these people and led the most tragic life. In the Holy Qur'an also verses have been revealed condemning the actions of the Arabs and throwing light on their moral degradation. It mentions their loathsome practice of killing the girls and says When the infant girl buried alive is asked for what crime she was slain. (Surah al-Takwir 81:8). i.e. the girls buried alive will be asked this question on the Day of Judgement. Evidently it is the height of moral debasement that when one's own child has grown up or has just arrived in the world one should bury it under tons of dust and should not be moved in the least by its cries and lamentations.

The first people who resorted to this practice were the tribe named Bani Tamim. No'man bin Munzir the ruler of Iraq attacked his enemies (including Bani Tamim) at the head of a big army and routed them. He confiscated their properties and took their girls as captives. Representatives of Bani Tamim approached him and requested for the return of their girls. However as some of the girls had contracted matrimonial alliances during the period of their captivity No'man gave them the option either to sever their connections with their parents and stay on with their husbands or to obtain divorce and return to their homes. One of the representatives of Bani Tamim was an old man named Qays bin 'Asim. His daughter preferred to stay on with her husband. The insult cut the old man to the quick and he decided that in future he would finish his daughters as soon as they were born. Gradually this practice penetrated into other tribes also. When Qays bin 'Asim had the honour of presenting himself before the Holy Prophet one of the Ansar enquired from him about his daughters. Qays said in reply "I buried all my daughters alive and was not touched in the least while doing so (except once!). At one time l was journeying and the time for my wife being delivered of a child had drawn near. By chance my journey was prolonged. On return home l enquired from my wife about the issue. she replied that owing to some illness she had been delivered of a still-born child. In fact however she had given birth to a female child and fearing me had entrusted it to her sisters. Years passed by and the girl attained her youth. l did not have the least information about it. However one day while l was sitting in my house a girl stepped in all of a sudden and inquired about her mother. It was a very beautiful girl. Her tresses were knit together and she wore a necklace round her neck. I enquired from my wife as to who the lovely girl was. With tears in her eyes she replied She is your own daughter. She is the same girl who was born while you were journeying. Fearing you I had concealed her . My silence was taken by my wife to be a sign of my acquiescence and she thought that I would not besmear my hands with the blood of the girl. Hence one day she left the house with a confident mind. Then according to my solemn promise and vow I caught the hand of my daughter and took her to a far-off place. There l began digging a pit. When l was engaged in this task my daughter asked me repeatedly as to why I was digging the earth. Digging over I caught the hand of my daughter pushed her into the pit and began throwing dust on her head and face without paying any heed to her heart-rending cries.

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She continued groaning and saying. "Dear father! Are you burying me under earth? Will you return to my mother after leaving me here alone?" But l continued pouring the dust till it enveloped her completely. It was only on this occasion that I had some scruple of conscience".

When the narrative of Qays came to an end tears were flowing from the eyes of the Prophet and he remarked: "This is an act of hard-heartedness and a nation which does not possess feelings of pity and kindness is not entitled to Divine mercy".[1]

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[1] In 'Usudul Ghaba' Ibn Athir quotes Qays as saying that the Holy Prophet asked him as to how many daughters he had buried alive and he replied that they were twelve in number.

SOCIAL POSITION OF WOMEN AMONGST THE ARABS

Amongst the Arabs woman was just like merchandise which could be bought and sold and did not possess any individual or social rights - not even the right of inheritance. The enlightened persons among them put woman under the category of animals and for this very reason considered her to be one of the chattels and necessities of life. On account of this belief the proverb: 'Mothers are only as good as vessels and have been created to serve as receptacles for sperm' was fully current amongst them.

Usually on account of fear of famine and occasionally dreading embarrassment they beheaded their daughters on the very first day of their birth or hurled them down from a high mountain into a deep valley or at times drowned them in water. The Holy Qur'an the great heavenly Book which is admitted even by non-Muslim orientalists at least to be a historical and instructive document which has not been tampered with contains a strange narrative on the subject. It says When the birth of a girl was announced to one of them his face grew dark and he apparently swallowed his anger. Because of the bad news he hid himself from his kinsmen and did not know whether he should keep the new-born with disgrace or bury her under dust? How ill they judge? (Surah al-Nahl 16:60).

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Most deplorable of all things was their marriage system which was not based on any law in vogue in the world of that time. For example they did not believe in any limit in the number of wives. To avoid payment of dowry they maltreated women and in case a woman ceased to be chaste she lost the dowry in toto.

At times they took undue advantage of this rule and calumniated their wives to be able to refuse the payment of dowry. In the event of the death of a person or his divorcing his wife it was treated to be lawful for his son to marry her and the story of Ummayyah bin Shams in this regard is preserved in the pages of history. When a woman obtained divorce from her husband her right of second marriage was dependent on the permission by the first husband and such permission was usually accorded on her surrendering her dowry! In the event of the death of a person his successors took possession of the woman like other household chattels and declared themselves to be her owners by throwing a head-dress on her head.

A BRIEF COMPARISON

If the esteemed reader takes notice of the rights of woman in Islam and ignores the quarrels and disputes which at times crop up all of a sudden he will certainly acknowledge that the rules and regulations and the effective steps for the improvement and normalisation of the rights of woman which were taken through the Holy Prophet of Islam are themselves a glaring testimony of his truthfulness and communication with the world of revelation. For what sympathy and good treatment could be greater than that (besides proclaiming the rights of women in various verses of the Holy Qur'an and in Ahadith (traditions) and also setting practical examples in this behalf for his followers to act upon) in the sermon of the last Haj performed by him whereby as ordained by God Almighty he reiterated his message in a concise form nominated his successor and at that very time also recommended women to men in the following words:

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"O people! You have rights over your women and they too have rights over you. Enjoin them to do good for they aid and assist you. Give them to eat such as you eat yourself and give them to wear such as you wear yourself".

ARABS AS WARRIORS

There is no doubt about the fact that the Arabs possessed extraordinary martial spirit and excelled many other nations in the art of warfare. This spirit was certainly commendable and worthy of appreciation so much so that even Islam made wide use of this tendency of theirs after harmonising it. And it is a matter of great honour for Islam that after making proper adjustments in the tendencies of various nations it utilised them for the achievement of very noble aims and objects. However before the appearance of Islam this spirit of the Arabs was always put into action to destroy the structure of life of different tribes and did not produce any result except bloodshed murder and plunder.

The Arabs had developed the habit of bloodshed and pillage to such an extent that at the time of self-glorification they counted plunder as one of their honours. This fact is quite evident from their poetry and literature.

One of the poets of the Age of Ignorance while observing the lowly condition and humbleness of his tribe in the matter of murder and plunder felt very much aggrieved and expressed his aspirations in these words: "O' that instead of belonging to this weak and worthless tribe I had been the member of a tribe whose men whether mounted or on foot always indulged in pillage and plunder and put an end to the lives of others".

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CONCLUSION

We have now acquired a general idea of the civilisation of the Arabs of the Age of Ignorance. In the meanwhile it has also become clear that no just and well-informed person can accept the view that the social conditions of the Hijaz with all the chaos savagery and general moral degradation could give birth to such a great universal movement which should assimilate all the apparent intellectual powers of the world of that time and should restore peace and order in that troubled area by means of a sublime programme. And it has also become evident that the assertion made by some short-sighted persons that Islam was a natural outcome of that society is really surprising. Such a view would of course have been justified if this great movement had made its debut in some civilised regions but it would be mere wishful thinking to make such a claim about the Hijaz.

Now with a view to complete our discussion on the subject we give below an account of the beliefs and thinking of the Arabs of the Age of Ignorance about different matters.

SUPERSTITIONS AND MYTHS OF THE ARABS

SUPERSTITIONS AND MYTHS OF THE ARABS

The Holy Qur'an has mentioned the objectives of the prophetic mission of the Holy Prophet of Islam in short sentences. One of those precise sentences which deserves careful scrutiny is this: He shall relieve them of their burdens and of the shackles that weigh upon them. (Surah al-A'raf 7:151) viz. the Prophet of Islam relieved them of difficult exercises and removed the chains with which their hands and feet were tied. Now it should be clearly understood as to what is meant by the chains with which the hands and feet of the Arabs of the Age of Ignorance were tied at the time of the dawn of Islam. Certainly they do not mean iron chains and shackles but denote the very groundless beliefs and superstitions which had restrained their intellects from making any advancement. And the fact is that the chains and cords which are tied to the intellect of man are more dangerous and harmful than the iron chains themselves because after some time has passed the iron chains are removed and the imprisoned man emerges into life once again with a healthy mind free from all extravagant ideas but the chains of superstitions and futilities which wrap up human intellect and reason like tangled thread keep man fastened till his very death and prevent him from making any effort - even an effort to remove these ties and shackles. And whereas a man with a healthy mind can contrive to break any iron chains or bars with the help of his reason and intellect the activities and efforts of one devoid of healthy reasoning and imagination come to nought and remain absolutely futile.

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One of the greatest honours and distinctions of the Holy Prophet is that he fought against superstitions extravagant beliefs and myths and cleansed the human intellect and reason of the disgusting faith of superstitions. He used to say "I have come to strengthen the intellectual power of human beings and to put up a strong fight against all types of superstitions even though they may be helpful for the advancement of my mission".

Politicians of the world who have no aim or object other than ruling over the people always use every occurrence to their own advantage. So much so that if ancient myths or superstitious beliefs of a nation are helpful for their state and government they do

not hesitate about propagating them. And if they are reflective and logical persons then they lend support to irrational myths and superstition under the presence of appreciation of common thinking and respect for the beliefs of the majority. However the Holy Prophet of Islam not only repressed the superstitious beliefs which were harmful for himself and for the society but even if a local myth or a baseless idea was helpful for the advancement of his mission he campaigned against it with full force and endeavoured that people should follow truth and not myths and superstitions.

Ibrahim a male child of the Holy Prophet passed away. The Prophet was sad and grieved on account of his demise and tears trickled from his eyes involuntarily. Solar eclipse took place on the day the child died. The superstitious and myth-loving Arabs considered the eclipse to be a sign of the greatness of the affliction of the Holy Prophet and said "The sun has been eclipsed on account of the death of the son of the Prophet". The Holy Prophet happened to hear these words. He mounted the pulpit and said: 'The sun and the moon are two great signs of the Omnipotence of Allah and obey His orders. They are not eclipsed on account of the death or life of anyone. Whenever solar or lunar eclipse takes place offer signs prayers". Having said this he dismounted the pulpit and offered signs prayers along with others."[1]

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Although the idea that the solar eclipse had taken place on account of the death of the son of the Holy Prophet could strengthen the belief of the people in him and could consequently help in the advancement of his mission he did not at all like that his position should be strengthened in the hearts of the people by means of a superstition.

His campaign against myths and superstitions an outstanding example of which is the fight which he put up against idol-worship and all kinds of spurious divinity was not peculiar to the period of his prophetic mission. He had fought against superstitions throughout his life - even during his childhood days.

One day when the age of the Holy Prophet Muhammad did not exceed four years and he was spending his days with his foster- mother Halimah he expressed a desire to accompany his foster-brothers to the jungle. Halimah says "On the following day I bathed Muhammad oiled his hair and put collyrium in his eyes. I also put round his neck for the sake of his safety a Yemen bead which had been fixed in a thread so that he might remain immune from the evil spirits. Muhammad removed the bead from his neck and spoke thus to me: "Dear mother! Be comforted. My God who is always with me is my Protector and Preserver!"[2]

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. XXII page 155.

[2] Biharul Anwar vol. Vl page 92.

SUPERSTITIOUS BELIEFS OF THE ARABS OF THE AGE OF IGNORANCE

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At the time of the dawn of Islam the beliefs of all the nations and societies of the world were entwined with different sorts of superstitions and myths and the Greek and Sasanian mythologies ruled the minds of the nations which were considered to be the most advanced in those days. And even now many superstitions are in vogue amongst the developing nations of the East and the modern civilisation has not been able to eradicate them from their minds. However the growth of myths and superstitions is in proportion to the extent of knowledge and learning in a society. The more backward a society is in the matter of education and learning the larger would be the number of superstitions prevalent in it.

History has recorded a large number of myths and superstitions pertaining to the Arabs and Sayyid Mahmud Alusi the author of the book "Bulughul adab fi ma'rifat ahwalil 'Arab"[1] has collected many of them in that very book along with a chain of authorities who have referred to them in their verses. Going through this and other books one comes across a multitude of superstitions. This baseless train of groundless beliefs was one of the reasons for this nation lagging behind others. It was absolutely natural that a nation the number of whose literate persons in the centre of the region of the Hijaz did not exceed seventeen [2] should be preoccupied with superstitions and myths.

These myths were the greatest impediment in the way of the progress of Islam and for this reason the Holy Prophet endeavoured his best to eradicate the signs of 'ignorance' which consisted of these superstitions and myths. While sending Mu'az bin Jabal to Yemen he gave him the following instructions:

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"O Mu'az! Remove from amongst the people the signs of ignorance and the superstitious ideas and beliefs and revive the traditions of Islam which call upon us to reflect and be reasonable."[3]

As against the great masses of Arabs who had been ruled for ages by superstitious beliefs the Holy Prophet used to say: "All the traces of ignorance are under my feet" i.e. by the advent of Islam all the baseless customs beliefs and means of distinction have been annihilated and have been trampled under my feet.[4]

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. II pp 286 - 369.

[2] Vide 'Futuhul Buldan' Balazari' page 458.

[3] Tuhaful 'Uqul page 29.

[4] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. III page 421.

SUPERSTITIONS 1-5

Now in order to elucidate the worth of the teachings of Islam we give below a brief account of the beliefs of the Arabs of the age of ignorance:

1. BURNING FIRE FOR THE COMING OF RAINS:

Many areas of the Arabian Peninsula are usually faced with drought. To ensure coming of rains the people of such places used to procure the branches of the trees named Sala' and 'Ushr which catch fire easily. They tied these branches to the tail of a cow and drove it to the top of a mountain. Later they set fire to these branches. On account of the presence of inflammable material in the branches of 'Ushr flames rose from the fire and burnt the body of the cow. Owing to the pain caused by burning the cow began running and crying. These people committed this foul act treating it as a token of resemblance with the celestial thunder and lightning. They treated the flames of fire and the cries of the cow as representing lightning and thunder respectively and considered this act as effective for rainfall.

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2. IF A COW DID NOT DRINK WATER THEY BEAT THE OX:

The Arabs took the cows and the oxen to the bank of a stream for making them drink water. At times it so happened that the oxen drank water but the cows did not. Thereupon they thought that this was due to the evil spirits which had accommodated themselves between the horns of the oxen and which did not permit the cows to drink water. In order therefore to drive away the bad spirits they hit on the faces of the oxen.

3. THEY BRANDED HEALTHY CAMELS SO THAT OTHERS MIGHT RECOVER:

If a disease appeared amongst the camels or ulcers or blisters were observed on their lips or throats a healthy camel was procured and its lips upper leg and thigh were branded so as to prevent the disease spreading to other camels. However the reason for such action is not clear. It may be considered probable that this action has a preventive aspect and was a sort of scientific treatment but in view of the fact that out of many camels only one was selected for being subjected to such affliction it may be said that this too was a superstitious practice and was resorted to on fictitious grounds.

4. A CAMEL WAS CONFINED BY THE SIDE OF A GRAVE:

When a person of distinction died a camel was confined in a pit near his grave and was not given any water or fodder so that it might die and the dead person might be riding on it on the Day of Judgement and might not rise on foot.

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5. THEY CUT OFF THE FEET OF A CAMEL NEAR A GRAVE:

Keeping in view the fact that a person while alive used to slaughter camels to entertain his kinsmen and guests and as a mark of respect and recompense to him his successors cut off the feet of a camel near his grave in a manner very painful to the animal.

ISLAM COMBATS WITH SUPERSTITIONS

Such acts (besides the fact that none of them conforms with logic and scientific reasoning because rains do not fall by kindling fire striking an ox does not have any effect on a cow branding a healthy camel does not cure sick camels etc.) are a sort of cruelty to animals. If we compare these beliefs and actions with firm rules prescribed by Islam for the protection of animals we shall certainly say that this religious law had declared an open war against the thinking of the society.

There are numerous Islamic regulations regarding the protection of animals and it may be mentioned in this behalf that the Holy Prophet has said "An animal for riding has six rights on its master:

(1) When he breaks his journey he should provide the animal with fodder.

(2) If and when he passes by water he should let the animal drink it.

(3) He should not strike the animal on its face.

(4) When he indulges in a lengthy conversation with someone else he should not remain seated on the back of the animal.

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(5) He should not load excessive burden on the animal.

(6) He should not compel the animal to traverse a distance which is beyond its capacity".[1]

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[1] Man la Yahzaruhul Faqih page 228.

6. TREATMENT OF THE SICK

If a person was bitten by a snake or by a scorpion gold ornaments were put round his neck. They believed that if such a person carried copper or tin on his body he would die. As regards rabies (i.e. the ailment which is caused by dog-bite) they treated it by rubbing a small quantity of the blood of the chief of the tribe on the wound. And in case signs of madness appeared in anyone he took refuge in dirt and dirty rags and bones of the dead were hung round his neck to drive away the evil spirit.

To ensure that their child should not sustain injury from the evil spirits they tied the teeth of a fox and cat to a thread and put it round his neck. As and when a child developed boils or pimples on his body his mother put a sieve on her head and went round the houses of the tribe to collect bread and dates which she gave to the dogs so that the boils and pimples of her child might be healed. Other women of the tribe took care that their own children did not eat those dates and bread lest they too should contract the same ailment.

If a person contracted a skin disease (for example a disease which had a rasping effect on the body) he used to treat it by rubbing his saliva on the spot.

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If the illness of a person was prolonged they imagined that the patient had killed a snake or some other animal having connections with the evil spirits. In order to beg forgiveness of the evil spirits therefore they prepared clay images of camels and loaded them with barley wheat and dates. They left all these things opposite a hole in a mountain and then visited that place on the following day. If they found that the said things had been consumed they considered it a sign of the acceptance of the presents by the evil spirits and concluded that the patient would be cured. If however the position was otherwise they thought that the presents being insignificant the evil spirits had not accepted them.

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[1] Man la Yahzaruhul Faqih page 228.

HOW ISLAM CAMPAIGNED AGAINST THESE SUPERSTITIONS:

Islam campaigned against these superstitions in various ways. There were some nomadic Arabs who used to treat their sick with magical appendages and collars studded with stones and bones. When they appeared before the Holy Prophet and endured the treatment of the sick with herbs and medicines the Holy Prophet said "It is necessary for every sick person to find out the medicine because Allah who has created an ailment has also created a medicine for it.[1]

And when S'ad bin Abi Waqqas developed heart trouble the Holy Prophet said to him "You should go and see Harith Kaldah the famous physician of Thaqif". Later the Holy Prophet himself suggested a particular medicine to him.[2]

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There are other narratives also declaring the magical appendages to be devoid of any effect whatsoever. Here we quote two of them:

"A person whose son was suffering from pain in his throat came before the Holy Prophet with magical appendages. The Holy Prophet said to him Do not frighten your children with these magical appendages. You should treat this ailment with aloe-wood oil''.[3]

Imam Sadiq has said "Most of the amulets and appendages amount to polytheism".[4]

By guiding the people to the use of numerous medicines (the particulars of all of which have been collected by the great Muslim narrators of Hadith under the headings Tibur Rasul (Medicine of the Prophet) Tibur Rida (Medicine of Al-Rida etc.) the Holy Prophet and his Holy successors once again hit out against these superstitions and had so to say collared the Arabs of the Age of Ignorance.

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[1] at-Taj vol. III page 178. The Holy Prophet meant to say that the appendages were not an effective treatment.

[2] at-Taj vol. III page 179.

[3] at-Taj vol. Ill page 184.

[4] Safinatul Bihar root word raqa.

7. SOME OTHER SUPERSTITIONS

They employed the following means to ward off anxiety and fear:

Whenever they arrived in a village they were afraid of some contagious disease or evil spirits. To get rid of this fear they brayed ten times like a donkey at the gate of the village. At times they also hanged the bones of a fox round their necks. If they lost their way while travelling in the desert they wore their shirt after turning it inside out. While travelling they feared immorality on the part of their women. To gain assurance in this behalf they tied a thread to the stalk or branches of a tree. If the thread was intact at the time of their return they were satisfied that their women had not been guilty of immorality. If however they found the thread untied or missing they slandered their women.

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If the teeth of their children fell they caught them with two fingers and flung them towards the sun saying "O sun! Give him better teeth than these".

In case the children of a woman did not live (i.e. died during infancy) they believed that her children would live if she walked seven times over the slain body of a distinguished person.

This is a brief account of the innumerable superstitions which had darkened the lives of the Arabs of the Age of Ignorance and had restrained their intellects from flying high.

Chapter 3

CONDITIONS OF ROMAN AND IRANIAN EMPIRES

It is very important to study the following two environments in order to evaluate the sacred Islamic movement:

1. The environment of the revelation of the Holy Qur'an i.e. the area in which Islam originated and developed.

2. Way of thinking of the people who inhabited the most civilized areas of that age and whose thoughts manners morals and civilisations were considered to be the most developed and the best. History tells us that the most enlightened spots of those times were the Roman and the Iranian Empires.

To complete the discussion it is necessary that we should study the conditions of these two Empires separately so that it may become possible to make an estimate of the value of the civilisation introduced by Islam.

In those days Rome did not enjoy a better position as compared with its rival viz. Iran. Internal strife and continuous external wars with Iran over Armenia etc. had prepared its people for accepting a revolution. More than anything else diversity of religious opinions had made these differences much wider. Strife between the Christians and the idolaters did not subside. When the dignitaries of the Church took reins of government in their hands they pressed their opponents hard and this by itself paved the path for the creation of a dissatisfied minority; and the thing which could be counted to be the great factor for the acceptance of Islam by the Roman nation and warm welcome accorded by them to this movement was the deprivation felt by different groups on account of the harshness of the dignitaries of the Church.

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Day after day the awe and power of the Roman Empire was diminishing owing to differences amongst the priests on the one hand and existence of various religious orders on the other. Besides the white and yellow nations of the north and the east respectively were always very keen to acquire the fertile areas of Europe and at times they did great harm to each other by their mutual warfare. This in itself became the reason for the division of the Roman Empire into two blocs viz. the eastern bloc and the western bloc. The historians believe that the political social and financial conditions of Rome in the sixth century were very much disturbed. So much so that they do not consider even the supremacy of Rome over Iran to be an evidence of its military power. They attribute the defeat of Iran to the maladministration of the Iranian Government. These two Empires which had been the leaders and rulers of the world were in a state of chaos and anarchy at the time of the advent of Islam. Evidently such conditions create an unusual longing and desire in the hearts of the people for a proper law which may ensure their welfare.

SEASONAL DISCUSSIONS IN ROME

In some countries some idle and sensual persons put forward for discussion a number of meaningless and futile problems with the object of keeping back people from all sorts of scientific and industrial progress and thus render the precious lives of the people useless. In this context we have a large number of specimens and precedents in many Muslim countries which it is not possible to recount at present. It so chanced that Rome of those days was more than anything else entangled in problems of this kind. For example the emperors and the statesmen held under the influence of some religious institutions the belief that Prophet 'Isa had two natures and two wills whereas some Ya'qubi Christians were of the view that he had only one nature and one will. This baseless proposition hit out the independence and harmony of Rome and created a deep cleavage amongst those people for the government was obliged to defend its beliefs and therefore subjected its opponents to severe persecution. As a consequence of pressure and mental aversion some of them took refuge in Iran. These were the very people who on encountering the Muslim army quitted their trenches and greeted the Muslims with open arms. Rome of those days was just like the Europe of the Middle Ages. The famous French astronomer Camile Flammarion relates this story about the level of learning in Europe in the Middle Ages:

p: 41

"The book entitled 'Majmu'a-i Lahutiah' (Theological Collection) was a perfect manifestation of the scholastic philosophy in the Middle Ages and was taught in Europe for four hundred years as a text book. A part of that book discusses whether it is possible for a few angels to settle themselves on the point of a needle or how many leagues apart the pupils of the right eye and of the left eye of the Heavenly Father are?".

How unfortunate for Rome! Just at the time when it was entangled in foreign wars torrents of internal differences most of which were manifested in the garb of religion were drawing it day after day nearer to the precipice. When the Jews who were a wicked and intriguing people saw that the pressure by the Christian Emperor of Rome had crossed the bounds they drew up plans to topple down the Roman Government and even occupied the city of Antakia at one time and cut off the ears nose and lips of the Archbishop. After some time the Roman Government avenged itself by massacring the Jews of Antakia. Such merciless slaughtering was repeated in Rome a number of times between the Jews and the Christians and at times this revengeful feeling had its repercussions even beyond the frontiers of the Empire. For example once the Jews purchased eighty thousand Christians from the Iranians and slaughtered them like sheep with the object of taking revenge on the Christian community.

It is here that the learned reader can visualise the dark and chaotic background of the world contemporaneous with the dawn of Islam and acknowledge that these sublime teachings which ensured deliverance of mankind from that dark atmosphere are not the outcome of human brain and this exhilarating breeze of unity and unanimity and this message of peace and sincerity which is the object of Islamic religion has no source other than the occult one. How can it be said that Islam which has given right of existence even to the animals is the child of such a blood thirsty environment?

p: 42

Islam set aside all these baseless and frivolous discussions about the will of 'Isa and introduced him in the following words: 'Isa the son of Maryam was no more than a Prophet. Other Prophets passed away before him. His mother was a chaste and truthful woman. They both ate earthly food and were human beings. (Surah al-Ma'dah 5:75).

By means of this verse Islam put an end to a large number of silly discussions of the dignitaries of the Church about the spirit blood and individuality of 'Isa. At the same time it dissuaded man from disputes and bloodshed by imparting sublime teachings to him and reviving his excellent human attributes.

IRAN OR THE CRADLE OF CIVILISATION OF THAT AGE

The scholars of sociology are of the view that the weak point about the government of the Iranians of that age was its despotic nature and the rule of an individual over the masses. The ignorant Arabs with all their savagery and barbarism possessed a sort of democratic government. With the establishment of 'Darul Nadwah' which enjoyed the position of the National Consultative Assembly they had to some extent eliminated the defects of despotic rule. Although a government whether constitutional or despotic cannot solve the difficulties without the rule of religion and faith and the protection of secret police and cannot also maintain law and order which is the aim of every government but it is an admitted fact that the wisdom and prudence of one person cannot equal the sagacity of a group of persons. Collusion and violence are comparatively lesser in a democratic government. It is for this reason that the grandeur and supremacy or weakness and humiliation of the Iranians have been closely related with the weakness or strength of their one-man government. A study of the Sasanian period of government and the oscillations which took place during that period fully justifies this statement.

p: 43

GENERAL CONDITIONS OF IRAN SIMULTANEOUS WITH THE DAWN OF ISLAM

The advent of Islam and the appointment to the prophetic mission of the Holy Prophet (611 A.D.) was concurrent with the reign of Khusro Pervez (590-628 A.D.). The Holy Prophet's migration

from Makkah to Madina also took place during his time (Friday the 16th July 622 A.D.) and this event became the beginning of the history of the Muslims.

In those days two big and powerful states (Byzantium and Sasanian) Iran ruled a large part of the civilised world of that time. They had been quarrelling and fighting with each other for long in order to dominate and rule the world.[1]

The prolonged wars which the Iranians fought against the Romans started during the reign of Anushirwan (531-589 A.D.) and continued for twenty four years i.e. till the time of Khusro Pervez. The great losses and enormous expenditure which Iran and Rome had to bear on account of these wars dealt severe blows to both of these powerful states and nothing except only form without any substance was left of them.

In order that we may understand clearly the conditions of Iran from different angles it is necessary for us to study briefly the conditions of various governments from the end of the rule of Anushirwan onwards till the time when the Muslims made their appearance.

______________

[1] Tarikh-i 'Ulum wa Adabiyat dar Iran Dr Safa pp. 3 - 4 Iran dar Zaman-i Sasaniyan Christensen page 267.

FONDNESS FOR LUXURIOUSNESS DURING SASANIAN PERIOD

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Sasanian kings were usually fond of luxuries and voluptuousness. The pomp and gradiloquence of the Sasanian court dazzled the eyes.

During the Sasanian period the Iranians had a flag which was called 'Dirafsh-i Kavyani'. This flag was hoisted in the battlefield or was installed at the top of the palace at the time of ceremonial celebrations by the Sasanians. It had been decorated with very precious gems. According to a writer this peerless flag was studded with gems and other precious things whose cost has been estimated to be 1 200 000 dirhams (or 30 000 pounds).[1]

In the fabulous palaces of the Sasanians so many gems and other precious articles and wonderful drawings and paintings had been collected that the eyes of the onlookers were dazzled.

If we wish to become with the wonders of these palaces it would suffice if we have a look on a big white carpet which they had spread in the hall of one of the palaces. This carpet which was called 'Baharistan-i Kisra' had been got made by the Sasanian rulers for the purpose that at the time of merrymaking they might be in good pirits and might always have the beautiful and enlivening scenes of spring before their eyes.[2]

It has been said that this carpet was 150 cubits long and 70 cubits wide. Its entire wrap and wool had been woven with gold and gems were embedded in it.[3]

Amongst the Sasanian monarchs the one who was most fond of luxuries was Khusro Pervez. He had thousands of wives slave-girls singers and musicians in his palace. In his book entitled 'Sanii Mulukul Arz' (grand kings of the earth) Hamza Isfahani describes the luxurious life of this King in these words:

p: 45

"Khusro Parvez had three thousand wives and twelve thousand slave-girls who were musical performers. He had six thousand men who served as guards. As many as 8 500 horses were earmarked for his riding. He had 960 elephants and 12 000 mules for carrying the baggage. He also had one thousand camels".[4]

Then Tabari adds to this "This king was more fond of gems and valuable vessels etc. than anyone else".[5]

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[1] Payambar-i Rehnuma vol. I pp. 42 - 43

[2] Payambar-i Rehnuma vol. I pp. 42 - 43

[3] Payambar-i Rehnuma page 43. "In the book 'Ganj-i Danish' Muhammad Taqi Khan Hakim 'Mu'tamadus Sultan' has described the carpet 'Nigaristan' very minutely while making research about the court of Khosroes".

[4] Sanii Mulukul Arz wal Ambiya page 420

[5] Tarikh-i Tabari as quoted by Christonson page 327

SOCIAL CONDITIONS IN IRAN

The social conditions in Iran in the days of the Sasanians were in no way better than the political conditions prevailing in the royal court. Class rule which had existed in Iran since long assumed the most acute shape during the Sasanian period. The aristocracy and the clergy were absolutely superior to other classes. All the important public offices and vocations were reserved for them. The craftsmen and peasants were deprived of all social rights and privileges. Except making payment or revenue and taking part in wars they had no other function to perform.

Nafisi writes thus about class distinctions during the period of the Sasanians: "The thing which was mostly instrumental in sowing discord amongst the Iranians was the very harsh class distinction which was established by the Sasanians in Iran. It had its roots in the past civilisation. but was much more tightened during the Sasanian period ".

p: 46

Originally seven aristocratic families and after them five other classes enjoyed privileges and the common man was deprived of them. Almost the entire 'ownership' was confined to the seven families. The population of Iran during the Sasanian period was about 140 million persons. If we suppose the number of each of these families to be one hundred thousand persons their total number would cone to seven hundred thousand. And if we assume that the frontier officials and proprietors who too enjoyed possessory rights to some extent were also seven hundred thousand in number the position would be that out of a population of 140 millions only a million and a half possessed rights of ownership and all others were deprived of this natural right granted to man by Allah.[1]

The craftsmen and peasants who were deprived of all rights and privileges but had to bear on their shoulders the heavy burden of the expenses of the aristocracy did not consider it worthwhile to preserve these conditions. Hence most of the peasants and the people of the lower strata renounced their professions and took refuge in monasteries to escape payment of onerous revenues.[2]

After giving an account of the misfortunes of the craftsmen and the peasants of Iran the author of the book 'Iran-dar Zaman-i Sasaniyan' quotes this remark of one of the European historians named Amyan Marcilinos: "The craftsmen and the peasants were leading a very miserable and degraded life during the Sasanian period.

In the event of war they walked on foot and formed the rear of the army They were considered to be so mean and worthless as if perpetual slavery had been pre-destined for them and they could get no wages or reward for the work done by them".[1]

p: 47

In the Sasanian Empire only a minority which formed less than 1.5 per cent of the population was the owner of everything whereas others whose number exceeded 98 per cent were just like slaves and had no rights of life.

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[1] Tarikh-i Ijtimai'i-i Iran vol. II pp. 24 - 26

[2] Limadha Khasir al 'Alam bi inhitatil Muslimin pp. 70 - 71

[3] Iran fi 'ahdis Sasani'in page 424

RIGHT OF OBTAINING EDUCATION WAS RESERVED FOR THE UPPER CLASSES

During the Sasanian period only the children of the rich people and the aristocrats were entitled to receive education and the masses and the middle class were deprived of the acquisition of knowledge and distinction.

This grave defect in the culture of ancient Iran is so patent that even the writers of epic poems (Khudainamah and Shahnamah) have mentioned it in expressive terms although their real subject had been the narration of the achievements of the heroes.

Firdausi the famous epic poet of Iran has mentioned a story in Shahnamah which bears a clear testimony to this fact. This story belongs to the time of Anushirwan i.e. exactly to the period when the Sasanian empire was passing through its golden age. And this story shows that the majority of the people consisting of almost the entire masses had no right to become educated and even the lover of wisdom and justice Anushirwan was not prepared to grant the right of education to other classes of the public !

Firdausi says "A shoemaker turned up and offered to give a large amount of gold and silver to meet the expenses of the Iranian-Roman war. At that time Anushirwan was in great need of financial help because about thrity thousand Iranian soldiers were faced with shortage of food and armour. There was a clamour amongst the soldiers who made their grievances known to the King himself. Anushirwan was disturbed by this state of affairs and became alarmed about his own end. He immediately called his wise minister Buzurg Mehr to find out a remedy and ordered him to proceed to Mazandran at once to procure money to meet the expenses of war. However Buzurg Mehr said "The danger is imminent hence something should be done immediately to remedy it". At that juncture Buzurg Mehr suggested a national loan. His suggestion was liked by Anushirwan who ordered that steps in this behalf might be taken without any delay. Buzurg Mehr sent officials to the nearest cities and towns and made the position known to the wealthy people of those places.

p: 48

A shoemaker offered to provide the entire expenses of the war. The only recompense that he desired for this service was that his only son who was very fond of education might be permitted to obtain it. Buzurg Mehr considered his request to be quite insignificant as compared with the money offered by him. He hurried to the king and made the request of the shoemaker known to him. Anushirwan got annoyed rebuked his minister and said "What a strange request you are making! This is something inexpedient for when he gets out of the classification the tradition of class system in the country will topple down and the harm caused by this will be much more than the gold and silver which he is prepared to give".

Firdausi explains Anushirwan's Machiavellian philosophy in the king's own words:

"When the son of a merchant becomes a secretary and also acquires skill wisdom and intelligence.

Then when our son ascends the throne he will need a secretary endowed with good luck.

If the son of one who deals in shoes acquires skill it will lend him eyes which can see clearly as well as ears.

In that event nothing will be left with a wise man of noble descent except regret and cold sighs".

Thus the money of the shoemaker was returned to him under the orders of the "Just Monarch". This made the helpless shoemaker very unhappy and as is usual with the oppressed he complained to Allah Almighty at night and made the "bell of Divine justice ring".

p: 49

In the words of Firdausi "The messenger returned with the money and the shoemaker became very unhappy on account of that money.

He was very much grieved at the words of the king and when night came he rang the Divine bell".[1]

When speaking about the causes of the decline unrest and disorder of the Sasanian period the author of the book "Tarikh-i Ijtima'i Iran" who is himself one of the forerunners of the nationalists draws a picture of the right of education being restricted to the higher circles in these words:

"During this period education and instruction in the usual branches of learning was the monopoly of the children of the aristocrats and the clergy and almost all the other children of Iran were deprived of it".[2]

Indeed this tradition of keeping the masses ignorant was so important in this eyes of the Sasanians that they did not wish to forsake it at any cost. Hence the majority of the Iranians were deprived of the right of education as well as of other social rights so that the opportune and improper desires of this pampered minority might be fulfilled.

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[1] Firdausi has narrated this story in Shahnamah as an event of the reign of Anushirwan with reference to the war between Iran arid Rome (Shahnamah vol. Vl pp. 257 - 260). Dr Sahib al-Zamani has analysed this story in a very fascinating manner in his book "Dibacha-i bar Rehbari" (pp. 258 - 262) See also Guzarish Nama-i Iran Mehdi Quli Khan Hidayat (page 232).

p: 50

[2] Tarikh-i Ijtima'i-i Iran vol. II page 26

VERDICT OF HISTORY ON THE SASANIAN KINGS

Most of the Sasanian monarchs adopted a harsh policy of government and desired to subjugate the people by force. They extracted very heavy and onerous taxes from the people. The people of Iran were therefore usually dissatisfied but for fear of their lives they could not utter any words of protest. So much so that even the learned and experienced persons were not accorded any recognition by the Sasanian court.

The Sasanian rulers were so despotic and self-willed that no one could express his own opinion in any matter.

Although history is always tampered with through the persons wielding authority stories have been told about the injustice and cruelty of the tyrants.

Khusro Pervez was so hard-hearted that Tha'labi writes about him: "Khusro was told that a particular governor had been asked to come to the royal court but he had made excuses. The king immediately ordered: "If it is difficult for him to come before us with his entire body we shall be satisfied with only a portion of it so that matters may become easy for him. Tell the persons concerned to send only his head to my court".[1]

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[1] Iran dar Zaman-i Sasaniyan page 318

UNREST DURING THE SASANIAN RULE

While studying the last part of the Sasanian period the thing which should not be lost sight of is the maladministration of government and the prevalence of arbitrariness intrigue and chaos in the Sasanian regime.

p: 51

The princes the nobles and the army chiefs were at loggerheads with one another. One group elevated one prince and the other group removed him and selected another.

When the Muslims of Arabia decided to occupy Iran the Sasanian royal family was very weak and was deeply involved in discord.

During four years ranging from the time of assassination of Khusro Parvez and ascension to the throne of Sheroya to the assumption of kingship by the last Sasanian monarch Yazd Gard numerous kings ruled Iran. Their number has been stated to be from six to fourteen. Thus the government of Iran passed from one hand to the other about fourteen times during the span of four years. It can well be imagined what the condition of a country would be when coup d'etat is staged in it fourteen times during a period of four years and every time one person is assassinated and another is installed in his place.

Everyone who assumed reins of government did away with all other claimants to the throne and committed all sorts of atrocities to secure his own position. The father killed the son the son killed the father and the brother extirpated his brothers.

Sheroya assassinated his father Khusro Pervez [1] to occupy the throne and also killed forty sons of Khusro Pervez (i.e. his own brothers).[2]

Shehr Baraz killed everyone about whom he was not certain whether or not he would be a danger for his throne.

Eventually all those who came to occupy the throne whether they were men or women and whether old or young killed their kith and kin (viz. the Sasanian princes) so that no pretender to the throne might remain alive.

p: 52

In short chaos and anarchy had assumed such dimensions during the Sasanian period that children and women were elevated to the throne then killed after a few weeks and others installed in their place.

In this manner the Sasanian monarchy notwithstanding its apparent pomp and grandeur was speedily moving towards decadence disintegration and destruction.

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[1] Murujuz Zahab vol. I page 281

[2] Tarikh-i Ijtima'i-i Iran vol. II pp. 15 - 19 by Sa'id Nafisi

ISTURBED CONDITIONS OF SASANIAN IRAN FROM RELIGIOUS VIEW-POINT

The greatest reason for the chaotic conditions of Iran during the Sasanian period was differences and diversity of opinions in religious matters.

Ardshir Babkan as the founder of the Sasanian dynasty was himself the son of a Mubid (Zoroastrian priest) and had reached the throne with the assistance of the spiritual people of Zoroastrian faith he employed all means to propagate the religion of his ancestors in Iran.

In the days of the Sasanians the official as well as the popular religion of the Iranian nation was Zoroastrianism and as the Sasanian Government had been established with the help of the priests the Zoroastrian clergy received every support from the royal court. Consequently the Zoroastrian clergy acquired great strength in Iran during the Sasanian period so much so that they enjoyed the position of the most powerful class in the country.

The Sasanian rulers were always mere satellites of the priests and if anyone of these rulers did not obey the spiritual people he met with their serious opposition and consequent disgrace. Hence the Sasanian Kings were more attentive to the clergy than to any other people and on account of the support which the priests received from the Sasanians their number increased day after day. The Sasanians utilised the spiritual people a good deal for the strengthening of their empire. They erected many fire-temples in every nook and cranny of the vast dominion of Iran and in every temple they accommodated a large number of priests.

p: 53

It is said that Khusro Pervez constructed a fire-temple and appointed twelve thousand priests in it to sing hymns and to offer prayers.[1]

Thus the Zoroastrian faith was the court religion. The priests tried their utmost to keep the deprived and afflicted masses quiet and to create an atmosphere in which the people should not feel their adversities.

The oppression by the priests and their unlimited powers were driving the people away from the Zoroastrian faith and the common man was desirous of finding for himself a religion other than that of the aristocracy.

The author of "Tarikh-i Ijtima'i Iran" writes: " ....forced by the pressure exerted by them (i.e. the priests) the Iranian people were making efforts to get rid of these hardships. For this very reason as opposed to the official creed of 'Mazdesti Zartushti' which was the religion of the government and the court and was called 'Behdin' two other schools of thought had also appeared amongst the Zoroastrians".[2]

Of course it was due to the severity and harsh treatment of the nobility and the priests that in Sasanian Iran different religions were appearing one after the other. Mazdak and before him Mani [3] had tried to bring about a change in the spiritual and religious conditions of the land but their efforts were not successful.

It was in about 497 A.D. that Mazdak came into prominence. He declared nullification of restricted ownership abrogation of polygamy and formation of harems to be the front piece of his reformatory programme. As soon as the deprived classes came to know about Mazdak's programme they flocked towards him and put a great revolution in motion under his leadership. The sole purpose of all these risings and movements was that the people should achieve the legitimate rights granted to them by Allah Almighty. Eventually Mazdak had to encounter the hostility of the spiritual people and the opposition of the army and this resulted in trouble and destruction for Iran.

p: 54

The Zoroastrian faith had also completely lost its reality in the last days of the Sasanians. Fire had been accorded so much sanctity that it was considered unlawful to hammer iron which had assumed the nature of fire for its having remained in its vicinity and most of the principles and beliefs of Zoroaster were given the shape of superstitions and fables. During this period the realities of this religion had given place to certain futile prosaic and absurd rites. Their formalities were continuously enlarged upon by the priests to increase their own strength. Fables and silly superstitions had penetrated into this religion to such an extent that they made even the spiritual people uneasy. And there were persons amongst the priests also who had realised the hollowness of Zoroastrian rites and beliefs and were divesting themselves of their burden.

From the time of Anushirwan onwards the path of reflection had been opened in Iran and as a result of the penetration of Greek and Indian learning as well as the contact of Zoroastrian beliefs with those of Christianity and other religions such reflection was gradually becoming more intense and was occasioning the awareness of the Iranian people. Hence more than at any other time they felt grieved on account of the superstitions and the vain and baseless propositions of the Zoroastrian faith.

At last the deterioration which had appeared in the Zoroastrian spiritual community and the superstitions and silly fables which had made inroads upon the Zoroastrian faith became the cause of diversity and dispersion in the beliefs and views of the Iranian nation. The appearance of these differences and the prevalence of various religions made the spirit of doubt and indecision run into the minds of the intellectuals and from them it gradually penetrated into others. Consequently the masses totally lost the absolute faith and the perfect belief which they possessed previously.

p: 55

Thus chaos irreligion and carelessness completely engulfed Iran. Barzuyah the famous physician of the Sasanian period has drawn a complete picture of the diversity of beliefs and disturbed conditions of Sasanian Iran in his introduction to 'Kalilah wa Damnah'.

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[1] Tarikh-i Tamaddun-i Sasani vol. I page 1

[2] Tarikh-i Ijtima'i-i Iran vol. II page 20

[3] Mani's religion was a combination of Zoroastrianism and Christianity. He had thus invented a new religion by the admixture of a local and a foreign faith.

WARS BETWEEN IRAN AND ROME

Buzurg Mehr who was an efficient and clever man and enjoyed the foremost position in the organization of Anushirwan saved Iran many times from grave dangers by dint of his prudent policy and experience. At times however crafty people and tale-bearers darkened his relations with Anushirwan and having instigated the King to take action against him got order of his arrest issued.

The same mischief-mongers poisoned Anushirwan's mind with regard to the Roman Emperor and instigated him to ignore the treaty of permanent peace and to attack the Romans in order to widen the frontiers of the country and weaken a dangerous rival. Eventually war started and in a comparatively short period the Iranian army conquered Syria put Antakia to fire and ravaged Asia Minor. After twenty years' warfare and bloodshed both the armies lost their strength and chances of success and after sustaining heavy losses made peace treaties twice and agreed to maintain their respective former frontiers subject to the condition that the Roman Government would require the Iranian Government with the payment of twenty thousand dinars annually.

p: 56

The extent to which such long wars and those too fought in areas far away from the centre of a country can do harm to the economy and industry of a nation can well be imagined. Keeping in view the resources of those times it was not possible to repair speedily the effects of such a long war. This war and invasion provided the preliminaries for the sure fall of the Iranian Government. The wounds of this war had not yet been healed when another seven years' war started. After ascending the throne the Roman Emperor Tibrius with a view to take revenge made severe attacks on Iran and threatened its very independence. The position of the two armies had not yet become decisive when Anushirwan breathed his last and his son Khusro Pervez ascended the throne. In the year 614 A.D. he too relying on some excuses attacked the Romans afresh and as a consequence of the very first onslaught conquered Syria Palestine and Africa; plundered Jersusalem set on fire their sacred places and destroyed various cities. After the blood of as many as ninety thousand Christians had been shed the war ended to the advantage of Iran.

At this juncture when the civilized world of that day was burning in the fire of war and tyranny the Prophet of Islam was entrusted the prophetic mission. It was 610 A.D. He conveyed the invigorating message of monotheism to the people and invited them to peace sincerity discipline and bliss.

Defeat of the God-worshipping Romans at the hands of fire-worshipping Iranians was taken to be a good omen by the polytheists of Mecca and they thought that they too would be in a position in the near future to subdue the worshippers of God (the Muslims). However the Muslims were very much concerned on hearing this news.

p: 57

The Prophet of Islam awaited the Divine revelation and then this verse was revealed: The Romans have been defeated in a neighbouring land. But in a few years they shall themselves gain victory. (Surah Rum 30:1).

The prediction made by the Holy Qur'an proved to be true in the year 627 A.D. when Hercules attacked and occupied Naynava. The two rivals were breathing the last breaths of their lives and were planning reinforcements. However as Allah Almighty had willed it that these two lands should be illuminated with the worship of One Allah and the depressed spirits of the Iranians and the Romans should be rejuvenated with the invigorating zephyr of Islam it was not long before Khusro Pervez was assassinated at the hands of his son Sheroya and the son too passed away after eight months of the death of his father. During this period Iran passed through such a chaos that after Sheroya there were nine rulers who ruled during four years (out of whom four were women) till at last the Muslim army put an end to this state of affairs. These conflicts spreading over fifty years were of course of great help for the advancement of the Muslim conquests.

Chapter 4

ANCESTORS OF THE PROPHET

1. IBRAHIM THE CHAMPION OF MONOTHEISM

1. IBRAHIM THE CHAMPION OF MONOTHEISM

The object of giving an account of the life of Prophet Ibrahim is to make known the ancestors of the Holy Prophet of Islam for he was a descendant of Ismail who was the son of Ibrahim. And as these two venerable persons as well as many other noble forefathers of the Holy Prophet have a great share in the history of Arabia and Islam it is appropriate that a brief account of their lives may be given here because the events of the history of Islam have like the rings of a chain a perfect relationship with the events simultaneous with the dawn of Islam as well as those which are somewhat remote from it. For example the protection and support accorded to the Holy Prophet by Abdul Muttalib the favours bestowed upon him and the hardships suffered for his sake by Abu Talib the greatness of the family of Hashim and the origin of the enmity of Bani Umayyah (with the family of Hashim) are considered to be very important events on which the history of Islam is based. It is for this reason that a chapter of the history of Islam is allocated to the discussion of these events.

p: 58

We come across some very prominent and outstanding incidents in the life of Prophet Ibrahim. It is not possible to forget his struggles to uphold the standard of monotheism and to uproot the worship of idols and men. Similarly his significant and elegant debates with star-worshippers which have been quoted by the Holy Qur'an with the object of education and guidance of the people are the most sublime instruction in monotheism for the seekers of truth.

WHY WORSHIP OF CREATURES CAME INTO EXISTENCE?

The factors which occasioned worship of created things by man were no other than his ignorance coupled with the absolute commandment of nature (which as a general rule believes in a cause for every phenomenon). On the one hand man being controlled by nature was obliged to take refuge in some locality to consider a subduing and powerful authority effective in creating this unique system and to imagine the beautiful paintings in the shape of different phenomena to be the work of a skilful painter. On the other hand however as he wanted to traverse this path without the guidance of the Prophets who are the Divine guides and have been appointed to ensure the completion of the spiritual journey of man he took refuge in inanimate objects as well as in animals and men before he could reach his real object (i.e. the One Allah) and find His trace by observing the signs of creation and seek refuge in Him. He therefore imagined that these were the objects which he had been seeking. In view of this the scholars have acknowledged after studying the Heavenly Books and the manner of the invitation extended to the people by the Prophets and their debates with them that the object of the Prophets was not to make people believe in the existence of the Creator of the Universe. In fact their basic role in the society was to free the people from the clutches of polytheism and idol-worship. In other words they had come to tell the people O people! Allah in whose existence all of us believe is this and not that; He is One and not two. Don't give the creatures the place of Allah. Accept Allah as One. Don't accept any partner or peer for Him .

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The sentence 'There is no god but Allah' bears a glowing testimony to what we have stated above. This was the starting point of the preaching of the Holy Prophet. The purport of this sentence is that there is no one fit to be worshipped except Allah and this necessitates that the existence of the Creator should evidently be an admitted fact so that the people may be invited to accept His 'Unity'and 'Oneness'. This sentence shows that in the eyes of the man of that time the first portion (i.e. the Universe has Allah) was not a matter of dispute. Besides this the study of Qur'anic stories and the conversations of the Prophets with the people clarify this point further.[1]

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[1] But what was their conception about the idols? Did they consider them fit for worship and to be only intermediaries or they thought that they too possessed power like Allah? This point is beyond our discussion for the present although the first view is firm and proved.

BIRTHPLACE OF PROPHET IBRAHIM

The Champion of 'Monotheism' was born in the environments which were permeated with the darkness of idol-worship and man-worship. Man expressed humility before the idols made with his own hands as well as before the stars. In these circumstances the thing which elevated the position of Ibrahim and crowned his efforts with success was his patience and fortitude.

The birth-place of the standard-bearer of monotheism was Babylon. The historians have considered it to be one of the seven wonders of the world and have recorded many narrations about the grandeur and magnificence of the civilisation of this territory. The famous Greek historian Herodote (484 - 425 B.C.) writes thus: "Babylon was constructed in the shape of a square. Each of its sides was 120 leagues long and its perimeter was 480 leagues".[1] This statement howmuchsoever exaggerated it may be reveals an undeniable reality (when read along with other writings).

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Of those attractive scenes and lofty palaces however nothing can be seen today except a mound of clay between the Tigris and the Euphrates which is covered by the silence of death. This silence is at times broken by the orientalists through the excavations which they carry out in order to gain information about the civilisation of the Babylonians.

Prophet Ibrahim the architect of monotheism was born during the reign of Namrud son of Kan'an. Although Namrud was an idol-worshipper he also claimed to be a deity and taking advantage of the ignorance of the credulous masses imposed his beliefs on them. It may appear somewhat strange that a person should be an idol-worshipper and should also claim to be a deity. However the Holy Qur'an provides us an example of this belief. When Musa son of Imran shook Firaun's authority with his forceful logic and gave the lie to him in a public gathering the supporters of Firaun said to him: Will you allow Musa and his people to commit evil in the land and to forsake you and your gods? (Surah al--A'raf 7 125).

It is well known that Firaun claimed to be a god and used to declare "I am your supreme lord". However this verse shows that notwithstanding his belief and claim he was also an idol-worshipper.

The greatest defence which Namrud acquired was the procurement of the support of astrologers and fortune-tellers who were considered to be the sages of that age. It goes without saying that their humility before Namrud paved the way for the exploitation of the down-trodden and ignorant classes by him. Moreover some relatives of Ibrahim (for example Azar who made idols and was also conversant with astrology) were amongst the followers of Namrud. This in itself was a great obstacle for lbrahim for besides having to struggle against the general beliefs he had to face the opposition of his own Kith and Kin.

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Namrud had plunged into the sea of superstitious beliefs. He had spread the carpet of feasting and drinking when the astrologers rang the first bell of danger and said "Your government will tumble down through a person who is the son of this soil". The latent fears of Namrud were awakened and he said. "Is he born yet or not?" the astrologers replied that he was not yet born. He then ordered the separation of women and men (during the night in which according to the prediction and calculations of the astrologers conception of his fell enemy was to take place). In spite of this however his executioners killed the male infants. The midwives were ordered to send reports about the particulars of new-born children to a special office.

The same night conception of Ibrahim took place. His mother became pregnant and like the mother of Musa son of lmran she kept the fact of her pregnancy secret till the very end. After delivery she resorted to a cave situated near the town in order to protect the life of her dear child. She left her son in a corner of the cave and visited it during day or night as the circumstances would permit. With the passage of time Namrud acquired peace of mind as a result of this oppression and believed that he had slaughtered the enemy of his throne and government.

Ibrahim spent thirteen years of his life in the cave which had a narrow passage and then his mother brought him out. When he appeared amongst the people the supporters of Namrud felt that he was a stranger. Thereupon his mother said This is my son. He was born before the prediction made by the astrologers .[2]

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When Ibrahim came out of the cave he strengthened his innate belief in monotheism by observing the earth and the sky the shining of the stars and the verdure of the trees. He witnessed a strange and astonishing society. He saw a group of persons who behaved in a very stupid manner vis-a-vis the shining of the stars. He also saw some people whose level of intelligence was even lower than other. They made idols with their own hands and then worshipped them. The worst of all these things was that a man taking undue advantage of the ignorance and foolishness of the people claimed to be their god and declared himself to be the one who had given life to all the beings and foreordained all events.

Prophet Ibrahim was obliged to prepare himself to combat on these three different fronts. The Holy Qur'an has narrated the story of his campaigns in these three fronts.

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[1] Qamus-i Kitab-i Muqaddas root 'Babal'.

[2] Tafsir-i Burhan vol. 1 page 535.

IBRAHIM'S CAMPAIGN AGAINST IDOL-WORSHIP

The darkness of idol-worship had complereIy permeated throughout Babylon the bitth-place of Prophet Ibrahim. Numerous terrestrial and celestial gods had deprived different classes of the society of their reason and intellect. Some of these people considered the gods as possessing power themselves whereas others treated them to be intermediaries for obtaining favours of the Almighty Allah.

SECRET OF POLYTHEISM

The Arabs before the advent of Islam believed that every being and every phenomenon must have an independent cause and that the One Allah is not competent to create all of them. This was because of the fact that at that time science had not discovered the relationship which exists between different natural beings and phenomena and various events. Consequently those people imagined all beings and various natural phenomena to be separate from and unconnected with one another. On this account they were obliged to assume an indepedent god for every phenomenon like rain and snow earthquake and death famine and dearth peace and tranquillity cruelty and blood shed etc. They had no idea of the fact that the entire Universe is a unity and all its parts are interconnected and everyone of them has a reciprocal effect on another.

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The crude human intellect of those days had not yet realised the secret of worshipping the One Allah and was not aware that Allah who rules over the Universe is an Omnipotent and Omniscient Lord. He is the Creator who is free from every weakness and defect. His power perfection knowledge and wisdom are unlimited. He is above everything which may be assumed for Him. There is no accomplishment which He does not possess. There is no possibility which He cannot create. He is the One Allah who is competent to create all beings and phenomena without the help of any person and without any supports. He can create other beings and phenomena in the same manner in which He has created the present ones. Hence according to reason the existence of the mediation of an authority which may detract from the independence of the will of the peerless Allah is unacceptable.

The belief that the Universe has two creators one of whom is the origin of good and light; and the other is the source of evil and darkness is also not acceptable. And the belief about there having been mediation by some persons like Maryam and 'Isa in the matter of the creation of the Universe or the administration of the physical world having been entrusted to a human being is a manifestation of polytheism and exaggeration. A monotheist is one who with due deference to the Prophets and the saints preserves the position of The Creator of the Universe and does not attribute the work of one to the other.

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The method employed by the Prophets for the teaching and guidance of the people is that of logic and reason because they are concerned with the minds of the people. They desire to set up a government which should be established on the basis of faith knowledge and justice and such a government cannot be established by means of violence warfare and bloodshed. We should therefore differentiate between the goverments of the Prophets and the governments of Firouns and Narnruds. The object of the second group is security of their rule and government by all possible means although their State may break down after their death. On the other hand the divine people wish to set up a government which should have its way in private as well as in public and whether the ruler is strong or weak at any particular time or is alive or dead. Such an object cannot of course be achieved by use of force and pressure.

In the first instance Ibrahim campaigned against the faith of his kith and kin (viz. idol-worship) amongst whom Azar occupied the top-most position. He had not yet achieved complete success in this field when he had to fight at another sphere of operations. The level of thinking of this second group was somewhat higher and clearer than that of the first for as opposed to the religion of the relatives of Ibrahim these people had discarded the mean and worthless terrestrial beings and they worshipped the heavenly stars. While campaigning against star-worship Ibrahim stated in simple words a number of philosophical and scientific truths which had not yet been conceived by the people of that age and even today his arguments command admiration of the scholars well-versed in the arts of logic and debate. Above all this the Holy Qur'an has also quoted the arguments of Ibrahim and the author of the present book has the honour to reproduce them in these pages with brief explanations.

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After coming out of the cave Ibrahim in order to guide the people fixed his eyes one night on the sky at the time of sunset and remained awake till sunset on the following day. During these twenty four hours he debated and conversed with three groups and disproved their beliefs with strong arguments.

The darkness of night approached and hid all signs of existence. The bright star 'Venus' appeared from a corner of the horizon. In order to win the hearts of the Venus-worshippers Ibrahim concurred with them and affected to follow their line and said: "It is my nourisher" However when the star set and disappeared in a corner he said "I cannot accept a god which sets". With this cogent reasoning he rejected the belief of the Venus-worshippers and proved its falsity.

At the next stage his eyes fell on the luminous disc of the moon with its fascinating brilliance and beauty. With a view to win the hearts of the moon-worshippers he outwardly admitted its being the deity but later tore this belief also to pieces with his forceful logic. It so happened that the strong hand of Providence made the moon also sink below the horizon and its light and lustre disappeared from the face of the earth. Ibrahim without injuring the sentiments of the moon-worshippers said with truthful insight "If my real Lord does not guide me I shall surely go astray because this god sets like the stars and is in itself subject to a constant order and system shaped by someone else".

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The darkness of the night came to an end and the sun appeared tearing the bosom of the horizon and began scattering its golden rays on the face of earth. The sun-worshippers turned their faces to their deity. In order to observe the rules of debate Ibrahim also acknowledged its god-hood. However the setting of the sun confirmed its being subservient to the general system of the Universe and Ibrahim explicitly repudiated its being fit for worship. (Vide Surah al-An'am 6:75 - 79)

There is no doubt about the fact that while staying in the cave Ibrahim had through an extraordinary divine favour acquired from the fountain of the Invisible that innate knowledge about monotheism which is a speciality of the Prophets. However after perusal and study of these celestial bodies he gave that knowledge the shape of argument. Thus besides showing the right path to the misguided people and providing them with a means of guidance he has left behind a store of invaluable knowledge to be utilised by those who are in search of truth and reality.

lBRAHIM'S LOGIC EXPLAINED

Ibrahim was well aware that Allah rules over the Universe but the question was whether that source of power consisted of these celestial bodies or it was an Omnipotent Being superior to them. After studying the conditions of these itinerant bodies he found that these bright and luminous beings are themselves subject to rising setting decline and disappearance in accordance with a particular system and they rotate on an unalterable path and this in itself proves that they are subservient to the will of someone else and a greater and stronger power controls them and makes them rotate in a specified orbit.

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Let us clarify the point further: The Universe entirely consists of 'Possibilities' and 'Needs'. Various creatures and natural phenomena are never independent of the Almighty. They need an Omniscient Allah during every second of day and night - the Allah who should not at any moment be oblivious of their needs. Now as regards the celestial bodies they are present and useful at one time and absent and useless at another. Such beings do not possess the necessary competence to be the gods of other beings and to meet their needs and requirements.

This theory may be propounded in the shape of various theoretical and philosophical statements. For example we may say 'These celestial bodies are in motion and move on their respective axes. In case their movement is without any option and under compulsion there must he a stronger hand that controls them. And if their movement is in accordance with their own free will it will have to be seen as to what the object of this movement is. If they are moving to achieve perfection and are like a seed which rises from the earth to grow into a tree and to bear fruit this will necessarily mean that they need a kind powerful wise and independent being who should remove their short-comings and endow them with the quality of perfection. But if their movement and rotation tends towards weakness and deficiency and they are just like a person who is past his prime and has entered the wrong side of age then their movement will be an inclination towards decline and destruction and will not at all accord with the position of the deity who should rule the world and all that it contains.

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METHOD OF DISCUSSION AND DEBATE ADOPTED BY THE PROPHETS

The history of the Prophets shows that they commenced their reformating programme by first inviting their relatives to the true path and later they extended the 'invitation' to others. This is just what the Prophet of Islam did immediately after his appointment to the prophetic mission. First of all he invited his own people to Islam and laid the foundation of his 'call' on their reformation in compliance with the Divine commandment Admonish your nearest kinsfolk (Surah al-Shu'ara 26:214)

Ibrahim also adopted the same method and first undertook the reformation of his own kinsfold. Azar enjoyed a very high position amongst his relatives because besides being an educated man and an artist he was an expert astrologer. In the court of Namrud his word was treated to be authoritative and his astrological conclusions were accepted by all the courtiers to be correct.

Ibrahim was aware that if he could win over Azar to his side he would have captured the strongest fortress of the idol-worshippers. He therefore advised him in the best possible manner not to worship inanimate things. For some reasons however Azar did not accept the message and advice of his nephew Ibrahim. So far as we are concerned however the most important thing in this episode is the method of invitation and the manner of conversation of Ibrahim with Azar. Deep and careful study of the Qur'anic verses in which this conversation has been reproduced makes the method of argument and invitation adopted by the Prophets abundantly clear. Now let us see in which way Ibrahim invited Azar to the true path:

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He said to his uncle: Father! how can you serve a worthless idol a thing that can neither see nor hear?

Father the truth has been revealed to me about many mysteries; therefore follow me that I may guide you along an even path.

Father do not worship Satan; for he has rebelled against the Lord of Mercy.

Father I fear that Allah's scourge will fall upon you and you will become one of Satan's minions. (Surah Maryam 19:44 - 47)

In reply to Ibrahim's invitation Azar said "Do you dare renounce my gods Ibrahim? Desist from this folly or you shall be stoned to death. Begone from my house immediately"

Magnanimous Ibrahim bore this ill-speaking on the part of Azar with perfect calmness and replied "Peace be on you. I shall implore my Lord to forgive you".

Could there be a reply more appropriate and a conversation more mild and agreeable than these words of Ibrahim?

WAS AZAR THE FATHER OF IBRAHIM?

The above quoted verses as well as 15th verse of Surah Tawbah and 14th verse of Surah al-Mumtahinah would give the impression that Azar was related to Ibrahim in the capacity of father and Ibrahim too has addressed him as 'father'. However the idol-worshipper Azar's being his father is not in harmony with the concensus of opinion of the Shi'ah scholars who believe that the forefathers of the Holy Prophet of Islam as well as all other Prophets were pious people who believed in monotheism. The distinguished Shi'ah scholar Shaykh Mufid has in his exquisite book [1] considered this proposition to be one on which all the Shi'ah scholars are unanimous and a large number of Sunni scholars have also concurred with them in holding this belief. The question therefore arises as to what is the real import of the apparent contents of the aforesaid verses and how this problem should be solved.

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Many commentators of the Holy Qur'an assert that although the word 'Ab' is usually used in Arabic to mean 'father' this meaning is not exclusive and at times it has been used in the Arabic lexicon and in the Qurtanic terminology to mean 'uncle' as well. For example in the following verse the word 'Ab' stands for 'uncle'.

Were you present when death came to Ya'qub? He said to his children: 'What will you worship when l am gone' They replied: We will worship your Allah and the Allah of your forefathers (Aba) Ibrahim and Isma'il and Ishaq: He is the only Lord. To Him we have surrendered ourselves. (Surah Baqarah 2: 132).

There is no doubt about the fact that Isma'il was the uncle of Ya'qub and not his father because Ya'qub was the son of Ishaq who was the brother of Isma'il. However inspite of this the children of Ya'qub have mentioned him as father of Ya'qub i.e. they have called him 'Ab' vis-a-vis Ya'qub. As this word carries two meanings it is possible that in the verses related to Azar having been invited to the right path by Ibrahim it may mean 'uncle' and especially so in view of the consensus of opinion mentioned by Shaykh Mufid. And possibly Ibrahim called him 'father' because he had acted as his guardian for quite a long time and he (Ibrahim) looked upon him as if he were his father.

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[1] Awa'il al-Maqalat page 12.

AZAR IN THE HOLY QUR'AN

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With a view to find out the verdict of the Qurtan about the relationship between Ibrahim and Azar we should like to invite the attention of the reader to the explanation of two verses:

1. As a consequence of the strenuous efforts made by the Holy Prophet Arabia was illuminated with the light of Islam. Most of the people embraced this religion whole-heartedly and realized that polytheism and idol-worship would end in Hell and torture. Although they were happy to have come within the fold of the true faith they felt grieved to recollect that their fathers and mothers were idol-worshippers. Hearing of the verses which depict the plight of the polytheists on the Day of Judgment weighed heavily on them. To get rid of this mental torture they requested the Holy Prophet to pray to Allah for the forgiveness of their forefathers who had died as infidels in the same manner in which Ibrahim had prayed for Azar.

The following verses were however revealed in reply to their request

It is not for the Prophet or the believers to beg forgiveness for idolaters even though they be related to them after it has become manifest that they have earned the punishment of Hell. Ibrahim prayed for his father only to fulfill a promise he had made him. But when he realized that he was an enemy of Allah he disowned him. Yet Ibrahim was a compassionate and tender-hearted man. (Surah Tawbah 9:113 - 114)

It would appear more probable that the conversation of Ibrahim with Azar and his promising the latter to pray for his forgiveness which ended in the severance of their mutual connections and renouncement of each other took place when Ibrahim was young i.e. at a time when he was still residing in Babylon and had not yet intended to go to Palestine Egypt and the Hijaz. After studying this verse it may be concluded that when Azar persisted in his infidelity and idol-worship Ibrahim while still young severed his connections with him and never thought of him thereafter.

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2. During the last part of his life i.e. when he grew old Ibrahim after discharging a great responsibility (i.e. construction of the Ka'bah) and bringing his wife and child to the dry desert of Mecca prayed from the core of his heart for a number of persons including his parents and sought acceptance of his supplication from Allah. At that time he prayed thus:

'Forgive me Lord and forgive my parents and all the faithful (believers) on the Day of Reckoning. (Surah Ibrahim 14 41)

These verses clearly show that the ceremony of supplication took place after the completion of the construction of the Ka'bah when Ibrahim was passing through his old age. If the father for whom he has shown love and devotion in this verse and he prayed for him is the same Azar it would mean that Ibrahim did not remain dissociated from him throughout his life and at times also prayed for him whereas the verse which was revealed in reply to the request of the descendants of the polytheists makes it clear that after some time when he was still young Ibrahim broke off all connections with Azar and kept aloof from him - and aloofness and renouncement means ceasing to be on speaking terms lack of attention and abandoning supplications for each other's salvation.

When these two verses are read together it becomes clear that the person whom Ibrahim came to hate in his young age and with whom he broke off all ties of interest and love was a person other than that whom he remembered till his old age and prayed for his forgiveness and salvation.[1]

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[1] Majma'ul Bayan vol. III page 319 and al-Mizan vol. Vll page 170.

IBRAHIM THE IDOL-BREAKER

The time of the festival approached and the neglectful people of Babylon left for the jungle to get rid of their fatigue and to reinforce their faculties and perform the ceremonies of the festival. Thus the city became empty of them. The antecedents of Ibrahim and his reproaches and criticisms had made them anxious. They therefore insisted that Ibrahim should also go with them and partake in the ceremonies of the festival. However their proposal rather insistence coincided with Ibrahim's illness. In reply to their suggestion therefore he said that he was ill and would not participate in the ceremonies of the festival.

Indeed that was a day of joy for the one who was a monotheist as well as for the polytheists. For the polytheists it meant the celebration of a very old festival and they had gone to the foot of the mountain and in green fields to carry out the ceremonies of the festival and to revive the custom of their forefathers. And for the champion of the monotheism also it was the august day of the first unprecedented festival for which he had longed for quite some time so that the city should be cleared of the opponents and he should break up the manifestations of infidelity and polytheism.

The last group of the people left the city Ibrahim considered this time to be very opportune and with a heart imbued with confidence and faith in Allah he entered the idol temple. He saw from a distance the sculptured pieces of wood and the lifeless idols. He thought of the enormous food which the idol-worshippers used to bring to their temples as offerings to seek blessing and went in search of it. He took a morsel of bread in his hand and pointing it to the idols said jeeringly Why don't you eat these all kinds of foodstuff? Evidently the artificial gods of the polytheists did not posses power to make the slightest movement not to talk of their being able to eat anything. A deathlike silence prevailed over the spacious hall of the idol-temple which was broken only by the heavy blows which Ibrahim was giving on the hands feet and bodies of the idols. He broke all the idols till a big mound of broken and shattered pieces of wood and metal was formed in the middle of the temple. However he spared the biggest idol and placed the axe on its shoulder. This he did purposely. He knew that on return from the jungle the polytheists would understand the actual position and would regard the apparent situation as artificial and unreal because they would never believe that these blows had been given to the other idols by the big idol which possessed no power at all to move or do anything and in that event he (Ibrahim) would utilise the situation for his 'call' and say that when according to their own admission that idol did not possess the least power how could it be possible that it should be the lord of the world?

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The sun moved to the horizon and ceased to throw light on the world. At that time the people began returning to the city in groups. Time for performing the ceremonies of idol-worship arrived and a group of the idolaters entered the temple. The unexpected scene which clearly showed the disgrace and humility of their gods attracted the attention of all of them. There was deathlike silence in the atmosphere of the temple and everyone was impatient. One of them however broke the silence and said ' Who has committed this mischief?" Condemnation of the idols by Ibrahim in the past and his open criticism of idol-worship convinced them that it was only he who had done all this. A tribunal was therefore set up under the supervision of Namrud and young Ibrahim and his mother were brought up for trial.

The mother was charged with the offence of concealing the birth of her child and not reporting it to the special office of government so that he could eventually be executed. She gave this reply to the charge "I found that as a result of the final decision of the government of the time (i.e. killing the children) the human race in this country was being exterminated. I did not inform the government office about my son because I wanted to see how he progressed in the future. In the event of his proving to be the same person about whom the foretellers (priests) had predicted there would have been a reason for me to inform the police so that they might desist from shedding the blood of other children. And if he does not happen to be that person then I have saved a young man of this country from death". The mother's argument fully satisfied the judges.

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Now Ibrahim was cross-examined. He said "The state of affairs would show that the big idol has struck all these blows and if the idols possess power of speech you had better ask him". This vague reply tainted with ridicule and contempt was meant to serve another purpose; and that purpose was that Ibrahim was sure that those people would say in reply Ibrahim! You are well aware that these idols do not possess power of speech. They do not also have any will or intellect . In that event Ibrahim could invite the attention of the tribunal to one basic point. By chance the same thing happened which Ibrahim had anticipated. He spoke thus with reference to the statement of those people which testified the weakness humility and helplessness of the idols "If they are in fact like that as you describe them then why do you worship them and why do you pray to them to grant your requests?"

Ignorance obstinacy and blind imitation ruled the hearts and intellects of the judges and in the face of irrefutable reply of Ibrahim they found no alternative but to give a judgement which conformed with the wishes of the government of the time. They therefore decided that Ibrahim should be burnt alive. A large stack was set on fire and the champion of Divine monotheism was thrown into the blazing.flames. However Almighty Allah extended His hand of Kindness and blessing towards Ibrahim and kept him immune from harm. He (Allah) converted the artificial hell made by man into a green and pleasant garden.[1] (Vide Surah al-Anbiya 21:51 - 70).

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INSTRUCTIVE POINTS OF THIS NARRATIVE

Although the Jews claim to be the forerunners of the Caravan of those who believe in monotheism this story was not well-known amongst them and it does not find place in their present Torah. Amongst the Heavenly Books it is only the Holy Qur 'an which has undertaken to narrate it. We therefore mention below some instructive points of this story which are in fact the very points which the Holy Qurtan wishes to bring home to the people by narrating the stories of various Prophets.

1. This story is a clear proof of the extraordinary valour and bravery of the friend of Allah (Ibrahim). His determination about breaking the idols and destroying the manifestations and means of polytheism was not a thing which could remain hidden from the people of Namrud because by his reproaches and criticism he had already made his extreme aversion and hatred for idol-worship quite manifest and he used to say openly and clearly: "If you do not desist from your shameful practice I will take a decision about them". And on the day people went to the jungle he openly said: By the Lord' I will overthrow your idols as soon as you have turned your backs. (Surah Anbiya 21:57)

Allamah Majlisi quotes thus from Imam Sadiq: 'The movement and campaign of one person against the rows of the infidels whose number exceeded a few thousands is a living proof of the valour and perseverance of Ibrahim who did not harbour any fear in his mind in the path of the exaltation of Allah's name and strengthening the base of the worship of One Allah ".[1]

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2. While the smashing blows by Ibrahim were apparently an armed and hostile revolt but as is evident from his talk with the judges this movement had actually a propagandistic aspect because he considered the last means of awakening the wisdom and conscience of those people to be that he should break all the idols except the big one and place the axe on its shoulder so that they might make further investigations into the causes of this incident. And as eventually they would consider the scene to be a mere mockery and would not at all believe that the blows had been struck by the big idol he could utilise this thing for propagating his views and say: "According to your own admission this big idol does not possess the least power so why do you worship it?" This shows that from the very beginning the Prophets have used only logic and argument as their sharp weapons which have always borne results. Or else what was the value of breaking a few idols as compared with the danger to life with which Ibrahim was confronted? It was necessary that this act should have carried a great service for his mission in its lap so that it should have been admirable for him from the point of view of reason to sacrifice his life for it.

3. Ibrahim was aware that as a consequence of this act his life would be finished. As a rule therefore he should have become agitated or should have hidden himself somewhere or at least refrained from witticism and humour. Nevertheless however he had complete control over his spirits and nerves. For example when he entered the idol-temple he approached every idol and asked it mockingly to eat food. After becoming desperate he reduced the idol-temple to a heap or broken wood and treated all this as something quite ordinary as if it were not to be followed by his own death or execution. When he appeared before the tribunal he replied to their questioning "Surely (some doer) has done it the chief of them is this therefore ask them it they can speak.". Such witticism before the court could be expected only from a person who was prepared for all eventualities and did not feel any fear or awe in his heart.

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Even more wonderful is the study of the attitude of mind of Ibrahim at the time when he was stationed on the catapult and knew it for certain that he would soon find himself amidst the flames of fire - the fire for which fire-wood had been collected by the people of Babylon to perform a sacred religious rite and whose flames were rising with such intensity that even a falcon dared not fly around or above it. Just at that time the celestial angel (Archangel Jibreel) descended from the heavens expressed his readiness to render him (Ibrahim) every assistance and said: "Tell me about your heart's desire". Ibrahim replied to him: "I do have a desire. However it cannot be made known to you but to my Lord only".[2] This reply clearly manifests the nobility and spiritual greatness of Ibrahim.

In a big palace situated a few miles away from the scene of the fire Namrud waited anxiously and impatiently for venegeance being wreaked upon Ibrahim and wished to see how the flames of fire devoured him. The catapult was put into operation. With one jerk the body of the champion of Divine monotheism fell into the fire. However the penetrating will of the Lord of Ibrahim converted that artificial hell into a garden in a manner which surprised them all so much so that Namrud turned involuntarily to Azar and said ''lbrahim's Lord holds him dear"[3]

In spite of all these incidents Ibrahim could not preach his faith with complete freedom. Eventually the government of the time decided after holding consultations to send him in exile. This opened a new chapter in his life and became the beginning of his journeys to Syria Palestine Egypt and the Hijaz.

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. V page 130 Company Print.

[2] al-'Uyun page 136; Amali Saduq page 274 and Bihirul Anwar page 35.

[3] Tafsir-i Burhan vol. Ill page 64.

A NEW CHAPTER IN THE LIFE OF IBRAHlM

The court of justice in Babylon banished Ibrahim from the country and he was forced to quit his birth place and to proceed to Egypt and Palestine. 'Amaliqa' who ruled those territories accorded him a warm reception and gave him many presents one of them being a slave-girl named Hajar.

Ibrahim's wife Sarah had not borne any child till that time and the above-mentioned developments stimulated her sentiments for her honourable husband. She therefore suggested to Ibrahim to marry Hajar so that possibly she might be blessed with a son who should become a source of their joy and happiness. The marriage took place and after some time Hajar gave birth to a son who was named Isma'il. It was not long before Sarah too become pregnant; and bore a son who was given the name of Ishaq.[1]

After some time Ibrahim as commanded by Allah took Isma'il and his mother Hajar towards south (Makkah) and stationed them in an unknown valley. This valley was uninhabitated and only the caravans which travelled from Syria to Yemen and vice versa pitched their tents there. For the remaining days of the year this place remained absolutely isolated and was only a burning desert like other parts of Arabia.

Residence at such a dreadful place was very trying for a woman who had spent her days in the the territories of Amaliqa.

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The scorching heat of the desert and its extremely hot winds presented the scene of death before her eyes. Ibrahim himself was also much conerned about these developments. While he was holding the bridle of his riding animal with the intention of saying good bye to his wife and child a flood of tears began to flow from his eyes and he said to Hajar: "O Hajar! All this has been done according to the command of the Almighty and His command cannot be defied. Rely on Allah's blessings and rest assured that He will not humiliate us". Then he prayed to Allah in these words with perfect concentration: Lord! Make this a land of peace and bestow plenty upon its people those of them that believe In Allab and the Last Day. (Surah Baqarah 2:126)

When he was descending the hill he looked back and prayed to Allah to shower His blessings on them.

Although apparently this journey was very difficlit and vexatious but later it became evident that it carried momentous happenings in its lap amongst them being the construction of the Ka'bah which provided a great base for the monotheists flying the flag of the worship of One Allah in Arabia and laying the foundation of a great religious movement which was to take shape in future viz. the great movement which came into operation in this land through the last of the Prophets.

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[1] Sa'dus Su'ud pp. 41 - 42 and Biharul Anwar vol. XII page 118.

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HOW THE FOUNTAIN OF ZAM-ZAM CAME INTO EXISTENCE?

Ibrahim took the bridle of his riding animal and with tears in his eyes bade farewell to the land of Makkah as well as Hajar and his son. After a short time however food and water available with the child and his mother was exhausted and the breast of Hajar also became dry. The condition of her son too began to deteriorate. A flood of tears flowed from the eyes of the banished mother and moistened her lap. In utter confusion she got up on her feet and reached the Safa mountain. From there she saw the spectacle of a mirage near Marwa mountain and ran towards it. However the bitterness of the deceptive landscape disappointed her very much. The lamentations and uneasiness of her dear child made her run more fanatically in all directions

Thus she ran seven times between the mountains of Safa and Marwa to locate water but eventually lost all hopes and returned to her son.

The child must have reached his last breath by that time and must have lost the capacity of weeping or crying any more. However at that very moment the prayer of Ibrahim was granted. The tired and weary mother saw that limpid water had begun gushing out from beneath the feet of Isma'il. The mother who was looking towards the last breaths of her son and believed that he would pass away after a few moments felt extremely happy on seeing this water. Both the mother and the son drank their fill and the clouds of despair and hopelessness which had cast their shadow on their lives were driven away by the zephyr of Divine blessings.[1]

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The appearance of this fountain which is called "Zam Zam" since that day made the birds of air fly over it and spread their broad wings like a cover on the heads of the afflicted mother and son. People of a tribe named "Jarham" who lived at a distance from this valley saw the birds going to and tro and came to the conclusion that water had become available in the vicinity. They sent two of their men to verify the position. After a good deal of wandering those persons reached the centre of Divine blessing. When they drew near they saw a woman and a child sitting by the side of a pool of water. Thev returned immediately and reported the matter to the chiefs of their tribe. The members of that tribe soon pitched their tents around this blessed fountain and Hajar was thus relieved of the hardship and bitterness of loneliness which she had been suffering. The growth and perfect sociability of Isma'il became the cause of his making a matrimonial alliance with the Jarham tribe and thus benefit from their support and society. Isma'il soon married a girl of that tribe. From their mother's side therefore his descendants are related to that tribe.

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[1] Tafsir-i Qummi page 52 and Biharul Anwar vol. Xll page 100.

THEY MEET AGAIN

After leaving his dear son and wife in the land of Makkah under the command of Allah Almighty Ibrahim thought at times of going there to see his son. During one of his journeys which was perhaps his first journey he reached Makkah and found that his son was not present in his house. By that time Isma'il had grown up to manhood and had married a girl of the Jarham tribe. Ibrahim asked Isma'il's wife "Where is your husband?" She replied He is gone out for hunting . Then he asked her whether she had anything to eat. To this she replied in the negative.

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Ibrahim was very much grieved to observe the rudeness and unkindness of his son's wife and said to her "When Isma'il returns home convey my greetings to him and tell him to change the threshold of his house" He then returned to his destination.

When Isma'il returned he smelt the odour of his father and realised from his wife's account that the man who had visited his house was Ibrahim himself. He also understood from the message left by his father that he had desired him to divorce his present wife and choose another because he did not consider his present wife to be a suitable partner of his life.[1]

It may perhaps be asked as to why after having performed so long a journey Ibrahim should not have waited till the return of his son from hunting and why he went back without seeing him. The historians explain that he returned hastilv because he had made a promise to Sarah that he would not stay there longer and his early return was with a view to keep the promise. After this journey he was also ordered by Allah Almighty to perform another journey to Makkah to construct the Ka'bah there and to attract to that point the hearts of those who believe in monotheism.

The Holy Qur'an testified that in the last days of the life of Ibrahim Makkah had grown into a city because having performed his task he had prayed to Allah in the following words:

Lord! Make this (Makkak) a land of safety. Preserve me and my descendants from worshipping idols. (Surah Abraham 14:35)

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And at the time of his arrival in the desert of Makkah he bad prayed: Lord! make this a land of peace (Surah Baqarah 2: 126).

In order to complete the discussion it would have been appropriate to narrate the circumstances in which the Ka'bah was constructed and also to give a brief history of it. However lest we should minimise our real object we give below the particulars of some of the reverenced forefathers of the Holy Prophet who are well-known in history.

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. II page 112 as quoted from Qassas-i Anbiya.

2. QUSAYY SON OF KILAB

The following are the names of the father and forefathers of the Holy Prophet in upward order:

Abdullah Abdul Muttalib Hashim Abd-i Manaf Qusayy Kilab Marra Ka'b Loo Ghalib Fahr Malik Nazar Kananah Khuzamah Mudrakah Ilyas Mazar Nazar Ma'd and Adnan.[1]

The genealogy of the Holy Prophet up to Ma'd son of Adnan is as reproduced above. However there is a difference of opinion with regard to the number and names of intermediate persons from Adnan upwards upto Isma'il and according to the report quoted by Ibn Abbas from the Holy Prophet when the genealogy of the Holy Prophet reaches Adnan one should not proceed beyond it because whenever the Holy Prophet himself mentioned the names of his forefathers he did not proceed beyond Adnan and ordered that other too should not narrate the names of his other forefathers upto Isma'il. He also said that what was commonly known amongst the Arabs regarding that portion of the pedigree was not correct. Hence we have also quoted that portion of his genealogy which is admittedly correct and now proceed to give detailed particulars of some of the persons concerned.

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The above-mentioned persons are well-known in the history of Arabia and the history of Islam too has relationship with some of them. Hence we give below an account of the lives of those from Qusayy upto the reverenced father of the Holy Prophet (Abdullah) and refrain from narrating the events of the lives of others who have no concern with the matter under discussion.[2]

Qusayy was the fourth ancestor of the Prophet of Islam. His mother Fatima married Kilab and gave birth to two children named 'Zohrah' and 'Qusayy.' The second of them was still an infant when Fatima's husband died. She then married another man named Rabi'a and accompanied him to Syria. Qusayy received fatherly support from Rabi'a till differences arose between him and Rabi'a's tribe as a result of which they drove him away beyond the frontiers of their home-land. His mother was touched by the treatment meted out to him and decided to send him back to Makkah. The hand of destiny pulled him to Makkah. His hidden qualities enabled him to establish his superiority over the Makkans and especially the tribe of Quraysh. Within a short time he acquired the high governmental offices in Makkah and also became the custodian of the keys of the Ka'bah and the undisputed ruler of that city. Many remarkable events are associated with his name. One of these was that he encouraged the people to construct a house with the name of 'Darun Nadwah' adjacent to the Ka'bah and thus founded a Council Hall for the Arabs so that their dignitaries and chiefs might sit together in this public centre and solve their problems. He died in the 5th A.D. and left behind two sons named Abdud Dar and Abd Manaf.

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[1] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II pp. 1 and 21.

[2] Their lives have been discussed by Ibn Athir in Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II pp. 15 - 21.

3. ABD MANAF

He was the third ancestor of the Holy Prophet. His name was Mughirah and he enjoyed the title of 'Qamar al-Bat'ha' (the moon of Bat'ha). He was younger than his brother Abdud Dar but enjoyed great respect amongst the people. He was very pious. He invited people to virtue behaved well with them and maintained very good relations with his kinsfolk. Although he enjoyed a very honourable position in the society he never became a rival of his brother Abdud Dar in the matter of acquisition of high offices connected with the Ka'bah. According to the will of Qusayy the rulership rested with Abdud Dar but when the two brothers died their sons began quarrelling for various offices. After a good deal of contention and conflict they eventually got reconciled and divided the positions amongst themselves.

It was decided that the custodianship of the Ka'bah and the chairmanship of 'Darun Nadwah' would remain with the children of Abdud Dar and the functions of providing drinking water to the pilgrims and their entertainment would be performed by the sons of Abd Manaf. This division of offices was still intact at the time of the advent of Islam.[1]

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[1] lt is an admitted fact that the offices related to the Ka'bah did not exist when the sanctuary was constructed and they came into existence gradually according to the exigencies of time. Till the advent of Islam these offices were divided into four parts:

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(1) Custodianship of the Ka'bah and holding charge of its keys

(2) Providing water to the pilgrims during Haj season

(3) Providing food to the pilgrims.

(4) Chiefship of the people of Makkah standard bearership and command of the army.

4. HASHIM

4. HASHIM

He was the second forefather of the Holy Prophet. His real name was 'Amr and he enjoyed the title of 'Ala. He and Abd Shams were twins and their two other brothers were Muttalib and Nawfal. It is narrated by the historians that at the time of the birth of Hashim and Abd Shams a finger of the former was stuck on the forehead of the latter. Blood flowed profusely when they were separated from each other and the people took this occurrence to be a bad omen.[1]

Halabi writes in his 'Seerah' that this bad omen later manifested its effect because after the advent of Islam fierce battles were fought between Bani Abbas who were the decendants of Hashim and Bani Umayyah who claimed their descent from Abd Shams.[2]

This shows that the writer of 'Seerah' has completely ignored the tragic events connected with the descendants of Ali although the bloody drama which Bani Umayyah staged by shedding the pure blood of the progeny of the Holy Prophet is a glaring evidence of the existence of enmity between the two families. It is not however known as to why the said writer has failed to mention these events.

One of the particular points about the descendants of Abd Manaf which are reflected in the battle-cries and literature of Arabia is that they died at different places viz. Hashim died in Ghaza Abd Shams in Makkah Nawfal in Iraq and Muttalib in Yemen.

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To quote an example of the magnanimity of Hashim it may be stated that whenever Zil-Hajj moon was sighted he came to the Holy Ka'bah leaned on its wall and delivered a speech on the following lines:

'O people ot the tribe of Quraysh you are the wisest and noblest amongst the Arabs. Your race is the best amongst all races. Almighty Allah has provided you accommodation by the side of His own House and has granted you superiority in this regard over all other descendants of Isma'il. O my kinsmen beware! Pilgrims of the House of Allah are coming to you this month with extraordinary favour They are Allah's guests and it is your duty to receive them. There are many indigent persons amongst them who will be coming from far off places. I swear by the Lord of this House that if I had been wealthy enough to entertain all the guests of Allah I would not have insisted upon you to provide assistance. At present however I am going to spend all that I can afford and which I have earned bv lawful means. I administer an oath to you in the name of the honour of this House that you will not spend for this purpose anything which you have usurped or give or spend anything hypocritically or under compulsion. If anyone is not inclined to assist he is at liberty not to spend anything.[3]

For all intents and purposes the leadership of Hashim was for the welfare of the Makkans and had a great effect on the betterment of the conditions of their lives. Whenever a famine occured his magnanimity did not permit that people should experience any hardship on this account. One of the outstanding steps which he took for the advancement of the commerce of the Makkans was the conclusion of an agreement with the ruler of Ghassan. It was in the wake of this agreement that similar agreements were concluded by his brother Abd Shams with the King of Ethiopia and by his two other brothers Muttalib and Nawfal with the Ruler of Yemen and the Emperor of Iran respectively. Merchandise could be exchanged freely with various countries. This agreement solved many difficulties and brought into existence a number of shopping centres in Makkah which also existed at the time of the advent of Islam. Besides this one of the beneficial activities of Hashim was the establishment of journeying by the Quraysh to Syria in summer and to Yemen in winter. This practice continued for quite some time even after the birth of Islam.

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[1] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 13.

[2] Seerah-i Halabi vol. I page 5.

[3] Seerah-i Halabi vol. I page 6 - 7.

UMAYYAH SON OF ABD SHAMS FEELS JEALOUS

Umayyah son of Abd Shams was jealous of the greatness and dignity of his uncle Hashim and endeavoured to attract the people to himself by bestowing gifts on them. However inspite of his best efforts and obstructionist activities he could not divest Hashim of his position. On the contrary his vilification and slandering of Hashim increased honour and respect for the latter all the more in the hearts of the people.

The fire of jealousy continued to burn in the heart of Umayyah. At last he insisted upon his uncle that both of them should approach one of the sages (fortune-tellers) of Arabia and only he whom that sage confirmed to be fit for rulership should take the reins of administration in his hands.

Hashim's magnanimity did not permit him to enter into a dispute with his nephew. However as Umavvah was very much insistent he (Hashim) agreed to the proposal on two conditions. Firstly that whoever lost the case should sacrifice one hundred black-eyed camels during Haj season and secondly that he should remain out of Makkah for ten years. Now it so happened that as soon as the Arab sage (the fortune-teller of Asfan) saw Hashim he began praising him and decided the case in his favour. Umayyah was therefore obliged to leave Makkah and spend ten years in Syria.[1]

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The effects of this hereditary enmity continued to exist for 130 years after the advent of Islam and occasioned crimes which are unprecedented in the history of mankind. The above-mentioned story besides bringing to light the fact as to how the enmity between the two families originated also explains the reasons for the influence which Bani Umayyah enjoyed in Syria and it becomes known that their old relations with the Syrians prepared ground for their rule in that area.

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[1] Tarikh-i Kamil by Ibn Athir vol. II page 10.

HASHIM MARRlES

Salma daughter of 'Amr Khazraji was a virtuous woman who had obtained divorce from her husband and was not prepared to remarry. While returning from Syria during one of his journeys Hashim stayed at Yathrib (Madina) for a few days and proposed to Salma. Salma was impressed by the nobility affluence and character of Hashim and by the influence which he wielded amongst the Quraysh. She agreed to marry him on two conditions one of which was that at the time of giving birth to a child she should be amongst her own people. According to this agreement she spent some time in Makkah with Hashim and when the time of her child-birth approached she returned to Yathrib. There she gave birth to a son who was named Shibah and later came to be known as Abdul Muttalib. The historians have mentioned the following reasons for the assumption of this title by Shibah:

When Hashim felt that his death was approaching he said to his brother Muttalib "Brother! Find out your slave Shibah". And as Hashim (father of Shibah) had called his son the slave of Muttalib he later came to be known as Abdul Muttalib (i.e. slave of Muttalib).

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Another version is this: "One day while a Makkan was passing through the streets of Yathrib he saw many children practising archery. When one of the children won the match he said immediately "I am the son of the chief of Bat'ha (Makkah)". The man from Makkah came forward and asked the boy 'who are you?". The reply was I am Shibah son of Hashim son of Abd Manaf .

On his return to Makkah that man informed Muttalib the brother of Hashim and chief of Makkah about this incident. The uncle was reminded of his nephew and therefore went to Yathrib. The bearing of the nephew personified before Muttalib the very personality of his brother and tears trickled down his cheeks. Both of them exchanged kisses of love and emotion. The mother was not willing to part with her son and objected to his being carried away to Makkah but her objections and protests made the determination of Muttalib all the more stronger. Eventually Muttalib succeeded in achieving his purpose and after having obtained the permission of the mother made Shibah mount along with himself and proceeded to Makkah. During the course of the journey the scorching heat of the sun blackened the silvery face of the nephew and his dress was also worn and torn. For this reason therefore when the two arrived at Makkah people thought that the young man was a slave of Muttalib. They whispered to one another "This young man (Shibah) is Muttalib's slave". And although Muttalib announced time and again that the lad was his nephew the wrong impression which had taken root in the minds of the people continued to persist. The result was that the nephew of Muttalib came to be known as Abdul Muttalib (the slave of Muttalib).[1]

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Still another version is this Abdul Muttalib was called so because he had been brought up by his uncle and it was usual amongst the Arabs that whenever a person was brought up by another man he was called the slave of his benefactor.

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[1] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II page 6; Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II pp. 8 - 9 and Seerah-i Halabi vol. I page 8.

5. ABDUL MUTTALIB

5. ABDUL MUTTALIB

Abdul Muttalib son of Hashim the first ancestor of the Holy Prophet was the chief of Quraysh and a renowned person. His entire social life was replete with brilliant attributes. As the events of his chiefship are also related to the history of Islam we narrate hereunder some of them.

There is no doubt about the fact that however resolute and strong a man may be he is eventually influenced to some extent by his environment and the habits and customs of the society affect his way of thinking. At times however some persons have an innate tendency to resist the factors governing their environments with great daring and courage and keep themselves and their surroundings immune from all sorts of contamination.

The hero of our discourse was a perfect specimen of those people in whose lives we observe many brilliant points. If a person who inspite of spending more than eighty years of his life amongst people who are habituated to idol-worship drinking wine usury and homicide does not throughout his life let wine stain his lips and restrains people from committing murders drinking wine and doing wicked deeds and prevents them from marrying the persons with whom marriage is prohibited and from going round the Ka'bah unadorned and remains firm in the matter of vows and promises till the last breath of his life he is certainly one of those ideal men who are born rarely in human society. Of course it was necessary that the person in whose body the light of the Holy Prophet (the greatest guide of humanity) had been deposited should be pure and free from every pollution.

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From the brief anecdotes and instructive sayings ascribed to Abdul Muttalib it is learnt that everin those dark environments he was counted amongst those who believed in monotheism and in the Day of Judgement and used to say "An unjust person is punished in this very world. However if by chance he dies before being duly punished he will meet retribution for his actions on the Day of Judgement".[1]

Har'b son of Umayyah was a near relative of Abdul Muttalib. He was also considered to be one of the distinguished persons amongst the Quraysh. A Jew was the neighbour of Har'b. One day the Jew displayed harshness towards Har'b in one of the bazaars of Tahamah and hot words were exchanged between them. This incident culminated in the Jew being murdered at the instigation of Har'b. Abdul Muttalib came to know about the matter and severed his relations with Har'b. He also made efforts to realise blood-money from him and to pass it on to the survivors of the few. This brief anecdote is a specimen of the enthusiasm of this magnanimous person for helping the weak people and for dispensation of justice.

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[1] Seerah-i Halabi vol. 5 page 4.

RE-EXCAVATION OF THE WELL OF ZAMZAM

From the day the well of Zamzam came into existence the people of the tribe of Jarham had settled round it and benefited from its water during the long years when they ruled over Makkah. However as a result of the advancement of Makkans in business their affluence negligence on their part and lack of any restraint on the use of the water the well gradually dried up.[1]

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Another version is this: When the people of Jarham tribe were threatened by Khaza'ah tribe and were obliged to abandon their homes their chief and distinguished man Mazaz son of 'Amr realised that he would soon cease to be at the helm of affairs and the enemy would attack and destroy his territory and government. He therefore ordered that two deer made of gold and a few precious swords which had been brought as a present for the Ka'bah should be thrown into the well which should then be filled up completely so that the enemy might not lay his hands on these things and later when they (Jarham tribe) recovered their territory and throne they themselves should utilise this treasure. After some time the tribe of Khaza'ah commenced their attacks and the tribe of Jarham as well as a large number of the descendants of Isma'il were compelled to leave Makkah and proceed to Yemen and none of them returned to Makkah thereafter. From that time onwards the tribe of Khaza'ah ruled over Makkah till Quraysh gained ascendancy by the coming into power of Qusayy son of Kilab the fourth ancestor of the Holy Prophet. After some time Abdul Muttalib came at the helm of affairs. He decided to dig the Zamzam well once again but unfortunately the location of the original well was not known for certain. After excavating a good deal he was able to locate the real spot and resolved to take preliminary steps to dig the well with the assistance of his son Harith.

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In every society there is usually a group of negativists who try to find one excuse or the other to prevent the performance of every positive act. Hence the rivals of Abdul Muttalib fearing that this honour might fall to his share began criticising him and addressed him thus "O elder of Quraysh As this well is a memorial of our ancestor Isma'il and all of us are reckoned to be his descendants it is only appropriate that you may let all of us partake in this task".

For certain reasons Abdul Muttalib did not accept their suggestion because his intention was to dig the well alone and let all of them use its water free of cost. He also wished to assume himself the responsibility of supplying water to the pilgrims on specific occasions so that this function could be performed in good order under his personal supervision. This could however be ensured only when he had this job in his own hands being independent of others.

This resulted in a good deal of bickering and it was at last decided that they should approach an Arab sage (fortune-teller) and his decision should be binding on all. Thus Abdul Muttalib and his rivals started their journey. They passed through many barren tracts of land. On their way they were faced with extreme thirst and became almost certain that they would perish. They therefore became anxious about their death and subsequent burial. Abdul Muttalib suggested that every person should dig a grave for himself and as and when anyone of them died others should bury him. And if they continued to be deprived of water and all of them died they would all be buried and be saved from being devoured by beasts and birds except the person who would be the last one to pass away.

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Abdul Muttalib's suggestion met approval and everyone of them dug a grave for himself. Now they awaited death with dejected and pale faces. Suddenly Abdul Muttalib cried out "Men! This will be a very ignominious and disgraceful death. It will be better if all of us move about in the desert in search of water. It is possible that Almighty Allah may have mercy on us.[2] All of them mounted and began moving about. They were not very hopeful of finding water and looked at one another with dismay. By chance however they soon came across wholesome water and were thus saved from certain death. From that very place they returned to Makkah and gladly agreeing with Abdul Muttalib's view with regard to the digging of the well gave him full authority to carry out his project.[3]

Abdul Muttalib began digging the well with his only son Harith and a mound of dust appeared around the spot. Suddenly they touched upon two deer made of gold and a few swords. Now Quraysh kicked up another row and claimed a share in this find. Eventually it was decided to settle the dispute by drawing lots. By chance the two golden deer fell to the share of the Ka'bah and the swords to that of Abdul Muttalib whereas Quraysh received nothing. Noble-minded Abdul Muttalib utilised the swords for constructing a gate for the Ka'bah and installed the deer upon it.

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[1] One of the causes for a society being subjected to adversity is the prevalence of sin and debauchery amongst its people and it is not improbable that shameful deeds should bring famines and other calamities in their wake. This proposition besides being in conformity with philosophical principles has also been mentioned expressly in the Holy Qur'an and in the Islamic traditions.

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[2] The question arises as to why others did not come up with this suggestion? Possibly they had lost all hope of finding water.

[3] Tarikh-i Yaqubi vol. I page 206 and Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 45.

STEADFASTNESS IN KEEPING PROMISE

Some of the qualities of the Arabs of the Age of Ignorance merit praise. For example they considered breaking of promise to be the most loathsome act. At times they concluded very onerous and burdensome treaties with the Arab tribes and respected them to the last. And on some occasions they took extremely tiresome and intolerable vows but made an all-out effort to fulfil them.

While digging Zamzam Abdul Muttalib felt that owing to his not having many sons his position was rather weak amongst Quraysh. He therefore resolved and took a vow that when the number of his sons would become ten he would sacrifice one of them in front of the Ka'bah. He did not however make a mention to anyone about his having taken this vow. With the passage of time the number of his sons rose to ten and the time therefore arrived for him to fulfil his vow. The very thought of the proposition was very trying for him. He was however afraid of lagging behind in the performance of this task and thus becoming one of those who failed to keep their promises. He therefore decided to mention the matter to his sons and after obtaining their agreement to select one of them for the purpose by drawing lots.[1]

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The ceremony of drawing the lots was performed and the lot fell upon Abdullah (father of the Holy Prophet). Abdul Muttalib immediately caught the hand of Abdullah and led him to the sacrificial altar. Qurayshite men and women came to know about the vow and the drawing of lots and became very much grieved. A flood of tears was flowing down the cheeks of men. One of them was heard saying: "O that they should have killed me instead of this young man!"

The chiefs of Quraysh were saying "If his life can be redeemed by property we are prepared to place all our wealth at his disposal". Abdul Muttalib was wondering what to do in the face of the roaring sentiments of the people. He was reflecting within himself lest he should be guilty of disobeying the Almighty and breaking his vow. Notwithstanding all this he was also thinking of finding a solution of the problem. One of those present said: "Take this problem before one of the Arab sages. It is possible that he may suggest a solution". Abdul Muttalib and the chiefs of the tribe endorsed the suggestion and proceeded to Yathrib where the particular sage resided. The sage asked for a day's respite to give a reply. On the following day all went to him. He asked ''What is the blood-money fixed by you for one human being?" They told him that it was ten camels. Thereupon the man said: "You should draw lots between ten camels and the person whom you have selected for being sacrificed. If the lot falls on that person then raise the number of camels to twice as many (i.e. twenty). And if the lot falls on that person again then raise the number of camels to thrice as many (i.e thirty) and draw the lots again and continue doing so till the lot falls on the camels.

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The suggestion made by the sage cooled down the emotions of the people because it was easier for them to sacrifice hundreds of camels as compared with seeing a young man like Abdullah rolling in blood. One morning after their return to Makka the ceremony of drawing lots was performed for the tenth time when the number of the camels had risen to one hundred the lot fell on them. The deliverance and safety of Abdullah gave birth to very strange emotions. However Abdul Muttalib said "It is only appropriate that I should draw the lots anew so that I may know for certain that the Almighty is pleased with my action. He then drew the lots thrice and every time the lot fell on one hundred camels. He was thus convinced of Divine pleasure and directed that one hundred camels out of those belonging to him should be slaughtered that very day in front of the Ka'bah and no human being or animal should be restrained from eating their meat.[2]

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[1] The above-mentioned incident has been narrated by many historians and writers of Seerah. This story is worthy of appreciation for this reason only that it manifests the nobility of character and steadfastness of Abdul Muttalib and clearly indicates how ardent he was in the matter of his faith and in keeping his promises.

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 153 and Bihar vol. XVl pp. 74 - 79.

TUMULT OF THE YEAR OF THE ELEPHANT

When a great event takes place in a nation its root-cause is at times religious and occasionally national and political. It is usually admired by the masses and is for this reason treated to be the starting point of their history for past and future events. For example the movement of Prophet Musa the birth of Prophet 'Isa and the migration of the Prophet of Islam are the starting points of history for the Jews the Christians and the Muslims respectively and the followers of these religions reckon the events of their lives with reference to these happenings.

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At times some nations in spite of possessing a basic history also treat some particular events to be the starting points of their history. As we find the great French Revolution and the October 1917 Communist Revolution in the Soviet Union are the starting points of history for many events in the Western countries. Uncivilized nations which are deprived of such political and religious movements naturally consider unusual events to be the bases of their history. For this reason the Arabs of the age of ignorance on account of their not possessing a proper civilisation considered unpleasant occurrences like wars earthquakes famines and other unusual phenomena as the measure and origin of their history. In this way we observe in the pages of history a number of starting points for the history of the Arabs the last of which was the disturbance of the Year of the Elephant viz. the attack by Abraha to destroy the Ka'bah which became the starting point of history for other events. We give below a detailed account and analysis of this great event which occurred in 570 A.D. to be the year of the birth of the Prophet of Islam.

THE ORIGIN OF THIS EVENT

The event of the 'People of the Elephant' has been mentioned briefly in the Holy Qur'an and we shall after narrating the story mention the verses which have been revealed about it. The historians have stated the origin of the event to be as follows:

After strengthening the capital of his government Zu Nuwas the King of Yemen passed during one of his journeys through the city of Yathrib (Madina). At that time Yathrib enjoyed a high religious position. A group of the Jews had concentrated at that place and had built a number of synagogues at different points in the city. The opportunist Jews accorded a warm welcome to the king and invited him to their own faith so that under the protection of his government they might remain safe from attacks by the Roman Christians and the Arab idolaters Their efforts in this regard were fruitful. Zu Nuwas embraced the Jewish religion and made maximum efforts for its advancement. Many persons became inclined to him on account of fear. Some were awarded severe punishments on account of differences. However the people of Najran who were converted to Christianity some time earlier were not prepared at any cost to forsake their religion and follow the teachings of the religion of the Jews. The King of Yemen was very much annoyed on account of their disobedience and defiance and came up with a large army to suppress the rebels. The commander of the army encamped by the side of the city of Najran dug a ditch there lit up a huge fire in it and threatened his opponents with burning. The brave people of Najran who had firm faith in Christianity were not however dismayed. They welcomed death and burning with open arms and their bodies were devoured by the flames of fire.[1]

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The great Muslim historian Ibn Athir Jazari writes thus:

In the meantime one of the residents of Najran named Daws went post-haste to Caesar the Roman Emperor who was a great supporter of Christianity in those days and informed him about the happening. He also requested the Emperor to punish the blood-thirsty man who had extinguished the lamp of guidance in Najran and to establish firmly the tottering pillars of Christianity in that area. The Roman ruler expressed his grief and sympathy and said: "As the principal seat of my government is far away from your country I am writing to the Negus the King of Ethiopia to take revenge on that cruel person for killing the people of Najran. The Najrani took Caesar's letter and proceeded to Ethiopia as quickly as possible. On reaching there he related the complete story to the Negus. The sense of honour of the king of Ethiopia was roused. He despatched an army exceeding seventy thousand men to Yemen under the command of an African named Abraha Ashram. The organized and well-equipped Ethiopian army crossed the sea and pitched its tents on the coast of Yemen. Zu Nuwas was taken unawares. All his activities proved to be of no avail and no reply was received by him to the letters which he had written to the tribal chiefs requesting them to take part in the battle. One brief attack was sufficient to pull down the foundation of his government and the populous country of Yemen came in the possession of the Government of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian king appointed the commander of the army Abraha as viceroy of that area.

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Abraha was very happy for having taken revenge and achieved victory and began leading a free life. In order to win the favour of the King of Ethiopia he constructed a splendid Church at San'a which had no parallel at that time for its grandeur. Then he wrote a letter to the Negus on these lines: "In compliance with the wishes of your Majesty the construction of the Church has been completed. I hope that it will be possible for me to make the people of Yemen abandon the pilgrimage of the Ka'bah whose place will now be taken by this Church". When the contents of the letter became known there was a very unfavourable reaction amongst the Arab tribes. So much so that one night a woman of the tribe of Bani Afqam polluted the precincts of the Church. This act which showed grave disrepect contempt and enmity on the part of Arabs for Abraha's Church made the government of the time very much excited. Besides this the more Abraha endeavoured to increase the apparent adornment and decoration of the Church the more the people were attached to the Ka'bah. These developments made Abraha swear that he would destroy the Ka'bah. He organized an army for this purpose put fighter elephants in the fore-front and decided to pull down the House the foundation of which had been laid by the champion of Divine monotheism Prophet Ibrahim. The chiefs of Arabia realized that the situation was delicate and dangerous and took it for certain that the independence and individuality of the Arab nation was bound to collapse. The past victories of Abraha also kept them from taking any useful decision. Nevertheless some zealous chiefs of the tribes who were facing Abraha fought with great bravery. For example Zu Nafar who was one of the nobles of Yemen exhorted his people with fiery speeches to defend the Sanctuary (the Ka'bah). However the immense army of Abraha soon cut down their organized ranks. Thereafter Nafil son of Habib put up a fierce fight but his people also met with defeat. He himself was captured and requested Abraha for forgiveness. Abraha agreed to grant his request on the condition that he should guide his forces to Makkah. Thus Nafil became his attendant and led him upto Ta'if. There he entrusted the job to one of his friends named Ayurghal. The new guide led them upto Mughmas - a place near Makkah - and there Abraha's army encamped. According to an old custom Abraha ordered one of his officers to plunder the camels and other domestic animals of Tahamah. Out of the camels so plundered 200 of them belonged to Abdul Muttalib. Later Abraha ordered another officer named Hanatah to carry his message to the chief of the Quraysh. He addressed Hanatah with these words: "I can visualize the actual scene of the destruction of the Ka'bah. It is also certain that in the first instance Quraysh will resist. However to ensure that their blood is not shed you should proceed to Makkah immediately. There you should contact the chief of Quraysh and tell him that my object is to destroy the Ka'bah and if Quraysh do not resist they will remain safe from molestation"

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The messenger sent by Abraha arrived in Makkah and saw various groups of Quraysh discussing the matter at different places. On his enquiring about the Chief of Quraysh he was led to the house of Abdul Muttalib. After hearing Abraha's message Abdul Muttalib spoke thus: "We are not at all inclined to fight. The Ka'bah is the House of Allah. It is the House which was founded by Prophet Ibrahim. Allah will do whatever He deems fit".

Abraha's officer also expressed pleasure on hearing the soft and conciliatory words of the Chief of Quraysh which were indicative of his spiritual faith. He therefore requested Abdul Muttalib to agree to accompany him to the camp of Abraha.

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[1] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. I page 253 onwards.

ABDUL MUTTALIB GOES TO THE CAMP OF ABRAHA

Abdul Muttalib proceeded to the camp of Abraha accompanied by a few of his sons. The sobriety grace and dignity of the leader of Quraysh made Abraha admire and respect him. So much so that he descended from his throne took the hand of Abdul Muttalib in his own hand and made him sit by his side. Then he very respectfully enquired from Abdul Muttalib through an interpreter as to why he had some there and what he wished. He said in reply: "The camels of Tahamah which also include two hundred camels belonging to me have been seized by your soldiers. I would ask you to give orders that those camels should be returned to their owners". Abraha replied "Your luminous bearing possessing a holy aspect made me consider you to be a very great man. However the request made by you for insignificant things has diminished your worth in my eyes. Keeping in view the fact that I have come to demolish and destroy the sanctuary of your ancestors I was expecting that you would talk about the Ka'bah and request me to desist from accomplishing my object which will deal a deadly blow to your independence and political and religious life. I did not hope that you would talk about a few insignificant and worthless camels and intercede in that behalf". In reply to Abraha's remarks Abdul Muttalib spoke a sentence whose value and worth is still preserved. He said: "I am the owner of the camels. The House too has a Master who forestalls every intrusion upon it". On hearing this Abraha shook his head and said proudly "There is none so powerful as to keep me from achieving my object". Then he ordered that the plundered property should be returned to the owners.

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QURAYSH AWAIT ABDUL MUTTALIB'S RETURN

Quraysh were anxiously awaiting Abdul Muttlib's return to. learn about the result of his talk with Abraha. So when he met the Qurayshite chiefs he said to then "Take refuge immediately in the valleys and on the hills along with your animals so that you may be safe from every harm". Soon thereafter the people abandoned their homes and found shelter in the hills. At night all the hills and valleys were resounding with the cries of children the lamentations of women and the noise made by the animals. In the very middle of that night Abdul Muttalib and some other Qurayshites descended the summit of a hill and reached the gate of the Ka'bah. He (Abdul Mutallib) with flowing tears and burning heart held the chain of the gate of the Ka'bah in his hand and recited a few verses addressing the Almighty. He spoke thus:

"O Allah! We do not pin our faith on anyone except You for remaining immune from their mischief and harm.

O Lord! Hold them back from your Sanctuary. The enemy of the Ka'bah is he who is inimical to you.

O Nourisher! Cut off their hands so that they may not pollute Your House.

I have right over my own property so I am endeavouring for its safety.

However safety of Your House is Your responsibility.

Don't let that day come when the Cross becomes victorious over it and the inhabitants of their lands encroach upon Your land and conquer it".

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Then he released the chain of the gate of the Ka'bah and took shelter on the summit of a hill to watch the developments.

Early in the morning Abraha and his forces got ready to march towards Makkah. All of a sudden however a flock of birds appeared from the side of the sea holding tiny stones in their beaks and claws. The shadow of the black birds made the sky above the encampment dark and their small and apparently insignificant weapons produced a very strange effect. The birds armed with small stones showered those stones under the command of the Almighty on the army of Abraha in such a manner that their heads were broken and their flesh was severed from their bodies.

One of the stones hit Abraha on his head whereupon fear overpowered him and he began to tremble. He became sure that the wrath of the Almighty had descended on him. Then he cast an eye on his soldiers and observed that their bodies had fallen on earth like the leaves of the trees. He therefore immediately ordered those who had remained safe to return to Yemen and to proceed to San'a through the way they had come. The remaining army moved towards San'a but while on their way most of the soldiers perished on account of wounds and fear. And even Abraha reached San'a in such a condition that the flesh of his body was turn off and he died a very queer death.

This deadful and strange event became known throughout the world. The Holy Qur'an narrates the story of the "People of the Elephant" in these words:Have you not considered how Allah dealt with the Army of the Elephant? Did He not foil their evil plots by sending against them flocks of swallows which pelted them with claystones so that they became like left-over grass grazed by cattle. (Surah al-Fil 105: 2 - 5).

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What has been narrated In these pages is a gist of lslamic history on the subject[1] and that which has been stated specifically in the Holy Qur'an. Now we shall study the comments made by the great Egyptian exegete Muhammad Abdoh and the famous scholar Dr Haikal former Education Minister of Egypt.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 43 - 62; Faza-il Shazan pp. 52 - 64 Biharul Anwar vol. XV pp. 146 - 155 and Tarikh-i Kamil vol. I pp. 260 - 263.

A THEORETICAL DISCUSSlON ABOUT MIRACLES

Recent surprising advancement of man in various branches of physical sciences and coming to an end of the life of many scientific hypotheses created a strange tumult in the western countries. Although the explanation for these changes lay in scientific transition and revolved on the pivot of physical sciences alone (for example Ptolemy's theorem was falsified) and did not have the least connection with religious beliefs they created a strange pessimism amongst different classes about the theories and beliefs which had still survived. The secret of this pessimism lay in the fact that when the scholars saw that the old theories which had ruled human thought and centres of learning for centuries stood falsified now with the strong hand of knowledge and the might of experimentation and moreover no information was available about different heavenly spheres and minute movements and centrality of earth and also about scores of other theories; they thought to themselves that no one knows the remaining religious and scientific theories might also be like the other ones? This way of thinking gradually sowed the seeds of doubt in the minds of most of the scholars of physical sciences and within a short time this doubt grew and spread to all the European scientific circles of that day like a contagious disease.

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Furthermore 'Inquisition' (Department for the investigation of beliefs) and the severity of the Church authorities had full share in the germination rather the growth of this pessimism because the schoalrs of that time who succeeded in discovering some scientific theory were being annihilated by the Church with torments and torture. And it goes without saying that such pressure and persecution must have had a bad reaction and it was predicted from that very day that if at any time these scholars gained power and made sufficient progress in the physical field they would say good bye to religion and piety on account of the wrong policy of the Popes.

By chance matters did come to such a pass. As knowledge with regard to various matters increased and the scholars penetrated more and more into the inter-relationship of physical beings disclosed the secrets which had remained hidden from man for ages and gained knowledge about the causes of many natural phenomena like earthquakes and rain as well as causes of various diseases they devoted comparatively lesser attention to metaphysical matters. (Origin Resurrection miracles and unusual performances by the Prophets etc.) and the number of sceptics and deniers increased day after day.

The self-conceit and pride with regard to their learning which some scholars harboured in their minds and the pressure exerted by the Popes and the priests became the cause for some scientists looking upon all religious matters with contempt and disregard. They were no longer agreeable that the names of Torah or Evangel should be mentioned. According to them the event of Prophet Musa's rod and his luminous hand should be treated as a mere story and the breath of Prophet 'Isa which brought to life many dead persons with the permission of Allah was also mere fiction. It so happened because pride on account of advancement of scientific knowledge and the memories of the pressures to which they were subjected in the past made them think within themselves 'How can it be possible that in the absence of a natural cause a piece of wood should assume the shape of a dragon or dead persons may come to life by means of a prayer?' The scholars who were intoxicated with their successes in the field of science thought that they had acquired the key for all branches of knowledge and had understood the relations between all beings and occurrences. It was for this reason that they could not find the least connection between a piece of dry wood and a boa or between the prayer and attention of a person on the one hand and coming to life of dead persons on the other. Hence they either viewed these matters with doubt and hesitation or denied them totally.

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WAY OF THINKING OF SOME SCHOLARS

Nowadays this way of thinking with slight modifications has been adopted by some Egyptian scholars. These scholars who are in fact a link between the centres of learning of the East and the West and have for years been transferring earlier than anybody else the knowledge and the ways of thinking of the West to the East and are truly considered to be a bridge of learning and educational relationship between these two blocs have been influence more than anyone else by this way of thinking (of course with particular modifications ) and follow this method in the matter of explanation and analysis of historical and scientific problems.

Some of them have chosen a method by which they wish to keep satisfied the Muslims who believe in the obvious meanings of the Holy Qur'an and of the decisive Ahadith (reports) and also to adopt the view-point of scientists or at least not to express an opinion which cannot be explained in the light of the laws of physical sciences.

On the one hand they see that the Holy Qurtan comprises a chain of undeniable miracles and this Heavenly Book is the final authority for the Muslims and whatever it says is correct and in conformity with facts. On the other hand they find that the physical sciences and the supporters of material learning do not recognize these phenomena which according to their own thinking (which insists on a natural cause for every natural event) are at variance with scientific laws.

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As a consequence of these two factors none of which according to their belief is flexible they have adopted a course by means of which they wish to keep both the groups satisfied ... viz. they safeguard the apparent meanings of the Holy Qur 'an and the decisive reports and also do not say anything against the scientific laws. Accordingly they endeavour to explain away the miracles and unusual performances of the Prophets according to modern scientific standards and account for the miracles in such a way that they appear to be natural occurrences. In this way they have safeguarded the respect due to the Holy Qur'an and the decisive reports and have also freed themselves from every kind of pessimism and protest. We narrate below as a specimen the explanation offered by Muhammad Abdoh the famous Egyptian scholar about the event of the 'People of the Elephant' which has been mentioned in the Holy Qur'an.

"It was the disease of smallpox and typhoid fever caused by petrified dust which spread in Abraha's army through insects like mosquitoes and flies. And by 'clay-stones' is meant petrified infected clay which the wind scatters everywhere and thus contaminates the feet of those insects. As a consequence of the contact of those insects with the human bodies the germs are transferred to the pores of human skin and make painful and dirty wounds appear on it. And these germs are the strong divine soldiers which are called 'microbes' in scientific terminology".

A modern writer says in support of the view expressed by the afore-said scholar that the word 'Tayr' used in the Holy Qur'an means anything which flies and includes mosquitoes and flies.

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Before we take into consideration the remarks of the afore-said writers we consider it necessary to reproduce once again the verses revealed in connection with the 'People of the Elephant'. Almighty Allah says thus in Surah al-Fil:Have you not considered how Allah dealt with the Army of the Elephant?

Did He not foil their evil plots by sending against them flocks of swallows which pelted them with claystones so that they became like left-over grass grazed by cattle. (105: 1- 5)

On the face of it these verses show that the people of Abraha were subjected to Divine wrath and the only cause of their death was these clay-stones which the birds were carrying and which were pelted on their heads faces and bodies. A deep and minute study of these verses leads us to believe that the death of those people took place on account of these very unnatural weapons (apparently worthless and insignificant claystones but in fact very powerful and destructive things). As such these Divine verses cannot be interpreted to carry any meanings given to them by means of an explanation which is at variance with their apparent text unless a positive proof about the correctness of such an explanation is advanced.

NOTABLE POINTS WITH REGARD TO THE ABOVE-MENTIONED EXPLANATION

1. The above-mentioned explanation too cannot manifest the entire event to be natural and some points still remain in the story which can be explained by advancing unnatural reasons. Thus even if we suppose that the death and annihilation of those people took place on account of microbes of smallpox and typhoid fever the question remains as to how and by what means and as a result of whose guidance and training did these birds come to know that microbes of smallpox and typhoid fever had settled themselves in these clay-stones at that particular time and instead of going in search of their sustenance they flocked together towards the clay-stones and holding them in their beaks pelted them at Abraha's people like an army attacking its enemy? In the circumstances can we treat the entire event as usual and natural? If we are prepared to admit that all these things happened in accordance with Allah's command and that a supernatural power was at work in this event where does the necessity lie that we should consider only a part of that event as natural and run after explaining away its causes.

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2. The minute animals called 'microbes" which are enemies of entire mankind did not then have any relationship with anyone. As such how can this thing be explained that they attacked only Abraha's army and ignored the Makkans? The history books which we possess at present are unanimous that all losses were sustained by Abraha's soldiers and the Quraysh and the Arabs did not experience even the slightest harm although smallpox and typhoid fever are contagious diseases and various natural factors transfer them from place to place and at times it so happens that they ruin the entire country. In the circumstances can the event in question be treated as something usual?

3. Diversity of opinions of those who have furnished this explanation about the genus of the microbes itself weakens their proposition. At times they say that they were the germs of cholera and occasionally they assert that they were those of smallpox and typhoid fever whereas we have not yet found any authentic and reliable document concerning this dispute. Amongst the exegetes only Akramah who himself is an object of dispute amongst the scholars has considered this probable and amongst the historians Ibn Athir while quoting this probability as a weak statement has straightaway proceeded to refute it.[1]

Most strange is the explanation given by the author of 'Hayat-i Muhammad' (Dr Haikal former Egyptian Education Minister) while narrating the story of the 'People of the Elephant'. Notwithstanding the fact that the object before his eyes is the verse 'We sent against them flocks of birds' he after quoting Surah al-Fil says thus about the death of the army of Abraha: "Perhaps cholera germs came with the wind and from sea-side". Now if wind had brought the cholera germs why were the birds flying on their heads? Moreover the birds were pelting clay-stones at them; - now what part did those clay-stones play in their death? Hence we should not follow this way of thinking and unnecessarily explain the great miracles of the Prophets and great spiritual people in this manner. In principle the attitude of religion in these matters towards the physical sciences whose sphere is limited to the usual relations of natural phenomena is two fold. We should not therefore abandon our established religious principles to please a few people whose religious knowledge is insignificant and who do not possess information about matters of this type especially when we are under no obligation to do so.

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[1] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. I page 263.

TWO IMPORTANT POINTS

We would like to mention the two important points here.

1. There should be no misunderstanding about the fact that by the above remarks we do not want to correct and explain the things which people attribute to the Prophets and religious leaders by way of hearsay - things which are not supported by any authentic evidence and have usually a superstitious aspect. What we mean to say is that according to the authentic evidence which we have in hand the Prophets of Allah performed some unusual acts to prove their relationship with the supernatural world. Our aim is to defend these kinds of miracles.

2. We do not at all say that a miracle is an exception to the law of cause and effect. We fully respect this law and believe that all events of this world have causes and no phenomenon makes its appearance without a cause. However what we say is that it is not necessary that the causes of the miracles should belong to the category of usual and material causes. thence the miracles and unusual acts of the Prophets have causes which do not conform with the usual natural causes and everyone is not familiar with these mysteries.

AFTER THE DEFEAT OF ABRAHA

The tumult of the 'Year of the Elephant' Abraha's death and the destruction of the enemies of the Ka'bah and Quraysh made the Makkans and the Ka'bah very honourable in the eyes of the Arab world. Now no one could dare think of attacking Quraysh or doing them any harm or destroying the House of Allah.

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The common thinking was to this effect that: "Allah has for the sake of the honour of His House and for the honour and greatness of Quraysh made their sworn enemy roll in dust and blood. In view of this Divine decree Quraysh and the Ka'bah have become respectable in the eyes of the People". They seldom reflected that this development had taken place simply for the sake of the protection of the Ka'bah and the greatness or smallness of Quraysh had nothing to do with it.

This is proved by the fact that the enemy chiefs of that area had attacked Quraysh several times but had never been faced with such a situation.

This victory and success which was secured without any toil and without even a drop of the blood of Quraysh being shed created new thoughts in their minds and their conceit pride and heedlessness increased. They now began to believe in the limitations of others because they considered themselves to be the distinguished group among the Arabs and thought that they alone were the object of attention of three hundred and sixty idols and enjoyed their support.

From the day they became unrestrained their revelry and voluptuousness knew no bounds. They quaffed cup after cup of palm-date wine and occasionally indulged in wine-drinking in the precincts of the Ka'bah and according to their idiom 'spent the best days of their lives' in the neighbourhood of idols made of stone and wood which pertained to the Arab tribes. In these assemblies everyone who had heard any story about the Manzariyans of Hirah and the Ghassaniyans of Syria and the Yemenite tribes narrated it to others and they believed that they owed their own happy lives to the attention of idols which had humiliated ordinary Arabs as compared with them and had granted them (i.e. Quraysh) superiority over all others.

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IMAGINARY FRONTIERS OF QURAYSH

God forbid that this two-footed being (man) should one day find the horizon of life clear and may assume himself to be of an imaginary privileged class. It is on that day that he appropriates existence and life to himself and does not believe that his fellow-beings are at all entitled in the least to any life and worth.

In order to prove their greatness and superiority over others Quraysh decided on that day that they would not extend the least respect to the people of "Hil" (the area extending upto four leagues from the Ka'bah in all the four sides is called "Haram" and the area beyond that limit is called "Hil") because according to them others were dependent on their Sanctuary and had seen with their own eyes that they (Quraysh) were the object of the favours of the gods of the Ka'bah. From that time onwards Quraysh began meting our harsh treatment to others. Exercising perfect dictatorship they decided that whenever the people of "HiI" came to perform pilgrimage they should not utilize the edibles brought by them but should obtain food from the people of the "Haram". They also decided that at the time of going round the Ka'bah only the local dress of the Makkans which had a national aspect should be worn. If a person could not afford to wear that dress it was necessary for him to perform the pilgrimage without wearing any clothes. As regards some Arabs of high rank who did not agree to this arrangement it was decided that after going round the Ka'bah they should take off their clothes and throw them away and nobody was permitted to touch those clothes. As regards women however they were obliged in all circumstances to go round the Ka'bah unclad. They could cover only the sides of their heads with a piece of cloth and were required to hum some particular verses.

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After the event relating to Abraha who was himself a Christian no Jew or Christian was permitted to enter Makkah except as a hired worker of Makkan. In that case also it was obligatory upon him not to utter even a word about his faith and religion.

Things had come to such a pass that they had abandoned some of the ceremonies of Haj which were to be performed outside the sanctuary. For example they were not prepared to perform the ceremony of staying at 'Arafah (it is a place beyond the "Haram" where the Hajis are required to stay till sun-set on the 9th of the month of Zil Hijjah.[1] And this was in spite of the fact that their ancestors (the descendants of Isma'il) considered stay at 'Arafah to be a part of the ceremonies of Haj and for their entire apparent superiority Quraysh were indebted to the Ka'bah and to these very Haj ceremonies because it was on this account that the people were obliged to come to this barren place every year. But for the sanctuary no one would have been inclined to visit this place even once throughout one's life.

From the point of view of social accountability such corruption and discrimination is unavoidable. It was therefore necessary that the environment of Makkah should have been submerged in corruption and pollution so that the world should have become ready for a basic revolution and a penetrating movement.

All these privations feasting and drinking and lack of restraint were making the environment more and more ready for the appearance of a great reformer of the world and it was not without reason that when Waraqah bin Nawfal the sage of Arabia who had embraced Christianity during the last days of his life and had acquired knowledge of the contents of the Evangel spoke about Allah and the Prophets he had to face the wrath of the Firaun of Makkah in the person of Abu Sufyan who used to say "We Makkans don't stand in need of Allah or the Prophets as we enjoy the mercy and favours of our idols"

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[1] Tarikh-i Kimil by Ibn Athir vol. I page 266.

ABDULLAH - FATHER OF THE HOLY PROPHET

At the time when Abdul Muttalib purchased the life of his son by sacrificing one hundred camels in the name of Allah Abdullah was not more than twenty four years old. This event besides becoming the cause of his (Abdullah's) renown amongst the Quraysh ensured for him a great position and honour in his own family especially in the eyes of Abdul Muttalib. The reason for this was that a person loves specially that thing which proves expensive for him and for which he takes excessive pains. As such Abdullah enjoyed extraordinary respect amongst his friends and kinsfolk.

It goes without saying that when Abdullah was going with his father to the sacrificial altar he was faced with violent antithetical sentiments. The sentiment of respect for his father and appreciation of the great hardships which he had suffered for his sake controlled his entire self and for this reason he had no alternative but to submit to him. On the other hand however as the hand of destiny wished that the spring flowers of his life should wither like autumn leaves a tide of disturbance and agitation rose in his mind.

Abdul Muttalib also found himself struggling betwixt two dominant forces of 'faith' and 'attachment' and this situation had definitely created a chain of acute worries in the minds of both of them. However when the problem was solved in the manner narrated above he thought of making amends for the bitter emotions by immediately marrying Abdullah with Aminah and thus unite his life which had reached the stage of exhaustion with the most basic relationship of one's existence.

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Hence while returning from the sacrificial altar Abdul Muttalib who was still holding his son's hand in his own went straight to the house of Wahab son of Abd Manaf son of Zohrah and concluded Abdullah's marriage with Wahab's daughter Aminah who was well-knowri for her purity and modesty. In the same assembly he (Abdul Muttalib) himself married Dalalah a cousin of Aminah who gave birth to Hamzah the uncle and coeval of the Holy Prophet.[1]

The contemporary historian Abdul Wahhab (Professor of History in the University of Egypt who has written very useful notes on the history of Ibn Athir) has treated the above-mentioned development as something unusual and writes thus: "Going of Abdul Muttalib to the house of Wahab on that very day (when the sentiments of the people were at a high pitch and tears of delight were flowing down their cheeks) and that also with the object of asking for the hands of two girls - one for himself and the other for his son Abdullah - does not conform with the usual standards. The only thing suitable and becoming for them was to take rest so that both ot them could get rid of their mental fatigue and then attend to some other business."[2]

However we believe that if the said historian had studied the matter in the manner in which we have viewed it it would have been much easier for him to confirm their action. Abdul Muttalib had appointed a time for the consummation of the marriage and according to the custom of Quraysh when that time approached the wedding ceremonies took place at the house of Aminah.

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Abdullah and Aminah remained together for some time and then Abdullah left for Syria for purposes of trade. During his return journey however he breathed his last as mentioned below in detail.

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[1] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 4 and Seerah-i Halabi vol. I page 54.

[2] Tarikh-i Ibn Athir vol. II page 4 - a part of the footnote.

DEATH OF ABDULLAH IN YATHRIB

By contracting marriage Abdullah opened a new chapter in his life and his apartment was lighted up by his having had a spouse in the person of Aminah. After some time he left for Syria for trade along with a caravan which was proceeding there from Makkah. The bell for departure was rung and the caravan proceeded on its way carrying hundreds of hearts along with itself. At that time Aminah was pregnant. After a few months the van of the caravan appeared. A number of people went out of the city to receive their kinsfolk. Abdullah's old father was awaiting him and the curious eyes of his wife were also searching for him amidst the caravan but unfortunately he was not visible anywhere. Alter making inquiries they learned that while returning from Syria Abdullah had been taken ill at Yathrib and had therefore stayed there with his relatives to take rest. On hearing this Aminah became very sad and tears trickled from her eyes.

Abdul Muttalib asked his eldest son Harith to go to Yathrib and to bring Abdullah along with him. On reaching there he learned that one month after the departure of the caravan Abdullah had died owing to the same ailment. On his return Harith informed Abdul Muttalib as well as Abdullah's widow of what had happened. The property left behind by Abdullah consisted of five camels a herd of sheep arid one female slave named Umme Ayman who later nursed the Prophet.

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Chapter 5

BIRTH OF THE PROPHET

The dark clouds of ignorance had completely enveloped the Arabian Peninsula. Abominable and unlawful deeds bloody campaigns wide-spread plundering and infanticide had obliterated all moral virtues and placed the Arab society in a strange dclivity. The distance between their life and death had become very short. Just at this time the morning star of prosperity made its appearance and that dark atmosphere was illuminated with the auspicious birth of the Holy Prophet. Thus the preliminary step towards the foundation of the civilization and the advancement and prosperity of a backward nation was taken. Soon the beams of this light lit up the entire world and the foundation of learning wisdom and civilization was laid.

Every chapter of the lives of great men is worthy of study and scrutiny. At times the personality of an individual becomes so great and grand that all phases of his life even his infancy and childhood are mysterious. The lives of the geniuses leaders of the society and the forerunners of the caravan of civilization are usually attractive and contain sensitive and wonderful phases. From the cradle to the grave their lives are replete with mysteries. We read about the great men that the periods of their childhood and youth are admirable and miraculous. And if we accept this proposition about the great men of the world the acceptance of something similar to that about the Prophets and saints becomes quite easy.

The Taurat and the Qur'an depict the childhood of Prophet Musa as very mysterious and say "Hundreds of innocent children were beheaded with the object so that Musa should not be born.

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However as Allah had willed that he should make his appearance in the world it so happened that not only could his enemies not harm him but Firaun his greatest enemy himself became his guardian and supporter". The Holy Qur'an says:We revealed Our Will to Musa's mother saying: Put your chld in the box arid let him be carried away by the river. The river will cast him on the bank safely and he will be taken up by an enemy of his and Mine. I lavished my love on you so that you might be reared under My watchful eye.

The sister of Musa went to the palace of Fir'aun and said Shall I bring you one who will nurse him? Then the mother of Musa was hired to nurse the child and her son was thus restored to her. (Surah Taha 20: 41 - 43 ).

The period of pregnancy birth and nurture of Prophet 'Isa was even en more wonderful than that of Prophet Musa. The Holy Qur'an narrates the period of growth of 'Isa in this manner:

We sent to her (i.e. Maryam) Our spirit (i.e. Archangel Jibril) in the semblance of a full-grown man. And when she saw him she said "May the Merciful defend me from you! If you fear the Lord leave me and go your way". "I am the messenger of your Lord" he replied and have come to give you a holy son". "How shall I bear a child " she answered "when I am a virgin untouched by man"? "Such is the Will of your Lord" he replied "that is no difficult thing for Him. He shall be a sign to mankind" says the Lord "and a blessing from Ourself. This is Our decree".

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Thereupon she conceived him and retired to a far-off place. And when she felt the throes of childbirth she lay down by the trunk of a palm-tree crying "Oh would that I had died and passed into oblivion!" But a voice from below cried out to her "Do not despair. Your Lord has provided a brook that runs at your feet and if you shake the trunk of this palm-tree it will drop fresh ripe dates in your lap. Therefore rejoice. Eat and drink and should you meet any mortal say to him: "I have cooled a test to the Merciful and will not speak with any man today" .

Then she took the child to her people who said to her This is indeed a strange thing! Sister of Harun, your father was never a whore-monger, nor was your mother a harlot .

She made a sign to them pointing to the child but they replied "How can we speak with a babe in the cradle?"

Whereupon he spoke and said "I am the servant of Allah. He has givers me the Gospel and ordained me a Prophet .. .... (Surah Maryam. 19:18 - 32)

When believers in the Qur'an and the Taurat and the followers of Prophet 'Isa confirm the above-mentioned facts connected with the birth of the two great Prophets they should not wonder at the extraordinary events which followed in the wake of the auspicious birth of the Prophet of Islam and should not treat them to be superficial. We learn from the books on history and ahadith (reports) that at the time of the birth of the Holy Prophet the walls of the palace of Khosroes split and some of its turrets collapsed. The fire of the fire-temple of Persia extinguished. The lake of Sawah became dry. The idols in the temple of Makkah were turned upside down. A light ascended from the Holy Prophet's body towards heaven and illuminated a distance of many leagues along its path. Anushirwan and the Zoroastrian priests dreamt very horrible dreams. When the Holy Prophet was born he was already circumcised and his navel too had been cut. On coming into the world he said "Allah is Great and all praise is due to Him and He is to be praised day and night"

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All these details are given in authentic historical documents and in the collections of ahadith[1] and keeping in view the facts regarding Prophet Musa and Prophet 'Isa which have been mentioned above there is no justification for hesitation in the acceptance of these events.

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[1] Tarikh-i Ya'qubi vol. II page 5; Biharul Anwar vol. XV chapter 3 pp. 231 - 248 and Seerah-i Halabi vol. I page 64.

YEAR MONTH AND DATE OF BIRTH OF THE PROPHET OF ISLAM

The writers of "Seerah" (biographies of the Prophet) generally agree that the Prophet of Islam was born in the "Year of the Elephant" in 570 A.D. As it is definite that he breathed his last in 632 A.D. when he was 62-63 years old the year of his birth must have been 570 A.D.

Almost all the traditionalists and historians are unanimous that the Prophet was born in the month of Rabi'ul Awwal but they differ about the date of his birth. It is well-known among the Sh'iah traditionalists that he was born after sunrise on Friday the 17th of Rabi'ul Awwal whereas it is believed by the Sunni scholars that his birth took place on the 12th of that month on Monday.[1]

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[1] Miqrizi has collected all the statements with regard to the day month and year of the birth of the Prophet in al-Amta' (page 3).

WHICH OF THE TWO VERSIONS IS CORRECT?

It is a matter of great regret that authentic information about the dates of birth and death of the Prophet of Islam and in fact about most of the religious leaders is not available with the Muslims and on account of this ambiguity most of the celebrations of their birthdays and death anniversaries do not take place on days which should be definite from historical viewpoint. Aithough the Muslins scholars have recorded various events of lslamic history in a very systematic manner it is not known as to why the dates of birth and death of most of the religious leaders have not been recorded after due scrutiny.

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However this problem is solvable to some extent. In this connection let us take an example. If you wish to write the biography of a scholar belonging to a particular city and supposing that this scholar has left a number of children and other relatives behind him would you like to enquire about the details of his life from strangers or from his friends and acquaintances in spite ot there being present his children and other members of his family who naturally possess detailed and exact knowledge about the particulars of his life? It is definite that your conscience will not permit you to do so.

The Holy Prophet departed from amongst the people and left behind himself his family and children. These relatives of the Holy Prophet say If the Messenger of Allah is our revered father and we have been brought up in his house and under his patronage, we say that the head of our family came into this world on such and such

date and departed from it on such and such date.

In the circumstances is it permissible for us to ignore the statement of his children and rely on the version of other people?

CEREMONY OF GIVING A NAME TO THE PROPHET OF ISLAM

The seventh day approached. A sheep was slaughtered by Abdul Muttalib as an expression of gratitude to Allah and a number of persons were invited to the feast. In that magnificent celebration which was attended by most of the Quraysh he gave his grandchild the name "Muhammad". When it was enquired from him as to why he had named his child "Muhammad" while this name was very rare amongst the Arabs he replied "I wished that he should be praised in the heavens as well us on earth". Hassan bin Thabit says thus in this regard:

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"The Creator derived the name of His Prophet from His own name. As such whereas Allah is "Mahmud" (laudable) his Prophet is 'Muhammad' (praiseworthy). Both the words have been derived from the same root and carry the same meaning".[1]

It is certain that occult inspiration had a part to play in the selection of this name because although the name 'Muhammad' was well-known amongst the Arabs very few persons had till then been given this name. According to the exact statistics which some of the historians have collected only sixteen persons had been given this name before the Holy Prophet.[2]

It goes without saying that the lesser a word is used the lesser is the chance of any misunderstanding about it. As the Heavenly Books had predicted the advent of Islam and the name the particulars the spiritual and corporeal signs of the Prophet it was necessary that his signs should have been so evident that the question of any mistake should not have arisen. One of those signs was the name of the Holy Prophet and it was essential that it should be borne by so few persons that no doubt should be left about his identification especially when his qualities and signs were appended to it. In this way the person whose appearance had been predicted by the Taurat and the Injeel could be easily identified.

The Holy Qur'an mentions two names of the Prophet.[3]

In the 138th 2nd 29th and 40th verses respectively of the Surah Ale Imran Muhammad al-Fath and al-Ahzab he has been called 'Muhammad' and in Surah al-Saff he has been called 'Ahmad'. The reason for this difference is that as mentioned in history the Holy Prophet's mother had named him 'Ahmad' before his grandfather gave him the name 'Muhammad'.[4]

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[1] Seerah-i Halabi vol. I page 93.

[2] Mudrak Pesh vol. I page 97.

[3] As regards the words 'Taha' and 'Yasin' some scholars believe that they are the 'moqatta' Ietters of the Holy Qur'an and not the names of the Prophet.

[4] Seerah-i Halabi vol. I page 93.

THE INFANCY OF THE PROPHET

The Prophet was suckled by his mother for three days only. Thereafter two other women had the honour of being his foster-mothers.

1. Suwaybah: She was a female slave of Abu Lahab. She nursed the Prophet for four months and remained the object of appreciation by the Prophet himself as well as of his virtuous wife (Khadijah) throughout her life. Earlier she had also nursed Hamzah uncle of the Prophet. After his appointment to the prophetic mission the Prophet intended to purchase her and sent someone to Abu Lahab to arrange the transaction but he refused to sell her. However she received assistance from the Prophet throughout her life. When the Prophet returned from the battle of Khaybar he came to know about her death and signs of grief appeared in his face. He made enquires about her son so that he might do some good to him but was informed that he had died earlier than his mother.

2. Halimah: She was the daughter of Abi Zuwayb and belonged to the tribe of Said bin Bakr bin Hawazan. She had three children named Abdullah Anisah and Shima'. The last of them also attended upon the Prophet. It was customary with the noble families amongst the Arabs that they entrusted their children to wet nurses.

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The nurses usually lived at places beyond the city so that the children could be brought up in fresh desert air and might grow up strong and healthy. Incidentally while staying in the desert the children remained immune from the contagious diseases of the city of Makkah which were more dangerous for the new-born babies and they also learnt the Arabic language in an untempered region. The nurses who belonged to the tribe of Bani Sa'd were famous in this area. They visited Makkah at a particular time of the year and every one of them took a new-born baby along with her. When four months had passed since the birth of the Prophet the nurses of the Bani Sa'd tribe visited Makkah. That year they were in the grip of a severe famine and were therefore in great need of help from the noble families.

The new-born baby of Quraysh did not suck the breast of any wet-nurse. Eventually Halimah came and the child sucked her breast. At this moment the family of Abdul Muttalib became very jubilant.[1]

Abdul Muttalib turned to Halimah and said "To which tribe do you belong?" She replied that she belonged to the tribe of Bani Said Then he enquired about her name and she told him that it was Halimah. Abdul Muttalib was very much pleased to learn her own name and that of her tribe and said "Very good! Very good! Two good habits and two decent qualities. One of them is happiness and prosperity and the other is meekness and forbearance".[2]

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. XV page 442.

[2] Seerah-i Halabi vol. I page 106.

Chapter 6

CHILDHOOD OF THE PROPHET

History tells us that the life of the Prophet the noble guide of the Muslims was replete with a chain of wonderful events from his very childhood upto the time when he was entrusted with the prophetic mission and all these events had an aspect of greatness. On the whole these events testify that the life of the Prophet was not a usual one.

As regards the explanation of these events the writers are divided into two groups the materialists and a number of orientalists.

1. The materialist scholars who look at the world from the material point of view and consider the organisation of existence as confined within the four walls of matter and believe that.all the phenomena are material and dependent upon physical causes do not attach any importance to these events and even though they may be supported by a very strong authority they do not pay any heed to them. The reason for such an attitude on their part is that according to the principles of materialism the occurrence of such events is impossible. As and when therefore they observe such happenings recorded in history they adjudge them to be the offspring of the imagination love and devotion of the followers of the particular religion.

2. There is also a group of the orientalists who apparently present themselves to be theists and godly persons and express belief in the supernatural but on account of weakness of their faith their pride about their knowledge and predominance of materialism over their thoughts while analysing events follow the principles of materialism. We frequently come across this sentence in their discourses "Prophethood is the state of being a human genius. A Prophet is a social genius who illuminates the path of life of human beings with his brilliant ideas etc.... " Discourses of this type originate from a sense of materialistic thinking which considers all religions to be the outcome of human reflection although the doctrinal scholars have proved while discussing 'general prophethood' that prophethood is a divine gift which is the source of spiritual inspirations and connections and unless there is a diffusion from the side of the Almighty not the slightest benefit can be derived by this side (i.e. by the Prophets). However as the Christian orientalist looks at these matters from the materialistic point of view and wishes to measure all events in accordance with the scientific principles which have been discovered through tests and expert meets he subjects to criticism all those events which have a supernatural aspect and denies their genuineness.

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WORSHIPPERS OF ALLAH

These are the people who believe that the properties and structure of the material world are under the management of another world and another power (the world of solitude and metaphysics) is responsible for the order of the physical world. In other words the material world is not free and independent and all its fixed rules and natural and scientific laws are inspired by another world viz. the Will of the Creator which surrounds all things that exist. It is He who has created matter and enforced sound laws amongst its ingredients and erected it on the basis of a chain of natural and scientific principles.

Along with believing in the scientific laws and whole heartedly accepting the statements of scholars about the connections of physical beings upto the extent to which they have been substantiated by science the people belonging to this group also believe that these scientific rules and principles and the wonderful system of the material world are connected with another organization all parts of which revolve according to the Will of that High Being. Furthermore they do not consider these scientific laws to be permanent and unalterable and believe that watchful Power can change them at any time it likes in order to achieve some special object. It is competent to do so and (not only competent but) has actually done this many times for such aims and objects as it has had in view.

They say that supernatural and surprising acts of the Prophets which do not accord with the natural laws have been performed through this channel. These people do not permit themselves unduly to reject or doubt what they come across in the Holy Qur'an and in the Hadith as well as in authentic and reliable history hooks merely on the ground that it does not conform With the standards of nature and scientific laws. Now we mention two events from the mysterious and wonderful life history of the Holy Prophet relating to his childhood and when this narrative is kept in view no room is left for any improbability or doubt about them.

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1. The historians have quoted Halimah as saying: "When I assumed responsibility for bringing up the new-born child of Aminah I decided to feed the infant with my milk in the same assembly and in the presence of his mother. So I put into his mouth my left breast which contained milk but the child was more inclined to my right breast. However I did not have anv milk in my right breast since I had given birth to my first-born. The insistence of the child made me put my milkless right breast in his mouth and as soon as he began sucking it its dry mammary glands were filled with milk and this incident made all those present wonder.[1]

2. She also says "From the day I took Muhammad to my house I became all the more prosperous and my wealth and herd increased".[2]

Undoubtedly in these matters the judgement of materialists and their followers differs from that of the persons who worship Allah although none of them has observed these events and the only evidence for them is the statement of the nurse of the Holy Prophet. As those who follow materialistic principles cannot explain such incidents through natural sciences they immediately say that these events are the creation of imagination. If they are very much respectful they say that the Prophet of Islam did not stand in need of such miracles. There is no doubt about the fact that the Prophet did not stand in need of these miracles but not standing in need of something is a matter totally different from a judgement on its being true or false. However a godly person who considers the organism of nature to be conquered and subdued by the Will of the Creator of the world and believes that the entire Universe including the smallest being (viz. atom) and the biggest phenomenon (viz. the Milky Way) rotates according to His plan and control. After studying these events and their supporting evidence he looks at all these events with due respect and even if he is not satisfied he does not reject them outright.

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We come across a similiar event in the Holy Qur'an regarding Maryam (mother of Prophet 'Isa) about whom it has been said: When the time for Maryam being delivered of the child drew near she lay down by the trunk of a palm-tree and (on account of throes of childbirth loneliness and fear of accusations) she wished to Allah that she might die. At this moment she heard a voice saying Do not despair. Your Lord has provided a brook that runs at your feet and if you shake the trunk of this (withered up) palm tree, it will drop fresh ripe dates in your lap. (Surah Maryam, 19:24 - 25).

Although there is a great difference between Maryam and Halimah from the point of view of their respective positions and virtues, but a similar difference also exists between the two new-born babes. And if the personal merit and excellence of Maryam made her an object of Divine blessings it is also possible that the position and rank which this infant (i.e. Muhammad) was to acquire later might have made his nurse worthy of Allah's bounties.

We also learn something more about Maryam from the Holy Qur'an Her chastity and piety had elevated her so much that whenever Zakariyah visited her place of worship, he found heavenly food there, and when he asked her from where that food had come, she used to say that it had come from Allah. (Surah Ale Imran, 3: 32)

On this basis we should not doubt the correctness of such miracles or consider them to be impossible.

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. XV page 345 quoted from Fazatil-i Waqidi.

[2] Manaqib-i Ibn Shehr Ashob vol. I page 24.

FIVE YEARS IN THE DESERT

The Holy Prophet spent five years amongst Bani Sa'd tribe and was sufficiently grown up. During this period Halimah took him to his mother twice or thrice and eventually made him over to her.

The first time that Halimah took him to his mother was when his suckling period was over. She however insisted on her giving him back to her. The reason for her insistence was that this child had become a source of bounties and blessings for her and the reason why his mother acceded to her request was that cholera had broken out in Makkah at that time.

The second time that she took him to l\lakkah was when a group of Ethiopian clergymen came to the Hijaz and saw Muhammad amidst the tribe of Bani Sa'd. They observed that all the signs of the Prophet who was to come after Prophet 'Isa as given in the Heavenly Books were found in this child. They therefore decided to take hold of him in whatever manner it might be possible and to take him to Ethiopia so that the honour of having the Prophet might fall to the share of that country.[1]

This is not at all unlikely because as clearly mentioned in the Holy Qur'an the signs of the Prophet of Islam had been narrated in the Injeel. It was therefore perfectly in order that the sages of that time should have identified the person in whom those signs were present. The Holy Qur'an says in this regard:

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And of 'Isa who said to the Israelites: "I have been sent to you by Allah to confirm the Taurat already revealed and to give news of an apostle who will come after me. His name is Ahmad". Yet when he (the Prophet about whom 'Isa had foretold) came to them with all the signs and proofs to support his truthfulness) they said: "This is plain magic ''. (Surah al-Saff 61 6).

There are other verses also which show that the signs of the Prophet of Islam were clearly described in the Heavenly Books and the earlier peoples were aware of them.[2]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 167.

[2] Vide Surah al-A'raf 7:157.

Chapter 7

REJOINING THE FAMILY

The Almighty has destined every human being for some particular job. If one has been created to acquire knowledge and wisdom another has been endowed with capability for discovery and invention and a third one for labour and effort. If some are suited to play a role in government and politics others have been entrusted the task of teaching and training their fellow-men and so on.

The compassionate leaders who are interested in the prevalence of good order and comfort in their environments and desire the advancement of the individuals as well as the society test the taste and talent of a person before entrusting him a job and give him only that work which accords with his aptitude and capacity. In case this is not done the society is exposed to two disadvantages. Firstly the man concerned does not do what he can and secondly whatever he does proves to he futile. It is said "In every head there is an aptitude. Lucky is he who recognizes his aptitude".

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A teacher was advising an indolent student. He was telling him about the evils of sluggishness and the fate of those who do not learn but spend their lives in idle pursuits. Suddenly he saw that the student while hearing his words was also drawing a picture on the ground with a piece of coal. He at once realized that the boy had not been created to study and the hand of nature had meant him to be a painter. He therefore summoned his parents and said to them: "Although your child is careless and dull in studies he has a good taste for painting. It will therefore be better if you arrange for his instruction in painting". The parents of the boy accepted the advice of the teacher. He soon began to learn that art and eventually became a great painter of his time.

The early period of the life of the children provides the best opportunity to their parents and guardians to test their inclinations and aptitudes and to gain knowledge about their talents from their acts manners ideas and conceptions. This is so because the thoughts actions and sweet and gentle words of a child are a mirror of his future and if proper guidance suited to his faculties is provided the best possible benefit can be derived from his aptitude.

The study of the ways and manner; of the Holy Prophet right from his childhood till the commencement of his prophetic mission draws in our eyes the picture of the background of his life and his sublime thoughts and the scrutiny of the history of his childhood tells us about his brilliant future. Rather his brief biography upto the day he was appointed to the prophetic mission when he declared himself to be the guide of the society informs us about his future and makes clear the purpose for which he had been created and also tells us whether or not his claim to prophethood and leadership accorded with the events of his life. It tells us whether or not his forty years' life and his behaviour character speech and the conduct of his long association with the people support his prophethood. Keeping this in view therefore we place before the readers a part of the early life of the Holy Prophet.

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The kind foster-mother of Muhammad looked after him for five years and did her best to nurse and cherish him. During this period the Holy Prophet learnt eloquent Arabic language and prided himself upon it afterwards. Later Halimah brought him to Makkah and he spent some time under the loving care of his mother and the guardianship of his magnanimous grandfather. This child was the only souvenir left by Abdullah to his bereaved family.[1]

[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 167.

JOURNEY TO YATHRIB

From the day the newly-wedded daughter-in-law of Abdul Muttalib (viz. Aminah) had lost her young and dignified husband she had been waiting for an opportunity to go to Yathrib and to see with her own eyes his last resting-place and in the meanwhile also to see her relatives in that city.

Eventually she decided that the proper time for her journey had arrived and her dear child had sufficiently grown up to accompany her. They made preparations for the journey and left for Yathrib along with Umme Aiman. They stayed there for one month. For the young child of Quraysh this journey was very severe and caused him spiritual pain because he saw for the first time the house in which his father had breathed his last as well as the place where he was Iying buried and naturally till that time his mother had already told him many things about his father.

The pangs of grief were still fresh in his soul when another tragedy took place and gave him a new current of sorrow and sadness because while on his way back to Makka he lost his mother also at a place called Abwa'.[1] This unfortunate happening made Muhammad all the more dear in the eyes of the members of his family and the only rose which had survived this rose-garden became all the more the object of affection and love of Abdul Muttalib. He loved him more than his own sons and gave him preference over everyone else.

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A carpet used to be spread for the ruler of Quraysh (Abdul Muttalib) by the side of the Ka'bah. The chiefs of Quraysh as well as his own sons used to sit in a circle around the carpet. However as and when his eyes fell on the souvenir of Abdullah he ordered that way might be made for him so that he might accommodate him on the carpet.[2]

The Holy Qur'an mentions the Holy Prophet's period of orphanhood in Surah al-Zuha and says: Did He not find you an orphan and give you shelter? (Surah al-Zuha 93 6)

The philosophy underlying the orphanhood of the newborn child of Quraysh is not very clear to us. We know only this much that the roaring torrent of accidents indicate a good purpose. In view of this we can guess that Allah willed that before the leader of mankind assumed the reins of affairs and commenced his leadership he should taste the weal and woe and experience the ups and downs of life so that he should develop a great forbearing and courageous spirit and with those sufferings should prepare himself to encounter in his later life a chain of hardships and deprivations as well as homelessness.

Allah had willed it that he should not be educated by any person and should not be under obligation to submit to anyone. From the very early days of his life he should be free and independent and procure the means of his advancement and elevation like a self-made man so that the people may realise that the inspiration in his case is not a human inspiration and his parents have had no part to play in moulding his character way of thinking and bright future and his greatness and excellence have emanated from the fountain of revelation.

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[1] Seerah-i Halabi vol. I page 125.

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 168.

DEATH OF ABDUL MUTTALIB

Heart-rending wordly accidents make appearance during the course of human life one after the other like huge waves of the sea and hurt the human soul.

The waves of grief still reigned over the heart of the Prophet of Allah when he had to encounter another great mishap. He was not yet more than eight years of age when he lost his grandfather. The death of Abdul Muttalib had so deep an impression on him that he kept weeping upto the very edge of his grave and never forgot him.

GUARDIANSHIP BY ABU TALIB

We shall speak about the personality and greatness of Abu Talib in a specific chapter and shall prove his Islam and faith in the Holy Prophet with authentic evidence. However for the present it is only appropriate that we should narrate the events related to the guardianship of the Holy Prophet by Abu Talib.

There were a number of reasons which made it appropriate that Abu Talib should undertake the responsibility and the honour of looking after the Holy Prophet. He and Abdullah father of Muhammad were born of the same mother[1] and he was also well-known for his generosity and goodness. For this reason Abdul Muttalib selected him for the guardianship of his worthy grandson. The services rendered by him in this capacity are recorded in history in golden words and shall be narrated later.

When the Holy Prophet was fifteen years old he took part in a battle along with his uncle. As this battle was fought in the months during which fighting is prohibited it is called the Battle of Fujjar. Detailed accounts of Fujjar Battles are given in history books.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham Vol. I page 179.

A JOURNEY TO SYRIA

It was customary for the Quraysh who were engaged in trade to visit Syria once every year. Abu Talib had determined to participate in the annual journey of Quraysh. As regards his nephew whom he did not usually leave alone even for a while he had decided to leave him behind in Makkah and to appoint some persons to look after him. However when the caravan was about to move tears trickled down the eyes of Muhammad and he extremely felt the separation from his guardian. The sad face of Muhammad aroused the sentiments of Abu Talib to such an extent that he felt compelled to bear the hardship involved and to take Muhammad along with himself.

This journey undertaken by Muhammad at the age of twelve years is considered to be one of the most pleasant journeys performed by him because during this journey he passed through Madyan the Qura valley and the country of Samud and witnessed the beautiful natural sceneries of Syria. The caravan had not yet reached Syria when an incident occurred enroute at a place called Busra which upset the programme of Abu Talib's journey to some extent. The details of this incident are as follows:

For very many years a monk named 'Bahira' had been engaged in worship in his particular monastery situated at Busra. He possessed very deep knowledge of the Christian faith and was held in much respect by the Christians of that area. At times the trade caravans broke their journey at that place and the members of the caravans visited him to seek blessings. Fortunately Bahira happened to meet the trade caravan of Quraysh. His eyes fell on the nephew of Abu Talib who attracted his attention. His mysterious and deep look indicated the secret which was hidden in his heart. He stared on for a few moments and then suddenly broke the silence and asked "To whom is this boy related from amongst you?" Some of those present looked towards his uncle. Abu Talib said He is my nephew . Then Bahira said This boy has a brilliant future. He is the same promised Prophet whose universal prophethood, conquests and rule have been foretold in the Heavenly Books and the signs which I have read in the Books apply to him. He is the same Prophet, about whose name and about the name of whose father and regarding whose family, I have read in the religious books, and I know from where he is to rise and in what manner his religion will spread in the world. However, you must keep him hidden from the eyes of the Jews, for, if they learn about him, they will kill him .[1]

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Most of the historians say that the nephew of Abu Talib did not proceed beyond that place (Busra). However it is not clear whether Muhammad's uncle sent him back to Makkah along with someone else (and this appears to be quite improbable after Abu Talib having heard from the monk that he should not separate his nephew from himself) or himself returned to Makkah along with him and discontinued his further journey. And sometimes it is said that he took Muhammad to Syria along with him exercising much care about him.

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[1] Tabari vol. I pp. 33 - 34; Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 180 - 183.

FALSEHOOD OF THE ORIENTALISTS

In the chapters of this book we shall point out the mistakes and occasionally the lies and unjust calumnies of the orientalists so that the basis of their information may become known and it may also become clear to what an extent they try intentionally to confuse the minds of the credulous people.

The Prophet's meeting with the monk is quite a simple matter. However now many centuries have passed since this incident occurred the orientalists have made it a pretext and insist to prove that Prophet Muhammad learnt from Bahira during this journey his own sublime teachings which he introduced twenty eight years later and which enlivened anew like the elixir of life the dead body of the human society of that age. They say: "On account of the greatness of spirit purity of mind retentive faculty and profoundness of thought which nature had endowed upon Muhammad in abundance he learnt from that very monk the stories of the Prophets and of the perished communities like Ad and Samud and also acquired most of his vital teachings from him during the same meeting".

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It goes without saying that the above view is nothing more than mere fantasy and does not at all conform with the events of the life of the Prophet. It is also not supported but stands rejected by the scientific and normal standards. Here are some proofs of what we have said:

1. The historians are unanimous that Muhammad was illiterate and had not learnt reading and writing. Moreover at the time of this journeys his age did not exceed twelve years. Now is it possible to believe that a boy who was not more than twelve years old should learn the realities of the Taurat and the Injeel and later at the age of forty years give them the shape of revelation and introduce a new religion? Such an eventuality is beyond usual standards and keeping in view the extent of human capability it may be said that it is not possible intellectually.

2. The period of this journey was too short to enable Multammad to acquire even a smattering of the Taurat and the Injeel because it was a trade journey and did not last for more than four months including the period of stay. The reason for this is that Quraysh journeyed twice in a year - to Yemen during winter and to Syria during summer - and in view of this it cannot be imagined that the period of the journey in question exceeded four months. And it is not possible even for the greatest sage of the world to master these two voluminous Books in such a short period not to speak of an illiterate boy especially when he was not with the monk for full four months and this meeting had materialised at a halting place during the journey and did not last for more than a few hours.

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3. History provides testimony to the fact that Abu Talib wanted to take his nephew to Syria and Busra was not their real destination. Moreover Busra was a place which lay on the route and at times the caravans stopped there to take rest. In that event how can it be possible that the Holy Prophet should stay on there and busy himself in the study of the Taurat and the Injeel. It matters little if we say that Abu Talib took him to Syria along with himself or that he returned from there (Busra) to Makkah or sent his nephew back to Makkah alongwith someone - in any of these cases the destination of the caravan and also of Abu Talib was not Busra so that the caravan might have become busy in commerce and the Holy prophet might have simultaneously engaged himself in receiving instruction.

4. If the nephew of Abu Talib had received instruction from the monk the matter would certainly have gained publicity among the Quraysh and all would have spoken about it on their return. Moreover even the Holy Prophet himself would not have been able to claim before his people that he was illiterate and had not pursued any studies whereas we find that the Holy Prophet commenced his prophetic mission with this very assertion but none said to him "O Muhammad! you did receive instruction from the monk at Busra when you were twelve years of age and learned these glowing truths from him!"

As is well known the idolaters of Makkah accused the Holy Prophet in different ways and studied the Holy Qur'an very minutely to find a pretext for their accusation. So much so that when they saw at one time that the Holy Prophet associated on certain occasions with a Christian slave in Marwah they seized he opportunity and said that Muhammad learnt what he said from the Christian slave. The Holy Qur 'an mentions this accusation of theirs in these words. We know that they say: 'A mortal taught him'. But the man to whom they allude (the Christian slave) speaks a foreign language while this is eloquent Arabic speech. (Surah al-Nahl 16:103)

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However as regards this accusation (i.e. the Prophet received instruction from Bahira) it has neither been objected to by the Holy Qur'an nor did the quarrelsome and objectors Quraysh make it a pretext. And this thing is in itself a clear proof of the fact that this accusation is the outcome of the brains of modern orientalists.

5. The stories of Prophets. which have been narrated in detail in the Holy Qur'an are totally at variance with those narrated in the Taurat and the Injeel and the matters ascribed to the Prophets have been narrated in these two Books in such an indecent and repulsive manner that they do not accord at all with rational standards. A comparison of these two Books with the Holy Qur'an shows that the contents of the Holy Qur'an have not been taken from them. And if it is supposed that Muhammad obtained information about the history of the nations from the two Testaments it should have been necessary that his narrative should also have been mixed with extravagant talks and myths.

6. If the monk stationed on the route to Syria possessed so extensive theoretical and religious knowledge that he could provide it to a Prophet like Muhammad why did he not acquire any fame himself? And why did he not give instruction to anyone other than Muhammad when he was always visited by the people at large?

A GLANCE AT THE EXISTING TAURAT

This Heavenly Book! It is extremely incoherent in the matter of narratives about the Prophets. We mention briefly here some instances in this regard so that it may become clear that if the Holy Prophet had obtained the glowing realities of the Holy Qur'an from the monk there was no reason why even the smallest repulsive remark should not have appeared in what he said. For example:

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1. The Taurat says in the book of Genesis (chapter 32 verses 28 - 30) 'One night God wrestled with Jacob till dawn'.

2. God lied to Adam by telling him that if he ate the fruit of the particular tree he would die whereas the fact was that if he ate the fruit of that tree he would have become aware of good and bad like God. And when he did eat it he acquired that knowledge.[1]

3. The Taurat narrates in this manner the descent of two angels to meet Ibrahim: God descended along with two angels to know whether the information which he was receiving about the people was correct or false. For this reason He appeared before Ibrahim who said "Let me bring water so that you may wash your feet". thereafter God and the two angels who had become tired took rest and ate food. (Vide Genesis. chapter 18 verses 1- 9)

Dear reader! Please also go through the stories narrated in the Holy Qur'an and then decide whether it is possible to say ' I he Holy Qur'an which has narrated everything in so sublime a manner has borrowed the narratives relating to the Prophets from this very TI aural?" And if it has borrowed the-m from the Taurat why is not even an iota ot this extravagant talk reflected in them?

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[1] Taurat has narrated in detail the story of Adam and Eve in the book on Genesis chapters 2 and 3.

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A GLANCE AT THE INJEEL

We mention three instances of "glowing realities" of the Injeel to show whether or not this very Injeel is the source of the Qur'an of the Muslims:

PROPHET 'ISA SHOWS A MIRACLE

'Isa went to a marriage party along with his mother and his disciples. It so happened that the wine got finished. He miraculously converted seven jars full of water into wine. (St. John chapter 2 verses 1 - 11 ).

Prophet 'Isa took a cup (of wine) and handed it over to them and said "Drink for it is my blood". (St. Matthew chapter 26. verse 27)

However dear readers you will find the logic of the Holy Qur'an about drinking of wine which is absolutely opposed to the above view. It says:Believers! Wine and games of chance idols and divining arrows are abominations devised by Satan. Avoid then so that you may prosper (Surah al-Mai'da 5:9)

In these circumstances is it possible that Muhammad should have collected material for the Holy Qur'an from the monk at Busra?

The present Injeel introduces 'Isa as a vicious person who was very unkind to his mother (vide St. Matthew chapter 12 St. Mark chapter 13 St. Luke chapter 8). whereas the Holy Qur'an depicts him to be quite the reverse of it:He has exhorted me to honour my mother and purged me of vanity and wickedness. (Surah Maryam 19:32)

Unprejudiced persons while comparing the stories and commands of the Qur'an with the Bible can understand that the latter cannot serve as the source of the Qur'an.

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Chapter 8

PERIOD OF YOUTH

Leaders of society should be forbearing and patient strong and powerful brave and valiant fearless and bold and should possess a great soul.

How can it be possible for persons who are timid and chicken-hearted weak and cowardly feeble-minded and lazy to lead the society through intricate paths? How can they take a stand before the enemies and protect their entity and personality from the attacks of the people at large?

The greatness and magnificence of the soul of a leader and his corporeal and spiritual power and ability have wonderful impact on his followers. When Ali the Commander of the Faithful selected one of his sincere companions for the Governorship of Egypt he wrote a letter to the afflicted people of Egypt who had been greatly put out on account of the tyranny of the government which was then in position in that land. In that letter he praised his governor-designate for his bravery and spiritual purity. We reproduce here an extract from that letter wherein the real attributes of a ruler have been narrated

"..... I have sent to you a servant of Allah who does not go to sleep in dreadful days and does not show cowardice while facing the enemy during an emergency. For the wicked he is more harsh than the burning fire. He is Malik bin Harith from the clan of Mazhaj. Listen to his words and enforce his orders because he is one of the swords of Allah which does not become blunt and whose stroke does not remain ineffective'.[1]

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[1] Nahjul Balaghah vol. III page 92.

SPIRITUAL POWER OF THE HOLY PROPHET

During his boyhood as well as manhood the signs of strength bravery firmness and forcefulness were patent in the forehead of the darling of Quraysh. When he was fifteen years of age he took part in a battle which has fought by Quraysh against the tribe of Hawazan and which is called the Fujjar Battle. In the battle-front his duty was to ward off the arrows aimed at his uncles. In his Seerah-i Ibn Hisham[1] quotes this sentence from the Prophet: "I warded off the arrows from my uncles".

Participation in this battle and that too at such a young age tells us about the unparalleled valour of the Holy Prophet and we understand as to why Imam Ali the most valiant of the valiant the Commander of the Faithful says "Whenever matters became difficult for us (the Muslim Soldiers) on the battle front we took refuge with the Prophet of Allah and none of us was nearer to the enemy than the Prophet himself.[2]

We shall mention the principles of Islamic military training in the chapter relating to the battles of the Muslims with the polytheists and shall study the manner of their fighting which always took shape according to the directions of the Holy Prophet. And this in itself is one of the fascinating discussions of the history of Islam.

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[1] Volume I page 186. He interprets it in the same manner as explained by us.

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[2] Nahjul Balaghah vol. III page 314.

HlLFUL FUZUL (THE COVENANT OF THE YOUTHS)

In the past an agreement called the 'Fuzul Covenant' existed amongst the Jarhamis and it was meant for safeguarding the rights of the oppressed. The parties to this agreement according to the renowned historian Imaduddin Ibn Kathir were Fazal bin Fazalah Fazal bin Harith and Fazal bin Wida'ah.[1]

As the mutual agreement which a number of Quraysh had made later was identical with Hilful Fuzul from the point of view of its object (viz. protection of the rights of the oppressed) it was also given the name of 'Fuzul covenant'.

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[1] Al-Bidayah wal Nihiyah vol. II page 292.

THE PROPHET PARTICIPATES IN THE AGREEMENT

Twenty years before the commencement of the prophetic mission of the Prophet a man arrived in Makkah in the month of Zi Qa'dah along with some goods. These goods were purchased by 'As bin Wa'il but he failed to pay the price settled between them. That man saw Quraysh sitting near the Ka'bah. He began to complain loudly and also recited some verses which roused the sentiments of men possessing a sense of honour. Zubayr bin Abdul Muttalib stood up and some others also joined him. They held a meeting in the house of Abdullah bin Jad'an and made a covenant and vowed that they would observe unity and as far as possible in the prevailing circumstances would make the oppressor surrender the rights of the oppressed to them. When the ceremonies of the agreement were over they got up and went to 'As bin Wa'il. They took back from him the goods which he had purchased but had not paid its price and returned the same to the owner.

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The Prophet participated in this agreement which ensured the welfare of the oppressed. He has himself spoken about the greatness of this agreement and two of his remarks in this behalf are reproduced below:

"In the house of Abdullah bin Jad'an I became a witness to such an agreement. If even now (i.e. after the commencement of the prophetic mission) I am invited to a similar agreement I shall accept it (viz. I am still faithful to the covenant made by me)"

Ibn Hisham quotes that the Prophet used to speak thus about the said agreement. ''l am not prepared to break my covenant even though I am offered the most precious gift".

The 'Fuzul agreement' was so firm and established that even the later generations considered themselves bound to abide by it. An instance of it is the event which took place during the Governorship of Walid bin 'Utbah bin Abu Sufyan the nephew of Mu'awiyah who had been appointed by him as Governor of Madina. The Chief of the Martyrs Husayn bin Ali who never submitted to tyranny throughout his life developed some differences regarding financial matters with the said Governor of Madina who always depended on local and central (Syrian) power and used to overcharge. To destroy the very foundation of injustice and to make others acquainted with their right to get justice administered Husayn turned to the Governor of Madina and said: "By Allah whenever you overcharge me I shall put my hand to the sword and shall stand in the Prophet's Masjid and shall invite the people to the agreement which was concluded by their ancestors. From amongst those present Abdullah bin Zubayr got up and repeated the same sentence and incidentally added: "We shall all rise and obtain his right or be killed in this path". The call of Husayn bin Ali gradually reached the ears of noble-minded persons like Masur bin Mukhramah and Abdur Rahman bin Uthman and all hurried to the sacred door of the Imam saying "Here we are!" The result was that the governor fearing a revolt refrained from overcharging.[1]

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[1] Seerah-i Halabi vol. I pp. 155 - 157.

Chapter 9

FROM SHEPHERD TO MERCHANT

The Divine guides are charged with a very important and great responsibility. It is a responsibility linked with embarrassment and deprivation torture and calamities murder and death; etc. in short with all sorts of hardships and sufferings. And the greater and more sublime their target is the severer and the graver are the hardships attached to it.

On this account fortitude and forbearance i.e. patience in the face of all calumnies accusations injuries and persecutions is a pre-condition for the success of Divine leaders because forbearance and patience are a real condition at all stages of a campaign for the attainment of their object.

In the history and the narratives relating to the Prophets we come across matters which it is very hard and difficult for us (ordinary human beings) to imagine. We read about Noah that he preached for 950 years and as a result of his campaign and prolonged efforts only eighty one persons expressed their belief in him. In other words in every twelve years he succeeded in bringing only one person to the right path.

The quality of forbearance and patience develops in man only gradually. It is necessary that he should face unpleasant events so that his soul should become fully acquainted with hardships and sufferings.

Before attaining the position of prophethood the Prophets used to spend a part of their lives as shepherds so that they might spend some time in the jungles in bringing up flocks and herds and thus become patient and forbearing for the education of human beings and might take it easy to bear all hardships and sufferings. This is so because when a man is able to bear hardships with reference to an animal which. from the point of view of intellect and wisdom holds no comparison with human beings he inevitably accepts responsibility for the guidance of the misguided people who are essentially prepared to have faith in Allah.

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What has been said above is based upon the contents of a tradition wherein it has been said. "Allah has not sent any Prophet who has not been made to tend the flocks as a shepherd so that he may learn how to guide the people.[1]

The Holy Prophet also spent a part of his life in this manner and most of the writers of 'Seerah' have quoted this sentence from him "All the Prophets have been shepherds for some time before attaining to the position of prophethood". The people asked the Prophet "Have you too been a shepherd?" He replied "Yes. For some time I grazed the sheep of the people of Makkah in Qarareet area".

No doubt it was necessary for the person who must fight with Abu Jahls and Abu Lahabs and one who wanted to mould out of degraded persons whose common sense and intelligence was at such a level that they bowed before every stone and stick a set of those who should not submit to the will of anyone except the Will of Allah that he should have rehearsed the lesson of forbearance and patience in different ways for quite some time.

We think that there was another reason also for the Holy Prophet choosing the pastoral occupation. It was that the sight of unreasonable ways of life of the powerful ones amongst the Quraysh and demonstration of viciousness by them weighed heavily on the mind of this brave and free man; who possessed a great sense of moral dignity. Besides this failure of the Makkan society to worship the Almighty and their going round the inanimate idols was something very unpleasant for an intelligent person. For these reasons the Holy Prophet dissociated himself from that society and spent a part of his life in the jungles and on the slope of the mountains which were naturally located at a distance from that polluted society so that for some time at least he might be relieved of the mental torture caused by the pitiable conditions prevailing in that age.

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By observing the beautiful sky and the positions and shape of stars and by reflecting on the plants of the jungle an enlightened person becomes acquainted with hundreds of signs of Divine order and strengthens his natural belief in monotheism with cogent scientific proofs. The great Prophets notwithstanding the fact that from the very time of their coming into existence their hearts were illuminated with the glowing torch of monotheism did not consider themselves independent of the need of studying the created beings and the Universe and through this very method they attained to the highest degrees of conviction and faith.

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[1] Safinatul Bihar root word nabi.

ABU TALIB'S PROPOSAL

The stringent financial conditions of his nephew prompted Abu Talib who was himself one of the chiefs of Makkah and noblemen of Quraysh and was famous for his generosity bravery and magnanimous disposition to arrange for a vocation for him. He therefore said to his nephew: "Khadijah daughter of Khuwaylad is one of the wealthy persons among Quraysh and her trade activities extend to Egypt and Ethiopia. She is on the look out for an honest man who should assume responsibility for her trade participate on her behalf in the trade caravan of Quraysh and take her merchandise to Syria for sale. O Muhammad! What a good thing it would be if you introduce yourself to her".[1]

The magnanimity and spiritual excellence of the Prophet did not permit him that he should go to Khadijah direct without any acquaintance and in the absence of any request from her and make such a proposal. He therefore replied to his uncle: "It is possible that Khadijah may herself send someone to me'. He said so because he knew that he was well-known amongst the people as an 'honest' person. And the same thing did happen. When Khadijah came to know about their conversation she at once sent someone to the Prophet saying: "The thing which has inspired my regard for you is your truthfulness honesty and good morals. I am prepared to give you double of what I give to others and shall also send along with you two slaves who will obey you in all circumstances''.[2]

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The Prophet related this thing to his uncle and the latter said "This offer is a source of your livelihood which Almighty Allah has bestowed upon you"

The caravan of Quraysh which included the merchandise of Khadijah got ready to move. Khadijah placed an easy-paced camel a quantity of costly goods and two slaves at the disposal of her agent and ordered the slaves to be very respectful to him at all stages never to object to what he did and to obey him in all circumstances.

Eventually the caravan reached its destination and all its members made profit. However the profit made by the Prophet was comparatively more than that made by others and he also purchased certain things for being sold in the market-place of Tahamah.

After making a successful trip to Syria the caravan of Quraysh returned to Makkah. During this journey the Prophet once again passed through the land of Ad and Samud. The silence of death which prevailed over the environments of that unruly nation invited his attention more and more to the other worlds. Moreover the memories of the previous journey were also revived. He recollected the days when he had traversed those very deserts along with his uncle. The caravan of Quraysh drew near Makkah. Addressing the Prophet the slave named Maysarah said It will be better if you enter Makkah before us and inform Khadijah about the affairs of trade and the extraordinary profit which we have made this year'. The Prophet entered Makkah at a time when Khadijah was sitting in her upper chamber. She ran down to receive him and took him into the chamber. The Prophet narrated, in a sweet manner, the matters relating to the merchandise. In the meantime Maysarah also arrived.[3]

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The slave of Khadijah (Maysarah) narrated to her exactly all that he had seen during the journey and all of which testified to the greatness and spirituality of Muhammad 'the honest one'. He

told her inter alia that during the journey 'the honest one' differed with a merchant about some matter. That man told him that he would accept his word if he swore by 'Lat' and 'Uzza' but the honest one said to him in reply. "I consider Lat and Uzza whom you worship to be the meanest and most despicable things on the face of the earth".[4]

Maysara also added that in Busra 'the honest one' sat under a tree to take rest. In the meantime a monk who was sitting in his monastery chanced to see him. He came and enquired about his name and then said "This man who is sitting under the shade of the tree is the very Prophet about whom I have read many good tidings in the Taurat and the Injeel".[5]

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. XVI page 22

[2] Seerah Ibn Hisham vol. II page 24

[3] al-Khara'ij page 186 and Biharul Anwar vol. XVI page 4.

[4] Tabaqat-i Kubra page 140

[5] Biharul Anwar vol. XV page 18.

KHADIJAH - THE FIRST LADY OF ISLAM

Till that time the financial and economic conditions of the Prophet had not improved and he still needed financial help from his uncle Abu Talib. His business matters were apparently not so firm as yet that he should choose a wife and set up a family.

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His last journey to Syria and that too in the capacity of the agent and representative of a wealthy and well-known lady of Quraysh (Khadijah) stabilised his financial and economic condition to some extent. His courage and skill attracted the admiration of Khadijah and she expressed her willingness to pay him as a prize something over and above the settled amount. However the Prophet accepted only that remuneration which had been agreed upon originally. He then proceeded to the house of Abu Talib and handed over to him all that he had earned so as to ensure some relief for his uncle.

Abu Taiib had been waiting impatiently for his nephew who was the souvenir of his father (Abdul Muttalib) and his brother Abdullah. Tears trickled down his eyes as soon as he saw him. He was nevertheless very much pleased to learn about his business activities arid the profit that he had made and expressed his willingness to place two horses and two camels at his disposal so that he could continue his business. As regards the money which he had earned during the said journey and had handed over to his uncle he (Abu Talib) decided to utilize it for choosing a wife for his nephew.

In these conditions the Holy Prophet decided to choose a spouse for himself. The question however is as to how the lot fell upon Khadijah who had previously rejected the proposals of the most wealthy and influential men of Quraysh like Uqbah bin Abi Mu'it Abu Jahl and Abu Sufyan. What were the causes which brought together these two persons who were absolutely different from each other from the point of view of their respective lives and which created such cordial relations love and spiritual cohesion between them that Khadijah put her entire wealth at the disposal of Muhammad and spent her wealth which she gained from her business which extended upto Egypt and Ethiopia in the path of monotheism and for the exaltation of truth? And how was it that the house which was full of chairs studded with ivory and pearls and decorated with Indian silks and Iranian brocade curtains eventually became an asylum for the Muslims?

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The causes of these events should be ascertained from the life history of Khadijah. However the thing which is indisputable is that services indulgence and self-sacrifice of this kind cannot certainly become permanent unless they have a firm pure and spiritual origin.

Pages of history testify that this marriage was the outcome of the faith of Khadijah in the piety chastity virtue and honesty of the Holy Prophet the dear one of Quraysh and the life history of Khadijah and narrations about her attainments make this fact abundantly clear.

As she was a chaste and virtuous woman she wished to marry a pious and virtuous husband and it was for this reason that the Holy Prophet said about her "Khadijah is one of the honourable ladies of Paradise". And the first woman who expressed faith in Muhammad was Khadijah. Imam Ali the Commander of the Faithful while describing in one of his sermons the pitiful condition of Islam in the early days of the prophetic mission of the Holy Prophet says "There was then no Muslim family except the family consisting of Muhammad and his wife Khadijah. and I was its third member".

Ibne Athir says that a merchant named Afif came in Masjidul Harem and was very much surprised to observe the gathering there and worship by a group consisting of three persons. He saw that the Holy Prophet was offering prayers along with Khadijah and Ali. On his return from the Masjid he met Abbas the uncle of the Prophet. He told him what he had seen and inquired about the factual position. Abbas said to him The leader amongst those three persons is claimant of Prophethood and the woman is his wife Khadijah and the third person is my nephew Ali . Then he added I am not aware of any person on the face of the earth who should be a follower of this religion except these three .

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It is beyond the scope of this book to explain and quote the narratives which have come down about the excellence of Khadijah. It would therefore be better that we should explain the causes which occasioned this historical event (i.e. marriage of Muhammad and Khadija).

THE PATENT AND LATENT CAUSES OF THE MARRIAGE

Materialists who study everything from the materialistic point of view imagine that as Khadijah was rich and a trades-woman she was very much in need of an honest person in connection with her commercial affairs and she therefore married Muhammad; and as Muhammad was also aware of her respectable position he consented to her request although there was disparity in their ages. However history tells us that Khadijah was prompted to marry Muhammad the 'honest man' of Quraysh owing to a series of spiritual causes and this union had no material aspect. Evidence in support of our claim is as follows:

1. When Khadijah enquired from Maysarah about the incidents related to the journey of the Prophet he narrated to her the miracles which he had seen from him and also what he had heard from the monk of Syria. Khadijah felt excessive emotion within herself which had its origin in her interest in the spirituality of Muhammad and she said to Maysarah involuntarily "Maysarah! That will do. You have doubled my interest in Muhammad. I hereby set you and your wife free and also place at your disposal two hundred dirhams. two horses and a costly dress ".

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Thereafter she narrated what she had heard from Maysarah to Waraqah bin Nawfal who was a sage of Arabia and he said: "One who possesses these attributes is the Arabian Prophet".[1]

2. One day Khadijah was seated in her house while her bonds-women and slaves encircled her. One of the Jewish scholars was also present. By chance the Prophet passed that way and the Jewish scholar saw him. He at once requested Khadijah to insist upon Muhammad that he should postpone his task and join that party for a few moments. The Prophet accepted the request of the Jewish sage which was based on observation of the signs of prophethood in his person. Khadijah then turned to the Jewish sage and said "When his uncles will become aware of your investigation and inquisitiveness they will display an adverse reaction because they are afraid of the Jews about their nephew". The Jewish sage then replied: "How can it be possible that anyone should harm Muhammad when the hand of destiny has reared him up for the last prophethood and for the guidance of the people?" Khadijah said: "On what authority do you say that he will come to hold this position?" He replied: "I have read the signs of the last Prophet in the Taurat. His signs include three things that is his parents will die his grandfather and uncle will support him and he will choose for his spouse a woman who will be the lady of Quraysh". Then he pointed to Khadijah and said: "Blessed is she who has the honour of being his life-mate".[2]

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3. Waraqah uncle of Khadijah was one of the sages of Arabia. He had thorough knowledge of the Bible and used to say time and again: "A man will be raised by Allah from amongst Quraysh for the guidance of the people and he shall marry one of the richest ladies of Quraysh". And as Khadijah was the richest woman of Quraysh he occasionally said to her: "A day will come when you will marry the noblest man on earth!"

4. One night Khadijah dreamt that the sun revolved above Makkah and then descended slowly and landed in her house.

She related her dream to Waraqah bin Nawfal and he interpreted it thus: "You will marry a great man and he will become renowned throughout the world".

These are the incidents which have been quoted by some historians and by late Allamah Majlisi[1] and have also been recorded in many history books. When all of them are taken into account they make crystal clear the reasons for the inclination of Khadijah towards the Prophet. This inclination was mostly due to her belief in the spirituality of the Prophet and the fact that the 'honest one' was more suitable for her business than others had no bearing on the consummation of this union.

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[1] Seerah-i ibn Hisham vol. I page 26.

[2] Biharul Anwar vol. XVI page 19.

[3] Biharul Anwar vol. Vl page 124.

CIRCUMSTANCES OF KHADIJAH'S SUIT

This much is admitted that the proposal originated from the side of Khadijah herself; so much so that Ibn Hisham quotes[1] that Khadijah expressed her inclination personally and said: "Cousin! On account of the relationship which exists between us and the greatness and respect which you enjoy amongst your people and the honesty good manners and truthfulness which you evidently possess I am earnestly inclined to marry you". The 'honest man' of Quraysh replied "I must inform my uncles about this and this task should be accomplished with their approval".

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Most of the historians believe that Nafisah daughter of 'Alyah conveyed the proposal of Khadijah to the Prophet in the following manner:

She said O Muhammad! Why don't you illuminate the night-chamber of your life with the light of a spouse? Will you respond favourably if I invite you to beauty, wealth, gentleness and respect? The Prophet said "What do you mean?" She then mentioned Khadijah. The Prophet said Is Khadijah prepared for this, when there is a world of difference between the conditions of my life and of hers? Nafisah said I hold authority on her behalf and shall make her agree. You should fix a date for the purpose so that her agent ('Amr bin Asad) may sit along with you and your kinsfolk and the ceremonies of marriage and rejoicing may be accomplished.[2]

The Holy Prophet talked about the matter with his honourable uncle (Abu Talib). A grand party consisting of distinguished persons amongst Quraysh was organized. In the first instance Abu Talib delivered a sermon commencing it with praise for Allah. As regards his nephew he introduced him thus "My nephew Muhammad bin Abdullah is superior to any man of the tribe of Quraysh with whom he may be compared. Although he lacks every sort of wealth yet wealth is a passing shadow and origin and lineage is something permanent.[3]

As Abu .Talib had made in his sermon a mention of Quraysh and the family of Hashim Waraqah uncle of Khadijah said in reply "None amongst Quraysh denies your excellence. We earnestly wish to hold the string of your nobility. The marriage ceremony was then performed and the dowry was fixed at four hundred dinars. Some say that the dowry was twenty camels.

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Age of Khadijah: It is usually said that at the time of marriage with the Prophet Khadijah was forty years old and was born fifteen years before the 'Year of the Elephant'. However some writers have mentioned that her age at the time of marriage was lesser than this. Previously she had married twice. The names of her husbands were 'Ais bin Abid and Abu Halah and both of them had died.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 204.

[2] It is well-known that Khuwaylid the father of Khadijah was killed in a Fujjar Battle and for this reason her uncle authorized marriage on her behalf. Thus the view recorded by some historians that in the first instance Khuwaylid was not agreeable but later he agreed owing to the severe inclination of Khadijah is baseless.

[3] Manaqib vol. I page 30 and Biharul Anwar vol. XV page 6.

Chapter 10

FROM MARRIAGE UP TO PROPHETHOOD

The most sensitive period of the life of a person begins when he (or she) comes of age. It is so because at this time the sexual instincts attain perfection the sensual self inspires passions in one's head every moment the storm of lust darkens the atmosphere of human intellect the foundation of the rule of material instincts becomes more firm and as a result of all this the lamp of wisdom becomes dim. During day and night and time and again a grand palace of desires assumes a concrete form before the eyes of the grown up person.

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In case at such time someone also possesses wealth life for him becomes something very dangerous. When animal instincts and good health and material opportunities and enormous wealth of a man are united the result is that they make the program of his life full of lustful activities and he is saturated with concupiscible desires without any care for future.

This period is called the frontier of prosperity and adversity and one rarely succeeds in determining the other route for oneself and in selecting with the hope of acquiring good habits and pure mentality a path which may keep one safe from all dangers.

In such circumstances it is a very difficult task to take care of oneself and in case the person concerned has not been brought up and educated properly in family environments one should only wait for the collapse of the structure of life.

MANHOOD OF THE HOLY PROPHET

There is no doubt about the fact that the Prophet was brave strong and healthy because he had been brought up in taintless environments and all members of the family in which he was born possessed elements of heroism and bravery. The huge wealth of Khadijah was also at his disposal and all means of comfortable life were available to him. However it should be seen as to how he utilized these material resources. Did he choose a life of pleasure and did he resort to the satisfaction of his passions like other young men? Or that notwithstanding all these means and resources he selected another program which fully revealed the background of his sensitive life? History bears testimony to the fact that he led his life like wise and experienced men. He always avoided profligacy and recklessness and signs of prudence and reflection were ever apparent in his countenance. To remain away from the corruption of the society he spent a good deal of his time in caves situated at the feet of the mountains and studied the signs of Divine power and reflected upon the creation of the Universe.

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SENTIMENTS OF HIS MANHOOD

An incident which took place in the bazaar of Makkah wounded the human sentiments of the Prophet. He saw a person gambling. Unfortunately the man lost his camel as well as his residential house in the game. And not only this but he also staked and lost ten years of his life. The Prophet was so much moved by this incident that he did not stay in Makkah that day. He therefore went away to the nearby hills and returned home after a part of the night had passed. He was moved to observe such sad spectacles and reflected on and wondered at the lack of wisdom and intelligence of those misguided people.

Before Khadijah married the Prophet Muhammad her house was the center of the hopes of the needy people. And even after her marriage with the Prophet she did not allow even the slightest change to take place in the condition of her house or in the munificence and generosity of her spouse.

During the periods of famine and drought the Prophet's foster-mother Halimah came at times to see her son. The Prophet then used to spread his cloak under her feet recollected her kind sentiments and the simple life which he had spent with her and listened to what she said. At the time of her departure he helped her with as much as he could afford.[1]

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[1] Seerah-i Halabi vol. I page 123.

HIS CHILDREN FROM KHADIJAH

Birth of a child further cements the bond of matrimony and makes life bright and brilliant. The Prophet's wife bore him six children. Two of them were sons - the elder one being Qasim and the younger one Abdullah. They are also called Tayyib and Tahir. She also gave birth to four daughters. Ibne Hisham writes: 'Their eldest daughter was Ruqayyah and the other three were Zaynab Umme Kulsum and Fatimah'. The male children died before Muhammad was appointed to the prophetic mission but the daughters continued to live.'[1]

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Self-control of the Holy Prophet in the face of calamitous happenings was proverbial. However at the time of the death of his children the sentiments of his heart sometimes appeared from his eyes in the shape of tears which trickled down to his cheeks and this matter became more evident at the time of the death or Ibrahim whose mother was Mariyah. At that time while his heart was grief-stricken the Prophet was busy praising Allah with his tongue. So much so that an Arab owing to his ignorance and lack of knowledge about the fundamentals of Islam objected to the weeping of the Prophet. The Prophet however said: "Weeping of this kind is a blessing". [2]

UNFOUNDED GUESS

Dr Haikal writes: "There is no denying the fact that at the time of the death of each of her children Khadijah approached the idols and asked as to why the gods were not pleased to bless her". [1]

The above statement is not supported even by the most insignificant historical evidence and is nothing more than a mere guess. Its purpose is to give the impression that as during her time all were idolaters Khadijah too was certainly like them.

However Shi'ah belief is opposed to this statement and naturally the factual position too should be as believed by Shi'ah. The reason for this is that the Prophet undoubtedly hated worship from his very youth and the position became quite clear during his journey to Syria. For when he developed some differences with a merchant with regard to accounts and the opposite part swore by Lat and 'Uzza the Prophet said "These are the very things which are most despicable in my eyes!"

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In the circumstances how can it be said that a woman like Khadijah whose regard and love for her husband was unquestionable should run to the idols (who were the most despicable things in the eyes of her husband) at the time of the death of her children. Moreover the cause of her inclination towards Muhammad and of her entering into matrimonial alliance with him was that she admired his habits and spirituality as she had heard that he was the last of the Prophets. In these conditions how can it be possible that she should go and complain to the idols in the matter?

We have already narrated for the readers some of her conversations with Waraqah bin Nawfal (the Arab fortune-teller) as well as with other scholarly persons of that time.

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[1] Hayat-i Muhammad page 186.

ADOPTED SON OF THE PROPHET OF ISLAM

The Prophet of Islam called Zayd bin Harith as his son by the side of the Black Stone. Zayd was the person whom the Arab bandits had captured from the frontiers of Syria and had sold him in the market-place of Makkah to Hakim a relative of Khadijah. It is not however clear as to how it so happened that later he was purchased by Khadijah.

The author of 'Hayat-i Muhammad' says "The Prophet had felt the death of his sons very much and in order to console himself had asked Khadijah to purchase Zayd. Later the Prophet freed him and adopted him as his own son".

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Majority of the writers however say that at the time of Khadijah's marriage with the Prophet Hakim bin Hizam presented him (Zayd) to his aunt (Khadijah). As he (Zayd) was a virtuous and intelligent young man in all respects the Prophet developed a liking for him and Khadijah too made a gift of him to the Prophet. At last however Zayd's father located his whereabouts after continuous inquiries. At that time the Prophet permitted Zayd to go away with his father. However in view of the love and kindness of the Prophet for him Zayd preferred to stay on with him. It was on this account that the Prophet freed him adopted him as his son; and married him to Zaynab daughter of Jahash. [1]

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[1] al-lsaba vol. I page 545; Usudul Ghabah vol. II page 224.

BEGINNING OF DIFFERENCES AMONG THE IDOLATERS

With the appointment of the Prophet to the prophetic mission deep differences appeared among the Quraysh though the foundation of these differences had been laid a long time ago and even before the appointment of the Prophet to prophethood a number of wise men had expressed their dislike and aversion for the religion of the Arabs. There was always a talk in every nook and cranny about the expected Arabian Prophet who was to revive the practice of worship of One Allah. The Jews used to say: "As the foundation of our religion as well as that of the Arabian Prophet is the same we shall follow him and with the help of his strength shall break the idols and destroy the edifice of idol-worship.

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Ibne Hisham says in his Seerah[1] "The Jews used to threaten the idolatrous Arabs saying that the time of the appearance of the Arabian Prophet was approaching fast and he would destroy the edifice of idol-worship. These words presented before the eyes of the Arabs the scene of the overthrow of the era of idol-worship. So much so that on account of the previous preachings of the Jews some tribes responded to the call of the Holy Prophet and embraced Islam. However for reasons which will be explained later the Jews continued to persist in their infidelity. The following verse of the Holy Qur'an points to the same position:

Now that a book (the Qur'an confirming their own Taurat) has come to them from Allah they deny it although they know it to be the truth and have long prayed for help against the believers (through the new religion and the new Book). May Allah's curse be upon the infidels!" (Surah aI-Baqarah verse 89).

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 231.

THE FOUNDATIONS OF IDOL-WORSHIP SHAKE

At the time of the celebration of one of the festivals of Quraysh there occurred a strange incident which in the eyes of the deep-sighted people tolIed the bell of danger of overthrow of the rule of idol-worshippers.

Once when the idolaters had gathered round an idol and were rubbing their foreheads on earth before it four of their distinguished persons who were famous for their learning and wisdom disapproved of their action and held discussions on the subject in a secluded place. One of the points discussed by them was that their nation had deviated from the path of Ibrahim; and the stones round which the people were going could neither hear nor see nor do any good or evil. [1] These four persons consisted of

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(1) Waraqah bin Nawfal who after deep study came within the circle of the Christians and gained extensive knowledge of the Bible

(2) Abdullah bin Johash who became a Muslim after the advent of Islam and migrated to Ethiopia along with other Muslims

(3) Uthman bin Huwayris who went to the Roman court and embraced Christianity and

(4) Zayd bin 'Amr bin Nafil who after extensive study chose the religion of Ibrahim for himself.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 222 - 223.

ANOTHER WEAKNESS OF QURAYSH

The Holy Prophet was not yet more than thirty five years of age when he had to witness a grave dispute among the Quraysh which was solved with his capable hand. The following incident shows the extent to which he was respected and admitted to be honest and truthful by Quraysh:

A terrible flood flowed down from the high mountains towards the House of Allah and consequent upon it none of the houses of Makkah not even the Holy Ka'bah remained safe from the damage caused by it. Many cracks appeared in the walls of the Ka'bah. Quraysh decided to reconstruct the Ka'bah but were afraid of demolishing it. Walid bin Mughayrah was the first person who took a pick in his hand and pulled down two pillars of the sanctuary. He was then feeling very much frightened and nervous. The people of Makkah were awaiting something to befall but when they saw that Walid had not been subjected to the wrath of the idols they became confident that his actions had the approval of the idols. As a result of this all of them joined in demolishing the building. By chance on that very day a boat which was coming from Egypt and belonged to a Roman merchant capsized near Makkah (Jeddah) following a violent storm. Quraysh came to know about this incident. They therefore sent some persons to Jeddah to purchase the planks of the boat for the construction of the Ka'bah. As regards masonry work they entrusted the same to a Copt mason who resided in Makkah.

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The walls of the Ka'bah became as high as the stature of a man. And now arrived the time for the installation of the Black Stone at its appropriate place. At this stage differences arose among the chiefs of the tribes and the tribes of Bani Abduddar and Bani Adi concluded an agreement that they would not allow anyone else to enjoy this honour. In order to strengthen the agreement they filled a container with blood and put their hands into it.

Owing to this development the construction work remained suspended for five days. The matters had reached a very critical stage. Different groups of Quraysh had gathered in the Masjidul Haram and a bloody encounter seemed imminent. At last however a respectable old gentleman from amongst Quraysh named Abu Umayyah bin Mughayrah Makhzumi made the chiefs of Quraysh assemble and said to them "Accept as arbitrator the person who first enters through the Gate of Safa (according to some history books Babus Salam)". All agreed to this. Suddenly the Holy Prophet entered the Masjid from that gate. All said in unison; "It is Muhammad the honest one. We agree to his acting as the arbitrator!" In order to settle the dispute the Holy Prophet asked them to bring a piece of cloth.

He placed the Black Stone on the cloth with his own hands then suggested that every one of the four chiefs of Makkah should hold one corner of the cloth. When the Black Stone was brought near the pillar the Holy Prophet placed it at its proper place with his own auspicious hands. In this way he brought to an end the dispute of Quraysh which was at the verge of occasioning bloody accidents. [1]

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[1] Habirah bin Wahab Makhzumi has versified this incident in a panegyric written by him. Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I 213 Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II Furu'-i Kafi vol. I page 225 and Bihar vol. XV pp. 39 - 41.

It is worth noting that at the time of the reconstruction of the Ka'bah it was notified to all concerned as under:

In the reconstruction of the Ka'bah spend only lawfully acquired property. Money which you have earned by improper means or by usury or oppression should not be spent for this purpose . Undoubtedly this thinking was the very sediment of the teachings of the Prophets which had still survived among Quraysh.

Chapter 11

THE FIRST MANIFESTATION OF REALITY

In fact the history of Islam commences basically from the day the Holy Prophet was appointed to the prophetic mission and brings a chain of incidents in its wake. The day the Holy Prophet was entrusted the task of guiding the people and the words "You are the Messenger of Allah" were ringing in his ears he assumed an onerous responsibility -the same great responsibility which was shouldered by all previous Prophets. On that day the policy of the 'honest one' of Quraysh became clearly known and his aim became more obvious. Before narrating the first incidents of the Prophethood of Muhammad it is essential that we should explain the following two matters:

1. Necessity for the appointment of Prophets.

2. Influence of Prophets on the reformation of society.

NECESSITY FOR THE APPOINTMENT OF PROPHETS

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The Almighty Allah has infused means of development and perfection in the nature of every being and has equipped it with various facilities for traversing the path to perfection. Just cast a glance at a small plant. A large number of factors are active for its perfection. The roots of the plant operate to the maximum extent to provide it with the nutritious material and meet all its needs and the various vessels distribute equitably the alimentary juice among all its branches and leaves.

Look at a flower whose structure is more wonderful than that of other vegetables. The bowl of the flower performs the duty of covering the surface of the buds and of protecting the petals and corolla of the flower. Similar is the case with the remaining mechanisms of the flower all of which have been appointed for the nourishment of an animate being and perform their duty in the best possible manner. And if you take a step forward and cast a glance at the astonishing structure of the animal world you will see the factors which make them reach the bounds of perfection exist with them.

If we wish to state this matter in scientific terms we would say that intuition for existence which is a universal blessing of the mechanism of nature has been endowed upon all created things. The Holy Qur'an has explained this real guidance in theses words: "He created every being and taught it how to live". All creatures right from the atom upto the great galaxies of the universe have had their share of this common blessing. After taking complete measurement the Almighty has indicated the path of their gradual perfection and development and has specified factors for the training and evolution of everyone. And this is the very 'general guidance for existence' which rules the entire creation of the Universe without any exception.

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However the question arises whether this natural urge for existence is sufficient also for that creature which is the pick of the basket. Certainly not. The reason for this is that man also possesses besides his material life another life which is the very base of his existence. If a man had to live only a material and brainless life like the fauna and flora the material factor would have been sufficient for his speed advancement and perfection. As however he happens to have two kinds of life; the secret of his prosperity and exaltation lies in the perfection of both of them.

The first simple human being who lived in caves and possessed a pure nature and in whose natural disposition not the least deviation had taken place did not need as much training as is required by the social man. However when man takes a step forward and transforms his life into a collective one and the idea of co-operation is firmly rooted in his life and dominates it deviations which are incidental to social collisions and contacts appear in his soul and bad habits and wrong ideas replace the pivot of natural thinking and upset the equilibrium and balance of the society. These deviations make the Creator of the world send educators to adjust the society and to reduce the evils which are the direct result of men living collectively so that they may with luminous torches and just laws lead the society to the right path which ensures all-round prosperity of the people.

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It goes without saying that living collectively notwithstanding its being useful also carries some evils in its lap and brings about numerous deviations. For this reason the Almighty Allah has sent preceptors so that they may as far as possible diminish deviations and perverseness and put the wheels of the society on the right track by introducing clear laws. [1]

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[1] This matter can he understood very clearly from this Qur'anic verse: All people were once one nation. Then Allah sent forth Prophets to give them good news and to warn them and with them He sent down the Book with the Truth that it might judge the disputes of men (Surah al-Baqarah 2:213).

ROLE OF PROPHETS IN THE REFORMATION OF SOCIETY

Usually it is imagined that the Prophets are divine teachers who are appointed to educate the people. People learn in the school of the Prophets and their social ways and manners are directed towards gradual perfection in a direction parallel with the teachings of those noble beings. It is just like a boy who learns a good deal during the course of his studies in the primary school the middle school the college and the university and moves forward day after day althoough on the first day he did not have the least impression of these teachings on his mind. Similarly the people receive knowledge from the school of the Prophets and side by side with their learning from the Prophets their manners and social ways gain perfection. We however feel that the Prophets are the instructors of the people. Their business and duty is to train them and not to educate them and that the basis of their religion and laws vis-a-vis natural perception is not something fresh or a new present. And if nature had not deviated and if ignorance and avarice had not overtaken it it would have perceived the essence of the Divine law.

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Of course what has been said above has been based on the words of the great leaders of Islam. Imam Ali the Commander of the Faithful says thus in Nahjul Balaghah about the aim of the Prophets: "He selected Prophets from amongst the descendants of Adam and obtained a promise from them to convey the revelations to the people and to spread the mission with which they had been entrusted. He sent them to demand from the people to fulfil their natural promise and recollect the forgotten blessings. Moreover by their preachings they (the Prophets) should present the people with an ultimatum and to ask them to extract the gems of wisdom which have remained hidden in the treasures of their nature".

A PATENT EXAMPLE

When we assert that the duty performed by the Prophets in the matter of training and reformation of the people is the same as performed by the gardener with regard to the rearing of a plant or when we say that for guiding the people and opening their natural perceptions the Prophets are like a minerologist who extracts precious minerals from the core of the mountains we do not say something extravagant.

It may be explained in this way: From the very first stage of the formation of its nucleus a plant possesses every kind of capacity for development growth and maturity. As soon as this plant begins to become active with the strengthening of its roots the operation of different pharmaceutical mechanisms in open air and the acquisition of sufficient light a movement appears in its entire being. At this stage the gardener is required to do two things. Firstly he has to make necessary conditions available for the strengthening of roots so that the latent vigour of the plant should develop. Secondly he has to restrain the deviations so that as and when the internal energy of the plant takes a step which prevents its thriving he should clip it. Hence it is not for the gardener to cause the plant to grow. On the contrary his duty is to provide and ensure necessary conditions so that the plant should divulge its latent perfection.

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The Creator or the Universe created man and endowed him with numerous innate energies and tendencies. He moulded his (man's) natural disposition with the light of monotheism and the worship of the Almighty as well as with the sense of equity justice and compassion and the instinct of work and effort. These seeds begin growing automatically in the heart of man. However his social life brings about deviations in him. The instinct of work and effort assumes the shape of greed and avarice the love for prosperity and life appears in the guise of selfishness and ambition and the light of monotheism and His worship assumes the garb of idolatry.

In such circumstances the Messengers of Allah provide man with the light of revelation and the programme containing true conditions for growth and development and balance the deviations and transgressions of instincts.

As you have observed the Commander of the Faithful has said "At the time of the commencement of creation the Creator obtained a promise which is called the 'promise of creation' or the 'testament of creation and nature'. What is the object of this promise of creation? Its object is that the Almighty Allah after giving the people hundreds of useful instincts and by mixing with their disposition scores of decent manners took a natural promise from them that they would follow good instincts and morals. For example His giving the eyes to man amounts to a sort of taking promise from him that he would not fall in a well. Similarly giving the sense of recognition of Allah and that of doing justice etc. amounts to obtaining a promise from him that he would be pious and just. The duty of the Prophets is that they should persuade the people to act according to the testament of existence and to tear asunder the inauspicious veil which is put over his nature. It is for this reason that it is said that the foundation of heavenly religions is shaped by natural matters.

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You might say that man is like a mountain which has precious stones and gold atoms hidden in it just as virtues knowledge and morals are hidden in human nature in different shapes. When the Prophets and the spiritualists look minutely into the mountain of our soul they find that it has been kneaded into a number of high qualities and pure mentality and sentiments. Then they turn it back to the exigencies of nature by means of their teachings and programmes. They remind it the commandments of nature and conscience. They invite the attention of man to the qualities and the personality which is hidden within himself.

THE 'HONEST ONE' OF QURAYSH IN THE HIRA MOUNTAIN

The Hira mountain is situated in the north of Makkah and one can reach its summit within half an hour. The surface at this mountain consists of slabs of black stone and no signs of life are found in it. In its northern point there is a cave which can be approached by man after crossing the stones. Its height is about as much as the stature of a man. Sunlight penetrates into a part of this cave and its remaining part is always dark.

However. this very cave is a witness to such incidents about its close friend that even today people hasten to it with an ardent desire to hear about these incidents from its mute language and to reach its threshold after undergoing many hardships so as to enquire from it about the incident of 'revelation' as well as about a part of the life history of that great benefactor of mankind. And the cave also replies in its mute language: "This is the place of worship by the honourable one of Quraish. Before he attained to the office of prophethood he spent here many days and many nights. He had selected this spot which was away from uproar for the purpose of prayers and worship. He spent the entire month of Ramadan here and at other times also he took asylum in this locality every now and then. So much so that his dear wife knew that as and when he did not come home he must be busy in prayers on the mountain of Hira. And when she sent people after him they found him meditating and praying at this place".

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Before he attained to the office of prophethood he used to reflect much upon two matters:

1. He studied thoroughly the book of existence and observed the luminositv power and workmanship of Allah in the features of every existing thing. By conducting deep study of the skies and the stars and prudently considering the creatures on earth he was approaching nearer to his target day after day.

2. He meditated upon the onerous responsibility which he knew he had to shoulder. With all the corruption and deterioration of the human society of the that day he did not consider its reformation to be something impossible. However the enforcement of reformatory programme too was not devoid of difficulties and hardship. Hence he observed the tumultuous life of the Makkans and the voluptuousness of Quraysh and reflected upon the ways and means of their reformation.

He wondered at the people worshipping the lifeless and ineffective idols and showing humility before them and signs of discomfort appeared in his face. However as he had not been ordained to mention the realities he refrained from pointing them out to those people.

COMMENCEMENT OF REVELATION

An angel was appointed by Allah to recite a few verses to the 'honest one' of Quraysh by way of prelude and introduction to the Book of guidance and welfare so as to bestow honour upon him by providing him with the garment of prophethood. The angel was the Archangel Jibreel himself and the particular day was the day of Muhammad's appointment to the office of prophethood. We shall speak about the determination of that day later.

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There is no doubt about the fact that to confront an angel requires special preparedness. Unless the soul of a person is great and strong he cannot bear the burden of prophethood nor can he endure a meeting with an angel. The 'honest one' of Quraysh had acquired such preparedness by means of prolonged prayers excessive meditations and the blessings of Allah and as stated by numerous writers of 'Seerah' the Prophet saw even before his appointment to the prophetic mission dreams and visions which were really as clear as daylight. After some time the most delightful hours for him were those during which he prayed in seclusion. His days were passing in this manner till on the particular day an angel paced a tablet by his side and said: 'Recite'. And the Prophet on account of the fact that he was unlettered and had not learnt to read and write replied that he was unable to read. The Archangel Jibreel pressed him severely and then asked him to recite. However he repeated the same reply. The angel again pressed him severely. This action was repeated thrice and after the third pressure he suddenly felt within himself that he could read the writing on the tablet held by the angel. He then read the following verses which are infact reckoned to be the introduction of the Book of human welfare:

Recite in the name of your Lord who created (all things).

He created man from a clot of blood! Recite your Lord is the Most Bountiful One Who by the pen taught man what he did not know. (Surah al-Alaq 96 1- 5 )

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Archangel Jibreel accomplished his assignment and after the revelation the Prophet also descended the mountain of Hira and proceeded towards Khadijah's house. [1]

The above verses clearly indicate the programme of the Holy Prophet in a nutshell and tell in obvious terms that the foundation of his religion is provided by recitation and reading learning and wisdom and use of pen.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 236 and Sahih Bukhari vol. I page 3.

THE WORLD AS VIEWED BY A MATERIALIST

The ever-increasing development of natural sciences has taken away from many scholars the power of going deep into some spiritual matters which are beyond the limits of the pen and the natural sciences and has bounded the light of their thinking. They imagine that this material world is the only world and anything other than matter is nothing. According to them everything not linked with material laws is fictitious and false.

It goes without saying that these scholars do not possess the least evidence about the non-existence of the other work from which revelation and inspiration emanate. All that they say is this "Experimentation perception and natural science do not guide us to this (i.e. the other world) and do not provide us with information about its existence. For example while denying the existence of the abstract soul they say "Such a being is not seen under the knife of our own analysis and the trace of such beings is not found in our laboratories under the microscope and consequently as our present tools do not guide us to them they must not necessarily have an external existence "

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This way of thinking is very limited defective and mixed with vanity whereby 'non-existence' has been concluded or account of 'lack of consciousness' and as the tools available with the materialists do not extend to the realities in which those scholars believe who worship Allah they (materialists) infer that they are all baseless.

There is no doubt about the fact that the materialists have not been able to realise the truth of what the religious scholars hold even in regard to the existence of the Creator not to speak of other metaphysical matters. And it appears that if the two groups undertake discussions in a suitable atmosphere free from spite and prejudice the distance between materialism and Divinity will vanish quickly and the differences which have divided the scholars into two groups will disappear.

Those who worship Allah have adduced scores of proofs regarding the existence of the Almighty and have proved that these very natural sciences have guided them towards the Omnipotent and the wonderful system which governs the interior and the exterior of all beings is in itself a clear proof of the existence of its Creator. All things in the Universe right from the Milky Way upto an atom are advancing in accordance with a chain of regular laws and it is not at all possible that a blind and deaf nature should originate and establish such a wonderful system. And it is this very argument of the 'good order of the Universe' which is the basis of scores of books and pamphlets published by the religious scholars. And as this argument is understandable and utilisable by different classes most of the writings of a general nature have been based on it and everyone has relied on it in one way or the other. As regards other arguments which are not of a general nature the same have been discussed in detail in philosophical and scholastic treatises. These books contain arguments and narrations regarding the abstract soul and metaphysics. We should like to refer to them in the following lines.

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THE ABSTRACT SOUL

Belief in 'soul' is one of the complicated and difficult problems which have attracted the attention of scholars. Those who want to subject everything to analysis have denied its existence and believe only in that soul which has a material aspect and works under the control of physical laws.

Existence of incorporeal spirit is one of the problems which has been studied minutely by those who worship the Almighty and believe in spiritual matters and they have adduced many proofs about the existence of such a non-material being which if studied in a proper atmosphere linked with perfect acquaintance with the principles of Divine reasoning stand totally vindicated. And whatever the godly scholars say about the angels soul revelation and inspiration is based on cogent and convincing arguments. [1]

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[1] Details of these arguments may be studied in philosophical books under the title of 'discussion on soul'. Please refer in this connection to the book 'Asfar' by Sadrul Muta'allihin'.

MAGNETIC SLEEP (HYPNOTISM)

It is possible that those who wish to understand everything by means of practical testing and experimentation may refer to numerous writings published on the subject of hypnotism. One of the founders of this branch of knowledge was a German physician Mesmer by name. It was two centuries ago that he originated this art and with the passage of time his views are being confirmed by the scholars. He trained some such persons as were suited on account of their temperament and mind to be hypnotised (to go into a state resembling sleep). He was successful in hypnotising in the presence of many scholars the same persons on whom he had conducted experiments previously. He released their souls from their bodies and obtained through the souls information about past and future events. After two centuries this art is acquiring gradual perfection in different ways. After many experiments the scholars have concluded as under:

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1. Besides the external perception and intellect man has also an internal perception and intellect which is more extensive than the external one.

2. In the state of artificial sleep both the faculties can hear from afar see behind a curtain and briefly give information about future events - events of which there is not the slightest outward sign.

3. By applying the laws of hypnotism it is possible to separate the soul of a person from his body so that the soul can see the inanimate body.

4. The system of the soul possesses an independence of a special type.

5. The soul does not cease to exist because of the decomposition and dispersion of different parts of the body.

The scholars have also drawn similar other conclusions. Even it we are not in a position to accept all these verdicts in their entirety the compendium of these experiments which have been conducted during the last two centuries and witnessed by many oriental and occidental scholars confirms the existence genuineness and independence of soul - and that is the real object of this discussion. Those interested may study the details of these experiments in the relevant books.

INSPIRATION OR MYSTERIOUS SENSE

Belief in inspiration is the foundation of all prophethoods and heavenly religions and it (inspiration) rests on a powerful abstract soul which is capable of receiving Divine knowledge either without any intermediary or through an angel. The sages have spoken thus about inspiration: "Inspiration means that the Almighty shows the true path to one of his chosen servants and imparts to him instruction in different branches of learning. This is however done in a mysterious and an unusual manner.

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KINDS OF INSPIRATION

On account of the accomplishments possessed by soul it comes in touch with the spiritual world in different ways. Here we record a resume of what has been narrated on the subject by the leaders of Islam: [1]

1. Sometimes the person concerned is informed about the heavenly truths by means of inspiration and whatever is suggested to his mind is tantamount to self-evident sciences wherein no doubt or suspicion is admissible.

2. He hears sentences and words from a corporeal object (i.e. a mountain or a tree) just as Allah spoke to Prophet Musa.

3. Realities are disclosed to him clearly in a state of vision.

4. An angel is commissioned by Allah to convey a particular commandment to him. The Holy Qur'an was communicated to the Holy Prophet in this manner as it says clearly in chapter al-Shu'ara 26:192 - 195: The faithful spirit (Jibreel) brought it (the Qur'an) down into your heart that you might warn mankind in plain Arabic speech.

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. XVIII pp. 193 194 255 and 256.

MYTHS

In order that the future generations may become acquainted with the particulars of the world-wide personalities the writers as well as the friends and associates of those persons have recorded as far as they could the events of their lives. So much so that in order to complete their writings they also bear the hardships of journeys. History does not know of any personality whose events of life should have been recorded like those of the Holy Prophet of Islam and whose friends and disciples should have preserved all the minute details of his life.

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In the same way our attachment has assisted us in preserving the events and details of the life of the great Prophet of Islam and has been the cause of embellishment of the book of his life. Not to speak of wise enemies this thing is also done by foolish friends. Hence it is necessary for a person who writes the biography of a great man that he should observe care in analysing his life and should not ignore strict historical standards in weighing the events.

Now we come to the trail of the event of revelation.

TRAIL OF REVELATION

The great soul of the Holy Prophet was illumined with the light of revelation. He recorded in his heart what he had heard from the angel (Jibreel). After this incident the same angel addressed him saying: "O Muhammad! You are the Messenger of Allah and I am Jibreel". At times it is said that the Holy Prophet heard these words when he had descended the Hira mountain. These two occurrences frightened and agitated him to some extent. The cause of fear and agitation was that a great responsibility had been entrusted to him and he had on that day discerned the reality which he had been seeking for a long time.

However this agitation of mind was natural to some extent and was not inconsistent with his faith about the truth which was communicated to him. Notwithstanding the fact that he was certain that what he had acquired was the message of Allah and he who had brought it was Jibreel all his agitation is so because however strong a person's soul may be and to whatever extent he may be related to the mechanism of the occult and the spiritual world when he faces in the first instance an angel whom he has never seen before and that too on the summit of a mountain he is liable to experience such agitation and that is why this agitation vanished later.

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Agitation of mind and unusual weariness made him proceed to the house of Khadijah. When he entered the house his dear wife observed signs of deep reflection and anxiety in his face and asked him what the matter was. The Holy Prophet related to Khadijah what had happened and also added the sentence 'I felt afraid of myself'. [1] Khadijah looked at him with respect prayed for him and comforted him by mentioning some of his good qualities. Amongst other things she said: 'You are kind to your kinsfolk show hospitality to your guests and you are not afraid of bearing hardships in the right path. Allah will assist you'.

By narrating these qualities of the Holy Prophet Khadijah certainly intended to make him more hopeful about his success and advancement for the achievement of the object for which he had been commissioned. This fact can very well be confirmed by what she said.

Then the Holy Prophet felt fatigued. He therefore turned to Khadijah and said Cover me . Khadijah covered him and soon afterwards he fell asleep.

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[1] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 205; Tarikh-i Kamil Ibn Athir vol. II p. 31.

KHADIJAH GOES TO WARAQAH BIN NAWFAL

We have already referred to Waraqah in the foregoing pages and have mentioned that he was one of the sages of Arabia. It was a long time since he had embraced Christianity after studying the Injeel and was an eminent person in his own field. He was Khadijah's cousin. The Holy Prophet's dear wife related to Waraqah what she had heard from her honourable husband. Waraqah after hearing Khadijah replied to his cousin: "Your cousin (i.e. the Holy Prophet) is a truthful man and what he has met with is the commencement of prophethood and Jibreel has descended upon him".

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The events which we have so far mentioned are extracts from historical narratives. These are the facts which have been related by successive writers and are found in all to history books. In the course of these narrations however we come across things which do not conform with those standards about Prophets which we have in hand. Furthermore they are also not compatible with those events of the life of that great man which we have studied so far. And that which we are going to place before you now should either be treated to be a part of the fiction of history or it must be explained away.

We are most surprised at the writing of Dr Haikal the profound scholar of Egypt who inspite of the lengthy foreword penned by him in the introduction of his book wherein he has said that a group of persons have on account of enmity or attachment introduced falsehoods in the biography of the Holy Prophet has also himself recorded matters which are decidedly incorrect although some Shi'ah scholars like the late Tabarsi had given useful warnings in this regard. [1] We reproduce here some of these false stories (though it would not at all have been necessary to mention them if the ignorant friends or the cunning enemies had not published them in their books):

1. When the Holy Prophet entered Khadijah's house he was thinking that possibly his eyes had made a mistake or that he had become a soothsayer! Khadijah however dispelled his misgivings by saying that he was helpful to the orphans and kind to his kinsfolk! Then the Holy Prophet glanced at her gratefully and asked her to bring a blanket and cover him. [2]

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2. Tabari and other historians have written: "When he heard the words You are the Messenger of Allah his entire frame began to tremble and he decided to throw himself down the mountain. In the meantime however the angel appeared and dissuaded him from doing so. [3]

3. Afterwards Muhammad went for the circumambulation of the Ka'bah. There he met Waraqah bin Nawfal and narrated his story to him. Waraqah said: "By Allah! You are the Prophet of these people and the Archangel who used to come to Musa has descended upon you. Some of your people will refuse to admit your claim and will do you harm. They will turn you out of your city and will be at war with you". Muhammad felt that what Waraqah had said was correct! [4]

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[1] Majma'ul Bayan vol. X page 384.

[2] Tabaqat-i Ibn Sa'd vol. I p. 289 Hayat Muhammad vol. I p. 195.

[3] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 205.

[4] Tafsir-i Tabari vol. XXX page 161; commentary on Surah al-Alaq and Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 238.

BASELESSNESS OF THESE STATEMENTS

We feel that all these stories are a part of the Israelite programme and have been coined by the Jews and introduced into history and Tafsir (exegesis).

Firstly in order to evaluate these statements we should look into the biographies of the previous Prophets. The Holy Qur'an has mentioned their activities and detailed narratives have also come down regarding the events of their lives. We do not however come across a similar repulsive event in the life of anyone of them. The Holy Qur'an has narrated fully the story of the commencement of revelation to Prophet Musa and has clearly stated all the particulars of that event. Nevertheless it has not attributed such a fear trembling and agitation of mind to him that on hearing the Voice he should become inclined to flinging himself down the mountain although the possibility for Musa becoming afraid was more plausible because he had heard a voice from a tree in the desert during a dark night and was thereby informed about his appointment to the office of Prophet.

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As explained by the Holy Qur'an Musa remained quite calm at that moment. And when the Almighty asked him to throw away his rod and he did so at once his fear was only on account of the rod which had turned into a dangerous animal. Can it be said that Musa was peaceful and calm at the time of the commencement of revelation whereas the greatest of the Prophets became so much aghast at hearing the words of the angel that he wished to throw himself down the summit of the mountain? Would it be wise to say so?

It is an admitted fact that so long as the soul of a person is not ready in all respects to receive the Divine secrets (i.e. Prophethood) the Wise Lord does not elevate him to the office of Prophet because the object of raising Prophets is that they should guide mankind.

How can a person impress the people when his sense of security and serenity is so limited that he should be ready to commit suicide on hearing the revelation or when it is broken or ceases. The scholars of 'Kalam' (scholastic theology) are unanimous that a Prophet should be free from all those things which become the cause of people remaining at a distance from him. In the circumstances can we accept these statements which are by no means applicable to the greatest leader of mankind?

Secondly how did it happen that on hearing the Divine voice Musa became fully satisfied that it was from Allah and at once prayed to Allah that Harun might be appointed as his companion and helper as he could speak more eloquently but the chief of the Prophets remained in doubt for quite some time till Waraqah removed the doubt and indecision from his mind?

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Thirdly it is an admitted fact that Waraqah was a Christian. However when he wished to remove the agitation of mind and hesitation of the Holy Prophet he mentioned the name of Musa son of Imran only: "It is the very office to which Musa son of Imran was appointed''. [1]

Does this fact not itself testify that the hand of the Israelite story-tellers has been at work and they have concocted this story without paying any heed to the religion of its hero (Waraqah).

Besides all this it may be said that such matters are not at all in conformity with the greatness and excellence of the Holy Prophet of Islam of which we are aware. The writer of the book 'Hayat-i Muhammad' has been aware to some extent about the concoction of these stories. For this reason therefore he has at times quoted the above-mentioned matters with the preceding words: 'As it is said'.

The late Tabarsi the great Shi 'ah scholar had done justice to these matters in his Tafsir. [2] For further information therefore reference may be made to that book.

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[1] Seerah Ibn Hisham vol. I page 238. The late Allamah Majlisi has also quoted in Biharul Anwar vol. XVIII page 228 and 'Isa from the book 'al-Muntaqi'. However these words do not appear in Sahih Bukhari and Seerah-i Ibn Hisham on which this discussion is based.

[2] Majma'ul Bayan vol. I page 384.

Chapter 12

THE FIRST REVELATION

Just like the dates of birth and death of the Holy Prophet the date of his appointment to the prophetic mission is also not known definitely from the historical point of view; the Shi'ah scholars are almost unanimous that he was appointed to the prophetic mission on the 27th of Rajab and his prophethood commenced from the same day. However the Sunni scholars usually claim that he was appointed to this mission during the holy month of Ramadan.

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As Shi'ahs claim to be the followers of the progeny of the Prophet and consider their reports to be true and final in the light of 'Hadith Thaqalayn' they have accepted the report of the progeny of the Prophet's Household about the date of this appointment to the prophetic mission to be correct. The descendants of the Prophet say: "The chief of the family was appointed to the prophetic mission on the 27th of Rajab". In view of this Shi'ahs do not entertain any doubt about the correctness of this date.

The thing which can be treated to be the basis for the other view is the very statement of the Holy Qur'an wherein it has been stated that the verses of the Qur'an were revealed in Ramadan. And as the day of the commencement of the prophetic mission is the day of the beginning of revelation of the Holy Qur'an it may be said that the Prophet was appointed to prophethood in the very month of Ramadan. The verses of the Holy Qur'an which indicate that it was revealed in Ramadan are as follows:

1. In the month of Ramadan the Qur'an was revealed. (Surah al-Baqarah 2:185 ).

2. We swear by the Glorious Book that We revealed the Qur'an on a blessed night. (Surah al-Dukhan 44:2-3).

And that is the very night of Qadr (glory) which has been mentioned in Surah al-Qadr (verse 1) wherein it has been said: "We revealed the Qur'an in the Night of Glory."

REPLY BY SHI'AH SCHOLARS

REPLY BY SHI'AH SCHOLARS

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And that is the very night of Qadr (glory) which has been mentioned in Surah al-Qadr (verse 1) wherein it has been said: "We revealed the Qur'an in the Night of Glory."

THE FIRST REPLY

The above-mentioned verses show that the Holy Qur'an was revealed in one blessed night of the Holy month of Ramadan which is called the 'Night of Glory' but they do not mention the place of its revelation and do not also denote that they were revealed to the Prophet during the same night. It is quite possible that there may have been various revelations of the Qur'an and numerous Shi'ah and Sunni narrations confirm this possibility. One of those revelations is the gradual revelation of the Qur'an to the Prophet and the other is its revelation in installments from the Lauhul Mehfuz [1] to Baytul Ma'mu'r. [2] Hence there should be nothing wrong in a few verses of Surah al-Alaq being revealed to the Holy Prophet on the 27th of Rajab and the entire Qur'an in one compact form being revealed in the month of Ramadan from a place named by the Qur'an as 'Lauhul Mehfuz' to another place 'Baytul Ma'mur.' This view is confirmed by the very verse of Surah al-Dukhan which says: We swear by the glorious Book that We revealed the Qur'an on a blessed night. It is evident from this verse (on the strength of the pronoun which turns towards the word 'Book') that it was revealed in its entirety during the Glorious Night (falling in the month of Ramadan) and it is only proper that this revelation should be other than the revelation which took place at the time of the appointment of the Prophet to the prophetic mission because at that time only a few verses were revealed.

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In short the verses which indicate that the Qur'an was revealed in the month of Ramadan during the 'Night of Glory' cannot be a proof of the fact that the day of the Holy Prophet's appointment to the prophetic mission on which only a few verses were revealed also coincided in the same month because the aforesaid verses show that the entire Book (the Qur'an) was revealed in that month whereas on the day of the Holy Prophet's appointment to the prophetic mission only five or six verses were revealed. Hence the two schools while explaining the meanings of the above-mentioned verses in their narrations say that the entire Qur'an was sent down from the 'Lahhul Mehfuz' to 'Baytul Ma'mur in that very month. The Shi'ah and Sunni scholars have quoted the said narrations and in particular Professor Muhammad Abdul Azim Zarqani of 'Al-Azhar' university has mentioned them in his book in detail.[3]

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[1] See: Allamah Muhammad Husayn Tabatabai Tafsirul Mizan.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Manahilul 'Irfan fi 'Ulumil Qur'an vol. I page 37.

THE SECOND REPLY

The most sound reply which has so far been given by the scholars is the second one. The learned scholar Tabatabai has explained it in detail in his precious book [1] and a gist of it is given below:

The real and actual purpose of the Holy Qur'an saying that: We revealed it in the month of Ramadan is that it was revealed to the Holy Prophet during that month because besides being revealed in parts the Holy Qur'an possesses a reality about which Almighty Allah informed His great Messenger in a particular night of the month of Ramadan.

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As the Holy Prophet possessed knowledge of the entire Holy Book he was directed not to make haste in divulging its contents and to wait till he received orders regarding its communication to the people gradually. The Holy Qur'an says: Do not make haste in narrating the contents of the Qur'an till you receive orders in this behalf through revelation.

This reply shows that the Holy Qur'an possesses a total existence which was revealed in its entirety at one time in the month of Ramadan and it also possesses a gradual existence which lasted from the day of the Holy Prophet's appointment to the prophetic mission up to the end of his life.

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[1] al-Mizan vol. II pp. 14-16

THE THIRD REPLY

As has been explained briefly regarding the different kinds of revelation it has evidently various stages. The first stage is that of true visions and dreams. The second stage is that of oracular and heavenly voices which are heard without facing an angel. And the last stage is that when the Prophet sees an angel and hears the words of Allah from him and learns through him about the realities of other worlds.

As the human soul does not possess the requisite strength to bear the different stages of revelation in the very first instance it is necessary that the capacity to bear them should develop gradually it may be said that: on the day of his appointment to the prophetic mission (27th of Rajab) and for some time thereafter the Holy Prophet heard only those Heavenly voices which informed him that he was the Messenger and Prophet of Allah and no verse was revealed during that period. And some time later gradual revelation of the Qur'an began in the month of Ramadan.

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By this we mean that the appointment of the Prophet to the prophetic mission in the month of Rajab is not attached to the revelation of the Qur'an in that month. In view of this there should be no discrepancy between the Qur'an being revealed in the month of Ramadan and the Prophet being appointed to the prophetic mission in the month of Rajab.

Although what has been stated above does not conform to numerous texts (because many historians have said explicitly that the verses of Surah al-Alaq were revealed on the very day of the appointment of the Holy Prophet to the prophetic mission) still we possess some narratives which tell us that on the day of the Holy Prophet's appointment to the prophetic mission he heard oracular voice and which do not say anything about the revelation of the Holy Qur'an or its verses. They explain the matter by saying that on that day the Holy Prophet saw an angel who said to him "O Muhammad! you are the Messenger of Allah ". And in some of the narrations only hearing of the voice by the Prophet has been mentioned and nothing has been said about his seeing the angel.[1]

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. XVIll pp. 184 190 and 193.

THE FAITH OF THE PROPHET BEFORE THE PROPHETIC MISSION

For quite some time the question of the religion of the Holy Prophet before his appointment to the prophetic mission has been a matter of discussion between the Shi'ah and Sunni scholars. They have raised the following issues and given reply to each one of them:

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1. Did the Holy Prophet profess any religion before his appointment to the prophetic mission?

2. Supposing that he was the follower of a religion was it his own religion?

3. If he was the follower of any other religion was that religion revealed to him independently and he followed it independently or he was reckoned to be one of the followers of that religion?

4. If he acted on that religion independently or as a follower to which of the former Prophets did that religion belong?

These are the four questions which one comes across in various books of Seerah (the Prophet's biography) history and exegesis. However is it necessary that we should give definite replies to these questions? Is it basically necessary that we should study various books on history exegesis and the Holy Prophet's biography and collect the requisite answers?

We feel that discussion of these particular points is not at all necessary.[1] Rather what is important is that we should conclusively prove that before his appointment to the prophetic mission the Holy Prophet believed in and worshipped only Allah the One and was pious and chaste.

This can be proved by the following two methods:

Firstly by studying his forty years' life preceding his appointment to the prophetic mission and secondly by scrutinizing what has been said on the subject by the leaders of Islam.

1. To sum up his forty years' life was a life of modesty and chastity honesty and truthfulness uprightness and righteousness goodness and kindness to the oppressed and the needy and hatred for the idols and the idol-worshippers. So much so that once when he performed a journey to Syria in connection with trade and the other party to a transaction swore by idols he said "The most obnoxious things which always arouse my wrath are these very 'Lat' and 'Manat' by which you are swearing".

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Besides this he prayed continuously in the cave of Hira during the month of Ramadan and performed Haj time and again for as the sixth Imam says he (the Holy Prophet) performed Haj secretly ten times and according to another narration twenty times. And as we know all Haj ceremonies are the performance of rites to which Prophet Ibrahim invited people and wished that by this means those who believe in Allah the One should assemble at one particular place during a fixed period.

Similarly the Prophet always remembered Allah while taking his meals and refrained from eating meat of the animals which had been slaughtered in an unlawful manner and was very much disturbed to see obscene scenes wine-drinking and gambling; so much so that at times he sought asylum in the mountains and returned home when a part of the night had passed. Now what demands our consideration is this:

Is it possible to doubt the faith of a man who has passed his life in the manner stated above and who does not possess even the smallest weak point from the very beginning of his life and who passes a part of his life in hills and in secluded places to meditate upon the beautiful phenomena of the world. We consider an ordinary man to be pious dutiful and righteous if we observe one tenth of these qualities in him what to speak of the Holy Prophet?

2. The second method of finding out the real position is the study of numerous documents and narratives which have reached us from the leaders of Islam. One of them is the discourse of Imam Ali the chief of the monotheists in 'Khutbah-i Qasi'ah':

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"From the time the Holy Prophet had been weaned the Almighty Allah had associated the most distinguished angel with him so that he might show him the path of magnanimity and goodness during day as well as night" [2]

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. XVIII pp. 271 - 281.

[2] Nahjul Balaghah vol. II page 182.

COMPARISON OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD WITH PROPHET 'ISA

There is no doubt about the fact that the Holy Prophet of Islam enjoys superiority over all previous Prophets. And it has been stated explicitly in the Holy Qur'an about some Prophets that they were elevated to the position of prophethood during their very childhood and Books were also sent to them. For example the Holy Qur'an says about Prophet Yahya:To Yahya we said: Observe the Scripture with a firm resolve. We bestowed on him wisdom grace and purity while he was yet a child. (Surah Maryam 19:12)

When Prophet 'Isa was in his cradle the elders of Bani Israel pressed his mother to let them know the father of the child. Maryam pointed towards the cradle so that people should get the reply to their question from the child himself. 'Isa replied to them in these words with great eloquence and firmness: I am the servant of Allah. He has given me the Injeel and ordained me a Prophet. His blessing is upon me wherever I go and He has commanded me to be steadfast in prayer and to give alms to the poor as long as I shall live. (Surah Maryam 19:31)

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The son of Maryam clarifies for us the principles and regulations of his religion during his very infancy and declares that he follows the law of the worship of Allah the One. Now we call your conscience to witness and ask you: "When Prophet Yahya and Prophet 'Isa are true believers and pronounce the realities of nature can it be said that the unique leader of mankind and the noblest of men did not possess an extraordinary faith till the age of forty years although even at the time of the revelation in the cave of Hira he was already busy in meditation?"

Chapter 13

WHO WERE THE FIRST PERSONS TO EMBRACE ISLAM?

The advancement of Islam and its penetration into different peoples took place gradually. In the terminology of the Holy Qur'an those persons who preceded all others in embracing and propagating Islam are called as-Sabiqun (the preceding ones) and in the early days of Islam this precedence was in itself a criterion of virtue and superiority and even amongst these persons one who preceded another one enjoyed a more honourable position. Hence we should consult the authentic sources and decide without any bias as to who were the first amongst men and women who embraced Islam.

THE FIRST AMONGST WOMEN TO EMBRACE ISLAM WAS KHADIJAH

It is an admitted historical fact that from amongst women Khadijah was the first to embrace Islam and there is no contradictory report on this point. We briefly mention here an important historical authority which has been quoted by the historians from one of the wives of the Holy Prophet.

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A'isha says: "I was always sorry for not having seen the period of Khadijah and wondered at the kindness and love which the Holy Prophet expressed for her because her dear husband always remembered her more than anyone else and if he slaughtered a sheep he found out the friends of Khadijah and sent them a share of the meat. One day when the Holy Prophet was going out of the house he remembered Khadijah and praised her. Eventually I could not control myself and said very boldly: "She was nothing more than an old woman and Allah has given you a better one".

My words had a very unfavourable effect on the Holy Prophet of Allah. Signs of anger and wrath appeared on his forehead and he said: "It is not at all so... I have not acquired a better one. She believed in my Prophethood when all people were drowned in infidelity and polytheism. She placed her wealth at my disposal in the most trying circumstances. Allah gave me through her issues which I did not get through anyone else.[1]

Another evidence about Khadijah being the first woman in the world to embrace Islam is the very incident of the commencement of the revelation of the Holy Qur'an because when the Holy Prophet came down from the cave of Hira and related the incident to his wife she immediately confirmed her husband's statement and consoled him. Furthermore she had time and again heard from the fortune-tellers and sages of Arabia about the prophethood of her husband and it was on account of the truthfulness and righteousness of the Hashmite young man that she married him.

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. XVI page 8.

THE FIRST AMONGST MEN TO ADOPT ISLAM WAS ALI

THE FIRST AMONGST MEN TO ADOPT ISLAM WAS ALI

Almost all the Shi'ah and Sunni historians are unanimous that the first amongst men to embrace Islam was Ali. As against this well-known statement there can also be found some rare statements in history. Their narrators have chosen to state the reverse of it. For example it is said that the first man to embrace Islam was either Zayd bin Harith or Abu Bakr. However most of the arguments bear evidence against these two statements. Some of these are as follows:

THE FIRST EVIDENCE

Ali had been brought up from his very childhood in the house of the Holy Prophet and the latter endeavoured to educate him like a kind father. Most of the biographers say unanimously: "Before the appointment of Muhammad to the prophetic mission a severe drought appeared in Makkah. Abu Talib the uncle of the Holy Prophet had a big family to support. He was the chief of Quraysh and his income was not at all in keeping with his expenditure and he was not as wealthy as his brother Abbas. The financial condition of Abu Talib prompted the Holy Prophet to discuss the matter with his uncle Abbas and they decided to take some of the children of Abu Talib to their own houses so as to alleviate his burden and to help him meet his requirements. Consequently the Prophet took Ali to his house and Abbas took Ja'far under his guardianship".[1]

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In the circumstances it can be said that when Ali went to the Holy Prophet's house his age was not less than eight or ten years. The reason for this presumption is that the object of the Holy Prophet in taking Ali under his patronage was to alleviate the burden of the chief of Makkah (Abu Talib) and besides the fact that separation of a child from his parents who is less than eight or ten years is a difficult matter; it could not also have any appreciable effect on the conditions of life of Abu Talib.

Hence it is necessary that we should presume the age of Ali at that time to be such that his being taken away from Abu Talib had an appreciable effect on the latter's conditions of life. In the circumstances how can it be said that strangers like Zayd bin Harith and others had become acquainted with the secrets of revelation whereas the cousin of the Holy Prophet who was nearest to him of all others and was always with him remained ignorant of them?

The purpose of the Prophet in fostering Ali was to compensate Abu Talib to some extent for the services rendered by him and so far as the Prophet was concerned there was nothing more dear to him than to guide a person directly. Keeping all these things in view how can it be said that the Holy Prophet kept his cousin deprived of this great blessing notwithstanding the fact that he (Ali) was an intelligent person with a highly enlightened mind? It would be better if we learn about this matter from the lips of Ali himself: In the sermon entitled Qasi'ah he explains his rank and esteem in the eyes of the Prophet thus: "You know the esteem in which the Holy Prophet held me on account of our near relationship and the high position and respect (which I enjoyed in his eyes). During my childhood he fostered me under his own care and stuck me to his bosom. He embraced me in his bed and I used to smell his sweet smell. I followed him just as the off-spring of a she-camel follows its mother. Every day he hoisted (showed) a sign of his moral virtues and ordered me to follow it. He stayed in Hira every year (before his appointment to the prophetic mission) and I used to go and see him there whereas none else saw him.

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At that time Islam had not reached any house except that of the Holy Prophet and Khadijah and I was the third amongst them. I used to see the light of revelation and messengership and smelt the fragrance of prophethood".[2]

[1] Seerah Ibn Hisham vol. I page 246.

[2] Nahjul Balaghah vol. II page 182.

THE SECOND EVIDENCE

Narrating the life history of Afif Kandi Ibne Hajar (in 'Al-lsabah) Ibne Abdul Bir (in Isti'ab) and many other scholars of history have quoted him to have said: "During the Age of Ignorance I once went to Makkah. My host was Abbas son of Abdul Muttalib and both of us arrived in the precincts of the Holy Ka'bah. Suddenly l saw that a man came and stood by the side of the Ka'bah. Then a boy arrived and stood on his right side. Soon after that I saw a woman came and stood behind them. I saw the boy and the woman performing ruku' and sujud (kneeling and prostration) in imitation of the man. This unprecedented scene inspired me to enquire from Abbas about it. He said: "That man is Muhammad son of Abdullah and that boy is his cousin and the woman standing behind them is the wife of Muhammad". Then he added: "My nephew says that a day will come when he will control the treasuries of 'Kisra' and 'Kaiser'. By Allah there is no follower of this religion on the face of the earth except these three". Then the narrator says: "I wish that I had been the fourth of them!"

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Since the above narrative is not directly concerned with Ali even those persons who fail to narrate his virtues have quoted it. Amongst the traditionalists only Bukhari has thought it proper to declare it 'weak' but his attitude towards the progeny of the Holy Prophet's household is quite well-known. The readers can study the said narrative in detail in the books mentioned below.[1]

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[1] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II. p. 211; Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II pp. 31 - 38 and A'lamul Wara page 25.

THE THIRD EVIDENCE

In the sermons and dissertations of Ali we usually come across the following and other similar sentences:

"I am the servant of Allah and the brother of the Holy Prophet and the greatest truthful one and none will utter this sentence after me except one who is a liar. I offered prayers along with the Holy Prophet for seven years[1] before anyone else did so."

The author of al-Ghadir (vol. III page 222) has quoted authorities for these narrations from the books of traditions and history and we dispense with quoting the same briefly:

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[1] In some of the narratives the period has been mentioned to be five years and on the basis of numerous indications it may be said that a part of this period preceded to the prophetic mission.

THE FOURTH EVIDENCE

The following traditions of the Holy Prophet narrated by successive witnesses with various explanations have been quoted to this effect:

"The first person who will meet me on the Pool of 'Kauthar' and the first person who embraced Islam is Ali son of Abu Talib".

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You may also study the authorities for these traditions in the third volume of 'al-Ghadir' page 320. The evidences for both the parts have reached the stage of consecutiveness and when a person studies these ahadith without any bias he becomes definite about Ali being the foremost among the believers. He does not therefore prefer at all the other two statements which are in a minority from the point of view of narration. The number of the supporters of the first statement (viz. Ali was the first person to embrace Islam) who consist of distinguished companions of the Prophet and tabe'in (companions of the companions of the Prophet) exceeds sixty. So much so that even Tabari [1] who has left the matter open and has contented himself only with quoting the statement says that Ibn Sa'id asked his father: "Was Abu Bakr the first person to embrace Islam? " His father replied: "No. Before he embraced Islam more than fifty persons had come round to the Prophet's way. However his Islam was superior to the Islam of others."

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[1] 2Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 215.

MAMUN'S DISCUSSION WITH ISHAQ

Ibn Abd Rabbih quotes an interesting incident in 'Aqdul Farid' which may be summarized as under:

Mamun arranged a debating assembly and the famous scholar Ishaq occupied the foremost position in it. When Ali's precedence over others in the matter of acceptance of Islam was established Ishaq said "When Ali embraced Islam he was only a boy but Abu Bakr was a mature man (at the time he became a Muslim). Hence his faith enjoys superiority over that of Ali".

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Mamun suddenly intervened and said: "Did the Prophet invite Ali in his boyhood to adopt the faith or his faith was due to divine inspiration? It cannot at all be said that his faith was inspired because not to speak of Ali even the faith of the Prophet was not inspired but was the result of guidance and messages brought by Jibreel from Allah. Hence when the Holy Prophet invited him to accept Islam did he do so on his own account or had he been ordered by Allah to accomplish the deed? We cannot imagine that the Prophet should subject himself or anyone else to hardship and responsibility without an order from Allah. Hence there is no alternative except that we should say that the Prophet's call is supported by divine order. And does the Omniscient Lord order His Prophet to invite an untalented boy (for whom 'faith' or 'no faith' are alike) to adopt Islam? Certainly such an act is not possible from the All-Wise and All-Knowing Allah.

Hence it should be concluded that the faith of Ali was a true and firm faith which was not at all inferior to the faith of others and it is Ali son of Abu Talib to whom the verses of Qur'an "and the foremost are the foremost these are they who are drawn nigh (to Allah)" most appropriately applies.

Chapter 14

CESSATION OF REVELATION

The soul of the Holy Prophet had been illuminated with the light of revelation and he continuously meditated and reflected upon the onerous duty which the Almighty Lord had entrusted to him by saying: "O you who are wrapped up in your vestment arise and give warning. Magnify your Lord . . ." (Surah al-Muddaththir (74:1-3)

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He was also expecting another message from his Lord so that by hearing the verses and the word of Allah his mind might become more illuminated and his resolution and determination more firm. However days and months passed but the Divine angel who had met him in the Cave of Hira did not re-appear and the invisible voice which had inspired his soul was no longer heard. We are not aware of its reason. Possibly the purpose of pausing in the revelation was to afford rest to the Prophet because history tells us that the revelation is always accompanied by unusual spiritual pressure especially in the early days of the appointment of a Prophet to the prophetic mission because till that time his soul is not accustomed to such mysterious perception. The date of cessation of revelation is also not very clear but after studying the texts of history and traditions it can be concluded that the revelation was cut off before general invitation to the public and special invitation to the Prophet's kinsmen had taken place. It was at the time when the Prophet had not extended his call to the public and special contacts with the individuals had also not yet been established. However as quoted by the late Allamah Majlisi [1] from Manaqib Ibn Shahr Ashob the time of cessation of relevation was after the extension of invitation by the Prophet to his kinsmen to embrace Islam. Hence it may be said that this incident took place in the fourth year of the appointment of the Prophet to the prophetic mission as the invitation to his kinsmen was extended exactly after three years of the commencement of his prophethood.

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There are some historians [2] who have different views in this regard which does not conform to the established facts of the biographies of the Holy Prophet and his dear wife. They say: "When the trail of revelation was cut off the disturbance of mind and doubt to which the Prophet had become subjected at the time of the commencement of his prophetic mission was revived his wife also became agitated and said to him "I think Allah has cut off His contact with you." After hearing these words he resorted to his permanent place (Mount Hira). In the meantime the heavenly revelation came twice and addressed him in the following verses:

By the light of day and by the fall of night your Lord has not forsaken you nor does He abhor you The life to come holds a richer prize for you than this present life. You will be gratified with what your Lord will give you. Did he not find you an orphan and give you shelter? Did he not find you perplexed and guide you? Did he not find you poor and enrich you? Therefore do not wrong the orphan nor chide away the beggar. But proclaim the kindness of your Lord. (Surah al-Dhuha 93:1-11)

The revelation of these verses gave him extraordinary happiness and he realized that whatever was being said about him by the people was baseless.

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. XVIll page 197.

[2] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. I pp. 48-52.

OUR OPINION ON THIS SUBJECT

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We cannot accept this narrative in its entirety. The biography of Khadijah and her conversation with her husband as well as her recollections are still recorded in history. It was the same Khadijah who endeavoured at the time of the commencement of revelation to remove the agitation of her husband. Then how could she now become the cause of his agitation when she could still perceive the noble character and morals of Muhammad and knew that Allah in whom she believed was just and righteous. Yes! In spite of all this how could she develop in her mind a strange misgiving about Allah and His Prophet?

Besides this the scholars have remarked in the books on 'Kalam' (scholastic theology) that: "After the acquisition of a chain of prominent habits which distinguish their holder from others the status of prophethood is given to that person who possesses sublime habits and praiseworthy qualities and so long as the Prophet does not possess a number of prominent qualities and does not fulfil some special conditions this status is never accorded to him. At the top of these qualities are chastity peace of mind faith and trust in Allah and because a Prophet possesses such qualities his thoughts cannot go astray." The scholars have said : "The gradual development of a Prophet begins from his very childhood and gradually his knowledge reaches a stage of perfection. Even the slightest doubt does not cross his mind about the things which he sees or hears. Furthermore the remarks of anyone do not create any doubt in the mind of a person who occupies this position."

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The above quoted Qur'anic verses and especially the verse "Your Lord has not forsaken you nor does He abhor you" show only this that someone said these words to the Holy Prophet but do not indicate as to who said them and what effect they had on his soul. However some exegetes say that these words were uttered by some polytheists and in view of this probability all these verses cannot relate to the commencement of revelation because none knew about the commencement of prophethood with the descent of revelation except Khadijah and Ali so that he might resort to criticism. So much so that as we shall mention later the fact of the Holy Prophet's prophethood was unknown to the polytheists for full three years and he had not been ordered to proclaim his prophethood to the general public till the verse: "Manifest that which you have been ordered to do" was revealed. Hence the story of the cessation of revelation has only historical and no Qur'anic evidence and that too is not in a repulsive shape but in the manner as described in the beginning of this chapter.

THE HOLY PROPHET COMMENCED REFORMATION FROM A LIMITED CIRCLE

The wise men and leaders of a society chalk out a very extensive programme but start their work from a limited circle and as and when they achieve success they immediately make efforts for its extension and expand the sphere of their activities in proportion to their success and make endeavours for its gradual advancement.

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A wise person [1]enquired from the head of one of the big states of modern times: "What is the secret of your success in public matters "He replied: The way of thinking of westerners like us is different from that of you orientals. We always start a work with an extensive and well-calculated programme but commence it from a small place and make an attempt for its expansion after acquiring success. And if in the meantime we realize that the programme is not correct we immediately leave it and begin another business. On the other hand you orientals enter into a business with an extensive programme and begin the work from a big place and put the entire programme into action all at once. And if in the meantime you encounter a deadlock you have no way of return left except bearing heavy losses. Besides this your spirit has been such that you always make hurry and haste and you always wish to harvest your crop on the very first day. You desire to obtain the final result during the early days and this in itself is the most dangerous way of social thinking which makes man to come to a very strange deadlock.

We feel that this way of thinking is not related to either East or West. Mature wise and knowledgeable persons always achieve their objects in this manner. The great Prophet of Islam also acted according to this admitted principle and propagated his religion for full three years without making any haste. He presented his religion to those whom he found to be deserving and ready from the point of view of thinking and capacity. Although his target was to set up a great world-wide State so that he might bring all people under the influence of one standard (the standard of monotheism) but during these three years he did not at all resort to general invitation. He made only special contacts with certain persons and invited to his faith those persons whom he found to be deserving fit and ready for embracing his religion. Consequently during this period of three years he succeeded in guiding only a few persons.

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During these three years the chiefs of Quraysh were intoxicated with the guardianship of the Ka'bah. As and when the Pharoah of Makkah (Abu Sufyan) and his gang came to know about the nature of his call and claim they displayed a mocking smile on their lips and said to themselves: "The flame of his call too will die away soon like the call of Waraqah and Umayyah (who had become Christians as a consequence of the study of the Taurat and the Injeel and pretended to advocate Christianity in the Arab assemblies) and it will not be long before he will also join the caravan of those who have been forgotten!"

During these three years the chiefs of Quraysh did not take the slightest liberty with the Holy Prophet and always respected him. He too did not openly criticize their idols and gods during this period and remained busy in maintaining special contacts with clear-sighted persons.

However Quraysh also woke up on the very first instance when the special invitation to the Prophet's near relatives and general invitation to the public commenced and his criticism of the idols and of the anti-human ways and manners of Quraysh began to be talked about. They realized on that very day that there was a vast difference between his call and those of Waraqah and Umayyah. Secret and open opposition and strife therefore started. In the first instance he broke his silence before his relatives and thereafter pronounced his general call.

There is no doubt about the fact that deep-rooted reforms which influence all spheres of human life and change the course of society mostly stand in need of two strong forces - the force of speech and the force of defence:

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1. The force of speech so that the speaker may be able to state facts in an attractive manner and should convey to the general public his own personal ideas or those which he receives from the world of revelation.

2. The force of defence so that in the event of danger he may be able to organize a defence line against the rush of the enemies. In the absence of this ability the flame of his invitation extinguishes in the very beginning.

The force of speech of the Holy Prophet was extraordinarily perfect and there is no denying the fact that he was a forceful speaker who could explain his religion with great eloquence. However during the early days of his call he was devoid of the second force because during these three years he had been able to convert only about forty persons to his faith and it is evident that such a small group could not undertake his defence.

Hence in order to acquire a defence line and to organize a central nucleus the Prophet of Islam invited his own kinsmen to his faith before making a general call.

In this way he removed the deficiency of the second force and was able to construct an important an important fortification against the possible dangers. This invitation was at least useful in the sense that even if his relatives were not inclined to his faith they stood up to defend him on account of their fraternal and tribal sentiments till the time arrived when his invitation impressed some of the chiefs of the nation and made another group inclined to him.

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He also believed that the foundation of reforms rests on internal reform. Until a man attempts to restrain his own children and relatives from evil deeds invitation extended by him to others can never be effective because in that event the opponents will indulge in criticism and point out to him the conduct of his own relatives.

In view of these considerations Allah addressed the Prophet about inviting his relatives with the words:

"Admonish your nearest kinsfolk" (Surah al-Shu'ara 26:214) whereas with regard to the general call He said: "Manifest that for which you have been made responsible and remain away from the polytheists for we will protect you from the enemies. (Surah al-Hijr 15:94)

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[1] One of the Qajar Monarchs when he visited London.

THE MANNER OF INVITING THE KINSFOLK

The manner of the Prophet's invitation to his kinsfolk was very attractive and the secrets of this manner of invitation become more clear later when the reality became manifest. While commenting on the verse "Admonish your nearest kinsfolk" almost all the exegetes and historians write that the Almighty Allah ordered him to invite his nearest kinsfolk to his faith. After necessary circumspection the Prophet ordered Ali son of Abu Talib whose age did not then exceed fifteen years to procure food and also to arrange for milk along with it. Then he invited forty five elders from amongst Bani Hashim and also decided to divulge the hidden secret on that occasion.

Unfortunately however when the meal was over one of his uncles (Abu Lahab) said some privolous and baseless things and made the atmosphere uncongenial for the presentation of the subject of prophetic mission. The Holy Prophet therefore considered it expedient to defer the matter till the following day. On the next day he again arranged a feast. After the meal was over he turned to the elders of his family and began his talk by praising Allah and announcing His Oneness. Thereafter he said: "Indeed the guide of a community never lies to his people I swear by Allah besides whom there is no god that I have been sent by Him as His Messenger especially towards you and generally towards all the inhabitants of the world.

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Yes! O my kinsmen! You will die as if you were going to sleep and sometime thereafter you will be brought to life again and will receive a recompense according to your deeds. This recompense is the eternal Paradise of Allah (for the righteous) and His perpetual Hell (for the evil-doers)".

Then he added: "No human being has ever brought a better thing for his people than that which I have brought for you. I have brought for you the blessings of this world as well as of the Hereafter. My Lord has ordered me to invite you towards Him. Which one of you will be my supporter so that he may become my brother wasi (vicegerent) and successor amongst you?"

When the speech of the Prophet reached this point perfect silence had prevailed over the whole gathering and every one of those present was reflecting upon the greatness of the target and of his own fate in the long run. All of a sudden Ali who was then a fifteen year old young man broke the silence prevailing in the assembly. He stood up and said in a forceful tone: "O Prophet of Allah! I am prepared to support you." The Prophet ordered him to sit down. He repeated the aforesaid words thrice but none except the same fifteen year old young man gave him the same reply. He then turned to his kinsmen and said "People! This young man is my brother vicegerent and successor amongst you. Listen to his words and follow him".

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At this stage the meeting came to an end and those present turned to Abu Talib with smiling faces and said: "Muhammad has directed you to follow your son and to take orders from him and has declared him to be your elder".[1]

What has been written above is the gist of the detailed version quoted by most of the exegetes and historians in different words except for Ibn Taymiyah who holds specific views about the members of the Prophet's family none has doubted the authenticity of this tradition and all consider it to be admittedly a historical fact.

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[1] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II pp. 62-63; Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II pp. 40-41; Musnad Ahmad vol. I page 111 and Sharh-i Nahjul Balaghah by Ibn Abil Hadid vol. XIII pp. 210-221.

CRIMES AND BREACH OF TRUST

Distortion and misrepresentation of facts and concealment of realities is a clear case of crime and breach of trust; and during the course of Islamic history there has been a group of biased writers who have treaded this path and reduced the worth of their treatises on account of misrepresentations. The course of history and evolution of knowledge has however exposed them. Here is a specimen of misrepresentation of this type:

1. As has been observed by the readers Muhammad bin Jarir Tabari (died 310 A.H.) has narrated the incident of invitation to the kinsfolk in detail in his history. In his Tafsir [1] however while commenting on the verse "Admonish your nearest kinsfolk" he mentions what he has written in his history along with the text and authority but when he reaches the sentence: "Ali is my brother vicegerent and successor" he alters the sentence and says: "Ali is my brother and this and that". And there is no doubt about the fact that to omit the words "my vicegerent and successor" and to substitute for them the word "etc.'' is nothing short of breach of trust.

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He has not contented himself with this alone and has not only altered the interrogative remark of the Holy Prophet but has also altered the sentence which the Prophet himself uttered about Ali (This is my brother and vicegerent and successor) and has again used the very word "etc.".

A historian should be free and unbiased in recording facts and should write that which he has assessed and found correct with unmatched bravery and candour. It goes without saying that the thing which prompted Tabari to omit these two words and to substitute two allusive words for them is the very religious bias of his because he did not consider Ali to be the vicegerent and immediate successor of the Prophet. And as these two words clearly indicated that Ali was the wasi and the immediate successor Tabari considered it necessary to defend his own religious attitude also while commenting on the occasion of the revelation of the verse.

2. Ibn Kathir Shami who died in the year 732 A.H. has also treaded the same path in his history [2] which was treaded earlier by Tabari in his Tafsir. We cannot excuse Ibn Kathir on any account because Tarikh-i Tabari itself forms the foundation of his history and he has clearly referred to Tarikh-i Tabari in arranging this portion of his book but in spite of this he has failed to quote this matter from the said history and has contrary to expectations mentioned the event according to Tafsir-i Tabari.

3. And then we come across the crime which has been committed by Dr Haykal the former Education Minister of Egypt and the writer of "Hayat-i Muhammad" who has opened the path for the new generation for resorting to distortion of facts. It is rather strange that whereas in the preface of his book he has used very harsh words for the orientalists and accused them of distortion of facts and forgery he himself commits the same thing rather goes a step forward because:

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Firstly: In the first edition of the said book he quoted the incident in a mutilated manner and out of the two essential sentences recorded only one (viz. the Prophet turned to the elders and said: "Who amongst you will be my supporter in this task so that he may be my brother wasi and successor) but totally omitted the other sentence which the Prophet uttered about Ali after expression of support by him and did not at all mention that the Holy Prophet said about him: "This young man is my brother vicegerent and successor."

Secondly: In the second and third editions he went one step forward and omitted both the sentences from the two places and thus struck an irreparable blow to his own position as well as to that of his book.

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[1] Tafsir-i Tabari vol. XIX page 74.

[2] al-Bidayah wan Nihayah vol. III page 40.

PROPHETHOOD AND IMAMATE ARE LINKED TOGETHER

The proclamation of the successorship (imamate) of Ali in the early days of the Prophethood of Muhammad goes to show that these two offices are not separated from each other and when the Prophet of Allah was introduced to the people his successor was also appointed and introduced on the same day and this shows by itself that prophethood and imamate are linked together and there is no distance between them.

This event clearly proves the spiritual heroism and bravery of Imam Ali the Commander of the Faithful. For in an assembly in which experienced and aged persons were drowned in reflection and astonishment he pronounced his support and devotion with perfect boldness and expressed his enmity with the enemies of the Holy Prophet without treading the path of self-seeking politicians. Although at that time he was the youngest amongst those present so far as age was concerned but this association with the Holy Prophet for a long time in the past had prepared his mind for the acceptance of the realities which the elders of the nation were reluctant to accept.

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Abu Ja'far Askafi has been very eloquent about this event. Readers may refer in this connection to Sharh-i Nahjul Balaghah. [1]

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[1] Ibn Abil Hadid (Egyptian edition vol. XIII pp.215 onward).

Chapter 15

GENERAL INVITATION

Three years had passed since the commencement of the prophetic mission of the Prophet. After inviting his nearest kinsfolk the Prophet resorted to general invitation. During these three years he had guided some persons by special contacts to accept the Islamic faith but this time he invited the general public openly to the religion of worshipping Allah the One and the Unique One. One day he took his place on a high rock and said aloud: 'Ya Sabahah'! [1]

The Holy Prophet's call received attention. Some persons belonging to different families of Quraysh ran up to him. Then he turned to those assembled there and said: "O people! Will you believe me if I tell you that your enemies have taken positions on the other side of this hill ( Safa) and intend attacking your lives and property?" All of them said We have never heard anything false from you throughout our lives . Then he said: "O people of Quraysh! Save yourselves from fire. I cannot do anything for you in the presence of Allah. I warn you of painful torture!" Then he added: "My position is like that of a watchman who observes an enemy at a far-off point and immediately runs to his people for their safety and warns them of the impending danger by saying 'Ya Sabahah' in the particular manner".

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These sentences indicate the basis of his invitation and religion. Quraysh were more or less aware of his religion but these sentences created such a fear in their hearts that one of the leaders of infidelity (Abu Lahab) broke the silence of the people and said: "Woe be to you! Did you call us for this thing?" Then the people dispersed.

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[1] Instead of ringing a bell of danger the Arabs use these words and generally begin alarming reports with them.

THE ROLE OF FAITH AND FORTITUDE

The secret of everyone's success lies in two things: Firstly faith in one's aim and secondly steadfastness and effort in the path of its attainment. Faith is the inner stimulant which perforce pushes man to his object and invites him day and night to attain his aim because he firmly believes that his welfare supremacy prosperity and good end are associated with it. And in view of the interest which man takes in himself whenever he develops faith and confidence the strength of his faith automatically directs and persuades him to overcome all difficulties and keeps him away from every doubt notwithstanding the fact that his prosperity may be dependent upon the attainment of a specific target. For example a sick man who knows that his remedy and welfare lies in taking a bitter medicine takes it easily and a diver who believes that there are precious gems beneath the tides of the sea throws himself into the mouth of the tides without any apprehension; and returns to surface after achieving his purpose.

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However if the ailing person or the diver are doubtful about the achievement of their objects or do not at all believe in the usefulness of their job they either do not take any steps in that direction or even if they do they are faced with hardship and anguish. Hence it is the very strength of belief and faith which solves all difficulties.

Nevertheless there is no doubt about the fact that achievement of one's target is associated with difficulties and obstacles. It is therefore necessary for us to combat against those hurdles and to make necessary efforts in that behalf so that all the obstacles may be removed with our full might. It has been said since olden times that wherever there is a flower (a prized object) there is also a thorn (difficulty) with it. The flower should therefore be plucked in such a way that the thorn does not prick one's hands or feet.

The Holy Qur'an has mentioned this subject (that the secret of success lies in faith in one's aim and steadfastness in its attainment) in a short sentence and has said: "As for those who say: 'Our Lord is Allah ' and take the right path.........."

(Surah al-Fussilat 41:30). (Viz. those who have faith in Allah and believe in a particular aim and then display steadfastness and fortitude will definitely achieve their object and are helped by the angels).

STEADFASTNESS AND FORTITUDE OF THE HOLY PROPHET

As a result of the special contacts of the Prophet before the 'general invitation' and his indefatigable efforts thereafter a selected and faithful team came into existence against the forces of infidelity and idolatry. The Muslims who had embraced Islam secretly before the 'general invitation' developed complete acquaintance with those who responded to the Prophet's call thereafter and the bells of danger rang in all the assemblies of infidelity and polytheism. No doubt it was quite easy for the strong and well-equipped Quraysh to crush a newly-born movement but the reason for their being afraid was that the members of the movement did not belong to only one family but persons belonging to various families had also embraced Islam. Hence it was not easy for Quraysh to take a decisive action.

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After mutual consultations the chiefs of Quraysh decided to remove the very foundation of this faith and the founder of the new religion by different means. They proposed to achieve this purpose by approaching him sometimes with allurements and at other times by extending to him various promises and occasionally by using threats and torture. For ten years Quraysh behaved in this manner and eventually they decided to kill the Holy Prophet. In order to save him therefore Allah ordered him to quit Makkah.

During the aforesaid period the chief of the family of Bani Hashim was Abu Talib. He was a man who possessed a noble nature and a magnanimous spirit and his house was an asylum for the needy and the orphans. Besides being the chief of Makkah and possessing some offices with regard to the Holy Ka'bah he enjoyed a very high position in the Arab society and as he had been the guardian of the Prophet after the demise of Abdul Muttalib the other chiefs of Quraysh approached him in the form of a group [1] and addressed him thus: "O Abu Talib!

Your nephew abuses our gods speaks ill of our religion laughs at our thoughts and beliefs and considers our forefathers misguided. Ask him to keep aloof from us or surrender him to us and refrain from supporting him".[2]

The elder of Quraysh and the head of the family of Bani Hashim replied to them in a tactful manner and in a soft tone and consequently they abandoned their activities. However Islam was penetrating and expanding day after day and the spiritual rapture of the religion of the Prophet and the attractive and eloquent words of the Heavenly Book (the Qur'an) were lending support to it. The Prophet especially presented his religion before the people in the months in which fighting was prohibited when a large number of pilgrims gathered in Makkah. His eloquent and sweet speeches and his attractive beliefs impressed many persons. In the meantime the Pharoah of Makkah also realized that the Holy Prophet had gained popularity amongst all the tribes and had acquired many followers amongst the settled and unsettled Arab tribes. They therefore decided to approach the Prophet's only supporter (Abu Talib) once again and to make known to him the dangers to which the liberty of the Makkans and of their religion had become subjected owing to the propagation and expansion of Islam. Hence they once again approached him jointly and referring to their former demands spoke to him thus:

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"O Abu Talib! You are superior to us in the matter of nobility and age. However we met you earlier and requested you to restrain your nephew from propagating the new religion but you did not pay any heed to our words. The position had now become unbearable for us. We cannot tolerate any longer that a person should abuse our gods and should consider us to be foolish and ignorant. It is necessary for you to restrain him from all these activities failing which we will fight against him as well as against you who are his supporter so that the duty of each group should become specific and one of them should be wiped out".

Abu Talib the distinguished supporter and defender of the Prophet realized through his sagacity and perfect wisdom that it was appropriate to show forbearance to the people whose entire dignity of existence was now open to danger. He therefore adopted a peaceful attitude and promised that he would convey the sentiments of the chiefs to his nephew. No doubt this reply was given primarily with the object of quenching the fire of their wrath so that an appropriate way of solving the difficulty could be adopted later. Hence after the departure of the chiefs he contacted his nephew and conveyed their message to him and incidentally in order to test his faith in his own object demanded a reply from him. However while replying the Holy Prophet uttered a sentence which is considered to be one of the outstanding and golden lines of history. Here is the text of his reply: "Dear uncle I swear by Allah that even if they place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand (i.e. even if they provide me with rule over the entire world) I shall not desist from propagating my religion and pursuing my object and shall continue my efforts until I overcome the difficulties and achieve my final goal or lay down my life for its sake".

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Thereafter the Prophet's eyes were filled with tears on account of his love and enthusiasm for his object and he stood up and departed from his uncle's presence. His penetrating and attractive speech made such a wonderful impression on the chief of Makkah that notwithstanding all the dangers to which he was exposed he called back his nephew and said to him: "By Allah! I will not give up my support to you and you may very well pursue your object to its end". [3]

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[1] Ibn Hisham has mentioned the names and particulars of these person in his 'Seerah'.

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. X page 265.

[3] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 265-266.

QURAYSH APPROACHED ABU TALIB FOR THE THIRD TIME

The ever-increasing expansion of Islam disturbed Quraysh very much and they were keen to find out a solution to this problem. They assembled once again and were of the view that Abu Talib's support to Muhammad was possibly due to the fact that he had adopted him as his son and if that were so it was possible that they might take the most handsome young man to him and ask him to adopt him as his son. They therefore took with them 'Ammarah bin Walid bin Mughayrah who was the most handsome of the Makkan young men and approaching Abu Talib for the third time began complaining and threatening in these words: "O Abu Talib! Walid's son is a young man who is a poet and is also handsome and intelligent. We are prepared to hand him over to you so that you may adopt him as your son and cease supporting your nephew". On hearing this Abu Talib was cut to the quick and shouted upon them with a burning face and said: "You are doing a great injustice to me. You wish that I should nurture your son and surrender my dearest child to you so that you may kill him. I swear by Allah that it will not be so". Mut'am son of Adi then stood up and said: "The offer made by Quraysh is quite fair but you are not going to accept it". Abu Talib replied: "You have not been just and I am sure that you want to humiliate me and to instigate Quraysh to fight against me. However you are free to do what you can".

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QURAYSH TRY TO ALLURE THE HOLY PROPHET

Quraysh became sure that it was not at all possible to make Abu Talib agree to their suggestion and although he did not declare openly to be a follower of Islam he had a great faith in his nephew and dearly loved him. They therefore decided to refrain from entering into any discussion with him. They however thought of another plan and it was that they should allure Muhammad by offering him status wealth gifts and beautiful women so that he might abandon his call. They therefore went to the house of Abu Talib in the form of a group at a time when his nephew was also sitting with him. The spokesman of the group opening the talk said: "O Abu Talib! Muhammad has scattered our united ranks and has created dissension amongst us. He has laughed our intellect down and has ridiculed us and our idols. If he has been prompted to do so on account of his poverty and indigence we are prepared to place enormous wealth at his disposal. If he wants status we are ready to accept him as our ruler and will listen to him. And in case he is invalid and needs medical treatment we will bring an expert physician to attend upon him............."

Abu Talib turned his face to the Prophet and said: "The elders of your tribe have come and request that you should refrain from criticizing the idols so that they too may leave you alone". The Holy Prophet replied to his uncle thus: "I don't desire anything from them. As against these four offers they should accept one word from me so that under its auspices they may rule the Arabs and make non-Arabs their camp followers". At this stage Abu Jahl stood up and said: "We are prepared to hear you ten times". The Prophet replied: "My only word is that you should admit Oneness of the Lord". The unexpected words of the Holy Prophet were like cold water thrown on a hot kettle. They were so much engulfed in amazement coupled with disappointment and despair that they said involuntarily all at once: "Should we forsake 360 gods and worship only one Allah?"

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Quraysh left the house while their faces and eyes were burning with anger and they were thinking about the means for achieving their object. In the following verses of the Holy Qur'an this very incident has been related: [1]

It seems strange to the pagans that a man from their own people should come to them as a Prophet. The unbelievers have said he is only a lying magician . They say Has he condemned all other gods but One? This is certainly strange . A group of the pagans walked out of a meeting with the Prophet and told others Let us walk away. Be steadfast in the worship of your gods. This man wants to dominate you. We have heard nothing like this in the latest religion. This is only his own false invention. (Surah Sa'd, 38:4-7)

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[1] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II pp. 66 67; Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I. pp. 295 296.

AN EXAMPLE OF THE TORTURES AND PERSECUTIONS BY QURAYSH

One of the most tragic periods of the life of the Holy Prophet began on the day on which he broke the seal of silence and the elders of Quraysh lost all hope of his accepting their offers in view of his well-known words: "By Allah! Even if you place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand so that I may abandon my call I will not rest until Allah makes my religion prevail or I lay down my life for its sake". Till that time Quraysh had during all their encounters with him preserved his respect but when they saw that all their conciliation offers had failed they were compelled to change the course of their thinking and to forestall the expansion of Islam at all costs and to utilize all means for this purpose. Hence the council of Quraysh decided unanimously to practice ridicule torture and intimidation to restrain the Prophet from pursuing his object.

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It is evident that a reformer who is anxious to guide the people of the whole world must observe patience and fortitude in the face of inconveniences intimidations dastardly attacks and corporal and mental blows so that by and by he should be able to overcome difficulties and this has been the policy of other reformers as well. We give below an account of some of the persecutions and tortures of Quraysh so that the extent of the Holy Prophet's patience and fortitude may become manifest.

Besides the mental and spiritual factor (faith steadfastness and fortitude) which helped him internally the Prophet also possessed an external factor which ensured safety and support for him and that was the support of Bani Hashim with Abu Talib at their head because when Abu Talib came to know that Quraysh had taken a final and irrevocable decision to persecute his nephew he called all the members of Bani Hashim and asked them to protect Muhammad. Some of them undertook to support and protect him on account of their faith and others agreed to do so in view of the bond of kinship. Out of them only three (namely Abu Lahab and two others whose names will be mentioned later along with other enemies of the Prophet refrained from endorsing his decision. However in spite of this these defensive measures could not protect him from some unpleasant incidents and as and when the enemies found him alone they did not desist from doing him all sorts of harm. Here is an example of the tortures inflicted by Quraysh:

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1. One day Abu Jahl saw the Prophet in Safa and abused and grieved him. The Prophet did not speak to him at all and went away to his house. Abu Jahl also went to join Quraysh who had assembled by the side of the Ka'bah. Hamzah who was the uncle and foster-brother of the Prophet also returned on that day from hunting and was carrying his bow on his shoulder. It was customary with him that after returning to Makkah and before seeing his children and relatives he went to the Ka'bah and performed 'tawaf' (circumambulation) and then went over to the different groups of Quraysh who gathered round the Ka'bah and exchanged greetings with them.

On that day after performing these ceremonies he went to his house. By chance a slave-girl of Abdullah Jad'an who had witnessed the aforesaid incident came forward and said "O Abu 'Ammarah (the patronymic of Hamzah) I wish that you had been here a few minutes earlier and had seen the incident which I have seen! Then you would have learnt how Abu Jahl has abused and persecuted your nephew". The words of the slave-girl made a strange impression on Hamzah and he decided to avenge his nephew's insult upon Abu Jahl before doing anything else. He therefore returned and saw Abu Jahl sitting amongst a group of Quraysh. Without speaking to anyone he raised his hunting bow and struck it on the head of Abu Jahl and his skull was injured. Then he said to him: "You abuse him (the Prophet) and I have embraced his religion and am treading the same path which he treads. If you possess any strength come on and fight with me".

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A group of persons belonging to the family of Makhzum then stood up to support Abu Jahl. However as he was a clever and diplomatic person he avoided every sort of quarrel and defence and said "I misbehaved with Muhammad and Hamzah is entitled to feel uneasy about it". [1]

This admitted historical fact shows that Hamzah who later became one of the greatest commanders of Islam was a highly influential and brave personality. He did all he could to protect and defend the Holy Prophet and strengthen the group of Muslims. As Ibn Athir says [2] Quraysh considered the Islam of Hamzah to be one of the greatest factors for the advancement and strength of the Muslims and they therefore resorted to other plans which will be mentioned later.

Some Sunni historians like Ibn Kathir Shami insist that: "The effect of the Islam of Abu Bakr and Umar was no lesser than the effect of the Islam of Hamzah and the Islam of these two great caliphs became the means of the glory strength and freedom of the Muslims''.[3] Of course there is no doubt about the fact that every person contributed to the strength and expansion of Islam but in spite of this it can never be said that the effect of the Islam of these two caliphs was at par with the effect of the Islam of Hamzah. The reason for this conclusion is that Hamzah was the man who on hearing that an elder of Quraysh had abused the Holy Prophet went in quest of the culprit without informing anybody of his intention and took a very hard revenge on him. And none had the courage to oppose him or to fight with him. On the other hand Ibn Hisham the great biographer of Islam narrates an incident with regard to Abu Bakr which shows that when he joined the circle of the Muslims he did not possess the requisite strength to defend either himself or the Holy Prophet. [4] The details of the incident are given below:

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One day the Prophet was passing by a group of Quraysh. Suddenly those people encircled him and everyone of them began repeating by way of ridicule his words about the idols and the Day of Judgement and said: "Do you say this?" The Prophet replied to them: "Yes. I am the person who says this".

As Quraysh saw that there was none to defend the Holy Prophet they decided to kill him. A man therefore came forward and held the ends of his dress. Abu Bakr happened to be there by the side of the Prophet. With tears in his eyes he stood up to support the Prophet and said: "Is it proper that you should kill a man who believes in monotheism?" Later (for some reasons) those people desisted from maltreating the Prophet and he went his own way whereas Abu Bakr proceeded to his own house with an injured head.

Although this incident may be an evidence of the Caliph's sentiments for and interest in the Prophet it is first of all a firm evidence of his weakness and fear. It shows that at that time he did not possess either strength or an appreciable social status. And as a practical step by Quraysh against the Prophet might have entailed evil consequences they left him alone and directed the severity of their action towards his companion and broke his head. If you place the incident of Hamzah which clearly shows his valour and bravery side by side with this episode you can very well decide as to whose Islam had a greater effect in the early days of Islam on the honour strength and fear of the unbelievers.

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You will soon read about the Islam of Umar. His Islam also like that of his old friend did not strengthen the defensive power of the Muslims. But for 'As bin Wai'l it was possible that the blood of the Caliph might have been shed on the day he embraced Islam because he ('As bin Wai'l) came and addressed the group who wanted to kill Umar in these words: "What do you want from a man who has adopted a faith for himself? Do you think that the family of Adi will surrender him easily?" This sentence shows that it was the fear of his family which made others spare him and defence by the families of those who belonged to them was something natural and usual and there was no difference in this regard between the low and the high.

Yes! The base of defence of the Muslims was the house of Bani Hashim and the heavy burden of the task lay on the shoulders of Abu Talib and his family for as regards other persons who joined the Muslims they did not possess the requisite strength even to defend themselves and the question of their Islam becoming the source of the dignity and exaltation of the Muslims did not therefore arise.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I p. 313 and Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II p. 72.

[2] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II page 59.

[3] al-Bidayah wan Nihayah vol. III page 26.

[4] Seerah page 311. Tabari has quoted the entire incident in his history vol. II page 72 except that the head of the Caliph was injured.

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ABU JAHL LIES IN AMBUSH FOR THE HOLY PROPHET

The ever-increasing advancement of Islam had made Quraysh very much uneasy. Every day a report regarding the inclination (to Islam) of one member or another of their tribe reached them. On this account therefore their anger was flaming out. One day the Pharaoh of Makkah Abu Jahl said in the assembly of Quraysh: "O people of Quraysh! You can see how Muhammad considers our religion to be worthless and abuses the faith of our forefathers and their gods and declares us to be ignorant. By God I will lie in ambush for him tomorrow and will place a stone by my side; and when Muhammad goes into sajdah (prostration) I will strike that stone on his head. On the following day the Holy Prophet arrived in Masjidul Haram to offer his prayers and stood between 'Rukn-i Yamani' and the 'Black Stone'. A group of Quraysh who were aware of the intention of Abu Jahl were wondering whether or not he would succeed in his campaign. The Holy Prophet went into sajdah and his old enemy came out of the ambush and approached him. However it was not long before he was struck with awe and he returned to Quraysh trembling and aghast with a countenance distracted. All of them ran forward and said "O Aba Hakam! what has happened?" He said with a very weak voice which betrayed his fear and disturbance of mind "There appeared before my eyes a scene which I had never seen before in my life. It was for this reason that I abandoned my plan".

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It goes without saying that an unseen force had arisen by the command of Allah and had created a spectacle which protected the Prophet of Islam from harm by the enemies in accordance with the Divine promise: "We shall protect you from the mischief of those who mock".

Numerous instances of torture by Quraysh are recorded in the pages of history. Ibn Athir has allocated a chapter to this subject and has mentioned the names of the foremost enemies of the Prophet in Makkah and the atrocities perpetrated by them. [1] Whatever has been said above is only a specimen. The Prophet found himself faced every day by a new persecution. For example one day 'Uqbah bin Abi Mu'it saw the Prophet performing 'Tawaf' and abused him. He twisted his turban round his neck and dragged him out of the Masjid. Some persons freed the Prophet from his hands on account of fear of Bani Hashim. [2]

The torture and persecution to which the Holy Prophet was subjected by his uncle Abu Lahab and his wife Umme Jamil was unprecedented. He happened to be a next-door neighbour of theirs. They did not refrain from throwing any sort of dirt on him and one day they threw the entrails of a sheep on his head. Eventually Hamzah with a view to take revenge thrust the same on the head of Abu Lahab.

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[1] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II page 47.

[2] Biharul Anwar vol. XVIII page 204.

PERSECUTION OF MUSLIMS BY QURAYSH

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In the early days of the prophetic mission the advancement of Islam was the result of a number of factors one of which was the steadfastness of the Prophet and his companions and supporters. Examples of the patience and fortitude of the leader of the Muslims have already been stated whereas the forbearance and perseverance of the Muslims who lived in Makkah (the centre of polytheism and idolatry) deserves attention. An account of their sacrifices and steadfastness will be given in the chapters relating to events after Hijrah (migration to Madina). For the present we mention the tragic events connected with the lives of some old devotees of the Prophet who lived in the shelterless environments of Makkah.

BILAL THE ETHIOPIAN

The parents of Bilal were amongst those persons who had been brought from Ethiopia to Arabia as captives. He himself (who later became the mu'azzin of the Prophet) was the slave of Umayyah bin Khalaf. Umayyah was one of the sworn enemies of the great leader of the Muslims. As the kinsmen of the Prophet had undertaken his own defence Umayyah with a view to take revenge used to torture openly his slave who had been newly converted to Islam. He made him lie naked on hot sand during the hottest days placed a big red-hot stone on his chest and addressed him in these words: "I will not release you until you die in this condition or abjure the faith of Muhammad and worship 'Lat' and 'Uzza'.

In spite of all this torture however Bilal replied him with only two words which are a clear proof of his firm faith. He said 'Ahad! Ahad!' (viz. Allah is One and I will never revert to the religion of polytheism and idolatry). Others wondered at the steadfastness of this black slave who was a captive in the hands of a hard-hearted person. So much so that Waraqah bin Nawfal the Christian Arab scholar wept on the condition of Bilal and said to Umayyah: "By Allah! If you kill him in this manner I will make his grave a sacred place to be visited by pilgrims ". [1]

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At times Ummayah acted with still greater severity. He put a rope round the neck of Bilal and handed it over to the children so that they might drag him in the streets.[2]

Ummayah and his son were captured in the Battle of Badr the first battle of Islam. Some Muslims were not in favour of killing Umayyah but Bilal said: "He is the leader of infidelity and must be killed". On his insistence the father and the son were recompensed for their crimes and were put to death.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 318.

[2] Tabaqat-i Ibn S'ad vol. III page 233.

SELF-SACRIFICE OF AMMAR AND HIS PARENTS

Arnmar and his parents were amongst the early Muslims. They embraced Islam when the Prophet had selected the house of Arqam bin Abil Arqam as the rendezvous for the propagation of Islam. When the idolaters became aware of their having adopted the Divine religion they did not neglect torturing and persecuting them. Ibn Athir [1] says: "The idolaters compelled these three persons to quit their house in the hottest season and to spend their time in the heat and the scorching wind of the desert. This torture was repeated so many times that Yasir succumbed to his troubles. One day his widow Sumayyah quarrelled with Abu Jahl on this account. That hard-hearted and cruel person thrust a spear in her heart and killed her also. The Holy Prophet was very much moved on account of the persecution to which they were subjected. One day he saw them being tortured. He turned his face to them with tears in his eyes and said "O family of Yasir! Be patient for your place is in Paradise ".

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After the death of Yasir and his wife the idolaters tormented and tortured Ammar as well as they had tormented Bilal. To save his life he had no alternative left but to abjure Islam but he repented soon and ran to the Prophet with a palpitating heart. He related the incident to the Prophet who enquired of him: "Has any instability taken place in your inner faith?" He replied: "My heart is abounding with faith". The Prophet then said: "Do not entertain the least fear in your mind and keep your faith hidden to save yourself from their mischief".

The following verse was revealed with regard to the faith of Ammar: [2] (There shall be a grievous punishment for him) who disbelieves in Allah after believing in Him other than him who is compelled while his heart is firm in his faith. (Surah Nahl 16:106)

It is said that Abu Jahl decided to take to task the family of Yasir who belonged to the class of the most unprotected persons in Makkah. He therefore ordered that fire end scourage might be made ready. Yasir Sumayyah and Ammar were then dragged to the appointed place and tormented with the point of the sword and with the flames of fire and whipping. This persecution was repeated so many times that Yasir and Sumayyah consequently breathed their last but they did not forsake the praise of the Prophet till their last moments.

The men of Quraysh who had witnessed this calamitous and tragic scene notwithstanding the fact that they had unity of interest in defeating Islam got the wounded and grief stricken Ammar released from the clutches of Abu Jahl so that he might bury his parents.

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[1] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II page 45.

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 320.

ABDULLAH BIN MAS'UD

The Muslims who had embraced Islam secretly were telling among themselves that Quraysh had not heard the Holy Qur'an and it would be quite appropriate if one of them went into Masjid ul-Haram and recited some verses of the Holy Book with a loud voice. Abdullah son of Mas'ud expressed his willingness to do so. He came into the Masjid when Quraysh had assembled by the side of the Holy Ka'bah and recited the following verses with a loud and melodious voice:

In the name of Allah the Compassionate the Merciful. It is the Merciful who has taught the Qur'an. .....(Surah al-Rahman 55:1-2)

The eloquent verses of this surah struck Quraysh with a strange awe. And in order to forestall the effect of the heavenly call which was reaching their ears through a defenceless person they all stood up and beat him so much that blood began to flow from his entire body and he returned to the companions of the Holy Prophet in a pitiable condition. They were however happy that the invigorating voice had eventually reached the ears of the enemies.[1]

Whatever has been said above was by way of example for otherwise the number of self-sacrificing devotees of Islam who endured the gravest hardships during the early days of the Prophet's mission and showed steadfastness in the path of achievement of their aim is much larger However we refrain from mentioning their names and the events of their lives for the sake of brevity.

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[1] Seerah Ibn Hisham vol. I page 314.

RUTHLESS ENEMIES OF THE HOLY PROPHET

Recognition of some enemies of the Prophet is necessary in connection with some Islamic events which took place after migration and we give below briefly the names and particulars of some of them:

Abu Lahab: He was the neighbour of the Prophet. He did not miss any opportunity of contradicting and torturing him and the Muslims.

Aswad bin Abd Yaghus: He was a clown. As and when he saw the helpless and indigent Muslims he ridiculed them and said: "These poverty-stricken people consider themselves to be the kings of the world and think that they will soon possess the throne and the crown of the Emperor of Iran". However death did not allow him to see with his own eyes as to how the Muslims had acquired the lands thrones and crowns of Kaiser and Kisra.

Walid bin Mughayrah: He was an old man of Quraysh who possessed enormous wealth. We shall record his conversation with the Holy Prophet in the following chapter.

Umayyah and Abi sons of Khalaf: One day Abi brought the decayed and worn out bones of some dead persons to the Holy Prophet and asked: "Can your Allah restore these bones to life?" Right came the reply from the source of revelation:"Say the Lord who created them first will bring them to life again". These two brothers were killed in the Battle of Badr.

Abul Hakam bin Hisham: The Muslims used to call him Abu Jahl (father of ignorance) on account of his unwarranted enmity and fanaticism against Islam. He too was killed in the Battle of Badr.

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'As bin Wai'l: He was the father of Amr 'As. He was the person who had given the nickname of 'Abtar' (issueless) to the Holy Prophet.

'Uqbah bin Abi Mu'it: [1] He was one of the most fierce enemies of Islam and never missed an opportunity to do harm to the Holy Prophet and the Muslims.

There was also another group of the enemies of Islam including Abu Sufyan and others. The historians have recorded the particulars in detail and for the sake of brevity we refrain from reproducing them here.

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[1] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II pp. 47-51; Usudul Ghabah; al-Asabah al-lst'iab etc.

UMAR IBN KHATTAB EMBRACES ISLAM

The acceptance of Islam by everyone of the early Muslims was the effect of one cause or another and at times a very small incident became the means of the conversion of an individual or a group. The stimulant for the adoption of Islam by the second caliph is interesting. Although from the point of view of the chronological order of the events it would have been appropriate to record this incident after describing the migration of Muslims to Ethiopia but we have considered it expedient to describe it here as we have here mentioned some of the companions of the Holy Prophet.

Ibn Hisham [1] says Out of the family of Khattab (father of Umar) only his daughter Fatimah and her husband Sa'id bin Zayd had embraced Islam. As in the early days of Islam Umar's relations with the Muslims were very inimical and he was considered to be one of the most obstinate enemies of the Prophet, therefore, his sister and her husband always kept their faith concealed from him. In spite of this Khubab bin Art used to come to their house at appointed hours and taught them the Holy Qur'an.

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The confused condition of the people of Makkah had made Umar very sentimental, for he saw that dissension and disorder prevailed amongst them and the bright day of Quraysh had been changed into a dark evening.

Umar, therefore, decided to go and cut off the root of dissension by killing the Holy Prophet. To achieve this purpose he was looking for the place where the Prophet could be found. He was informed that he was in a house situated by the side of the bazaar of Safa, and forty persons like Hamzah, Abu Bakr, Ali etc. had undertaken to protect and defend him.

Na'im bin Abdullah who was one of the close friends of Umar says: I saw Umar carrying his sword. I enquired about the purpose for which he was going. He replied thus: "I am going in search of Muhammad who has created dissension amongst Quraysh. He laughs at their wisdom and intellect declares their religion to be worthless and belittles their gods. I am going to kill him".

Na'im says: "I said to him: You are deceived. Do you think the descendants of Abd Munaf will spare your life? If you are a peaceable person you should first reform your own house. Your sister Fatimah and her husband have become Muslims and follow the religion of Muhammad".

Na'im's words created a storm of wrath in the mind of Umar. Consequently he abandoned his previous plan and went to the house of his brother-in-law. When he reached near the house he heard the humming of someone who was reciting the Holy Qur'an with an impressive voice. The manner of Umar's arrival in his sister's house was such that she and her husband also became aware that he was about to enter. They therefore concealed the teacher of the Holy Qur'an in the back part of the house so that he might remain hidden from Umar's eyes. Fatimah also concealed a leaf on which verses of the Holy Qur'an were written.

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Umar said without any salutation or greeting: "What was this humming that I have heard?" They replied 'We have heard nothing". Umar said: "I have been informed that you have become Muslims and follow the religion of Muhammad". He uttered this sentence with great fury and attacked his brother-in-law. His sister then stood up to protect her husband. Umar attacked her also and seriously injured her head with the point of his sword. While blood was flowing from her head the helpless woman said with great fervour of faith: "Yes. We have become Muslims and believe in Allah and His Holy Prophet. Do whatever you like".

The tragic plight of the sister who was standing by the side of her brother with her face and eyes besmeared with blood and was speaking to him made Umar tremble and he was sorry for what he had done. He therefore insisted that they should show him the relevant leaf so that he might ponder over the words of Muhammad. His sister fearing lest he should tear it up put him on oath that he would not do so and he also made a promise and confirmed it on oath that he would return the leaf after having gone through it. Then he took the sheet in his hand. A few verses were written on it. Their translation is given below:

Taha. It was not to distress you that We revealed the Qur'an. It is to admonish those who fear Allah. It is a revelation from Him who has created the earth and the lofty heavens. The Merciful who is firm in power. His is what the heavens and earth contain. He has knowledge of all that is secret and all that is yet more hidden. (Surah Taha 20:1-6)

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These eloquent verses and the clear and firm words impressed Umar very much. The man who was the most ruthless enemy of the Qur'an and Islam a few minutes earlier decided to change his mind. He went to the house about which he had already learnt that the Holy Prophet could be found there and knocked at the door. One of the companions of the Prophet peeped through a hole and saw Umar standing with a sword in hand and waiting for the door to be opened. He returned at once and informed the Prophet about the matter. Hamzah son of Abdul Muttalib said: "Let him come in. If he has come with good intentions we shall welcome him but if his intentions are not good we shall kill him". Umar's attitude towards the Prophet reassured them and his open countenance and expression of sorrow and shame proved his real intentions. Eventually he embraced Islam at the hands of the Prophet in the presence of his companions and thus joined the ranks of the Muslims.[2]

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[1] Seerah Ibn Hisham vol. I page 365.

[2] Ibn Hisham has given another version of the embracement of Islam by Umar. (vol. I page 368).

Chapter 16

JUDGEMENT OF QURAYSH ABOUT THE HOLY QUR'AN

A discussion which is purely about the essence of a miracle and the miraculous nature of the Holy Qur'an is beyond the scope of this book. However historical discussions tell us that this Heavenly Book was the greatest and sharpest weapon of the Holy Prophet-so much so that the expert poets and the circles of prosody and oration were puzzled and astonished at the eloquence melody and attraction of its words sentences and verses and all of them admitted that the Holy Qur'an of Muhammad stood at the highest level of eloquence and clarity and its mastery over the words and its way of expression was unparalleled. The impression penetration rapture and attraction of the Holy Qur'an was such that even the most severe enemies of the Holy Prophet trembled within themselves when they heard some of its verses and at times they became so much ecstasized that for quite some time they could not move from their places owing to amazement. Here is an example.

p: 240

JUDGEMENT OF WALID

Walid was one of the judges of Arabia. Many difficulties of the Arabs were solved through him. He possessed enormous wealth. A group of Quraysh went to him for the solution of the problem of penetration of Islam in all houses and explained the matter to him and sought his opinion about the Qur'an of Muhammad. They said to him: "Is the Qur'an of Muhammad magic or divination or is it a sermon or a rhetoric which has been prepared by him". The sage of Arabia requested for time so that he might express his view after hearing the Qur'an. Then he rose from his place and came to the Prophet. He sat with him in 'Hajar-i Isma'il' and said "Read something from your poetry". The Holy Prophet replied: "What I say is not poetry. Rather it is the word of Allah which He has sent down for your guidance". Then Walid insisted that he should recite the Qur'an. The Prophet recited the first thirteen verses of Surah al-Fussilat and when he reached this verse: If they give no heed say "I have given you warning of the scourge which overtook Thamud and 'Ad' Walid trembled violently within himself. All his hair stood straight on his body and he got up in a state of astonishment and went home. He did not come out of his house for many days -so much so that Quraysh began ridiculing him and said: "Walid has given up the creed of his forefathers and has adopted the faith of Muhammad".[1]

p: 241

Tabarsi says: "When Surah al-Ghafir was revealed to the Holy Prophet he recited it in a very attractive voice in order to communicate the Divine verses to the people. By chance Walid was then sitting by his side and heard these verses without being attentive: This Book is revealed by Allah the Mighty One the All-Knowing Who forgives sin and accepts repentance; the Bountiful One Whose punishment is stern. There is no god but He. All shall return to Him. None but the unbelievers dispute the revelations of Allah. Don't be deceived by their activities in the land...........

These verses impressed the sage of Arabia very much. When Bani Makhzum came round him he commended the Holy Qur'an in these words: "Today I have heard from Muhammad a speech which does not belong to the category of the speeches of the human beings and the genii. It is very melodious and possesses a special beauty. Its branches are full of fruits and its roots abound with blessings. It is an outstanding narration and no other narration is as outstanding as this."

He uttered these sentences and went his way and Quraysh thought that he had begun to believe in Muhammad's religion.[2]

According to a great scholar [3] this was the first commendation and praise of the Qur'an by a human being and a careful study of this speech makes the miraculous nature of the Holy Qur'an vis-a-vis Arab ignorance absolutely clear and it becomes evident that the reason of the Holy Qur'an being a miracle in their eyes was its unusual rapture attraction sweetness and melody because they did not find such deliciousness and elegance in any other thing except the Qur'an.

p: 242

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[1] A'lamul Wara' pp. 27-28 and Biharul Anwar vol. XVII pp. 211-222.

[2] Majma'ul Bayan vol. X page 387.

[3] Kitabul Mu'jizatil Khalidah by Allamah Shahristani page 66.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE

'Utbah bin Rabiyyah was one of the elders of Quraysh. At the time when Hamzah embraced Islam the entire assembly of Quraysh was stricken with sorrow and grief and their chiefs feared that the Islamic faith would expand further. At that stage 'Atbah said: "I shall go to Muhammad and shall make some offers to him. It is possible that he may accept one of them and abandon the new religion". The chiefs endorsed his view. He therefore got up and went to the Prophet who was then sitting in the Masjid. He offered to him wealth authority and medical treatment in very gentle words. When he stopped speaking the Prophet said to him: "Was it all that you wanted to say?" He replied: "Yes." Then the Prophet said: "Just listen to these verses for this is the reply to all that you have said".

Ha Mim. A revelation from the Compassionate the Merciful. It is a Book the verses of which have been well expounded; an Arabic Qur'an for those who have understanding. Bearing good news and warning. But most of them ignore it and give no heed. (Surah Ha Mim 41:1-4).

The Holy Prophet recited some verses of this Surah. When he reached the thirty seventh verse he performed 'sajdah'.

After this he turned to 'Utbah and said: 'O Aba Walid! Have you heard the Message of Allah?" 'Utbah had been somewhat enchanted by the Word of Allah. He had placed his hands behind his head which rested on them. In this very condition he kept gazing on the face of the Holy Prophet for quite some time as if he had been deprived of his power of speech. Then he got up from his place and went to the place where Quraysh had assembled. The chiefs of Quraysh had realized from his condition and countenance that he had been impressed by the words of Muhammad and had returned in a condition of humility coupled with distraction of mind. They were all watching intently to see 'Utbah's face. All of them asked him: "What has happened?" He said: "By Allah! I have heard from Muhammad a speech which I had never heard from anyone. By Allah! It is neither poetry nor magic nor divination. I consider it expedient that we should leave him alone so that he may propagate his religion amongst the different tribes. If he is successful and acquires a land and a kingdom it will be considered to be a matter of pride for you and you will also benefit from it. And if he is defeated others will kill him and you too will be at ease".

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Quraysh ridiculed 'Utbah for his remarks and views and said that he had been enchanted by the speech of Muhammad. [1]

These are two specimens of the views of two outstanding eloquent speakers of the Age of Ignorance and other specimens are also available.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 293 - 294.

STRANGE STRATAGEM OF QURAYSH

One day after sunset the chiefs of Quraysh like 'Utbah Shaybah Abu Sufyan Nazar bin Harith Abul Bakhtari Walid bin Mughayrah Abu Jahl 'As bin Wai'l etc. assembled by the side of the Ka'bah and decided to call the Prophet and discuss the matter with him directly. They therefore sent someone to ask the Prophet to participate in the meeting. On having been informed about the matter the Prophet came hurriedly and joined their assembly hoping to guide them to the right path. Conversation started from all sides and Quraysh repeated their grievances. They complained that dissension and discord had taken place amongst Quraysh and expressed readiness for every sacrifice. In the end they made requests to the Prophet which have been depicted in the following verses:

They say: "(O Muhammad!) We will not believe in you until you make a spring gush from the earth before our very eyes or cause rivers to flow in a grove of palms and vines; until you cause the sky to fall upon us in pieces as you have threatened to do or bring down Allah and the angels in our midst; until you build a house of gold or ascend to heaven; nor will we believe in your ascension until you have sent down for us a book which we can read (and which confirms your prophethood)." (Surah Bani Isra'il 17:90-93)

p: 244

It is evident that all that they said was mere deceit because palm and vine groves have nothing to do with the prophethood of a person and causing the sky to be torn to pieces and to fall down on earth is quite incompatible with the prophetic mission whose object is to guide the people. Amongst their demands there was only one thing which had a miraculous aspect and that was the Prophet's ascension to heaven. And even if the Prophet had performed this miracle they would not have believed in him because they had made it clear that he must also send down a book which should confirm his prophethood!

If Quraysh had been really keen to verify the truth of the Prophet's claim his ascension -to heaven would have been a sufficient proof of it. However they said that they would not be satisfied with it because all demands of theirs were based on particular motives. The Holy Prophet replied to them: "Surely I am no more than a Messenger and cannot perform a miracle without the permission of Allah".[1]

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[1] Some of the Christian missionaries have argued on the basis of this and other verses that the Holy Prophet of Islam did not possess any miracle other than the Qur'an. The falsity of this argument has however been clearly proved and the object of such verses made manifest in the Persian book entitled 'Risalati Jahani Pyambaran'.

STIMULANT FOR THE OBSTINACY OF THE CHIEFS OF QURAYSH

STIMULANT FOR THE OBSTINACY OF THE CHIEFS OF QURAYSH

p: 245

This portion of the history of Islam is one of the points which deserves discussion because one ponders as to why Quraysh quarrelled with the Prophet to this extent notwithstanding the fact that all of them considered him to be truthful and honest and had not till that time observed even the smallest shortcoming in him and had heard fascinating and eloquent words from him and had often seen him perform unusual deeds which were beyond the ambits of the laws of nature.

A few things may be considered to be the cause or causes of this obstinacy:

1.QURAYSH WERE JEALOUS OF THE HOLY PROPHET

Some of them did not follow the Prophet because they were jealous of him and wished that they themselves should possess this divine office.

The Holy Qur'an says: They also say: 'Why was this Qur'an not revealed to some mighty man from the two towns'? (Surah al-Zukhruf 43:31)

The exegetes while explaining the reason for the revelation of this verse (viz. the unbelievers objected as to why the Qur'an was not revealed to one of the chiefs of Makkah or Ta'if) write thus:

"Walid son of Mughayra once met the Prophet and told him that he (Walid) was more suited for the office of Prophet as he enjoyed precedence over him (the Prophet) in the matter of age wealth and children.[1]

Umayyah bin Abi Salt was a person who used to talk about a prophet before the advent of Islam and was anxious to assume this high office himself. He did not however follow the Holy Prophet till the end of his life and used to instigate the people to oppose him.

p: 246

Akhnas who was one of the enemies of the Prophet said to Abu Jahl: "What is your opinion about Muhammad?" He replied: "We and Abd-i Munaf quarrelled about nobility and greatness and we vied with them and adopted all possible ways and means to become their equals. Now that we have become their equals they say that revelation descends from heavens on a member of their family. By Allah! We will never believe in him.[2]

These are some specimens which clearly indicate the jealousy of the chiefs of Quraysh. There are also other such specimens which can be found in the pages of history.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 361.

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 316.

2.FEAR OF THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT

This was the most effective cause for the obstinacy of Quraysh because they were pleasure-seeking voluptuous and easy-going people. The call of the Holy Prophet was opposed to the old habits of these persons who had enjoyed absolute freedom for centuries; and to give up bad habits entails great suffering and toil.

Furthermore hearing of the verses regarding torture which threaten the pleasure-seeking unjust and ignorant persons with severe punishment created a strange fear in their hearts and made them very much disturbed and uneasy. When the Holy Prophet recited the verses mentioned below in the general gatherings of Quraysh with a pleasant voice there appeared a tumult which disturbed their merry-making. The Arabs who used to equip themselves for warding off all sorts of occurrences cast lots with arrows took omens with stones to procure safety and considered the coming and going of birds to be the signs of occurrences were not at all prepared to sit still unless they had acquired a guarantee against the torture of which Muhammad warned them. They therefore quarrelled with him so that they might not hear his good tidings and threats. Here are some of the verses which greatly disturbed the minds of the pleasure-seeking and ignorant Arabs:

p: 247

When the Day of Judgement comes man will avoid his brother mother father wife and children. On that day everyone will be concerned with himself (Surah 'Abasa 80:34-37)

While sitting by the side of Ka'bah and drinking wine they suddenly heard these words:

No sooner will their skins be consumed than We shall give them other skins so that they may truly taste Our scourge. (Surah al-Nisa 4:56). This made them so much disturbed and agitated that they involuntarily cast aside their cups and began trembling with fear.

There were other reasons also which made them refrain from admitting the truthfulness of Islam. For example one day Harith bin Nawfal son of Abd-i Munaf came to see the Holy Prophet and said: "We know that what you warn us of is true and correct. However if we express our belief in you the polytheist Arabs will turn us out of our land". The following verse was revealed in reply to such persons:

They say: 'If we accept your guidance we shall be driven from our land.' But have We not given them a sanctuary of safety ............(Surah al-Qasas 28:57)

SOME OBJECTIONS BY THE POLYTHEISTS

At times they said: "Syria is the land which fosters prophets in its lap and it has not been observed so far that a person should have been appointed to the prophetic mission in this desert (Makkah)". In imitation of the Jews some polytheists said: "Why is the Qur'an revealed piecemeal? Why has it not been sent down as a whole like the Injeel and the Taurat?" The Holy Qur'an reproduces their objection in these words: "The unbelievers say: 'Why was the Qur'an not revealed to him in a single revelation?"

p: 248

Then it gives the following reply: We have revealed it thus so that We may strengthen your faith. (Surah al-Furqan 25:32)

Undoubtedly unpleasant events and harsh occurrences have a great effect on human spirit and the only source of satisfaction for the Holy Prophet was the fresh words which he heard from his Lord who ordered him to practice forbearance and fortitude and by this means created a fresh spirit in his entire frame. It was for this purpose that the Holy Qur'an was revealed piecemeal.

Furthermore in the early days of Islam some rules were formally recognized but it was not appropriate to let them continue. It was not therefore possible that the Holy Qur'an should have been revealed in a single revelation.

Chapter 17

THE FIRST MIGRATION

Migration of a group of Muslims to Ethiopia is a clear proof of their faith and deep sincerity. With a view to get rid of the mischief and atrocities of Quraysh and to acquire a peaceful atmosphere for observing their religious ceremonies and worshipping Allah the One they decided to leave Makkah and to forsake their wealth business children and relatives. They however wondered what to do and where to go for they saw that idolatry prevailed throughout the Arabian Peninsula and there was not a single point where the name of Allah could be proclaimed aloud or the laws of Islam could be introduced. They therefore decided to place the matter before the Prophet -the foundation of whose religion was laid on: "Allah's land is spacious. Worship Me alone" (Choose that place for residence where you can worship Allah). (Surah al-Ankabut 29:56).

p: 249

The Holy Prophet was fully aware of the pitiable condition of the Muslims. Although he himself enjoyed the support of Bani Hashim and they protected him from every harm his devotees mostly consisted of slave-girls and slave-boys and some unprotected free men. The chiefs of Quraysh persecuted these helpless persons incessantly and in order to forestall tribal wars the powerful chiefs of various tribes tortured those persons of their tribes who had embraced Islam. An account of the torture and persecutions to which Quraysh subjected the people has already been given in the foregoing pages.

It was on this account that when the companions of the Prophet sought advice from him regarding migration he replied: "If you travel to Ethiopia it will be very profitable for you because on account of the presence of a mighty and just ruler nobody is oppressed there and the land of that country is good and pure and you can live there till Almighty Allah provides you relief."[1]

No doubt a pure environment where a worthy and just person is at the helm of affairs is a specimen of Paradise and the only object of the companions of the Holy Prophet in occupying such a land was that they might perform their religious duties with perfect security and peace of mind.

The penetrating words of the Holy Prophet had such a wholesome effect that soon after that those who were already quite ready packed their luggage and proceeded to Jeddah at night either mounted or on foot without their enemies (idolaters) becoming aware of their departure. The total number of those who migrated this time was ten and they included four Muslim women as well.

p: 250

It is worthy of note why the Holy Prophet did not mention other places. However when the conditions then prevailing in Arabia and other places are studied the secret of the selection of Ethiopia becomes quite clear. The reason for this was that migration to places inhabited by the Arabs who were usually idolaters was dangerous. The idolaters were reluctant to receive the Muslims either because they wished to please Quraysh or because they loved the religion of their forefathers. The places in Arabia inhabited by the Christians and the Jews were not at all fit for migration because they were fighting and quarrelling with each other for their spiritual penetration and there was no room for a third rival. Furthermore these two groups considered people of the Arab descent to be inferior and humble.

Yemen was under the influence of the King of Iran and the Iranian authorities were not prepared to accommodate Muslims in that land so much so that when Khusro Pervez received the letter from the Holy Prophet he at once wrote to the Governor of Yemen to arrest the new Prophet and send him to Iran. Hira too was under the domination of Iran like Yemen. Syria was far away from Makkah. Furthermore Yemen and Syria were the markets for Quraysh and they had close relations with the people of these areas. If the Muslims had taken shelter there those people would have expelled them on the request of Quraysh who had made a similar request to the King of Ethiopia who turned it down.

p: 251

During those days journey by sea particularly with women and children was an extraordinarily difficult job. Undertaking such a journey and abandoning means of livelihood was a sign of devotion and pure faith. Jeddah (and according to Jurji Zaydan the port of 'Shoaibiyah' of those days) was a developed trading port and by chance two trading vessels were then ready to sail from there for Ethiopia. The Muslims fearing pursuit by Quraysh made known their intention to perform the journey and boarded the vessel in much haste on payment of half a dinar. A report regarding the departure of the Muslims had also reached the ears of the chiefs of Makkah and they sent some persons to bring them back but by the time they reached there the vessel had left the coast of Jeddah and could not be seen.

Pursuit of those who had taken refuge in a foreign land only for the safety of their faith is a clear proof of the villainy of Quraysh. The migrants had forsaken their property children residences and business but the chiefs of Makkah were not prepared to leave them alone The elders of 'Darun Nadwah' feared the outcome of this journey and discussed amongst themselves the matters which will be mentioned later.

The members of this group did not belong to one family and according to Ibn Hisham [2] everyone of these ten persons belonged to a separate family. Another migration took place after this and the leader of these migrants was Ja'far son of Abu Talib. This migration was arranged with perfect freedom and some of the migrants were therefore successful in taking their women and children also with themselves.

p: 252

Consequently the number of the Muslims in Ethiopia reached eighty three and if we take into account the children who were taken there or were born in that land the number would exceed this figure.

As the Prophet had described the Muslims found Ethiopia to be a prosperous country with a calm and free atmosphere. Umm Salama the wife of Abi Salama who later had the honour of marrying the Prophet says thus about that country: "When we settled in Ethiopia we found ourselves under the protection of the best patron. We did not meet with any trouble or hear any bad word from anyone".

From the verses composed by some migrants it transpires that the atmosphere of Ethiopia was very pleasant. Details may be seen in the Seerah-i Ibn Hisham.[3]

[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 321 and Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 70.

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 245.

[3] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 353.

QURAYSH SEND THEIR REPRESENTATIVES TO THE COURT OF ETHIOPIA

When the chiefs of Makkah learned about the freedom and peaceful life of the Muslims in Ethiopia the flames of rancour kindled in their hearts they were disturbed by the happy life being led by them there because that country had proved to be a haven for them. They were very much afraid lest the Muslims should have access to the Negus (ruler of Ethiopia) and they might be able to attract him to the religion of Islam and thus arrange the invasion of the Arabian Peninsula by a well-equipped army.

p: 253

The elders of 'Darun-Nadwah' conferred once again and unanimously decided to send representatives to the court of Ethiopia and to arrange for proper presents for the King and his ministers to earn their good will and then to accuse the migrant Muslims of stupidity and ignorance and of inventing a religion. In order that their plan might meet with an immediate success they selected from amongst themselves two persons known for their cunning and deceitful activities. One of whom Iater became a juggler in the field of politics. The lot fell upon 'Amr bin As and Abdullah bin Rabi'ah. The president of 'Darun Nadwah' instructed them that before meeting the ruler of Ethiopia they should present gifts to the ministers and have conversation with them in advance and should try to bring them round so that when they met the king they (the ministers) might support them. After having been briefed on these lines the said two persons proceeded to Ethiopia.

The ministers of Ethiopia met the representatives of Quraysh and the latter after presenting the gifts spoke to them thus: "A group of our young men have abjured the creed of their forefathers and have invented a religion which is opposed to our religion as well as yours. They are now residing in your country. The elders and chiefs of Quraysh earnestly request the King of Ethiopia to expel them as soon as possible. Incidentally we also desire that the council of ministers may support us in the presence of the King. And as we are fully aware of the shortcomings and ways and manners of these persons it will be expedient that the matter is not discussed with them at all and the head of the State should not also grant them an audience".

p: 254

The greedy and short-sighted persons (i.e. the ministers) assured them of their full support. On the following day the representatives of Quraysh were admitted in the royal court and after conveying their greetings and presenting the gifts they communicated the message of Quraysh to the King in the following words:

"O honourable ruler of Ethiopia! Some foolish young men of ours have taken steps to propagate a religion which does not conform either with the official religion of your country or with that of their ancestors. These people have recently taken refuge in your country and are taking undue advantage of the freedom available in this State. The elders of Quraysh earnestly request your Majesty that orders may be issued for their expulsion so that they may return to their own country............."

As soon as the speech of the representatives of Quraysh ended the voices of the ministers who were sitting round the royal throne became loud. All of them supported the representatives of Quraysh and confirmed what they had said. However signs of anger appeared on the face of the wise and just Ruler of Ethiopia. Opposing his courtiers he thundered: "This cannot be. I can't hand over to these two persons without proper investigation the people who have taken refuge in my country. It is necessary that the condition and particulars of these refugees should be looked into. And I will return them to their country only after the statements of these two persons about them have been substantiated thorough scrutiny. On the other hand if what these persons have said about them is not based on reality I will not forsake them but will render them more assistance".

p: 255

Thereafter a special emissary of the royal court was sent to the emigrant Muslims and he brought them before the King without providing them any prior information. Ja'far bin Abu Talib was introduced as the representative of those persons. Some of the Muslims were worried as to how he would address the Christian monarch of Ethiopia. To alleviate their anxiety Ja'far told them that he would communicate to the King exactly what he had heard from the Holy Prophet.

The King of Ethiopia turned to Ja'far and said: "Why have you abjured the creed of your forefathers and adopted a faith which does not conform either to our religion or to that of your ancestors?"

Jatfar replied: "We were an ignorant and idolatrous people. We did not avoid eating the dead bodies. We always indulged in abominable deeds. We had no respect for our neighbours. The weak and the helpless were oppressed by the strong. We quarrelled and fought with our kinsmen. We spent quite a long time in this manner till a person from amongst us who has a very brilliant and pure past rose up and invited us under the commandment of Allah to worship the One and only Deity and declared the praise of idols to be despicable. He also ordered us to return the things entrusted to us by others; to avoid impurities to behave well with our kinsmen and neighbours and to shun bloodshed unlawful contacts false evidence usurpation of the property of orphans and imputing bad deeds to women.

p: 256

He has ordered us to offer prayers to fast and to pay taxes on our wealth. We have believed in him and occupied ourselves with the praise and worship of Allah the One. We consider that which He has declared lawful to be lawful. However Quraysh have behaved with us cruelly and have tortured us day and night so that we might abjure our faith revert to the worship of stones and idols and do all sorts of evil deeds. We resisted them for quite some time till our energy was exhausted. Despaired of our life and property we have taken refuge in Ethiopia to save our faith. The fame of the justice of the Ruler of Ethiopia attracted us like magnet and now also we have perfect faith in his justice."[1]

The appealing and fascinating speech of Ja'far impressed the King so much that he with tears in his eyes said to him: "Read something from the Heavenly Book of your Prophet". Ja'far recited some verses from Surah Maryam. He continued reciting these verses and fully explained the view-point of Islam about the chastity of Maryam and the elevated position of Prophet 'Isa. He had not yet finished the Surah when the King and the bishops began to cry loudly and their beards and the pages of the books which were lying open before them became wet with their tears.

For some time after this silence prevailed in the assembly and the humming ceased. Then the King intervened and said: "The words of their Prophet and that which Prophet 'Isa brought have emanated from one and the same source of light. Be gone. I will never surrender them to you".

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Contrary to what the ministers and the representatives of Quraysh had expected this meeting ended to their disadvantage and no ray of hope was left for them.

'Amr As who was a diplomatic and cunning person had a conversation with his friend Abdullah bin Rabi'ah and said to him: "We had better adopt another method tomorrow and it is possible that that method may end in the annihilation of the emigrants. Tomorrow I shall tell the King of Ethiopia that the leader of these refugees has a particular belief about Prophet 'Isa which does not at all conform to the fundamentals of Christianity". Abdullah checked him from doing so and pointed out that amongst the refugees there were also persons who were related to them. His advise was not however effective. On the following day they went to the royal court along with all the ministers. This time they pretended sympathy and support for the official religion of Ethiopia and criticized the beliefs of the Muslims with regard to Prophet 'Isa and said: "These people have specific beliefs about 'Isa which do not at all conform to the fundamentals and beliefs of the Christian World and the presence of such persons is dangerous for the official religion of your country. It should be possible for Your Majesty to enquire about it from them".

This time also the wise Ruler of Ethiopia decided to investigate the matter and ordered that the immigrants should be brought before him. The Muslims pondered over the reason for their being called again. It appeared as if it had been revealed to them by inspiration that the purpose of their being called was to enquire about their beliefs with regard to the founder of Christianity. Once again Ja'far was introduced as their spokesman.

p: 258

He had already promised his friends that he would say only those things on the subject which he had heard from the Holy Prophet.

The Negus turned to the representative of the refugees and said: "What is your belief about Prophet 'Isa?"

Ja'far replied: "Our belief with regard to 'Isa is that which has been taught to us by our Holy Prophet. He was the servant and Prophet of Allah. He was the Spirit and Word of Allah with which He blessed Maryam".

The King of Ethiopia was very much pleased to hear the remarks of Ja'far and said: "By Allah! 'Isa did not enjoy a higher position than this". The ministers and the deviated persons did not like this observation of the King. However notwithstanding their views he praised the beliefs of the Muslims and allowed them full freedom. He threw the presents of Quraysh before their representatives and said: "God has not taken any bribe from me while giving me this authority. It is not therefore appropriate that I should accumulate wealth by such means''.[2]

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[1] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II pp. 54-55.

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 338.

RETURN FROM ETHIOPIA

Some persons who had migrated to Ethiopia left that country and returned to the Hijaz on account of false reports to the effect that Quraysh had embraced Islam. On their return they came to know that the reports received by them were false and the pressure and persecution of the Muslims by Quraysh had not yet abated. Most of them therefore returned to Ethiopia and only a small minority entered Makkah either secretly or under the protection of some mighty person of Quraysh.

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Uthman bin Maz'un entered Makkah under the protection of Walid bin Mughayrah [1] and became safe from the atrocities of the enemy. He could however see with his own eyes that other Muslims were being persecuted and tortured by Quraysh. Uthman was very much grieved to observe this discrimination.

He therefore requested Walid to declare publicly that the son of Maz'un was no longer under his protection so that he might also be in the same position in which other Muslims were and should share their grief and sorrow. Walid therefore declared in the mosque: "From this moment Ibn Maz'un is not under my protection". And Uthman also said aloud: "I confirm it".

Soon thereafter Labid the Arabian poet entered the mosque and began reading his well-known Qasidah (laudatory poem) in the big assembly of Quraysh.

He said: "Everything except Allah is unreal and illusory". Uthman said: "You are right". Labid then read the second hemistich:

"All the blessings of Allah are unstable". Uthman was disturbed and said: "You are mistaken. The blessings of the Hereafter are permanent and eternal". Labid took ill the objection of Uthman and said: "O Quraysh! Your circumstances have changed. In the past your assemblies were in good order and your companions did not feel any grief. Since when has this change occurred in your condition? Who is he?" One of those present said: "He is a foolish man who has abjured our creed and follows a man like himself. Don't pay heed to his words". Then the man rose and gave Uthman a strong slap in the face and blackened it. Walid bin Mughayrah said: "O Uthman! Had you remained under my protection you would not have suffered all this". Uthman replied: "I am under the protection of Almighty Allah". Walid said: "I am prepared to offer you protection once again". Uthman replied: "I shall not accept it at all''.[2]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 369.

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 371.

MISSION OF THE CHRISTIANS

Consequent upon the propagation of Islam by the Muslim immigrants an inquiry mission visited Makkah on behalf of the religious centre of the Christians of Ethiopia. They met the Prophet in the mosque and asked him certain questions. The Prophet gave replies to their questions and invited them to embrace Islam and recited some verses of the Holy Qur'an before them.

The Qur'anic verses changed their mentality in such a way that tears began to flow from their eyes involuntarily and they immediately expressed belief in his prophethood and confirmed all the signs of the promised Prophet about whom they had read in the Injeel.

Abu Jahl disliked this enthusiastic and well-concluded meeting. He said to those persons with much harshness: "The people of Ethiopia sent you on an inquiry mission and it was not the intention that you should abjure the religion of your ancestors. I don't think there are more stupid persons than yourselves on the face of the earth".

Those persons uttered conciliatory words in reply to the Pharaoh of Makkah who wanted to hide the invigorating rays of the sun like a dark cloud and thus put an end to the dispute.[1]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 392.

THE MISSION OF QURAYSH

The mission of the people of Ethiopia became a means of the awakening of Quraysh and they also decided to make investigation. A group of persons including Harith bin Nasr and 'Uqbah bin Abi Mu'it left for Yathrib (Madina) as representatives of Quraysh with a view to place the question of the 'prophethood' and 'call' of Muhammad before the Jews. The Jewish scholars advised the mission to ask Muhammad the following questions:

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1. What is the reality of the soul?

2. Story of the persons who disappeared in bygone times (the people of the Cave).

3. The adventures of the man who travelled in the east and in the west of the world. (Dhulqarnayn).

They told them that if Muhammad was in a position to reply to these questions they should rest assured that he is the chosen one of Allah but if he failed to give the requisite replies they should consider him to be a liar who must be got rid of as early as possible.

The representatives returned to Makkah in a very happy mood and informed Quraysh of the above-mentioned questions.

A meeting was therefore arranged to which the Prophet was also invited. The Prophet told them that he was waiting for Divine revelation in connection with the three questions.[1] Heavenly revelation came. Reply to the first question (regarding 'soul') is contained in Surah Bani Isra'il 17:85. As regards the other two questions they have been replied to in detail in Surah al-Kahf 9-28 and 83-98. Detailed replies of the Holy Prophet to these three questions are found in the books of exegeses and need not be repeated here.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 300 - 301.

Chapter 18

RUSTY WEAPONS

The ruling forces of idolatry were in a state of readiness throughout the Arabian Peninsula. Quraysh had organized their ranks to campaign against the worship of Allah the One. At the early stages they wished to make the Prophet abandon his mission by alluring him and offering him wealth and authority but were faced with his well-known reply: "By Allah! Even if you place the sun on my right hand and the moon on my left hand (i.e. give me authority over the entire world) I shall not abandon this mission". Then they started threatening humiliating and persecuting his friends and were never tired of harming and torturing them. However the heroism and steadfastness of his sincere friends made them succeed in this ordeal also so much so that they purchased their perseverance in the path of Islam by abandoning their homes and endeavoured to spread this sacred religion by migrating to Ethiopia. However the operations of the ruling forces of idolatry to uproot the sapling of Islam had not yet ended. Rather they now sought to use a sharper weapon.

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This weapon was that of anti-Muhammad propaganda. Evidently torture and oppression could prevent from adopting Islam only those persons who were residing in Makkah. It could not be effective in respect of those who came to Makkah in groups during the sacred months to perform the pilgrimage of the House of Allah. The pilgrims contacted the Prophet in an atmosphere of peace and tranquillity and even if they did not embrace his religion they at least became shaky about their own creed (idol-worship). And when they left Makkah after a few days and returned to their homes they carried the name of the Prophet and the story of the new religion to all the corners of Arabia. And this in itself was considered to be a severe blow to the rule of idolatry and was a wonderful factor leading to the expansion of Islam.

The elders of Quraysh therefore put another destructive programme into practice and wished to withhold by this means the expansion of the Prophet's religion and thus to cut off his contacts with the Arab society.

UNDUE CALUMNIES

The character of man can be understood best from under the veil of the abuses and calumnies of his enemy. In order to misguide the people the enemy always endeavours to make such accusations against his opponent as are palatable to the society to the extent of even one per thousand so that by spreading falsehoods and baseless things he may as far as possible diminish his honour and position. A wise enemy endeavours to impute such things to his opponent as are believed by some particular persons or are at least doubted by them. He does not however circulate about his opponent those things which do not at all apply to him and have no bearing on his well-known and obvious mentality and deeds because otherwise he would achieve results contrary to those desired by him.

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As such a proficient historian can study the real countenance of the other party from behind the falsehoods and calumnies and can learn about his social success and mentality even from behind the control tower of the enemy. It is so because a shamelessly fearless enemy does not avoid publishing a false charge which is to his advantage and derives maximum benefit from the sharp weapon of propaganda to the extent his thinking intelligence and knowledge of the situation permit him. If therefore he does not associate anything undue with the other party it is because that person is free from every such weakness and the society is not therefore prepared to accept that stuff.

The history of Islam shows that although Quraysh entertained unusual enmity and rancour against the Prophet and were keen to pull down the newly-built edifice of Islam at all costs and to diminish the personality and position of its founder they could not make full use of this weapon (i.e. calumny). They wondered what to say when the property of some of their own people was lying at his house (i.e. as trust) and his forty years' noble life had proved film to be an honest man.

Could they possibly accuse him of sensuality? But how could they bring this word on their tongue? He began his manhood with a comparatively old woman and was still spending his days with her when Quraysh met to organize propaganda against him! They then reflected as to what they should say so that it might apply to him and at least one per cent of the people might accept it to be probably true.

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The elders of Darun Nadwah were puzzled as to how they should use this weapon against him. They therefore decided to place the matter before one of the sages of Quraysh and to implement his advice. An assembly was formed. Walid turned to Quraysh and said: "The Haj season is near and during these days people come to this city in large numbers to perform various obligations and ceremonies attached to Haj. Muhammad will make use of the opportunity afforded by the freedom available during these days and will propagate his religion. It will be better if Quraysh express their final view about him and his new religion. Hence all should communicate only one opinion to the Arabs because diversity of opinions will make their words ineffective".

Having said this the sage of Arabia thought over the matter and said: "What should we say?" One of them suggested: "We should say that he is a soothsayer". Walid did not like this suggestion and said: "What Muhammad says is not like the words of the soothsayers". Another person proposed that they should call him insane. This proposal was also rejected by Walid who said: "No signs of insanity are found in him". After much discussion they decided unanimously thus: "We should say that he is a magician because his way of saying things is magical and the proof of this is that by means of his Qur'an he has created dissension amongst the Makkans whose harmonious relations were proverbial and has destroyed their unity.[1]

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While commenting on Surah al-Muddaththir the exegetes have given another version of this matter. Thev say: "When Walid heard some verses of Surah al-Fussilat from the Holy Prophet he was spell bound and it made his hair stand on end. He left for his house and did not come out again. Quraysh began ridiculing him and said that Walid had become a follower of the religion of Muhammad. They went to his house collectively and enquired from him about the reality of Muhammad's Qur'an. Whenever anyone of those present made a suggestion on the above lines he rejected it. Eventually he expressed the view that they should call the Holy Prophet a magician on account of the discord which he had created between them and should say that he has a magical way of saying things!

The exegetes believe that the verses (11-26) of Surah al-Muddaththir commencing with "Leave to Me the man whom I have created alone up to "I shall make him suffer the torment of Hell' have been revealed about Walid ibn Mughayrah.[2]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 270.

[2] Majma'ul Bayan vol. X page 387.

PERSISTENCE IN ATTRIBUTING INSANITY

It is an admitted fact of history that from his early manhood the Prophet was known for his uprightness and truthfulness and even his enemies bent down their heads involuntarily before his high qualities. One of his outstanding attributes was that the people called him truthful and honest so much so that the idol-worshippers used to deposit their belongings with him till ten years after the general invitation. As the invitation of the Prophet was very unpleasant and indigestible for his enemies their only effort was that they should turn away the people from him by means of words which could completely contaminate their minds. As they knew that attributing falsehood and calumny to the Prophet would not impress the minds of the artless and simple idolaters they were compelled to deny his invitation by saying that the source of his views and thoughts was insanity which was incompatible with the qualities of piety and righteousness. They made many evil designs and practiced cunning and deceit in propagating this hypocritical imputation.

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On account of acute hypocrisy they pretended to be quite honest while making this imputation and expressed the matter in ambiguous terms and said: "Has he invented a lie

About Allah or is he mad?" (Surah Saba 34:8). And this is the very devilish method which the enemies of reality adopt while denying great men and reformers of the society. The Holy Qur'an tells that this abominable method was not peculiar to the contemporaries of the Holy Prophet as the enemies of earlier Prophets had also used this weapon to contradict them. It says: Thus whenever an apostle came to those that flourished before them they cried: 'Sorcerer!' or 'Madman!' Have they handed down this cry from one generation to the next? Surely they are transgressors all". (Surah al-Zariyat 51: 52-53)

The present Injeel also tells that when 'Isa gave counsel to the Jews they said: 'There is satan in him and he talks incoherently. Why do you listen to him?' (St. John chapter 10:20 and chapter 7:48 52)

No doubt if Quraysh had been in a position to slander the Prophet on any other account they would not have desisted from doing so. However for more than forty years the honourable life of the Prophet checked them from uttering any other calumny against his character although they were ready to use the smallest thing against him. For example he used to sit at times near Marwah with a Christian slave named Jabr. His enemies immediately took advantage of this practice of his and said: "Muhammad learns the Qur'an from this Christian slave". The Holy Qur'an replies thus to their baseless accusation: "We know that they say that a man teaches him the Qur'an. However the language of the man whom they mention is non-Arabic whereas this (the Qur'an) is in clear Arabic." [1]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 393.

IMPOSTURE OF NAZAR BIN HARITH

The rusty weapon of propaganda against the Prophet did not prove effective at all because people realized through their wisdom and intelligence that the Qur'an possesses a wonderful charm. They also felt that they had never before heard such sweet and meaningful words which immediately impressed one's mind. When the enemies did not profit by calumniating the Prophet they thought of another childish plan and hoped that by putting it into practice they would be able to deprive him of the attention and belief of the people.

Nazar bin Harith who was one of the intelligent and experienced men of Quraysh who had spent a part of his life in Hira and Iraq possessed knowledge about the status of the kings and warriors of Iran like Rustam and Asfand Yar and of the beliefs of the Iranians about good and evil was selected to campaign against the Prophet. Darun Nadwah approved the idea that by displaying his art in the streets and bazaars and relating the stories of the Iranians and the adventures of their kings Nazar should divert the attention of the people from the Prophet to himself. In order to diminish the status of the Prophet and to show his words and the verses of the Qur'an to be valueless he said repeatedly: "O people! What is the difference between my words and those of Muhammad? He tells you the tales of the people who were subjected to Divine wrath and fury and I tell you the story of those who were very much blessed and have been ruling on the face of the earth for long long years".

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This plan was so foolish that it did not last for more than a few days. So much so that Quraysh themselves got tired of Nazar's words and deserted him.

Some verses of the Qur'an were revealed in this regard: "They say: 'Fables of the ancients he has written: they are dictated to him morning and evening'. Say: 'It is revealed by Him Who knows the secrets of the heavens and the earth. He is Forgiving and Merciful'. (Surah al-Furqan 25:5-6)

PERSISTENCE OF QURAYSH IN THEIR FAITH

The Prophet of Islam knew very well that most of the people practiced idol-worship in imitation of the chiefs of the tribe and this practice was not deeply rooted in their hearts. In case therefore a change was brought about in the chiefs and he was successful in guiding one or two of them most of the difficulties would be solved. He was therefore very keen to attract Walid bin Mughayrah (whose son Khalid later became a Muslim commander and conqueror) because he was the most aged and the most influential person amongst Quraysh and enjoyed respect and authority. He was called the sage of Arabia and his views were respected in various disputable matters.

One day when the Holy Prophet was conversing with him (Walid) Ibn Umme Muktum a blind man approached the Prophet and requested him to recite some verses of the Holy Qur'an for him. He insisted so much that the Prophet disliked it because it was not known as to when another opportunity to converse with the sage of Arabia in a peaceful atmosphere would come. He therefore turned away his face from Ibn Umme Mukrum and with a frown on his brow ignored him.

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This incident was over. However the Prophet was thinking about the matter when the first fourteen verses of Surah 'Abasa were revealed: He frowned and then turned away from a blind man who had come up to him. You never know. Perhaps he wanted to purify himself or receive some (Qur'anic) advice which would benefit him. Yet you pay attention to a rich man though you will not be questioned even if he never purifies himself. As for the one who comes to you earnestly (striving for guidance) and who has fear of God you ignore him. This is an admonition. These verses are a reminder so let those who want to follow its guidance do so. (Surah 'Abasa 80: 1-17)

Distinguished Ulema and research scholars amongst the Shi'ah consider this portion of the episode to be baseless and inconsistent with the good nature of the Holy Prophet and they say that the verses themselves do not indicate that it was he who frowned and turned away his face from the blind man.

It has been quoted from Imam al-Sadiq that the person meant was one who belonged to the family of Umayyah. When Ibn Umm Muktum approached the Prophet that man showed hatred for him and these verses were revealed to admonish him. [1]

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[1] Majma'ul Bayan vol. I page 437

THEY PROHIBIT HEARING OF THE QUR'AN

The idolatrous administration of Makkah had chalked out an extensive programme to check the expansion of Islam. They put their schemes into operation one after another but failed to achieve their purpose.

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They carried on extensive propaganda against the Prophet from time to time but did not meet with any success. They saw that he was steadfast in his mission and the rays of the light of Divine monotheism were penetrating further day after day.

The chiefs of Quraysh decided to prohibit the people from hearing the Qur'an and in order to ensure the success of their scheme they posted spies in all parts of Makkah so that they might restrain the pilgrims and tradesmen who visited Makkah from contacting Muhammad and might stop by all possible means their hearing of the Qur'an. The spokesman of the group circulated a declaration amongst the Makkans about which the Holy Qur'an says: The disbelievers say: 'Do not Iisten to this Qur'an but make a lot of unnecessary noise while it is being read so that perhaps you will defeat it'. (Surah al-Fussilat 41:26)

The most effective weapon used by the Holy Prophet which created a strange awe and fear in the hearts of the enemies was the Qur'an itself. The chiefs of Quraysh could see that many sworn enemies of the Holy Prophet went to meet him just to ridicule or harm him but as soon as they heard a few verses of the Holy Book they became his sincere followers. To prevent such occurrences Quraysh decided to prohibit their subordinates and supporters from hearing the Qur'an and declared conversation with Muhammad to be unlawful.

THE LAW-BREAKING LEGISLATORS

The same people who strictly prohibited the hearing of the Qur'an and punished all those who defied the declaration came after a few days under the category of law-breakers and practically broke secretly the very law which they had themselves approved!

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One night Abu Sufyan Abu Jahl and Akhnas bin Shariq left their houses and proceeded to the residence of the Prophet without the knowledge of one another. Everyone of them concealed himself in a corner and their object was to hear the Qur'an of Muhammad which he used to recite at night with a pleasant voice while performing his prayers. All of them remained there till morning without being aware of the presence of others and heard the Qur'an. In the morning they had to return to their houses. They met on the way and reproached one another saying that if the simple-minded people came to know about their activities what would they think about them?

The same thing was repeated during the next night. It would seem that an inner urge and charm attracted them to the house of the Holy Prophet. At the time of their return they met again and exchanged mutual reproaches and decided not to repeat their action. However the attraction of the Qur'an was such that they again went to his house without the knowledge of one another and sat round it and heard the Qur'an till morning. When they heard the Qur'anic verses their fear increased every moment and they said to themselves: "In case the promises and the threats of Muhammad be true we have led sinful lives".

When it was dawn they left the house of the Prophet for the fear of the simple-minded people and again met one another. All of them admitted that they could not withstand the attraction of the 'call' and the law of the Qur'an. However to prevent any unpleasant occurrences they concluded a mutual agreement that they would not resort to this action again. [1]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 337.

PREVENTING PEOPLE FROM EMBRACING ISLAM

After implementing the first programme of hearing the Qur'an to be unlawful they started the second one. People residing in near and far off palaces as and when they were inclined towards Islam proceeded to Makkah The spies of Quraysh contacted them on the way or at the time of their arrival in Makkah and prevented them under different pretexts from embracing Islam. Here are two clear examples:

1. A'asha was one of the great poets of the Age of Ignorance and his verses were quoted in the assemblies of Quraysh. He heard about the commandments of Allah and the splendid teachings of Islam at the time when he had grown old. He lived at a place which was at a far-off distance from Makkah. The 'call' of the Holy Prophet had not yet been extended fully to that area but even that which he had heard about Islam in brief terms created a great love for it in his heart. He composed a marvellous panegyric in praise of the Prophet and did not consider a gift better than that he should recite it in the presence of the Prophet. Although the number of the verses of this panegyric does not exceed twenty four these are the best and the most eloquent verses recited in the praise of the Holy Prophet during those times. The text of these verses may be seen in his poetical works.[1] The poet commends upon the sublime teachings of the Prophet which had illuminated his mind.

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A'asha had not yet been fortunate enough to come to the Prophet when the spies of the idol-worshippers contacted him and became aware of his feelings. They knew well that A'asha was a sensual person and was addicted to wine. They at once took advantage of his weak points and said: "O Abu Basir! The religion of Muhammad does not conform to your mentality and moral condition!" He said "Why not?" They replied: "He has declared adultery unlawful." He said: "I have nothing to do with it and this thing does not stand in the way of my embracing Islam". They added: "He has also banned drinking of wine". On hearing this he became somewhat uneasy and said: "I am not yet satiated with wine. I shall return now and shall drink wine to my fill for a period of one year and shall come next year and embrace Islam at his hands". He then returned but death did not permit him to do what he had said for he died the same year. [2]

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[1] Diwan-i A'asha pp. 101-103.

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 386 - 388.

ANOTHER EXAMPLE

Tufayl bin 'Amr who was a wise man and a melodious poet and enjoyed great respect in his tribe came to Makkah. It was very detestable and annoying for Quraysh that Tufayl should embrace Islam. The chiefs of Quraysh and the jugglers of diplomacy therefore gathered round him and groaned and said: "That man who is offering his prayers by the side of the Ka'bah has destroyed our unity and created dissensions amongst us by his magical narrations and we are afraid that he would create a similar discord in your tribe also. It will therefore be much better if you do not converse with him at all".

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Tufayl says: "Their words impressed me so much that fearing that Muhammad's magical narrations might affect me I decided not to speak with him or to hear what he said. In order to ward off the influence of his magic therefore I decided to put some cotton in my ears while performing 'tawaf' so that his voice should not reach me while he was reciting the Qur'an and offering his prayers. In the morning I entered the mosque after having put cotton in my ears and was not at all inclined to hear him speak. However I don't know how it happened that all of a sudden some extremely sweet and charming words reached my ears and I enjoyed them very much. Upon this I said to myself: "Curse upon you! You are an eloquent and intelligent person. What is the harm if you hear what this man says? If he says something good you should accept it otherwise you can very well reject it. I waited however so that I might not contact the Prophet openly. At last the Prophet proceeded to his house and entered it. I also obtained permission and entered his house. I told him the entire story and said: "Quraysh ascribe so many things to you and in the beginning I had no intention of seeing you. However the sweetness of the Qur'an has drawn me to you. I now request you kindly to explain the nature of your religion and recite a portion of the Qur'an to me".

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"The Holy Prophet made his religion known to me and recited some verses of the Qur'an".

Tufayl adds: "By Allah! I had never heard a narration more appealing and had never seen a law more moderate!"

Then Tufayl said to the Prophet: "I am an influential man in my tribe and shall take steps for the propagation of your religion".

Ibn Hisham writes [1] that he (Tufayl) was with his tribe till the Battle of Khayber and remained busy in propagating Islam and joined the Holy Prophet in that very battle along with seventy or eighty Muslim families.[2] He remained steadfast in Islam till he met his martyrdom in the Battle of Yamamah.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 410.

[2] Dr Haykal says: "He joined the Prophet after the conquest of Makkah and we have not yet found any evidence for this statement.

Chapter 19

THE FICTION OF GHARANIQ

It is possible that some of the readers may like to know the origin of the myth of 'Gharaniq' which has been quoted by some Sunni historians and may incidentally become aware of the hands which have been busy in inventing and propagating falsehoods .

The Jews and especially their religious leaders have been and are sworn enemies of Islam. A group of theirs like Ka'b Ahbar who had ostensibly embraced Islam was continuously busy in concealing the realities of Islam by coining falsehoods and publicizing baseless things by ascribing them to the Prophet and some of the Muslim writers reposing confidence in all their co-religionists accepted most of their forgeries without proper scrutiny and compiled them in the shape of tradition and history.

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Nowadays however more opportunities are available to the scholars for scrutinizing such matters and particularly a set of rules and methods has come into existence as a result of the efforts of the Muslim research scholars for distinguishing historical facts from myths. In the circumstances it is not at all proper for a writer who is well-versed in religious matters to accept as final whatever he comes across in a book and to quote it without verification.

WHAT IS THE FICTION OF 'GHAYRANIQ'?

It is said that the chiefs of Quraysh like Walid 'As Aswad and Umayyah met the Prophet and proposed that in order to remove their mutual differences both the parties should acknowledge the gods of each other. At that moment 'Surah al-Kafirun' was revealed in reply to their proposal and the Prophet was ordered to speak thus: "I do not worship that which you worship nor do you worship Him whom I worship."

Nevertheless the Prophet was fiery keen to reconcile with his people and wished that an order might be revealed which should lessen the gap between him and his kinsmen. One day he was sitting near the Ka'bah and reciting Surah al-Najm in a sonorous tone. When he reached these two verses. "Have you thought on al-Lat and al-Uzza and thirdly on Manat?" Satan suddenly made him utter another two sentences viz. "These are 'Gharaniq' [1] who are high in position and their intercession is acceptable" and then he recited the remaining verses. When he reached the verse of sajdah (the last verse of the surah) the Prophet himself as well as all others present whether Muslims or idolaters performed sajdah before the idols with the exception of Walid who was too old to do so.

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There was tumult and rejoicing amongst those who were present in the mosque and the idolaters said that Muhammad had spoken well of their gods. The news about the reconciliation of Muhammad with Quraysh reached those who had migrated to Ethiopia and consequently some of them returned from their place of residence (Ethiopia). However on their return they found that once again the conditions had undergone a change and the angel had brought revelation to the Prophet and had asked him again to oppose the idolaters and had told him that Satan had made him utter those words and he (the angel) had never spoken them!

This is the gist of the fiction of 'Gharaniq' which the orientalists are very keen to quote with much grandiloquence. [2]

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[1] 'Gharaniq' is the plural of Gharnuq or Gharniq which means a sort of aquaic bird or a handsome youth.

[2] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II pp. 75-76.

A SIMPLE ACCOUNTABILITY OF THIS FICTION

You may suppose that Muhammad was not one of the chosen ones of the Almighty but his wisdom and intelligence cannot be denied in any case. Now how can a wise man resort to such an act? Is it possible that an intelligent person who observes that the number of his followers is becoming larger day by day and the split in the ranks of the enemy is increasing should at such a juncture do something which may lower down his position before his friends as well as of his enemies?

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Can you believe that the person who refused all offers of status and wealth by Quraysh for the sake of the Divine religion should once again introduce polytheism and idol-worship? Not to talk of the Holy Prophet we cannot expect any such thing even from a reformer or an ordinary statesman.

JUDGEMENT OF INTELLECT ON THIS MYTH

1. According to the verdict of intellect the Divine teachers are always immune from all sorts of errors on account of the strength of innocence they possess. But if it be agreed upon that they too are liable to commit mistakes and errors in religious matters the very basis of the confidence which people repose in their words crumbles down. Hence it is necessary that we should test such historical events with the touchstone of our rational beliefs and should solve these ambiguities of history with our firm faith. And it goes without saying that the uprightness of Muhammad in propagation of the Divine religion would not allow the occurrence of such events.

2. The myth rests on the assumption that the Prophet was tired of the responsibility which Allah had laid on his shoulders and was very much perturbed on account of the deviation and remoteness of his people. He was therefore anxious to find out ways and means to improve their condition. However wisdom ordains that the prophets should be very patient and forbearing their fortitude should be proverbial amongst all and they should never think of abandoning their mission.

If this myth be a true and confirmed incident it would mean that the hero of our narrative had lost his fortitude and patience and his spirit had become depressed and tired. This thing is not however in consonance with the verdict of wisdom and does not also accord with the Prophet's past and future life as we know it.

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The inventor of this story has ignored the fact that the Qur'an bears testimony to the falsehood of this story because Allah has given him good tidings that falsehood would not enter his path. This is a Mighty Scripture. Falsehood cannot reach it from before or behind. (Surah al-Fussilat 41:42) Allah has also given an absolute promise that He would protect the Qur'an from every harm throughout human history. Surely we have revealed the Qur'an and We will most surely be its Guardian. (Surah Hijr 15:9)

Hence could it be possible that an outcast (Satan) should overpower the chosen one of Allah insert falsehood in his Qur'an and make the Qur'an whose very foundation is laid on campaign against idol-worship a promoter of the system of idolatry.

It is strange that the inventor of this myth has sung a tuneless song and has calumniated the Oneness of Allah at that spot where a few moments earlier the Holy Qur'an has itself contradicted this calumniation because in the second and third verses of the same Surah the Almighty Allah says: He (the Prophet) does not speak out of his own fancy. This is an inspired revelation. He is taught by One who is Powerful and Mighty. (Surah al-Najm 53:3 - 5)

In spite of this positive tiding how could He leave His Prophet unprotected and allow that Satan should take possession of his mind and thoughts?

We are sorry to discuss this myth to a greater extent than it deserves. But the fact is that our remarks are based on rational arguments and are useful for those who believe in the prophethood of the Prophet. However these arguments are not sufficient for the orientalists whose hearts have not yet been illuminated by faith in the Prophet and who quote and explain such myths to prove this religion to be of no consequence. With them therefore we should discuss the matter in another manner.

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CONTRADICTION OF THE STORY IN ANOTHER WAY

History tells us that when the Prophet was reciting Surah al-Najm the chiefs of Quraysh most of whom were great poets and men of letters were present in the mosque. One of them was Walid who was a sage and poet of Arabia and was well known for his wisdom and intelligence. And all of them heard the surah up to its end and performed sajdah when it ended with the verse necessitating sajdah.

The question therefore arises as to why these persons who were great poets and scholars were satisfied with only two sentences in praise of their gods when the verses preceding and succeeding these sentences consist totally of admonition and condemnation of their gods.

It is not known what opinion the inventor of this white lie had formed about those persons whose mother-tongue was Arabic who were considered to be the champions in the field of eloquence in the entire Arab society and who knew the allusions and metaphors (not to speak of explicit things) of their language better than anyone else. Was it proper for them to be satisfied with the two sentences in praise of their gods and ignore the preceding and succeeding sentences? Not to talk of others it is not possible to deceive even ordinary persons by fascinating sentences which are placed in a context which consists entirely of condemnation of their beliefs and conduct.

Now we write down the relevant verses and place dots instead of these two sentences. You can very well decide whether these two sentences can be accommodated in the verses which have been revealed in condemnation of the idols:Have you thought on Lat and Uzza and thirdly on Manat?....... [1] Is He to have daughters and you sons? This is indeed an unfair division! They (The idols) are but names which you and your fathers have invented. Allah has vested no authority in them.

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Can even a common man agree on the basis of such contradictory sentences to give up his enmity against and to come to terms with a man whose religion he has endeavoured to uproot for ten years and has placed his very existence in danger for that cause?

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[1] lf you fill in the blank by inserting the translation of the two sentences in question ('These are gharaniq who are high in position and their intercession is acceptable') you will certainly observe they will be contradictory to the verses preceding and succeeding them.

ARGUMENT AGAINST THE MYTH FROM THE POINT OF VIEW OF LANGUAGE

The distinguished Egyptian scholar Muhammad Abdoh says:

The word 'Gharaniq' has never been used for 'gods' in the Arabic language and poetry. The words 'Gharnuq' and 'Gharniq' are found in the lexicon and they mean a particular aquatic bird or a fair and handsome young man and neither of these conveys the meaning of 'gods'.

EVIDENCE PUT FORWARD BY SOME ORIENTALISTS

Sir Willian Muir has considered the myth of 'Gharaniq' as an established fact of history and the evidence relied upon by him is this: "More than three months had not yet passed since the migration of the Muslims to Ethiopia and they were leading a peaceful life under the protection of the Negus. They would not have returned to Makkah to see their kith and kin if they had not received news about the reconciliation of Muhammad with Quraysh. It was therefore necessary that Muhammad should provide a means for peace and that means was the very story of 'Gharaniq'.

p: 282

However one may very well ask this noted orientalist firstly as to why it should be necessary that the return of those people to Makkah was the result of a correct news. In every day life self-interested persons circulate thousands of false news amongst the people every now and then. It is therefore quite possible that some persons coined the news of reconciliation between Muhammad and Quraysh with a view to make the Muslims return to their own country from Ethiopia and consequently some of them believed in the news and returned whereas others were not deceived and stayed on in Ethiopia.

Secondly even if it is supposed that the Prophet wanted to make peace with Quraysh why should the foundation of that peace be laid on these two spurious sentences? As a matter of fact it would have been sufficient to win their hearts if he had made a solemn promise to keep absolutely quiet about their beliefs.

In short the return of the migrants is no proof of the correctness of this myth and peace and reconciliation do not also depend upon uttering these two sentences.

Chapter 20

ECONOMIC BLOCKADE

The easiest and the most convenient method of knocking down the minorities of a society is a negative campaign which is based on unity and concord.

A positive campaign necessitates various sources because it becomes necessary that the fighting group should use modern weapons and should achieve their end by making physical and financial sacrifices and by surmounting hundreds of obstacles. It is evident that this type of campaign is associated with innumerable pains and sufferings. The wise rulers resort to such a campaign after making necessary arrangements and full preparations and do not implement such a programme unless no alternative except war is left for them.

p: 283

A negative campaign does not however require all this. It needs only one factor and that is the unity and concord of the majority. It means that a group of persons whose object is to knock down the minority unite sincerely and make a pact and swear that they would cut off relations with the opposing minority disallow transactions with them discontinue matrimonial alliances with them would not permit them to partake in collective affairs and would not co-operate with them in personal matters. In such circumstances the earth with all its extensiveness becomes like a small and narrow prison for the minority and its pressure threatens them with annihilation every moment.

At times the opposing minority submits at this juncture and obeys the decisions of the majority. However such an opposing minority must consist of people whose opposition is not prompted by a spiritual aim. For example they might have been campaigning to acquire wealth important posts and official positions. When such persons sense danger and are faced with the hardships of blockade they on account of their having no spiritual stimulant and their motives being purely material prefer greater possible advantages to the transient pleasures and submit to the wishes of the majority.

However the people whose opposition is based on faith are not cowed down by such hardships. The pressure of blockade strengthens their faith and they face the blows and attacks of the enemy with the shield of patience and fortitude.

Pages of human history bear testimony to the fact that the strongest factor for the perseverance and steadfastness of the minorities against the aims of the majorities is their strength of faith and sometimes they sacrifice the last drop of their blood to achieve their object. And there are hundreds of evidences to prove the correctness of this statement.

p: 284

DECLARATION BY QURAYSH

The chiefs of Quraysh were very much disturbed due to the amazing advancement of Islam and were anxious to find a way out of this difficult situation. Embracing Islam by persons like Hamzah and inclination of the clear-sighted men of Quraysh towards it as well as the freedom enjoyed by the Muslims in Ethiopia had also added to the perplexity and astonishment of the rulers of the time. They were also very sad on account of the failure of their plans and therefore thought of a new one. They decided upon 'economic blockade' of the Muslims so as to withhold the penetration and expansion of Islam and restrain the founder and the followers of the Divine religion from activity. Hence the chiefs of the administration hung within the Ka'bah an agreement written by Mansur bin Akramah and endorsed by the grand council of Quraysh and they swore that the community of Quraysh would act till their death in the following manner:

1. Every sort of trade and business with the supporters of Muhammad shall be banned.

2. Association with them is strictly prohibited.

3. Nobody is entitled to establish matrimonial alliances with the Muslims.

4. Opponents of Muhammad should be supported in all circumstances.

The text of the covenant with the above contents was endorsed by all the prominent persons of Quraysh and was put into operation in letter and spirit. Abu Talib the distinguished supporter of the Prophet invited his kinsmen (descendants of Hashim and Abdul Muttalib) and made them responsible for the support of the Prophet. He also decided that all the families should quit Makkah and take up their abode in a valley known as the 'valley of Abu Talib' situated between the mountains of Makkah should set up small houses and tents there and be away from the environments of the idolaters. To forestall sudden attacks by Quraysh he also planned to construct watch towers there and to post there observers who should report upon every new development.[1]

p: 285

This blockade lasted for three years and the pressure and hardship suffered by them assumed unprecedented dimensions. The heart-rending cries of the children of Bani Hashim reached the ears of the stonehearted people of Makkah but had no effect on them. Young persons and men ate only one date per head and at times they divided a date into two parts. Throughout these three years Bani Hashim came out of the valley only during the prohibited months (of fighting) when peace prevailed throughout the Arabian Peninsula. During these periods they made small purchases and again went back to the valley. Their great leader the Prophet too could propagate his religion only during these months.

However the right hand men and agents of Quryash practiced economic pressure even during these months because they usually came to the shops and stores and as and when Muslims wished to purchase something they paid higher price for it and purchased it themselves making it beyond the means of the Muslims to acquire it.

Abu Lahab was especially active in this respect. He loudly addressed the people in the bazaar: "O people! Raise the prices and deprive the followers of Muhammad of their purchasing power".

Hence in order to ensure stabilization of the prices at a high level he himself purchased things at higher cost. For this reason the level of prices always remained high.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 350 and Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 78.

THE PITIABLE CONDITION OF BANI HASHIM

p: 286

The pressure of hunger had reached such a stage that Sa'd Waqqas says: "One night I was coming out of the valley in such a condition that I was about to exhaust all my faculties. Suddenly I saw a dried hide of a camel. I picked it up washed baked and ground it. Thereafter I kneaded it with some water and used it for three days".

The spies of Quraysh kept vigil on all the paths leading to the valley so that no one might carry any provisions to Bani Hashim. However in spite of all this control Hakim bin Hizam nephew of Khadijah Abul 'As bin Rabi' and Hisham bin Umar loaded every now and then wheat and dates on camels at midnight and brought them near the valley. Then they wound the bridles of the camels round their necks and released them. At times rendering this assistance also created problems for them. One day Abu Jahl saw that Hakim had loaded a camel with provisions and was carrying it to the valley. He was very much annoyed with him and said: "I think I should take you before Quraysh and humiliate you". Their conflict was prolonged. Abul Bakhtari who was one of the enemies of Islam disapproved of the action of Abu Jahl and said: "He is carrying food for his aunt (Khadijah). You have no right to stop him from doing so". He did not content himself with this sentence only but also assaulted Abu Jahl.

The severity of the action of Quraysh in implementing their covenant did not diminish the patience and fortitude of the Muslims. Eventually the piteous clamouring of the infants and the children and the tragic condition of the Muslims aroused the sentiments of some persons. They very much regretted having endorsed the covenant and began to consider ways and means for the solution of the problem.

p: 287

One day Hisham bin Umar went to see Zuhayr bin Abi Umayyah who was the grandson (daughter's son) of Abdul Muttalib and said to him: "Is it proper that you should eat food and wear the best clothes whereas your kinsmen should remain hungry and naked? By Allah! If you had taken such a decision about the kinsmen of Abu Jahl and asked him to implement it he would never have agreed to do so". Zuhayr said: "I alone can't reverse the decision of Quraysh but if someone else joins me I will tear up the covenant." Hisham said: "I am with you". He said: "Find out a third person also". Hisham stood up and went out to find Mut'am bin Adi. He met him and said to him: "I don't think you would like that two groups (viz. Bani Hashim and Bani Muttalib) of the descendants of Abd Munaf to which family you too have the honour to belong should die". He said: "What can I do? One person can't do anything in the matter". Hisham replied: "Two other persons are also with you and they are myself and Zuhayr". Mut'am said: "It is necessary that some other persons should also cooperate with us". Hisham then mentioned the matter to Abul Bakhtari and Zam'a also and asked them to co-operate. Consequently all of them agreed to meet in the mosque on the following day early in the morning.

The meeting of Quraysh took place and Zuhayr and his confidants participated in it. Zuhayr said It is only proper that today Quraysh should steer clear of this shameful stain. It is necessary that this cruel covenant should be torn up today, because the pitiable condition of the children of Hashim has made everyone uncomfortable .

p: 288

Abu Jahl interfered and said: "This proposal is not practicable at all and the covenant of Quraysh must be respected". From the other side Zam'a rose to support Zuhayr and said: "It must be torn up and we were not in favour of it from the very outset". From another corner some others who were keen that the covenant should come to an end supported Zuhayr. Abu Jahl realized that the matter was serious and prior consultations had taken place and those people had already taken a decision in his absence. He therefore did not press his point and sat quite. Mut'am availed of the opportunity and went to the place where the covenant was Iying so as to tear it down. He however observed that the entire sheet had been eaten up by termite and only the words: "In the name of the Lord" (with which Quraysh commenced their writings) had survived."[1]

After observing the developments Abu Talib related the matter to his nephew and consequently those who had taken refuge in the valley returned to their houses.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 375 and Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 79.

Chapter 21

DEATH OF ABU TALIB

Economic blockade of the Muslims by Quraysh ended in failure on account of the intervention by some good-natured persons. The Holy Prophet and his supporters came out of the "Valley of Abu Talib" and proceeded to their homes after three years of exile boycott and hardship. Their business and trade with the Muslims was restored and it could be hoped that their conditions would improve. However the Prophet was suddenly faced with a very painful event which left a very unwholesome effect on the morale of the helpless Muslims. The extent of the impact of this occurrence at that critical moment cannot be measured by any scale or balance because the growth of an idea and thought depends on two factors i.e. freedom of speech and necessary strength to defend oneself against the dastardly attacks of the enemy. Hence it so happened that when the Muslims were blessed with freedom of belief they lost the second factor because the distinguished supporter and defender of Islam breathed his last.

p: 289

On that day the Prophet lost a supporter and defender who had been responsible for his protection and safety from the time he was only eight years of age till the day when he was passing through his 50th year. It was he who hovered round his person in the same manner in which a moth hovers round a candle. It was he who provided the Prophet of Islam with means of his livelihood till he himself became a man of means and gave him priority over himself as well as over his offspring.

The Prophet lost a personality whom Abdul Muttalib (the grandfather of the Prophet) while breathing his last had made his guardian with the following words:

"O Abd-i Munaf![1] "I am making you responsible for the protection of one who is the worshipper of One Allah like his father".

Abu Talib said: "Dear father! Muhammad does not stand in need of any recommendation because he is my own son as well as that of my brother".

SPECIMENS OF THE KINDNESSES AND LOVE OF ABU TALIB

Specimens of mutual love and kindness of different persons have been recorded in the pages of history. Usually however they are based on material and formal considerations and move round the pivot of wealth and beauty and the flame of love quenches within their selves in a very short time and is extirpated. However the sentiments which are based on ties of kinship or faith in the spiritual excellence of the loved one do not peter out so soon.

p: 290

It so happened that the love of Abu Talib for the Prophet was based on both these considerations that is he believed in him and considered him a perfect man and a unique specimen of humanity and he was also his nephew (real brother's son) whom he gave the position of brother and son in his heart.

Abu Talib believed so much in his spirituality and purity that at the time of drought he took him to musallah (the prayer carpet) with himself and invoked Allah in the name of his proximity to Him and requested for rains for the afflicted people and his prayer was granted by the Almighty. Many historians have quoted the following incident:

Once Quraysh were faced with a terrible drought and the earth and the heavens withheld their blessings from them. They came to Abu Talib with tears in their eyes and requested him earnestly to go to musallah and pray to Allah for rains. Abu Talib held the hand of the Prophet who was then a young boy and leaned on the wall of the Ka'bah and raising his head towards the sky said: "O Lord! Send rains for the sake of this young boy (pointing towards the Prophet) and favour us with your unlimited blessings".

The historians write unanimously: "He prayed to Allah for rains when there was not a single patch of cloud on the sky but a cloud then appeared immediately from the horizon. A part of the cloud spread in the sky above Makkah and the places round it. Thunder and lightening created great noise. All the places were flooded with water and everyone was happy."[1]

p: 291

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[1] Seerah-i Halabi vol. I page 125.

CHANGE IN THE PROGRAMME OF THE JOURNEY

The Prophet was not yet twelve years of age when Abu Talib decided to go to Syria with a trading caravan of Quraysh. When the camels had been loaded and were about to move and the bell for departure had been rung the nephew of Abu Talib suddenly held the bridle of his camel and said with tears in his eyes: "Dear uncle! To whom are you entrusting me? I must go with you". A tear in the eyes of Muhammad then brought a flood of tears in the eyes of Abu Talib.

At this critical time he decided without any prior planning to take his nephew with himself. Although Muhammad's place in the caravan had not been taken into account Abu Talib decided to bear the hardships involved in his accompanying him. He accommodated him on his own camel and was careful about him throughout. During that journey he observed some extraordinary things in Muhammad and composed verses about them. They are recorded in his poetical works.[1]

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[2] Diwan-i Abu Talib page 33.

DEFENCE OF HIS SACRED BELIEFS

From the point of view of stability no strength equals that of faith. The strength of faith in one's aim is the most powerful factor for the advancement of man in all walks of life. It prepares him to endure all inconveniences and hardships and makes him sacrifice his very life for the achievement of his sacred ideal.

p: 292

A soldier equipped with the strength of faith is totally successful. When he believes that to kill or to be killed in this path is a blessing his victory and success is ensured. Before a soldier is armed with modern material weapons he must be equipped with the strength of faith and his heart must be imbued with love for reality. His movements at the time of war and peace should be guided by faith. His going to war or his making peace are entirely for the defence of his faith.

The thoughts and beliefs are the offspring of one's spirit and intellect. Just as a man loves his children he also loves his ideas which issue from his intellect and spirit. Rather his love for his faith is even greater than that for his children. Hence he is prepared even to embrace death for the defence of his faith but does not go to that extremity for the protection of his children.

Man's love for wealth and position is limited. He goes after them only to that extent that he is not threatened with sure death. In the matter of his faith however he is prepared to court death and prefers honourable death to a life in which he is not allowed the freedom of faith. He observes that real life is that of a 'mujahid' (one who struggles) and repeatedly says:

"Real life consists of faith and jihad".

Just cast a glance at the life of Abu Talib the distinguished supporter and defender of Islam and Prophet Muhammad. What was the stimulant for him in this path and what was the factor which persuaded him to go up to the edge of the precipice of annihilation to forsake his life wealth position and tribe and to sacrifice all of these things for the sake of Muhammad? It is an established fact that he had no material motives and he was not at all anxious to obtain any worldly gain from his nephew because in those days the Prophet himself did not possess any wealth. He did not want to acquire any position or office because he already possessed the highest office in the society of those times and was the chief of Makkah and Batha. As a matter of fact it was possible that he might have lost even his prominent position and status on account of his defending the Prophet because his defence was the cause of the chiefs of Makkah rising against the family of Hashim and Abu Talib.

p: 293

A FALSE IDEA

It is possible that some shortsighted persons may think that the reason for the sacrifices made by Abu Talib was his close relationship with Muhammad and it was on this account that he was prepared to lay down his very life for his sake. However this idea is so baseless that a very brief reflection makes its stupidity evident because the tie of blood relationship is never so strong that a person should sacrifice his entire being for one of his relatives and should offer his own son (Ali) as a sacrifice for his nephew and be ready to see the one being cut to pieces for the sake of the other.

At times fraternal sentiments do pull a man to the precipice of annihilation but there is no sense in these sentiments being so acute for a particular person only whereas Abu Talib made all these sacrifices for a particular person from amongst his relatives (i.e. the Prophet) and did not do so with regard to other descendants of Abdul Muttalib and Hashim.

THE REAL STIMULANT FOR ABU TALIB

In view of what has been stated above the real stimulant for Abu Talib's sacrifices was spiritual and not material and he was prepared to face every pressure of the enemy for the sake of Muhammad. It was so because he considered him to be a perfect specimen of excellence and humanity and had found his religion to be the best programme for acquisition of prosperity and happiness. As he was a lover of reality he naturally defended reality.

p: 294

This fact becomes evident from the verses of Abu Talib as giving vent to his feelings he says that Muhammad is a Prophet like Prophets Musa and 'Isa. Here is the translation of his verses:

"Distinguished personalities should be aware that Muhammad is a Prophet and a guide like Prophets Musa and 'Isa and every Prophet takes responsibility for the guidance of the people under the command of Allah. You may read about his qualities in the Heavenly Books with perfect correctness and this is a true statement and not a calumny on the unseen''.[1]

In another laudatory poem about his nephew he says thus: "Don't you know that we consider Muhammad to be a Prophet of Allah like Musa bin Imran and read about him in the earlier Books?''[2]

The above-mentioned verses as well as many others which are found in the poetical works of Abu Talib and also in the inner folds of history and the books of traditions and exegeses clearly testify that the real stimulant for Abu Talib's defending the Prophet was the defence of the true religion of Islam. We mention below some of the sacrifices made by him and you can very well decided after necessary scrutiny whether they could be motivated by anything other than true belief.

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[1] Majma'ul Bayan vol. VII page 37 and al-Hujjah pp. 56 - 57.

[2] Majma'ul Bayan vol. VII page 36. Ibn Hisham has quoted fifteen verses of the poem in his Seerah vol. I pp. 352 - 353.

p: 295

A SHORT ACCOUNT OF THE SACRIFICES MADE BY ABU TALIB

The chiefs of Quraysh held a meeting in the house of Abu Talib when the Prophet was also present. They conversed with one another. The chiefs got up without achieving any result and 'Uqbah bin Abi Mu'it began saying loudly: "Leave him alone. Advice is of no use. He should be assassinated; he should be finished off".

Abu Talib was very much disturbed on hearing these sentences but could not do anything because those people had come to his house as guests. It so happened that the Prophet went out of his house that day and did not return till evening. His uncles went to his house but did not find him there. Suddenly Abu Talib recollected the words of 'Uqbah which he had uttered a few hours earlier and said to himself: "They have certainly killed my nephew and have finished his life".

He thought that the die had been cast and it was necessary to protect Muhammad and take vengeance on the Pharaohs of Makkah. He called the descendants of Hashim and Abdul Muttalib and gave instructions that all of them should conceal sharp weapons under their clothes and arrive in Masjidul Haram collectively. Further that each one of them should sit by the side of one chief of Quraysh and as soon as he himself said loudly: "O chiefs of Quraysh! I want Muhammad from you" they should rise up at once and each of them should kill the man sitting by his side and thus all the chiefs should meet their fate.

p: 296

When Abu Talib was about to leave Zayd bin Harith entered the house all of a sudden and saw them in a state of readiness. He was wonder-struck on seeing this and said: "No harm has came to the Prophet. He is in the house of a Muslim at present and is busy propagating Islam". Having said this he immediately went to the Prophet and informed him of the dangerous decision taken by Abu Talib. The Prophet then proceeded hastily to his house. As soon as Abu Talib saw his nephew's face tears trickled from his eyes and he said: "My nephew! Where have you been? Were you quite happy and safe from every harm during this time?" The Prophet assured his uncle that no harm came to him from any quarters.

Throughout that night Abu Talib kept thinking. He pondered over the matter and said to himself: "My nephew has not become the target of the enemy today but Quraysh will not sit still until they kill him". He considered it expedient to got into the mosque along with the descendants of Hashim and Abdul Muttalib after sunrise when Quraysh had assembled there and to inform them about his decision so that they might possibly be over-awed and might not plan to kill Muhammad. The sun rose and the time arrived for Quraysh to leave their houses and to go and join their assemblies. They had not yet started conversing when the figure of Abu Talib appeared at a distance and they saw that some brave men were also accompany him. All became attentive and waited to see what Abu Talib had to say and with what aim he had come to the mosque along with all those men.

p: 297

Abu Talib stood before their gathering and said: "Yesterday Muhammad disappeared from us for some time. I thought that you had acted upon what 'Uqbah had said and had killed him. Hence I decided to come to Masjidul Haram along with these men. I had also instructed them that each one of them should sit by the side of each one of you and as soon as they heard me speak aloud they should get up and attack you with their concealed weapons. However luckily I found Muhammad alive and safe from any harm from you". Then he asked his men to take out their concealed weapons and ended his speech with these words: "By Allah! If you had killed him I would not have spared even one of you and would have fought with you to the last ............."[1]

If you look into the biography of Abu Talib you will find that he supported the Prophet for full forty two years and peculiarly displayed great bravery and sacrifice during the last ten years of his life which were significant because of the appointment of the Prophet to the prophetic mission and to his 'call' during that time. The only factor which kept him so steadfast was his strong faith and his pure belief in the sacred mission of the Prophet of Islam. And if the sacrifices of his son Imam Ali are also added to his own the meaning of the verses of Ibn Abil Hadid as translated below becomes quite clear:

p: 298

"If Abu Talib and his son had not been there the religion would not have been successful. He supported and protected him (the Prophet) in Makkah and his son dived in the whirlpools of death in Yathrib for him."

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[1] Tara'if page 85 and al-Hujjah page 61.

THE WILL OF ABU TALIB AT THE TIME OF HIS DEATH

At the time of his death Abu Talib said to his children: "I recommend Muhammad to you because he is the trusted one of Quraysh and the truthful one of Arabia and possesses all the virtues. He has brought a religion which has been accepted by the hearts but the tongues have chosen to deny it on account of fear of taunts. I can see that the weak and the helpless of Arabia have got up to support Muhammad and believe in him and he has also risen to help them breaking the ranks of Quraysh. He has humiliated the chiefs of Quraysh and devastated their homes and has made the helpless strong and given them status". He concluded his remarks with these words: "O my kinsmen! Become the friends and supporters of his faith (Islam). Whoever follows him becomes prosperous. If death had given me some more time I would have warded off all the dangers that came to him".[1]

We have no doubt about it that he was quite sincere in expressing this wish because his services and sacrifices especially during the last ten years of his life bear testimony to his truthfulness. Another evidence of his truthfulness is the promise he made to Muhammad at the commencement of the latter's prophethood because when the Holy Prophet gathered all his uncles and kinsmen round himself and presented Islam to them Abu Talib said to him: "Arise O' my nephew! You enjoy a high position. Your religion is the noblest of all religions. You are the son of a great man. If a tongue harms you severer tongues will come forth to defend you and sharp swords will cut off the tongues of your enemies. By Allah! The Arabs will be as meek before you as the off-spring of an animal is before its mother".

p: 299

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[1] Seerah-i Halabi vol. I page 390.

THE LAST JOURNEY

It would be better if we enquire about the sincerity of faith of Abu Talib from his honest near ones because the owner of a house knows better what is within it.

1. When Ali informed the Prophet about the death of Abu Talib the latter wept bitterly. He directed Ali to arrange for his bathing shrouding and burial ceremonies and prayed to Allah for the salvation of the departed soul.[1]

2. A mention was made about Abu Talib before Imam Zaynul Abidin the fourth Imam. He said: "I wonder why people doubt the faith of Abu Talib when a woman cannot continue her matrimonial alliance with a non-Muslim husband after she has embraced Islam and Fatimah daughter of Asad was amongst those women who embraced Islam at a very early stage and still remained his wife till he breathed his last".

3. Imam Muhammad Baqir says: "The faith of Abu Talib was superior to the faith of many people and Ali the Commander of the Faithful ordered that Haj should be performed on his behalf." [2]

4. Imam Ja'far Sadiq says: "Abu Talib was like the People of the Cave. They had faith in their hearts but pretended to be polytheists. For this reason they will be rewarded twice".[3]

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[1] Sharh-i Nahjul Balaghah by Ibn Abil Hadid vol. XIV page 76.

[2] Sharh-i Nahjul Balaghah vol. XIV page 68.

[3] Usulul Kafi page 244.

THE VIEWPOINT OF SHI'AH SCHOLARS

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Following the people of the Prophet's household the Imamiyah Ulema are unanimous about the fact that Abu Talib was one of the distinguished personalities of Islam and when he breathed his last he possessed a heart which had perfect faith in Islam and was very sincere to the Muslims. These scholars have written many books and treatises on this subject.

Chapter 22

ME'RAJ - THE HEAVENLY ASCENSION

ME'RAJ ACCORDING TO THE QUR'AN HADITH AND HISTORY

The darkness of night had spread in the horizon and silence reigned over the face of nature. The time had arrived when the living creatures take rest and sleep so that they might recuperate for their activities on the following day.

The Prophet was also not an exception to this law of nature and he wished to take rest after offering his prayers. However he suddenly heard a voice. It was the voice of the Archangel Jibreel who said to him: "This night you have to perform a very unique journey and I have been ordered to remain with you. You will have to traverse different parts of the world mounted on an animal named 'Buraq'."

The Prophet commenced his grand journey from the house of Umme Hani (sister of the Commander of the Faithful) and mounted on Buraq proceeded to Baytul Maqdis situated in Jerusalem which is also called Masjidul Aqsa. After a very short time he dismounted there and visited different parts of the mosque as well as Bethlehem which is the birth place of 'Isa and also saw various other places associated with different Prophets. At some of these places he also performed two rak'ats of prayers.

p: 301

Thereafter he commenced the second part of his journey and proceeded from that place to the skies. He then observed the stars and the system of the world and conversed with the souls of the previous Prophets and also with the angels of the heavens. He saw the centres of blessing and torture (Paradise and Hell) and also saw the places of the dwellers of Hell and Paradise[1] from close quarters and a consequently became fully aware of the secrets of creation the extent of the Universe and the signs of the Omnipotent Allah. Then he continued his journey and reached 'Sidratul-Muntaha'[2] and found it fully covered with splendour magnificence and grandeur. At this time his journey came to an end he returned through the way he had gone. During his return journey also he first came to Baytul Maqdis and then proceeded to Makkah. On the way he met a trading caravan of Quraysh who had lost a camel and were making a search for it. He drank some water from a container of theirs and threw the remainder on the ground and according to another narrative placed a cover on it. It was before daybreak when he dismounted in the house of Umme Hani from the animal which had taken him to the heavens. She was the first person to whom he related this matter and on the day following that night he made it known to the assemblies of Quraysh as well. The story of his 'ascension' and grand journey which was considered by Quraysh to be something impossible spread from mouth to mouth in all centres and made the chiefs of Quraysh all the more perplexed.

p: 302

According to their old habit Quraysh decided to refute him and said: "Even now there are some persons in Makkah who have seen Baytul Maqdis. If what you say is correct then give an account of its structure". The Prophet not only described the structure of Baytul Maqdis but also mentioned the incidents which had occurred between Makkah and Baytul Maqdis and said: "On my way I met the caravan of such and such tribe who had lost a camel. They had a container full of water which was a part of their equipment. I drank some water from it and then covered it.[3] At another place I met a group of persons whose camel had run away and had broken its leg". Quraysh said: "Tell us about the caravan of Quraysh". The Prophet replied:

"I saw them at Tan'im (a place from where the 'Haram' commences). A brown camel was going ahead of them and they had placed a litter on it and are now entering Makkah". Quraysh became very much excited on account of these definite news and said: "We shall now come to know about your truth or falsehood". However it was not long before Abu Sufyan the leader of the caravan appeared and people made known to him in detail what the Prophet had said.

The above account is a gist of what has been stated in the books of exegeses and traditions. [4]

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[1] Majma'ul Bayan Surah Bani Isra'il 17:1 vol. III page 395.

[2] For understanding fully the meaning of 'Sidratul Muntaha' refer to books of exegeses.

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[3] Some narrators have quoted thus: "I dropped the remainder". Possibly the difference between the two versions is due to the action having been repeated.

[4] For further details the readers are advised to refer to the chapters on 'Ascension' of Biharul Anwar vol. XVIII pp 282 - 410 and of Tafsir-i Burhan vol. II pp. 390 - 404.

DOES ME'RAJ HAVE A QUR'ANIC ORIGIN?

The event of me'raj' of the Prophet in the heavens has been mentioned clearly in two surahs of the Qur'an and has also been alluded to in other surah(s). We give here briefly the verses which clearly make a mention of me'raj.

In Surah al-lsra' it has been said: Glory be to Him Who made His servant go by night from Masjidul Haram to Masjidul Aqsa whose surroundings We have blessed that We might show him some of Our signs. He alone hears all and observes all.

This verse apparently mentions the following points:

1. In order to tell us that the Prophet travelled through these worlds in a short time not with human strength but through Divine strength the Almighty commences His statement with "Glory be to Him!" which points to the fact that Allah is free from all defects and needs. He has also not contented Himself with this and has introduced Himself as the Agent of the journey by saying 'Asra' (Allah made him perform the journey). This favour was bestowed upon him so that the people might not think that the journey was performed according to natural laws and with usual means and might therefore deny its possibility. It has therefore been clarified that it was undertaken through Divine Will and special favour of the Almighty.

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2. This journey was undertaken at night.

3. Notwithstanding the fact that this journey commenced from the house of Umme Hani daughter of Abu Talib the Almighty has mentioned its starting-place to be Masjidul Haram. This is perhaps due to the fact that the Arabs consider entire Makkah to be the House of Allah and as such all its places are treated to be 'Masjid' and 'Haram'.

Hence Allah's saying that: "He made him journey from Masjidul Haram" is perfectly in order. According to some narratives however the journey started from Masjidul Haram itself.

Although this verse states the starting point of the journey to be 'Masjidul Haram' and the end to be Masjidul Aqsa' there is nothing in it which may be inconsistent with the Prophet's performing another journey to the heavens because this verse mentions one part of the journey and the verses of Surah al-Najm deal with the another part of the schedule of the journey.

4. The Prophet performed the journey with his body and soul together and not with his soul only. The words 'to His servant bear testimony to this because the word 'servant' applies to 'body with soul'. In case me'raj had been only spiritual the proper words to be used would have been 'to His servant's soul'.

5. The object of this grand journey was to make known to the Prophet the various aspects of the existence of the great Universe. We shall elaborate this point later.

The other surah which clearly mentions the event of me'raj is 'Surah al-Najm' and the verses which you will read below were revealed in this connection. When the Prophet told Quraysh that he had seen physically the Archangel Jibreel when he brought the first revelation they disputed with him. The Holy Qur'an replies thus to their objection:

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"Why do you contend with the Prophet about his having seen Jibreel? He beheld him once again near Sidratul Muntaha which is in the proximity of Paradise which is the abode of good ones. It was when Sidratul Muntaha was covered with grandeur. His eyes did not wander nor did they turn aside for he saw some of his Lord's greatest signs".

REPORTS ABOUT ME'RAJ

The exegetes and the traditionalists have quoted many things about me'raj and the things observed by the Prophet but all of them are not final and indisputable. The great Shi'ah commentator and expert exegete the late Allamah Tabrasi has divided these narratives into four groups:

1. One group of the narratives is final and indisputable for example the fact of me'raj and some of its particulars.

2. The reports which have been quoted in a correct manner but have not reached the stage of finality although they conform to the principles and verdict of wisdom for example survey of Paradise and Hell journey in the skies and conversation with the souls of the Prophets.

3. The reports which are not apparently acceptable but are capable of interpretation for example the Prophet's conversation during the night of me'raj with the dwellers of Paradise and Hell which can be explained away by saying that he observed their phantoms figures and qualities.

4. Exaggerated reports coined and circulated by the liars. For example it is said at times that the Prophet sat that night with the Almighty or that he heard the sound of His pen.[1]

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[1] Majma'ul Bayan vol. III page 395.

HISTORY OF THIS EVENT

Though it was appropriate that this grand event should have been properly recorded in all respects yet for some reasons differences have risen about it and one of them is about the date of its occurrence. Two great historians of Islam (Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham) say that this event occurred in the tenth year of the Prophet's prophethood. The renowned historian Bayhaqi believes that it took place in the twelfth year of his prophethood. Some say that it occurred in the early days of his prophetic mission whereas others say that the time of its occurrence was the middle period of the prophethood. And at times in order to add up all these statements it has been said that the me'raj of the Prophet took place more than once. However we are of the view that the me'raj in which daily prayers were made compulsory took place after the death of Abu Talib which occurred in the tenth year of the prophethood of the Prophet. We conclude this because it is one of the brestablished facts of history and tradition that during the night of me'raj the Almighty ordered that the Prophet's followers should offer prayers five times a day and it is also learnt from history that prayers had not been made obligatory till the death of Abu Talib because when he was on his death-bed the chiefs of Quraysh approached him to settle the dispute between them and his nephew and to prevent him from his activities and to take whatever he wanted as a recompense for it. The Prophet who was present there addressed the chiefs thus: "I don't want anything from you except that you should confirm that there is no god but Allah and give up worshipping the idols".[1] He uttered these words and did not at all mention 'salat' (prayers) or other articles of faith. This in itself shows that prayers had not been made obligatory till then for otherwise mere declaration of faith devoid of a compulsory action like prayers would have been useless. And as regards the fact that he did not mention his own prophethood it was because witnessing of monotheism implicitly means confirming of his prophethood.

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Besides this the historians have also mentioned the embracement of Islam by persons like Tufayl bin 'Amr Dosi which took place a little earlier than migration (to Madina). At that time too the Prophet contented himself with giving them instructions to acknowledge monotheism and his own prophethood but did not mention 'prayers'. Such incidents go to show that the time of the occurrence of the event in which prayers were made compulsory was only a little earlier than migration.

Those who think that me'raj took place earlier than the tenth year of the prophethood of the Prophet are very much mistaken because from the eighth up to the tenth year he was besieged in the 'Valley' and the pitiable condition of the Muslims did not make it expedient that they should have been subjected to an additional responsibility like 'prayers'. And as regards the years before the eighth besides the fact that the pressure of Quraysh was so hard on the Muslims that they could not bear additional responsibilities their number was also very small. At such a time therefore when the light of faith and its principles had not been infused in the hearts of an appreciable number of persons it appears very unlikely that an unusual responsibility like prayers should have been imposed on them.

As regards the mention made in a number of narratives that Imam Ali the Commander of the Faithful performed prayers along with the Prophet for three years before the appointment of the latter to the prophetic mission and continued them later it may be said that it meant special and unlimited prayers and not limited and conditional prayers with a fixed time.[2] It is also possible that they might have been 'recommended' and 'nonobligatory' prayers.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. II page 27.

[2] For further information regarding the time when wuzu prayers and call to prayers were made obligatory please refer to Furu'-i Kafi vol. I p. 135.

WAS ME'RAJ OF THE PROPHET PHYSICAL?

The quality of me'raj of the Prophet has been a subject of discussion for long and much has been said about its being physical or spiritual although the Qur'an and the traditions clearly state that it was physical.[1] However some scientific notions have prevented a group of persons from accepting this reality. Consequently they have resorted to their own interpretations and considered the me'raj of the Prophet to be purely spiritual and have said that only his spirit travelled through all the worlds and then returned to his sacred body. Some have gone a step further and say that all these events were a vision and the Prophet saw different places and travelled through them in a dream.

The statement of the last group is so much distant from logic and reality that it should not at all be considered as a part of the traditions and opinions relating to me'raj. The reason for this is that when Quraysh heard that Muhammad had claimed that he had travelled through all these places during a night they became very uneasy and got up seriously to give him the lie so much so that his me'raj became the subject of discussion in all the assemblies of Quraysh. In case his travelling through these worlds had been only a vision there was no point in Quraysh rising up to refute him and to create all the tumult. This is so because if a person says that one night while asleep he has dreamt this and that it cannot become an object of dispute and strife for a dream is after all a dream and many impossible things can be seen in it. For this reason therefore this view is not worth further scrutiny. Unfortunately however some Egyptain scholars like Farid Wajdi have adopted this idea and supported it with baseless statements. In spite of all this however it is only proper to pass it over.

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[1] The great Shi'ah jurist the late Shaykh Tabrasi has stated in Tafsir-i Majma'ul Bayan that all Shi'ah scholars are unanimous that the 'Me'raj' was physical vol. III page 395.

WHAT IS SPIRITUAL ME'RAJ?

Those people who have not been able to solve some minute points related to physical me'raj have been compelled to resort to interpretation and have considered the Prophet's me'raj to have been a spiritual one.

Spiritual me'raj means meditation about the things created by the Almighty and observation of His Grandeur and Beauty and absorption in thoughts about Him and glorifying His name and eventual freedom from material ties and worldly interests and crossing through all possibilities and entering into internal and non-material stages. And after going through all this process a special proximity to Allah is acquired and it is not possible to define it.

If spiritual me'raj means meditation about the Grandeur of the Almighty and the extent of the creation such a me'raj is undoubtedly not peculiar to the Prophet of Islam as many Prophets and other enlightened and pure-hearted persons have also enjoyed this position whereas the Qurtan mentions his me'raj as something peculiar to him and an extraordinary distinction for him. Furthermore the Prophet had been in the aforesaid condition during many nights[1] whereas me'raj has been proved to be related to a particular night.

The thing which has obliged these persons to hold the said view (i.e. the me'raj was spiritual only) is the hypothesis of the well-known Greek astronomer Ptolemy which has enjoyed great value in the scientists' circles of East and West for a period of two thousand years and hundreds of books have been written about it and it was considered till recently to be one of the established laws of natural sciences. It may be summarized as under:

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There are two types of bodies in the world elemental and celestial. An elemental body consists of the four well-known elements (water earth air and fire). The first sphere which we observe is the sphere of earth which is the centre of the world. Then come the spheres of water air and fire and everyone of them surrounds the other. Here the spheres come to an end and the celestial bodies begin. Celestial bodies means the nine skies which are connected with one another like the layers of an onion and are not at all capable of rending and conciliation and separation and union and no creature can move straight through them because this would necessitate separation of the components of the sky from one another.

The Prophet's me'raj being physical necessitates that he should ascend from the centre of the world in a straight line and should cross the four spheres and also rend the skies one after the other and the rending and conciliation of the skies is not possible and practicable according to Greek astronomy the said thinkers have been obliged to consider the Prophet's me'raj to be only spiritual as nobody can restrain a spirit from performing a journey.

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[1] Wasa'il Book of Fasting chapter-prohibition of fasting.

REPLY TO THE ABOVE CRITICISM

These statements had some worth in those days when Ptolemy's astronomy had not yet lost its value in scientific circles and some persons sincerely liked it and were inclined to it. In such circumstances it was possible that we might have played with the intricacies of the Qur'an and had explained away the clear verses of the Qur'an as well as the traditions. These hypotheses have however lost their all-pervasive value and their baselessness has become evident. Only at times a mention of Ptolemy's astronomy is made in connection with the history of science. Furthermore in view of the invention of various astronomical implements and powerful telescopes and descending of Apollos and Lunas on the surface of the moon Venus and Mars and journeys of the astronauts on the moon have left no ground for these imaginary hypotheses. Nowadays the scientists consider the existence of four elemental spheres and nine inter-connected skies to be a mere myth and have not have not succeeded in seeing with the help of scientific implements astronomical tools and well-equipped eyes the worlds which Ptolemy had created with his imagination and they consider to be valueless even view which is founded on his wrong hypothesis.

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AN UNRHYTHMICAL SONG

The leader of the Shaykhiyah sect (Shaykh Ahmad Ehsai) has sung another song in the pamphlet entitled 'Qatifiyah' and has tried to satisfy both the groups in a new manner. He says that the Prophet went for me'raj with a 'barzakhi'[1] (Herculian) body. In this way according to his own thinking he has satisfied those who believe in physical me'raj because he has admitted that the me'raj took place along with body and has also removed the difficulty with regard to the skies because in order to penetrate through the skies it is not necessary for a 'barzakhi' body to rend them.[2]

Nevertheless the enlightened truth-seeking and unbiased persons consider this view also to be worthless and opposed to the Qur'an and clear text of the traditions just like the previous view (the me'raj being spiritual) because as has already been said when you place the verse of the Qur'an relating to me'raj before a linguist he will say that the speaker means the worldly elemental body for which the word 'abd' (servant) has been used in the Qur'an and not the word 'Herculian' because the Arab society was not at all conversant with this and other similar words and in Surah al-Isra' only the common groups and individuals have been addressed.

Now the factor which has prompted him to adopt this forced interpretation is that very Greek myth about the system of existence according to which it is firm like Lawh-i Mehfooz (The Protected Tablet). But now that all the scientists refute this view it is not at all proper that we should continue to follow it blindly. If the scholars of the past have said something on account of their being optimistic about the old astronomy they can be excused and are not much to blame but it is not proper for us during the present times to ignore the Qur'anic realities on account of a hypothesis which has been refuted by the body of scientists.

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[1] Barzakhi body is like the body with which man performs all deeds in a dream.

[2] The pamphlet entitled 'Qatifiyah' is one of his 92 pamphlets which were published collectively in 1273 with the name of "Jawame'ul Kalim". The text of his remarks is as under: In the event of ascension as the body goes above it abandons the elements connected with every one of the spheres at that very place and moves on. For example, it leaves the element of air in the sphere of air and that of fire in the sphere of fire. And at the time of its return it regains all that it had abandoned . Hence at the time of 'Me'raj' the Prophet abandoned everyone of the four elements of his body (in the past the basic elements were considered to be four) in their respective spheres and went for me'raj with a body which was devoid of these elements. Such a body cannot be an elemental body and can be nothing else than 'barzakhi' (according to his terminology a 'Herculian' body). In the book entitled 'Sharh-i Ziarat (pages 28 - 29) the Shaykh states that the nine skies are not capable of rending and conciliation.

ME'RAJ AND MODERN SCIENTIFIC LAWS

Some of those interested in natural sciences who are anxious to fix a natural cause for every event and a physical agent for every phenomenon have chosen to deny the very basis of me'raj and think that modern natural and scientific laws do not confirm to the me'raj of the Prophet. For example they say:

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1. Modern science says: In order to get away from the earth it is necessary to neutralize its gravity. If you fling a ball in the air the power of gravity brings it back to the earth. With whatever force you fling it it will come back to the earth again. If we wish to neutralize the gravity of the earth fully so that the ball should move on and should not return to the earth it will be necessary to fling at the minimum speed of 25 000 miles per hour.

Hence the Prophet went out of the zone of gravity and became weight-less. But here the question arises as to how he performed the journey at this speed without necessary facilities.

2. The atmosphere in which one may breathe does not exist beyond a few kilometers of the earth. Thereafter as we go higher air becomes thinner and still more unfit for breathing and occasionally we reach a point where there is no air at all. How did the Prophet manage to live without oxygen while performing his journey in the aforesaid regions?

3. The mortal rays and celestial stones destroy every terrestrial body which is touched by them. They do not however reach the earth on account of their collision with the regions of air and in fact these regions serve as a coat-of-mail for the inhabitants of earth. In the circumstances by what means did the Prophet remain safe from these mortal rays?

4. Human life is deranged as and when the pressure of air increases or decreases and man can live in only a particular pressure of the air which does not exist in the upper regions.

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5. The speed at which the Prophet performed his journey was decidedly more than the speed of light. Light travels at the speed of 300 000 kilometers per second and modern science has proved that no body can travel at a higher speed than that of light. Keeping this scientific law in view how did the Prophet commence his journey at a speed higher than that of light and then returned safe and sound?

REPLY TO THE ABOVE OBJECTIONS

When we stretch the natural laws to this extent the number of difficulties crosses the limit of those enumerated above.

However we enquire from these gentlemen the purpose of explaining these natural laws. Do they mean to say that journey in the upper worlds is impossible? It should be said in reply that fortunately the scientific research by the astronomers of Eastern and Western blocs has made this matter something usual and possible because by their sending into space the first artificial satellite in 1957 which was given the name of 'Sputnic' it became clear that the power of gravity can be neutralized by means of a rocket. Similarly by their sending space-ships carrying astronauts by means of rockets it became clear that the thing which man considered to be an obstacle in the way of his journeying in the upper worlds is remediable with the help of science and technology and with these industrial and scientific tools available to him man can solve the problems of mortal rays and the difficulty about the lack of air in which one could breathe. And even now the sciences relating to space are in a state of expansion and the scientists are confident that after some time it will be possible for them to lead their lives in one of the celestial spheres and they will travel quite easily to the moon and to Mars.[1]

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These scientific and technical developments clearly show that such an activity is hundred per cent possible and is not something beyond reason.

It is possible that some persons may argue that such a journey cannot be undertaken without scientific and mechanical implements and as the Prophet did not possess these resources during the night of me'raj how could he travel in such worlds without them?

Reply to this statement becomes quite clear from our foregoing discussions about the miracles of the Prophets and especially from the detailed narrative which we have penned earlier about the events of the 'Year of the Elephant' and the incident of Abrahah's army being killed with small stones for it is an established fact that the things which ordinary persons do with implements and scientific tools can be done by the Prophets with the blessings of Allah and without any apparent and external means.

The Prophet of Islam went to me'raj with the blessing of Almighty Allah to Whom the entire creation belongs and Who is the Creator of this wonderful system. It is He who has given gravity to the earth and cosmic rays to the sun and has created different layers in the atmosphere. And He can take these things back and control them whenever He likes.

In case the schedule of the historical journey of the Prophet was accomplished under the command of Allah all these laws decidedly surrender before His absolute Will and are in the grip of His power every moment. In the circumstances what difficulty should there be if the Lord who has given gravity to the earth and cosmic rays to the heavenly bodies should take His chosen servant out of the centre of gravity with His unlimited power and without any apparent means? Allah who has created oxygen can certainly create air for His chosen Prophet in the areas where air does not exist.

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The efficacy of a miracle is basically different from that of the natural causes and the strength of man. We should not consider the strength of Allah limited like our own. If we cannot perform a job without means we should not say that the Omnipotent Allah cannot also perform it. From the point of view of difficulty and its solution the bringing to life of the dead the transformation of a rod into a boa and keeping Prophet Yunus alive in the belly of a fish in the depth of the sea-the events which have been confirmed by the Heavenly Books and have been narrated for us-are not unlike the me'raj of the Prophet of Islam.

In short all the natural causes and external impediments are controlled and conquered by the Will of Allah. His Will does not concern only that which is an impossibility but besides that He can do whatever He likes whether or not man possesses strength for it or not.

No doubt we are addressing here those people who recognize Allah with the qualities and attributes which are peculiar to Him and who believe that He is Omnipotent and can do whatever He wills.

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[1] After artificial moons had been sent in the space a twenty seven year-old Russian named Major Gagarin first commenced his journey into space in a space ship on Wednesday 12th April 1961. He was the first human being to undertake such a journey. His spaceship went 302 kilometers above the earth and he travelled round the earth for one hour and thirty minutes. Thereafter spaceships were sent into space by America as well as by the Soviet Union. Eventually Apollo-12 with all its occupants landed on the moon and it was for the first time that man set his foot on it. This schedule has been put to test a number of times thereafter and has been usually successful. All these activities go to show that landing of man on the surface of the spheres is possible. And the thing which man does by scientific methods is done by his Creator by means of His Great Will.

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THE OBJECT OF ME'RAJ

A person asked the fourth Imam: "Is there a particular place for Allah?" He replied: "No". The man said: "Then why did He make His Prophet journey through the skies?" The Holy Imam replied: "He made him ascend so that he might become aware of the expanse of the Universe and see and hear wonderful things the like of which had not been seen and heard by the eyes and ears before".

It is no doubt necessary that the last Prophet should enjoy such a position that he should rely on his vast information and should be able to send a message to the people of the 20th century who are still thinking of travelling to the moon and to Mars that he did this performance without any means and his Creator was kind to him and made him fully aware of the system of creation.

Chapter 23

JOURNEY TO TA'IF

The tenth year of the prophetic mission came to an end with all its agreeable and disagreeable events. During this year the Prophet lost two great defenders and supporters. In the first instance the chief of the family of Abdul Muttalib the distinguished defender of the Prophet and the prominent personality of Quraysh viz. Abu Talib breathed his last. The pangs of this tragedy were still fresh in the heart of the Prophet when the death of his dear wife Khadijah[1] aggravated his pain. Abu Talib was the protector of the life and honour of the Prophet and Khadijah served Islam with her immense wealth.

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From the commencement of the eleventh year of the prophetic mission the Prophet was spending his time in an atmosphere which was replete with enmity and grudge against him. His life was in constant danger and he was deprived of all the possibilities of the propagation of Islam.

Ibn Hisham writes[1] that after a few days of the death of Abu Talib a Qurayshite threw some dust on the head of the Prophet and he entered his house in the same condition. The eyes of one of his daughters fell on his pitiable condition. Crying loudly and with tears trickling from her eyes she rose brought some water and washed the head and face of her dear father. The Prophet consoled her and said: "Don't cry. Allah is the Protector of your father". then he said: "While Abu Talib was alive Quraysh did not succeed in doing anything unpleasant against me".

On account of the biting atmosphere of Makkah the Prophet decided to go to some other environments. In those days Ta'if was a thriving centre. He therefore decided to go there alone and contact the chiefs of 'Saqif' tribe and invite them to Islam so that he might possibly achieve success in this manner. After arriving at Ta'if he met the chief and elders of that tribe and explained to them the religion of monotheism and asked for their support and assistance. However his words had not the least effect on them and they said: "In case you are the chosen one of Allah it will be inviting torture to refute you and if your claim is false you are not fit to be talked to".

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The Prophet understood from this flimsy and childish logic of theirs that they wanted to avoid him. He therefore rose and took a promise from them that they would not say anything about the matter to others because it was possible that the low and mean elements of 'Saqif' tribe might make it a pretext to harm him and might take undue advantage of his being alone and away from his home town. However the elders of the tribe did not keep their promise and instigated the loafers and simpletons against him. Suddenly the Prophet found himself encircled by a group of person who wanted to use all methods to tease him. He saw no alternative but to take refuge in a garden which belonged to two persons named 'Atbah and Shibah. The Prophet entered the garden with great difficulty and then the said persons ceased to pursue him. 'Atbah and Shibah were wealthy Qurayshites who also possessed a garden in Ta'if. When the Prophet entered the garden sweat was flowing down his head and face and some parts of his sacred body had also been hurt. He sat down involuntarily under the vine which rested on the trellis and began to utter the following supplication:

"O Lord! I present my weakness and lack of strength before You. You are the kind Nourisher. You are the helper of the weak. To whom are You abandoning me?

These and many other invocations which we have briefly quoted strongly impress the hearts because they are supplications by a person who has spent fifty years of his life with great honour and dignity under the protection of self-sacrificing supporters but now his circumstances have undergone such change that he has taken refuge in the enemy's garden and is waiting for his fate with an exhausted and wounded body.

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The sons of Rabiyyah though idol-worshippers and enemies of Islam were very much touched to see the pitiable condition of the Prophet They therefore ordered a Christian slave of theirs named Adas to take to him a receptacle full of grapes. 'Adas took the grapes to the Prophet and placed the same before him and looked at his face somewhat intently. In the meantime an interesting incident took place. The Christian slave observed that while eating the grapes the Prophet said: "In the name of Allah the Compassionate the Merciful". He was very much surprised to hear this and breaking the seal of silence said: "The people of the Peninsula are not acquainted with these words and I have not so far heard anyone of them uttering them. People of this area begin their work with the names of 'Lat' and 'Uzza'.

The Prophet enquired from him about his birth-place and his religion. He stated that he belonged to Naynavah and was a Christian. The Prophet then said: "Do you hail from the place to which the pious man Yunus (Jonah) son of Mata (Mathew) belonged?" He was all the more surprised to hear this and again enquired: "How do you know Yunus son of Mata?" The Prophet replied: "My brother Yunus was Allah's Prophet like myself". The Prophet's words which showed signs of truthfulness made a strange impression on 'Adas and he was attracted towards him involuntarily. He prostrated himself kissed the Prophet's hands and feet and expressed faith in his religion. Thereafter he took leave of him and returned to the owners of the garden.

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The sons of Rabiyyah were very much surprised to observe the spiritual revolution which had taken place in the Christian slave. They enquired from him: "What conversation did you have with this stranger and why did you show so much humility before him?" The slave replied: "This person who has now taken refuge in your garden is the chief of the entire humanity.

He has told me things which only Prophets know and he is the very Promised Prophet". The sons of Rabiyyah were very much annoyed to hear the slave's words. Apparently however they said benevolently: "This man should not estrange you from your old faith. And the religion of 'Isa (Christ) which you follow at present is better than his".

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[1] Ibn Said says that the death of Khadijah took place one month and five days after that of Abu Talib. (Tabaqat vol. I page 106). Others like Ibn Athir however believe that she died earlier than him. (Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II page 63).

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 25.

THE PROPHET RETURNS TO MAKKAH

The intensity with which the people pursued the Prophet ended with his taking refuge in the garden of the sons of Rabiyyah. However he had to return to Makkah now and even this return was not free from difficulties because his only defender had since departed from the world and it was possible that at the time of his arrival in Makkah he might have been captured and killed.

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The Prophet decided to spend a few days in Nakhlah (a place situated between Makkah and Ta'if). His idea was to send some one from there to one of the chiefs of Quraysh so that he might procure 'security' for him and then he might enter his birth-place under the protection of some such person. However he could not find at Nakhlah anyone who might go to Makkah on his behalf. Later he left Nakhlah for Mount Hira. There he met a Khaza'i Arab and asked him to go to Makkah and speak to Mut'am bin Adi who was one of the towering personalities of Makkah for his (i.e. the Prophet's) 'security'. The man went to Makkah and conveyed the message of the Prophet to Mut'am. Although Mut'am was an idol-worshipper he accepted the request of the Prophet and said: "Muhammad should come straight to my house. My sons and I shall protect his life". The Prophet entered Makkah at night and went direct to the house of Mut'am and spent the night there. Next morning Mut'am said to the Prophet: "Now that you are under my protection it will be in the fitness of things if Quraysh should also know about it. Hence to proclaim this it is necessary that you should accompany me to Masjidul Haram". The Prophet accepted the idea and got ready to go there. Mut'am ordered his sons to arm themselves and encircle the Prophet. Then they entered the mosque. Their arrival in Masjidul Haram was very impressive. Abu Sufyan who had been lying in wait for the Prophet since long was very much annoyed to observe this scene and abandoned the idea of molesting him. Mut'am and his sons sat down and the Prophet started performing 'tawaf'. After performing 'tawaf' he left for his house.[1]

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Soon afterwards the Prophet left Makkah for Madina and the beginning of the year of 'migration' Mut'am passed away in Makkah. The news of his death reached Madina and the Prophet remembered him for his goodness. The poet of Islam Hassan bin Thabit recited some verses in memory of his services. The great Prophet remembered him on various occasions. So much so that when after the Battle of Badr Quraysh were returning to Makkah after having sustained great loss and leaving behind a number of persons who were captured by the Muslims the Prophet remembered Mut'am and said: "If Mut'am had been alive and had asked me to release all the captives or to gift them to him I would not have rejected his request".

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[1] Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd vol. I pp. 210-212 and al-Bidayah wan Nihayah vol. III page 137.

A POINT WHICH DESERVES ATTENTION

The tedious journey to Tatif undertaken by the Prophet makes abundantly clear his steadfastness and forbearance and the fact that he never forgot the services rendered by Mut'am at a particular time tells us about his sublime habits and high morals. However over and above these two qualities of the Prophet we can well imagine how appreciative he must have been for the valuable services rendered him by Abu Talib. Mut'am lent support to the Prophet for a few hours or for a few days but his noble uncle defended him throughout his life. Mut'am did not suffer even one-thousandth part of the hardships and tribulations which Abu Talib suffered. And when the Prophet was willing to release all the captives of Badr or to gift them away to Mut'am for the sake of services rendered by him for a few hours what would he do in lieu of the services rendered by his dear uncle? It is necessary that the person who supported the Prophet for full forty two years and risked his own life during the last ten years to protect him should enjoy a very high position in the eyes of Muhammad the leader of humanity. And then there is a clear difference between these two persons. Mut'am was a polytheist and an idol-worshipper whereas Abu Talib was considered to be one of the great personalities of the world of Islam.

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SPEECHES IN THE FAMOUS BAZAARS OF ARABIA

During Haj season the Arabs assembled at various places like 'Ukaz' 'Majannah' and 'Zil-Majaz'. Great poets and speakers sat at elevated places and entertained the people with their verses and speeches which depicted bravery self-praise and love The Prophet availed of this opportunity like the Prophets of the past. And on account of being secure from molestation by the idol-worshippers owing to fighting being unlawful during the prohibited months he mounted a high place turned to the people and addressed them thus:

"Acknowledge the Oneness of Allah so that you may attain deliverance. With the strength of faith you can control the entire world can make the people obey your orders and can find place in Paradise in the next world".

INVITATION TO THE HEADS OF THE TRIBES DURING HAJ SEASON

During Haj season the Prophet contacted the chiefs of Arabia and saw all of them in their respective lodgings and presented the reality of his religion before them. At times when the Prophet was busy conversing with them Abu Lahab appeared on the scene and said: "O people! Don't believe in what he says because he is campaigning against the religion of your ancestors and his words are baseless". The opposition of the Prophet's uncle reduced the effect of his sermons amongst the heads of the tribes and they said to themselves "If his religion were true and profitable members of his own family would not have opposed him''.[1]

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[1] Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd vol. I page 216 and Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 422 -442.

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Chapter 24

THE AGREEMENT OF AQABAH

During the past times 'Wadiul Qura' (the Valley of Qura) was the trade route from Yemen to Syria. After passing by the side of Makkah the trading caravans of Yemen entered this long valley and along with it there were some green and pleasant regions one of them being the old city of Yathrib which became known later as 'Madinatur Rasul' (the city of the Prophet). Two famous tribes known as 'Aws' and 'Khazraj' who were Yemenite Arab migrants (Qehtani) had settled in this region since the well known tribes of the Jews (Bani Qurayzah Bani Nuzayr and Bani Qaynqa') who had migrated from the northern areas of the Peninsula had also settled there. Every year a group of Yathrib Arabs went to Makkah to perform Haj ceremonies and the Prophet contacted them. These contacts provided the preliminaries for 'migration' and centralized the scattered strength of Islam at that point. Many of these contacts did not prove fruitful. Notwithstanding this however the pilgrims from Yathrib on their return to their homeland mentioned the appearance of the new Prophet as the most important news and attracted the attention of the people of that area to this great event. We therefore mention here some of these meetings which took place during the eleventh twelfth and thirteenth years of the prophetic mission. From a deep study of these events the reasons for the migration of the Prophet from Makkah to Yathrib (Madina) and the centralization of the strength of the Muslims at that place become quite clear:

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1. As and when the Prophet learned that an important person from amongst the Arabs had arrived in Makkah he contacted him immediately and presented his religion to him. One day he heard that Suwayd bin Samit had come to Makkah. He met him at once and explained the realities of his sacred religion to him. Suwayd thought that these realities were perhaps the wise sayings of Luqman which he had already with himself. The Prophet however said: "The sayings of Luqman are good but what Allah has revealed to me is better and sublimer because it is the torch of guidance which sheds light everywhere. Thereafter the Prophet read out some verses to him and he embraced Islam. Then he returned to Madina. He was killed by Khazrajites before the Battle of 'Bu'ath'. He breathed his last while reciting 'Shahadatain' (i.e. acknowledging that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His servant and Prophet).[1]

2. A group of persons belonging to the tribe of 'Bani 'Amir' met the Prophet and said: "We shall believe in your prophethood on the condition that you make us your successors (caliphs)". The Prophet replied: "This thing concerns Allah and I do not possess any authority in the matter. They then declined to embrace Islam and returned to their tribe saying that it meant that they should take up the cudgels for it and others should enjoy the profit. On reaching home they mentioned the matter to an old man of their tribe who had not been able to perform Haj on account of infirmity. The enlightened old man blamed them and said: "It is the very luminous star which has risen from the horizon of reality".[2]

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3. Anas bin Rafe' came to Makkah along with a group of persons belonging to the tribe of Abdul Ashhal and Ayas bin Ma'az was also amongst them. Their object was to seek military assistance from Quraysh to fight against the Khazrajites. The Prophet joined their meeting and explained his religion to them and also recited some verses of the Qur'an for them. Ayas who was a courageous man stood up and embraced Islam and said: "This religion is better than the assistance of Quraysh for which you have come here". (He meant that Islam is a surety for all-round prosperity because it roots out homicide and all factors of destruction and deceit). Acceptance of Islam by this man without the inclination of the head of the tribe made Anas very angry. To quench his uneasiness he took sand in both of his hands threw it on the face of Ayas and said: "Keep quiet. We have come here to seek assistance from Quraysh and not to embrace the religion of Islam". The Prophet then got up and later the said group returned to Madina. The Battle of Bu'ath took place between Aws and Khazraj. Ayas who remained steadfast in his faith till the last moment of his life was killed in this battle.[3]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 425.

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 426.

[3] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 427.

THE BATTLE OF BU'ATH

The Battle of Bu'ath is one of the historical battles which took place between the two tribes of Aws and Khazraj. Bani Aws were victorious in this battle and they burned the palm grove of the enemy. Thereafter war and peace took place alternately. Abdullah bin Ubay who was one of the chiefs of Bani Khazraj did not participate in this battle and had therefore held in respect by both the tribes. It appeared that the two parties had got fully exhausted and therefore became very much inclined towards peace. Both the tribes insisted that Abdullah should become the ruler after compromise. They even prepared a crown for him so that he might wear at the appropriate time. However this scheme failed on account of the inclination of a group of Khazrajites towards Islam. And in the meantime the Prophet met six Khazrajites at Makkah and they accepted his invitation.

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THE DETAILS OF THIS EVENT

During Haj season the Prophet met six persons belonging to the tribe of Khazraj and asked them whether they had concluded a pact with the Jews. They replied in the affirmative. Thereupon he said to them: "Please sit down so that I may tell you something". They sat down and heard his words. The Prophet read out some verses of the Qur'an to them. This had a good effect on them and they embraced Islam immediately. The thing which made them inclined to Islam was that they had heard from the Jews that a Prophet of Arabian descent who would introduce the religion of the Oneness of Allah and would wipe out idol-worship would be appointed by the Almighty soon and they therefore thought that before the Jews stole a march on them they themselves should assist him and thereby become victorious over their enemies.

The said group of persons turned to the Prophet and said:

"The fire of war constantly kindles between us. We hope that Almighty Allah will quench it by means of your sacred religion. We are now returning to Yathrib and shall present your religion to the people. If all of them accept it there will be no one else who should be more respectable for us than you".

These six persons made continuous efforts to propagate Islam in Yathrib. So much so that there was no house left there where the Prophet was not talked about.[1]

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[1] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 86.

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THE FIRST AGREEMENT AT 'AQABAH

The continuous propagation by those six persons proved fruitful and a group of the residents of Yathrib embraced Islam. In the twelfth year of the prophetic mission another group consisting of twelve persons came from Yathrib and met the Prophet at 'Aqabah and concluded the first Islamic agreement. The most famous out of these persons were As'ad bin Zurarah and 'Ubadah bin Samit. The text of the agreement concluded after their embracing Islam was this: "We have concluded an agreement with the Prophet that we shall be duty-bound to act thus: "We shall not associate anyone with Allah We shall neither steal nor commit adultery. We shall not kill our children. We shall not slander one another and shall not fail to perform good deeds".

The Prophet promised that if they acted according to the agreement their place would be in Paradise but if they were disobedient it was for Allah to forgive them or torture them. In the terminology of the historians this 'Bay'at' (Oath of allegiance) is called 'Bay'atun Nisa' (Bay'at of the women) because at the time of the conquest of Makkah the Prophet took a similar 'Bay'at' from women.

These twelve persons returned to Yathrib with their hearts abounding with faith and became very active in propagating Islam. They also wrote a letter to the Prophet requesting him to send a missionary for them so that he might teach them the Holy Qur'an. The Prophet sent Mus'ab bin Umayr for their guidance. Under the guidance of this able missionary the Muslims used to assemble round him in the absence of the Prophet and to perform congregational prayers.[1]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 131.

THE SECOND AGREEMENT AT 'AQABAH

There was a great tumult amongst the Muslims of Yathrib. They were anxiously waiting for the arrival of Haj season so that besides performing Haj ceremonies they should see the Prophet from near and declare their readiness to render every service to Islam and to enlarge the range of the agreement from the point of view of quantity as well as quality. A Haj caravan of Yathrib consisting of more than five hundred persons left for Makkah. It included seventy three Muslims out of whom two were women and the remaining persons were either indifferent or half inclined towards Islam. The said group met the Prophet in Makkah and requested that a time might be appointed for them for the performance of the ceremonies of 'Bay'at'. The Prophet said: "We shall meet at Mina in the night of the 13th of Zil-Haj when the people are asleep in the Valley of 'Aqabah" (It is a defile near Mina).

The 13th night of Zil-Haj arrived. The Prophet was the first to reach 'Aqabah along with his uncle Abbas. A part of the night passed. The polytheists of Arabia went to sleep. The Muslims got up from their places one after the other and came to 'Aqabah secretly. Abbas the Prophet's uncle was the first to speak out thus: "O Khazarajites! You have expressed your support for the religion of Muhammad! You should be aware that he is the most dignified person of his tribe. All Bani Hashim whether they believe in his religion or not are responsible for his defence. However Muhammad is now inclined towards you and desires to be amongst you. If you are confident that you will abide by your agreement and will protect him from every harm from his enemies we are prepared to let him go with you. However if you are not capable of defending him in difficult circumstances you are free to forsake him here and let him spend his life amongst his kinsmen with great dignity and respect ".

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At this time Bura' bin Ma'rur stood up and said: "By Allah! Had there been anything in our hearts other than that which we have said with our tongues we would have expressed it. We have no other intention than sincere compliance with the agreement and sacrifice in the path of the Prophet". Then the Khazrajites turned towards the Prophet and requested him to say something. The Prophet recited some verses and stirred their inclination towards Islam. Thereafter he said: "I take this oath from you that you will defend me in the same manner in which you defend your children and the members of your family". Upon this Bura' rose up again and said: "We are the children of campaign and combat and have been trained as warriors. We have inherited these qualities from our ancestors". In the meantime when the entire gathering had been filled with excitement the voice of Khazrajites which was a sign of their unusual fervour became louder. Abbas while holding the hand of the Prophet said: "Spies have been appointed upon us and it is therefore necessary that you should speak in a low voice". Bura' bin Ma'rur Abul Haytham bin Tayhan and As'ad bin Zurarah then rose from their places and put their hands on the hand of the Prophet by way of 'Bay'at'. Thereafter all those present performed 'Bay'at one after the other.

While taking the oath Abul Haytham said: "O Prophet of Allah! We have concluded pacts with the Jews and now there is no alternative but to ignore them. It would not therefore be appropriate that you should leave us one day and return to your own people". The Prophet replied: "If you have made an agreement of peace with someone I consider it respectable". Then he added "Select twelve persons from amongst you as your representatives in the same manner in which Prophet Musa bin Imran selected twelve leaders out of Bani Israel so that in difficult circumstances you may reply to their views". Thereafter twelve representatives of the Ansar (nine from Khazraj and three from Aws) were introduced to the Prophet. Their names and particulars are recorded in history. The performance of 'Bay'at' was finalized in this assembly and the Prophet promised that he would leave Makkah at an appropriate time and go to Yathrib. Then the gathering dispersed.[1]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 438-444 and Tabaqat Ibn Sa'd vol. l pp. 221-223.

CONDITIONS OF MUSLIMS AFTER THE AGREEMENT OF 'AQABAH

Now the question arises as to why the people of Yathrib who were at a distance from the centre of the propagation of Islam submitted to the authority of the Prophet more readily than the Makkans (with all their proximity to him) and why a few short meetings between him and the people of Yathrib had a greater impact than his thirteen years propagation in Makkah. It may be said that the following two things were the cause of the advancement of Islam in Yathrib:

1. People of Yathrib were the neighbours of the Jews since long and every now and then a mention was made in their meetings and assemblies about the appointment of an Arabian Prophet to the prophetic mission. So much so that the Jews used to tell the idol-worshippers of Yathrib that the expected Arabian Prophet would promote Judaism arid destroy idolworship. These discourses created a strange readiness in the minds of the people of Yathrib for accepting the faith for which the Jews were waiting so that when six Khazrajites met the Prophet for the first time they embraced Islam at once and said to one another: "It is the same Prophet whom the Jews are awaiting and it is therefore necessary that we should express belief in him earlier than them".

Hence one of the objections raised by the Holy Qur'an against the Jews is this: "You used to threaten the idol-worshippers with the appointment to prophethood of the Arabian Prophet and gave good tidings of his arrival to the people and quoted his signs from the Taurat. Why do you turn away your face from him now?" It says: Now that a Book confirming their own has come to them from Allah they deny it although they know it to be the truth and have long prayed for help against the unbelievers. May Allah's curse be upon the infidels! (Surah al-Baqarah 2: 89)

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2. Another factor which might have prompted the people of Yathrib to embrace Islam was their mental and physical exhaustion. The harassment caused by disputes spreading over a period of one hundred and twenty years had exhausted their patience. They were well-nigh fed up with their lives and found all doors of hope and salvation closed before them. Only a study of the Battle of Bu'ath which was one of the battles fought by the people of Yathrib against one another provides a clear view of their condition. In this battle Bani Aws who were defeated initially ran away to Najd. The victorious adversaries (Khazrajites) taunted them. The chief of Bani Aws (Huzayr) felt it very much. He thrust his spear in his thing dismounted his horse called out to his people in a loud voice and said: "I shall not rise from my place until I am killed". The steadfastness of Huzayr stirred the spirit of dignity valour and defence among the defeated warriors. They decided to return at any cost and defend their interests. Having lost all hope of life they began a desperate fight. When a self-sacrificing army fights with firm faith it is always victorious. Hence the defeated Bani Aws were again successful. They defeated Bani Khazraj and burned their palm-groves. Thereafter war and peace continued for long and they had to face hundreds of unpleasant depressing and tiring events. Both the groups were unhappy about their condition and wanted to find a solution for it and wished for a gleam of hope. It was for this reason that when the six Khazrajites heard the words of the Prophet they felt that they had found what they had lost and said: "Maybe Allah may relieve us of this discord through you".

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These were some of the reasons which induced the people of Yathrib to welcome the invitation of Islam with open arms.

THE REACTION OF QURAYSH TO THE AGREEMENT AT 'AQABAH

Quraysh now assumed an attitude of apathy and as Islam had not made any appreciable advancement in Makkah they were under the impression that its decline had started and its edifice would soon crumble down. Suddenly the news of the second agreement at 'Aqabah fell amongst them like a bomb-shell. The heads of the idolatrous administration came to know that in the darkness of the preceding night seventy three persons belonging to Yathrib had concluded an agreement with the Prophet that they would defend him in the same manner in which they defended their children. This news created a strange fear in their hearts and they said to themselves: "Now the Muslims have acquired a base in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula and it is possible that they will collect their scattered forces and will begin preaching the religion of the Oneness of Allah and will by this means threaten the central government of idolatry in Makkah with war and danger".

To investigate the matter further the chiefs of Quraysh contacted the Khazrajites in the morning and said: "It has been reported to us that last night you concluded a defence pact with Muhammad and have promised him that you will fight against us". They however swore that they did not desire to wage war against them.

The caravan of the pilgrims from Yathrib consisted of about 500 persons. Out of them only seventy three had performed 'Bay'at' in 'Aqabah at midnight whereas others were asleep at that time and knew nothing of the matter. Hence those who were not Muslims swore that nothing of the sort had happened and the entire story (of the pact) was a mere fiction. The Khazrajite Abdullah bin Obay the preliminaries of whose chiefship of entire Yathrib had already been provided said: "No such thing has been done and the people of Khazraj tribe don't do anything without consulting me". Then the chiefs of Quraysh rose up so that they might make further investigations in the matter. The Muslims who were present in the meeting realized that their secret had been divulged. They therefore decided to make the best use of the available time and said to themselves: "Before the persons concerned are identified it will be better if we return home and get out of Makkan influence".

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The haste which was observed in some persons of Yathrib intensified the doubts of Quraysh about the agreement and they concluded that the report received by them was correct. They therefore pursued all those persons who belonged to Yathrib. Fortunately however they commenced their pursuit when it was too late and the Haj caravan had already crossed the reach of Makkans. They could lay their hands on only one Muslim and he was Sa'd bin 'Ubadah.

According to Ibn Hisham Quraysh captured two persons out of whom one was Sa'd and the other was Manzar bin 'Umar. The second one escaped from their hands. As regards Sa'd however they caught him by the hair of his head with great harshness and dragged him on the ground. A man from amongst Quraysh was very much moved to see Sa'd in this pitiable condition and said to him: "Do you have a pact with someone in Makkah?" Said replied: "Yes. I do have a pact with Mut'am bin Adi because I protected his trade from larceny and provided him asylum when he crossed through Yathrib".

The Qurayshite who wanted to rescue him from this impasse approached Mut'am and said to him: "A Khazrajite has been captured and is being subjected to severe torture by Quraysh. He now wants your support and is waiting for your help. Mut'am came and saw that it was Sa'd bin 'Ubadah-the same man under whose protection his trading caravan used to reach its destination safely every year. He secured his release and sent him to Yathrib. The friends of Sa'd and the Muslims who came to know about his arrest decided to get him released. They were thinking on these lines when Sa'd suddenly appeared from a distance. After joining them he related his woeful story to them.[1]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 448-450.

SPIRITUAL INFLUENCE OF ISLAM

The orientalists are keen to insist that the advancement of Islam took place through sword. In this regard they say things which will be replied to one by one when we describe the battles of Islam against the unbelievers. At present however we wish to invite the attention of the readers to an incident which took place at Yathrib before 'migration'. It proves clearly that in the beginning the penetration and advancement of Islam took place only by means of its sweetness and the clearness of its rules and regulations which captivated the hearts of the people. Here are the details of the incident:

Mus'ab bin Umayr was a missionary and a great orator of Islam who had been sent by the Prophet to Yathrib on the request of As'ad bin Zurarah. These two persons decided to invite the chiefs of Yathrib to Islam by means of logical argument. One day they entered a garden where some Muslims were present and Sa'd bin Ma'az and Usayd bin Huzayr who were the chiefs of Bani Abdul Ashhal could also be seen there. Sa'd turned towards Usayd and said: "Unsheathe your sword and go to these two men and tell them to desist from propagating the religion of Islam and not to deceive our simple-minded people with their speeches and narrations. As As'ad bin Zurarah is my cousin (maternal aunt's son) I feel shy of facing him with a naked weapon". Usayd stood in the way of the two men with an angry face and a naked sword and uttered the above-mentioned words with a harsh voice. The great orator Mus'ab bin Umayr who had learnt the method of propagation from the Prophet addressed Usayd thus: "Is it possible that you should sit with us for a while so that we may have mutual conversation. If what we say is disagreeable to your mind we shall return the way we have come". Usayd said: "You have said something reasonable". He therefore sat down for a moment and sheathed his sword. Mus'ab recited a few verses of the Qur'an. The luminous realities of the Qur'an and their attraction and sweetness coupled with the forceful logic of Mus'ab overpowered him. He lost all control over himself and asked: "How can one become a Muslim?" They replied: "Confess the Oneness of Allah wash your body and dress with water and offer prayers". Usayd who had come to shed the blood of these two persons acknowledged with an open mind the Oneness of Allah and the prophethood of the Prophet. He took bath washed his dress and then returned to Sa'd humming the 'Shahadatain' (Acknowledgement of the Oneness of Allah and Prophethood of Muhammad) Sa'd bin Ma'az was waiting for him very anxiously. Suddenly Usayd appeared with a happy and glowing face. Sa'd bin Ma'az turned to those present and said: "By Allah! Usayd has changed his faith and has not achieved the object for which he went". Usayd came up and explained the matter. Sa'd bin Ma'az got up in extreme anger so as to check the two persons from propagating Islam and shed their blood. However the same thing which had happened to Usayd happened to him. He too had to surrender before the strong logic and the attractive and sweet words of Mus'ab. Signs of remorse appeared on his face for what he had decided upon and now he declared his allegiance to Islam. He bathed then and there and purified his clothes. Thereafter he turned to his people and said to them: "What position do I enjoy amongst you?" They replied: "You are the head and chief of our tribe". Then he said: "I shall not speak with any man or woman of my tribe unless they embrace Islam".

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The words of the chief were passed on from mouth to mouth to all the members of the tribe and within a short time and before even seeing the Prophet the entire tribe of Bani Abdul Ashhal embraced Islam and became defenders of this sacred religion.[1]

We find many specimens of such incidents in the inner folds of history. They clearly prove the baselessness of the remarks of the orientalists about the causes of the advancement of Islam because in these incidents force or money were not at work and the persons concerned had neither seen the Prophet nor had they any contact with him. There was no other factor at work in these cases except the rational conduct of a Muslim orator which brought about a wonderful spiritual revolution within the tribe.

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[1] A'lamul Wara' page 37 and Biharul Anwar vol. XIX pp. 10-11.

FEAR OVERTAKES QURAYSH

Support rendered by the people of Yathrib to the Muslims awakened Quraysh once again from their carelessness. They renewed their persecution and torture and got ready once again to check the influence and advancement of Islam.

The companions of the Prophet complained about the pressure and torture by the unbelievers and sought permission to migrate to some other place. The Prophet asked them to give him some time (to take a decision). After a few days he said to them: "The best place for you is Yathrib. You can very easily migrate to that place one by one".

After orders had been given to the Muslims to migrate they left Makkah on one pretext or the other and proceeded to Yathrib. However at the very early stage of 'migration' Quraysh came to know about the secret of these journeys. They therefore prevented all sorts of travelling and decided to bring back all those who were on their way (to Yathrib). They also decided that in case a person migrated along with his wife and children and his wife was a Qurayshite they would not permit him to take her with him. In spite of all this they refrained from shedding blood and continued persecuting and torturing the Muslims. Fortunately however their activities did not prove fruitful.[1]

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However a large number of Muslims escaped from the grip of Quraysh and joined the people of Yathrib-so much so that except the Prophet and Ali and the Muslims who had been detained or were sick no other Muslim was left in Makkah. The coming together of Muslims in Yathrib alarmed Quraysh all the more. In order therefore to destroy Islam all the heads of the tribe assembled in Darun Nadwah and deliberated over the situation. All their proposals were however frustrated by the special policies of the Prophet. Eventually he also migrated to Yathrib in the month of Rabiul Awwal in the fourteenth year of his appointment to the prophetic mission.

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[1] Tabaqat-i Ibn Sa'd vol. VII page 210.

Chapter 25

THE EVENT OF MIGRATION

The government of the Makkans resembled a constitutional government. Their Darun Nadwah was like a national consultative assembly where the heads of the tribes met at the time of crisis and exchanged views on complicated matters and took collective decision.

In the thirteenth year of the Prophet's prophetic mission the people of Makkah were faced with a great danger from the Muslims. It threatened their very existence and freedom. The great base which the Muslims set up in Yathrib and the responsibility taken by the residents of Yathrib for the protection of the Prophet were clear signs of this threat.

In the month of Rabiul Awwal of the thirteenth year of the prophetic mission when the Prophet's migration took place none of the Muslims was left in Makkah except the Prophet Ali Abu Bakr and a few other Muslims who had been detained by Quraysh or those who were old or sick. There was however every possibility of these persons also leaving Makkah for Yathrib. In the meantime Quraysh suddenly took a categorical and dangerous decision.

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A consultative meeting of the chiefs took place in Darun Nadwah. A man from among them spoke at the outset about the centralization of the forces of Muhammad at Yathrib and the agreement made by Bani Aws and Bani Khazraj. Thereafter he added: "We the people of the Haram were respected by all tribes. However Muhammad sowed the seeds of discord and thus posed a great danger for us. Now we have lost all patience. The only path of safety for us is that a brave man should be selected from among us and he should put an end to his life secretly. And in case Bani Hashim stand up to quarrel and dispute with us we may pay the blood-money to them.

An unidentified old man who introduced himself as 'Najdi' rejected this idea and said: "This plan is not at all practicable because Bani Hashim will not spare the life of the murderer of Muhammad and the payment of blood-money will not satisfy them. Hence whoever volunteers to execute this plan should first part with his own life and no such person is found amongst you".

One of the chiefs named Abul Bakhtari said: "The best thing would be to imprison Muhammad and to provide him food and water through a hole and thus prevent the spreading of his religion". The old Najdi spoke again: "This scheme is also not very much different from the first one because in that event Bani Hashim will wage war against you to get him released. And even if they themselves are not successful in achieving this object they will seek help from other tribes at the time of Haj and will get him released with their assistance".

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A third man put forward another suggestion and said: "It will be better if we make Muhammad mount a refractory camel and tie both of his feet and make the camel run so that it may strike him on hills and stones and thus shatter his body. And if by chance his life is saved and he alights in the land of some other tribe and wants to propagate his religion amongst them they themselves who are zealous idolaters will settle their accounts with him and will save us and themselves from his mischief".

The old Najdi once again disapproved of this plan and said: "You are aware of Muhammad's attractive and fascinating way of speaking. By his sweet speeches and oratory he will make the other tribes his allies and will then swoop down on you".

Perfect calmness prevailed over the whole assembly. Suddenly Abu Jahl and according to another version the old Najdi himself expressed his view and said: "The only proper and easy way is that some persons should be selected from all the families and they should jointly attack his house at night and cut him into pieces so that all the families might be held responsible for the murder. It is evident that in that case Bani Hashim will not be in a position to take revenge on all the families". This proposal was endorsed unanimously and the would-be assassins were selected. It was then decided that when night fell those persons should carry out their mission.[1]

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[1] Tabaqatul Kubra vol. I pp. 227-228 and Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 480-482.

DIVINE ASSISTANCE

These muddle-headed persons were under the impression that like other mundane affairs the institution of prophethood too could be destroyed with such schemes. They could not conceive that like other Prophets the Prophet of Islam was also blessed with Divine assistance and the hand that had protected this luminous torch from the hurricanes of accidents for thirteen years could also frustrate the present plan of his enemies.

According to the exegetes the Archangel Jibreel came and informed the Prophet of the nefarious designs of the polytheists. The Qur'an makes a reference to this incident in these words: Remember how the unbelievers plotted against you. They sought to take you captive or kill you or banish you. They devised plans-but Allah too made a plan and Allah is the best planner. (Surah al-Anfal 8:30).

The Prophet was ordered by Allah to proceed to Yathrib. However it was not an easy task to get rid of the cruel hands of the idolaters especially when they were on the look-out for him and the distance between Makkah and Yathrib was also long. In case he had not left Makkah after proper planning it was probable that the Makkans might have overtaken and arrested him and had shed his blood before he could join his friends.

The historians and biographers have given different versions about the migration of the Prophet and the differences between them about the particulars of the incident are unusual. The writer of Seerah-i Halabi has succeeded to some extent in making the different narratives compatible with one another but has failed to eliminate the contradictions in some cases.

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The thing which deserves attention is that most of the Sunni and Shi'ah traditionalists have put the Prophet's migration in such a way that one concludes that it was a miraculous feat to get rid of the enemy whereas a careful study of the incident reveals that the Prophet's escape was the result of his foresight careful planning and the precautionary measures taken by him; and Allah had willed to provide him safety through natural channels and not by means of miraculous acts. The thing which bears testmony to this view is that the Prophet availed of natural causes and rational means (like making Ali sleep in his own bed and concealing himself in the cave etc. and thus ensured his safety.

THE ARCHANGEL JIBREEL INFORMS THE PROPHET

The Archangel Jibreel informed the Prophet about the wicked plan of the unbelievers and asked him to migrate. The Prophet ordered Ali to sleep in his bed and pass through the terrible ordeal for the safety of Islam so that the unbelievers might not think that the Prophet had left but should remain under the impression that he was in the house. Thus Ali remained contented with remaining in the house so that he himself could move freely through the streets of Makkah and in its precincts.

The advantage underlying this plan was that the enemies kept guarding the Prophet's house only and he himself gained time to move to a place of safety.

Now we should see as to who offers to sleep in the Prophet's bed and to sacrifice his own life for him? You will naturally say: "He who believed in him first and whirled round him from the day of his appointment to the prophetic mission just as a moth whirls round a candle". It is he who should make sacrifice in this path and that self-sacrificing person is Ali. The Prophet therefore turned to Ali and said: "Sleep in my bed tonight and cover yourself with the green sheet which I use during sleep because the enemies have conspired to kill me and it is therefore necessary that I should migrate to Yathrib".

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Ali occupied the bed of the Prophet early in the night. When three-fourth of the night had passed forty persons encircled the house and peeped into it through a hole. They saw the condition of the house to be as usual and thought that the man who was sleeping in the bedroom was the Prophet himself.

The Prophet decided to leave the house when the enemies had surrounded it from all sides and were keeping perfect vigil. Almighty Allah willed to save the great leader of Islam from the clutches of these mean people. The Prophet recited those verses of Surah Yasin which suited his condition at that time and after having read up to the verse: "so that they cannot see" he came out of the house immediately and went to the appointed place. It is not clear as to how the Prophet succeeded in crossing the blockade and why the besiegers could not see him. It is learnt from the tradition quoted by the renowned Shi'ah traditionalist the late Ali bin Ibrahim while commenting on the verse: Remember how the unbelievers plotted against you...........They devised plans -but Allah too has made a plan. Allah is the best planner. (Surah al-Anfal 8:30) that when the Prophet left the house all of them had gone to sleep and wanted to attack the house in the morning and did not imagine that the Prophet was aware of their plot.

However other historians clearly narrate[1] that the enemies remained awake till the time they attacked the Prophet's house and he came out of the house miraculously and they could not see him.

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There is no doubt about the fact that such a miracle is possible. But the question is: Was such a miracle necessary on this occasion? Complete scrutiny of the circumstances of migration proves positively that the Prophet was aware of the plot of the enemies before they besieged his house and the plan which he chalked out for his escape was perfectly natural and had nothing supernatural about it. By making Ali sleep in his bed he wanted to free himself from the idol-worshippers by natural means and not through miracle. Hence he could very well leave the house before it was besieged and did not need any miracle for the purpose.

It is however possible that the Prophet's stay in the house till the siege took place was due to reasons which are not known to us at present. Hence the discussion about this matter (Prophet's leaving the house at night) is not final in the eyes of all historians because according to some of them the Prophet left his house before it was besieged and before sunset.[2]

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[1] Tabaqat-i Kubra page 228 and Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 100.

[2] Seerah-i Halabi vol. II page 32.

ENEMIES ATTACK THE HOUSE OF THE PROPHET

The forces of infidelity surrounded the house of the Prophet and were awaiting orders to make a rush and to cut the Prophet into pieces in his bedroom. Some of them insisted that they should attack at midnight and implement their scheme. However Abu Lahab stood up and said: "Women and children of Bani Hashim are within the house and it is possible that they may be hurt during the course of attack". Some say that the reason for their delay was that they wanted to kill the Prophet in broad daylight before the very eyes of Bani Hashim so that they (Bani Hashim) might see that his murderer was not a particular person. Evenutally they decided to execute their plan at dawn when there was light.[1]

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It was now dawn. A great zeal and enthusiasm was visible amongst the unbelievers. They were under the impression that they would soon achieve their desired object. With their hands on the hilts of the swords they entered the bedroom of the Prophet making a great noise. Simultaneously Ali raised his head from the pillow threw aside the green sheet and said very calmly: "What is the matter?" They replied "We want Muhammad. Where is he?" Ali said: "Did you hand him over to me so that I may deliver him back to you? Anyway he is not in the house at present".

The faces of the agents flushed with anger and their throats were choked on this account. They regretted having waited till morning and blamed Abu Lahab who had restrained them from making an attack at night.

Quraysh became very much excited owing to the frustration of their plan and the defeat which they had to suffer. They began thinking that Muhammad could not manage to go out of the environments of Makkah within such a short time and concluded that he had either concealed himself within Makkah or was on his way to Yathrib. They therefore planned to capture him.

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[1] A'lamul Wara' page 39 and Biharul Anwar vol. XIX page 50.

THE PROPHET IN THE CAVE OF THAUR

It is an established fact that the Prophet spent the night of migration along with Abu Bakr in the cave of Thaur which is situated in the south of Makkah (a spot opposite Madina). It is not however clear as to how this companionship took place and this point is perfectly ambiguous in history. Some believe that this companionship was a mere chance and the Prophet having seen Abu Bakr on the way took him along with himself Others say that the Prophet went to Abu Bakr's house that night and at midnight both of them left the house for the cave of Thaur. Still others say that Abu Bakr came in quest of the Prophet and Ali guided him to his hiding place.[1]

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In any case many biographers of the Prophet consider this companionship to be a proof of the Abu Bakr's greatness and quote this incident prominently in connection with his virtues.

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[1] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 100.

QURAYSH DO NOT HESITATE IN SEARCHING OUT THE PROPHET

The defeat suffered by Quraysh made them change their strategy They therefore decided to block the roads to post watchmen on all the paths leading to Yathrib and also to procure the services of those who could locate a person by his foot-prints so that by this means they might trace him out at any cost. They also declared that whoever gave correct information about the hiding place of Muhammad would be rewarded with one hundred camels. The Qurayshites became active and proceeded towards north of Makkah to the road which leads to Madina whereas the Prophet in order to frustrate their plan had hidden himself in the cave of Thaur. Abu Karz a famous physiognomist of Makkah was acquainted with the foot-prints of the Prophet. On this account he came near the cave and said: "It appears that the Prophet intended to come to this place. It is possible that he is hidden in the cave". He therefore deputed someone to enter the cave. When that man came near the cave he saw that a very thick web had been woven on the mouth of the cave and the wild pigeons had laid eggs there.[1] He returned without entering the cave and said: "There are cobwebs on the mouth of the cave which show that there is no one inside it". These activities continued for three days and three nights and then Quraysh lost all hope and abandoned the quest.

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[1] Tabaqat-i Kubra vol. I page 229 etc. Most of the biographers have quoted this miracle. In view of what we have said regarding miracles in connection with the narrative about Abraha it does not appear appropriate that we should unnecessarily explain away or amend this series of miracles.

SELF-SACRIFICE IN THE PATH OF REALITY

The most important point in regard to this event is the self-sacrifice of Ali in the path of reality. Self-sacrifice in the path of reality is the quality of those who are wedded to it- persons who ignore their lives property and position and spend their entire spiritual and material capital for the revival of truth. Such persons are decidedly the lovers of reality and the perfection and auspiciousness which they observe in their pursuit for it make them surrender their temporary life and to embrace the eternal one. Ali's sleeping in the Prophet's bed during that tumultuous night is an outstanding specimen of this love for reality. There was no other stimulant for this hazardous feat except love for the survival of Islam which is a surety for the prosperity of the society.

This kind of sacrifice is so valuable that the Almighty Allah has called it sacrifice made to acquire the pleasure of Allah and as quoted by many commentators the following verse was revealed in this behalf: Among men there are those who sacrifice their lives to seek Allah's pleasure. Allah is Compassionate to His servants. (Surah al-Baqarah 2:207)

The greatness and importance of this act has made the great sages of Islam consider it to be one of the greatest virtues of Ali the Commander of the Faithful and they have introduced him as a brave and self-sacrificing person. And wherever this event has been mentioned in exegetes and history it has been admitted that the said verse was revealed about him. This truth can never be forgotten. The face of reality always shines through the inner folds of superstition and the scattered patches of a cloud cannot diminish the light of the sun.

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The enmity of Mu'awiyyah with the family of the Prophet and especially with the Commander of the Faithful needs no mention. He planned to bribe some of the companions of the Prophet so as to get falsehoods forged with a view to stain the luminous pages of history but he could not succeed.

Samrah bin Jundab who lived during the time of the Prophet and later attached himself to the court of Mu'awiyah used to tamper with facts and was paid for doing so. One day while he was present before Mu'awiyah the latter asked him earnestly to mount the pulpit and refute that the said verse was revealed about Ali. He also asked him to tell the people that this verse was in fact revealed for the assassin of Ali (i.e. Abdur Rahman bin Muljam). As a reward for this act which would have ruined Samrah's faith Mu'awiyah offered him one hundred thousand dirhams. Samrah did not agree. Thereupon Mu'awiyah raised the amount and the deal was finally settled for four hundred thousand dirhams. The greedy old man began falsifying the facts of history and worsened his guilt-stained reputation. He said before a gathering that the said verse had been revealed about Abdur Rahman bin Muljam and not about Ali.

The stupid and simple-minded people believed in what he said and it did not occur to them that at the time of the revelation of the said verse Abdur Rahman was not in Hijaz and was not perhaps born. The face of reality did not however remain concealed with these fabrications. Mu'awiyah and his family fell victims to vicissitudes of time. The signs of those who fabricated lies during his time were obliterated. Once again truth prevailed. Great and renowned exegetes[1] and traditionalists of all times have admitted that the verse: Among men there are those who sacrifice their lives to seek Allah's pleasure (Surah al-Baqarah 2:207) was revealed during the 'night's stay' about the self-sacrifice of Ali.[2]

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[1] In Sharh-i Nahjul Balaghah of Ibn Abil Hadid this distinction of Ali has been mentioned in suitable words (vide vol. XIII page 262).

[2] Samrah bin Jundab was one of the criminal elements of the Umayyad period. He did not only tamper with facts to the extent mentioned above but as quoted by Ibn Abil Hadid he also added something to it and said that what was actually revealed about Ali was this verse: And among men is he whose speech about the life of this world causes you to wonder and be calls on Allah to witness as to what is in his heart yet he is the most violent of adversaries. (Surah al-Baqarah 2:204) During the period of the governor-generalship of Ziyad bin Abih in Iraq Samrah was the Governor of Basrah. One of the crimes of this man was that he killed eight thousand Muslims and devotees of the family of the Prophet. When Ziyad called for his explanation and said: "How did you pick up courage to kill all these people? Did it not cross your mind that possibly there might be some innocent persons amongst them?" He replied: "I won't mind killing even more than these". His shameful acts are too many to be inserted in these pages. This obstinate man was the very person who rejected the recommendation of the Prophet about respecting rights of a neighbour and the Prophet said to him: "You are a harmful person and Islam does not allow that one should do harm to others or tolerate harm from them".

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STATEMENT OF IBN TAYMIYAH

Ahmad bin Abdul Halim Harani Hanbali who died in the prison of Morocco in 728 A.H. was one of the Sunni scholars and most of the beliefs of Wahabis originate from him. He held special views about the Holy Prophet Ali the Commander of the Faithful and other members of the Prophet's family and has recorded most of his beliefs in his book entitled "Minhajus Sunnah". Owing to his deviated beliefs most of his contemporary ulema accused him of heresy and showed disgust for him. However discussion of these matters is beyond our aim. He has said something about this distinction[1] which may be placed before you with minor amendments. It is seen at times that some incapable persons with scant or superficial knowledge are influenced by his words and they propagate his view among common people without any investigation and without consulting those learned in the field and the irony is that people may consider them to be research scholars. They are however oblivious of the fact that these words are those of a heretic who has been refuted by his co-religionists and has been charged with heresy.

He says "Ali's sleeping in the Prophet's bed is not a matter of distinction for him because Ali was aware for two reasons that he would not meet any harm that night. Firstly it was the remark of the Prophet which was absolutely true for he said to him that night: "Sleep in my bed and you will not meet any harm". And secondly the Prophet handed over to him the things which the people had kept with him for safe custody and naturally knew that his representative would not be killed for otherwise he would have entrusted those things to some other person. And on account of this recommendation Ali himself also understood that he would not meet any harm and would be successful in discharging the responsibility which had been entrusted to him by the Prophet.

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[1] Before him Jahiz partly mentioned this objection in his book entitled 'al-Usmaniyah'. Please refer in this connection to Sharh-i Nahjul Balaghah by Ibn Abil Hadid vol. XIII page 262.

REPLY TO THE FALSE INTERPRETATION

Before giving detailed replies to the abovementioned two points we may say briefly: "By denying one distinction Ibn Taymiyah has proved a still greater distinction for Ali because his faith about the truthfulness of the Prophet was either an ordinary faith or it was a strong and extraordinary faith and all the words of the Prophet were clear before him.

According to the first assumption (i.e. in case his faith was ordinary) Ali did not at all possess any definite knowledge of his remaining immune from any harm. This is so because the words of the Prophet do not create a definite knowledge in the hearts of such people (and Ali was decidedly not one of them). Even if they apparently accept his words to be true they entertain anguish in their hearts. And in case they sleep in his place at times of danger their disturbance of mind increases all the more and the monster of death appears before their eyes every moment. According to this assumption therefore Ali undertook this task with the possibility of being killed and not with the knowledge that he would remain safe.

According to the second assumption Ibn Taymiyah has proved a greater distinction for Ali because if the faith of a man is so firm that the words of the Prophet are crystal clear to him and the excellence of such a faith surpasses everything else. The result of such a faith is that when the Prophet tells him: "Sleep in my bed and you will not meet any harm from the enemies". He walks with perfect peace of mind and occupies his bed and does not feel the least fear in his heart. And if the view expressed by Ibn Taymiyah (that Ali had knowledge of his safety because the truthful Prophet had told him so) be a proof of the highest degree of faith he should know that he has unconsciously proved this greatest distinction for Ali.

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DETAILED REPLY

As regards the first argument it may be said that the sentence Sleep in my bed and you will not suffer any harm has not been quoted by any reliable historian.[1] No doubt Ibn Athir (d. 630 A.H.)[2] and Tabari (d. 310 A.H.)[3] have quoted this sentence but it appears that their source is Seerah-i Ibn Hisham[4] who has quoted the matter in this way-especially because the text of these historians in this regard is exactly the same as that of Ibn Hisham. Besides this so far as we are aware this matter is not found in the writings of Shiiah scholars.

Shaykh Muhammad bin Hasan Tusi (d. 460 A.H.) has quoted the event of migration in his 'Amali' in great detail and has also mentioned the said sentence with a minor alteration. However what he says is different from that quoted in the writings of Sunni scholars for he clearly quotes that when the night of migration had passed Ali and Hind bin Abi Hala (son of Khadijah and step-son of the Prophet met him [the Prophet]) during the following nights. During one of those nights the Prophet said to Ali: "O Ali! Henceforth these people will never be able to overpower you".

As will be observed this is almost the same sentence which has been quoted by Ibn Hisham Tabari and Ibn Athir.

However according to the quotation of Shaykh Tusi the Prophet gave this assurance to Ali in the second or third night and not in the first night. Besides all this the words of Ali himself are the best testimony on the subject. As is evident from his couplets (translated below) he himself has treated this act to be a sort of self-sacrifice in the path ot truth:

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"I have protected with my life the best man who has laid his feet on earth and the noblest man who has performed 'Tawaf' of the 'House of Allah' and 'Hajar-i Isma'il'. That dignified person is Muhammad bin Abdullah. And I acted in this way when the unbelievers were plotting against him. At that time the Great Allah protected him from their plot. I remained in his bed from night till morning and kept waiting for the enemy and prepared myself for captivity and death". (Suyuti has quoted these lines from Ali in his exegesis entitled 'Durre Manthur').

In the presence of these expressive sentences and clear explanations there remains no justification to rely upon the words of lbn Hisham because there are more chances of his committing mistake. And there is a great probability that as Ibn Hisham desired to narrate things in a compressed manner he contented himself with quoting only the actual sentence. And as it was immaterial for him as to when this sentence was uttered (which was actually uttered during the second night) he ignored to quote the time and narrated things in a way as if all these incidents occurred during the very night of migration.

Another evidence which confirms this statement is the well-known tradition which has been quoted by many Sunni and Shi'ah scholars. According to this report Allah addressed the Archangels Jibreel and Mika'il that night and said: "If I decide to grant one of you life and the other death which of you would be ready to accept death and leave life for the other?" Neither of them agreed to this proposal. The Almighty then said: "Now Ali has preferred death for himself and sacrificed his life for the Prophet". Then He ordered them to descend to earth and undertake the safety and protection of Ali.

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The second argument advanced by Ibn Taymiyah about Ali's being aware of his eventual safety is the order given to him by the Prophet to return to their owners the things which they had entrusted to him for safe custody. According to him this would go to show that the Prophet knew that Ali would not suffer any harm and therefore asked him to return those things. However we think that if the trail of events is studied properly this difficulty may also be solved. And here is the trail of the events of migration.

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[1] For example this sentence has not been mentioned in Tabaqat-i Kubra pp. 227 - 228. Its author was born in 168 A.H. and passed away in 238.A.H. Maqrizi too has not mentioned it in al-Imta'a.

[2] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II page 72.

[3] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 99.

[4] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 483.

TRAIL OF EVENTS OF THE MIGRATION OF THE PROPHET

The initial stages of the escape of the Prophet assumed a practical shape with the help of proper planning. The Prophet took refuge at night in the Cave of Thaur and foiled the plan of the conspirators. He did not feel any disturbance of mind. So much so that at critical moments he consoled his companion with the words: "Don't worry. Allah is with us". For three days and three nights they enjoyed the blessing of Allah. According to Shaykh Tusi (in 'Amali') Ali and Hind bin Abi Hala (the son of Khadijah) and according to many historians Abdullah bin Abu Bakr and 'Amr bin Fuhayrah (the shepherd of Abu Bakr) used to go and meet the Prophet.

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Ibn Athir writes:[1] "During nights Abu Bakr's son informed his father and the Prophet about the decisions taken by Quraysh and his shepherd made the sheep pass by the cave on their way to Makkah so that the Prophet and his companion might use their milk. At the time of his return Abdullah walked before the sheep so that his footprints might be obliterated.

Shaykh says in 'Amali: "During one of the nights (after the night of migration) when Ali and Hind had the honour to reach in the presence of the Prophet he ordered Ali to arrange two camels for them (i.e. for the Prophet and his companion). At that time Abu Bakr said: "I have already arranged two camels for you and myself". The Prophet replied: "I am preapred to accept this offer on payment". He then ordered Ali to pay the price of the camel.

Among the directions given by the Prophet that night in the Cave of Thaur some were that Ali should declare on the following day in broad daylight with a loud voice that in case someone had kept something with Muhammad for safe custody or if he (Muhammad) was indebted to any person the persons concerned should receive their property back.

Then he gave directions about the departure of 'Fawatim' (which means his own dear daughter Fatimah and Fatimah daughter of Asad and Fatimah daughter of Zubayr) and ordered Ali to make arrangements for their journey as well as for such other members of the family of Hashim as were inclined to migrate. And he pronounced on this occasion the sentence which has been relied upon by Ibn Taymiyah for his first argument. He said: "Henceforth these people will never be able to overpower you".

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As you can observe the Prophet ordered Ali to return the things entrusted to him by the people when the 'night of stay' had already passed. These orders were given by him to Ali when he himself was getting ready to leave the cave.

Halabi writes: "When one night Ali presented himself before the Prophet in the Cave of Thaur the latter told him inter alia to return to the people the things which they had entrusted to him (the Prophet) and also pay off his debts". Then he turns to the statement that Ali did not meet the Prophet after the 'night of stay' but does not accept it himself and quotes from the author of the book 'ad-Durr' that Ali did meet the Prophet again after the night of 'migration'.[2]

In short Shaykh Tusi quotes reliable authorities saying that orders regarding the return of things entrusted to the Prophet by their owners were given by him after the 'night of stay' we need not refute this authentic version and get busy in amusing the people And as regards the Sunni historians having quoted the matter in a manner which apparently gives the impression that all directions were given by the Prophet during one and the same night viz. the night of migration it needs explanation and it is not improbable that their object was to quote the original facts and they did not attach any importance to the determination of time at which these recommendations were made and directions given to Ali.

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[1] Tarikh-i Kamil lbn Athir vol. II page 73.

[2] Seerah-i Halabi vol. II page 37.

COMING OUT OF THE CAVE

As directed by the Prophet Ali sent three camels to the cave during the fourth night along with a reliable guide named 'Urayqit'. The Prophet heard the bellowing of the camels and came out of the cave along with his companion. They mounted the camels and proceeded to Yathrib (Madina) from the lower side of Makkah along the coastal route. The details of this journey are recorded in books.[1]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 491; Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II page 75 and in the footnote of the Tarikh-i Ibn Athir.

THE FIRST PAGE OF HISTORY

The darkness of night commenced. The Qurayshites who had been roaming about in the city of Makkah and its environments to find out the Prophet returned to their homes extremely tired and had lost all hope of the big reward (100 camels) which had been fixed for capturing the Prophet. The roads leading to Yathrib which had been blocked by the watchmen posted by Quraysh were also reopened.[1]

At this moment the low voice of the guide who had three camels and some food with him reached the ears of the Prophet and his companion. He was saying with a calm voice: "It is necessary to take advantage of the darkness of night and get beyond the reach of the Makkans as early as possible and to select an unfrequented path".

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The history of the Muslim era commenced from that very night. Hence they determine the dates of all events according to the Hegira calendar and record them in history accordingly.

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[1] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 104.

WHY THE YEAR OF MIGRATION BECAME THE ERA OF ISLAMIC HISTORY?

Islam is the most perfect heavenly religion and adapts the religions of Musa and 'Isa in a more perfect form suited to all the conditions and situations. It has brought blessing for mankind. Although Jesus and his birth are respectable in the eyes of the Muslims they did not adopt his birth as the origin of their era because they are an independent and distinguished nation and it is not appropriate that they should follow others in adopting their era. For quite some time the 'Year of the Elephant' (the year in which Abraha came to Makkah with an army of elephants and wished to demolish the Ka'bah) was treated by the Arabs to be the origin of history and the birth of the Prophet also took place in the same year. However the Muslims did not treat it to be the first page of the history of Islam.

The year of Be'that (appointment to the prophetic mission) was also not treated to be the starting point of the history of the Muslims because at that time there was no trace of Islam and the Islamic faith and the number of the Muslims in those days did not exceed three. However in the first year of migration Islam and the Muslims were blessed with a great success. An independent government came into existence in Madina. The Muslims got rid of homelessness and freely gathered at a central place. On account of this very success and victory therefore they decided to treat that year to be the starting point of their history[1] and till today they reckon the date of everything; good and evil in accordance with it.

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[1] lbn Wazeh Akhbari writes in his history entiitled 'Tarikh-i Ya'qubi' that in the 16th year of 'migration' the second caliph determined to fix a starting point of the history of the Muslims. He wished that it should be the date of the birth of the Prophet or the date of his appointment to the prophetic mission but Ali did not endorse his views and said that 'migration' should be the origin of Islamic history. (Tarikh-i Ya'qubi vol. II page 135).

SCHEDULE OF THE JOURNEY

The journey which the Prophet had to perform consisted of a distance of about 400 kilometers and covering this distance in the scorching heat of summer necessitated correct planning. Furthermore they (i.e the Prophet and his companions) were also afraid of the Arabs who met them on the way for they might report their whereabouts to Quraysh. They therefore performed the journey at night and rested during day-time.

It seems that a camel-rider having seen the Prophet and his companions from a distance went to Quraysh at once and informed them of the itinerary of the Prophet. In order to earn the prize alone Saraqah bin Malik bin Ja'sham Madlaji dissuaded others from pursuing the matter and told them that they (i.e. the persons seen by the said camel-driver) were some other persons. Then he came to his house armed himself rode a swift horse and reached as quickly as possible the spot where the Prophet and his companions were resting.

Ibn Athir writes:[1] "This state of affairs made the Prophet's companion very sad and the Prophet had to console him once again with the words: 'Don't worry. Allah is with us'. Saraqah was very proud of his physical strength and sharp weapons and was quite ready to shed the blood of the Prophet to earn the biggest prize offered by the Arabs.

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In the meantime the Prophet prayed for himself and his companions with a heart overflowing with faith and confidence and said "O Allah! Save us from the mischief of this man". Suddenly Saraqah's horse got startled and threw him violently on the ground. Saraqah realized that a Divine hand was at work and these developments were due to the bad intention which he had against Muhammad.[2] He therefore turned to the Prophet in a beseeching manner and said: "I surrender my slave and camel to you and am prepared to do whatever you like". The Prophet then replied: "I want nothing from you".

However the late Allamah Majlisi says that the Prophet said to him: "Return and dissuade others from pursuing us". Hence Saraqah told whomsoever he met: "There is no trace of Muhammad on this route".[3]

The Sunni and Shi'ah writers have quoted miracles which were performed by the Prophet during his journey from Makkah to Madina. For brevity's sake however we refrain from narrating them.

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[1] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II page 74.

[2] Most of the biographers of the Prophet like Ibn Athir (Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II page 74) and Majlisi (Bihar vol. IX page 88) have quoted this incident as narrated above from the sixth Imam with reliable sources. However the author of 'Hayat-i Muhammad' says: "Saraqah considered these occurrences to be a bad omen and thought that the gods wished to prevent him from this task".

[3] Biharul Anwar vol. XIX page 75.

ARRIVAL IN THE VILLAGE OF QUBA

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Quba which is situated at a distance of two leagues from Madina was the seat of the tribe of 'Bani 'Amr bin 'Auf'. The Prophet and his companions reached there on Monday the 12th of Rabiul Awwal and stayed at the house of Kulsum ibnul Hadam the chief of the tribe. A number of 'Muhajirs' (migrants) and 'Ansar' (helpers) were then awaiting the arrival of the Prophet.

The Prophet stayed there till the end of the week and during this time he laid the foundation of a mosque for the tribe of Bani 'Awf. Some persons insisted upon his proceeding to Madina as early as possible. He was however waiting tor the arrival of his cousin Ali.

After the migration of the Prophet Ali stood up at a place in Makkah and said: "Whoever has entrusted anything to Muhammad should come and take it back from me". Those concerned came and took back their things after mentioning the marks of identification. Thereafter according to the directions given by the Prophet Ali had to take to Madina along with himself the Hashmite women including Fatimah the daughter of the Prophet and his own mother Fatimah binte Asad and also those Muslims who had not till then been able to migrate. Ali adopted the route of 'Zi Tuwa' and proceeded to Madina at night.

Shaykh Tusi writes: [1]"The spies of Quraysh came to know about the migration of Ali and his party. They therefore pursued him and came face to face with him in the area of 'Zajnan'. Hot words were exchanged between them. During that time the cries of women were reaching the sky. Ali realized that he had no alternative left but to defend the honour of Islam and the Muslims. He therefore turned to the opponents and said: "Whoever wishes that his body should be cut into pieces and his blood should be shed should come forward". Signs of wrath were visible on his face. The agents of Quraysh felt that the matter had become serious. They therefore adopted a conciliatory attitude and took to the way they had come".

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Ibn Athir writes: "When Ali reached Quba his feet were bleeding. The Prophet was informed that Ali had arrived but was not in a position to come up before him. The Prophet immediately went to the place where Ali was and took him in his lap and when he saw the swollen feet of Ali tears began to flow from his eyes".[2]The Prophet arrived at Quba on the twelfth of Rabiul Awwal and Ali joined him there in the middle of the same month.[3] This view is supported by Tabari: "Ali stayed in Makkah for three days after the migration of the Prophet and during this period he returned to their owners the things which they had entrusted (to the Prophet)".[4]

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[1] 'Amali page 300.

[2] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II page 75.

[3] Imta'ul Asma page 48.

[4] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. I page 106.

TUMULT AND GLAMOUR OF JOY IN MADINA

There was a great excitement and jubilation among the people who had expressed faith in the Prophet three years ago and sent their representatives to him every year and used his sacred name every day in their prayers when they learned that their great leader had arrived at a distance of only two leagues and was likely to enter their city soon. What their feelings and emotions were cannot be described in words.

The Ansar had thirst for Islam and its sublime and invigorative programme and in order to purify Madina of all traces of polytheism and idol-worship they had burnt the idols and had removed all signs of idolatry from the homes the streets and the bazaars of the city. It will be appropriate if we quote here an example of the interest taken by the Ansar in Islam.

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'Arnr bin Jumuh who was one of the chiefs of Banu Salmah tribe had placed an idol in his house. In order to make him realize that the wooden idol was a useless thing the men of his tribe took it away and threw it upside down in a pit which was used in those days for easing nature. He got up in the morning and after making a good deal of search found the idol in that pit. He picked it up washed it and restored it to its place. This drama was repeated many times. Eventually 'Amr tied a sword round the neck of the idol and said: "If you are the origin of any strength in this world defend yourself". One day however he found the idol in a well tied to the dead body of a dog and without the sword. Observing these events he realized that the status of man was much higher than that he should bow his head before every stone wood or mud. Then he recited some verses whose purport is this: "By Allah! If you had been a true god you would not have been lying in a well tied to a dead dog. Praise be to Allah Who owns all blessings. It is He Who is Merciful and Who nourishes and gives reward. It is He Who grants us salvation before we are consigned to the grave".[1]

The Prophet proceeded to Madina. When his mount descended at Thaniyatul Wida' and set its foot on the land of Yathrib the people warmly welcomed and greeted him and began singing mirthful songs to this effect:

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"The moon rose from Thaniyatul Wida'. It is our duty to be thankful for this blessing till the day when even one person on the face of the earth prays to Allah and worships Him".

"O you who hate been sent by Allah for our guidance! It is necessary for all of us to obey your orders".

The tribe of Bani 'Amr bin 'Awf insisted that the Prophet might stay on in Quba and said: "We are assiduous steadfast and brave people". The Prophet did not however agree to this. When the people of the tribes of Aws and Khazraj came to know about the migration of the Prophet they armed themselves and hurried to welcome him. While he was proceeding on his way the people encircled his camel and the chiefs of the tribes held its bridle. Every one of them insisted that the Prophet might stay in his area but he replied to all of them: "Don't obstruct the camel. I shall dismount wherever it kneels down". The camel stopped and bent its knees in a spacious piece of land which belonged to two orphan boys named Sahl and Suhayl who lived under the protection and guardianship of As'ad bin Zurarah.[2] This land was used for drying palm-dates and for agriculture. The house of Abu Ayub was situated nearby. His mother therefore availed of the opportunity and took the belongings of the Prophet to her own house. Hence competition and solicitations began for taking the Prophet. He however cut the argument short and said Where are my belongings?

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He was told that Abu Ayub's mother had taken them to her house. Thereupon he said: "Let somebody go to the place where my belongings are". And As'ad bin Zurarah took the camel of the Prophet to his own house.

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[1] Usudul Ghabah vol. IV page 99.

[2] Biharul Anwar vol. XIX page 108; but according to some books including Tarikh-i Kamil they were under the guardianship of Mu'az bin 'Afra'.

SEEDS OF DISSENSION

Abdullah bin Ubay is considered the chief of the hierarchy of hypocrites. Before the people of Madina concluded an agreement with the Prophet they had decided to select Ubay as their absolute ruler. However on account of the relationship which Aws and Khazraj developed with the Prophet this decision was automatically dropped and from this very moment he nursed a grudge against the great leader of Islam and did not believe in him till the last moment of his life. On observing the welcome accorded by the people of Aws and Khazraj to the Prophet he was very much disturbed and could not help uttering a sentence which fully indicates his envy and enmity against him. He turned his face to the Prophet and said: "Go to the people who have deceived you and don't deceive us here".[1]

Said bin Ubadah fearing that the Prophet might treat his words to be true (i.e. indicative of the sentiments of the Ansar or take them to heart apologized for his remark and said to the Prophet: "He has said these words on account of grudge and enmity because it had been decided that he should be the absolute ruler of Aws and Khazraj and now by your arrival his rulership has become out of question.

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The historians generally say that the Prophet arrived in Madina on Friday and offered Friday prayers along with his companions at a spot which was situated in the area of Bani Salim tribe. Here he delivered an eloquent sermon which made deep impression on the hearts of the people who had never heard such words before. The text of this sermon has been quoted by Ibn Hisham [2] Miqrizi in Amta'ul Asma' and by Allamah Majlisi.[3] However the wording and contents of the sermon as quoted by the first two are different from those quoted by Allamah Majlisi.

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. XIX page 108.

[2] Seerah vol. I pp. 500 - 501.

[3] Biharul Anwar vol. XIX page 126.

Chapter 26

THE EVENTS OF THE FIRST YEAR OF MIGRATION

The glowing and fervent faces of the Ansar and the hearty welcome which the people of Aws and Khazraj had accorded to the Prophet prompted him to construct before doing anything else a public centre for the Muslims with the name of 'masjid' so that matters relating to instruction development politics and justice might be accomplished there. And as invitation to the worship of the One Lord and Nourisher was the first item in his programme he considered it necessary first of all to build a place of worship where the Muslims should engage themselves in remembering Allah and glorify His name at the time of offering prayers.

It was also necessary that he should create a centre where the common members of the Islamic party (the party of Allah) should assemble every week on a fixed day and conduct discussions and consultations regarding the interests of Islam and of the Muslims and should besides meeting every day offer Eid prayers there twice a year.

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The mosque was not only a central place for worship. It was a place where all types of Islamic instructions and orders were given and every sort of religious and scientific education was imparted including reading and writing. Till the commencement of the fourth Islamic century the mosques served as schools which functioned at all times except those fixed for offering prayers. Thereafter the educational centres assumed a special shape. Most of the great scholars graduated from the educational circles which had been set up in the mosques.

At times the Mosque of Madina assumed the shape of a

literary centre also. Great poets of Arabia whose compositions conformed with the moral and educational spirit of Islam recited their verses before the Prophet. Ka'b bin Zuhayr read out his famous laudatory poem in praise of the Prophet before him in the mosque and received a large prize and robe of honour from him. Hassan bin Thabit who defended the honour of Islam by means of his verses used to read out his poems in the Mosque of the Prophet.

Educational meetings in the Mosque of Madina during the time of the Prophet were so impressive that the representatives of the tribe of 'Saqif' were very much impressed by the scene; they wondered at the interest taken by the Muslims in acquiring knowledge. Judicial matters and law-suits were settled and punishments were awarded to the offenders in the mosque and it was for all intents and purposes a court of law where the complaints of the people were settled. Furthermore the Prophet used to deliver his stirring speeches there to make the people perform jihad and campaign against infidelity. Possibly one of the secrets of combination of religious and educational matters in the mosque was that the great leader of Islam desired to show it practically that knowledge and faith are complementary to each other and if a place is a centre of faith it must also be a centre of knowledge and wisdom. And if the judicial and other affairs including matters relating to jihad were decided in the mosque it was for the reason that he wanted to make it clear that his religion is not only spiritual which should have nothing to do with material matters it is a religion which while inviting people to piety and faith does not also ignore the worldly matters and social welfare.

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This harmony (between knowledge and faith) is the motto of the Muslims even today. When educational centres with a special shape were set up later the schools and universities were always established by the side of Jami' Masjids (central mosques) so as to prove to the world that these two factors of prosperity are not separate from each other.

THE STORY OF 'AMMAR

The place where the Prophet's camel bent its knees was purchased for ten diners for the construction of the mosque.

All the Muslims participated in its construction and in providing materials for it and even the Prophet collected stones along with others. Usayd bin Huzayr went forward and said: "O Prophet of Allah! Permit me to carry it (the stone)". The Prophet said: "Go and bring another''. In this manner he showed a glimpse of his sublime character. He said: "I am a practical man. I am a man of action and not of words only". On that occasion Muslim read out a couplet meaning: "If we sit and the Prophet works it will be a source of deviation and adversity for us".

While engaged in work the Prophet and the Muslims uttered these sentences: "Real life is the life of the Hereafter. O Allah! Be kind to the Ansar and the Muhajirs".

Uthman bin Maz'un was very particular about the neatness of his dress and wished to keep it clean. He did not therefore participate in the construction of the mosque lest his dress should become soiled. Ali criticized him in these words: "A person who constructs a mosque whether sitting or standing constantly endeavours for its progress is not like him who keeps away from dust and is not prepared to stain his clothes for constructing the mosque''.[1]

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'Ammar Yasir who was a strong man collected some stones and carried them for the construction of the mosque. Some persons took undue advantage of his simplicity and loaded on him stones which were too heavy for him. He was heard saying: "I am carrying one stone on my own behalf and the other on behalf of the Prophet". One day the Prophet saw him bearing a heavy burden when three stones had been loaded on him. 'Ammar complained: "Your companions nurse ill-will against me and want to kill me. They themselves bring one stone each but load as many as three on me".

The Prophet held him by the hand cleansed the dust on his back and uttered this historical sentence: "They are not your murderers. You will be killed by a group of oppressors while you will be inviting them to truth and reality".[2]

This prediction is one of the proofs of the prophethood and truthfulness of the Prophet. Eventually the same thing which he had predicted happened because 'Ammar who was with Imam Ali the Commander of the Faithful in the Battle of Siffin and was 90 at that time was killed at the hands of the supporters of Mu'awiyah. This occult news continued to have a wonderful effect on 'Ammar throughout his lifetime. After this event Muslims considered him to be the pivot of truth and every rightfulness was measured by its association with him.

When 'Ammar was killed in the battle a strange tumult appeared in the ranks of the Syrians. People who entertained doubts about the rightfulness of Ali on account of the venomous propaganda of Mu'awiyah and 'Amr 'As became enlightened. Huzaymah bin Thabit Ansari had gone to the battlefield with Imam Ali but was double-minded about taking part in the battle. However when he heard that 'Ammar had been killed he drew his sword and attacked the Syrians.

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Zul Kala' Himyari accompanied by twenty thousand men of his tribe came to fight against Ali. This was the man on whose support Mu'awiyah mainly relied and did not decide to wage war until he was sure of his co-operation. When this misguided chief came to know that 'Ammar Yasir was with Ali he was very much upset. The agents of Mu'awiyah endeavoured to make matters doubtful for him and said: "There is no question of 'Ammar being in Siffin. The Iraqis do not mind coining such lies". Zul Kala' was not however convinced. He turned to 'Amr As and said: "Has the Prophet said such and such words about 'Ammar? Ibn As said: "Yes he has said so but 'Ammar is definitely not in Ali's army". He said: "I shall investigate the matter personally". Then he deputed some persons to verify the position. Mu'awiyah and 'Amr As realized at this critical moment that if Zul Kala' became aware of 'Ammar's presence in Ali's army or about his martyrdom in the service of Ali a split might take place in the Syrian army. On this account therefore this famous Syrian chief was killed mysteriously.[3]

This tradition is so well known amongst the common as well as the distinguished traditionalists that it does not require the production of a documentary evidence. Ahmad bin Hanbal quotes thus: "When 'Ammar was killed in the Battle of Siffin 'Amr bin Hazm came to 'Amr As and said: "Ammar has been killed and the Prophet has said about him that a group of oppressors will kill him". 'Amr As cried and recited the verse: "We are from Allah and we have to return to Him" and conveyed the news to Mu'awiyah. Mu'awiyah said: "We are not the murderers of 'Ammar. He has been killed by Ali and his friends who brought him with them and exposed him to our swords''.[4]

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However it is evident that this false interpretation which was put forward by Mu'awiyah the son of Abu Sufyan to stupefy the senses of the Syrian soldiers cannot at all be acceptable in the court of the Almighty Allah and every intelligent person can well understand that his argument is baseless.

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[1] Seerah-i Halabi vol. II pp. 76-77.

[2] lbid.

[3] Mustadrak-i Hakim vol. III page 385.

[4] Musnad Ibn Hanbal vol. II page 199.

NURSE KINDER TO THE CHILD THAN ITS MOTHER

We have not been able to find a better sentence than this to indicate the character of the historian[1] of the 8th A.H. has chosen to support Mu'awiyah and writes: "It is not necessary that because the Prophet had declared the murderers of 'Ammar to be oppressors that they should in fact be infidels because though they chose the wrong path and rose against Ali yet as they took this step on account of their faith in the correctness of their action (ijtihad) it is not possible to refute them or to call them infidels". He adds: "What is meant by the Prophet's sentence: 'Ammar invites them to Paradise but the murderers of 'Ammar invite him to Hell is that 'Ammar invites them to acknowledge the Oneness of Allah and to unite (and this is the very Paradise) but the murderers of 'Ammar endeavour to give Mu'awiyah priority over Ali who is most suited for the office of caliph and thus they create a ruler in each one of the Islamic regions and consequently a deep fissure comes into existence amongst the Muslims although they themselves might not have taken notice of such a result (and that is the very Hell)".

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Howmuchsoever we ponder as to what name to give to this interpretation we cannot think of any appropriate name for it except that of falsification of facts. Inspite of all the skill which this rebellious group of persons possessed in the matter of falsification and alteration of facts they could not deny the prediction which had been made about them by the Prophet and a historian like Ibn Kathir has played the part of a nurse kinder to the child than the mother and has resorted to an alteration of fact of which they themselves were not aware.

Ahmad bin Hanbal says: "Two men came to Mu'awiyah and each one of them claimed that he had killed 'Ammar. The son of 'Amr As (Abdullah) said: "One of you should spare the other for I have heard the Prophet saying that Ammar would be killed by a group of oppressors". Mu'awiyah said to Abdullah: "If we are a group of oppressors why have you joined our circle?" He replied: "One day my father 'Amr complained against me to the Prophet and the Prophet ordered me to obey my father. I am therefore with you but do not fight''.[2]

The apology of Abdullah is like the interpretation of Ibn Kathir who says that Mu'awiyah fought this battle on the basis of ijtihad and faith notwithstanding the fact that he erred in his ijtihad because obedience to one's father is necessary only when it does not result in disobedience to a religious law. The Qur'an says: If they (your parents) bid you to associate (others) with Me of which you have no knowledge do not obey them". (Surah al-Ankabut 29:8)

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Similarly ijtihad (expression of one's view) is correct only when a clear version of the Prophet is not found otherwise ijtihad of people like Mu'awiyah and 'Amr As opposed to the clear tradition of the Prophet is wrong and void. And if the door of ijtihad is opened in such a manner it will be necessary for us to excuse all the polytheists and hypocrites for having campaigned against the Prophet and Islam and we shall also have to say that persons like Yazid and Hajjaj were justified in shedding the blood of the pious and innocent people of the nation and were also entitled to a good recompense for their action.

The construction of the mosque was completed and its area was expanded every year. A terrace was also erected by the side of the mosque for the helpless and the indigent Muhajirs so that they might stay there and 'Ubadah bin Samit was directed to teach them reading and writing of the Qur'an.

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[1] al-Bidayah wan Nihayah vol. III page 218.

[2] Musnad Ibn Hanbal vol. II page 162.

BROTHERHOOD-THE GREATEST GLEAM OF FAITH

The centralization of Muslims in Madina opened a new chapter is the life of the Prophet. Before his arrival there he had been engaged in attracting the hearts and in propagating his religion but from that day onwards it was necessary that he should protect his own existence as well as that of his followers like an experienced statesman and should not permit the internal and external enemies to penetrate into the Muslim society. At this juncture he was faced with three main difficulties:

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1. Danger from Quraysh and other idol-worshippers of the Arabian Peninsula.

2. The Jews of Yathrib who lived within and outside the city and possessed enormous wealth and resources.

3. The differences which existed between his own supporters.

As the Muhajirs and the Ansar had been brought up in two different environments there was a vast difference between their ways of thinking and culture. And then there were the two components of Ansar (viz. Bani Aws and Bani Khazraj) who had been fighting for one hundred and twenty years and were the sworn enemies of each other. With all these dangers and differences there was no possibility of their continuing to lead a peaceful religious and political life. However the Prophet overcame these difficulties in a perfectly wise manner. As regards the first two problems he took measures the details of which will be recorded later and as regards the differences between his followers he removed them with perfect wisdom and ingenuity.

He was ordered by Allah to establish brotherhood between the Muhajirs and the Ansar. One day he turned to his followers in a general meeting and said: "Now you should become brothers in faith in pairs". The particulars of persons who became brothers of each other have been recorded by the Muslim historians including Ibn Hisham.[1]

Hence by this method the Prophet ensured the political and spiritual unity of the Muslims and this unity enabled him to think about ways and means of solving the other two difficulties as well.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 123 - 126.

TWO GREAT DISTINCTIONS OF ALI

Most of the Shi'ah and Sunni historians and traditionalists have mentioned two great distinctions of Ali which we record here briefly: The Prophet established brotherhood between a pair of two among three hundred persons out of the Muhajirs and Ansar and told every one of them that he was the brother of such and such person.

When the establishment of brotherhood was completed Ali with tears in his eyes said to the Prophet: "You have established brotherhood amongst your companions but have not made me the brother of anyone". Thereupon the Prophet turned to Ali and said: "You are my brother in this world as well as in the Hereafter".

Qandozi has quoted this incident in a more comprehensive manner and says that the Prophet replied to Ali: "By the Almighty (who has appointed me to guide the people) I postponed the question of your brotherhood for the reason that I desired to become your brother when brotherhood among all others had been completed. Your position vis-a-vis myself is similar to that of Harun and Musa except that there will be no Prophet after me. You are my brother and my successor".[1]

Ibn Kathir has however doubted the authenticity of this incident.[2] But as his doubts are the product of his special mentality and are nothing short of the apology which he has tendered on behalf of Mu'awiyah and his supporters we refrain from quoting his remarks and refuting them.

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[1] Yanabi'ul Muwwadah vol. I page 55.

[2] al-Bidayah wan Nihayah vol. II page 226.

ANOTHER DISTINCTION OF ALI

The construction of the mosque was completed. Around the mosque there were the houses of the Prophet and his companions. There were also the houses whose doors opened into the mosque and whose inmates entered the mosque through those doors. Suddenly an order was received from Allah that all the doors which opened into the mosque except the door of the house of Ali should be closed. Thereupon some persons became fussy about the matter and thought that this exception had been made on sentimental grounds. In order to enlighten the people on the subject the Prophet delivered a sermon and said inter alia: "I have not given orders about the closing or otherwise of the doors on my own account. In fact it was an order from Allah and I had no alternative but to implement it".

In short by establishing Islamic brotherhood the Prophet removed the differences between his followers which had existed for some years and consequently one of the difficulties was solved.

The second problem was that of the Jews of Madina. They lived within and outside Madina and had assumed control of the economy and trade of the city.

The Prophet was fully aware that until the internal affairs were settled and he had obtained the co-operation of the Jews and consequently created a political unity in the seat of his government the sapling of Islam would not grow up and he would not be able to think about any measures with regard to the idol-worshippers of the Peninsula especially Quraysh (i.e. the first difficulty). He also knew that until peace and tranquillity prevailed within the seat of government it would not be possible to defend it from external enemies.

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In the early days of the arrival of the Prophet in Madina an understanding existed between the Muslims and the Jews in some respects because both the communities worshipped Allah and were opposed to idolatry and the Jews thought that if Islam gained strength they themselves might become immune from the attacks of the Byzantine Christians. Furthermore old relations and pacts existed between them on the one hand and between Bani Aws and Bani Khazraj on the other.

On these accounts the Prophet wrote an agreement for the establishment of unity between the Muhajirs and the Ansar and the Jews of Madina (of the tribes of Aws and Khazraj) also signed it and the Prophet agreed to respect their religion and property on mutually settled conditions. The biographers of the Prophet have recorded complete text of this agreement.[1]

Since this agreement is a living historical document and clearly shows how the Prophet respected the principles of freedom order and justice in life and created by means of this agreement a united front against external attacks we mention here some of its essential points as an evidence of the political victory in that age of the newly-formed Government of Islam.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. II page 501.

THE GREATEST DOCUMENTARY AGREEMENT OF HISTORY

THE GREATEST DOCUMENTARY AGREEMENT OF HISTORY

In the name of Allah the Compassionate the Merciful.

This is the agreement which has been concluded by Muhammad the Prophet of Allah between the Muslims of Quraysh and of Yathrib and those persons who have followed them and risen up along with them for jihad.

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PART ONE

1. The signatories to the agreement form one nation. In the matter of blood-money the Qurayshite Muhajirs are allowed to follow their old custom which prevailed before Islam. If one of them kills someone else or becomes a captive they should pay the blood-money by mutual help and purchase the captive.

2. Bani 'Awf (a tribe of Ansar) can also safeguard their ways of life like the Qurayshite Muhajirs and can pay collectively the ransom for the release of their men who have been captured. Thereafter other tribes of Ansar namely Bani Sa'idah Bani Harth Bani Jasham Bani Najjar Bani 'Amr bin 'Awf Bani Nabit and Bani Aws have been reminded and made incumbent on everyone of them that they should collectively pay the blood-money and get their captives released on payment of ransom.

3. Muslims should support indigent persons and should help a believer in the matter of heavy expenses to be incurred by him on account of payment of blood-money or for the release of a captive.

4. Pious Muslims should unite against a person who rebels or commits cruelty and injustice even though the offender is the son of one of them.

5. No one is authorized to conclude an agreement with a Muslim slave or a Muslim child without the permission of his master and father respectively.

6. A believer does not have a right to kill another believer who has killed an unbeliever. He is also not at all entitled to assist an unbeliever against a Muslim.

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7. Allah's agreement and promise with all the Muslims is one. As such even the lowest of them is entitled to take responsibility for an agreement with the unbelievers.

8. The Muslims are the friends and supporters of one another.

9. Everyone from amongst the Jews who follows us and embraces Islam shall be entitled to our help and assistance and there will be no difference between him and other Muslims and none shall be entitled to oppress him or to instigate anyone else to oppress him or to help his enemy.

10. The Muslims should be united in concluding a peace agreement and no Muslim can conclude peace without consulting another Muslim except on the basis of justice and equality.

11. Groups of the Muslims should go for jihad alternately so that their blood which is shed in the path of Allah is divided equally.

12. The Muslims possess the best religion and the most firm law.

13. None of the polytheists (of Madina) has a right to protect the lives and property of the polytheists of Quraysh or to conclude an agreement with them or to prevent a Muslim from overpowering them.

14. If a Muslim kills another Muslim without a just cause and his crime is proved legally he shall be executed unless the heirs of the murdered person forgive him and in either case it is the duty of the Muslims to be united against the murderer.

15. Whoever acknowledges the contents of this agreement and believes in Allah and in His Prophet is not entitled to assist a heretic or a criminal or to give him asylum and whoever assists him or provides him asylum shall become subjected to the wrath of Allah and compensation and damages shall not be acceptable from him.

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16. The authority for resolving the differences shall always rest with Allah and Muhammad.

PART TWO

17. When the Muslims fight for the defence of Madina the Jews must pay the former's share of the expenses of war.

18. The Jews of Bani 'Awf (a tribe of Ansar) are allies of the Muslims and they are tantamount to one nation. The Muslims and the Jews are free in the matter of their law and religion. Their slaves are not exempt from this clause i.e. they too are free in the matter of their law except the sinners and the oppressors who only ruin themselves and the members of their family (because usually the members of the family of a tyrant follow him). (The intention of this exemption is that relations and unity exist between those Jews and Muslims who are not tyrants and oppressors).

19. The Jews of Bani Najjar Bani Harith Bani Sa'adah Bani Jasham Bani Aws Bani Tha'labah and Bani Shatibah are like the Jews of Bani 'Awf and there is no distinction between them in the matter of rights and privileges. The tribe of Jafnah is a branch of the tribe of Tha'labah and the orders applicable to the Jews of Bani 'Awf are also applicable to the branch of Bani Shatibah.

20. The signatories to this agreements should make their virtues triumph over their sins.

21. Those who have made agreements with Bani Tha'labah are at par with them.

22. Those who are on friendly terms with and confidants of the Jews are at par with them.

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23. No one enjoys the right to abandon this agreement without the permission of Muhammad.

24. From amongst these persons the blood of everyone who is wounded (not to speak of one who is killed) is respectable. Whoever kills anyone is liable to pay blood-money and eventually ruins himself and the members of his family except when the murderer happens to be an oppressed person.

25. The respective expenses of wars which are fought by the Jews and the Muslims jointly are the responsibility of each one of them and when anyone else fights against the parties to this agreement it is their duty to fight with him jointly.

26. The relations of the parties of the agreement are based on goodness and it is necessary that they should refrain from evil.

27. None should oppress anyone who has made the agreement with him otherwise the oppressed one should be helped.

28. The interior of Madina is declared to be 'haram' for the signatories of the agreement.

29. Lives of neighbours and of those who have been granted asylum are like our own lives and should not be molested.

30. No woman can be granted asylum without the permission of her people.

31. Muhammad is the arbiter to decide the differences between the signatories of the agreement -whether they be Muslims or non-Muslims. Allah is with him who accords more respect to this agreement.

32. Asylum shall not be granted to Quraysh and to those with whom they have concluded pacts.

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PART THREE

33. The signatories to this agreement take joint responsibility for the defence of Yathrib.

34. When the Muslims invite the Jews to conclude peace with the enemy they should accept the proposal and the Muslims should also accept any such proposal made by the Jews except the fact that the enemy is opposed to the religion of Islam and its propagation.

35. The Jews of Aws whether slaves or masters are also covered by this agreement.

PART FOUR

36. This agreement does not support a tyrant or a criminal.

37. Whoever remains in Madina is protected and whoever leaves it is protected provided that he is not an oppressor and a criminal.

This agreement was concluded with the following sentence:

"Allah is the Protector of the good and the pious and Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah''.[1]

This political agreement and the basic law of Islam of that time briefly mentioned is a perfect specimen of the spirit of freedom of faith social welfare and necessity of co-operation in collective matters in Islam and has above all things clarified the limits and the authority of the leader and the responsibilities of all its signatories.

The Jews of the tribes of Bani Qurayzah Bani Nuzayr and Bani Qaynqa' did not participate in the conclusion of this agreement and only the Jews of Aws and Khazraj tribes became parties to it. However these people concluded agreements with the Prophet later and the following sentences have been taken from the contents of those agreements:

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"The Prophet makes this agreement with the three groups to the effect that they will not harm him and his friends with their tongues and hands and will not supply arms and mounts to his enemies. In case they act against the contents of this agreement the Prophet would be at liberty to shed their blood confiscate their properties and make their women and children captives. Then Hay bin Akhtab signed on behalf of Bani Nuzayr Ka'b bin Asad on behalf of Bani Qurayzah and Mukhayriq on behalf of Bani Qaynqa'.[2]

By this means Yathrib and the dependencies lying near it were declared to be an area of peace and security and a 'sanctuary'. Now the time had arrived that the Prophet should consider ways and means of tackling the first problem viz. that of Quraysh because so long as this enemy stood in his way he could not succeed in spreading Islam and enforcing its laws.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I pp. 503-504 and al-Amwal pp. 125 202.

[2] Biharul Anwar vol. XIX pp. 110 - 111.

OBSTRUCTIONS OF THE JEWS

The sublime teachings of Islam and the high morals and manners of the Prophet became the cause of daily increase in the number of the Muslims. Their military economic and political conditions also improved considerably. This continuous advancement of Islam created a strange agitation and unrest in the religious circles of the Jews because they had been thinking that with their strength they would be able to attract the Prophet of Islam to themselves and had never imagined that one day his own strength would surpass even that of the Jews and the Christians. In the circumstances they began to indulge in disruptive activities. By asking knotty religious questions they endeavoured to shake the faith of the Muslims in the Prophet but these blunt weapons did not have any effect on the compressed ranks of the Muslims. A large part of these debates has been narrated by the Holy Qur'an in Surah al-Baqarah and Surah al-Nisa.

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By studying the said two surahs the dear readers can very well understand the enmity and the obstinacy of the Jews. They received a clear reply to every question asked by them but in order to avoid shouldering the burden of Islam they replied very obstinately to the Prophet's invitation to Islam: "Our hearts are sealed and we do not consider what you say to be correct".

ABDULLAH BIN SALAM EMBRACES ISLAM

These debates increased the enmity and the grudge of the Jews but at times they became the cause of some persons embracing Islam. Abdullah bin Salam was one of the priests and scholars of the Jews. He embraced Islam after having detailed discussions with the Prophet of Islam.[1] Soon afterwards another scholar of theirs named Mukhayriq also joined him.

Abdullah thought that if his kinsmen came to know about his embracing Islam they would abuse and slander him. He therefore requested the Prophet that until an acknowledgement of his learning and piety had been obtained from his tribe he might not make public the fact of his embracing Islam. The Prophet therefore asked the Jews: "What is your opinion about Abdullah?" All of them replied "He is our religious leader and the son of our religious leader and an eminent scholar". Then Abdullah proceeded to his own area and informed the people of his tribe about his embracing Islam. As soon as the news of his becoming a Muslim spread amongst the Jews they got excited with anger. Though they had collectively acknowledged his learning and piety only a few hours ago yet now all of them began calling him a characterless and ignorant person.[2]

p: 385

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[1] For the text of his discussions with the Prophet vide Biharul Anwar vol. XIX page 131.

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 516.

ANOTHER PLAN TO OVERTHROW THE GOVERNMENT OF ISLAM

Debates and knotty questions of the Jews not only strengthened the faith of the Muslims in the Prophet but also became the cause of his sublime personality and Divine knowledge becoming clearly known to everyone. As a result of these very discussions different groups of the idolaters and the Jews inclined to him. To achieve their ends therefore the Jews formed another plan and resorting to their method of 'divide and rule' thought of reviving the 120-year-old feud of Bani Aws and Bani Khazraj which had petered out under the auspices of faith Islam brotherhood and equality. They wished that fighting and bloodshed might start within the ranks of the Muslims and they might be consumed by the flames of internal strife.

One day some men of Bani Aws and Bani Khazraj were sitting together. The unity and brotherhood of the members of this group who had been till a few days back the bloodthirsty enemies of one another was very much disliked by a mischievous Jew who had joined them with a view to starting the evil plot of creating dissension and discord among the Muslims. He reminded the men of Bani Aws and Bani Khazraj of the bitter memories of the past wars between the two tribes and narrated in detail the events of the Battle of Bu'ath in which Bani Aws had eventually emerged victorious. He dilated upon these old and long-forgotten events so much that strife and self glorification started between the two groups of Muslims (Aws and Khazraj). It was quite possible that a regular battle might have commenced but in the meantime the news reached the Prophet and he became aware of the nefarious plot of the Jews. He therefore reached the spot with some of his companions and reminding the two groups of the aim of Islam and his own sublime programme said: "Islam has made you brothers of each other and has made all the enmities and the grudges a forgotten thing of the past". He counselled them for some time and reminded them of the result of their discord. Suddenly all of them began to cry and weep and embraced one another to strengthen their brotherhood and prayed to Allah for forgiveness.

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The schemes of the Jews did not end here but they extended the scope of their treachery crime and breach of promise and established special contacts with the unbelievers of Aws and Khazraj and also with those persons who were doubleminded in the matter of their Islam and faith. They openly intervened in the battles fought by the Muslims against Quraysh and were very active in promoting the interests of the idol-worshippers.

The open and secret collaboration of the Jews with the polytheists of Quraysh resulted in bloody wars between the Muslims and the Jews which eventually ended with the extirpation of the Jews from Madina. The details of these occurrences will be given later with the events of the third and fourth years of migration and it will become clear as to how the Jews rewarded the Prophet for his good treatment (which is evident from the two agreements concluded with them) by the breach of promises open activities against Islam and the Muslims conspiracies against the Prophet and lending support to his enemies and thus compelled the Prophet by their actions to ignore the above-mentioned agreements.

Chapter 27

SOME EVENTS OF THE FIRST AND SECOND YEARS OF MIGRATION

It is proposed to explain here the secrets of a chain of warlike demonstrations which continued from the eighth month of the first year of migration till the month of Ramadan of the second year and were in fact the first military demonstrations and war manoeuvres by the Muslims.

The correct interpretation and narration of the secrets of these events is possible for us only when we obtain the text of the events from history books[1] without any addition or subtraction and place the decisive view of research scholars of history before the readers. Here is a gist of these events:

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1. Not more than eight months had yet passed since the arrival of the Prophet in Madina when he gave the first standard to his brave commander named Hamzah bin Abdul Muttalib and sent under his command thirty mounted soldiers from amongst the Muhajirs up to the coast of Red Sea which was the route adopted by the caravans of Quraysh. At a place named 'Ais he came across a caravan of Quraysh which was being managed by three hundred men under the leadership of Abu Jahl. However through the mediation of Majdi bin 'Arnr who had good relations with both the parties they kept away from each other and the Muslim soldiers returned to Madina.

2. Simultaneously with the despatch of this body of men 'Ubaydah bin Harith bin Abdul Muttalib was sent towards the caravan of Quraysh along with sixty or eighty mounted soldiers from amongst the Muhajirs. He went up to the waters lying below Thaniyatul Murrah and met the caravan of Quraysh which consisted of two hundred men led by Abu Sufyan. However the two parties kept away from each other without anyone of them striking the other. Only Sa'd Abi Waqqas shot an arrow. Moreover two Muslims who were in the caravan of Abu Sufyan joined the party sent on the mission.

3. Once again Sa'd Abi Waqqas was sent to the Hijaz with eight other men. He also returned without confronting anyone.

In the terminology of the historians the campaigns in which the Prophet did not participate are called Sariyyah and those in which he participated personally are called 'Ghazwah'.

p: 388

4. In the tenth month of 'Migration' the Prophet entrusted the religious affairs of Madina to Sa'd bin Ma'az and himself went up to Abwa' with a group of Muhajirs and Ansar to pursue the caravan of Quraysh and also to conclude a treaty with the tribe of Bani Hamzah. He did not meet the caravan of Quraysh but concluded a treaty with the said tribe.

5. In the first month of the second year he nominated Sa'ib bin Uthman or Sa'd bin Ma'az to be his representative in Madina and himself went up to Bawat along with two hundred men to pursue the caravan of Quraysh. He did not however find the caravan manned by one hundred persons and led by Umayyah bin Khalaf and returned to Madina.

6. In the middle of Jamadiul Awwal a report was received that a caravan of Quraysh was proceeding from Makkah to Syria under the supervision of Abu Sufyan The Prophet appointed Aba Salmah to be his representative and himself went up to 'Zatul 'Ashirah' along with a group of persons. He waited there for the caravan till the beginning of Jamadiul Akhir but could not lay hands on it. During his stay there he concluded a treaty with the tribe of Bani Madlaj. A description of this treaty is recorded in history books.

Ibn Athir says: "At this place where the Prophet and his companions were then staying the Prophet came one day to the bed-side of Ali and 'Ammar and found them asleep. Later he woke both of them up. At that moment he observed that particles of fine dust were resting on the head and face of Ali. He turned to him and said: "O Abu Turab! What is the matter with you?" From that day onwards Ali became known amongst the Muslims as 'Abu Turab' (father of earth). Then be turned to both of them and said: "Would you like me to tell you as to who are the most vicious persons on earth?" They replied: "O Prophet of Allah! Yes". He said: "The most vicious persons on the face of earth are two. One was he who cut off the feet of the she-camel of Saleh. And the other is he who will strike a sword on your skull (pointing to Ali) and will colour your beard with the blood of your head".[2]

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7. After having lost hope of the caravan the Prophet returned to Madina. However ten days had not yet passed since his arrival there when it was reported that Karz bin Jabir had raided and taken away camels and sheep of Madina. In order to pursue this plunderer the Prophet accompanied by a group of persons went up to the area of 'Badr' but had to return without achieving any success. Thereafter he stayed on in Madina till the end of Sha'ban.

8. During the month of Rajab of the second year of migration the Prophet despatched eighty men out of the Muhajirs under the command of Abdullah bin Jahash. At the time of their departure he gave a letter to the commander and said: "Open this letter after you have performed your journey for two days and act according to its contents[3] and don't compel anyone of your companions to do a job". After journeying for two days he opened the letter and found that the Prophet had given these orders: "When you look at my letter proceed on your way and camp in the land of 'Nakhlah' which is situated between Makkah and Ta'if and wait there for Quraysh and inform me about their activities".

He acted according to the contents of the letter and all his companions followed him and alighted at that place.

In the meantime there came up suddenly a caravan of Quraysh which was going from Ta'if to Makkah under the supervision of 'Amr Khazrami. The Muslims had also camped near them. To ensure that the enemy might not become aware of their secret they cut the hair of their heads to give the impression that they were proceeding to Makkah to perform the pilgrimage of the House of Allah. Their appearance satisfied Quraysh and they said to one another: "These Muslims are going to perform 'Umra' and have nothing to do with us".

p: 390

At this moment the Muslims assembled for war consultations and began exchanging views. Eventually they realized that in case they waited on that day which was the last day of Rajab the sacred month would no doubt come to an end but if in the meantime Quraysh moved away from that spot they would enter the area of 'haram' and fighting in that area was also prohibited. They therefore concluded that it was preferable to fight in the sacred month than to do so in the area of 'haram'. Thus taking the enemy by surprise they killed Amr Khazrami [4] the head of the caravan with an arrow. As regards his subordinates all of them fled except Uthman bin Abdullah and Hakam bin Kaysan who were captured by the Muslims. Abdullah bin Jahash brought the merchandise and the two captives to Madina.

The Prophet was annoyed to find that the commander of the group had transgressed his orders and had fought in the sacred month instead of performing his duty. He said: "I had not at all ordered you to fight in the sacred month".

Quraysh used this incident as a propaganda weapon and spread the news that Muhammad had violated the respect of the sacred month. The Jews took this incident to be a bad omen and wanted to create trouble. The Muslims rebuked Abdullah and his companions. The Prophet did not take possession of the booty of war and was awaiting Divine revelation. All of a sudden the Archangel Jibreel brought this verse: (O Prophet!) They ask you about fighting in the sacred month. Tell them it is a great sin and amounts to obstruction of the path of Allah. However it is a greater sin before Allah to turn out the residents of Masjidul Haram and disbelief in Allah is worse than committing murder. (Surah al-Baqarah 2:219).

p: 391

By means of this verse Quraysh have been told that if Muslims have waged war in the sacred month and have thus done something unlawful but they (Quraysh) have committed a greater crime because they turned out the residents of Masjidul Haram (the Muslims) from their homes and created mischief by persecuting and torturing them. In view of these big crimes of theirs they have no right to object to the steps taken by the Muslims.

The revelation of this verse infused a fresh spirit into the body of the Muslims. The Prophet distributed the war booty. Quraysh desired to purchase the two persons captured by the Muslims. In reply to their request the Prophet said: "You should return two Muslim soldiers who were captured by you as a consequence of their being at a distance from others so that I may also release your captives. And if you kill them we shall also kill your men". They were obliged to return the Muslim captives and with their return orders were also given for the return of the Quraysh captives. However one of them embraced Islam and the other returned to Makkah.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. II page 222 onwards; Biharul Anwar vol. XIX pp. 186-190; Imta'ul Asma'; page 51;Tarikh-i Kamil vol.lI pp.77-78 and Mughazi-i Waqidi vol. I pp. 9-19.

[2] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. III page 78.

[3] It is said that till the Second World War the soldiers who completed their military service were given along with a certificate a sealed letter by way of a military trust and were instructed to open it only at the time of general mobilization and to act according to its contents.

p: 392

[4] Some historians have mentioned his name as Waqid bin Abdullah and others 'Amr bin Abdullah.

WHAT WAS THE OBJECT OF WAR MANOEUVRES?

The real object of dispatching these groups and concluding military pacts with the tribes who lived near the trade route of Makkan's was to inform Quraysh of the military strength and power of the Muslims-especially when the Prophet himself participated in these maneuvers and stayed on the trade route of Quraysh accompanied by large groups of men. The illustrious leader of Islam wished to make the Makkan Government realize that all their trade routes had come under the control of the Muslims and they could stop their trade as and when they liked.

Trade was something very vital for the people of Makkah and the merchandise which was transported from there to Ta'if and Syria constituted the very basis of their economic life. And if these routes were threatened by the forces of a vigorous enemy and his allies like Bani Zumrah and Bani Madlaj the very foundation of their life would topple down.

The object of dispatching these military missions and groups towards the routes of the enemy was that Quraysh might know that their trade routes had fallen in the hands of the Muslims and if they persisted in their obstinacy and prevented the propagation of Islam and presecuted the Muslims residing in Makkah their vital arteries would be cut off with the strength of Islam. In short the object was that Quraysh should ponder over the matter and by taking all these facts into account they should allow the Muslims to preach Islam freely and should open the path for them to perform pilgrimage of the House of Allah and to propagate the Divine religion so that Islam might influence the hearts by means of its rational and sublime teachings and the light of this religion might spread throughout the Peninsula and the centre of Arabia under the auspices of freedom.

p: 393

A speaker may be very eloquent and forceful and a tutor may be very sincere and persevering but unless they find free environments and unless the principles of freedom and democracy are established they cannot achieve proper success in guiding others and in propagating their points of view.

The greatest impediment in the path of advancement of Islam was the lack of absolute freedom and the distressed conditions of environments which had been created by Quraysh. Hence the only way to remove this impediment was to threaten the routes of their economy which were the very arteries of their life and this plan was given a practical shape by means of war maneuvers and military pacts.

VIEWPOINT OF ORIENTALISTS ABOUT THESE EVENTS

The orientalists have been gravely mistaken in the analysis of these events and have said things which are completely opposed to the principles of Islam and the aims and objects of this sublime religion. They say that the aim of the Prophet was to increase his own strength by plundering and confiscating the properties of Quraysh.

This view does not however conform to the spirit of the people of Yathrib because plundering and robbery are the activities of nomadic tribes who dwell in deserts far away from civilization and the Muslims of Yathrib were usually agriculturists who had never attacked any caravan throughout their lives and had never plundered the properties of tribes residing beyond their own environments. The fighting between Aws and Khazraj was a local affair and its fire had been kindled by the Jews to promote their own interests and to weaken the strength of the Arabs.

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Now as regards the Muhajir Muslims who were associated with the Prophet although their properties had been confiscated by the Makkans they were not planning to recover their loss. This is proved by the fact that they did not attack any caravan of Quraysh after the Battle of Badr. Moreover most of the groups had been despatched to collect information and to furnish necessary reports. Groups of eighty or sixty eight persons were evidently not strong enough to plunder when the number of those who guarded the caravans was much larger than this.

Sometimes they say: "The object was to take revenge on Quraysh because when the Prophet and his companions thought of the persecution and torture to which they had been subjected their sense of revenge and tribal honour was stirred and they determined to draw their swords take revenge and shed blood".

This view is also as feeble and baseless as the first one because a good deal of evidence is available in the texts of history which contradicts it and shows that the real aim of dispatching these groups was certainly not to engage in battles or to shed blood or take revenge. Here are some points which refute this view of the orientalists:

1. If the Prophet's aim in dispatching these groups had been war and acquisition of booty it was necessary that he should have increased their number and sent a well-equipped army to the coastal areas. The fact however is that he sent only thirty pesons with Hamzah bin Abdul Muttalib sixty persons with 'Ubaydah bin Harith and a negligible number with Sa'd bin Abi Waqqas and the number of persons who had been appointed to guard the caravans was many times larger than these. Hamzah and 'Ubaydah were confronted with three hundred and two hundred men of Quraysh respectively. And especially when Quraysh came to know that the Muslims had concluded treaties with various tribes they increased the number of the guards of their caravans. If therefore the Muslim Commanders had been dispatched to wage war why did it so happen that in most of these expeditions not a drop of blood was shed and at one time both the parties did not want to confront each other on account of intervention by Majdi bin 'Amr?

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2. The letter which the Prophet gave to Abdullah bin Jahash clearly shows that warfare was not the aim at all because in that letter he gave him the following instructions:

"Camp in the land of Nakhlah which is situated between Makkah and Ta'if and wait there for Quraysh and inform me about their intentions".

This letter clearly shows that Abdullah was not at all dispatched to be engaged in fighting for his only assignment was to collect information and the fight in Nakhlah as a consequence of which 'Amr Khazrami was killed was the result of his consultations with his companions about war. Hence when the Prophet became aware of bloodshed which had taken place he sternly rebuked and reproached Abdullah and his companions and said: "I did not order you to wage war".

It is evident that the aim of all or most of these expeditions was simply to seek information and it cannot at all be said that Hamzah bin Abdul Muttalib was dispatched along with thirty persons to wage war. As regards Abdullah bin Jahash he was sent with eighty persons to collect information and the position is that the party which was sent to collect information was about three times as big as that which according to the orientalists was dispatched to wage war. And the reason for usually selecting Muhajirs to form these parties was that at 'Aqabah the Ansar had concluded only a defence pact with the Prophet and had promised to safeguard his life in the event of an attack by the enemy. He did not therefore like to make them responsible for such expeditions at the very outset and to stay on in Madina himself. Later however when he went out of Madina himself he also took some Ansar with him to strengthen the ties between them and the Muhajirs. It was for this reason that the Muhajirs and the Ansar had the honour of accompanying him jointly during his journeys to Bawat and Zatul Ashirah.

p: 396

In view of these arguments the baselessness of the view of the orientalists about the dispatch of these parties becomes crystal clear and by honestly studying what has been said above their view about the expeditions in which the Prophet participated personally is also falsified because those who accompanied him to Bawat and Zatul Ashirah were not Muhajirs only but a group of Ansar also went with him. And when the Ansar had not concluded a military pact with him how could he invite them to war and bloodshed?

The Battle of Badr a description of which will be given later bears testimony to our statement. The Prophet did not decide to fight this battle until Ansar consented to participate in it. And the reason why the Muslim historians have given these expeditions the name of 'Ghazwa' is that they wanted to collect all these incidents under one heading-otherwise the real aim of these manoeuvres was neither plundering nor war booty.

Chapter 28

THE EVENTS OF THE SECOND YEAR OF MIGRATION

Sexual inclinations appear in every individual at a particular stage of life and at times it so happens that due to lack of proper training and because of the availability of means to satisfy sexual appetite a young person finds himself at the edge of a precipice. At this stage there happen such things as ought not to happen.

Marriage is the best means for the protection of our chastity. In conformity with the law of nature Islam has also made men and women responsible to marry in specified conditions and has given various directions in this behalf.

p: 397

The Holy Qur'an says: Women and men should marry and the fear of poverty and indigence should not stop them from performing this ceremony: Allah will make them rich. (Surah al-Nur 24:23)

The Prophet says: "He who wishes to appear before Allah with a pure soul should marry''.[1]

He has also said: "I shall pride myself on the Day of Judgement over other communities on account of the excessive number of my followers".

_________________

[1] Man la Yahduruhul Faqih page 410.

DIFFICULTIES OF MARRIAGE DURING THE PRESENT AGE

Difficulties of marriage during our age are not a few. Men and women of modern times are not prepared to marry on account of unfavourable circumstances and adverse conditions.

The national publications point out a number of problems in the frame-work of the family but most of the difficulties revolve on this point that the men and women of our society do not intend to set up a family which should ensure their real prosperity. Some persons wish to acquire high public offices and wealth by means of marriage. The thing to which least attention is paid in these days is chastity and modesty and though it may at times be taken into consideration usually no importance is given to it. The proof of this is that men are very fond of those girls who belong to high families although they may not at all be praiseworthy from the moral point of view and many virtuous and pious girls live in extreme poverty in some corners of the society and no one cares for them.

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Above all there are the ceremonies of marriage which are a great source of harassment for the bridegroom and also for the parents of the bride. Another great difficulty is the question of dowry. Owing to these problems there are many persons who avoid marriage and satisfy their sexual appetite by unlawful means.

THE PROPllET CAMPAIGNED PRACTICALLY AGAINST THESE DIFFICULTIES

These are some of the social problems which exist to a considerable extent in every society and the period of the Prophet was also not free from them. The nobles of Arabia gave their daughters in marriage to those persons who were their equals in regard to pedigree strength and wealth and they rejected other suitors.

On account of this old custom the members of noble families were desirous of marrying Fatimah the dear daughter of the Prophet. They were under the impression that the Prophet would not be severe in the matter of the marriage of his daughter because according to their own thinking they possessed everything which could attract a bride and her father and then the Prophet had not been severe with regard to the marriages of his other daughers (Ruqayyah Zaynab etc.).

They were however oblivious of the fact that this daughter of the Prophet was different from others. She was the daughter who enjoyed a high position in the light of the verse (of Surah Ale Imran 3:61) pertaining to 'Mubahilah' (contest with the Christians).

The suitors were mistaken in their thoughts because they did not understand that only that person who was like her in the matter of piety and faith could be her equal and a march for her. As according to the verse of 'Tathir' (purification) Fatimah had been declared to be free from all sins hence her husband must also be masum (free from sins). Wealth and material manifestations are not the standard of equality. Although Islam recommends that daughters should be given in marriage to their equals but it also explains that their equality should be in the matter of faith and Islam.

p: 399

The Prophet had been directed by Allah to tell the suitors that the marriage of Fatimah would take place according to Divine orders and in offering this apology he removed to some extent their misunderstandings. The companions of the Prophet realized that the marriage of Fatimah was not a simple matter and none could marry her on account of his affluence. They also became aware that her husband could be only that person who was next to the Prophet in the matter of truthfulness faith spiritual merit and moral excellence and such a person could be none but Ali. To put the matter to a test they encouraged Ali to ask for the hand of the Prophet's daughter. Ali also desired this and was only waiting to fulfil the necessary conditions before he made such a request.

The Commander of the Faithful went before the Prophet personally. Modesty and shyness had overpowered him. He had cast his head down and it seemed that he wanted to say something but was feeling shy. The Prophet encouraged him to speak and he made his purpose known in a few sentences. This type of suit is a sign of sincerity. However our training institutions have not yet been able to teach the prospective suitors such freedom coupled with piety faith and sincerity.

The Prophet agreed to meet the request of Ali and said: "You should wait a little so that I may mention the matter to my daughter". When he spoke about it to Fatimah she remained absolutely quiet. The Prophet then said: "Allah is Great! Silence means consent". In those days however Ali owned nothing except a sword and a coat-of-mail. He was advised by the Prophet to sell the coat-of-mail to meet the expenses of marriage. He gladly sold his coat-of-mail and brought the proceeds of sale to the Prophet. The Prophet gave a handful of the money to Bilal without counting it to purchase some scent for Zahrah. He entrusted the remaining amount to Abu Bakr and Ammar to procure from the bazaar of Madina the necessities of life for the couple. They got up as ordered by the Prophet and purchased the following things (which were in fact the dowry of Zahrah) and brought them to the Prophet.

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THE DOWRY OF THE PROPHET'S DAUGHTER

A shirt which was purchased for seven dirhams; a head-dress costing one dirham; a black bath-robe which did not suffice the entire body; a bed which was made of wood and date-palm fibre; two mattresses of Egyptian linen one of which was woolen and the other was made of date-palm fibre; four pillows out of which two were made of wool and the other two of date-palm fibre; a curtain; a hajri mat; a pair of millstones; a water-skin; a wooden bowl for milk; a skin container for water; a green pitcher some jars; two silver armlets; and one copper vessel.

When the eyes of the Prophet fell on these articles he said: "O Lord! Bless the lives of those whose untensils are mostly earthen".[1]

The dowry of the Prophet's daughter deserves consideration. Her dowry did not exceed 'Mehrus Sunnah' which is five hundred dirhams.[2] In fact it was an example for others i.e. for the girls and boys who cry under the heavy burden of dowry and at times shun the obligation of marriage on this account.

The matrimonial life should basically become agreeable and pleasant by means of sincerity and love for otherwise heavy dowry do not provide any brightness to life.

Nowadays the guardians of the bride subject the son-in-law to a heavy burden of dowry to strengthen the position of the girl so that he may not on one day resort to divorce on account of his greed. This action does not however provide total guarantee for the achievement of the said purpose and the real and true treatment of this malady is the reformation of the moral conditions of men. Our cultural and social environments should be such that thoughts of this kind do not take root in the brains of men. Otherwise it so happens at times that the girl agrees to forego her dowry to get rid of her husband.

p: 401

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. XLIII page 94 and Kashful Ghumah vol. I p. 359.

[2] Wasa'ilush Shi'ah vol. XV page 8.

THE CEREMONIES OF THE MARRIAGE

A number of persons were invited from the sides of the bridegroom and the bride and Ali arranged a feast (walimah) in honour of his dear spouse. After the feast was over the Prophet called for Fatimah. She came before the Prophet feeling very shy. When her eyes fell on the Prophet her foot slipped and she was about to fall on the ground. The Prophet held his dear daughter by the hand and prayed for her saying: "May Allah protect you from all slips".

That night the Prophet displayed such devotion and sincerity as is not displayed in the present societies in spite of their growth and evolution. Holding the hand of his daughter he gave it in the hand of Ali and informed her of the virtues of her husband. He also made a mention of the sublime personality of his daughter and said that if Ali had not been born there was none else to match her. Then he divided the domestic affairs and the duties of life between them. He entrusted the household affairs to Fatimah and made Ali responsible for outdoor duties. The marriage took place after the Battle of Badr.[1]

According to some narratives the Prophet then asked the Muhajir and the Ansar women to encircle the she-camel of his daughter and take her to her husband's house and with this the marriage ceremonies of the greatest woman of the world came to an end.

p: 402

We reproduce below a tradition which gives an idea of the high position enjoyed by the daughter of the Prophet.

Ans bin Malik says: "For a period of six months the Prophet used to come out from his house at the time of Fajar (dawn) and proceeded to the mosque and regularly stopped at that time in front of the house of Fatimah and said: "O people of my household! Attend to prayers. Allah desires to keep every sort of uncleanliness away from you Ahlal Bayt (People of the Household)".[2]

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. XLIII pp. 79 and III.

[2] Musnad Ahmad vol. II page 259.

Chapter 29

CHANGE OF QIBLAH

Not a few months had yet passed since the migration of the Prophet to Madina when the Jews rose to oppose him. Exactly in the seventeenth month of migration a mandatory Divine command came that from then onwards the 'qiblah' of the Muslims would be the Ka'bah and while offering their prayers they should turn their faces to Masjidul Haram.

Details of the above event: During the thirteen years of his prophetic mission in Makkah the Prophet used to offer his prayers with his face towards 'Baytul Maqdis'(Jerusalem) and even after his migration to Madina the Divine order was that 'Baytul Maqdis' would continue to be the 'qiblah' and while offering their prayers the Muslims should also turn their faces to the same 'qiblah' to which the Jews turned theirs. This was in itself a sort of collaboration and a means of bringing the two religions -one old and the other new-nearer to each other. But the Jews became panicky on account of the advancement of the Muslims because their ever-increasing successes went to show that very soon the religion of Islam would spread to the entire Peninsula and the strength and influence of the Jews would come to an end. They therefore began indulging in obstructionist activities and hurt the Muslims and their dignified leader in many ways. Amongst other things they put forward the question of offering prayers facing 'Baytul Maqdis' and said: "Muhammad claims that his is an independent religion and his law supersedes all previous laws but he does not yet have an independent 'qiblah' and offers his prayers facing the 'qiblah' of the Jews".

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This news hurt the Prophet. He came out of his house at midnight and looked at the sky. He was awaiting revelation.

In the meantime an order was revealed to him as contained in the following verse:

Many a time We have seen you turn your face towards heaven. We will make you turn towards a 'qiblah' that will please you. (Surah al-Baqarah 2:144)

It appears from the verses of the Qur'an that change of qiblah was not due only to the objection of the Jews but there was also another reason for it. It was that the matter possessed an aspect of test. The intention was that the true believers and those who were not sincere in their faith should be identified and the Prophet should fully recognize such persons because the second order in obedience to which he turned his face towards Masjidul Haram while performing prayers was the sign of faith in the new religion and disobedience and delay is a sign of double-mindedness and hypocrisy. The Qur'an itself mentions this fact clearly in the following verse:

We decreed your former qiblah only in order that We might know the Prophet's true adherents and those who were to disown him. It was indeed a hard test but not for those whom Allah guided. (Surah al-Baqarah 2:143 )

No doubt there are other reasons also for this change which we find from the history of Islam and from a study of the conditions then prevailing in the Peninsula for example:

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1. The Ka'bah which had been constructed by Prophet Ibrahim was respected by the entire Arab society. To declare such a place the 'qiblah' ensured satisfaction of the Arabs in general and attracted them towards Islam. And there could be no target sublimer than that the obstinate polytheists who were far behind the caravan of civilization should embrace the true faith and Islam should spread through them in all parts of the world.

2. There was no hope that the Jews of those days would embrace Islam and it therefore appeared necessary that the Muslims should remain at a distance from them because they indulged in obstructionist activities and wasted the time of the Prophet by putting forward knotty questions whereby according to their own thinking they displayed their knowledge and wisdom. Change of qiblah was one of the manifestations of seeking distance from the Jews just as fasting on the day of 'Ashurah' (10th of Muharram) was abolished for that very purpose. Before the advent of Islam the Jews used to fast on the day of 'Ashurah' and the Prophet and the Muslims had also been ordered to fast on that day. Later however orders regarding fasting on 'Ashurah' day were withdrawn and instead fasting during the month of Ramadan was made obligatory.

After all Islam which is superior to other religions in all respects should manifest itself in such a way that the points of its perfection and superiority should become absolutely clear.

On account of these reasons the Archangel Jibreel came when the Prophet had already performed two rak'ats of noon prayers and communicated to him the Divine command that he should thence forward turn to Masjidul Haram. In some of the narratives it has been said that the Archangel held the hand of the Prophet and turned him to Masjidul Haram. Men and women who were present in the mosque followed suit and from that day onwards the Ka'bah became the permanent qiblah of the Muslims.

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MIRACULOUS KNOWLEDGE OF THE PROPHET

According to the computation of the former astronomers Madina lies at a latitude of 25 degrees and at a longitude of 75 degrees and 20 points. According to this computation the direction of qiblah as determined for Madina was not in confirmity with the Prophet's 'mehrab' (place of offering prayers) which is still in its original position. This difference was surprising for some experts and at times they offered explanation to remove the difference.

However recently Sardar Kabuli the famous scientist has proved according to modern computations that Madina is at a latitude of 24 degrees and 75 points and at a longitude of 39 degrees and 59 points.[1]

The result of this computation turned out to be this: The qiblah of Madina inclines 45 degrees from the southern point and this extraction tallies exactly with the position of the Prophet's pulpit.

This in itself is a scientific miracle because in those times no scientific instruments were available and there was nothing like computation. The Prophet while offering prayers turned from Baytul Maqdis to the Ka'bah in such a way that there was not the least deviation from the direction of Ka'bah[2] and as has been stated above the Archangel Jibreel held his hand and turned him to the Ka'bah.[3]

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[1] Tuhfatul Ajillah fi Ma'refatil qiblah page 71.

[2] Man la Yahdaruhul Faqih vol. I page 88.

[3] The incident of the Prophet turning from Baytul Maqdis to the Ka'bah while ofering prayers has been quoted by Hur Amili in Wasa'il. (chapters on Qiblah vol. III page 218).

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Chapter 30

THE BATTLE OF BADR

The Battle of Badr is one of the greatest and most famous battles of Islam and those who participated in it enjoyed a special distinction amongst the Muslims. Whenever one or more mujahids of Badr participated in or gave evidence about any matter the people used to say: "So many Badris agree with us". The word 'Badri' is used in the biographies of the companions of the Prophet for those persons who participated in the Battle of Badr and the reason for their importance will be known from the details ot this event.

It has already been mentioned before that in the middle of Jamadiul Awwal of the second year of migration a report was received in Madina that a caravan was going from Makkah to Syria under the leadership of Abu Sufyan and the Prophet went up to Zatul Ashirah to pursue the caravan and stayed there till the beginning of the following month but could not lay hands on it. The time of the return of the caravans was almost certain because in early autumn the caravans of Quraysh used to return from Syria to Makkah.

In all campaigns procurement of information is the first step towards victory. Unless the commander of an army is aware of the strength of the enemies the point of their centralization and the morale of their soldiers it is very likely that he may be defeated in the very first encounter.

One of the praiseworthy policies adopted by the Prophet in all the battles (the details of which will be given later) was that he used to collect information about the strength of the enemy and his location. And even till today the question of procurement of information enjoys great importance in global as well as local wars. According to Allamah Majlisi[1] the Prophet sent Adi (and according to the writer of 'Hayat-i Muhammad as quoted by him from history books he sent Talha bin 'Ubaydullah and Sa'id bin Zayd) for collecting information about the route and itinerary of the caravan the number of its guards and the nature of their merchandise. The information received was as under:

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1. It is a big caravan and all Makkans have shares in its merchandise.

2. The leader of the caravan is Abu Sufyan and there are about forty persons who guard it.

3. The merchandise is loaded on one thousand camels and its value is about fifty thousand dinars.

As Quraysh had confiscated the property of Muslim Muhajirs residing in Madina it was only appropriate that the Muslims should also confiscate their merchandise and if they persisted in withholding the property of the Muhajir Muslims on account of their enmity and obstinacy the Muslims should as a retaliatory measure divide their merchandise amongst themselves as war booty.

Hence the Prophet turned to his companions and said: "O people! It is the caravan of Quraysh. You can go out of Madina to take possession of the property of Quraysh. It is possible that your condition may improve".[1]

In the circumstances the Prophet left Madina with 313 men in the month of Ramadan of the second year of migration to confiscate the property of Quraysh encamped by the side of the well of Badr.

While going to Syria Abu Sufyan had realized that the Prophet was pursuing his caravan. He was therefore careful at the time of his return and enquired from other caravans whether Muhammad had occupied the trade routes. It was reported to him that the Prophet had left Madina along with his companions and might be pursuing the caravan of Quraysh.

Abu Sufyan refrained from proceeding further. He did not see any alternative except to inform Quraysh about the impending danger to the caravan. He therefore hired a swift camel-driver named Zamzam bin 'Amr Ghafari and gave him the following instructions:

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"Go to Makkah and inform the valiant men of Quraysh and the owners of the merchandise to come out of Makkah to guard the caravan against the attack of the Muslims".

Zamzam hastened to Makkah. As ordered by Abu Sufyan he cut off the ears of his camel pierced its nose and turned its saddle upside down and tore his shirt from the front as well as from the back side. He then stood up on his camel and cried: "O people! The camels which are carrying musk are in danger. Muhammad and his friends intend confiscating the merchandise. I am doubtful whether it will reach your hands. Help! Help!"[3]

The pitiable condition of the camel from whose ears and nose blood was trickling and the impression which Zamzam created by his continuous wailings and cries for help roused the Makkans and all their brave men and warriors got ready to go with the exception of Abu Lahab who did not participate in this battle and hired As bin Hisham for four thousand dirhams to go and fight on his behalf.

Umayyah bin Khalaf who was one of the chiefs of Quraysh did not wish for some reasons to participate in this battle and had been told that Muhammad had said: "Umayyah shall be killed at the hands of Muslims". The leaders of the community felt that the absence of such an important person would certainly be harmful for their cause. While Umayyah was sitting in Masjidul Haram with some other persons two men who had volunteered to fight against Muhammad came and placed a tray and a collyruim-box before him and said: "O Umayyah! Now that you have declined to defend your land wealth and trade and have chosen to lead a secluded life like women instead of fighting on the war front it is only proper that you should apply collyrium to your eyes like women and your name should be struck off the list of brave men".

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This taunt had such a great effect on Umayyah that he immediately collected the provisions for his journey and proceeded along with Quraysh to safeguard the caravan.[4]

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. XIX page 217.

[2] Mughazi-i Waqidi vol. I page 20.

[3] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II page 81.

[4] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 138 and Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II page 82.

THE DIFFICULTY FACED BY QURAYSH

The time for departure was announced by special means. However the chiefs of Quraysh were reminded of the fact that they had also a mortal enemy like the tribe of Bani Bakr and it was quite possible that they might attack them from behind. The enmity of Bani Bakr with Quraysh was due to the bloodshed the details of which have been given by Ibn Hisham. [1]In the meantime Saraqah bin Malik who was one of the elders of Bani Kananah (a sect of Bani Bakr) assured Quraysh that nothing of the sort would happen and they could leave Makkah without the least worry.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. II. pp. 248 - 249.

THE FORCES OF TRUTH AND FALSEHOOD FACE EACH OTHER

The forces of truth and falsehood faced each other for the first time in the Valley of Badr. The number of the army of truth did not exceed 313 whereas the army of falsehood was three times as big as that. The Muslims were not properly equipped. Their means of transport consisted of about seventy camels and a few horses while the enemy had come with full strength to knock down Islam. In spite of all this however truth was victorious and the enemy returned to Makkah after having sustained heavy losses.

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The Prophet encamped in the northern passage of Badr at the foot of the mountain called 'al-'Udwatud Dunya' and was waiting for the caravan to pass when a fresh report was received. It changed the thinking of the commanders of the Islamic army and opened a new chapter in their lives. It was reported to the Prophet that the people of Makkah who had come out to protect the caravan were centralized in the same environs and various tribes had participated in forming this army.

The grand leader of Muslims saw himself on the crossroads.

He and his companions had come out of Madina to confiscate the merchandise and were not in a position whether from the point of view of numbers or that of military equipments to confront a big Makkan army and now if they had returned from the way they had come they would have lost the glory which they had earned by means of manoeuvers and military demonstrations.

As it was very much likely that the enemy might continue his advance and attack the centre of Islam (Madina) the Prophet considered it expedient not to retreat but to put up a good fight with the available strength up to the last moment.

The point worth consideration was that the majority of the soldiers consisted of the Ansar and there were only seventy four Muhajirs amongst them and the agreement which the Ansar had made with the Prophet at 'Aqabah was a defence pact and not a war pact. In other words they had agreed to defend his person in Madina like their own kith and kin but had not undertaken to go with him out of Madina and wage war against the enemy. Now the question was as to what the commander of the entire force should do. He therefore saw no alternative but to consult his companions about engaging in the battle and to solve the problem in the light of their views.

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WAR CONSULTATIONS

The Prophet stood up and said: "What is your view in the matter? "

Abu Bakr stood up first and said: "The chiefs and warlike men of Quraysh have joined this army. Quraysh have not at all expressed faith in a religion and have not fallen from the zenith of glory to the abyss of degradation. Furthermore we have not come out of Madina fully prepared".[1] (He meant to say that it was not appropriate to fight and they should return to Madina).

The Prophet said: "Sit down".

Then Umar rose and repeated what Abu Bakr had said. The Prophet asked him also to sit down.

Thereafter Miqdad stood up and said: "O Prophet of Allah!

Our hearts are with you and you should act according to the orders given to you by Allah. By Allah! We shall not tell you what Bani Israel told Musa. When Musa asked them to perform jihad they said to him: 'O Musa! You and your Lord should go and perform jihad and we shall sit here'. We however tell you quite the reverse of it and say: Perform jihad under the auspices of the blessings of Allah and we are also with you and shall fight".

The Prophet was very much pleased to hear Miqdad's words and prayed for him.

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[1] Mughazi-i Waqidi vol. I page 48.

CONCEALMENT OF FACTS

Although bias and concealment of facts and fanaticism are improper for all writers they are all the more unbecoming to a historian. History is a mirror in which the faces of the people can be seen clearly. For the benefit of future generations therefore a historian should steer clear of all fanaticism.[1]

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Ibn Hisham [2] Miqrizi[3] and Tabari[4] have mentioned the war consultations of the Prophet and have also reproduced the texts of the replies of Sa'd Ma'az and Miqdad in their history books but have avoided quoting the detailed replies of Abu Bakr and Umar. They have said briefly that these two persons stood up and expressed their views and said good things. Now one can very well ask these champions of history that if the views expressed by 'Shaykhayn' (Abu Bakr and Umar) were good why they have refrained from quoting their text.

However their replies were the same as mentioned above and if the aforesaid historians have concealed facts others have reproduced their text.[5] And as you can very well observe they did not say good things. Their words indicate that fear had over-taken them and they considered Quraysh to be so much honoured and powerful that they (Abu Bakr and Umar) could not even think that they (Quraysh) could be defeated.

The adverse effect of their speeches on the feelings of the Prophet can very well be realized from the fragments of history which Tabari has reproduced on the same page because as you can observe 'Shaykhayn' were the first persons who opened their lips and Miqdad and S'ad Ma'az expressed their views afterwards. Tabari quotes Abdullah bin Mas'ud as having said: "On the day of Badr I wished that I had been in the position of Miqdad because he started speaking and said: "We are not at all like Bani Israel (children of Israel) so that we may say that you and your Allah may go and fight and we shall sit here............ at a time when the face of the Prophet was flushed with anger. Then he said these words (and provided means for the pleasure and happiness of the Prophet) and I wished that I had enjoyed that position". Now was the anger of the Prophet due to anything other than the words of despair uttered by Abu Bakr and Umar and their insistence on returning to Madina?[6]

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No doubt it was a consultative meeting and everyone had a right to express his views before the supreme commander. However it was proved that the views expressed by Miqdad were nearer to reality than those expressed by 'Shaykhayn'.

The views which were expressed had an individual aspect. However the main object of holding consultations was to find out the viewpoint of the Ansar. Until and unless they co-operated it was not possible to take a final decision. Hence the Prophet repeated his words to find out the views of the Ansar and said: "Make your views known to me".

Sa'd bin Ma'az Ansari stood up and said: "Do you mean us?" The Prophet replied in the affirmative. Thereupon Sa'd said: "O Prophet of Allah! We have faith in you and testified that your religion is a true one and we have promised and agreed that we will obey you and stick to all the decisions taken by you. We swear by the Almighty Allah Who has appointed you to the prophetic mission that if you go into the sea (i.e. the Red Sea) we shall follow suit and none of us shall lag behind in following you. We are not at all afraid to face the enemy. It is possible that we may render services and make sacrifices in this regard which may brighten your eyes. In obedience to the command of Allah you may send us to any place you consider fit".

The words of Sa'd made the Prophet extremely happy and the inauspicious shadow of despair disappeared in the face of invigorative rays of hope steadfastness patience and forbearance in the path of the target.

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The words of Sa'd were so exciting that the Prophet gave immediate orders to move and said: "Move and I give you good tidings that you will either come across the caravan and confiscate the goods or you will fight against the forces which have come to help the caravan. I can now see the defeat of Quraysh and find that they have suffered heavy losses".

The Muslim army proceeded under the command of the Prophet and encamped near the wells of Badr.[7]

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[1] Tarikhi Kamil vol. II page 82.

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 615.

[3] al-lmta'ul Asma' page 74.

[4] Tarikh-i Tabari. vol. II page 140.

[5] Mughazi-i Waqidi vol. I page 248; Seerah-i Halabi vol. II page 160 and Biharul Anwar vol. XIX page 217.

[6] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 140.

[7] Mughazi-i Waqidi vol. I page 48; Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 615.

PROCUREMENT OF INFORMATION ABOUT THE ENEMY

The modern military principles and war tactics have undergone great changes as compared with the past. The importance of acquiring information about the conditions of the enemy and knowledge of his military secrets and war strategy and the force which he brings in the field is still there. Even now this matter has much to do with the winning and losing of battles. No doubt this subject has now assumed an educational aspect and classes and schools have been set up for teaching the principles of espionage. The heads of eastern and western blocs now consider a major part of their success to lie in the expansion of their spying organizations so that they may become aware of the war plans of the enemy before the commencement of hostilities and may frustrate them.

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The forces of Islam took their position at a place which accorded with the principles of camouflage and every such movement as could result in the divulgence of secrets was stopped. Different parties started collecting information about Quraysh as well as about their caravan. Ihe information was collected from different sources in the following ways:

1. First of all the Prophet himself set out accompanied by a brave soldier and met the head of a tribe and said to him:" What information do you have about Muhammad and his friends?" He said in reply: "It has been reported to me that Muhammad and his companions left Madina on such and such day. If the reporter be a truthful person he (i.e. the Prophet and his companions) should now be at such and such place (he mentioned the place where the Muslim troops had encamped). I have also been informed that Quraysh moved out of Makkah on such and such day. If this report be true they must be at such and such place by now (he mentioned exactly the same place where Quraysh were centralized).

2. A patrol party which included Zubayr Awam and Sa'd Abi Waqqas went to the well of Badr under the command of Ali to obtain more information. This was a rendezvous where news were exchanged. Near the well the said party met two slaves of Quraysh along with a camel which carried water. They intercepted both of them and brought them before the Prophet. After interrogating them it was known that one of the slaves belonged to 'Bani Hajjaj' and the other to 'Bani As' and they had been commissioned to supply water to Quraysh.

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The Prophet said to them: "Where are Quraysh?" They replied that they were on the other side of the mountain which was situated in the desert. Then he asked them about their numbers and they replied that they did not know it for certain. He asked: "How many camels do they slaughter every day?" They replied that they slaughtered ten camels on one day and nine on the other. The Prophet then remarked that their number was between nine and ten hundred. Thereafter he enquired from them about the chiefs of Quraysh. They replied that 'Utbah bin Rabiyyah Shaybah bin Rabiyyah Abul Bakhtari bin Hisham Abu Jahl bin Hisham Hakim bin Hizam Umayyah bin Khalaf etc. were amongst them. The Prophet turned to his companions and said:

"The city of Makkah has thrown out the pieces of its heart (i.e. its dearest children)".[1]

Thereafter he ordered that the two persons should be held captives so that investigations might continue.

3. Two persons were deputed to the village of Badr to collect information about the caravan. They dismounted by the side of a mound which was situated near the well and pretended that they were thirsty and had come to drink water. By chance they saw two women by the side of the well conversing with each other. One of them said to the other: "Why don't you pay my debt? Don't you know that I too am in need". The other said in reply: "The caravan will be arriving tomorrow or day after tomorrow. I shall work for the caravan and then repay your debt". Majdi bin 'Amr who happened to be there confirmed what the debtor had said and then set them apart.

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The two riders were very happy to hear this news. Observing the rules of camouflage they came to the Supreme Commander of the forces of Islam and informed him of what they had heard.

Now that the Prophet had received complete information about the arrival of the caravan and the position of Quraysh it became necessary for him to turn to the preliminaries of his job.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 617.

THE CARAVAN OF ABU SUFYAN FLEES

Abu Sufyan the leader of the caravan who had been attacked by a party of the Muslims at the time of his outward journey knew well that at the time of return he would certainly be attacked by them again. Hence when he reached the zone of influence of Islam he stopped the caravan at a certain point and went to the village of Badr to collect information. There he met Majdi bin 'Amr and asked him whether he had seen in that area any persons about whom he might have been suspicious. He replied: "I have not seen anything which might have aroused my suspicion. I saw only two camel-riders. They made their camels sit on the mound came down drank water and then went away". Abu Sufyan ascended the mound broke some pieces of the dung of the camels and finding date-stones in them realized that the persons concerned belonged to Madina. He therefore changed the course of the caravan and covering two stages of the journey at a time took it out of the zone of influence of Islam. He also appointed a man to go and inform Quraysh that the caravan had been saved from attack by the Muslims and they should therefore return to Makkah and leave it to the Arabs to settle the affairs with Muhammad.

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MUSLIMS BECOME AWARE OF THE ESCAPE OF THE CARAVAN

The news of the escape of the caravan circulated amongst the Muslims. Those who had greedily kept an eye on the merchandise were very much disturbed by this development. Allah revealed the following verse to strengthen their hearts:

Allah has promised to grant your victory over one of the two bands but you wished to fight the one that was unarmed. He sought to fulfil His promise and to annihilate the unbelievers so that truth should triumph and falsehood be uprooted though the wrongdoers wished otherwise. (Surah al-Anfal 8:7)

DIFFERENCE OF OPINION AMONGST QURAYSH

When Abu Sufyan succeeded in taking away his caravan safely by adopting a route other than that of Badr he immediately sent a messenger to the people who had come to the rescue of the caravan to inform them about the safety of the caravan and to tell them to return the way they had come because the real object of mobilization was to protect the caravan and it had been achieved.

When the representative of Abu Sufyan conveyed his message to the chiefs of Quraysh a strange split appeared amongst them.

The people belonging to the tribes of Bani Zohrah and Akhnas Shariq with their allies returned the way they had come. They said: "Our object was to protect the large merchandise of Bani Zohrah and that object has been achieved". Talib bin Abu Talib who had been compelled by Quraysh to leave Makkah also returned after a verbal dispute during which it was said to him:

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"The hearts of you Hashimites are with Muhammad".

As opposed to the suggestion of Abu Sufyan Abu Jahl insisted that they should go to the region of Badr stay there for three days kill camels drink wine and hear the minstrel girls sing so that their valour might reach the ears of the Arabs and they should have a high regard for them for ever.

The fascinating words of Abu Jahl made Quraysh wait at that place and halt at an elevated point in the desert behind a mound. Heavy rain made movement difficult for them and kept them from proceeding further.

However rain did not have any bad effect on the slope of the desert (al-'Udwatud Dunya) where the Prophet had encamped. The Muslims therefore moved as ordered by the Prophet and occupied a place by the wells of Badr.

Badr is a vast region. Its southern side is high (al-'Udwatul Qaswa and the northern area is low and sloping (al-'Udwatud Dunya). Water was available in this desert in large quantities from the wells which had been dug and it had always been the halting place for the caravans.

Hubab bin Manzar who was one of the experienced soldiers said to the Prophet: "Have you alighted here in accordance with the command of Allah or because you have considered this place to be fit for fighting a battle?" The Prophet said: "No specific order has been revealed in this regard and if you have a more appropriate place in view you may mention it so that I may change the place if the exigencies of war make it necessary. Hubab said: It is expendient that we should occupy the place by the side of the water which is nearest to the enemy. We should build a tank there so that water may be available regularly for men and animals". The Prophet appreciated the viewpoint of Hubab and ordered the army to move. This incident shows clearly that the Prophet attached extraordinary importance to consultations and respected the views of the people in public matters.[1]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I p. 620 and Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II p. 144.

"ARISH" OR TOWER OF COMMAND

Sa'd M'az said to the Prophet: "We propose to set up for you a shelter on a high mound from where the entire battlefield will come into view. It will be looked after by the guards and the orders of the Supreme Commander will be communicated from there to the subordinate commanders.

Over and above all these things if the Muslim army is successful in this battle well and good and in case their men are defeated and killed you may reach Madina by means of swift camels accompanied by the guards of the Tower of Command after employing some delaying tactics which may stop the enemy from making an advance. There are many Muslims there who are not aware of our present condition and if they come to know about the situation they will give you full support and will act till the last moments of their lives according to the agreement which they have made with you".

The Prophet prayed for Sa'd Ma'az and ordered the construction of a shelter on the mound which should overlook the field and the seat of command should be transferred there.

EXAMINING THE QUESTION OF SETTING UP A SHELTER

The construction of the shelter for the Prophet and its guarding by Sa'd Ma'az and a group of the Ansar is an event which has been quoted by Tabari from Ibn Ishaq and others have followed him.[1] For certain reasons however the story is somewhat doubtful.

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Firstly such an action has a bad effect on the morale of the soldiers. A commander who makes plans for his own safety and is not anxious about the safety of his soldiers cannot command and control their minds.

Secondly such a thing does not conform to the good tidings which the Prophet had given to his companions on the basis of Divine revelation. Before coming face to face with Quraysh he had spoken to the Muslims in these terms: Allah has promised to grant you victory over one of the two bands (the caravan and those who had come to defend it) but you wished to fight the one that was unarmed. He sought to fulfil His promise and to annihilate the believers so that truth should triumph and falsehood be uprooted though the wrongdoers wished otherwise. (Surah al-Anfal 8:7)

When according to Tabari a shelter was being set up for the Prophet the caravan had escaped and there were left only those people who had come from Makkah to defend it. And according to the above-mentioned positive promise they (the Muslims) were sure that the victory was theirs. In the circumstances any talk about the defeat of the Muslims and setting up of a shelter for the Prophet and stationing swift camels near the shelter would have been out of place. Ibn Sa'd quotes thus from Umar bin Khattab.[2] When the verse: Their army would be routed and put to flight (Surah al-Qamar 54:45) was revealed I said to myself: "Which is the army whose decisive defeat has been predicted in this verse?" Then I saw on the day of Badr that the Prophet had put on the coat-of-mail and was reciting this verse with great vehemence. At that moment I understood that this army was going to be defeated and annihilated".

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Keeping this fact in view can it be imagined that the Prophet and his companions could think of their own defeat and flight?

Thirdly the character of the Prophet whose posture in the battlefield was described by Ali the Commander of the Faithtul does not at all conform to this technique. He says about the Prophet: "Every time when fighting became intense we took refuge with the Prophet. None of us was nearer to the enemy than he".[3]

Can it be imagined that a person whose first disciple describes him in these terms should adopt the path of personal security and flight in the very first battle fought by the Muslims?

We think that the setting up of the shade was only to provide the Prophet with a place higher than the battlefield so that he might have a full view of the battle and from there he could give accurate instructions to his army.

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[1] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II p. 145 and Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I p. 620.

[2] Tabaqat vol. II page 25.

[3] Nahjul Balaghah Kalimat-i Qisar page 214.

MOVEMENT OF QURAYSH

On the 17th of Ramadan of the second year of migration Quraysh descended early in the morning from behind the sandy mound into the desert of Badr. When the Holy Prophet saw them he raised his face to the sky and said: "O Allah! Quraysh are up with pride and arrogance to fight against You and to deny Your Prophet! Send the aid which You have promised me and destroy them today! "

p: 423

CONSULTATIONS BY QURAYSH

The forces of Quraysh were centralized at a certain point in Badr but they were not aware of the strength of the Muslims. They dispatched 'Umayr bin Wahab who was a brave man and an expert in assessing the strength of the armies to find out the number of Muhammad's companions. Riding his horse he went round the encampment of the army of Islam and reported on his return that they were about three hundred. He said however that he would take another round and see whether there were any others lying in ambush and also whether or not there was any reinforcement.

He roamed about the desert in all directions and then brought very alarming news. He said: "Muslims don't have any ambush or shelter. However I have seen some camels which are bringing the news of death for you from Madina". Then he added: "I have seen a group of men who have no other asylum than their own swords. Until each one of them has killed one man of yours they will not be killed. And in case they kill from amongst you as many as they are themselves what will be the use of life? Take your final decision".[1] Waqidi and Allamah Majlisi have quoted another sentence as well i.e. "Don't you see that they are silent and don't speak even a word and their faces tell what their intentions are and they are moving their tongues in their mouths like deadly serpents?"[2]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 622.

p: 424

[2] Mughazi vol. I page 62 and Biharul Anwar vol. II page 234.

DIFFERENCE OF OPINION AMONGST QURAYSH

The words of the brave soldier created an uproar amongst Quraysh. The entire army of the enemy became panicky. Hakim bin Huzam went to 'Utbah and said: "O 'Utbah! You are the chief of Quraysh. Quraysh had come out of Makkah to safeguard their merchandise. This object has been achieved and there is no other matter left except the blood-money of Hazrami and the price of the property which was plundered by the Muslims some time ago. You should pay his blood-money yourself and refrain from fighting with Muhammad". The words of Hakim had a strong effect on 'Utbah. He got up and made a very impressive speech before the people and said: "O people! You should leave it to the Arabs to settle the affairs with Muhammad. If Arabs succeed in overthrowing his religion and pulling down the foundation of his strength we too shall be happy on that account. And if Muhammad succeeds we shall not meet any harm from him because we shall be keeping away from fighting with him in spite of our being at the zenith of our strength. It would therefore be better if we return the way we have come".

Hakim communicated the views of 'Utbah to Abu Jahl and saw that he was busy wearing his coat-of-mail Abu Jahl was very much annoyed to learn about the speech of 'Utbah and sent a man to 'Amir Hazrami the brother of 'Amr Hazrami with this message: "Your ally (i.e. 'Utbah) is stopping people from realizing the blood-money of your brother. You can see the blood of your brother with your own eyes. Get up and remind Quraysh of the pact which they made with your brother and sing mournful verses for him.

p: 425

Abu 'Amir got up stripped off his head-covering and said imploringly: "Alas! O 'Amr!"

The wailings and lamentations of Abu 'Amar roused the sense of honour of Quraysh and made them decide to fight. They thus ignored the views of 'Utbah regarding withdrawal from the scene. However the same 'Utbah who had recommended withdrawal was influenced by the transient sentiments of his companions. He rose at once put on his military uniform and got ready for the battle.

Some times man loses his wisdom on account of the influence of sentiments and baseless passions and fails to brighten his life. The man who was of peaceful disposition and had invited others to live and let live became so sentimental that he was the first to lay himself out to fight.

THE REASON WHICH MADE THE BATTLE UNAVOIDABLE

Aswad Makhzumi was a hot-tempered person. When he saw the tank of water which had been constructed by the Muslims he swore that he would do one of these three things: either he would drink water from the tank or demolish it or be killed. He came out of the ranks of unbelievers and met the brave commander of Islam Hamzah near the tank. Fighting ensued between them. Hamzah gave a blow on his foot and it was severed from his leg. He therefore fell down by the side of the tank with his leg bleeding. In order to act according to his oath he reached the bank of the tank to drink water. Hamzah gave him another blow and he was killed.

p: 426

This incident made fighting unavoidable because nothing is more instrumental in rousing the sentiments of a crowd than bloodshed. Some persons whose hearts were burning with grudge and rancour revere keen to find an excuse to fight and now that this was the best excuse for them they considered themselves under the obligation to fight.

SINGLE COMBATS

It was an old custom of the Arabs that in the beginning of a battle single combats were resorted to and later general fighting began.

After Aswad Makhzumi had been killed three famous warriors of Quraysh came out of their ranks and challenged for a fight. They were two brothers 'Utbah and Shaybah sons of Rabiyyah and Walid bin 'Utbah and all of them were fully armed. They roared and ran their horses in the field and called their opponents to fight. Three brave men from amongst the Ansars named 'Awf Ma'uz and Abdullah Rawahah came out of the ranks of the Muslims. 'Utbah however realized that they were from Madina and said to them: "We have nothing to do with you". Then a man (from amongst Quraysh) shouted: "O Muhammad! Send our equals to fight with us!" The Prophet turned his face to 'Ubaydah Hamzah and Ali and said: "Get up". The three brave men covered their heads and faces and of they went to the battlefield. All the three persons introduced themselves. 'Utbah accepted all of them for a combat and said: "Yes you are our equals".

Some say that in this combat each warrior fought with his rival of the same age. Ali who was the youngest of them met Walid (maternal uncle of Mu'awiyah) the middle-aged amongst the Muslims (Hamzah) faced 'Utbah (maternal grandfather of Mu'awiyah) and Ubaydah who was the oldest amongst the Muslim combatants fought with Shaybah who was oldest from the other side. Ibn Hisham however says that the opponent of Hamzah was Shaybah and that of Ubaydah was Utbah. Now let us see which of the two views is correct. By assessing these views the real position becomes clear:

p: 427

1. Historians write that Ali and Hamzah killed their opponents in the very first moment and then hurried to help 'Ubaydah and killed his adversary as well.[1]

2. In a letter written by Ali the Commander of the Faithful to Mu'awiyah he reminds him in these words: "The sword with which I finished off your maternal grandfather ('Utbah father of Mu'awiyah's mother Hind) and your maternal uncle (Walid bin 'Utbah) and your brother (Hanzala) is still with me (i.e I still possess the same strength)'.[2]

This letter clearly shows that Ali had a hand in the killing of the maternal grandfather of Mu'awiyah and then we also know that Hamzah and Ali killed their opponents instantly.

If the opponent of Hamzah had been 'Utbah (grandfather of Mu'awiyah) Ali could not say: "O Mu'awiyah! Your grandfather ('Utbah) lost his life on account of the blows of my sword". Hence it cannot be gain said that the adversary of Hamzah was Shaybah and that of 'Ubaydah was 'Utbah and after killing their own opponents Hamzah and Ali went towards 'Utbah and killed him with the blows of their swords.

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[1] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II p. 148 and Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I p. 625.

[2] Nahjul Balaghah letters 28 and 46.

GENERAL ATTACK BEGINS

As a consequence of the warriors of Quraysh being killed general attack started and Quraysh began attacking in groups. The Prophet ordered that the Muslims should refrain from attacking and should prevent the advance of the enemy by means of archery.

p: 428

Then he came down from the Tower of Command and arranged the lines of his soldiers with a stick. At that moment Sawad bin Ghazbah was standing somewhat forward as compared with the line. The Prophet hit the stick on his belly and said: "Don't stand ahead of other soldiers".[1] Sawad then said: "This blow given to me was unjustified and I want to take revenge". The Prophet pulled up his shirt immediately and said: "Avenge yourself on me". And then all the soldiers saw that Sawad kissed the chest of the Prophet and put his arm round his neck and said: "I wished to kiss your chest during the last moments of my life."

Then the Prophet returned to the seat of command and with his heart overflowing with faith turned his face to the Aimighty and said: "O Lord! If this group is annihilated today none else will worship you on the face of the earth."[2]

The particulars of the general attack have been recorded to some extent in the history of Islam. It is however certain that as and when the Prophet came down from the seat of command he encouraged the Muslims to fight in the path of Allah and to attack the enemy. Once he came suddenly and said to the Muslims with a loud voice: "I swear by Allah who controls Muhammad's soul that whoever fights steadfastly today and his fighting is for Allah's sake and is killed shall be sent by Allah to Paradise".

p: 429

The words of the Supreme Commander were so effective that some Muslims removed their coats-of-mail from their bodies and began fighting so that they might achieve martyrdom as early as possible. 'Umayr Hamam asked the Prophet: 'How much distance is there between me and Paradise?" The Prophet replied: "Fighting with the chiefs of blasphemy". He threw away a few palm-dates which he had in his hand and began fighting.

Then the Prophet picked up some dust and throwing it towards Quraysh said: "May your faces be metamorphosed!"[3] Thereafter he gave orders for general attack.

The signs of victory of the Muslims began to appear soon. The enemies were stricken with terror and began to flee. The Muslims who were fighting with the help of their faith and knew that both killing and being killed were blessings of Allah were perfectly undaunted and nothing stopped their advance.

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[1] Tarikh-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 626.

[2] Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II page 149.

[3] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 628.

REGARD FOR RIGHTS

Regard for the rights of two groups of persons was necessary. Some of them were those who had meted out good treatment to the Musims in Makkah and had supported them for example Abil Bakhtari who had rendered great services to the Muslims by bringing to an end their economic blockade. The others were those persons who had come out of Makkah under compulsion and were actually the supporters of Islam and of the Prophet for example most of Bani Hisham like Abbas the uncle of the Prophet etc.

p: 430

As the Prophet of Islam was the Messenger of blessings and peace he gave strict orders that the blood of these two groups should not be shed.

UMAYYAH BIN KHALAF IS KILLED

Umayyah bin Khalaf and his son were captured through Abdur Rahman bin 'Awf. As mutual friendship existed between Umayyah and Abdur Rahman the latter wished to take him and his son out of the battlefield alive so that they might be taken prisoners.

Bilal the Ethiopian was a slave of Ummayyah in the past. As Bilal had embraced Islam while he was a slave Umayah used to torture him severely. In order to make him abjure Islam he used to make him lie on hot sand during the summer season and placed a big stone on his chest. Even in that condition Bilal used to say: 'Ahad! Ahad!' (Allah is One. Allah is One). The Ethiopian slave suffered a good deal until a Muslim purchased him and set him free.

In the Battle of Badr Bilal's eyes fell on Umayah and he realized that Abdur Rahman wanted to favour him. He therefore cried aloud: "O friends of Allah! Ummayyah is one of the chiefs of unbelievers. He should not be allowed to live". The Muslims encircled Ummayyah from all sides and put him and his son to death.

The Prophet had ordered that Abil Bakhtari who had helped Bani Hashim in the days of economic blockade should not be killed.[1] It so happened that a man named 'Majzar' captured him and was trying to bring him before the Prophet alive but he too was killed.

p: 431

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[1] Tabaqat-i Ibn Sa'd vol. Il. page 23.

AMOUNT OF CASUALTIES AND LOSSES

In this battle fourteen men from amongst the Muslims were killed. As regards Quraysh seventy of them were killed and seventy others were captured. Those captured included their chiefs named Nazar Harith 'Uqbah Mu'it Abu Ghurrah Suhayl 'Amr Abbas and Abul As.[1]

The martyrs of Badr were buried in a corner of the battlefield. Their graves still exist and devoted Muslims visit them to offer their respects.

Later the Prophet ordered that the dead bodies of Quraysh might be collected and thrown in a well. When the body of 'Utbah was being brought to the well the eyes of his son (Abu Huzayfah) fell on it and he turned pale. The Prophet observed this and said: "Has any doubt crossed your mind?" He replied: "No but I imagined that my father possessed wisdom learning and patience and thought that these qualities might guide him to Islam. However I have now realized that whatever I had been thinking was wrong".

Then the Prophet went by the side of the well. He uttered the names of everyone of the chiefs of unbelievers and said: "O 'Utbah! O Shaybah! O Umayah! O Abu Jahl! Did you find what your god had promised you to be correct? I have found that which my Allah had promised to be correct and firm".

The companions of the Prophet said: "Are you speaking to the dead bodies?" He replied: "They are hearing my words but are not able to give any reply".[2]

p: 432

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. II pp. 206-207; Mughazi vol. I pp. 137-138.

[2] Mughazi-i Waqidi vol. I page 117.

AFTER THE BATTLE OF BADR

Many Muslim historians believe that in the Battle of Badr single combats and collective attacks continued till midday and the battle came to an end after noontide when Quraysh fled and some of them were captured. After burying the martyrs the Prophet performed afternoon prayers at that place and came out of the desert of Badr before sunset.

Now the Prophet was faced for the first time with differences between his companions over the division of war booty and every group claimed that it enjoyed precedence over others.

Those who guarded the Tower of Command of the Supreme Commander claimed that they had protected the life of the Prophet and nothing could be more important than this. Those who had collected war booty claimed precedence over others. And those who had pursued the enemy till the last moment and had made the collection of war booty possible considered themselves to be more deserving than others.

There is nothing more harmful for an army than that the disputes should arise amongst the individuals. In order to curb material desires and suppress all hue and cry the Prophet entrusted the entire booty to Abdullah Ka'b and appointed some persons to help him in its transport and safe custody until a solution of the problem was found.

The rules of equity and justice demanded that the entire army should have shared the booty because all had worked and shouldered responsibility and none of the individuals could achieve anything unless others were also active. While he was on the way the Prophet divided the booty equally. As regards the Muslims who had been martyred he separated their shares and delivered them to their successors.

p: 433

The action of the Prophet (dividing the war booty equally) annoyed Sa'd Waqqas who said to the Prophet: "Do you consider me who am one of the noble men of Bani Zohrah at par with these water-carriers and gardeners of Yathrib?" The Prophet was very much grieved to hear these words and said: "My object in this battle has been to support the weak against the strong and I have been appointed to the prophetic mission to uproot all imaginary discriminations and privileges and to replace them by equality in the rights of men".

As explained in the Qur'anic verses relating to khums: One fifth of war booty belongs to Allah His Prophet the hindered the orphans the needy and those who need money while on a journey. (Surah al-Anfal 8:41). However on this occasion the Prophet distributed khums also amongst the army. It is possible that the verse relating to khums had not been revealed yet or the Prophet exercising the authority vested in him refrained from taking khums to increase the shares of the mujahids.

TWO CAPTIVES WERE KILLED ENROUTE

At one of the halting places the captives were made to appear before the Prophet. Out of them Nazar bin Harith who was one of the sworn enemies of the Muslims was executed in the strait of 'Safra' and 'Uqbah bin Abi Mu'it was killed under the Prophet's orders in 'Irquz Zabiyyah.[1]

Now the question arises as to why in spite of the fact that the orders of Islam about the prisoners of war are that they are the slaves of the Muslims and the mujahids and may be sold in the bazaar at reasonable prices the Prophet agreed to the execution of these two persons and how he took such a decision when he had already said to the Muslims about the captives of Badr: "Be good to the captives".[2]

p: 434

Abu Aziz the standard-bearer of Quraysh in the Battle of Badr says: 'From the day the Prophet made recommendation for us we became so honourable before the Muslims that they did not touch food until we had been fed first'.

In the circumstances the execution of these two captives was ordered for the sake of general welfare of the Muslims and not as an act of vengeance because these two persons were the chiefs of unbelievers and were the plotters against Islam and the instigators of the tribes. Possibly the Prophet was sure that if they were set at large they would once again indulge in such dangerous activities.

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. II page 645.

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 645.

MEN DISPATCHED BY THE PROPHET TO MADINA

Abdullah Rawahah and Zayd Harithah were deputed by the Prophet to reach Madina as soon as possible and to convey good news to the Muslims that Islam had been victorious and the leaders of the unbelievers like 'Utbah Shaybah Abu Jahl Zam'ah Abul Bakhtari Umayyah Nabiyya Manbah etc. had been killed. They arrived at the time when the Muslims were returning after burying the daughter of the Prophet who was the wife of Uthman and the joy of victory in the war was thus mingled with grief on account of her death. At the same time the polytheists and the Jews were very much perturbed and unnerved because they never expected that the Muslims would be blessed with such a victory. They therefore endeavoured to make the people believe that the news was false. However the fact was proved beyond any doubt by the arrival of the army of Islam along with the captives of Quraysh.

p: 435

MAKKANS COME TO KNOW ABOUT THEIR CHIEFS BEING KILLED

Haysaman Khaza'i was the first to reach Makkah to inform the people of the bloody events at Badr as well as of their chiefs being killed in the battle. Abu Rafe' who was the slave of Abbas in those days and later became a companion of the Prophet as well as of the Commander of the Faithful says: "In those days Islam had illuminated the house of Abbas. He his wife Ummul Fazal and myself had embraced Islam but had kept our faith concealed for fear of the people. When the news of the death of the enemies of Islam at Badr spread we were extremely happy. However Quraysh and their supporters were very much grieved and disturbed. Abu Lahab who had not participated in this battle and had sent someone else in his own place was sitting by the well of Zamzam. Suddenly people brought the news that Abu Sufyan Harth had arrived. Abu Lahab said: "Tell him to see me as early as possible". He came sat by the side of Abu Lahab and gave a detailed account of the happenings at Badr. Agitation and fear struck Abu Lahab's heart like lightening. After burning in high fever for seven days he died of some mysterious disease.

The story of the participation in the Battle of Badr of the Prophet's uncle Abbas (who was one of the persons who were captured by the Muslims) is one of the problems of history. How can it be that he insisted upon the people of Madina at the time of the agreement of 'Aqabah to support the Prophet and he is reported to have participated in this battle.

p: 436

The solution of this problem lies in what his slave Rafe' says. He says that he was one of the persons who like his brother Abu Talib believed in the Oneness of Allah and the Prophethood of his nephew but concealed his faith keeping in view the exigencies of the time so that he might assist his nephew and keep him informed of the nefarious plots of Quraysh just as he had done at the time of the Battle of Uhud.

The spreading of the news of the death of seventy persons from amongst the dear ones of Quraysh caused harassment in many families and made them sad and gloomy.[1]

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[1] Fahrist-i Najashi page 5.

WAILINGS AND ELEGIZING PROHIBITED

In order to keep Quraysh in a state of anger and indignation and to ensure that the people should be always ready to avenge the blood of their warriors Abu Sufyan gave orders that nobody had a right to weep or wail nor should a poet recite mournful verses because these things diminish the sense of revenge and occasion taunts by the enemies. To incite resentment among the people he also declared that he would not lie with any woman until and unless he had taken revenge upon the Muslims for the blood of those who were killed in Badr.

Aswad Muttalib felt strong indignation on account of losing three of his sons. Suddenly he heard the wailings of a woman. He was pleased and thought that crying for those killed had been allowed. He sent some one to verify his suspicion. However the result of investigation was not the same as he had wished because the woman was crying as she had lost her camel and weeping for a lost camel was not prohibited according to the orders of Abu Sufyan. Aswad felt this very much and composed verses. The translation of two of them is given below:

p: 437

"Is she crying for her lost camel and does she keep awake during nights for having lost it? No. It is not proper at this moment that she should cry for her camel. Rather it is necessary that she should weep for those who have been killed and with whose death joy honour and glory have also been lost".[1]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. I page 648.

FINAL DECISION ABOUT THE CAPTIVES

According to the Islamic law the prisoners of war become slaves of the Muslims and everyone of them is required to work according to his capacity. Educated persons are employed on educating others and industrialists impart instruction in the field of industry. These slaves cannot become free in any case unless they are first purchased by someone and this had been the practice of the Prophet and of the Muslims during the battles fought and the conquests made by them.

As regards this battle (i.e. Badr) however it was declared that educated persons could become free if they taught ten boys how to read and write. Others could also purchase their freedom by paying an amount ranging from one thousand dirhams to four thousand dirhams. As regards the poor persons they could be set free without payment of any ransom.

This news caused a thrill in Makkah amongst the relatives of the captives and they sent ransom money to Madina to get them released. When Suhayl 'Amr was set free on payment of ransom one of the companions of the Prophet requested for permission to pull out his front teeth so that he could not be able thereafter to speak against Islam. The Prophet did not grant permission to do that and said that it amounted to 'mutilation' which is not permissible in Islam.

p: 438

Abil As the son-in-law of the Prophet and husband of his daughter Zaynab was a respectable tradesman of Makkah. He had married Zaynab during the Age of Ignorance and did not embrace Islam after the appointment of the Prophet to the prophetic mission. He also participated in the Battle of Badr and was taken prisoner. At that time his wife Zaynab was in Makkah. To get her husband released she sent to Madina a necklace which was given to her by her mother Khadijah at the time of her marriage. The Prophet chanced to see the necklace sent by his daughter. He wept and was reminded of the great sacrifices made by Khadijah for the cause of Islam and the enormous wealth spent by her for the advancement of the Divine religion. To ensure respect for public property he turned to his companions and said: "This necklace is your property and you have full right over it. If you are agreeable it may be returned and Abil As may be set free without realizing any ransom". His companions accepted his suggestion.

STATEMENT OF IBN ABIL HADID

He says: "I mentioned the incident of Zaynab's necklace before my teacher Abu Ja'far Basri 'Alavi and he confirmed it but added: "Was it not appropriate that the caliphs should have consoled Fatimah by returning Fadak to her even if it be supposed that it belonged to the Muslims?" I said: "According to a tradition the Prophets don't leave behind any inheritance and as such Fadak belonged to the Muslims. In the circumstances how could the property of the Muslims be given to the daughter of the Prophet?" The teacher said: "Did not the necklace which Zaynab sent for the release of Abil As belong to the Muslims?"

p: 439

Abil Hadid says: "I said that the Prophet was the lawgiver and possessed authority in all matters whereas the caliphs possessed no such authority". The teacher said: "I don't say that the caliphs should have taken Fadak forcibly from the Muslims and given it to Fatimah. What I say is that the ruler of the time didn't consult the Muslims regarding the return of Fadak. Why did he not stand up like the Prophet and say: 'O people! Fatimah is the daughter of your Prophet. She desires that the garden of Fadak should be under her control as it used to be during the lifetime of the Prophet. Do you agree that Fadak be returned to her?'

Ibn Abil Hadid writes in the end: "I could say nothing in reply to the eloquent remarks of the teacher and only said this much in his support: 'Abul Hasan Abdul Jabbar has also criticized the caliphs in this behalf and says that though their action was according to law no regard was shown to the respect and position to which Zahrah was entitled".[1]

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[1] Sharh-i Nahjul Balaghah by Ibn Abil Hadid vol. XIV page 191.

Chapter 31

DANGEROUS DESIGNS OF THE JEWS

The Battle of Badr was a dreadful storm which blew in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula. This was a storm which pulled out many old roots of polytheism and idol-worship. Some of the heroes and champions of Quraysh were killed or were made captives and the others fled away very ignominously. The news of Quraysh having been routed spread through Arabia. However after this storm there was a sort of lull coupled with fear and disturbance of mind - a lull which was occasioned by reflection about the future general conditions of the Peninsula.

p: 440

The idolatrous tribes the rich Jews of Madina and the Jews of Khaybar and Wadiul Qura were very afraid of the ever increasing advancement of the new government and saw their very existence in danger because they had never believed that the Prophet of Islam would become so strong that he would annihilate the century old strength of Quraysh.

The Jews of Bani Qaynqa' tribe who lived in Madina and controlled the economy of the city were more afraid than others because their life was completely intermingled with that of the Muslims and there was a difference between them and the Jews of Khaybar and Wadiul Qura' who lived outside Madina and away from the zone of authority of the Muslims. On this account therefore the tribe of Qaynqa' became more active than others and started the cold war of propaganda by spreading biting slogans and slanderous verses. Thus they ignored practically the general agreement which was made in the first year of migration.

However this cold war did not justify that the forces of Islam should give a reply with sharp weapons because if a knot can be opened with fingers it should not be necessary to use teeth for the purpose. Furthermore the Prophet attached much importance to the maintenance of political unity and general law and order.

As a last warning to the Jews the Prophet delivered a fiery speech in the bazaar of Bani Qaynqa'. In this speech he said to the Jews inter alia: The fate of Quraysh serves them right. It is a lesson to you as well. I am afraid that the same misfortune may overtake you. There are many learned men and religious scholars amongst you. You should verify from them so that they may tell you clearly that I am the Prophet of Allah and that this fact is recorded in your Scripture (the Taurat)".

p: 441

The obstinate and proud Jews not only did not keep silent after hearing the Prophet's words but replied to him in a very offensive tone and said: "Do you think that we are weak and unaware of the war strategy like Quraysh? You confronted a group who did not know the principles and tactics of fighting. However the strength of the children of Qaynqa' will become known to you when you meet them in the battlefield".[1]

The biting and disrespectful words of Bani Qaynqa' and the singing of slogans and epic poems by the champions of the Jews did not have even the slightest adverse effect on the morale of the Muslims. However an ultimatum was served on them in accordance with the principles of Islamic politics and it became clear that this time the knot would have to be opened by other means or else their courage transgression and oppression would increase day by day. The Prophet therefore waited for an opportunity to administer them a severe castigation.

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[1] Mughazi-i Waqidi vol. I page 176.

THE FIRE OF WAR KINDLES WITH A SPARK

At times it so happens that small phenomena lead to great revolutions and social upheavals i.e. an insignificant event leads to great occurrences and the parties resort to the settlement of many other accounts as well (besides that event).

The reason for the commencement of the First World War which is one of the greatest events of human history was a small happening which provided an excuse to the big powers to wage war.

p: 442

The event which served as a cause for the commencement of the said war was the assassination of the Archduke Francis Ferdinand the crown prince of Austria. This happened on the 28th of June 1914 and after one month and a few days the First World War started with Germany's attack on Belgium. As a result of this ten million persons were killed and another twenty million were wounded.

The Muslims were extremely annoyed at the obstinacy and arrogance of the Jews and were awaiting an offensive act of theirs so that they might rise against them. One day it so happened that an Arab woman came in the Bazaar of Bani Qaynqa' to sell something near the shop of a Jewish goldsmith. She had taken care that nobody should see her face. The Jews of Bani Qaynqa' however insisted that she should unveil her face. As she declined to do so the shopkeeper came out of his shop and sewed the lap of her dress on her back. Consequently when the woman rose after a few moments a part of her body became visible. Thereupon the men (of Bani Qaynqa') ridiculed her.

The question of reputation and honour which is something vital for every society enjoyed extraordinary importance amongst the Arabs and especially amongst the nomadic tribes who resorted to bloodshed on account of the slightest aspersion on their honour. The pitiable condition of the stranger women therefore aroused the sense of honour of a Muslim and he killed the Jewish goldsmith. Naturally this act committed in the area of the Jews themselves could not pass without a reaction on their part. They therefore attacked that Muslim en masse and put him to death.

p: 443

We are not concerned about the fact whether or not the killing of the Jew for his having insulted the woman conformed to principles and reason. However a Muslim's having been attacked by hundreds of Jews collectively was decidedly very shocking. Hence the news of the tragic and pitiable murder of a Muslim stirred the moral sense of the Muslims who determined to set the matters right and to destroy the centre of mischief.

The reciters of epic verses of Bani Qaynqa' realized that the matter had become serious and it was no longer advisable for them to continue their business in the bazaars and streets of Madina.

They therefore considered it expedient to take refuge as early as possible in their houses which were situated in high and strong forts and to retreat there in spite of all their recitations of epic poems with great valour!

They also committed a mistake in acting on this scheme. If they had regretted what they had done and had asked for forgiveness they would certainly have been able to reconcile with the Muslims on account of the forgiving nature of the Prophet. However to shut themselves in the forts was a sign of continuance of hostilities and enmity. The Prophet ordered the fort of the enemy to be besieged. The Muslim forces encircled the entire fort from one end to the other. The siege continued for fifteen days and entry of provisions into the fort was stopped. Any contact with those people was also prohibited.

p: 444

The Jews knelt down as a consequence of the economic blockade. They opened the gate of the fort after making requisite signs surrendered to the Muslim army. They also declared that the decision of the Prophet whatever it was should be adhered to.

The Prophet intended to award severe punishment to the obstructionists and the opponents of political unity in Madina. However he refrained from taking such action on account of the insistence of Abdullah Ubay who was one of the hypocrites of Madina and had ostensibly embraced Islam. It was therefore decided that the Jews should surrender their weapons and wealth and quit Madina as early as possible and this task should be accomplished under the supervision of an officer named 'Ubadah bin Samit. The Jews saw no alternative but to leave Madina for Wadiul Qura' and then to proceed to Azra'at in the region of Syria.

The political unity of Madina was restored once again with the expulsion of the Jews of Qaynqa'. This time the political unity was combined with religious unity also because besides the Muslims no other considerable majority was now visible in Madina and the number of idolatrous Arabs and hypocrites was insignificant as compared with that of the believers.[1]

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[1] Mughazi vol. I pp. 177-179 and Tabaqat-i Kubra vol. II pp. 27-38.

FRESH REPORTS REACH MADINA

In small surroundings news usually circulates like lightning from person to person. For this reason news regarding most of the conspiracies and gatherings against the Muslims in every region reached the centre of Islam immediately through impartial travellers or vigilant friends. Furthermore the Prophet himself was extraordinarily perceptive and nipped most of the conspiracies in the bud. As soon as a report was received that a tribe was planning to collect arms and men he immediately dispatched a force to curb the spirit of the enemy or went personally at top speed with an appropriate force and besieged the area of the enemy and frustrated his plans. Here is a brief account of some of the 'ghazwahs' (battles in which the Prophet participated) which took place in the second year of migration.

p: 445

1. GHAZWATUL KADAR:

The central region of Bani Salim tribe was called Kadar. A report was received in Madina that the people of that tribe were planning to collect arms to attack the centre of Islam. As and when the Prophet of Islam went out of Madina he appointed another person as his representative and entrusted the governmental matters to him. This time he appointed Ibn Umme Maktum to deputize for him in Madina and himself went with a force to the central region of Kadar. However the enemies had scattered before the arrival of the Muslims. The Prophet however returned to Madina without any fighting but for his own satisfaction he again sent an army to the same spot under the command of an officer named Ghalib Abdullah. The army in question returned victorious after a small skirmish in which three of their men were killed.[1]

2. GHAZWATUS SAWEEQ:

The Arabs of the Age of Ignorance made strange vows.For example Abu Sufyan had vowed after the Battle of Badr that until he had taken revenge for the murder of the Quraysh upon the Muslims he would not go near his wife. To fulfil his vow he was obliged to conduct an attack. He marched with two hundred men and at the insistence of Salam bin Mushkam the chief of the Jewish tribe of Bani al-Nuzayr who lived out of Madina he killed a Muslim and set fire to a palm-grove in the region of 'Ariz'. A man immediately reported the incident to Madina. The Prophet came out of Madina and pursued the enemy up to a certain distance. However Abu Sufyan and his warriors fled away. On the way the enemies left behind some bags of 'saweeq' (a food prepared with flour and palm-dates). The Muslims took possession of these bags and gave this ghazwah the name of 'Ghazwatus Saweeq'.[1]

p: 446

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[1] Mughazi vol. I page 182 and Tabaqat-i Kubra vol. II page 30.

[2] Mughazi-i Waqidi vol. I page 181.

GHAZWAH ZIL AMR

A report was received in Madina that the people of the tribe named 'Ghatfan' had gathered together and intended conquering Madina. The Prophet with 450 men rose to face the enemies. The enemies became panicky and took refuge in the mountains. In the meantime there was a heavy downpour and the clothes of the Prophet became wet. He therefore went at a distance from the army. There he took off his clothes and spread them on a tree and sat down under the shade. The enemies were observing the movements of the Prophet. A warrior from amongst them took advantage of the situation. He came down from the mountain with a naked sword and standing by the side of the Prophet said with a harsh voice: "Who can save you today from my sharp sword?" The Prophet replied loudly: "Allah". This word had such an effect on that man that he began to tremble with fear and the sword fell down involuntarily from his hand. The Prophet stood up immediately picked up the sword attacked him and said: "Who can save you from me now?" As the man was an idolater and knew that his wooden gods were incapable of defending him at that crucial moment he replied: "None".

Historians say that the man embraced Islam there and then but this action of his was not on account of fear because he remained steadfast in his faith. The reason for his adopting Islam was the waking up within him of his pure nature because his unexpected and miraculous defeat turned his mind to the other world and he realized that the Prophet had connections with that world. The Prophet took him at his word (regarding his embracing Islam) and returned his sword to him. After going a bit forward he returned and surrendered his sword to the Prophet and said: "As you are the leader of this reformatory army you are much more entitled to own this weapon".[1]

p: 447

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[1] Manaqib vol. I page 164 and Mughazi-i Waqidi vol. I pp. 194-196.

QURAYSH CHANGE THEIR TRADE ROUTE

The coast of the Red Sea had become dangerous (for Quraysh) on account of the Islamic army and the people who had concluded pacts with the Muslims. Once again therefore Quraysh held consultations and studied the situation. They said among themselves: "If our trade is suspended we will gradually lose our capital and will consequently have to surrender to the Muslims. And in case we remain engaged in trade we have no hope of success because the Muslims usually confiscate our merchandise en route".

One of them suggested that they should go to Syria via Iraq and his suggestion was accepted unanimously. Arrangements were therefore made to send a caravan along with the merchandise. Abu Sufyan and Safwan Umayyah personally supervised the caravan and a man named 'Furat Hayyan' who belonged to the tribe of Bani Bakr acted as their guide.

Maqrizi writes: "A man belonging to Madina observed the proceedings. On his return to Madina he mentioned the fact to a friend of his. The Prophet became aware of the fact soon and dispatched an army towards the route of the caravan under the command of an officer named Zayd Harith. By capturing two men and confiscating the merchandise they prevented the enemies from pursuing their journey."[1]

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[1] al Imta' page 112.

Chapter 32

THE EVENTS OF THE THIRD YEAR OF MIGRATION

The third year of migration began with minor encounters and some scattered battles which had a defensive aspect and were fought with a view to nip the conspiracies of the idolatrous tribes in the bud. However the Battle of Uhud deserves attention amongst the events of the third year. This battle is a glaring example of the defence of the sacred religion of Islam belief in the 'Oneness of Allah' and the freedom of faith. It is not at all appropriate to give the name of 'battle' or 'Ghazwah' to the sacrifices made by Muslims because they had not planned to fight a battle but had resorted to arms only to defend Islam and to ensure freedom of faith. They repulsed after sustaining heavy losses those people who had come from Makkah and the adjoining areas and had attacked Madina to destroy the worshippers of Allah and the seekers of freedom and the Muslims had no alternative left but to reply to the cruel tyrants and oppressors with force and with fiery arms.

p: 448

REASONS FOR THE BATTLE OF UHUD

The collective attack by the idolaters was the result of a chain of internal and external factors which brought a strong army to Madina to take revenge.

A dangerous element by the name of Ka'b bin Ashraf kindled this fire. He was a Jew from his mother's side but himself professed to be an idolater. He enjoyed the protection of the Islamic State and did not meet any harm in the Battle of Badr but on account of the enmity which he had against the Prophet of Islam he went to Makkah and shed crocodile tears in the assemblies of Quraysh and reminded them how their chiefs had been killed and captured. He displayed so much dexterity in this task that the old and young of Quraysh became ready to fight with the Prophet and to topple down the Islamic State.

In order to rouse the passions of the Makkans Ka'b praised the beauty of Muslim women in such a way that all the Makkans expressed a wish to fight against the Muslims so that they might defeat them and capture their women to satisfy their base desires. He also sang some verses in this behalf and inserted in them with utter shamelessness the names and particulars of Muslim women and gave indecent descriptions about them. After having carried out his plan he returned to Madina and took refuge in his fortress.

What was the duty of the Prophet and the Muslims with regard to this man who provoked these passions? He kindled a fire whose flames reduced to ashes seventy brave soldiers of Islam including Hamzah and caused the blood of the righteous persons to flow in the land of Uhud.

p: 449

Men of Aws tribe decided to relieve the Muslims of the mischief of Ka'b. Two persons named Muhammad bin Maslamah and Abu Na'ilah arrived in his fortress in the guise of friends and blamed the Prophet and his religion. They added that since the arrival of the Prophet in Yathrib all of them had been encircled by calamities and their persons and belongings had been destroyed. They enlarged on this topic so much that Ka'b felt that their views on the subject were identical with his. Then they said: "We have come now to purchase some grains from you and are obliged to pawn something because we do not possess any cash at present".

Ka'b agreed to sell grains but as regards the things to be given as security he uttered words which clearly displayed his base and impure spirit for he said with utter shamelessness: "Your women and children should remain under my control by way of pledge". His remark disturbed the two persons so much that they said in reply: "Is it possible?"

These two persons did not actually want to purchase grains.

They came back to chalk out a plan to murder him. They therefore made an offer at once to leave their weapons with him as security. Their object in making this offer was that when the armed persons approached his fortress he should imagine that they had come to leave their weapons with him as security and not that they had conspired against him.

At night an armed group of the men of Aws gathered round his fortress ostensibly with the purpose of purchasing grains. Muhammad bin Maslamah who was Ka'b's foster-brother called him. Ka'b's wife objected to his going out in the darkness of night but in view of the conversation which Ka'b had already had with them he came out of the fortress with perfect confidence and did not entertain any doubt on account of their being armed. Having encircled him they proceeded to a valley as if to show the commodity or to take possession of it. They had not yet gone far from the fortress when the men of Aws suddenly fell upon him and cut him to pieces. In this way a dangerous enemy a mischievous spy and a dreadful element whose most ardent desire had always been to inflict a blow upon the Muslims was removed from their path.

p: 450

Soon after the murder of Ka'b a Jew named Abu Rafe' who followed in Ka'b's footsteps and was one with him in the matter of spying and instigating was also killed. Ibn Athir has recorded the details of this event in his history.[1]

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[1] Mughazi-i Waqidi vol. I pp. 184-190; Tabaqat vol. ll pp. 31-34 and Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II page 101.

QURAYSH DECIDE TO MEET THE EXPENSES OF WAR

Seeds of subversion and disturbance had already been sown in Makkah for quite some time. Prohibition of mourning had strengthened the sense of revenge. Closure of the trade route of the people of Makkah via Madina and Iraq had made them extremely uneasy. Ka'b bin Ashraf added fuel to this fire and set it ablaze. For these reasons Safwan bin Umayyah and 'Ikramah bin Abi Jahl suggested to Abu Sufyan that as the chiefs and soldiers of Quraysh had been killed for the sake of the protection of the trade caravan of Makkah it was expedient that everyone of those who owned a part of the merchandise which was carried by their caravan should contribute his share to meet the expenses of war. This proposal met Abu Sufyan's approval and was put in action immediately.

The chiefs of Quraysh who were aware of the strength of the Muslims and had observed their bravery and self-sacrifice from a very near quarters in the Battle of Badr considered it expedient to face Muhammad with an organized army consisting of brave and experienced men of various tribes.

p: 451

Amr bin As and some others were deputed to contact the tribes of Kananah and Saqif and to seek their help. They were instructed to invite their brave men to fight with Muhammad fully equipped and to promise them that the expenses of war and all necessities of the journey would be provided by Quraysh. They succeeded after a good deal of activity in procuring the services of a number of brave men belonging to the tribes of Kananah and Tahamah and in preparing an army consisting of three to four thousand men to participate in the battle.[1]

What has been stated above is the number of men only who participated in the battle and if the number of the women who were present on the scene is added the figure will go up. It was not the custom amongst the Arabs to take women to the battlefield but this time women also participated in the battle along with men. And their plan was that they should walk between the formations of the troops beating drums and instigate them to take revenge by reciting verses and making moving speeches.

They had brought the women along with them so that the path for soldiers fleeing the battlefield might be closed because fleeing meant leaving the girls and women to be captured by the enemy and the element of bravery in the Arabs could not yield to such a disgrace.

A large number of slaves joined the army of Quraysh on account of tempting promises made to them. Wahshi bin Harb was an Ethiopian slave of Mut'am. He possessed extraordinary skill in the use of javelin and had been promised freedom if he killed anyone of the three towering personalities of Islam (namely Muhammad Ali or Hamzah). In short after taking great pains they organized an army which consisted of seven hundred armour-clad men three thousand camel-soldiers a cavalry of two hundred men and a group of foot-soldiers.

p: 452

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[1] Commentators and historians like Ali bin Ibrahim Shaykh Tabrasi (A'lamul Wara') and Ibn Hisham differ from one another on the question of the number of soldiers. What is said above however is plausible.

THE INTELLIGENCE ORGANIZATION OF THE HOLY PROPHET FURNISHES A REPORT

Abbas uncle of the Prophet who was in fact a Muslim but had not yet declared his faith openly informed him about the war plans of Quraysh. He wrote a letter under his signature and seal handed it over to a messenger belonging to the tribe of Bani Ghifar taking promise from him that he would deliver it to the Prophet within three days. The messenger brought the sealed letter to the Prophet when he was in a garden outside the city and handed it over to him after paying his respects to him. The Prophet read the letter but did not mention its contents to his companions.[1] Allamah Majlisi quotes from Imam Sadiq[2] that the Prophet did not write but could read a letter. Evidently it was necessary for the Prophet to inform his companions about the plan of the enemy as early as possible. Hence on his return to the town the letter was read over for their information.

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[1] Mughazi-i Waqidi vol. I pp. 203-204 and some historians believe that the messenger brought the letter to Madina when the Prophet was in the mosque and Abi bin Ka'b read it out for him.

[2] Biharul Anwar vol. XX page III.

THE ARMY OF QURAYSH MOVES

p: 453

The army of Quraysh decided to move and after covering some distance reached Abwa where the mother of the Prophet lies buried. Some frivolous men from Quraysh insisted that her body might be exhumed. However the far-sighted amongst them severely condemned this suggestion and added: "It is possible that this may become a custom in future and our enemies belonging to the tribes of Bani Bakr and Bani Khuza'ah may open the graves of our dead".

The Prophet deputed Anas and Munis bin Fazalah to go and bring information about Quraysh. These two persons brought the news that the army of Quraysh had reached near Madina and they had left their animals of mount in the fields of Madina to graze. Hubab bin Munzir brought information that the advance guard of the army of Quraysh had reached near Madina. Thursday afternoon it was confirmed that most of the army of Quraysh had advanced towards Madina. The Muslims were afraid lest the enemies should harm the Prophet by carrying out a night-attack. The chiefs of Aws and Khazraj therefore decided to arm themselves and to spend the night in the mosque so as to guard the house of the Prophet and the gates of the city till they were assigned other duties according to war plans after sunrise.

THE UHUD REGION

The big and lengthy valley which joined the trade route of Syria with Yemen is called Wadiul Qura. Different Arab tribes and the Jews took up their abode at a spot where necessities of life were available. A number of villages therefore came into existence and their sides were fenced by stones. Yathrib (which was later named Madinatur Rasul i.e. city of the Prophet) was considered to be the centre of these villages.

p: 454

Whoever came from Makkah to Madina was obliged to enter there from the southern side. However as this region was stony and it was difficult for an army to move into it the army of Quraysh bent its route and established itself in the north of Madina in the valley named 'Aqiq situated at the foot of Mt. Uhud. This area was fit for all sorts of military operations as there was no palm-grove in it and the land was also even. Madina was more vulnerable from this side because there were very few natural obstacles in this part.

The forces of Quraysh encamped at the foot of Mt. Uhud on Thursday the 5th of Shawwal 3 A.H. The Prophet remained in Madina on that day and also on the night preceding Friday. He formed a military council on Friday and asked the officers and other experienced men to offer suggestions regarding the defence of the city.

CONSULTATIONS IN THE MATTER OF DEFENCE

Almighty Allah had ordered the Prophet of Islam to consult his companions in important matters and to keep their suggestions in view while taking decisions and by doing so he set a great example for his followers and created a spirit of democracy truthfulness and realism amongst them. Did he profit from their views or not? The learned ulemah and scholars of scholastic theology have given replies to this question. However it is an established fact that these consultations are living examples of our constitutional regulations which have come down to us from the Prophet. This method of his was so instructive and impressive that the caliphs of Islam also followed it after his death and accepted in toto the lofty views of Imam Ali the Commander of the Faithful with regard to military matters and social problems.

p: 455

In a big assembly in which the officers and brave soldiers of the army of Islam were present the Prophet said Let me have your views i.e. he asked the officers and soldiers to express their views regarding the protection of Islam which was being threatened by Quraysh.

Abdullah bin Ubayy who was one of the hypocrites of Madina suggested fortified defence. It meant that Muslims should not go out of Madina but make use of towers and buildings the women should stone the enemy from the roofs of the buildings and the towers and the men should fight hand to hand in the streets. He said: "In the past we used to practice the method of fortified defence and women helped us from the roofs of the houses and it is for this reason that the city of Yathrib has remained untouched. The enemy has not so far been able to utilize this method. Whenever we defended ourselves in this way we were victorious and whenever we went out of the city we met with harm".

The old and experienced persons from amongst the Muhajirs and the Ansar supported this view. However the young people and especially those who had not participated in the Battle of Badr and were keen to be engaged in a battle severely opposed this view and said: "This method of defence will encourage the enemy and we shall lose the honour which we acquired in the Battle of Badr. Is it not a shame that the brave and self-sacrificing worshippers of Allah should confine themselves to their homes and allow the enemy to reach there? At the time of the Battle of Badr our strength was far less than the present one and in spite of that we were victorious. We have been waiting for long for such an opportunity and now we have got it".

p: 456

Hamzah the brave officer of Islam said: "By Allah who has revealed the Qur'an I shall not take my meals today until I have fought against the enemy outside the city". This group insisted that the army of Islam should go out of the city and give a fight to the enemy.[1]

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[1] Mughazi-i Waqidi vol. I page 211

DRAWING LOTS FOR BEING KILLED

A pious old man named Khaysamah stood up and said: "O Prophet of Allah Quraysh have been active for full one year and have been able to align the Arab tribes with themselves. If we don't go out now to defend this place it is quite possible that they may besiege Madina. It is also possible that they may lift the siege and return to Makkah. However this very thing will encourage them and we shall not remain secure from their attacks in future. I am sorry that I could not participate in the Battle of Badr when my son and I were both very keen to take part in it and each one of us wished to steal a march on the other. In the Battle of Badr I said to my son: "You are young and have many aspirations and can spend the vigour of your youth in such a way that you may gain the pleasure of Allah. So far as I am concerned my life is now almost finished and my future is not bright. It is therefore necessary that I should participate in this sacred jihad (Battle of Badr) and you should shoulder the responsibilities with regard to my dependents".

p: 457

"However my son was so keen to participate in the battle that we decided to draw lots. The lot fell upon him and he met martyrdom in the Battle of Badr. Last night every one was talking about the siege by Quraysh and I went to sleep with these thoughts in my mind. I saw my son in a dream. He was walking in the gardens of Paradise and was enjoying its fruits. He addressed me with great love and said "Dear father! I am waiting for you ".

"O Prophet of Allah! My beard has become grey and my bones have lost flesh. I request you to pray to Allah for my martyrdom in the path of truth".[1]

You will come across many such brave and self-

sacrificing persons in the pages of the history of Islam. The training schools which are not founded on faith and belief in the

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[1] Biharul Anwar vol. II page 125.

( 408 )

Almighty and in the Day of Judgement can rarely train self-sacrificing soldiers like Khaysamah. This spirit of self-sacrifice which makes a soldier seek his death in the path of righteousness with tears in his eyes cannot be inculcated in any school except in the school of godliness. In the industrial countries of the world today great importance is attached to the living conditions of the officers and other ranks of the armed forces. However as the object during the modern wars is better life and maintenance for them their main aim is to save their lives. In the school of the godly people however the object of fighting is to seek the pleasure of Allah and if this object can be achieved by being killed the soldier of Allah faces all dangers unswervingly.

p: 458

RESULT OF CONSULTATIONS

The Prophet treated the view of the majority to be final and preferred going out of the city instead of resorting to fortified defence and hand to hand fight. It was not at all appropriate that after all the insistence by officers like Hamzah and Sa'd bin 'Ubadah he should accord preference to the suggestion of Abdullah Ubayy who was one of the hypocrites of Madina. Although from the viewpoint of defence and war principles his suggestion guaranteed victory or at least ensured that the Muslims should not meet defeat but it was totally erroneous from the psychological viewpoint for the following reasons:

1. Disorderly hand to hand fighting in the narrow streets of Madina and allowing women to participate in these defensive operations and to remain confined in their homes and leaving the path open to the enemy would have been a sign of the weakness and helplessness of the Muslims and would not have been in keeping with the strength displayed by them in the Battle of Badr.

2. The siege of Madina by the enemy and his control over the roads of the city and the silence of the Muslim soldiers in the face of all this could have very well killed the spirit of warfare in them.

3. It was not impossible that Abdullah Ubayy who nursed a grudge against the Prophet wished to give him a hard blow by this means.

THE HOLY PROPHET TAKES DECISION

After determining the line of defence the Prophet entered his house. He put on the coat of mail girded a sword put a shield on his back hung a bow on his shoulder held a spear in his hand and having thus equipped himself reappeared before the people. This scene gave a severe jolt to the Muslims. Some of them thought that their insistence on going out of the city was not in accordance with Islamic principles and they had persuaded the Prophet unnecessarily to go out for fighting. To make amends therefore they said that they submitted to his views and would abide by whatever decision he might take i.e. if it was not expedient to go out they were prepared to remain in the city. The Prophet however replied "When a Prophet wears a coat of mail it is not proper for him to take it off unless he has fought against the enemy".[1]

p: 459

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[1] Mughazi vol. l page 214 and Tabaqat-i Kubra vol. II page 38.

THE HOLY PROPHET GOES OUT OF MADINA

The Prophet offered Friday prayers and then left Madina for Uhud with an army consisting of one thousand men. He did not take with him persons like Usamah bin Zayd Harith and Abdullah bin Umar on account of their tender age but two young men named Samurah and Rafe' who were not more than fifteen years of age participated in the battle because in spite of their being young they were good archers.

On the way some Jews who were allies of Abdullah Ubayy expressed their desire to participate in the defence of the city but the Prophet did not consider it expedient for some reasons to allow them to do so. In the meantime Abdullah Ubayy also declined to participate in jihad on the excuse that the Prophet had accepted the suggestion of young men in preference to his. He therefore returned from half-way along with three hundred men belonging to the tribe of Aws who were his kinsmen.

The Prophet and his companions were keen to proceed by the shortest route so as to reach their camping-place soon. For this purpose they were obliged to pass through the garden of a hypocrite named Jumuh. He expressed great annoyance in a mulish way on account of the entry of the Islamic army into his property and was disrespectful to the Prophet. The companions of the Prophet wanted to kill him but the Prophet said: "Leave alone this misguided and obstinate person".[1]

p: 460

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. II page 65.

TWO SELF-SACRIFICING SOLDIERS

At one point the Prophet reviewed his soldiers. Their self-sacrificing mettle and brilliant faces were shining through the lights of the swords. The army which the Prophet brought to the foot of Mt. Uhud consisted of persons in whose ages there was much divergence. Most of them were old men with white heads and faces but there could also be seen brave boys whose ages did not exceed fifteen years. The thing which prompted these persons to participate in the battle was nothing else except the love for perfection which could be achieved only under the auspices of the defence of Islam. In support of this statement we narrate hereunder the stories of two persons i.e. an old man and a young man who had been married only one night earlier.

1. 'Amr bin Jumuh: He was an old man with a bent back whose physical strength was exhausted and one of whose feet had also been injured in an incident. He had four brave sons whom he had sent to the battlefield and he was happy that they were fighting for the sake of truth and reality.

However he thought within himself that it was not proper for him to remain away from the battle and thus to lose the blessings (of jihad). His kinsmen severely objected to his participating in the battle and said that the laws of Islam had absolved him from all such responsibilities. Their words did not however satisfy him and he approached the Prophet personally and said: "My kinsmen prevent me from participating in jihad. What is your view in the matter?" The Prophet replied "Allah considers you to be excused and no responsibility devolves upon you". He however insisted and entreated for the acceptance of his request. While his kinsmen were encircling him the Prophet turned to them and said: "Don't prevent him from meeting martyrdom in the path of Islam". When he came out of his house he said: "O Allah! Make me successful in laying my life in Your path and don't make me return to my home".

p: 461

A person who goes to meet death with open arms is sure to achieve his end. The attacks of this lame person were very exciting. He attacked in spite of his lame foot and said: "I am desirous of Paradise". One of his sons was also advancing along with him. Consequently both of them fought till they achieved the honour of martyrdom.[1]

2. Hanzalah: He was a young man who had not yet completed twenty four years of his age. It has been said: "He brings into existence pure children from impure parents". He was the son of Abu 'Amir an enemy of the Prophet. His father participated in the Battle of Uhud from the side of Quraysh and was one of those mischievous elements who instigated Quraysh to wage war against the Prophet. He worked against Islam till his death and was one of the founders of Masjid-i Zirar. A detailed account of it will be given in connection with the events of the ninth year of migration.

Filial sentiments did not make Hanzalah deviate from the right path. The night preceding the day on which the Battle of Uhud took place was his wedding night. He had married the daughter of Abdullah Ubayy the well-known member of the tribe of Aws and was obliged to consummate the marriage rites the same night. When he heard the call to jihad he was perplexed. He found no alternative but to seek permission from the supreme commander to spend that night in Madina and reach the battlefield on the following day.

p: 462

As quoted by Allamah Majlisi[2] the following verse was revealed about him: The true believers are those who have faith in Allah and His Messenger and when they are dealing with the Messenger in important matters they do not leave without his permission. Muhammad those who ask your permission believe in Allah and His Messenger. When they ask your leave to attend to their affairs grant permission to whomever you please and implore Allah to forgive them. Allah is forgiving and merciful. (Surah al-Nur 24:62)

The Prophet granted him permission for one night to consummate the nuptial rites. In the morning he reached the battlefield even before taking ceremonial bath. When he wished to come out of his house tears came in the eyes of the bride whose marriage had taken place only a night earlier. She put her arms round the neck of her husband and asked him to wait for a few moments. She then called four persons who had stayed on in Madina on account of some excuse to witness that marriage had taken place between them during the previous night.

When Hanzalah went the bride turned to the four persons mentioned above and said: "Last night I dreaMt. that the sky was split and my husband entered it and thereafter the two parts of the sky rejoined each other. I feel on account of this dream that my husband and his soul will fly to Paradise".

Hanzalah joined the army. His eyes fell on Abu Sufyan who was parading between the two armies. He made a brave attack on him with his sword but it struck the back of Abu Sufyan's horse and he himself fell down.

p: 463

The cries of Abu Sufyan attracted the attention of the soldiers of Quraysh. Shaddad Dulaythi attacked Hanzalah as a consequence of which Abu Sufyan made good his escape.

A spearhead from amongst the soldiers of Quraysh attacked Hanzalah and thrust his spear into his body. In spite of the wound Hanzalah pursued that man and put him to the sword. He himself also fell down on the ground and breathed his last on account of the wound sustained by him.

The Prophet said: "I have seen that the angels were washing Hanzalah". That is why he is called 'Ghasilul Mala'ikah' (i.e. one who was washed by the angels). When the people of the tribe of Bani Aws recounted the causes of their glory and honour they used to say: "One of us was Hanzalah who was washed by the angels".

Abu Sufyan used to say: "If they killed my son Hanzalah in the Battle of Badr I also killed Hanzalah of the Muslims in the Battle of Uhud".

No doubt the mentality sincerity and faith of this couple is surprising because their fathers were the sworn enemies of Islam. The father of the bride was Abdullah bin Ubayy Salul who was the chief of the hypocrites of Madina and Hanzalah was the son of Abu 'Amir who was a monk during the Age of Ignorance and after the advent of Islam joined the idolaters of Makkah. He was the person who invited Hercules to attack and destroy the newly-formed Islamic State.[3]

p: 464

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. II page 9.

[2] Biharul Anwar vol. XX page 57.

[3] Usudul Ghabah vol. II page 59 and Biharul Anwar vol. XX page 57.

ARRAY OF THE TWO ARMIES

In the morning of the 7th of Shawwal 3 A.H. the Islamic forces arrayed themselves opposite the invading and aggressive forces of Quraysh. The Muslim army selected as their camping-place a point which had a natural barrier and protection at the back of it in the shape of Mt. Uhud. There was however a particular gap in the middle of the mountain and it was probable that the enemy forces might turn round the mountain and appear at the back of the Muslim army through that gap and might attack them from behind.

In order to obviate this danger the Prophet posted two groups of archers on a mound and addressed their Commander Abdullah Jabir in these words: "You should drive away the enemies by shooting arrows. Don't allow them to enter the battlefield from behind and take us by surprise. Whether we are victorious or defeated you should not vacate this point.

The events of the Battle of Uhud show clearly that this passage was extraordinarily sensitive and the defeat of the Muslims after they had achieved victory was due to the fact that the archers displayed indiscipline and vacated this important passage and the defeated and retreating enemy made a quick surprise attack through it.

The strict orders given by the Prophet to the archers not to move from their place were an evidence of his perfect knowledge of the principles of warfare. However a commander's knowledge of the principles of warfare does not guarantee victory if the soldiers display indiscipline.

p: 465

STRENGTHENING THE MORALE OF THE SOLDIERS

The Prophet did not ignore strengthening of the morale of the soldiers in the battles. This time too when seven hundred Muslims were arrayed against three thousand persons he strengthened their morale by an address. The great Historian of Islam Waqidi says: "The Prophet posted fifty archers on the isthmus of Ainayn and kept Mt. Uhud in the back and Madina in front of the Muslim forces. While walking on foot he arrayed the troops and fixed the place of every officer. He kept one group in the front and another in the rear. He arrayed the rows so minutely that if the shoulder of any soldier was ahead of others he immediately asked him to move behind.

After arraying the rows the Prophet addressed the Muslims in these words: "I advise you to follow what has been enjoined by Almighty Allah in His Book. I remind you to obey the orders of Allah and refrain from opposing Him ". Then he added: "It is a difficult and onerous task to fight with the enemy and there are very few who can remain steadfast before them except those who have been guided and supported by Allah for Allah is with those who obey Him and Satan is with those who disobey the Almighty. Above anything else you should remain steadfast in jihad and should acquire by this means the blessings which Allah has promised you. The messenger the Archangel Jibreel has said to me that none dies in this world unless he has eaten the last little bit of his daily portion fixed by Providence ............And until orders are given to start fighting none should resort to it".[1]

p: 466

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[1] Mughazi-i Waqidi vol. I pp. 221-222.

THE ENEMY ORGANIZES HIS ROWS

Abu Sufyan divided his army into three parts. He placed the armour-clad infantry men in the middle a group under the command of Khalid bin Walid on the right and another group under the command of 'lkrimah on the left. He also posted a special platoon in front of the army by way of vanguard and this group also included the standard-bearers all of whom belonged to the tribe of Abdud Dar. Then he addressed them saying: "Victory of an army depends on the steadfastness and perseverance of the standard-bearers. On the Day of Badr we were defeated in this field. If the tribe of Abdud Dar don't display competence in protecting the standard it is possible that the honour of bearing the standard may be transferred to another tribe". Talhah bin Abi Talhah who was a brave man and the first standard bearer felt these words. He stepped forward immediately and challenged the adversary to fight.

PSYCHOLOGICAL STIMULATIONS

Before the battle commenced the Prophet held a sword in his hand and in order to stir the blood of the brave soldiers turned his face towards them and said: "Who is the person who holds this sword in his hand and gives it its due? " Some persons stood up but the Prophet did not hand over the sword to them. Then Abu Dujanah who was a brave soldier stood up and said: "What is due to this sword and how can we give it?" The Prophet said: "You should fight with it so much that it should bend". Abu Dujanah said: "I am prepared to pay its due". Then he tied to his head a red handkerchief which he called 'the handkerchief of death' and took the sword from the Prophet. Hence by tying this head-band to his head he meant that he would fight till his last breath. He walked like a proud leopard and was very happy to receive the honour which he did and the red handkerchief added to his dignity.[1] No doubt such ostentation is the best stimulant to encourage an army which fights for the defence of truth and spirituality and which has no aim other than the spreading of freedom of faith and no motive except the love for perfection. Perhaps this action of the Prophet was not only to stimulate the person of Abu Dujanah for by this means he also encouraged others and impressed upon them that their bravery and determination too should be of such a standard that they should deserve such military medals.

p: 467

Zubayr Awam who was himself a brave soldier felt somewhat uneasy because of the Prophet's not giving the sword to him. He therefore said to himself: "I should pursue Abu Dujanah to see the standard of his bravery". He said: "I followed him in the battlefield. He cut down every warrior that faced him". Then he said: "There was a champion amongst Quraysh who quickly cut off the heads of wounded Muslims and I was very much disturbed on account of this unusual act of his. By some lucky chance he came face to face with Abu Dujanah.

A few blows were exchanged between them and eventually the champion of Quraysh was killed at the hands of Abu Dujanah. Abu Dujanah said: "I saw someone encouraging Quraysh to fight. I went up to him and when he saw the sword hanging on his head he began to bewail and cry. Suddenly I realized that it was a woman (Hind wife of Abu Sufyan) and I considered the sword of the Prophet too pure to be struck on the head of a woman (like Hind)".[2]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. II page 66.

[2] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. II Page 68 - 69.

THE BATTLE BEGINS

Ibn Hisham writes:[1] "The battle commenced through Abu 'Amir who was one of those who had fled Madina. He belonged to the tribe of Aws but on account of his enmity with Islam had taken refuge in Makkah and fifteen persons of Bani Aws were with him. He was under the impression that if the people of Aws tribe saw him they would desert the Prophet. He therefore stepped forward to achieve this end. However when he confronted Muslims he had to face their taunts and abuses. After a short fighting therefore he kept himself aloof from the front.

p: 468

Self-sacrifices of some warriors in the Battle of Uhud are well-known amongst the historians and the sacrifices made by Ali are specially worthy of appreciation. Ibn Abbas says: "In all the battles Ali was the standard-bearer and a standard-bearer was always selected from amongst experienced and steadfast persons and in the Battle of Uhud the standard of Muhajirs was in the hands of Ali". According to many historians after Mus'ab bin Umayr the standard-bearer of the Muslims was martyred the Prophet gave the standard to Ali and the reason for Mus'ab having held the standard in the first instance was perhaps that he belonged to the family of Bani Abdud Dar and the standard-bearers of Quraysh also belonged to the same family". (This view has been taken from Balazari).

Talhah Abi Talhah who was called Kabshul Katibah (a man equal to a vanguard of an army) entered the battlefield shouting and said: "O companions of Muhammad! You believe that our people who are killed go to Hell whereas yours go to Paradise. In the circumstances is there anyone amongst you whom I may send to Paradise or he may send me to Hell?" His voice was ringing in the battlefield. Ali went forward and after the exchange of some blows Talhah fell down.

After Talhah was killed his two brothers became the standard-bearers one after the other. However both of them succumbed to the arrow shots of 'Asim bin Thabit.

It is learnt from the speech which Ali made before the consultative body which was formed to select a caliph after the death of the Second Caliph that the army of Quraysh had kept nine persons in reserve for the office of standard-bearer and it had been decided that they would bear the standard in a specified order and if the first person was killed the second would bear the standard and so on and so forth. All these standard-bearers who belonged to the tribe of Bani Abdud Dar were killed at the hands of Ali. After them an Ethiopian slave named Sawab who had a frightening figure and a dreadful mien picked up the standard and asked for an adversary. He too fell to a blow of Ali.

p: 469

In a big assembly in which the companions of the Prophet were present Ali said: "Do you remember that I relieved you of the mischief of nine persons of the tribe of Bani Abdud Dar everyone of whom held the standard by turn and asked for an adversary?" All those present confirmed the statement of Ali the Commander of the Faithful.[2] He added: "Do you remember that after the nine persons the Ethiopian slave Sawab entered the field and had no object but to kill the Prophet of Allah. He was so furious that his mouth was emitting foam and his eyes had become red. On seeing that dreadful warrior all of you were astonished and retreated whereas I went forward and striking a blow on his back brought him to the ground". Those present confirmed these remarks as well.[3]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. II page 12.

[2] An account of nine standard-bearers who were killed by Ali has been recorded in Biharul Anwar vol. Il. page 51.

[3] Khisal vol. II page 121.

WHO WERE FIGHTING FOR THE SAKE OF LUST?

It is learnt from the verses which Hind and other women were reciting with tambourines to instigate the warriors of Quraysh and to incite them to blood-shed and revenge that these people were not fighting for the sake of spirituality purity freedom and moral virtues. On the contrary they were prompted by sexual and material consideration. The song which the women sang with tambourine and a particular tune amongst the rows of the army was: "We are the daughters of Tariq. We walk on costly carpets. If you face the enemy we shall sleep with you but if you show your back to the enemy and flee we shall disengage ourselves from you".

p: 470

It is an admitted fact that there is a clear contrast and a vast difference between people whose warfare is prompted by sexual desires and who have no aim other than the satisfaction of material gains and beastly pleasures and the people who fight for a sacred spiritual object like establishing freedom raising the level of thinking and relieving man of the worship of wood and stone. On account of the two different stimulants which existed in the minds of these two groups it was not long before as a consequence of the self-sacrifice of the brave officers of Islam like Ali Hamzah Abu Dujanah Zubayr and others the army of Quraysh threw their weapons and provisions on the ground and ran away disgracefully from the battlefield. Another glory was thus achieved by the warriors of Islam.[1]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. II p. 68 and Tarikh-i Tabari vol. II p. 194.

DEFEAT AFTER VICTORY

We may mention here as to why the warriors of Islam were victorious. It was due to the fact that till the last moment of their victory they had no motive except that of jihad in the path of Allah acquisition of His pleasure conveying the message of Allah and the removal of every impediment in its path.

Why were they defeated thereafter? It was because after achieving victory the aim and intention of most of the Muslims underwent a change. Attention towards the booty which the army of Quraysh had themselves thrown in the battlefield and had fled affected the sincerity of a large group and they ignored the orders given by the Prophet.

p: 471

Here are the details of the event: While explaining the geographical conditions of Uhud we had mentioned that there was a particular gap in the middle of Mt. Uhud and the Prophet had entrusted fifty archers under the command of Abdullah Jabir to guard the valley behind the battle front and had given these orders to the commander of the group: "Prevent the enemy from passing through the gap in the mountain by shooting arrows and don't vacate this point at any cost whether we are defeated or victorious".

The fire of warfare blazed up on both the sides. Every time the enemies wished to cross his valley they were repulsed by the archers.

When the army of Quraysh threw away their weapons and property on the ground and ignored everything else to save their lives a few brave officers of Islam whose oath of allegiance was perfectly sincere pursued the enemy outside the battlefield. But the majority ignored the pursuit and placing their weapons on the ground began collecting the booty and imagined that the battle had come to an end.

The persons guarding the valley behind the battle front also decided to avail of the opportunity and said to themselves: "It is useless for us to stay here and it is profitable that we too should collect the booty". Their commander however reminded them that the Prophet had ordered that whether the Muslim army gained victory or was defeated they should not move from their post. Majority of the archers who were guarding the passage opposed their commander and said: "Our staying here is useless and the Prophet meant only that we should guard this passage when the battle was in progress but now the fighting has ended".

p: 472

On the basis of this false presumption forty men came down from the vigilance post and only ten persons remained there. Khalid bin Walid who was a brave and experienced warrior and knew from the very start that the mouth of the passage was the key to victory and had attempted many times to reach at the back of the war-front through it but had to face the archers took advantage of the small number of the guards this time. He led his soldiers towards the back side of the Muslim army and making a surprise attack reached at the party of the Muslims. The resistance by the small group which was stationed above the mound could not prove effective till all the ten persons after putting up a tough fight were killed at the hands of the troops of Khalid bin Walid and 'Ikrimah bin Abi Jahl. Soon after that the unarmed and neglectful Muslims were subjected to a severe attack of the enemy from behind.

After having gained possession of the sensitive point Khalid sought the collaboration of the defeated army of Quraysh which was in a state of flight and strengthened the spirit of resistance and perseverance of Quraysh with repeated shootings and cries. On account of disruption and confusion which prevailed in the ranks of the Muslims the army of Quraysh soon surrounded the Muslim warriors and fighting commenced between them once again.

This defeat was due to the negligence of those persons who vacated the passage for their material gains and unintentionally cleared the way for the enemy in such a manner that the mounted soldiers under orders of Khalid bin Walid entered the field from behind.

p: 473

The attack by Khalid was supported by an attack by 'Ikrimah bin Abi Jahl and unprecedented and surprising disorder prevailed in the forces of Islam. The Muslims had no alternative but to defend themselves as a scattered group. However as liaison with the command had also been disrupted they did not succeed in defending themselves and suffered heavy casualties so much so that some Muslim soldiers were inadvertently killed by other Muslims.

The attacks by Khalid and 'Ikrimah strengthened the morale of the army of Quraysh. Their retreating forces reentered the field and lent them support. They encircled the Muslims from all sides and killed a number of them.

THE RUMOUR ABOUT THE PROPHET BEING KILLED SPREADS

A brave warrior of Quraysh named Laythi attacked Mus'ab bin Umayr the daring standard-bearer of Islam and after exchange of a number of blows between them the standard- bearer of Islam was killed. As the Muslim warriors had hidden their faces Laythi thought that the person killed was the Prophet of Islam. He therefore shouted and informed the chiefs of the army that Muhammad had been killed.

This rumour spread from man to man in the army of Quraysh. Their chiefs were so happy that their voices were ringing in the battlefield and all of them were saying "O people! Muhammad has been killed! O people! Muhammad has been killed! "

Publicity of this false news encouraged the enemy and the army of Quraysh came into motion. Everyone of them was keen to participate in cutting the limbs of Muhammad so that he might secure a high status in the world of polytheism.

p: 474

This news weakened the morale of the warriors of Islam much more than it gave strength to the morale of the army of the enemy so much so that a considerable majority of Muslims abandoned fighting and took refuge in the mountains and none of them except a few who could be counted on fingers remained in the field.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO DENY THE FLIGHT OF SOME PERSONS?

It is not possible to deny that some companions fled the field and the fact that they were companions of the Prophet or that later they acquired status and honour amongst the Muslims should not prevent us from accepting this bitter reality.

Ibn Hisham the famous historian writes thus "Anas bin Nazr the uncle of Anas bin Malik says: "When the army of Islam came under pressure and the news of the death of the Prophet was afloat most of the Muslims thought of their own lives and every person took refuge in one corner or the other". He adds: "I saw a group of Muhajirs and Ansar including Umar bin Khattab and Talhah bin Ubaydullah Taymi who were sitting in a corner and were anxious for themselves. I said to them with a tone of protest: "Why are you sitting here?" They replied The Prophet has been killed and it is, therefore no use fighting . I said to them: "If the Prophet has been killed it is no use living. Get up and meet martyrdom in the same path in which he has been killed".[1]

p: 475

According to many historians Anas said: "If Muhammad has been killed his Lord is alive". And then he added: "I saw that my words had no effect on them. I put my hand to my arms and began to fight with determination". Ibn Hisham says that Anas sustained seventy wounds in this battle and none could identify his dead body except his sister.

A group of Muslims were so much depressed that in order to ensure their safety they planned to approach Abdullah Ubayy so that he might obtain security for them from Abu Sufyan.[2]

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[1] Seerah-i Ibn Hisham vol. II page 83.

[2] Tarikh-i Kamil vol. II page 109.

THE HOLY QUR'AN REVEALS SOME FACTS

The verses of the Holy Qur'an tear the veils of fanaticism and ignorance and make it abundantly clear that some companions thought that the promise given by the Prophet about victory and success was baseless and the Almighty Allah says thus about this group: To some others (a group of companions) of you your lives were so important that you like ignorant people began thinking suspiciously of Allah saying 'Do we have any say in the matter?" (Surah Ale Imran 3:153 )

You can learn the hidden facts about this battle by studying the verses of Surah Ale Imran. These verses fully bear out the facts in which the Shi'ah believe. The Shi'ah believe that all the companions were not self-sacrificing or love