The Life and Character of the Seal of Prophets – Vol II Chapter IX Part IV

1 Comment | September 2013

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.

life-and-characterFirst ever serialisation of the newly translated Volume II of Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad’sra outstanding biography, Seerat Khatamun Nabiyyin, on the life and character of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa.

 The Holy Prophetsa as an International Judge

By virtue of the international treaty which had been settled in Madinah after the migration, in a way, the Holy Prophetsa had taken on the capacity of a political leader and judicial head for the various nations in Madinah. It was as if the Holy Prophetsa had been declared the chief executive of the international democratic state, which had been established in Madinah after the migration. In this position, cases of importance were submitted to the Holy Prophetsa and he would issue verdicts according to the judicial laws which regulated each segment of the population. There is a narration that towards the end of 4 A.H., the case of a Jewish man and a Jewish woman were presented before the Holy Prophetsa, in which the charge of adultery was duly established against them. The Holy Prophetsa inquired of the Jewish scholars as to the edict that was given by the Mosaic law in this respect. By way of deception and falsehood they responded that according to their law, the penalty for a person who is guilty of adultery is that the face of the offender is blackened and he is then taken throughout the streets riding a mount, facing backwards. At the time, ‘Abdullah bin Salamra who was a Jewish scholar, but had now accepted Islam was sitting nearby and submitted, “O Messenger of Allah! These people are lying. According to the Torah, the punishment for adultery is stoning to death.” Thus, a copy of the Torah was brought and although the Jews tried their utmost to conceal the truth, to the extent that they even tried to cover the relevant verse with their hands, ‘Abdullah bin Salamra clearly proved that in light of the Torah, the penalty for adultery is stoning, and they were made to face embarrassment. Since the treaty stated that cases of various nations would be settled according to their own respective laws, and no injunctions had been revealed with regards to the penalty for adultery, etc., therefore, the Holy Prophetsa decided according to the Jewish law that both of them should be stoned. Hence, this man and woman were both stoned. This incident took place towards the end of 4 A.H.1

Mother of Hazrat ‘Alira Passes Away

The very same year, towards the end of 4 A.H., the elderly mother of Hazrat ‘Alira, whose name was Fatimah bint Asad, passed away in Madinah. This revered lady had been like a mother to the Holy Prophetsa, because after the demise of his paternal grandfather ‘Abdul-Muttalib, it was she who raised the Holy Prophetsa in her own home as her own. She loved the Holy Prophetsa dearly, and he was deeply saddened by her demise. Upon seeing the body of the deceased, the eyes of the Holy Prophetsa began to flow with tears. In his immense love, the Holy Prophetsa gave his own shirt to serve as her shroud. He stood in her grave and made all the arrangements for her burial himself. When she was being lowered into her grave, the Holy Prophetsa offered the following supplication in a very emotional voice:

“May God the Exalted grant you the best reward for having been a very good mother; for you were indeed a most exemplary mother.”2

In Volume I of this book it has already been mentioned that Fatimah bint Asad and Abu Talib had four sons named Talib, ‘Aqil, Ja‘farra and Hazrat ‘Alira and one daughter named Ummi Hani.

Ghazwah of Dummatul-Jandal and a New Addition to the Islamic Wars – Rabi‘ul-Awwal 5 A.H.

Until now, the military operations which had been undertaken were either directly or indirectly for the purpose of defence. Those campaigns which were undertaken for the purpose of settling treaties of peace and security with various Arabian tribes also fell under the same category. Moreover, all of the journeys which had been undertaken until that time were confined to the regions of central Hijaz and Najd, but now, this sphere began to widen. Therefore, Dummatul-Jandal, the Ghazwah of which we now mention, was situated near the Syrian border, and it was at a distance of no less than fifteen or sixteen days’ travel from Madinah.3

The reason for this Ghazwah was that the Holy Prophetsa received news that many people from Dummatul-Jandal had gathered and were occupied in robbing and looting others. They would attack travellers and caravans passing by and would disturb them by robbing and looting them. Along with this, it was apprehended that they may turn their sights towards Madinah as well, and thus become a source of distress for the Muslims.4 A prime objective of the military operations of the Holy Prophetsa was also the establishment of peace. Therefore, although the Muslims of Madinah were not directly in severe danger by the pillaging and plunder of these people, the Holy Prophetsa urged the Companions that the robbery and injustice being perpetrated there should be put to an end. Hence, upon the encouragement of the Holy Prophetsa, 1,000 Companions set out with him to undertake this far-off and arduous journey.5 In the fifth year of Hijrah, during the month of Rabi‘ul-Awwal, the Holy Prophetsa went forth from Madinah.6 After completing a long and tiresome journey of fifteen to sixteen days, the Holy Prophetsa reached Dummatul-Jandal. However, upon reaching there it was ascertained that these people had scattered here and there upon receiving news of the imminent arrival of the Muslims. Although the Holy Prophetsa remained there for a few days, and also dispatched small companies in search of them so that intelligence could be gathered with respect to these trouble-makers, they disappeared in such a manner that they were nowhere to be found. However, a shepherd from among them who was taken captive by the Muslims accepted Islam upon the preaching of the Holy Prophetsa. After a stay of a few days, the Holy Prophetsa returned to Madinah.7

As it has been alluded to above, this Ghazwah was the first of its kind, where its primary purpose, or at least its major purpose, was the establishment of peace in the country. There was no direct quarrel between the people of Dummah and the Muslims. They were so far from Madinah that apparently the fear that they would undertake such a long and strenuous journey towards Madinah and cause harm to the Muslims was no real threat. Thus, in reality, there was no other reason for undertaking such a difficult journey of fifteen days against them, except so that the pillaging and plunder which they were perpetrating, and their harassing innocent caravans and travellers, could be put to an end. In actuality, this journey of the Muslims was for the public peace and overall stability of the country, and there was no selfish motive whatsoever. Furthermore, this is a practical response to those people who completely by way of dishonesty and injustice, have alleged that the early military campaigns, which the Muslims engaged in under the command of the Holy Prophetsa, were offensive or fuelled by selfish motives.

One outcome of this Ghazwah was that the people of Dummah became awe-stricken and held back from their rebellious designs, and oppressed travellers were delivered from this injustice. Secondly, in a way, Islam was introduced to the border of Syria, where until now, Muslims were only known by name and people were completely unaware of the truth of Islam. As a result, the people of this region became aware of the practices and values of the Muslims to some extent.

A group of Christians inhabited the surrounding proximity of Dummatul-Jandal as well.8 However, narrations do not specify whether the rebels against whom this expedition was directed were Christians or idolaters. However, it may be presumed by circumstances that these people were perhaps idolaters, because if this campaign was directed towards the Christians, historians definitely would have alluded to it.9

The Holy Prophetsa had not yet returned to Madinah, when the mother of Sa‘d bin ‘Ubadahra, chief of the Khazraj tribe, passed away.10 When the Holy Prophetsa returned, he graced her grave and supplicated in her favour. Sa‘dra submitted:

“O Messenger of Allah! My mother suddenly passed away in a state of unconsciousness. I am certain that if she had received the opportunity to speak, she would have offered to give charity and alms. In this case, am I permitted to give charity on her behalf?”

The Holy Prophetsa responded, “Of course, you may undoubtedly do so on her behalf.”11 Then Sa‘dra inquired as to what the best charity to offer would be, the Holy Prophetsa said, “Arrange a water-well for the general benefit of people.” Hence, Sa‘dra installed a well and devoted it solely to the people for their collective benefit.12 In another narration it is related that although the mother of Sa‘dra did not pass away in a state of unconsciousness, upon her demise, Sa‘dra himself was absent from Madinah. Since all the property was owned by Sa‘dra, his mother could not offer charity despite her wish to do so. After this, when Sa‘dra returned, he sought permission from the Holy Prophetsa and offered an orchard as charity for the sake of God, on behalf of his mother.13

Lunar Eclipse in Madinah and Salat-e-Khusuf

In the very same year, during the month of Jamadiyul-Akhir, a lunar eclipse occurred in Madinah.14 The Holy Prophetsa instructed the Companions to congregate for Salat. As such, the Holy Prophetsa remained occupied in Salat along with a community until the eclipse had ended. From then onwards, a formal Salat for the lunar eclipse was instituted in Islam. On the one hand, while the Muslims were engaged in Salat, on the other, the Jews were beating their vessels, etc., under the notion that someone had cast a spell upon the moon, which in their own surmise, would be dispelled by their noise.15

At this instance, it would not be out of place to mention that a great distinction of Islam is that it has not only erased unnecessary superstition, but has also instituted a form of worship for every such occasion where the door to superstition may be opened, and as a result, this immediately directs the attention of a person towards God and uproots pagan notions. Therefore, a grand wisdom in enjoining a form of worship on the occasion of an eclipse, etc., is to remind the Muslims that irrespective of the apparent instrument by which a person receives light and luminosity in the life of this world, in actuality, it is God the Exalted who is the actual source. For this reason, if an obstruction occurs in the way of this light, even though such a hindrance may be due to the general laws of nature, on this occasion, one should turn towards God. In actuality, Islam has attached divine remembrance to a person’s every movement and to every change in environment, so that a person is never neglectful of his Lord. However, this is a separate religious discussion, which a historian cannot engage himself in.

Famine in Makkah and Compassion of the Holy Prophetsa Towards the Quraish

Whilst alluding to the Ghazwah of Badrul-Mau‘id, the famine in Makkah was also mentioned. This famine still continued. The Quraish of Makkah were afflicted with great suffering due to this famine, especially those who were poor. When the Holy Prophetsa was informed of this, as an act of compassion, he sent some silver to the less fortunate of Makkah.16 In doing so, the Holy Prophetsa furnished practical evidence that his heart possessed a deep and immense sympathy for even his most bitter enemies; and that his only opposition was with doctrines and concepts, not with human beings.

It is ascertained from Bukhari that on another occasion as well, the people of Makkah were afflicted by a famine. Abu Sufyan bin Harb presented himself before the Holy Prophetsa on their behalf and requested him to supplicate for their deliverance from the famine on the basis of kinship and relation.17 This demonstrates that the people of Makkah held mixed emotions with regards to the Holy Prophetsa. They accepted his innate virtue, piety and purity, but were also bent upon expunging the teaching of the Holy Prophetsa, finding it to be at odds with their ancient way of practice and pagan concepts. Such mixed emotions are not impossible in light of principles of psychology.

Marriage of Zainab bint Jahashra – 5 A.H.

In the very same year, i.e., in 5 A.H., shortly before the Ghazwah of Bani Mustaliq, which took place in Sha‘ban 5 A.H., the Holy Prophetsa married Zainab bint Jahashra. Some historians, such as Ibni Athir and the author of Khamis, etc., have placed the marriage of Zainab bint Jahashra after the Ghazwah of Bani Mustaliq, but this is incorrect. The reason being that it is proven from Sahih Bukhari18 that when the famous calumny was levelled against Hazrat ‘A’ishahra, the marriage of Zainab bint Jahashra had already taken place; and it is accepted that the incident of slander against Hazrat ‘A’ishahra is linked to the Ghazwah of Bani Mustaliq. Hazrat Zainabra was the daughter of the paternal aunt of the Holy Prophetsa, whose name was Amimah bint ‘Abdil-Muttalib. Although she was extremely righteous and pious, she was somewhat conscious of her family status at heart. In contrast, the disposition of the Holy Prophetsa was absolutely pure of such thoughts, and although he was considerate of family circumstances from a social perspective, the Holy Prophetsa considered innate merit and individual virtue and purity as being the true criteria for nobility. To this affect, the Holy Qur’an states:

“O Ye People! The most honourable among you is the one who is most righteous.”19

Hence, the Holy Prophetsa proposed the marriage of this dear one, i.e., Zainab bint Jahashra to his freed slave and foster-son Zaid bin Harithahra without any hesitation. At first, Zainabra did not accept this match, considering her family status to be greater, but ultimately, upon noticing the strong desire of the Holy Prophetsa, she agreed.20 In any case, according to the proposal and desire of the Holy Prophetsa, the marriage of Zainabra and Zaidra took place. Although Zainabra fulfilled her vows with goodness, in his own heart, Zaidra felt that Zainabra still harboured hidden feelings that she was from a noble family and a close relative of the Holy Prophetsa, while Zaidra was merely a freed slave and not her equal. Even in his own heart, Zaidra felt that his position was lesser than that of Zainabra. This feeling slowly and gradually became stronger making their marital life unpleasant, making husband and wife indisposed to one another. When this upsetting situation grew out of hand, Zaid bin Harithahra presented himself before the Holy Prophetsa of his own accord, and complaining about the treatment of Zainabra, sought permission to divorce her.21 In another narration it is related that he complained that, “Zainab uses harsh tongue, and therefore, I wish to divorce her.”22 Naturally, the Holy Prophetsa was grieved upon hearing the state of affairs, and he restrained Zaidra from giving a divorce. Perhaps feeling that Zaidra could do more to fulfil his end, the Holy Prophetsa exhorted him saying, “Fear God, and settle your differences however you may.”23 These words of the Holy Prophetsa have been recorded by the Holy Qur’an as well in the following words:

“Do not divorce your wife, and fear God.”24

The reason for this advice of the Holy Prophetsa was that firstly, in principle, the Holy Prophetsa disliked divorce. On one occasion, the Holy Prophetsa stated:

“Of all lawful things, divorce is most undesirable in the sight of God.”25

For this reason, it has only been permitted as a last resort. Secondly, as related by Imam Zainul-‘Abidin ‘Ali bin Husainra, the son of Imam Husainra (and Imam Zuhri has declared this narration as being authentic),26 since the Holy Prophetsa knew by way of divine revelation that Zaid bin Harithahra would ultimately divorce Zainabra, and then she would subsequently come into a matrimonial bond with the Holy Prophetsa, feeling that he had a personal connection in the matter, the Holy Prophetsa wished to remain absolutely unrelated and neutral. Moreover, from his own perspective, it was the utmost desire of the Holy Prophetsa that he should have no part in the dissolution of the marriage of Zaidra and Zainabra, and that they should continue living together for as long as possible. It was under this consideration that the Holy Prophetsa emphatically exhorted Zaidra not to give a divorce, fear God, and settle the differences between husband and wife in any way possible. Furthermore, the Holy Prophetsa also apprehended that if Zainabra was to marry the Holy Prophetsa after having separated from Zaidra, people would raise the allegation that the Holy Prophetsa had married the divorcee of his foster-son, and people would be put to trial. As such, Allah the Exalted states in the Holy Qur’an:

“O Prophet! You had concealed in your heart what God was going to bring to light, and you were afraid on account of the people, whereas God has far greater right to be feared.”27

In any case, the Holy Prophetsa admonished Zaidra to fear Allah and held him back from giving a divorce. In light of this exhortation, Zaidra bowed his head in submission and silently returned. However, it was difficult for these distant personalities to come together, and what was not meant to be, remained as such. After some time, Zaidra gave a divorce. When the ‘Iddat [waiting period for a woman after divorce] of Zainabra had elapsed, the Holy Prophetsa received revelation again with respect to her marriage, which instructed that the Holy Prophetsa should take her into a bond of matrimony himself. In this divine command, the wisdom was so that Zainabra could be comforted and so that it could be demonstrated that there was no disgrace in Muslim men marrying a divorced woman. Moreover, another wisdom was that since Zaidra was the foster-son of the Holy Prophetsa and was generally known as his son, by marrying his divorcee, a practical example could be demonstrated by the Holy Prophetsa before the Muslims that a foster-son is not a real son, nor do such injunctions apply to them, as are enforced upon biological sons. As a result, this ignorant Arabian custom could be completely expunged from among the Muslims. In this regard, the Holy Qur’an, which is the most authentic of all historical records states:

“When Zaid dissolved his relationship with Zainab, We married her to you, so that there may be no hindrance for the believers with regard to the wives of their adopted sons, after their adopted sons dissolve their relationship with their wives. This is how it was decreed that the Will of God would come to pass.”28

Therefore, after this divine revelation was sent down, which was absolutely free from the personal desire or thought of the Holy Prophetsa, he decided to marry Zainabra. The Holy Prophetsa sent his proposal to Zainabra through Zaidra himself.29 Upon the consent of Zainabra, her brother Abu Ahmad bin Jahashra served as her guardian and married her off to the Holy Prophetsa and the dowry was set at 400 dirhams.30 In this manner, the ancient tradition which was firmly rooted in the plains of Arabia, was uprooted at the very source and stem, and discarded by Islam through the personal example of the Holy Prophetsa.

At this instance, it is also necessary to mention that historians and Muhaddithin [those who collected the sayings of the Holy Prophetsa] generally believe that since divine revelation had been sent down with respect to the marriage of Hazrat Zainabra and as this marriage took place due to special divine command, an actual ceremony of Nikah did not take place. However, this notion is incorrect. Undoubtedly, this marriage took place in accordance with the command of God, and it can be said that this marriage was settled in the heavens, as it were. However, this cannot relieve a person from the practical application of the Shari‘at, which is also instituted by God Himself. Hence, the reference of Ibni Hisham, which has been alluded to above, has explicitly stated that the actual ceremony of Nikah did in fact take place and in this respect, the matter is clear and leaves no room for uncertainty or doubt. Moreover, as for the Hadith which states that Hazrat Zainabra would express in a manner of pride to the other Ummahatul-Mu’minin [Mothers of the believers] that their marriages were announced through their guardians on the earth, while her marriage was announced in the heavens, it is also false to deduce from this that the physical ceremony of her marriage did not take place. The reason being, that even in the case of an apparent ceremony, she maintains the distinction that her marriage was settled in the heavens under the special order of God, while the marriages of the other Ummahatul-Mu’minin took place under normal circumstances, merely with an apparent ceremony having taken place. In another narration it is related that the Holy Prophetsa went to Zainabra without permission, and it is deduced from this as well, that a physical ceremony did not take place. However, if one reflects, this fact does not have any relation whatsoever with a physical ceremony being held or not. If it is inferred from this that the Holy Prophetsa went to the home of Hazrat Zainabra without permission, then this is incorrect and contrary to the facts, because an explicit narration in Bukhari states that after their marriage, Zainabra was bid farewell from her home, and came to the home of the Holy Prophetsa, not vice versa.31 If, however, this narration is inferred to suggest that after her Rukhsatanah [when husband and wife begin living together in married life] took place and she entered the home of the Holy Prophetsa, he went to her without any specific permission, this is nothing out of the ordinary and not at odds with general practice. After coming to the home of the Holy Prophetsa as his wife, it was obvious that the Holy Prophetsa would go to her, and no permission was required in this respect. Hence, the narration regarding the Holy Prophetsa not seeking permission, has no relation whatsoever with the question as to whether a formal ceremony of Nikah took place or not. The fact of the matter is that as Ibni Hisham has clearly related, despite divine command, a formal ceremony of Nikah took place. Rationality also dictates that it occurred as such, because firstly, there was no reason for an exception to the general rule. Secondly, when the very objective of this marriage was to break a custom and remove its influence, it was required to an even greater degree that this marriage in particular take place with great proclamation and publicity.

 

 

Endnotes

1.  * Sahihul-Bukhari, Kitabul-Hudud, Babur-Rajmi Fil-Bilat, Hadith No. 6819.

* Tarikhul-Khamis Fi Ahwali Anfasi Nafis, by Husain bin Muhammad bin Hasan, Volume 1, p. 467, Rajmul-Yahudiyyin, Mu’assasatu Sha‘ban, Beirut.

2.  Tarikhul-Khamis Fi Ahwali Anfasi Nafis, by Husain bin Muhammad bin Hasan, Volume 1, p. 468, Wafatu Fatimah Ummi ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, Mu’assasatu Sha‘ban, Beirut.

3.  Ibni Sa‘d, Mujamul-Buldan [mark page 14 of ref.].

4.  Ibni Sa‘d.

5.  Ibni Sa‘d.

6.  Ibni Hisham.

7.  Ibni Sa‘d.

8.  Mu’jamul-Buldan.

9.  And Allah knows best. (Publishers)

10.  Ibni Sa‘d.

11.  Tarikhul-Khamis.

12.  Abu Dawud.

13.  Muwatta.

14.  Khamis.

15.  Khamis.

16.  Ibid.

17.  Bukhari.

18.  Kitabul-Maghazi.

19.  Holy Qur’an, Al-Hujurat, Verse 14.

20.  Zarqani, Ibni Sa‘d.

21.  Bukhari.

22.  Fathul-Bari.

23.  Bukhari, Fathul-Bari, Lubabin-Nuqul.

24.  The Holy Qur’an, Al-Ahzab, Verse 38.

25.  Abu Dawud.

26.  Zarqani, Fathul-Bari.

27.  Holy Qur’an, Al-Ahzab, Verse 38.

28.  Ibid.

29.  Muslim, Kitabun-Nikah.

30.  Sirat Ibni Hisham.

31.  Bukhari, Kitabut-Tafsir.

 

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  1. I have read this book many times and each time I have discovered something new in it.

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