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Prosecution of the Early Converts

If the idolaters negotiated with the Prophet (s.a.w.), and complained about him to his uncle, trying to settle a bargain with him before oppressing him, they did not show much patience in respect to the first-converts to Islam. From the very beginning they were subjected to terror, persecution, harassment and pressures to make them leave their houses.

No sooner had the followers of the Prophet (s.a.w.) become known, then they were severely and cruelly punished. Bilal al-Habashi, may Allah have mercy on him, was tortured at the hands of Ummaiyah bin Khalafal-Jumahi.He would take him, at noon, to the desert and fling him to the ground face downwards or on his back. Then he would threaten him: No, by Allah. You will remain as you are till perish, or renounce Muhammad, and worship al-Lat and al-Uzzah. Bilal would only cry out in pain: Only one God, only one God...

The Banu-Makhzum tortured a side along with his son Ammar and Summayyah, his wife. They would take them to the Abta, a wide area covered with pebbles, and torture them there when the place became unbearably hot. After being subjected to this kind of savage treatment, Yasir was martyred. Abu-Jahl stabbed Summayyah with a lance he was carrying, and so she attained martyrdom.

Ammar, though severely tortured, was steadfast and firm in his faith.

It is related that the Messenger of Allah, one day, passed before the family of Yasir while they were being tortured, and he gave them the good news of Paradise:

Be patient, o family of Yasir, for your meeting will be in Paradise...

Khabbab bin al-Arat would be stripped of his clothes and flung him on the ground, on the burning sand. They would, often heat stones for him and place them on his bare body. They even twisted his neck, but he never turned away from his faith.

Other than these young converts, there were many who suffered much at the hands of their tormentors.

Torture and persecution were not confined to the weak among the faithful, but even those who enjoyed prominent social and economic status, who had influence and wealth, could not escape the harassment of the Quraish, Ibn Abbas described the severity and cruelty of the torture in these words:

...By Allah, they would beat the faithful and keep them hungry and thirsty, so much so that one could not sit because of the cruelty of the punishment he suffered. 34

To allay the faithfuls’ sufferings, the Messenger of Allah, exhorted them to have patience and fortitude. He encouraged them to be steadfast till Allah gave them victory over the idolaters.

Al-Khabbah related: One day, I went to the Prophet (s.a.w.), who was wrapped in his cloak and was seated in the shade of Ka'ba. We being were unendurably assailed.

I said to him, Won't you pray for us?

He said:

Those who were before you did not turn aside from their faith even though their bodies were combed with iron, so that their flesh and tendons would be separated from the bones. They would never turn aside from their faith even though saws were placed on the middle of their heads which were cut into two. Allah will certainly make His faith prevail so that a rider will travel from San'a to Hadramout and will fear nobody but Allah the Mighty and High, and the wolves lest they eat his sheep. But, certainly, you have no patience. 35


34. Sabil al-Huda wa al-Rashad (Path of Enlightment and Guidance), vol. 2, Ch. 15., p.476.

35. Suwar min Hayat Muhammad, p.156, quoting from al-Bukhari and Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 18.

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

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