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Attacking the Prophet (s.a.w.) in Person

At the beginning of the Prophet's divine mission, the Quraish looked at him as a monk or a sage, whose influence would soon wane, and the people, accordingly, would return to the religion of their fathers and ancestors. But, contrarily, the new faith swept through the community, scoring victories on the social level. The Qur'anic verses condemned the idols and idolatry, calling for the worship of the only God and- warning the infidels of a terribly severe punishment in the hereafter. At that point the Quraish felt the dangerous reverberations of this call, and so they publicly proclaimed their hostility towards it. Their animosity, was, however, peaceful at first. It was expressed in degrading the Prophet and slandering him. They challenged him to perform miracles. Could he change the hills of al-Safa and al-Marwa into gold? Could he make a spring to flow in the earth more limped than the well of Zamzam? Could he move the mountains from their places or return the dead to life?

Seeing that this method was fruitless and could not dissuade him from carrying on his divine call, they resorted to wildly slanderous propaganda and spreading of rumours. They accused him of being a liar, then a poet, and another time, a sorcerer. They left no stone unturned to distort his image, seizing every chance to do so. Even in Yathrib (Medinah) and Abyssinia (Ethiopia), their lies were intense spread.

One day, they gathered at the house of al-Walid bin al-Mughirah, one of the widely known and shrewd men of among the Arabs and one who used to bitterly mock the Prophet (s.a.w.) and Islam.

O Abu Abd-Shams.?, they asked him. What is Muhammad saying? Is it poetry, soothsaying or sermonizing?

Let me, he suggested, hear his talks.

He came near the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.), who was near the Black Stone reciting verses from the Qur'an.

He asked the Prophet (s.a.w.), O Muhammad, recite some of your poetry to me! It is not poetry, the Prophet (s.a.w.) replied, It is the discourse of Allah, which He has conveyed to his angels, prophets and messengers.

Recite something of it to me, persisted al-Walid.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) recited the chapter (surah) of Ha' Mim al-Sajdah. When he read

But if they turn aside, then say. I have warned you of a Scourge like the scourge of Ad and Thamood.

Al-Walid shivered, and a shudder seized hold of him. He ran away and did not return to his companions who were waiting for him.

The Quraishis reported that Abu-Jahl, saying: O Abu al-Hakam! Abu-Shams inclined to the religion of Muhammad. Did you not see that he did not return to us? Abu-Jahl hastened to meet al-Walid and said to him: O uncle! You have lowered our heads and disgraced us, You made our enemy rejoice at our affliction by inclining to the religion of Muhammad.

I did not incline to his religion, al-Walid explained, but I have heard hard words that made my skin creep.

Was it a sermon? Abu-Jahl inquired.

No, al-Walid. A sermon is composed of uninterrupted sentences. This is prose, parts of which are unlike the others.

Did you see him shudder at it? asked Abu-Jahl.

No, al-Walid replied. I heard Arabic poetry of all rhythms: The basit, madid, ramal and rajz. It is not poetry 'Then, Abu-Jahl wanted to know, what is it?

Let me think, said al-Walid.

The next day, the Quraishis asked al-Walid, O Abu Abd-Shams! What should we call it?' Say, he advised them, it is sorcery, for it attracts the hearts of the people.

About that, Allah, the Exalted, revealed to His Messenger (s.a.w.) the following verses:

Leave Me and him whom I created alone, And gave him vast riches, And sons dwelling in his presence, And I adjusted affairs for him adjustably; And yet he desires that I should add more! By no means! surely he offers opposition to Our signs. I will make a distressing punishment overtake him. Surely he reflected and guessed, But may he be cursed how he plotted; Again, may he be cursed how he plotted; Then he looked, Then he frowned and scowled, Then turned back and was big with pride, Then he said: This is naught but enchantment, narrated (from others); This is naught but the word of mortal. I will cast him into hell. And what will make you realize what hell is? It leaves naught nor does it spare aught.

Holy Qur'an (73:21-28)

Apart from this widespread slanderous propaganda, they moved to make bargains with him in a bid to lure him away from his message. With this in mind, they sent, one day, Utba bin Rabi'a, one of their prominent leaders, to the Prophet (s.a.w.) to strike a deal with him. He said to him:

...O my nephew! if you desire money and wealth, by preaching what you are preaching, we will collect enough for you from our own. We will make you the wealthiest of all of us. If it is chieftainship that you desire we are ready to make you our paramount chief, so that we will never decide on matter without you. If you desire rulership, we will make you our ruler. And if this condition that you call revelation is a jinn that you cannot escape from his grip, we are ready to call the most distinguished physicians of out time to examine you, and spend generously, till you are completely cured. For, sometimes, the jinn seizes hold of victim totally till the latter is exorcised.

Is that all, O Abu al-Walid?, the Prophet asked.

Yes , he replied.

Then, listen to me, the Prophet said to him.

I will, agreed Utba.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) recited the chapter (surah) of Fussilat:

Ha Mim! A revelation from the Beneficent, the Merciful God. A Book of which the verses are made plain, an Arabic Qur'an for a people who know: A herald of good news and a warner, but most of them turn aside so they hear not. And they say: Our hearts are made under coverings from that to which you call us, and there is a heaviness in our ears, and a veil hangs between us and you, so work, we too are working. Say: I am only a mortal like you; it is revealed to me that your God is one God, therefore follow the right way to Him and ask His forgiveness; and woe to the polytheists. (To) those who do not give poor-rates and they are unbelievers in the hereafter. (As for) those who believe and do good, they shall surely have a reward never to be cut off...,

Holy Qur'an (41:1-8)

Till he recited the verse where prostration is obligatory on whoever recites or hears it, and the Prophet (s.a.w.) prostrated himself while Utba was still listening to him. Then he said to Utba, O Abu al-Walid! You have heard what I have just recited. You can now decide.

Utba got to his feet. He was bewildered so much so that his companions said, We swear by Allah that Abu al-Walid has returned in a different mood. He had hardly took his place among them when he said to them, By Allah, I have heard something I have never heard before. By Allah, it is neither poetry, sorcery nor soothsaying.

O son of the Quraish! Listen me and leave it me. Leave the man to himself. Boycott him. By Allah, he will be widely known. Should Arabs kill him then you are spared the task of checking him. And if he reigns over them, his rulership is yours and his power is yours. You will be the happiest people with him.

Abu al-Walid, they protested, he has by Allah, cast a spell on you with his tongue!

That is what I think of him. He told them. You are free to do what you think suitable ... 27

Once again, they sent another delegation to the Prophet. They brought forward the same previous proposal, and he said to them:

... I have not brought to you what I have brought for the sake of your wealth. Nor was it to seek honour or rulership over you. Allah has sent me to you a Messenger and revealed a book to me. He ordered me to give you the good news of Paradise and to warn you of the fire of hell. I have conveyed to you the message of my lord and advised you. If you accept what I have brought you, then, it is your lot in this life and the hereafter. Should you refuse it, then I resign myself to Allah's will, till Allah judges between me and you ... 28

Then the Quraishis attempted to make the Prophet (s.a.w.) turn aside from his message by contacting his family. They went to his uncle Abu-Talib and complained to him about Muhammad (s.a.w.). They told him that his nephew had cursed the idols, spoken evil of their gods and, created tensions among them. So he had either to stop preaching his message or face the whole of the Quraish, if Abu-Talib was to leave him unprotected. Abu-Talib could mitigate their worries and put the question aside.

Once again they called on Abu-Talib. They repeated their previous proposals. But they added something new. They asked Abu-Talib to hand Muhammad (s.a.w.) over to them in return for Umara bin al-Walid bin al-Mughirah, whom they would give to him. They said to him: We offer you the well-known young ma-n of the Quraish who is matchless in his beauty, lineage, freighting ability and in reciting poetry.

By Allah, Abu-Talib told them, You are very unfair. You give me your son to take care of, whereas I give you mine so that you kill him! Do you not know that the she-camel that loses its baby will not yearn for another one? … 29

For the third time they returned to talk with Abu-Talib. But, this time, they were enraged beyond endurance. They said to Abu-Talib:

By Allah, we can no longer be patient while Muhammad insults our fathers, speaks evil of our gods and finds wrong with our gods. You should either stop his activities or be ready, both of you to fight us, till one of the parties perishes. 30

Abu-Talib was very distressed at that. He took the Prophet (s.a.w.) aside and told him all that the Quraish had said. He made it clear to him that he could not, due to a lack of means, resist and fight them. Nor could he withdraw his protection from him. The Prophet (s.a.w.) fell into deep thought, then said:

O My dear uncle. By Allah, even if they were to place the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand so that I abandon this mission, I will never do that till Allah makes it prevail or I perish in carrying it out...

Saddened at what he had heard, the Prophet (s.a.w.) left his uncle. But Abu Talib called him and said to him bravely: Go, my nephew. Say what you want to. By Allah, I will never abandon you. Then he recited these lines of verses:

By Allah , never can they treat you as they wish,

Not until I am laid to rest in my grave.

Proceed with your mission unblamed,

Of that I give you the good news. Be assured of that.

You have invited me. Surely, I know you are advising me,

You are still the trustworthy even if you carry out this mission.

I know, for sure, that the religion of Muhammad,

Is the best one revealed to mankind. 31

The clan of Bani Hashim sided with the Messenger (s.a.w.) and unanimously decided to protect him. 32 But Abu-Lahab was a prey to the grudge burning inside him, as he saw the Messenger of Allah enjoying so much support from his clan.

With the peaceful negotiations failing, the Quraish resorted to physical persecution of the Prophet (s.a.w). That took many forms:

They hurled stones at his house.

They threw the carcass of a newly slaughtered ewe at him.

They threw filth in front of his house.

They scattered thorns in his way.

They poured dust on his head.

They placed the wombs of a slaughtered lamb on his head, while he was prostrating himself in prayer.

Aqaba bin Abi-Mu'it, accompanied by some men from the Quraish, pressed the Prophet's neck so hard that he was at the point of death 33

They urged the children to stone him, and similar annoying things to him. Without complaining, he used to receive all that bad treatments patiently and imperturbably, he expressed that fact in the following words:

Never before me was a Prophet harmed as was I.


27&28. Al-Rasul (The Messenger), Sa'id Hawwa, vol. l, pp. 93-94-95.

29. Sirat al-Rasul (Life of the Messenger), Sayyid Muhsin al-Amin al-Amili, pp. 41-42.

30. Ibid.

31. Al-Tha'labi quoted it, in his exegesis, from Muqatil, Abdullah bin Abbas, al-Qasam bin Mahdarah and Ata' bin Dinar: Also see: Khazanat al-Adab (Treasure of Literature), al-Baghdadi, vol. l, p.261: Tarikh Ibn Kuthayr (History of Ibn Kuthayr), vol. 2, p.42. al-Isabah (The hit), vol. 4, p.116; Al-Mawahib (talents), vol. l, p.61: Al-Sirah al-Halabiyyah, vol. l, p.305: Al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah (Life of the Prophet), Zaini Dahlan; Hamish al-Halabiyyah (Margin on the Life of the Prophet), vol. l, p.91 and p.211. Commenteries on Nahj al-Balaghah, Ibn Abul-Hadid, vol. 3, p.306...etc.

32. Suwar min Hayat Muhammad, p.151.

33. Ibid, p.157: Sirat al-Rasul, p.43.

Adapted from the book: "Muhammad The Messenger of Allah"

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