The Life & Character of the Seal of the Prophets(saw) – Part 11

No Comments | October 2011

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). Seerat Khatamun Nabiyyin has been translated into English for the first time, and is being serialised in The Review of Religions. This section of the series looks at the conversion to Islam of Hadhrat Hamzah(ra) and Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) and the attempts by the leaders of the Quraish to dissuade the Holy Prophet(saw) from preaching Islam.

Translated from the Urdu by Ayyaz Mahmood Khan

Departure of Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) with the Intention of Migration

It is narrated by Hadhrat ‘A’ishah(ra), that after the Muslims migrated to Abyssinia, at one time, Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) also left Makkah with the intention of migration. While travelling south, when he reached Barikul-Ghimad, he coincidentally met Ibni Daghinah who was a Chieftain of the Qarah tribe. When Ibni Daghinah inquired as to the cause of this trip, Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) responded, “My people have exiled me. For this reason, I have decided to travel throughout the land of Allah freely, and worship my Lord.”

“A man of your calibre should not leave Makkah on his own accord, nor should he be exiled,” said Ibni Daghinah, “Come, I take you into my protection. Return and worship your Lord in Makkah.” As a result, Abu Bakr(ra) returned as per his request. On reaching Makkah, Ibni Daghinah rebuked the Chieftains of the Quraish saying, “Do you exile a man of such and such virtues?” After this, Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) made a small mosque in the veranda of his home, where he would observe prayers and recite the Holy Qur’an. Since he was exceedingly soft-hearted, he would often weep while reciting the Holy Qur’an. This sight would especially move the hearts of the women and children of the Quraish, who were relatively simple and free of religious prejudice. Since Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) was extremely revered among the Quraish, his fervent worship would pull the hearts of people towards Islam. Upon this, the Quraish complained to Ibni Daghinah that Abu Bakr(ra) recited the Qur’an aloud and due to this their women, children and weaker ones were put to trial, thus he should be forbidden. Ibni Daghinah attempted to stop Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra), but he refused saying, “I cannot leave this on any account. However, if you are fearful, then I leave your protection, the protection of my Lord is sufficient for me.”1 After this, the Quraish inflicted many hardships upon Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra), but he remained steadfast like a resolute rock.

Acceptance of Hamzah(ra)

In an attempt to narrate all the events related to the migration of Abyssinia in one place, many other concurrent events were left out, which shall be mentioned now. Until now the apparent state of the Muslims was very weak, because among them there was not a single person (excluding Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra)), who possessed influence among the Quraish, or who at least from whom the Quraish were somewhat pressured. But now, by the Grace of Allah two such persons entered the fold of Islam, who, to some extent by their dignity and awe, proved to reinforce the apparent glory of Islam. Our intent is (to mention) Hadhrat Hamzah bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib(ra) and Hadhrat ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab(ra), who accepted Islam one after the other in 6 Nabawi.

Night view of the minarets of Masjid al- Haram where Hadhrat Hamza(ra) would return in the evenings after hunting all day.Credit: Basid D Soufi

Hamzah(ra) was the biological paternal uncle of the Holy Prophet(saw). He loved the Holy Prophet(saw) dearly, but until now, he was an idolater. It was his practice to set out in the early morning, bow and arrow in hand, and  hunt all day long. In the evening, he would return to perform the Tawaf [circumambulation] of the Ka‘bah and he would then hold sessions with the various gatherings of the Quraish, which were held in the courtyard of the Ka‘bah, in groups of twos and fours. Afterwards, he would return home. One day, when Hamzah(ra) returned from hunting, a female servant said to him, “Have you heard that Abul-Hakam [that is, Abu Jahl] just went on to say awful things to thy nephew, and cursed at him in filthy and profane language, but Muhammad(saw) did not react at all?” Upon hearing this, Hamzah’s(ra) eyes gorged with blood in rage and his family honour was infuriated. He immediately started off towards the Ka‘bah, and first performed circuits of the Ka‘bah. After this Tawaf, he moved towards the gathering in which Abu Jahl was sitting. Upon reaching there, he firmly struck Abu Jahl’s head with his bow and said, “I have heard that you cursed Muhammad(saw). Then listen, I too follow the religion of Muhammad(saw) and I also say what he says. Hence, if you possess even a little courage, speak before me!” The associates of Abu Jahl rose in his support and a brawl almost erupted, but Abu Jahl, who was struck in awe of the bravery and courage of Hamzah(ra), stopped his associates saying, “Hamzah(ra) is true, I did in fact act unjustly,”and in this way the matter was settled.2

The Ka’bah in Makkah, where the encounter between the Makkan leaders and Hadhrat Hamzah(ra) took place.

In his outburst Hamzah(ra) said,  “I am also upon the religion of Muhammad(saw) but when he returned home and his anger subsided, he was somewhat apprehensive and began to ponder over the best course of action. Ultimately, his heart decided that it was now best to forsake polytheism. Consequently, he came to the Holy Prophet(saw), recited the Kalimah [i.e. the Muslim creed: there is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad(saw) is His Messenger] and entered the fold of Islam.3 This incident is from the sixth year of prophethood, when the Holy Prophet(saw) was still situated in Dar-e-Arqam.4 In happiness of Hadhrat Hamzah’s(ra) acceptance of Islam, or perhaps in the ardour of his sincerity, Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) openly announced the unity of God in the courtyard of the Ka‘bah, the same day Hadhrat Hamzah(ra) accepted Islam. At that time, the Holy Prophet(saw) and various other Muslims were also present. When the Quraish witnessed the boldness of Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra), they attacked him. They beat him so mercilessly that when the people of his tribe helped him up and took him home, he was completely unconscious. Due to the severe beating, his body was seriously injured. When he regained consciousness, his first question was “How is the Holy Prophet(saw)”, and until Hadhrat Abu Bakr(ra) received word of his security, he did not feel at ease.5

Acceptance of ‘Umar(ra)

Qur’anic Manuscript from the 7th Century written on vellum in the Hijazi script. Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra)’s sister had parchments with verses of the Qur’an on them which she gave to her brother Hadhrat Umar(ra) to read.

Only a few days had passed after the acceptance of Hadhrat Hamzah(ra), when Allah the Exalted blessed the Muslims with another instance of happiness, in other words, Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) who was a vehement enemy, accepted Islam. The story of his acceptance is very interesting. The disposition of Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) enclosed a kind of stiffness which was further increased by his enmity towards Islam. Therefore, prior to his acceptance of Islam, ‘Umar(ra) subjected poor and weak Muslims to great torture on account of their [belief in] Islam. But when he was exhausted by inflicting this agony, and saw no signs of their return, he thought, why not finish the founder of this very ‘disease’. Upon this thought, he took hold of his sword and set out in search of the Holy Prophet(saw). On the way, when someone noticed him walking with an unsheathed sword in hand, he inquired, “O ‘Umar(ra), where to?” ‘Umar(ra) responded, “I have set off to slay Muhammad(saw).” He replied, “By slaying Muhammad(saw) can you remain safe from the Banu ‘Abdi Manaf? Why not then look after your own home first? Your sister and brother-in-law have accepted Islam.” Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) immediately turned and started off towards the home of his sister Fatimah(ra). As he approached the home, he could hear the sound of the recitation of the Holy Qur’an from inside, which Khabbab bin Al-Arat(ra) was reciting very melodiously. When ‘Umar(ra) heard this voice, he was further enraged and entered the home. As soon as Khabbab(ra) heard his footsteps, he hid somewhere, and Fatimah(ra) also hid the various pages of the Holy Qur’an here and there.6  When Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) entered, he shouted, “I heard that you have left your faith!” Then, he attacked his brother-in- law Sa‘id bin Zaid(ra). Fatimah(ra) was also wounded as she moved forward, in an attempt to save her husband, and very courageously said, “Yes ‘Umar! We have become Muslim. Do as you wish, we shall not leave Islam.” Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) was a very stern man, but beneath this veil of stiffness was also a touch of love and tenderness, which showed its colours on certain occasions. When he heard the courageous words of his sister, he glanced at her and noticed that she was covered in blood. This sight had an inexplicable impression upon the heart of ‘Umar(ra). After a short silence, he said to his sister, “Show me the word that you were reading.” “I shall not,” responded Fatimah(ra), “for you will destroy the leaflets.” ‘Umar(ra) replied, “Nay, Nay! Please show me, I shall indeed return them to you.” “But you are unclean,” said Fatimah(ra), “and the Qur’an should be touched in a state of purity. First bathe, then read.” Perhaps her desire was also that by taking a bath, ‘Umar’s(ra) rage would fully subside, after which he would be able to reflect with a cool heart. When ‘Umar(ra) had taken a bath, Fatimah(ra) placed the leaflets of the Qur’an before him. When he took hold of them and saw, they were the opening verses of Chapter Ta Ha. Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) began to read them with an awe-inspired heart, and every single word deeply impressed the heart of this well-natured man. While reading, Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) read:

“I am the one and only Creator and Master of this world. There is none worthy of worship except Me. So worship Me alone and devote your prayers to My remembrance. Lo! The promised hour cometh, but we have kept it secret, so that everyone may be recompensed for his endeavours.”7

When Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) recited this verse, it was as if his eyes was opened, and his latent disposition was suddenly aroused. He powerlessly said, “What a strange and holy word this is!”

When Khabbab(ra) heard these words, he immediately came out, thanked God, and said:

“This is due to the prayer of the messenger of Allah. By God, it was only yesterday I heard the Holy Prophet(saw) pray that, ‘O Allah! Do bless either ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab or ‘Umar bin Hisham (meaning Abu Jahl) with Islam.’”

Each and every moment was now becoming difficult for Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra), and he said to Khabbab(ra), “Tell me the way to Muhammad(saw) at once.” In the fervour of his excitement, he kept his sword unsheathed. At this time, the Holy Prophet (ra) was in the Dar-e-Arqam; as such, Khabbab(ra) gave him the location. ‘Umar(ra) went there, and firmly knocked at the door. When the Companions peered through the crack in the door, and saw ‘Umar(ra) holding an unsheathed sword, they were reluctant in opening the door, but the Holy Prophet(saw) said, “Open the door.” Hadhrat Hamzah(ra) also said “Open the door. If he has come with pure intentions then well and good, otherwise, if his intentions are evil, by Allah, I shall sever his head off by his own sword.” The door was opened, and ‘Umar(ra) entered, unsheathed sword in hand. Upon seeing him, the Holy Prophet(saw) moved forward and taking hold of Hadhrat ‘Umar’s(ra) mantle he yanked it, saying, “O ‘Umar, with what intention have you come? By Allah, I see that you have not been created for the chastisement of Allah.” “O Messenger of Allah,” responded ‘Umar(ra), “I wish to become a Muslim.” When the Holy Prophet(saw) heard these words, in the fervour of his happiness he said “Allahu Akbar!”, and his companions called out the slogan of ‘Allahu Akbar’ so loudly that the mountains of Makkah began to resonate.8

At that time, Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) was thirty-three years of age, and he was the Chieftain of his tribe, the Banu ‘Adiyy. Among the Quraish he also held the responsibility of being an ambassador, and was very awe-inspiring, valiant, and courageous. By his acceptance of Islam, the Muslims gained significant strength. They left the Dar-e-Arqam and began offering their Salat openly in the Masjid-e-Haram. Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) was the last companion to accept Islam in the Dar-e-Arqam. This occurred in the last month of the sixth year after the prophetic commission. At that time the number of Muslim men totalled forty.9

When news of Hadhrat ‘Umar’s(ra) acceptance spread, the Quraish became exceedingly furious. In this very state of fury, they besieged the home of Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra). When Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) stepped out, a large party of people gathered around him. It was nigh that various enraged young men attack Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra), but he stood his ground with extreme audacity. At last, in this state, a Chieftain of Makkah, ‘As bin Wa’il, arrived and upon noticing this multitude, he moved forward in his authoritative manner and said, “What is the matter?” The people said, “‘Umar has become a Sabi.” After judging the situation he said, “All right, even still, there is no need for this commotion. I give ‘Umar my protection.” At this voice, in accordance with the Arab custom, people were compelled to silence and they gradually dispersed. After that, Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) remained in security for a few days, because no one would confront him on account of the protection of ‘As bin Wa’il. But the honour of Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) could not bear this state for long. Hence, much time had not passed before he went to ‘As bin Wa’il and said, “I leave your protection”. Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) relates, “After this, I would remain in a constant brawl in the streets of Makkah.”10 However, Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) never lowered his gaze before anyone.

Shortly after Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) accepted Islam, his son, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar(ra) also became Muslim. At that time ‘Abdullah(ra) was only a child, but after the demise of the Holy Prophet(saw) he acquired great status, and was looked upon as a great scholar of Islam.

Endnotes

1.  Sahih Bukhari, Kitabu Manaqibil-Ansar, Babu Hijratin-Nabiyyisa wa Ashabihi ilal-Madinah, Hadith No. 3905

2.  * Tarikhut-Tabari, by Abu Ja‘far Muhammad bin Al-Jarir Tabari, Vol. 2, pp. 235-236, Babu Dhikril-Khabri ‘amma kana min Amri Nabiyyillahi(sa) ‘inda Ibtida’illahi Ta‘ala…, Darul-Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon, Second Edition (2002)

* As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, by Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, p. 219, Babu Islami

Hamzah(ra), Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

3.  Ar-Raudul-Anf, by Imam Abul-Qasim ‘Abdur-Rahman Suhaili, Vol. 2, pp.44-45, Babu Islami

Hamzah(ra), Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

4.  Sharhul-‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘alal-Mawahibil-Ladunniyyah, by Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Baqi Az- Zarqani, Vol. 2, p. 3, Babu Islamil-Faruq, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)

5.  Tarikhul-Khamis, by Husain bin Muhammad bin Hasan Dayar Bakri, Vol. 1, p.294, Dhikru Islami

Hamzah, Muwassasatu Sha‘ban, Beirut

6.  This instance should be remembered, because through it we find that even from the early era, the Holy Prophet(saw) had the Holy Qur’an written along the way and these manuscripts were preserved by numerous companions of the Holy Prophet(saw). (Author)

7.  Surah Ta Ha (Ch.20:Vs.15-16)

8.  * As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, by Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, p.253, Babu Islami ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab(ra), Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

* Ar-Raudul-Anf, by Imam Abul-Qasim ‘Abdur-Rahman Suhaili, Vol. 2, pp.120-124, Babu Dhikri

Islami ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab(ra), Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)

* Sharhul-‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘alal-Mawahibil-Ladunniyyah, by Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Baqi Az-Zarqani, Vol.2, p.8, Babu Islamil-Faruq, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)

* With regards to Hadhrat ‘Umar’s(ra) acceptance of Islam there are various other narrations as well, but here, we have only taken the well-known narrations of the scholars of Sirat. (Author)

9.  Sharhul-‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘alal-Mawahibil-Ladunniyyah, by Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Baqi Az-Zarqani, Vol. 2, p.3-4, Babu Islamil-Faruq, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)

10.  Sharhul-‘Allamatiz-Zarqani ‘alal-Mawahibil-Ladunniyyah, by Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Baqi Az-Zarqani, Vol. 2, pp.9-10, Babu Islamil-Faruq, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)

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