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 time when the Quraish, the leading tribe of Makkah, offered to give anything the Prophet Muhammad(saw) wished for, if only he would renounce his faith.
Translated from the Urdu by Ayyaz Mahmood Khan
CHAPTER VII – Days of Struggle
A Meeting of the Holy Prophet(saw) with a Delegation of the Quraish
When the Quraish noticed powerful people such as Hadhrat Hamzah(ra) and Hadhrat ‘Umar(ra) entering the fold of Islam, they became quite worried. After mutual consultation, at first, they sent ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘ah to the Holy Prophet(saw), that in one way or another, he might convince the Prophet(saw) to stop the propagation of Islam. But when ‘Utbah was unsuccessful in this mission, rather, when the Quraish saw that, quite the contrary, ‘Utbah returned impressed and awe-inspired by the Holy Prophet(saw),1 they gathered near the Ka‘bah one day, and deliberated. It was proposed that a few Chieftains collectively speak to the Holy Prophet(saw). Therefore, in accordance with this proposal, Walid bin Mughirah, ‘As bin Wa’il, Abu Jahl, Umaiyyah bin Khalaf, ‘Utbah, Shaibah, Abu Sufyan, Aswad bin Muttalib, Nadr bin Harith and Abul-Bakhtari etc., assembled near the Ka‘bah, and one man was sent to the Holy Prophet(saw) with the message that: “The Chieftains of your people wish to speak to you. Come to the courtyard of the Ka‘bah and listen to what they have to say.” The Holy Prophet(saw) would himself remain in search of such opportunities so he set off immediately. After their traditional greetings, the Quraish began their discourse saying:
“O Muhammad(saw)! Look at how you have created dissention and division amongst your people. Betraying the religion of your forefathers, you have slandered the great men of our nation. You have cursed at their honourable gods and labelled their respected men as those who think not. What greater defamation and humiliation can a people face than what you have done and continue to do. But in your case, we are bewildered as to what we should do and what we should not do. If your endeavour is with the purpose that you might gather riches and become wealthy, then we shall give you such wealth as you may be deemed the wealthiest of us all. If you seek power and respect, we are prepared to make you our leader and chieftain. If you desire authority, we are not even reluctant in declaring you as our king. If your uproar and disturbance is due to an illness or you have been possessed, we can arrange for your cure at our own expense. If marrying a beautiful girl shall make you content, we can find you the most beautiful girl in all of Arabia.”
The Holy Prophet(saw) listened to this address by the chieftains of the Quraish quietly, and when they finished, he said:
“O Party of the Quraish! I do not desire any one of these things, nor have I been possessed or fallen victim to an ailment. I am a messenger from God and have brought the message of God to you. My heart is satiated in sympathy for you. If you take heed and believe, you shall acquire the good of this world and the next. But if you reject it, I shall wait upon the verdict of my Lord with patience and forbearance.”
The Quraish responded:
“O Muhammad(saw)! Thus, you accept none of our proposals. If it is thy prophethood you wish us to accept, then come and let us decide. You see how barren and dry this country is. Nothing can be seen except dry rocks and stones, and infinite mounds of sand. If you are truly the messenger of God, then pray to your God that he might bring forth streams the like of Syria and Iraq. Wipe out these mountains and replace it with fertile land. Then we shall indeed be convinced of your prophethood.”
The Holy Prophet(saw) said:
“I am only a messenger from God and my task is merely to show you the paths of truth and falsehood, and expound what is in your benefit and loss. However, I do say that if you accept the voice of Allah, then at the appointed time, God shall make you the inheritors of the treasures of this world and the next.”
The Quraish said:
“All right, if not this, then, O that we would see an Angel of God descend with you, or would that you resided in castles, and in your hands were heaps of gold and silver, but none of these things are available to you. As a matter of fact, like us, we see that you walk about in the marketplace in search of provisions. Then by which characteristic shall we accept you as one sent from God.”
The Holy Prophet(saw) said:
“I am not a claimant in the manner that you desire. But yes, I have said, and I say again that if you believe in me, then according to the custom of Allah, you shall indeed acquire a portion of the goodness of religion and the world.”
The Quraish sarcastically said:
“If not this then bring forth the chastisement you warn us about, may a piece of the sky fall upon us, or may an army of God’s angels fall before us under the banner of God. By God, all we see now, is that either we shall remain alive or you.”
Upon saying this, suppressing their anger they were silenced, and the Holy Prophet(saw) left with a grieved heart. When the Holy Prophet(saw) had left, Abu Jahl furiously said:
“O Party of the Quraish! See how Muhammad(saw) has rejected all of your proposals? He shall never stop from causing this disorder. I swear by God that I shall not rest until I annihilate Muhammad(saw) and then the Banu ‘Abdi Manaf can do away with me as they wish.”
Those who were present from the Banu ‘Abdi Manaf (excluding the Banu Hashim and Banu Muttalib), proclaimed in unison, “We have no objections. Do with Muhammad(saw) as you wish.” The next day, Abu Jahl stood to one side in the courtyard of the Ka‘bah with a large rock, and began to wait for the Holy Prophet(saw). But when the Holy Prophet(saw) arrived, his heart was overtaken by such awe that he simply stood there like an idol, and was unable to move forward to attack.
God-given Awe of the Holy Prophet(saw)
There is also another narration regarding Abu Jahl falling in awe of the Holy Prophet(saw), by which we find that it is the custom of God to especially impress the awe of His messengers upon those who act rudely towards them. As such, it is written that on one occasion, a man named Urashah came to Makkah to sell some camels, and Abu Jahl purchased these camels from him. After taking hold of these camels he began to defraud him and made excuses in offering payment. Upon this, Urashah, who was a foreigner without any relations or support, became very troubled. After a few days of earnest requesting and begging before Abu Jahl, he finally approached an assembly of the Chieftains of the Quraish who had gathered near the Ka‘batullah, and said, “O Honoured ones of the Quraish! A man from among you, Abul-Hakam, has seized the value of my camels. Please have mercy and have my payment given to me.” The Quraish mischievously said: “There is a man named Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah(saw) who lives here. Go to him and he will have your payment given to you.” Their motivation was that the Holy Prophet(saw) would definitely refuse, and in this way the foreigner would disgrace and laugh at the Holy Prophet(saw). When Urashah set off from there, the Quraish sent a man behind him to see the spectacle. Therefore, in his simplicity, Urashah came to the Holy Prophet(saw) and said, “I am but a wayfarer and a Chieftain of thy city, Abul-Hakam, has withheld my money. I have been told that you are one who can get me my payment. Please have mercy and acquire me my payment.” The Holy Prophet(saw) immediately stood up and said, “Come, I shall go with you.” Therefore, the Holy Prophet(saw) brought him to Abu Jahl’s home and knocked on the door. When Abu Jahl came out, upon seeing the Holy Prophet(saw) he was flabbergasted, and without a word, began to stare at the Holy Prophet(saw). The Holy Prophet(saw) said, “This man says that you are indebted to him. He is a wayfarer, why do you deprive him of his due right?” At the time, Abu Jahl turned pale. He said, “Muhammad(saw) hold on, I shall fetch the money right away.” Therefore, he went inside and immediately gave Urashah his money. Urashah expressed immense gratitude to the Holy Prophet(saw), and then returned to the very assembly of the Quraish and thanked them as well, saying, “You sent me to a good man. May Allah reward him. He immediately had my money given to me.” The Chieftains of the Quraish were speechless, and looked at each other in astonishment. When Urashah left, they inquired of the man that followed Urashah to Abu Jahl’s home, as to what had happened. He said:
“By Allah, I witnessed a strange sight. When Muhammad(saw) knocked at Abul- Hakam’s door and Abul-Hakam came out and saw Muhammad(saw), his state was as if of a lifeless being. As soon as Muhammad(saw) said, ‘Pay him his money’, he immediately went inside and paid every penny.”
After some time, Abu Jahl also joined that gathering. Upon seeing him, everyone swarmed him saying, “O Abul-Hakam, what happened to you that you became so frightened of Muhammad(saw)” He said:
“I swear by God! When I saw Muhammad(saw) at my door, it appeared to me as if a furious and enraged camel was standing by him. It seemed to me that if I moaned or complained even a little, it would devour me.” 2
Allegation of Acquiring Education from a Christian Slave
Among the allegations that were levelled against the Holy Prophet(saw) by the Quraish, one is that the Holy Prophet(saw) would learn things from certain Christians, give them his own twist, and present them as his own teachings. In this context, a Christian by the name of Jabar is often mentioned, who was the slave of a Makkan Chieftain named Ibni Hadrami. Since this individual was a Christian, and the teachings of Christianity are far nearer to Islam than idolatry, and Jabar could see nothing but polytheism and idolatry in Makkah, thus, in his religious passion, he would meet the Holy Prophet(saw) at times. Acknowledging his passion, the Holy Prophet(saw) would also visit him, and preach the message of Islam to him. When the Quraish noticed this, in order to defame the Holy Prophet(saw), they began to say that “Muhammad(saw) acquires knowledge from Jabar.”3 Considering the doctrinal differences between Islam and Christianity and the academic level of Jabar himself, this was an extremely futile and vain allegation. The Quraish merely needed an accusation, irrespective of whether it was logical or illogical. For this reason, they eagerly publicised this allegation. The Holy Qur’an rebutted this allegation wonderfully, saying,
“The individual to whom you attribute the teachings of Muhammad(saw) the Messenger of Allah is himself speechless both apparently and in the spiritual sense. How, then, can he be a tutor to Muhammad(saw), the Messenger of Allah in a book like the Qur’an?”4
In other words, on account of this man being a non-Arab, how could he possibly be considered the tutor of such pure and eloquent speech as found in the Holy Qur’an? On the other hand, in reference to the spiritual connotation, how can the ignorance of this man be declared the fountainhead of Qur’anic wisdom?
The word ‘Ajami used in these Qur’anic verses could also insinuate that since the Gospels had not been translated in to Arabic in the era of the Holy Prophet(saw)5, for this reason, if Jabar did in fact recite any portion of the Gospels to the Holy Prophet(saw), they must have been either in Hebrew or Greek. How, then, would the Holy Prophet(saw) understand them, and how, then, would he mould them into Arabic?
In various narrations, in addition to Jabar, other names have also been mentioned about whom the Quraish used to object that they would tutor the Holy Prophet(saw). However, the humorous point to note is that all these people were slaves.6 In any case, the Quraish of Makkah publicized this objection for some time, in an attempt to cool their hearts, but how could the fire that was not meant to be extinguished be put out?
Allegation of being Childless
During these days, among the Quraish there were some who attempted to console their hearts with the idea that Muhammad(saw) was without heir and without progeny, and in a few days’ time his succession would finish by itself. Upon this it was revealed that:
“O Muhammad(saw)! We have made thy progeny, and thy blessings and thy munificence long lasting. Therefore, spend freely, the powers of thy being, and thy progeny, and thy wealth, for these treasures shall not come to an end. However, the progenies of thy ill-wishing enemies shall be erased.”7
The glory in which this revelation was fulfilled in favour of the Holy Prophet(saw), and the horror in which it was fulfilled for his enemies, is like an open page of history which requires no elaboration. The children of this very opposition entered the fold of Islam, and put a seal on the fact that not only the Quraish, rather, among all the tribes of Arabia, if there was anyone whose progeny remained, it was that of Muhammad(saw) the Messenger of Allah.
Proposal of Compromise by the Quraish
As mentioned above, during these days, the Quraish were greatly distressed and everyone was contemplating how to combat the religion brought by the Holy Prophet(saw). In this tension, one day among the chieftains of the Quraish, Walid bin Mughirah, ‘As bin Wa’il, Umaiyyah bin Khalaf, etc., after consulting one another went to the Holy Prophet(saw) and said, “O Muhammad(saw), this disaccord is beginning to grow excessively and our national unity is falling apart. Can there be no design for a mutual compromise?” The Holy Prophet(saw) inquired, “How so?” They responded:
“We can make our worship mutual. In other words, along with your God, you worship our idols as well. And in the worship of our idols, we shall include your God as well. In this way, through a compromise, the party who is upon virtue and truth shall also benefit the other as an additional advantage.”
The Holy Prophet(saw) smiled and said, “Think closely, how is this possible? How can I worship your idols with my belief in God and how can you worship my God whilst remaining Idolaters? Both these things are at such odds and contradictory to one another that they can never be brought together at one place.”8 Therefore, during those days, verses of the Holy Qur’an were revealed:
“O ye party of disbelievers! I do not find worthy of worship the idols which you worship. Nor can you worship my God, whilst worshipping your idols. It is impossible that I worship your idols, just as it is impossible for you to worship my God, who is one and without partner, whilst worshipping your idols. My religion is one thing while your religion is quite the other, and both of these cannot be merged together.”9 By this response, the Quraish understood that their vain fortress was baseless.
Continues in the Next Edition
1. * As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, by Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, p. 220, Babu Qauli ‘Utbah bin Rabi‘ah fi Amri Rasulillah, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)
* Tarikhut-Tabari, by Abu Ja‘far Muhammad bin Al-Jarir Tabari, Darul-Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon, Second Edition (2002)
2. * As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, by Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, pp. 220-223, Babu Ma Dara baina Rasulillahisa wa baina Ru’usa’i Quraish, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)
* Tarikhut-Tabari, by Abu Ja‘far Muhammad bin Al-Jarir Tabari, Volume 2, pp. 234-235, Babu Dhikril-Khabri ‘amma kana min Amri Nabiyyillahi(sa) ‘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, Volume 1, pp. 479-481, Babu Islami Hamzah(ra), Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (1996)
3. As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, by Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, p. 284, Babu Amri Wafdin- Naaralladhina Aslamu, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)
4. An-Nahl (16:104)
5. The Text and Canon of the New Testament, by Alexandar Souter, Chapter 6, Secondary Versions, p.74, Printed in New York (1913)
6. Tafsirul-Bahril-Muhit, by Abu ‘Abdillah Muhammad bin Yusuf, Volume 5, Tafsiru Suratin-Nahl, Under verse 104 – Wa laqad Na‘lamu annahum Yaquluna……, Maktabatu wa Matabi‘un-Nasril- Hadithiyyah, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia* Life of ‘Mahomet’, by Sir William Muir p. 65, Reprint of the 1894 Ed., Published by Voice of India New Delhi
7. As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, by Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, pp. 284-285, Babu Nuzuli Suratil-Kauthar, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001) * Al-Kauthar (108:2-4)
8. Tarikhut-Tabari, by Abu Ja‘far Muhammad bin Al-Jarir Tabari, Volume 2, p. 237, Babu Dhikril- Khabri ‘amma kana min Amri Nabiyyillahisa ‘inda Ibtida’illahi Ta‘ala……, Darul-Fikr, Beirut, Lebanon, Second Edition (2002)
9. * Al-Kafirun (109:2-7)* As-Siratun-Nabawiyyah, by Abu Muhammad ‘Abdul-Malik bin Hisham, p. 264, Babu Dhikri ma Laqiya Rasulullahi min Qaumihi minal-Adha, Darul-Kutubil-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut, Lebanon, First Edition (2001)