The Life & Character of the Seal of the Prophets(saw) – Part 6

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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.

Continued serialisation of the 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). This section features the accounts of some of the very first converts to Islam.

Translated from the Urdu by Ayyaz Mahmood Khan

Pioneers of Islam

After Hadhrat Khadijah(ra), Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra), Hadhrat ‘Ali(ra) and Zaid bin Harithah(ra), five more individuals accepted Islam through the preaching of Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra). All of these individuals acquired such eminence and dignity, that they were considered the greatest of companions. These are their names: first was Hadhrat ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan(ra) who belonged to the dynasty of the Banu Umaiyyah. When he accepted Islam, he was approximately 30 years of age. After Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra), he became the third Caliph of the Holy Prophet(saw). Hadhrat ‘Uthman(ra) was remarkably modest, loyal, soft-hearted, beneficent and affluent. Hence, he served Islam financially on many occasions. The love of the Holy Prophet(saw) for Hadhrat ‘Uthman(ra) can be measured by the fact that he gave him two of his daughters in marriage, one after the other, due to which he is known as “Dhun-Nurain” [the possessor of two lights].

Second was Hadhrat ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Auf(ra), who belonged to the dynasty of the Banu Zuhrah, the dynasty of the Holy Prophet(saw)’s mother. He was a man of extraordinary understanding and experience. It was he who settled the issue of the Caliphate of Hadhrat ‘Uthman(ra). When he accepted Islam he was around 30 years of age. He died in the reign of ‘Uthman(ra).

Third was Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas(ra), who at that time was in the prime of his youth – that is to say, 19 years of age. He was also from the Banu Zuhrah and was extremely brave and courageous. In the reign of Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra), Iraq was conquered by him. He died in the time of Amir Mu‘awiyah.

The fourth was Zubair bin Al-‘Awwam(ra), who was a cousin of the Holy Prophet(saw). He was the son of Safiyyah bint ‘Abdul-Muttalib and later became the son-in-law of Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra). He belonged to the Banu Asad and when he accepted Islam he was only 15 years old. At the occasion of the Battle of the Ditch, the Holy Prophet(saw) endowed him the title of Hawari [disciple], due to an exceptional service performed by him. He was martyred in the reign of Hadhrat ‘Ali(ra), during the Battle of the Camel.

The fifth was Talhah bin ‘Abdullah(ra), who was from the tribe of Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra), the Banu Taim. At that time, he was in the prime of his youth. Talhah(ra) was also amongst the distinctive devotees of Islam. He was martyred in the reign of Hadhrat ‘Ali(ra), during the Battle of the Camel.

All of these five companions are amongst the Al-Asharah Al-Mubashsharah, in other words, they were included amongst the ten companions who were especially given glad tidings of entrance into paradise, according to the blessed words of the Holy Prophet(saw) himself, and who were regarded as his utmost and intimate companions and advisors.1

Initially, after these companions others who believed in the Holy Prophet(saw) were from the Quraish, as well as from other tribes. The names of some of these are as follows:

Abu ‘Ubaidah bin ‘Abdullah bin Al-Jarrah(ra), who conquered Syria in the time of Hadhrat Umar(ra), was a man of an exceedingly righteous and ascetic disposition.

Abu ‘Ubaidah(ra) was from the tribe Banu Khalj of the Quraish who were, at times, referred to as Fihri, being attributed to Fihr bin Malik. The status and value of Hadhrat Abu ‘Ubaidah(ra) in the eyes of Hadhrat ‘A’ishah(ra) was so great that she would say:

If Abu ‘Ubaidah(ra) had been alive at the death of Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra), he would have been Caliph.”

Image of Makkah in 1850

Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) also held Abu ‘Ubaidah(ra) in high regard; thus, at the demise of the Holy Prophet(saw), Hadhrat Abu ‘Ubaidah(ra) was also amongst those whom Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) held worthy of Caliphate. Hadhrat Abu ‘Ubaidah(ra) is also among the Al-Asharah Al-Mubashsharah. He was martyred in the reign of Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) as a result of a plague epidemic.

Then there was ‘Ubaidah bin Al-Harith(ra), who was from the Banu Muttalib and was amongst the near relatives of the Holy Prophet(saw). Abu Salamah bin ‘Abdul Asad(ra) was the foster brother of the Holy Prophet(saw) and belonged to the Banu Makhzum. After his death, the Holy Prophet(saw) was married to his widow, Ummi Salamah(ra).

There was also Abu Hudhaifah bin ‘Utbah(ra) who was from the Banu Umaiyyah. His father, ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘ah, was among the chieftains of the Quraish. Abu Hudhaifah(ra) was martyred in the Battle of Yamamah, which was fought against Musaylimah Al-Kadhdhab, during the caliphate of Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra).

There was Sa‘id bin Zaid(ra) of the Banu ‘Adi, who was the brother-in-law of Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra). He was the son of Zaid bin ‘Amr bin Nufail(ra), who had abandoned polytheism even in the Age of the Jahiliyyah [the Age of Ignorance]. Sa‘id(ra) is also among the ‘Al-Asharah Al-Mubashsharah. He died in the time of Amir Mu‘awiyah.

There was ‘Uthman bin Maa‘un(ra) who was from the Banu Jumah. He was a man of an extremely ascetic disposition. He had abandoned drinking even in the era of the Jahiliyyah and wished to become a recluse after accepting Islam, but the Holy Prophet(saw) did not permit this saying; “Religious reclusion is not permitted in Islam.”

Then there was Arqam bin Abi Arqam(ra), whose home was situated at the foot of Mount Safa. The Holy Prophet(saw) later made that house his religious headquarters. Arqam(ra) was from the Banu Makhzum. Then came ‘Abdullah bin Jahashra and ‘Ubaidullah bin Jahash(ra). Both of them were the paternal cousins of the Holy Prophet(saw), but did not belong to the Quraish. Zainab bint Jahash(ra), who later was blessed with a matrimonial tie with the Holy Prophet(saw), was their sister.

‘Abdullah bin Jahash(ra) was among those who had abandoned idol worship, even in the era of the Jahiliyyah. With the advent of Islam he became Muslim, but when he migrated to Abyssinia he abandoned Islam for some reason, and became a Christian. His widow, Ummi Habibah, who was the daughter of a renowned chieftain of the Quraish, Abu Sufyan, later married the Holy Prophet(saw).2

In addition to these people was ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘ud(ra), who was not from the Quraish, but belonged to the Hudhail tribe. ‘Abdullah(ra) was a very poor man and would pasture the goats of ‘Uqbah bin Abi Mu‘it, a chieftain of the Quraish. After he accepted Islam, he came into the service of the Holy Prophet(saw), and his blessed company ultimately transformed him into a very learned scholar. The foundation of the Hanafi Jurisprudence is primarily based on his narrations and religious interpretations.

Makkah seen from Jabal Al-Nur

Then was also Bilal bin Rubah(ra), the Abyssinian slave of Umaiyyah bin Khalf. After he migrated, the duty of calling the Adhan [call to prayer] in Madinah, was entrusted to him. However, after the demise of the Holy Prophet(saw) he stopped calling the Adhan. However, in the Caliphate of Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) when Syria was conquered, upon the insistence of Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra), he resumed calling the Adhan. This reminded everyone of the Holy Prophet(saw)’s era, and Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) and the companions who were present at the call of the Adhan, as well as Bilal(ra) himself, wept bitterly. Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) loved Bilal(ra) to the extent that when he died, Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) said, “This day a chieftain of the Muslims has passed away.” These were the words of the king of that time for a poor Abyssinian slave. Then there was ‘Amir bin Fuhairah(ra), whom Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) freed from slavery and employed as an attendant.

There was also Khabbab bin Al-Arat, who was a freed slave, and in those days worked in Madinah as a blacksmith. Then there was Abu Dharr(ra), who belonged to the Ghifar tribe. When he heard of the Holy Prophet(saw)’s claim, he sent his brother to Makkah to investigate. Thus, his brother came to Makkah and briefed Abu Dharr after his return, but he was not satisfied. For this reason he later came to Makkah himself, and after meeting the Holy Prophet(saw) became Muslim. An elaborate and quite interesting account of his acceptance of Islam is written in Bukhari.3 Abu Dharr was very devout and a man of an ascetic disposition. He believed that the collection of wealth should be condemned under all circumstances. At times, he would fall into a dispute with other companions over this belief.4

These are some of the people who accepted Islam in its first three to four years. Among them, the wives and children of those who were married, generally accepted Islam as well.

Thus, in addition to Hadhrat Khadija(ra), historians have particularly named Asma’ bint Abi Bakr(ra) and Fatimah bint Al-Khattab(ra), the wife of Sa‘id bin Zaid, among the early Muslim women. In addition to these, Ummi Fadl, the wife of ‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib, was also among the pioneer Muslims. It is strange that up to this time, ‘Abbas himself had not accepted Islam. In any case, the outcome of the three to four year laborious efforts of the Holy Prophet(saw), was merely these few souls. However, among these original pioneers, with the exception of Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra), there were none who possessed particular influence and honour among the Quraish.

Some were slaves and most were poor and weak. A few, however, were related to upper class families of the Quraish. But even amongst them, most were youngsters and thus were not in a position to influence their tribes. Others who were aged had no influence due to their poverty or other reasons. Due to this, it was a popular belief among the Quraish that only young and weak people had accepted Muhammad(saw). Therefore after many years, when Heraclius, the King of Rome inquired of Abu Sufyan, the Chief of Makkah; “Does the nobility accept Muhammad(saw) or the weak, lower class?” Abu Sufyan responded, “The weak and lower class accept him.” Upon which Heraclius answered, and beautifully indeed: “In the beginning it is the lower class who accept the messengers of Allah.”5

Method of taking the Bai‘at [Pledge or Initiation of Allegiance] by the Holy Prophet(saw)

At this point, it is not inappropriate to mention here that when an individual would come to accept Islam, the method of the Holy Prophet(saw) was that he would take that person’s hand into his own and would seek a declaration in predetermined words. The person would take an oath that he would obey every Ma‘ruf [good] decision made by the Holy Prophet(saw) thereafter. In the declaration of Islam, after clear mention of fundamental principles, an oath would be taken; for example, “I shall believe in God as One and without partner, I shall not indulge in polytheism, and shall abstain from evil deeds such as stealing, adultery, murder and lying,” etc. Whilst taking Bai‘at from women, the Holy Prophet(saw) would seek the same declaration, but would not take the hands of women into his own. Instead, a verbal oath of allegiance would suffice. Afterwards, when injunctions relevant to Jihad [to strive] by the sword were revealed, the Holy Prophet(saw) made an addition to the words of Bai‘at, with reference to Jihad. The Bai‘at of women however, remained unaltered, until the end.6 Aside from the Baiat, it was a custom of the Holy Prophet(saw) not to shake hands with women, who were beyond the prohibited degrees.7 When the teachings of Purdah [covering one’s body and wearing the veil] were revealed, the disclosure of the beauty of men and women to one another, whether by sight or touch, was declared forbidden by religious law [Ch.24:V.32].

Initial Concealment and the Conduct of the Quraish

Initially, for approximately three years, the Holy Prophet(saw) largely kept his preaching discreete. As such, during this period, there was no specific centre where the Muslims could gather. So, the Holy Prophet(saw) would meet seekers of truth who would come as a result of his own preaching endeavours and of other Muslims, in his own home or on the outskirts of town. This secrecy was maintained to the extent that, at times, even Muslims themselves remained unaware of the acceptance of Islam of one another, because at this time, Muslims generally concealed their religion and news would rarely reach the chieftains of the Quraish. However, if news did in fact reach them, in those days Muslims were mostly not vehemently opposed and their opposition was in fact limited to mockery alone. This is because they thought of this entire endeavour as child’s play. If on the other hand, someone did oppose the Muslims severely, this opposition was individual, and there was no unified resistance exerted against the Muslims by the Quraish.

Pillars of Islam in the Early Era

The fundamentals of Islam have been mentioned above. In other words, during this early era – when the revelation of Islamic law was in its preliminary stages – among the pillars of Islam, greatest emphasis was put on the existence and unity of Allah. After this, the belief in the messengers of God, life after death, and the doctrine of reward and punishment after death were stressed. Although these principlals are fundamental that if one reflects, everything is encompassed within them, yet the manner in which these and other principle elements were later collectively declared the “Pillars of Islam”, this was not the case initially. The same was the case with physical worship. Rather, among the pillars of physical worship, none amongst the currently existent Pillars of Salat, fasting, Hajj, and Zakat [a levy paid by Muslims at 2.5% on one’s unused disposable assets] etc. had been formally established. Albeit, it is evident from Ahadith that in the early stages Gabriel(as) taught the Holy Prophet(saw) the method in which to pray and perform Wudhu [ablution]. The formal observance, however, of the five daily prayers came into practice much later, and fasting, etc., were declared obligatory even later. In the beginning, there was only Salat [Prayer], and even that was of a supererogatory nature. Muslims would gather in groups of two to four and offered their Prayers either in their homes, or in the valleys near Makkah, as they found the opportunity to do so, in the form of common worship. Hence, with reference to this early era, historians write that on one occasion, the Holy Prophet(saw) and Hadhrat ‘Ali(ra) were offering their Salat in a valley of Makkah, when suddenly Abu Talib(ra) passed by. Until then, Abu Talib(ra) was completely unaware of Islam; thus, he stood there and observed this spectacle with great amazement. When the Holy Prophet(saw) completed his Salat, he asked, “What religion is this, which you have adopted?” The Holy Prophet(saw) responded, “Uncle! This is the religion of God and of Abraham.” Then, the Holy Prophet(saw) briefly presented an invitation to Islam before Abu Talib(ra), but he brushed it off saying, “I cannot forsake the religion of my ancestors.” But with that he also addressed his son Hadhrat ‘Ali(ra) and said: “My son, undoubtedly, do support Muhammad(saw), for I trust that he shall call you towards nothing but goodness.”8 Another incident, perhaps near that time, is that Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas(ra) and a handful of Muslims were offering their Salat in a valley, when suddenly a few idolaters appeared and reproached them for their new form of worship. This led to an altercation amongst them.9

Continues in the next edition with the section ‘Dar-e-Aqram – The First Centre for the Propagation of Islam’

References

1. Al-Isabatu fi Tamizis-Sahabah as follows:

- Vol. 2, p. 457, Harfuz-Zaral-Maqutah (Zubair bin Al-Awwam)

- Vol. 3, p. 62, Harfus-Sin Al-Muhmalah (Sa‘d bin Abi Waqqas)

- Vol. 4, p. 377 (‘Uthman bin ‘Affan-Dhun-Nurain)

- Vol. 3, p. 430, Harfut-Ta’ Al-Muhmalah (Talhah bin ‘Ubaidillah)

- Vol. 4, p. 290, Harful-‘Ain Al-Muhmalah (‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Auf)

* Usdul-Ghabah, Vol. 3, p. 482, ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan, Darul-Fikr, Beirut (2003)

* As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, pp. 189-191, Babu Dhikri man Aslama minas-Sahabati bi Da‘wati Abi Bakr, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

* Tarikhut-Tabari, by Abu Ja‘far Muhammad bin Al-Jarir Tabari, Vol. 2, p. 227, Babu Dhikril-Khabari ‘amma kana min Amri Nabiyyillah ‘inda Ibtida’illahi Ta‘ala, Darul-Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon, Second Edition (2002)

* Sharhul-‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘alal-Mawahibil-Ladunniyyah, by Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Baqi Az-Zarqani, Vol. 1, pp. 457-458, Babu Dhikri Awwalu man Amana billahi wa Rasulihi, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)

2. Usdul-Ghabah, Vol. 6, p. 63, Habibahra bint Abu Sufyan, Darul-Fikr, Beirut (2003)

3. Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul-Manaqib, Babu Qissati Islami Abi Dharrra, Hadith No. 3522

4. * Al-Isabatu fi Tamizis-Sahabah, Vol. 7, p. 108 Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari

* Usdul-Ghabah, Vol. 5, p. 101, Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari, Darul-Fikr, Beirut (2003)

5. Sahih Bukhari, Kitabu Bad’il-Wahi, Bab No. 6, Hadith No. 7

6. * As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, p. 310, Babul-‘Aqabatil-Ula wa Mus‘ab bin ‘Umair, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

* As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, By Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, p. 323, Babu Shurutil-Bai‘ati fil-‘Aqabatil-Akhirah, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

* Al-Mumtahinah (60:13)

* Sahih Bukhari, Kitabu Manaqibil-Ansar, Babu Wufudil-Ansar, Hadith No. 3892

* Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul-Ahkam, Babu Bai‘atin-Nisa’, Hadith No. 7214

7. Sahih Bukhari, Kitabul-Ahkam, Babu Bai‘atin-Nisa’, Hadith No. 7214

8. As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah by Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, p.187, Babu Dhikri anna ‘Aliyyabna Abi Talibin Awwalu Dhakarin Aslama, Darul-Kutubil-Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

9. Tarikhut-Tabari, by Abu Ja’far Muhammad bin Al-Jarir Tabari, Vol.2, p.228, Babu Dhikril-Khabari ‘amma kana min Amri Naiyillahi ‘inda Ibtida’illahi Ta’ala, Darul-Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon, Second Edition (2002)

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