The Life and Character of the Seal of the Prophets(saw) – Part 3

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Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra) was one of the sons of the Promised Messiah(as). Born on April 20, 1893 he passed his matriculation in 1910 with distinction, and according to the wishes of the Promised Messiah(as), attained an MA in Arabic in 1916. A great religious scholar and prolific writer, his books and speeches are easily understandable by the average reader. Some of his important works include Siratul Mahdi (Life of the Mahdi), Silsila-e-Ahmadiyya (The Ahmadiyya community), Tabligh-e-Hidayat (Propagation of Guidance), Kalimutal Fasl (The Decisive Word) and Hamara Khuda (Our God). He also contributed countless articles to magazines and periodicals of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, such as the daily Al-Fazl, and was Editor of The Review of Religions for many years. Sirat Khatamun Nabiyyin is his magnum opus; an outstanding biography of the Holy Prophet(saw), which includes insightful analysis and commentary on various aspects of his life. For the first time this book has been translated into English. The English rendering, “The Life and Character of the Seal of Prophets,” will be serialised in various parts in The Review of Religions.

Third part of English rendering of Hadhrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad(ra)’s outstanding biography, ‘Seerat Khatamun Nabiyyin’ on the life and character of the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw)

Translated from Urdu by Ayyaz Mahmood Khan

 

His Blessed Appearance

Muhammad(saw) had now reached adulthood and his physical development was complete. Therefore, at this point it would be relevant to mention his appearance. It is recorded that Muhammad(saw) was of moderate height, and had an incredibly handsome complexion. He was not excessively white in shade, such as would appear displeasing to the eye, nor was he of a dark brown complexion. Instead, he was slightly fairer than dark brown. The hair on his head was not completely straight, rather it was slightly curled. His beard was thick and beautiful. He possessed a well balanced body. His skin was delicate and soft. From his body and sweat diffused a delightful fragrance. He had a large head and was broad-chested. His hands and feet were relatively fleshy. His palms were wide and his face was round. He possessed a broad forehead and a beautiful nose which appeared slightly risen. He possessed sparkling black eyes, adorned with long eyelashes. He walked swiftly, but in a dignified manner. His style of conversation was soft and gentle, such as if the listener desired he could count his words. In a state of anger his face would turn red, and in times of happiness it would gleam brilliantly.1

A famous historian from England Sir William Muir, mentions the appearance of Muhammad(saw) in the following words:

‘His commanding mien inspired the stranger with an undefined and indescribable awe; but on closer intimacy, apprehension and fear gave place to intimacy and love.’2

Commercial Engagements

As it has already been mentioned, Muhammad(saw) had now reached maturity, and the time had come for him to stand on his own feet. Moreover, since Abu Talib’s financial condition was not very stable; there was a genuine need for Muhammad(saw) to enter into an occupation, so as to alleviate the burden of his uncle. Hence, upon the desire and encouragement of Abu Talib, Muhammad(saw) began to work in trade and commerce.

Numerous trade caravans used to leave Makkah for diverse regions. From the south in Yemen and to the north in Syria, formal trade had been established. In addition to this, commerce also took place with Bahrain. Muhammad(saw) travelled to all of these places for commerce.3 Every time Muhammad(saw) would fulfill his obligations with remarkable honesty, trust, grace and skill. In Makkah also, everyone who dealt with Muhammad(saw) would frequently praise him. Thus, when Sa’ib, a Companion of the Holy Prophet(saw), accepted Islam and when people praised Sa’ib before the Holy Prophet(saw) the Prophet(saw) said; “I am more acquainted with him than you”. At this point Sa’ib responded, “Indeed, O Holy Prophet(saw), may my father and mother be an offering! You were once my partner in business and you were moral and pure in all your dealings.”4

‘Abdullah bin Abil-Hamsa’ was another companion who narrates:

‘Prior to the commencement of the divine mission of the Prophet(saw), I dealt with him in a business transaction after which I owed the Prophet(saw) his remaining dues. I told the Prophet(saw) to wait there while I returned shortly. However, I forgot and remembered after three days. When I returned to the meeting place, the Prophet(saw) was still there. The Prophet(saw) said nothing more to me than, ‘You have subjected me to an inconvenience as I have been waiting for you for the past three days.’

The intent of this narration is not to imply that Muhammad(saw) waited in the same place for three days continuously. Instead, its meaning is that Muhammad(saw) would return to the same place repeatedly, and would wait for many hours whilst expecting the return of Abdullah, so that his business partner would not be put under any burden as a result of his absence.5
It is due to such incidents that Muhammad(saw) became renowned as Amin [trustworthy], among the Makkans. Moreover, as a result of his honesty, he was greatly revered in Makkah and was known as an exceptionally righteous individual, who always spoke the truth.6

The Holy Ka‘bah in 1880

The involvement of Muhammad(saw) in business commenced when he was approximately 25 years of age. Khadijah bint Khuwailid of the Banu Asad clan was an exceedingly noble and wealthy lady, who possessed a significant market share in the trade and commerce of Makkah. She sent Muhammad(saw) to Syria with her commercial goods and provided the services of her slave – Maysarah, who accompanied Muhammad(saw) during travel. Due to the diligence, blessings and honesty of Muhammad(saw), God the Almighty blessed this trade venture extraordinarily, and much profit was generated. Hence, he returned home from his mission with great success. In the same manner, Muhammad(saw) undertook two or three other trade expeditions to other regions as well.

Marriage to Hadhrat Khadijah(ra)

Hadhrat Khadijah(ra) was a widow with children and had married twice, however both of her husbands had passed away. She was a very revered, wealthy, and noble woman. Due to her noble character she was given the title Tahirah [pure], which became very well known and was recognised throughout Makkah.7 It is for this reason that many people of Makkah sent proposals of marriage to her, but she declined them all. When she had the opportunity to deal with Muhammad(saw) she witnessed his great moral qualities and capabilities, and also found her slave Maysarah overflowing with praise for him; she sent a marriage proposal to Muhammad(saw) herself. After consulting with Abu Talib, Muhammad(saw) accepted this proposal. The relatives of Muhammad(saw) and Hadhrat Khadijah(ra) were gathered, and the marriage vows were taken at a dowry of five hundred Dirham. At the time Muhammad(saw) was 25 years of age and Hadhrat Khadijah(ra) was 40. In other words, Hadhrat Khadijah(ra) was 15 years older than Muhammad(saw). At the time of the marriage of Hadhrat Khadijah(ra), her father Khuwailid bin Asad had passed away, so her uncle ‘Umar bin Asad took part in the marriage on his behalf.8

Children of Muhammad(saw)

All the children of Muhammad(saw) were from Khadijah(ra) except Ibrahim(ra), who was conceived by Mariah Al-Qibtiyyah(ra), during the latter age of Muhammad(saw). From Hadhrat Khadijah(ra) Muhammad(saw) was blessed with three sons, Qasim(ra), Tahir(ra) and Tayyab(ra). In some narrations, a young boy named ‘Abdullah(as) is also mentioned. However, it is a generally accepted notion that ‘Abdullah(ra) was the second name given to Tayyab(ra). Among his daughters were Zainab(ra), Ruqayyah(ra), Umm Kulthum(ra) and Fatimah(ra). All the children of Muhammad(saw) from his wife Khadijah(ra), were born prior to his claim to prophethood, and thus according to the Arabian custom Muhammad(saw) received the appellation Abul-Qasim [the father of Qasim], after the name of his eldest son – Qasim(ra).

All sons of Muhammad(saw) passed away in childhood. However, all of his daughters grew to adulthood and accepted Islam. The progeny of none of his daughters lived on except for his youngest daughter, Fatimat-uz-Zahra(ra). His eldest daughter, Zainab(ra), was married to Abul-‘As bin Rabi‘, who was one of the relatives of Hadhrat Khadijah(ra). Zainab(ra) bore Abul-‘As a son named ‘Ali and a daughter named ’Umamah(ra). The son died in infancy but the daughter grew old and was married to Hadhrat ‘Ali(ra), after the demise of Hadhrat Fatimah(ra). However, the progeny of ’Umamah (ra) did not live on.

Muhammad(saw) held ‘Umamah(ra) very dear to himself. Abul-‘Asra did not accept Islam for many years after the Hijrah to Madinah. Due to this fact, Zainab(ra) was subjected to various hardships. Zainab(ra) passed away in the life time of the Holy Prophet(saw).

Ruqayyah(ra) and Umm Kulthum(ra) were married to the two sons of the paternal uncle of Muhammad(saw), named Abu Lahab. Their names were ‘Utbah and ‘Utaibah. However, in the age of Islam when Abu Lahab began to fiercely oppose the Prophet(saw) their marriages were annulled prior to their finalisation. After this Ruqayyah(ra) and Umm Kulthum(ra) both tied a marriage knot with Hadhrat ‘Uthman bin Affan(ra) , one after the other. This is why he is also referred to as Dhun-Nurain, which means ‘the Possessor of Two Lights’. However, the progeny of both these noble ladies did not advance. Ruqayyah(ra), had a son Abdullah(ra) who passed away, and Umm Kulthum(ra) had no children. Ruqayyah(ra) passed away during the time period of the Battle of Badr, and Umm Kulthum(ra) died after the Fall of Makkah.

Fatimah, the youngest daughter of Muhammad(saw), was most dear to him. After the migration, she was given in marriage to Hadhrat ‘Ali(ra). From him two sons – Hassan(ra) and Hussain(ra) were born. Their descendants are known as ‘Syed’. Hadhrat Fatimah passed away six months after the demise of the Holy Prophet(saw).9 The children of Hadhrat Khadijah(ra) from her first two husbands were two sons named Hind and Halah, as well as a daughter named Hind. By the grace of God, all of them accepted Islam.

Al-Hajar-al-Aswad, the Black Stone

Reconstruction of the Ka‘bah

The event of the reconstruction of the Ka‘bah has been discussed to some extent earlier. Since the structure of the Ka‘bah was damaged due to an unforeseen occurrence, the Quraish intended to demolish it and begin reconstruct it anew. However, in initiating this task all were hesitant. Since the Ka‘bah was the House of God, they feared a calamity might afflict the people of Makkah, as a consequence. At last, Walid bin Mughirah who was quite aged, and was one of the leaders of the Quraish, began this work. The people waited for one night so as to ensure that no affliction befell Walid bin Mughirah. When they were assured that no harm had come to him, all joined together in performing this blessed task. Whilst demolishing the old structure the Makkans reached the foundations laid by Abraham(as). Here, they came to a halt and began the reconstruction upon the original foundations. Coincidentally, it so happened that a ship was wrecked upon the coast around this time, and its wood was purchased by the Quraish. However, the wood was not sufficient for the complete construction of the roof. Hence, as previously mentioned, the Quraish were unable to fully erect this new structure upon the foundations laid by Abraham(as), Khalilullah. Instead, a space of approximately three and a half yards was left incomplete to one side. Various other alterations were also made by the Quraish; however, these have already been mentioned, hence repetition is unnecessary.

During the reconstruction of the Ka‘bah, when the Quraish reached the place of the Al-Hajar-al-Aswad, the tribes among the Quraish fell into a vehement dispute in regards to which tribe should place the stone in its permanent position. Naturally, every tribe longed for this honour, so much so, that people prepared themselves to take up arms and some according to the custom of the Jahiliyyah, filled goblets with blood and drenched their fingers into it, whilst taking firm oaths that they would die in battle lest this honour be taken away from their tribe. Due to this dispute, the construction of the Ka‘bah was brought to a halt for many days. At last, Abu Umaiyyah bin Mughirah presented a solution; whosoever was first seen entering the Haram first before anyone else the following morning, would be appointed as arbitrator upon them, and would thus determine the matter. The decree of God was such that when eyelids opened the next morning, all eyes noticed Muhammad(saw), entering the Haram. When they saw Muhammad(saw), the Makkans unanimously cried out “Amin! Amin! [the Trustworthy]” and said, “We are content with his decision”. As Muhammad(saw) moved closer, the matter was presented before him for judgement. By the succour of Allah, Muhammad(saw) resolved the matter in such a way as stunned the leaders of the Quraish, who cheered in acclamation. Muhammad(saw) took his mantle and placed the black stone upon it. Then he handed the corners of this cloth to all the leaders of the Quraish and ordered them to lift up the stone simultaneously. Therefore, everyone lifted up the cloth, and none harboured feelings of resentment. This occurrence was also an allegorical reference by God to the fact that the tribal leaders of the Quraish, who stood upon the brink of war, would now be united upon a focal point by that holy personage. When the black stone was brought before its original resting point, Muhammad(saw) took hold of it in his blessed hands and positioned it in its place.10 As mentioned earlier, this occurrence was an allegorical reference to the fact that soon, the corner stone of the edifice of prophethood, would be established upon its rightful place by Muhammad(saw) – the Messenger of God.11

As far as the date of the construction of the Ka‘bah is concerned, historians merely state that this incident occurred when Muhammad(saw) was 35 years of age. However, if the conditions of those times are kept in mind whilst analysing the situation, it can be concluded that a substantial time would have been required to collect the raw material for the new building, and to demolish the old. Therefore, the most conceivable theory is that the preparation of this work had begun in the primary years of the life of Muhammad. Moreover, the raw materials such as stone and wood, were already being gathered gradually. There is a Sahih [authentic] narration which states that:

‘Once the Prophet(saw) was gathering stones for the reconstruction of the Ka‘bah when his uncle ‘Abbas said, “O Nephew! Place your waist cloth on your shoulder so that you are not scraped by stones”. The Holy Prophet(saw) did comply with his uncle’s order but since a portion of his parts of concealment became exposed, he fell to the ground in shame, his eyes were petrified and he hurriedly cried out, “My garment! My garment!”, until the Prophet(saw) was able to arrange his clothes.’12

 

This incident is such as can be attributed only to the early years of Muhammad(saw). Moreover, past historians have also written that this occurrence is from the young age of Muhammad(saw).13 However, there is no doubt that the instance of Muhammad(saw) assuming the role of an ‘arbitrator’ in regard to the placement of the sacred black stone, happened in a latter period of his life. This is because it has been narrated that when the people witnessed Muhammad(saw) enter the Ka‘bah they cried out the words, “Amin! Amin!” It is evident that Muhammad(saw) gained this honourable title only after his honesty and trustworthiness in daily affairs had become manifest and was accepted as clearly as is the light of day.

Endnotes

1 Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabul-Manaqib, Babu Sifatin-Nabisa, Hadith No.3547-3548

* Shama’ilun-Nabawiyyah, by Imam Tirmidhi, Hadith No.8, Babu Ma Ja’a fi Khalqi Rasulillahi(saw), Darul-Kutubil-‘Arabi, Beirut, (1998)

2 Life of ‘Mahomet’, By Sir William Muir, p.27, London Smith, Elder & Co. 1978

3 Siratun-Nabisa, by ‘Allamah Shibli Nu‘mani, vol.1, pp.185-190, Seventh Edition (1965)

4 Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitabul-Adab, Babu fi Karahiyyatil-Mira’, Hadith No. 4836

5 Sunan Abi Dawud, Kitabul-Adab, Babu fil-‘Iddah, Hadith No.4996

6 As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, by Ibn Hisham, Babu Qissati Bahira, p.145, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, (2001)

7 Sharhu ‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘alal-Mawahibil-Ladunniyyah, vol.1, Babu Tazawwujihi ‘alaihis-salami min Khadijata binti Khuwailid, p.373, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, First Edition (1996)

8 * At-Tabaqatul-Kubra, by Ibni Sa‘d, Al-Juz’ul-Awwal, Dhikru Tazwiji Rasulillahi(saw) Khadijata binti Khuwailid, pp.62-63, Daru Ihya’it-Turathil-‘Arabi, Beirut, First Edition (1996)

* Ar-Raudul-Anf, By Imam Suhail, vol.1, pp.324-325, Babu Tazwiji Rasulillāhisa Khadijahra, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut.

9 * As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Ibn Hisham, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, (2001)

* At-Tabaqatul-Kubra, By Ibn Sa‘d, Volume 8, Dhikru Banati Rasulillahisa – Fatimata binti Rasulillahsa, p.257, Darul-Iya’it-Turathil-‘Arabi, Beirut, First Edition (1996)

* Sharhu ‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘alal-Mawahibil-Ladunniyyah, vol.4, p. 336, Babun fi Dhikri Auladihil-Kiram, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, First Edition (1996)

10 * Tarikhut-Tabari, Vol.2, p. 213, Babu Dhikri Baqil-Akhbari ‘Anil-Ka’ini Min ‘Amri Rasulillahi(saw) Qabla An-Yunabba’a, Darul-Fikr, Beirut, (2002)

* As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, by Ibni Hisham, Babu Hadithi Bunyanil-Ka‘bati wa Hukmi Rasulillahisa Baina Quraishin fi Wad‘il-Hajr, p. 155, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, (2001)

* At-Tabaqatul-Kubra, By Ibni Sa‘d, Al-Juzul-Awwal, Dhikru Hadiri Rasulillahi(saw) Hadma Quraishil-Ka‘bata wa Bana’uha, p.69, Dārul-Iya’it-Turathil-‘Arabi, Beirut, First Edition (1996)

* Sharhu ‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘alal-Mawahibil-Ladunniyyah, Babu Bunyanil-Quraishil-Ka‘bah, Vol.1, pp.381-382, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, First Edition (1996)

* Tarikhul-Khamis, vol.1, p.115, Baqiyyatu Akhbari Bana’il-Ka‘bah, Muwassasatu Shu‘ban, Beirut

11 Psalm (118:22)

12 Sahih Al-Bukhari, Kitabu Fada’ilis-Sahabah, Babu Bunyanil-Ka‘bah, Hadith No.3829

13 * As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, by Ibni Hisham, Babu Qissati Bahira, p.146, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, (2001)

* Sharhu ‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘alal-Mawahibil-Ladunniyyah, Babu Bunyanil-Quraishil-Ka‘bah, vol.1, pp.383, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, First Edition (1996)

* Raudul-Anf, by Imam Suhail, vol.1, p.318, Babu Qissati Bahira, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut

 

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