Saturday, September 13, 2008

Year 6 of Islam (Dar Al-Arqam)

Prophet Mohammed and the Muslims of Mekkah were going through tough times. They were tortured, and humiliated in every shape and form. Some were humilated in ways that enrage an Arab’s sense of pride and honour however we never heard of a companion resorting to violence or revenge.

Why is that? It is because this approach is not on the path of the Prophet PBUH or Islam. Muslims are advised not to cause destruction or bloodshed in their lands and communities.

It is imperative to note that although the companions were the ones being tortured, they were calm and composed. Meanwhile, the non-believers were livid, perverse, and vicious. Compare this to the common stereotype many have of religious people being constantly angry and irrational.

Moreover, the three men who were primarily handling the torture of Muslims were; Al-Aas Ibn-Wa’el, Al-Walid Ibn-Al-Mugheera, and Abu-Jahl. However, their sons Amr Ibn-Al-Aas, Khalid Ibn-Al-Walid, and Ikrimah Ibn-Abu-Jahl turned out to be among the best Muslims. This proves that the tortured companions never opted for counter humiliation or violence, though they had the right to, that the sons of their very torturers became strong believers themselves.

What did the Prophet PBUH do to lift his companions’ spirits? Many of the companions were humiliated, tortured, or witnessed murder of their beloved. The Prophet PBUH introduced a ground-breaking and incredibly innovative concept; he conducted a training course for the companions to strengthen their faith, lift their spirit, encourage unity, provide a safe haven to turn to, and to give them much needed moral support.

Dar Al-Arqam Ibn-Abi-Al-Arqam was the training center for Muslims in Mekkah for three years. Over 1400 years ago, Muslims integrated this innovative approach of training sessions to handle their situation; an approach which is only discovered recently worldwide. An interesting question pops up, why conduct the training sessions in the 17-year-old Al-Arqam’s house? Why not at Abu-Bakr’s house? It was very astute of the Prophet PBUH to select Al-Arqam’s house for Quraysh would have never suspected it, due to the Al-Arqam’s young age. Al-Arqam’s house also had a great advantage; it was constructed in the middle of Al-Arqam’s own tribe, which offered the Muslims great protection.

One of the main products of these training sessions is that the companions who attended them turned out to be the ones who ultimately excelled, especially during the battle of Hunayn. They remained steadfast with the Prophe when many others ran away.

The Prophet PBUH offered a comprehensive training course which taught sublime values that included team spirit, brotherhood, loving one another for the sake of Allah, purifying one’s heart, striving to be close to Allah, loving one’s land and community, and gaining a better understanding of world affairs.

These lessons were derived from Qur’anic revelations such as

- Team spirit was encouraged in Surat Al-Asr (The Afternoon) where Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "And (by) the afternoon! (Or: time). Surely man is indeed in (sheer) loss, except the ones who have believed, and done deeds of righteousness, and enjoin each other to the Truth, and enjoin each other to patience" (TMQ, 103: 1-3).

- Importance of awareness of world affairs was promoted in Surat Ar-Rum (The Romans) where Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "Alif, Lam, Mîm (These are the names of letters of the Arabic alphabet, and only Allah knows their meaning here). The Romans have been overcome (by the Persians). In the more adjacent (i.e., more easy to reach; the Levant) (part) of the earth. And even after their being overcome, they will overcome (the others). Within several years. To Allah belongs the Command ever before and ever after, and upon that day the believers will exult" (TMQ, 30: 1-4).

- Establishing a solid connection to Allah (SWT) and purifying one’s heart were promoted in Surat Al-Anaam (The Cattle) where Allah (SWT) says what can be translated as, "And in His Providence are the keys of the Unseen; none knows them except He. And He knows whatever is in the land and the sea. And in no way does a leaf fall down, except that He knows it, and not a grain in the darkness (es) of the earth, not a thing wet or dry, except that it is in an evident Book" (TMQ, 6: 59).

- Companions learnt to love their land, to exercise patience, and to avoid calls of revenge in Surat Hud that illustrates the stories of the prophets and what they had to go through stressing the importance of patience and endurance. Moreover, Surat Yusuf (Joseph) that describes how Prophet Yusuf (AS) was wrongfully imprisoned, yet how he agreed to help those who imprisoned him for the sake of his land and people. We should try to learn from Prophet Yusuf (AS) who did not seek revenge or retribution when he had a chance to.