Beacons of Light
Beacons of Light
Muhammad, the Prophet, and Fatimah, the Radiant
Abu Ali al Fadl ibn al Hasan ibn al Fadl at-Tabarsi
It has been our intention for a long time to translate into English a book that would narrate the lives of the fourteen ma'sumin (sinless ones) - the Prophet, peace be upon him and the people of his household, his righteous and pure daughter Fatimah az-Zahra', peace be upon her, and the Twelve Imams, peace be upon all of them. Such a book would, it was hoped, discuss the circumstances of the Prophet, his daughter Fatimah and the Imams of his descendants. It would present proofs of their special favor with Allah, and the exalted status with which He favored them. The book would also present proofs of the obligations with which Allah has charged all men to obey and follow them.
When Kitabul-Irshad ila Hujaj Allah 'alal - 'Ibad (The Book of Guidance to the Proofs of Allah over Mankind) of ash-Shaykh al-Mufid was recently translated into English by I. K. Howard, we felt that it had largely fulfilled our hopes for the author, Abu 'Abdillah Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn an-Nu'man al-'Ukbari al-Baghdadi, known as ash-Shaykh al-Mufid (336-413/948-1022), was one of the foremost scholars of the Imami Shi'i community, and one of its greatest jurists and theologians. We therefore decided to republish the book ourselves with a special introduction, which is now in the process of being translated. As soon as this introduction is ready, we shall, with Allah's help, proceed with our task.
It is clear, however, that Kitabul-Irshad lacks two important sections which are necessary for the purpose of giving an account of the fourteen sinless ones. The first would be concerned with the most honored Prophet, peace be upon him and the people of his household, and the second would deal with the righteous and pure Fatimah az-Zahra', peace be upon her. We have also explained in the introduction to our forthcoming edition of Kitabul-Irshad that these two sections would not have been appropriate for the purpose of the book of our ash-Shaykh al-Mufid, who was only concerned in it with the Twelve Imams and the proofs of the imamate. But they are crucial for the aim which we are seeking to achieve here.
It is important to observe that the author of the book I'Iamu 'l-Wara bi A'lami 'l-Huda, of which this volume is a partial translation, used, in writing it the same methodology as Kitabul-Irshad, and was in fact guided by it. In fact, most of the chapters of I'Iamu 'l-Wara are summaries of the chapters of Kitabul-Irshad, with important additions which the author found suitable for the subject matter as he treated it. More significant for our purpose, however, is the fact that the author added the two sections which are absent from Kitabul-Irshad. Finally, a translator was found who agreed to undertake the task of rendering these two sections into English.
Here we must refer to an important matter which has been treated at length in our introduction to Kitabul-Irshad - namely that at -Tabrisi, like his predecessor al-Mufid, relies, in many of the discussions of his book, on the works of the historians and hadith transmitters of our Sunni brothers. In our introduction also we discuss in detail the reasons which compelled them, as well as others of our worthy scholars, to do so. With regard to the book I'lamu 'l-Wara, the author frequently cites his compatriot the famous traditionist and learned Shafi'i jurist Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Husayn al-Bayhaqi (384- 458/ 994 -1066) , while dealing with the biography of the Holy Prophet. This is particularly the case with al-Bayhaqi's book Dala'ilu 'n-Nubuwwah. at-Tabrisi's use of al-Bayhaqi's work may lead to some misunderstandings of the position of Imami Shi'is on some of the traditions cited from this book in I'lamu 'l-Wara. An example of this is certain traditions which at-Tabrisi quotes from al-Bayhaqi asserting that Abu Talib (the Prophet's uncle) died without believing in the Muhammadan dispensation (see below, p. 81) . Yet all the Imams have agreed on the falsity of this view, and were followed in this by Imami Shi'i, and even the entire Shi'i community. The authenticity of yet another tradition concerning particular men among the Prophet's companions spending of their wealth in provisioning the army for the Battle of Tabuk (see below, p.188), which at-Tabrisi also quotes from al-Bayhaqi, is questioned by non-Shi'i traditionists. They held a different view of this event, which we omit to mention here in order that we might not be accused of sectarian fanaticism.
As at-Tabrisi himself says concerning the verse of the Cave (see at-Tawbah, 9:40): "The Shi'ahs have something to say in connection with this verse concerning the Prophet (may the prayers of Allah and peace be upon him and his family) and the sakinah (i.e., the peace or tranquility which was sent down by Allah), which we have thought better not to relate so as not to be accused of anything (i.e., fanaticism)." (Majma'u 'l-Bayan, Matba'atu'l-'Irfan, Sayda [Lebanon], 1355/1936, vol. 5, p. 32).
The author of I'lamu'l-Wara bi A'lami'l-Huda, Ash-Shaykh Aminu'd-Din Abu 'Ali al-Fadl ibn al-Hasan ibn al-Fadl at -Tabrisi (c. 468 - 548/1076 -1154), was one of the foremost scholars, jurists and Qur'an commentators of the Imami Shi'i community. He is the author of the well-known commentary on the Qur'an, Majma'u'l-Bayan li 'Ulumi'l Qur'an.
The author studied with a large number of both Shi'i and Sunni scholars. His disciples and those who transmitted ahadith (traditions) from him were likewise numerous, and all were well-recognized scholars. at -Tabrisi wrote books and treatises on many religious, scientific and literary subjects.
A detailed account of at-Tabrisi and of his life, teachers, students and works (already written) will accompany the preface to a future complete translation of this important work. of the author - as it is our hope that Allah, the Exalted, will soon provide us the means to complete this work. Here, however, we will confine ourselves to what was said concerning him by two figures prominent in the fields of, belles-lettres, and biography.
At-Tabrisi's contemporary and townsman the well known historian, 'Ali ibn Abi 'l-Qasim ibn Funduq al-Bayhaqi (493 - 565/ 1100 -1169 or 70) says: "al-Imam as-Said Abu 'Ali, was originally from Tabris, a place between Qashan and Isfahan. He then settled in Mashhad-i Sanabad (i.e., present day Mashhad) at Tus, and his tomb is now to be found there near the Qatlagah Mosque . . . The Imam was unique in his age in the science of grammer . . . and had expertise in the other sciences such that many were able to benefit and learn from him. He moved to Bayhaq in 523/1129, and settled there, where a school was founded for him in the quarter of Darwazah-i 'Iraq ('Iraq Gate). He also composed a great quantity as well of poetry in his youth . . ., and has many other words also. He was distinguished in arithmetic and algebra. He died in the capital city of Sabzawar (i.e., Bayhaq) on the night of al-Adha, on the 10th Dhi'l-Hijjah, 548 (26th February, 1154), and was taken to his resting-place in Mashhad (Tarikh-i Bayhaq, ed., Qari Sayyid Kalim Allah Husayni"[Hyderabad, Deccan: Da'iratu'l-Ma'arif al-'Uthmaniyyah, 1388/1968], pp. 420- 21.)
Another learned and well-known scholar, the Wazir Jamalu'd-Din, Abu 'l-Hasan 'Ali ibn Yusuf al-Qifti (564 -646/1172-1248), says: "He lived in Bayhaq where he was a grammarian and exegete, and foremost teacher of these sciences. Students flocked to him to benefit from his great knowledge, and from his eloquence both in poetry and in prose."
I'lamu 'l-Wara bi A'lami 'l-Huda, is divided into four parts. The first part deals with the Prophet and Fatimah az-Zahra', and the second part deals with the Commander of the Faithful, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib. The third part narrates the lives of the rest of the Imams, except the Twelfth. The fourth part discusses the imamate of the Twelve Imams, as well as the birth and occultation of the Twelfth lmam.
The edition used for this translation (ed., 'Ali Akbar Ghifari, pub. Dar al-Ma'rifah, Beirut, 1399/1979), based on a manuscript in the private collection of the well-known traditionist as-Sayyid Jalalu'd-Din al-Urmawi, as well al-Majlisi's Biharu'l-Anwar, where the entire book is copied in various contexts in several volumes. Another important source used in preparing the edition was Kitabu'l-Irshad, which was extensively used by at-Tabrisi himself, used in this translation. Finally, the editor consulted all the sources which at-Tabrisi himself cites in the book.
This small volume was translated and annotated by Dr. Mahmoud M. Ayoub, research associate of the Centre of Religious Studies, and Lynda G. Clarke, doctoral candidate of the Department of Middle East and Islamic Studies, University of Toronto, Canada. It is our hope that the rest of the book I'lamu'l-Wara bi A'lami'l-Huda, will be one day translated into English by Dr. Ayoub and Mrs. Clarke, or that someone else qualified would undertake this worthy task.
(Board of Writing, Translation and Publication ).
17/ 3/1406 30/11/1985 Tehran - IRAN.
In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate
Praise be to Allah, the One and only God: The eternal refuge, who did not beget, nor was He begotten. Nor is there anyone equal to Him [Qur.112] . Far exalted is He over having mate or offspring, or being subject to number and effort. Sanctified over resemblances is His essence. His greatness transcends the minds of men, and His majesty has baffled the subtleties of human reason. Through clear testimony does His proof shine forth, and His wisdom is manifest in all things. He established truth, and made clear His proofs and elucidations through the beacons (that is, the Imams) and the clear evidences which He raised up. He destroyed falsehood, as He utterly refuted its errors.
Allah's blessings be upon His chosen servant and Prophet, the most excellent of prophets and messengers, and of people who have come and those who are yet to be - the bearer of glad tidings who invited men to Allah by His leave, the luminous lamp [see Qur'an. 33:45-6] and master of the masters of the Arabs and non-Arabs - Muhammad ibn 'Abdillah ibn 'Abdi 'l-Muttalib.
Peace be upon his vicegerents, the rightly guided Imams, who are satisfied with Allah's pleasure: they who are the chosen of Muhammad's fragrant shoot; who are the guardians of his sacred law; they who are protected [by Allah] from all impurity and abomination; they who are chosen over all humankind and the jinn. Through them anyone promised good by Allah shall receive His promise; nor will anyone be able to traverse the sirat 1, except by their permission. They are the cushion of the middle course [upon which all must lean] 2. Anyone who seeks to precede them shall go astray, and he who turns away from them shall perish. Yet he who abides with them shall achieve his goal. They are like the gate of forgiveness [bab hittah] 3, and like the Ark of Noah - he who enters it shall be saved, arid he who abandons it shall drown and perish. They are the elect of the Apostle and the chosen of his descendants. Allah linked their knowledge to knowledge of the Prophet, and made love for them as binding as love for him. They are the foundations of Islam: the Imams of humankind and the proofs of the Guardian, the [Lord of ] Peace [see Qur'an. 59:23 ] . They are lamps in the darkness and guides to every desire. The best of blessings and peace be upon them, so long as lightening flashes, clouds pour down their rain and gardens adorn themselves with fruits and herbage.
[The author] has thus determined to write a book containing the names of the guiding Imams: the masters of authority, the people of command, the people of remembrance [see Qur'an. 4:59 and 16:43 ] and the people of the household of revelation from whom Allah has removed all impurity, and purified with a great purification [see Qur'an. 33 :33] . It shall contain their biographies: the times of birth, and the spans of their lives and reports of their private lives and righteous deeds. It shall present proof texts supporting the truth of their imamate, as well as the signs which Allah manifested concerning them and which testify to their exalted status over all others.
The author contemplated all this, pondering it well, then said to himself: "If indeed the Apostle of Allah is the tree of which the Imams are the branches, the garden of which they are the flowers, the wellspring of knowledge of which they are the repositories, the essence of wisdom of which they are the treasurers, the legislator of the religion of which they are the keepers, and the recipient of the Book of which they are the bearers; he would then be more worthy to be first mentioned. The miracles which bespeak his apostleship, the signs pointing to the truth of his Prophethood, his great miracles and incontrovertible proofs, must all be set forth. He thus sought Allah's aid in beginning and completing such a work, and entitled it " I'lamu 'l-wara bi a A'lami 'l-huda ". He divided it into four parts: the first deals with the Messenger of Allah; the second concerns itself with the Commander of the Faithful, 'Ali ibn Abi Talib; and the third deals with the Imams of his descendants, beginning with al-Hasan ibn 'Ali and ending with al-Hasan al-'Askari (the eleventh Imam), peace be upon them. The fourth and final part discusses the imamate of the twelve Imams, as well as the twelfth Imam. Each part is in turn divided into different chapters and sections, rich with precious knowledge and wisdom, each separately and all together. For in this book I have brought forth a brilliant pearl for the hearts of the faithful, and the noblest sounds to be poured upon the ears of the people of certainty. Allah the Exalted grants support; He guides to the right course and to wise counsel. In Him do I trust, and to Him do I turn.
This section deals with the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah's blessings be upon him and the people of his household: his lineage, birth, the time of his call by Allah to apostleship, his age and the time of his death, his epithets and characteristics, the proofs of his Prophethood, and his miracles, his children and wives, and his paternal and maternal uncles. It provides information concerning some of his battles and other events of his life. It consists of six chapters; the first, divided into three sections, deals with his lineage and birth, his age and the time of his death.
His Birth And Lineage, And The Time Of His Death
The Prophet Muhammad was born on Friday before sunrise on the 17th of Rabi 'u 'l-Awwal in the 'Year of the Elephant', 570/71.
According to Sunni tradition, he was born on Monday. Traditionists have, however, differed concerning the date. Some said it was on the second night of Rabi'u'l-Awwal, others on the tenth. This was after thirty-four years and eight months of the reign of Anushirwan son of Qubad, King of Persia, who killed Mazdak and exterminated the Dualists.
It is to this that the hadith attributed to the Messenger of Allah refers: "I was born during the reign of the just and righteous King." His birth occurred also after eight years and eight months of the reign of 'Amr ibn Hind, King of the Arabs. His agnomen was Abu 'l-Qasim. Anas ibn Malik reported that, "When Ibrahim son of the Prophet was born, Gabriel came to him and said, 'Peace be upon you, O Abu Ibrahim'. "
His genealogy is as follows: Muhammad ibn 'Abdillah ibn 'Abdi 'l-Muttalib - whose name was Shaybatu'l-Hamd - ibn Hashim - whose name was 'Amr - ibn 'Abd Manaf - whose name was al-Mughirah - ibn Qusayy - whose name was Zayd - ibn Kilab ibn Murrah ibn Ka'b ibn Lu'ayy ibn Ghalib ibn Fihr ibn Malik ibn an-Nadr - known as Quraysh - ibn Kinanah ibn Khuzaynah ibn Mudrikah ibn Ilyas ibn Mudar ibn Nizar ibn Ma'add ibn 'Adnan. It is reported that the Prophet said, "When my genealogy reaches 'Adnan, then go no further". It is also related on the authority of Umm Salamah the wife of the Prophet, who said, "I heard the Prophet say (recounting his own lineage), 'Ma'add ibn 'Adnan ibn Udad ibn Zayd ibn Thara ibn A'raqu 'th-Thara'." Umm Salamah also said: "Zayd is Hamaysa'; and Thara is Nabt; and A'raqu 'th Thara is Isma'il (Ishmael) ibn Ibrahim (Abraham)." She continued: "Then the Apostle of Allah recited, ' Ad, Thamud and the people of the well (Rass) and many generations between' [Qur'an. 25:38] , which only Allah knows."
Ash-Shaykh Abu Ja'far ibn Babawayh, may Allah be pleased, with him, reported another genealogy as follows: 'Adnan ibn Udd ibn Udad ibn Yamin ibn Yashjub ibn Munhar ibn Sabugh ibn Hamaysa' ; or in another version: 'Adnan ibn Udad ibn Zayd ibn Yaqdud ibn Yaqdum al-Hamaysa' ibn Nabt ibn Qaydar ibn Isma'il ibn Ibrahim. It is generally believed by most historians and genealogists that 'Adnan was Udd ibn Udad ibn al.-Yasa' ibn al-Hamaysa' ibn Salaman ibn Nabt ibn Hamal ibn Qaydar ibn Isma'il ibn lbrahim ibn Tarih ibn Takhar ibn Sarakh ibn Ar'awa' ibn Faligh ibn 'Abir, who was the Prophet Bud. Had was the son of Shalikh ibn Arfakhshadh ibn Sam (Shem) ibn Nah [Noah] ibn Lamk ibn Mattushalakh [Methuselah] ibn Ukhnakh, who was the Prophet Idris [Enoch]. Ukhnakh was the son of Yarid ibn Mahla'il ibn Qaynan ibn Unash ibn Shith [Seth] ibn Adam, the father of humankind.
The Prophet's mother was Aminah bint (daughter of) Wahb ibn 'Abd Manaf ibn Zuhrah ibn Kilab ibn Murrah ibn Ka'b ibn Lu'ayy ibn Ghalib.
Halimah daughter of 'Abdullah ibn al-Harith ibn Shijnah as-Sa'diyyah of the (tribe of) Bana Sa'd ibn Hawazin nursed him until he reached the age of weaning. Thuwaybah, the servant of Aba Lahab ibn 'Abdi l-Muttalib, also nursed him while nursing her own son Masrah. This was before Halimah accepted the task. Thuwaybah died a Muslim in the seventh year of the Hijrah, and her son died before her. She had also nursed Hamzah ibn 'Abdi'I-Muttalib, the Prophet's paternal uncle. Thus the Messenger of Allah said of Hamzah's daughter: "She is the daughter of my nursing brother." Hamzah was four years older than the Apostle of Allah. As for his grandmother, the mother of his father 'Abdullah, she was Fatimah daughter of 'Amr ibn 'A'idh ibn 'Imran ibn Makhzum. The mother of 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib was Salma daughter of 'Amr of the tribe of an-Najjar. Hashim's mother was 'Atikah daughter of Murrah ibn Hilal of the tribe of Sulaym. Qusayy and Zuhrah's mother was Fatimah daughter of Sa'd of the tribe of Azdu 's-Sarat.
The Prophet proclaimed his apostleship on the twenty-seventh of the month of Rajab. He was then forty years of age, and died on Monday, two nights before the end of Safar in the eleventh year of the Hijrah. He was then sixty-three years old.
His Names, Epithets And Honorable Lineage
Among his names are those which are in the Qur'an; they are as follows: the Apostle, and the unlettered Prophet, as Allah says: They who follow the Apostle, the unlettered Prophet whom they find inscribed in the Torah and the Gospel [Qur'an. 7:157]. Others are: al-muzammil (enshrouded) and al-mudaththir (enwrapped), as in Allah's saying: O you who are enshrouded, and O you who are enwrapped [see Qur'an. 73:1 and 74:1 ] . Still others are: an-nadhir al-mubin (the clear warner), as Allah says: Say, I am the clear warner [Qur'an. 15:89] , and Ahmad, as Allah says: and announcing the coming of an apostle after me, whose name is Ahmad [Qur'an. 61:6].
His name Muhammad is also mentioned, where Allah says: Muhammad is the Apostle of Allah [Qur'an. 48:29] , and al-Mustafa, as in Allah's saying: Allah elects Messengers from among angels and men [Qur'an. 22:75]. He is also called karim (noble), as in Allah's saying: It is surely the speech of a noble Messenger [Qur'an. 69:40] . Allah called him nur (light), as in His saying: There have come to you from Allah a light and a clear Book [Qur'an. 5:15 ] . He also called him ni'mah (favor) in His saying: They know Allah's favor, yet they deny it [Qur'an. 16:83 ] , and rahmah (mercy), as He says: We have not sent you, except as a mercy to humankind [Qur'an. 21:107 ] . He also called him abd (servant), as Allah says: It is He who sent down the criterion (Furqan) to His servant [Qur'an. 25:1 ] . He is called ra'uf rahim (kindly and compassionate), as in Allah's saying: He is kindly and compassionate toward the people of faith [Qur'an. 9:128] . Allah called him shahid (witness), mubashshir (bearer of glad tidings) nadhir (warner) and da'i (summoner), as He says: We have sent you as a witness, bearer of glad tidings, warner, a summoner to Allah by His leave, and a luminous lamp [Qur'an. 33:45 - 6] . Allah also called him mundhir (warner), as in His saying: You are surely a warner [Qur'an. 13:7]. Allah called him 'abd Allah (God's servant) as in His saying: When the servant of Allah rose up to summon him, they nearly rushed at him in crowds [Qur'an. 72:19] . Allah called him mudhakkir (reminder) in His saying: You are surely a reminder [Qur'an. 88:21 ] . Allah also called him Taha and Yasin. 4
Others of the Prophet's names and epithets are reported in the hadith. Thus Muhammad ibn Isma'il al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Jubayr ibn Mut'im that he heard the Apostle of Allah says: "I have many names: I am Muhammad, I am Ahmad. I am al-mahi (the effacer), for through me Allah shall efface rejection of faith. I am al-hashir (the gatherer), for all men shall be gathered at my heels (on the last day). I am al-aqib (the last to follow), after whom there shall be no other (prophet)." 5 In another tradition: "I am the effacer" is taken to mean, he through whom the sins of those who follow him shall be effaced. In yet another tradition he is called al-muqaffi (that is he who followed all other prophets), nabiyyu't-tawbah (the prophet of penitence), nabiyyu'I-malhamah (the prophet of war), al-khatim (the seal), al ghayth (the succorer), and al-mutawakkil (he who trusts in Allah).
The names of Muhammad in ancient scriptures are also numerous. Some of these are: ma'udh ma'udh, which is in Hebrew in the Torah. 6 In the Psalms his name is Faruq (the one through whom falsehood is distinguished from truth).
Ash-Shaykh Abu Bakr Ahmad al-Bayhaqi related in his book Dala'ilu'n-Nubuwwah on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas, who said that the Messenger of Allah said, "Allah, exalted is He, divided creatures into two groups, and placed me in the best group. Thus Allah speaks of the people of the right and the people of the left [see Qur'an. 90:18-19] ; I am of the people of the right, and I am the best of the people of the right. Allah then divided the two groups into three, and placed me in the best third. This is clear from His saying: And the people of the right hand, who are the people of the right hand? And the people of the left, who are the people of the left? And those who precede, precede: they are the ones brought near [Qur'an. 56:8-10] . I am among those who precede, and I am the best of those who precede (that is in accepting true faith and in the performance of good deeds). Allah then divided these three groups into different tribes and placed me in the best tribe. Thus He says: We made you into nations and tribes [Qur.49:13]. I am the most righteous of the children of Adam, and the noblest of them in the sight of Allah. I do not boast. Allah then made of the tribes different houses and placed me in the best house. Thus He says: Surely Allah wishes to remove all abomination from you people of the house and purify you with a great purification [Qur'an. 33:33]. I and the people of my household are therefore purified from all sins." 7
Al-Hakim Abu 'Abdillah reported on the authority of Sufyan ibn 'Uyaynah who said: "The best verse which the Arabs recited is that which Abu Talib recited concerning the Prophet
And (Allah) derived for him a name from His name in order that He might exalt him;
The Lord of the Throne is Mahmud, and he is Muhammad. 8
Others said that this verse was composed by Hassan ibn Thabit (the famous poet of the Prophet) as part of a poem which begins with the words:
Do you not see that Allah sent His servant with His clear proof;
For Allah is Most High and Most Glorious.
Among the Prophet's epithets mentioned in the hadith are: 'the camel rider', 'eater of the shoulder' 9, 'prohibiter of the eating of dead animals', 'he who accepts gifts', 'the seal of Prophethood', 'holder of the thick staff' (as a sign of authority), and 'the messenger of mercy'. It is said that his agnomen (kunyah) in the Torah is Abu 'l-Aramil (the man who cares for widows), and his name is the man of the thick staff.
It is reported that the Prophet said: "I am qutham, 'the perfect one' and 'the possessor of all goodness' ". He also said, "I am the first and the last, the first in Prophethood and the last to be sent by Allah as a messenger."
The Span Of His Life, Peace Be Upon Him
Muhammad lived to be sixty-three years of age, two years and four months of which he lived with his father. He lived with his grandfather 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib for eight years. After the death of 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib, his uncle Abu Talib cared for the Prophet, greatly honoring and protecting him. Abu Talib stood by the Prophet and supported him all his life. Ibn Ishaq (the famous biographer of the Prophet) also reported that the Prophet's father died before his birth. It is also related that he died when the Prophet was seven months old.
Ibn Ishaq reported that Aminah, the Prophet's mother, took him to his maternal uncles, the sons of 'Adiyy of an-Najjar tribe, in Medina. On her way back to Mecca, she died in a spot called al-Abwa'. The Messenger of Allah was then six years old. It is related on the authority of Buraydah (al-Aslami, one of the Prophet's Companions) that one day the Prophet came to a grave. He sat at it, and all those who were with him also sat down around him. He then began to turn his head, as though he was talking to someone. Then he wept. He was asked, "What causes you to weep O Messenger of Allah?" He answered, "This is the grave of Aminah daughter of Wahb. I asked permission of my Lord to visit her grave, and He permitted me. I felt compassion for her and wept." (Buraydah continued) "I never saw anyone weep so bitterly as he did at that time." In yet another tradition, it is reported by Muslim in his as-Sahih that the Prophet said: "I asked permission to visit the grave of my mother, and it was granted me. Visit the graves, therefore, because they remind you of death." 11
The Prophet married Khadijah daughter of Khuwaylid at the age of twenty-five. His uncle Abu Talib died when he was forty-six years, eight months and twenty-four days old. Khadijah also passed away three days after Abu Talib. Therefore, the Apostle of Allah called that year 'the year of sorrow'. 'Urwah ibn az-Zubayr (his father az-Zubayr being a cousin and close Companion of the Prophet) related from his father that the Apostle of Allah said, "The people of Quraysh continued to stay away from me until Abu Talib died."
The Prophet remained in Mecca after his call to Prophethood for thirteen years. Then he left it and migrated to Medina, after hiding in the cave for three days. It is also reported that he hid for six days. He entered Medina on Monday the 11th of Rabi 'u 'l-Awwal, 1 A H., where he lived for ten years. He died on Monday, two nights before the end of Safar 11/632. His relatives and Companions differed on where he was to be buried. Then the Commander of the Faithful ('Ali) said: "Allah, be He exalted, received the soul of His Prophet in the purest of spots; let him, therefore, be buried there." They accepted his advice and buried the Prophet in the room where he died.
1. 'Sirat' means path or way. It is the way of Islam (submission) to God, or iman (faith) in God. This is clearly intended in the opening surah of the Qur'an, verses 6 and 7. The sirat is also said to be a bridge stretched over Hell, which all creatures traverse. The imams, and especially the first Imam 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, have often been identified in Shi'i tradition with the sirat. See Ayoub, M., The Qur'an and its Interpreters (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983), vol. I, p. 48.
2. The phrase 'middle cushion' (an-numriqatu'l-wusta) is here used metaphorically to signify that the imams are the 'cushion', or source of justice, to whom all creatures must turn in all their affairs. (Editor's Note.)
3. See Qur'an 2:58 and 7:161. See also Ayoub, M., The Qur'an and its Interpreters, pp.106-107. This is related on the authority of the fifth Imam al-Baqir, who said: "We are the gate of your hittah." See al-'Ayyashi, Abu 'n-Nadr Muhammad ibn Mas'ad as-Sulami as-Samarqandi, Tafsiru'l-Ayyashi, 2 vols. (Tehran: al-Maktabatu'lIslamiyyah, n.d.), vol. l, p. 45.
4. See Qur'an 20:1 and 36:1. These are letters which appear at the head of 29 surahs of the Qur'an. Muslim tradition has generally used Taha and Yasin as names of the Prophet.
5. al-Bukhari, Muhammad ibn Isma'il, as-Sahih, 8 vols. (Beirut: Daru'l-Fikr, n.d.), vol. 4, p. 262.
6. me'od me'od is a Hebrew phrase meaning 'exceedingly'. See Gen. 17:2, 6 and 20.
7. al-Bayhaqi, Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Husayn, Dala'ilu 'n-Nubuwwah, ed. 'Abdu 'r-Rahman Muhammad 'Uthman, 3 vols. (Cairo: Daru'n-Nasr li't-Tiba'ah, 1389/1969), vol.1, p.133.
8. The words mahmud and muhammad are both derived from the root h-m-d meaning to praise; hence Muhammad is derived from God's name Mahmud, the All-Praised.
9. See al-Hakim, Abu 'Abdillah Muhammad ibn 'Abdillah an-Naysaburi, al-Mustadrak 'ala Sahihayn, 4 vols. (Beirut: Daru'l-Fikr, 1398/ 1978), vol. 3, pp. 219 - 20.
10. It is held in Shi'i tradition that neither the Prophet nor his descendants can accept charity (sadaqah), but rather only the fifth (khums) of a Muslim's savings, in money or in property. They can also accept a gift (hadiyyah). See below, pp. 102.
11. Muslim, Abu 'l-Husayn, Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj al-Qushayri an-Naysaburi, as-Sahih, with Nawawi's Commentary, 18 vols. (Beirut: Daru'l-Fikr, 1389/1978), vol. 7, p.46.
These signs fall into two categories: those which occurred before his apostleship and those which occurred after. Among those which took place prior to his prophetic mission, and which are reported in great detail in the hadith, is that when his mother gave birth to him she saw a great light which illuminated the palaces of Syria. She also reported that she was told when she conceived the Messenger of Allah: "You have conceived the master of this community! When he shall fall on the ground, say: 'I seek refuge for him in the One God from the evil of every envious person'. The sign of this is that a great light shall come out with him, which will fill the palaces of Basra in Syria. When he is born call him Muhammad. His name in the Torah is Ahmad (most praised), for all the inhabitants of the heavens and earth shall praise him. In the Gospel his name is Hamid (greatly praised); all the inhabitants of the heavens and earth shall praise him. His name in the Furqan (the Qur'an) is Muhammad." She said: "Thus I called him Muhammad."
Abu Umamah related that the Prophet was asked: "O Messenger of Allah, what is your status?" He answered: "I am the answer to the prayer of my father Abraham, and the fulfilment of the prophecy of Jesus [see Qur'an. 2:129 and 61:6] . My mother also dreamt that a light would proceed from her which would illuminate the palaces of Syria."
The great scholar Abu Said 'Abdu'l-Malik al-Kharkushi 12 related that on the night in which the Messenger of Allah was born, the palace (Iwan) of Kisra (Khusraw) was so shaken that twenty-four of its terraces fell. The sacred fires of Persia, which had not been extinguished for a thousand years before, died. Lake Sawah disappeared into the ground. The Mu'badhan (chief Zoroastrian priest) dreamt that strong camels were leading Arab horses. They crossed the River Tigris and spread about in its lands. When Khusraw awoke next morning, he was frightened and despondent. Nevertheless he decided not to hide the matter from his ministers and notables. He gathered them and recounted what had happened. As they were all assembled, a letter came announcing the extinguishing of the sacred fire. The priest also related his dream of the night before. The King asked him: "What is the meaning of all this?" He answered: "A great event shall take place in the land of the Arabs." The King wrote to his vassal an-Nu'man ibn al-Mundhir, King of the Arabs, saying: "Send me herewith a man of great learning whom I can question [concerning some important matters]." an-Nu'man sent 'Abdu'l-Mash ibn 'Amr [ibn Hayyan] ibn Buqaylah al Ghassani. The King related what he had seen, and the man answered: "Knowledge of the meaning of this is with my maternal uncle who lives in eastern Syria. His name is Satih." The King thus ordered him to go and come back with the interpretation of these portents.
When 'Abdu 'l-Masih arrived, he found Satih on his death-bed. He greeted him, but received no answer. 'Abdu l-Masih told him what he had seen, in verse. Satih then opened his eyes and exclaimed in rhymed prose - " 'Abdu'l Masi'h comes wandering on a camel to Satih. Yet Sati'h is near the grave. The Sasanid King has sent you because of the shaking of his palace, the extinguishing of the fires and the dream of the priest. He saw strong camels leading Arab horses which crossed the River Tigris and spread all around in its lands. O 'Abdu'l-Masih, when recitation [of the Qur'an] shall increase, and the man of the staff appears; when the Samawah Valley (near Kufah) shall be flooded; when Lake Sawah shall disappear and the sacred fire be extinguished; then Syria, shall no longer be Syria for Sati'h. Among them (Muslims), kings and queens shall rule, who are as numerous as the terraces (of Khusraw's palace). For all that is to be shall indeed come to pass." Sati'h then breathed his last. 'Abdu'l-Masih returned to Khusraw and related to him what Sati'h had said. The King said: "But this shall be only after the reign of fourteen of our kings! " Events followed one another, and ten kings ruled in four years; the reign of the rest lasted only till the time of 'Uthman.
'Ali ibn lbrahim [ al-Qummi] (a well-known Shi'i traditionist) related from his father that there was in Mecca a Jew called Yusuf. One night he saw stars moving and meteors falling. On that night the Prophet was born. Yusuf exclaimed: "A prophet was born this night! For we find written in our books that when the last of the prophets shall be born, devils will be stoned (with meteors) and prevented from approaching heaven." In the morning, he went to the assembly of Quraysh and asked: "Was there a child born among you last night?" They answered: "A child was born to ''Abdullah ibn 'Abdi 'l-Muttaiib last night." "Show him to me", he said. Thus, they all went to the door of Aminah's house and demanded that she bring her son out to them, and he was brought out in his swaddling clothes. Yusuf looked into his eyes and uncovered his back. He saw a black mole between his shoulders, covered with a few soft hairs. When the Jew saw him, he fell down unconscious. The people of Quraysh laughed at him. But he said: "Do you laugh, O people of Quraysh? Shall he not soon come to destroy you? Prophethood shall, moreover, now depart from the Children of Israel to the end of time." Everyone went his way still discussing what the Jew had told them.
The Prophet Moses referred to Muhammad in the Torah. A man whom I trust told me that Muhammad's appearance from the progeny of Ishmael and his character are depicted in the Torah in these words: "I have heard the prayers of Ishmael and have blessed him. I shall increase him and multiply his numbers through a descendant of his called Muhammad. The numerical value of the letters of his name is ninety-two. I shall bring forth from his progeny Twelve Imams, who shall be rulers. I shall grant him great multitudes of followers." 13
Another of his signs is what the Trusted One [perhaps the sixth Imam] said that he read in the Gospel: "I am God the Everlasting who shall never cease to be. Believe in the unlettered prophet, the man of the camel, woollen garment and of the crown (which is the turban) and the two sandals and the staff (which is the rod). He is a man of large eyes and broad forehead, bright complexioned with narrow nose and parted teeth. His neck is like a silver pitcher, and it is as though gold runs down the two sides of his neck. A thin and fine line of hair runs from his chest to his navel, but he has no hairs on his stomach and chest. He is of a dark colour. He shall have large hands and feet. When he turns to look, he turns altogether. When he walks, it is as though he is pulled out of a rock, or comes out of a hard stone (i.e., he walks with confidence). When he walks with people, he overtakes them. The sweat on his face is like pearls, and the fragrance of musk shall emanate from him. No one like him was ever seen before, or will ever be seen after him. His breath is fragrant. He shall marry many women, yet he shall have few children. His descendants shall come from a blessed woman (that is, his daughter Fatimah), who has a mansion prepared for her in Paradise. In him there shall be neither clamor nor vanity. He shall be her guardian in the last days as Zechariah was the guardian of your (Jesus's) mother. 14 She shall have two young ones (that is Hasan and Husayn) who shall be martyred. His speech shall be the Qur'an, and his religion shall be Islam; for I am (the Lord of) Peace. Blessed (tuba) is he who shall see his time, witness his days and hear his words." 15
Jesus asked: "My Lord, what is tuba?" He answered: "It is a tree in Paradise which I planted with my own hand. Its shade covers the gardens (of Paradise). Its roots are of ridwan (this term is generally used as the name of the guardian angel of Paradise, but here it is used to mean Divine Pleasure). Its water is of tasnim (a river running down from a mountain in Paradise nearest the Throne). Its coolness is like that of kafur and its taste is like that of zanjabil (paradisial aromatics frequently mentioned in the Qur'an). Anyone who drinks once of that spring shall never be thirsty." Jesus said: "O God, give me to drink of it." He answered: "It is forbidden the prophets to drink of it until that Prophet first drinks of it; it is forbidden the nations to drink until the community (ummah) of that Prophet first drinks of it. I shall take you up to me 16, and send you down at the end of time to see wonders from the community of that Prophet, and that you might assist them against the accursed Dajjal. (the Antichrist). I shall send you down at prayer time that you may pray with them, for they are indeed a community favored with mercy." 17
Another tradition is the account of Salman al-Farisi, who continued to rove from one savant to another and from one jurist to another seeking ancient texts and reports. Thus, he waited for four hundred years for the appearance of Muhammad, the master of those who lived in former times and those who are yet to come. When at last he was told of his birth, and was filled with certainty that relief (faraj) was near at hand, he sat out for the Tihamah (Mecca), but was captured.
Still another tradition is that of King Tubba' [a semi legendary Jewish King of ancient Yemen], who said: "A prophet shall appear in Mecca, whose place of migration shall be Yathrib." King Tubba' then moved sortie people from Yemen to Yathrib and made them settle with the Jews in order that they might support Muhammad. These were the two tribes of Aws and Khazraj. The King then declared:
I bear witness concerning Ahmad that he is a messenger from Allah, the Creator of souls.
Were my life to last until it joined with his, I would be a minister to him and a cousin.
I would be a scourge against the Associators, giving them the cup of fear and sorrow.
In yet another tradition, it is related that Ibn 'Abbas said: "A special cushion used to be placed for 'Abdu 'lMuttalib in the shade of the Ka'bah, whereupon, in reverence for him, no one dared sit. His sons used to sit around that cushion until 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib came out. The Messenger of Allah, however, while still a child, used to come and sit on the cushion. His uncles would hasten to remove him, but 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib would say: 'Leave my son alone, for by Allah, he shall have a great future. I see that a day shall come upon you when he will be your master. I see his forelock as one that will exercise authority over men.' Then he would take Muhammad up and place him beside him, fondly pat his back and kiss him. As he did so, he would explain, 'I have never seen anyone before him so sweet and pure as he.' He then would turn to Abu Talib, who had the same mother as 'Abdullah, the Prophet's father, and say: 'O Abu Talib, this child will have great significance. Guard him well, therefore, and care for him, for he shall be unique. Be to him like a father who would never let anything that may disturb him come near.' 'Abdu'l-Muttalib would then carry Muhammad on his neck and circumambulate the Ka'bah seven times. Because 'Abdu'l-Muttalib knew that Muhammad hated al--Lat and al-'Uzza (the two goddesses of Mecca), he never brought him near them."
At the end of his sixth year, his mother Aminah died in al-Abwa', a place between Mecca 'and Medina. She had brought him there to visit his maternal uncles of the tribe of 'Adiyy. Thus the Messenger of Allah became an orphan, having neither father nor mother. This increased the love and care of 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib for him, and he continued in this manner until he was on his death-bed. He then sent for Abu Talib, who came and saw him embracing Muhammad close to his breast. As he lay in the grip of death, he wept and said: "O Abu Talib, take care that you be a protector for this child who is left alone, neither smelling the odour of his father, nor tasting the love of his mother. Be sure, O Abu Talib, that he be as precious as your heart to your body. I have bypassed all my sons and put him in your trust because you are the son of his father's mother. O Abu Talib, if you live to see his days (that is, the time of his call to Prophethood), know that I was the most informed concerning him, and the most caring of men towards him. If you are able to follow him, do so. Support him with your tongue, hand and wealth. Soon he shall exercise authority and dominion, the like of which no one of his forefathers attained. O Abu Talib, I know no one among the Arabs whose father died in the state in which he was when his father died, or one whose mother died in the state in which he was when his mother died. Protect him, therefore, as he has no one. Do you accept my trust? " "Yes", Abu Talib answered: "I accept, and Allah shall be my witness." 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib then said: "Give me your hand!" He put out his hand, and 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib struck it with his own (as a sign of binding agreement), saying: "Now death has become easy for me." Finally, he embraced Muhammad and exclaimed: "I bear witness that I have never kissed anyone of my children who is of sweeter fragrance than you, or of more beautiful countenance." He then fervently wished that he could live to witness his time.
Thus, 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib died when the Prophet was eight years old. Afterwards Abu Talib took him into his home. He never left him, even for an hour, day and night. He went so far as to have him sleep in the same room with him until he reached adulthood, not trusting anyone with him.
The account of Sayf ibn Dhi Yazan concerning Muhammad's Prophethood, reported on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas, is another well-known tradition. It was two years after the birth of the Prophet that a group of the Quraysh, among whom were: 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib ibn Hashim, Umayyah ibn 'Abd Shams, 'Abdullah ibn Jud'an, Asad ibn Khuwaylid and Wahb ibn 'Abd Manaf, went to Ibn Dhi Yazan. When they arrived, he was in a palace called Ghumdan, concerning which Umayyah ibn Abi 's-Salt recited:
Drink in good health, reclining with a crown upon your head;
while you sit at the top of Ghumdan in good fortune and prosperity.
They asked permission to enter, and went in. After talking at length, the King sent for 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib and said to him: "O 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib, I am about to disclose a secret to you which I know and would not disclose to anyone but you. This is because I see that you are one who is worthy of keeping it; so I shall relate it to you. Let it remain a secret until Allah permits that it come to pass. I find it in the hidden book and treasured knowledge which we have kept only for ourselves. For it is a great and momentous secret which others would not be able to bear. There is in it for all men - but especially for your kinfolk and you personally - honor in this life and virtue in the hereafter."
'Abdu'l-Muttalib enquired: "Only a man like you, O King, can impart glad news and words of amity - what is it that you wish to say? May all the people of the desert be a ransom for you, one group after another!" The King continued: "When a child shall be born in Tihamah (Mecca) between whose shoulders there is a mole (that is, the seal of Prophethood), then to him shall belong the imamate, and through him you (the clan of Hashim) shall enjoy leadership till the Day of Resurrection." 'Abdul-Muttalib answered: "May you never be cursed! I shall return with news, the like of which no traveler has ever received. Had it not been for the great awe, majesty and high honor of the King, I would have asked him to tell me more of his secrets, that my happiness might increase." Ibn Dhi Yazan then said: "This is the time in which he is to be born, or perhaps he has already been born. His name shall be Muhammad. Both his father and mother shall die, and his grandfather and uncle shall care for him. His birth shall be a secret, but Allah shall send him (with the apostleship) openly. He shall grant him helpers from our people. Through him Allah shall honor his friends and dishonour his enemies. With him and his people Allah shall smite many men, and with them He shall pillage the best portions of the earth. He shall break the idols, and extinguish the fires (that is, of Persia). Then will the All-merciful be truly worshipped, and Satan be expelled.
His word shall be decisive, and his judgement just. He shall command the good and himself perform it, and shall forbid indecency and destroy it." 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib exclaimed: "O King, may your status be forever honoured, may your power prosper, and may your reign last forever! Has the King any advice to give me? For he has stated the matter with some clarity." Ibn Dhi Yazan said: "By the House with curtains (i.e., the Ka'bah), and the signs on stone idols, you 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib are his grandfather without a lie!" 'Abdu 'l-Muttalib then fell prostrate. But the King said to him: "Lift up your head! May your breast be cooled (that is, be happy and without weariness); may your status be uplifted. Do you see anything in what I say?" He answered: "I had a son with whom I was pleased, and towards whom I was compassionate. I therefore had him married to a noble woman from among the best of my people, whose name was Aminah daughter of Wahb. She gave birth to a male child whom I called Muhammad. His father and mother died and his uncle took charge of him." Ibn Dhi Yazan answered: "This is what I have told you. Guard well your son. Beware of the Jews, for they are his enemies - but Allah will not permit them to do him any harm. Keep what I have told you hidden from the men who are with you. This is because I am afraid that they may be filled with envy if he is to have leadership. They would then seek to conspire against him and set up obstacles in his way. They, or their sons, shall do that without any doubt. Did I not know that death would strike me before his call, I would gather my men and horses and go to Yathrib (Medina), the city of his dominion, for I find in the 'speaking book' and ancient knowledge that Yathrib shall be the house of his dominion. In it shall his affair be confirmed; in it shall be his supporters, and the spot of his tomb. Had I feared that hardships would befall him, or that infirmities would afflict him, I would have even as a youth announced all concerning him. I would have made all the leaders of the Arabs follow him. But I shall leave that to you, for I shall not be inhospitable toward any guests who are with you." Then the King ordered that each of the men be given ten slaves and ten slave girls, two silk garments, a hundred camels, five weights of gold and ten of silver, and a skinful of amber. He ordered that 'Abdu'l-Muttalib be given ten times what was given to his companions. He then said to him: "When a year will have passed, come. back to me" - but Ibn Dhi Yazan died before the year had elapsed.
'Abdu'l-Muttalib used to repeat often: "O people of Quraysh, no man among you should envy me, no matter how much wealth you might bestow upon me, for it shall be exhausted. Rather envy me for what remains for me and my descendants after me of its fame, pride and honor." When it was said to him: "What shall this thing be?", he would answer: "You will know the truth of what I say, even if it be after a time."
Another proof of Muhammad's Prophethood is the account of the monk Bahira'. Thus Ibn Ishaq reported that Abu Talib went with a caravan to Syria. As he was about to set out, the Messenger of Allah stood up and, holding on to the halter of his she-camel, said: "O uncle, in whose care would you leave me, since I have neither father nor mother!" Abu Talib felt compassion towards him and said: "By Allah, I shall take him with me and we shall never be separated from one another." He thus took him along with him. The caravan arrived at Basra in Syria, where a monk lived called Bahira'. He was the most learned of the Christians. Often did they pass by his cell, but he had never spoken to them. This time, however, when they came to rest near his cell, he prepared food for them. It is claimed that this was because of something which he saw from his cell in that caravan. It was a white cloud shading the Prophet alone of all the people. The caravan alighted beneath a tree near the monk, where he again saw the white cloud moving until it shaded the tree, whose branches bent over the Messenger of Allah so that he sat in its shade.
When Bahira' saw this, he came out of his cell and ordered that food be prepared. He then sent word to them, saying "I have prepared food for you, O people of Quraysh. I invite you all, young and old, slaves and freemen." A man said to him: "O Bahirah', it is something strange you do today! You never did' that in the past. Often did we pass by you; why is it that you do this today?" Bahira' answered: "You tell the truth, it is as you say. Yet you are guests; I wish, therefore, to treat you with due hospitality. I have prepared food for you, and I ask that you all eat of it."
Thus they all gathered around him, but the Messenger of Allah because of his youth stayed behind with the caravan under the tree. As Bahira' looked around, he did not find the characteristics he sought in anyone. He thus said: "Let no one of you stay away from my banquet." They answered: "No one who should have come is absent, except a youth, the youngest of us. He remained to guard the caravan." But Bahira' declared: "You ought not to have done that, call for him." A man of Quraysh exclaimed: "By al-Lat and al-'Uzza, it is shameful for us that the son of 'Abdu 'I-Muttalib be absent from our banquet." He then went and brought Muhammad over and seated him among the people.
When Bahira' saw him, he examined him intently, looking for signs which he knew to be on his body. After they had all eaten and dispersed, Bahira' approached the Prophet and said: "O youth, I adjure you by al-Lat and al-'Uzza that you inform me concerning the things I wish to ask you." Bahira' swore by these two gods because he had heard the people of the caravan do so. The Messenger of Allah answered: "Do not adjure me by al-Lat and al-'Uzza, for I despise nothing more than I despise them." Bahira' then said: "I adjure you by Allah that you inform me concerning the things I wish to ask you." The Prophet answered: "Ask whatever you wish." The monk began to ask him some things about himself, his sleep, his appearance, and other matters. The Messenger of Allah answered his questions, all of which agreed with the description which Bahira' had read concerning him in his ancient books. He then looked at his back and saw the seal of Prophethood between his shoulders, exactly in the spot where he knew it to be.
When at last Bahira' was done with him, he came to his uncle Abu Talib and asked: "Who is this youth?" "He is my son", he answered. "No", the monk said, "he is not your son. The father of this youth must not be living." Abu Talib then said: "He is my brother's son." "What happened to his father?" asked Bahira'. Abu Talib answered, "He died while his mother was pregnant with him." The monk then counselled him, saying: "Return with your nephew to his home, and beware of the Jews, for by Allah if they see him and discover in him what I know, they would surely seek to do him harm. Your nephew will be a man of high status. Hasten, therefore, with him back to his country." His uncle thus quickly finished his trade in Syria and hastened back with the Prophet to Mecca.
It is said that a few men of the People of the Book noticed some signs in the Messenger of Allah when they saw him with his uncle on that journey. They wished to seize him, but Bahira' restrained them. He adjured them by Allah not to do so, reminding them of what they had found in their scriptures concerning him and his characteristics. He also told them that even if they were to attempt all together to do whatever they had intended to do to him, they would not be able to do him any harm. He thus continued to admonish them until they were convinced; they finally believed him and went away. Concerning this event Abu Talib said in his poem which rhymes with the letter dal ('d ') : -
Surely the Prophet Muhammad, son of Aminah,
Is for me like my own child.
When he held on to the halter of my camel, I felt compassion for him,
Even as the white camels were being loaded,
Copious tears flowed from my eyes -
Tears like scattered pearls.
I treated him kindly as befits a close relative,
And guarded well the trust of his forefathers concerning him.
I ordered him to ride among paternal uncles,
With white faces, brave swordsmen.
They travelled to the furthest known station -
Far indeed was the station where their camels lay down!
When at last the people of Busra saw him,
They met a learned monk who was keeping close watch.
He related to them a true account concerning him,
And thus turned back the people of envy.
A group of Jews also saw what he saw:
The shade of a white cloud and the glory of a close relative (Muhammad).
They went seeking to kill Muhammad, and he restrained them,
And thus engaged in the best of struggle.
There are in fact many more examples of what we have narrated here. Had we attempted to recount all of them, however, we would have deviated from the intended purpose of this book.
As for the signs and wonders which were wrought by Muhammad's hands (peace be upon him and his progeny) after his call to Prophethood, they were of two kinds. The first is the Qur'an which Allah sent down to him, and with which He strengthened him, and the second consists of his other miracles.
As for the proof from the Qur'an: any rational man who heard the hadith reports and was acquainted with their transmitters would have undoubtedly recognized the manifestation of the Prophethood of our Prophet, and the truth of his claim to be a messenger sent by Allah. Moreover, he challenged the Arabs with the Qur'an, and in spite of the lapse of a long period of time, they did not oppose him - for opposition was impossible for them. This impossibility is in itself a miracle, violating the norms of general custom. That he challenged people with the Qur'an can be proven by the fact that he claimed that Gabriel used to bring the Qur'an down to him, and that Allah had distinguished him by it. Knowledge of all this is certain, and it is the strongest sort of challenge, properly understood. Furthermore, some verses of the Qur'an present clear instances of challenge, such as Allah's saying: Bring therefore ten fabricated Surahs like it, and again: Bring forth even one Surah like it [Qur.11:13 and 10:38].
As for the argument that people were unable to present any opposition, it can be argued that if opposition had occurred, it would have been necessary for it to be known and reported. The fact that it was never reported must imply that it never occurred. We say this because all the things necessitating the transmission of the Qur'an, such as the strong reasons and need for it as well as the close familiarity of the people with it, all strengthen the possibility of opposition. This possibility would be further strengthened because opposition would itself be the argument, and the Qur'an would then be the specious argument. Reporting a true argument is more worthy than reporting a specious one. How could opposition not have been reported if it had occurred, while men reported the words of Musaylimah (the false prophet), meaningless and unworthy though they were.
If it is claimed that it was fear of the Muslims, who became so numerous as to be greatly feared, that prevented men from reporting such opposition, the answer is that fear alone does not necessitate the disruption of report in every way. It only prevents men from doing so openly. Do you not see that the excellences of the Commander of the Faithful ('Ali) were widely transmitted, in spite of the great fear of those who disclosed them of the Umayyads? It would rather have been natural for the enemies of Islam to report such opposition, or at least do so in secret among themselves. Furthermore, the great increase of Muslims happened after the Migration (hijrah). It would, therefore, have been possible to report it before that time, and during the Prophet's stay in Mecca. Had opposition then been widely reported, no Muslim power would have been capable of concealing it. It may be argued that opposition did not occur during that time. This, however, would itself be an argument in support of the miraculous nature of the Qur'an. For even though Islam grew in power in Medina, the people of 'rejection of faith' (kufr) had their own strong and vast domains. The Persian Empire was strong still, and Byzantine and other domains were just as vast. Naturally then, opposition should have arisen.
As for the argument for the lack of opposition due to impossibility: we know that any action not executed by its doer, when all conditions for its execution are present, must by necessity be because of his inability to do so. If this be true - and we know that the Arabs talked much about the Qur'an, yet did not oppose it in spite of their great need to do so - we can conclude that they were unable to oppose it.
If we add to all this the fact that the Arabs were in the habit of undertaking many hardships, such as war, in order to achieve their aims - yet that they did not oppose the Qur'an, although there was no [apparent] reason for them not to do so - then it becomes certain that [the real reason they did not oppose it was because] they were incapable of such opposition. They were a people of proud and arrogant nature, yet the Prophet called upon them to abandon their religions: to relinquish their high status, dissociate themselves from their own forefathers, fathers and sons, and even to fight against anyone who opposed the new faith, even if he were to be one of their closest relations. They would have known that through successful opposition to the Qur'an all this would vanish, and be nullified. What greater reason would there have been, then, to attempt such opposition? Instead, they resorted to war, wasting their wealth and composing polemical poetry, when all this availed them nothing. Thus, had opposition been possible for them they would have surely hastened to it, if for no other reason but that it would have been far easier than the other hardships which they undertook. It would have, moreover, been far less costly than any of the other things they did.
As for the argument which states that the abandonment of opposition was because of the miraculous nature of the Qur'an, it may be objected that the Prophet was more eloquent than all the men of his time, and that only through this was he able to achieve what they could not. It may be further objected that he was active for too short a time for them to present any opposition. If, however, both of these objections could be refuted, then it would have to be concluded that this inability was unnatural, and hence was itself a miraculous phenomenon. It may be argued in refutation of the first objection that for any opposition to be effective, the two opposing parties must have similar abilities of eloquence.
Since the Arabs did not even come close to the eloquence of the Qur'an, then the accepted norms were indeed miraculously suspended. It is not possible for the less eloquent to imitate or closely approximate him who is more eloquent in all his speech. R is, however, possible for the less eloquent to approximate him who is more eloquent in some of his speech. This is usually the case. It is for this reason that later poets have equalled those of ancient times, and may have excelled them in some respects. If the Qur'an challenged the Arabs to produce the like of one of its shorter Surahs, although it is more eloquent than they, that does not mean that they could not have equalled it in so small a portion. Moreover, it was not the case that the Prophet himself was of greater eloquence in his speech than others of his people. Had he been of greater eloquence, while this special quality belonged only to the Qur'an, and had the Qur'an been his speech, then all his words should have been of eloquence equal to the Qur'an.
The invalidity of the second objection, namely that the Prophet was active for only a short time and that therefore if they too were able to labor for an equal period of time they would have been able to imitate the Qur'an, can be easily demonstrated. If, however, it can be proven that inability is itself a miraculous phenomenon, then one of two possibilities must follow - either that the Qur'an itself was a miracle in its eloquence which they could not match, or that Allah, the Exalted, Himself turned them away from imitating the Qur'an, and had He not turned them away, they would have done so. Either of these two possibilities would not invalidate Muhammad's claim to Prophethood. This is because Allah would not vouchsafe a liar, or miraculously suspend natural custom for a man of falsehood.
Were we to reproduce all that has been written on this subject - the arguments and counter arguments - this book would have become too long. What we have here presented should be sufficient to convince those who are possessed of understanding.
As for the clear miracles other than the Qur'an which prove without a doubt the Prophethood of Muhammad, these are many. We have here given the texts dealing with them and eliminated chains of transmission because these miracles are well-known to both the (Sunni) majority and (Shi'i) minority, and because the Muslim community has generally accepted them without question.
It is related on the authority of the Commander of the Faithful ('Ali) that he said: "I was with the Prophet when the notables of Quraysh came to him and said: 'O Muhammad, you have surely made grave claims which were never made by your forefathers or anyone else of your clan. We shall, therefore, test you with
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