Tuesday, June 3, 2008

First 4 years of Islam

In the begining Prophet Mohammed PBUH was on his own, no supporters, no money, no followers. However, he had a deep belief in his message, high principles, and twenty years of preparation.

The first followers were Khadijah (AS), Abu Baker (AS) and Ali bin Abu Taleb (AS). Over a period of six months, the number of followers increased to 45, most of them were young men whose ages did not exceed 30 years. They were 27 men, and 18 women. They consisted of 34 wealthy and eleven poor companions. Unlike what is usually said, most of the first followers were rich not poor.

These companions were from 16 different tribes. This was part of the Prophet's plan in order to be integrated in society. There was a Muslim in every household now. These companions were of different social backgrounds: Ammar Ibn-Yasser and Belal Ibn-Rabah, the slaves, Othman Ibn-Ma'zoum, the great wealthy lord.

In the Prophet's household, everyone embraced Islam. The household consisted of ten members: the Prophet (PBUH), Khadijah (AS), the four daughters: Zainab, Ruqaya, Um-Kolthoum, and Fatima, in addition to two maids, and two young men: Ali bin Abu Talib and Zaid Ibn-Haritha.

After three years, the number of Muslims had increased by more than a hundred. Quraysh did not notice this rise, which meant that the Prophet's plan had succeeded. Three years had passed without confrontation or conflict, and now a few of the elite were on our side, and Islam was inside every house in Mekkah. Three years had passed and marked the end of the first phase.

Two verses descended on the Prophet that told him its time to announce Islam Publicly:

First, "So profess openly what you have been commanded and veer away from the associators (Those who associate others with Allah)" (TMQ, 15:94), warning him of opposition and harm.

The second verse states that it is no more the phase of selection: "And warn your kinsmen, the nearest kin," (TMQ, 26:214). The Inspiration did not tell the Prophet where to start, but he was only ordered to make the matter public, and was left to plan for this action.

Now the Prophet PBUH had to take the next step; he had to announce Islam to the people. Now was the time for the idea to reach everyone & everywhere.

The Prophet's attitude reflected the flexibility of his mind and his wise planning, for he always took the initiative while Quraysh reacted to his actions. They were never able to force him to follow a certain course of action despite their power.

The Prophet PBUH chose to start with his own family, not with the whole of Quraysh. He invited all his family, men and women, to a feast. He let them eat first, then as soon as he started to speak, he was interrupted by Abu-Lahab who spoke ill of Mohammed's message, and warned them of the grave consequences that would befall them if Mohammed were not stopped. The Prophet PBUH did not lose his composure or temper; he did not even put his case forward on that occasion.

The Prophet did not want to start his call for Islam with an argument with his uncle, and decided to give it another try. Abu-Jahl's response was not out of hatred to the Prophet, on the contrary, the Prophet was dear to him ever since he was born to the extent that his two boys (Otba and Otayba) were engaged to the Prophet's two daughters (Ruqaya and Um-Kolthoum). However, Abu-Jahl was worried about his business, he knew that this message will turn Quraysh against them. The new religion called for removing the idols from the Ka3ba, which meant that the other tribes whose idols will fall would seek revenge by attacking their commercial caravans. Therefore, he chose to show everyone that he was against Mohammed to avoid any problems.

Once again, the Prophet PBUH invited his family for a second feast, but this time he decided to talk to them while they were still eating. He did not exclude Abu-Lahab from the invitation, to avoid more hostility. The Prophet PBUH started to talk confidently telling them about Islam and how he was the Prophet PBUH,

“O sons of Hashem, rescue yourselves from the Fire; O sons of Abd al-Muttalib, rescue yourselves from the Fire; O Fatima, rescue thyself from the Fire, for I have no power (to protect you) from Allah in anything except this that I would sustain relationship with you."[4]

Abu-Lahab, far from changing his attitude, continued his opposition to the Prophet, while Abu-Taleb, his other uncle who kept his promise to his late father of taking care of Muhammad, pledged to help and protect him as long as he lived.

The Prophet achieved his target from the feast: he wanted to gain the support and protection of his family. This does not undermine his trust in Allah. Islam teaches us to rely on Allah’s protection at all times, but also to take all the necessary measures and precautions. The Prophet still wanted another thing from them: he wanted them to believe in his message. Hamza and Al-Abbas turned their faces away; Abu-Taleb was reluctant to leave his father's beliefs although deep inside he felt Mohammed’s honesty. The rest of the family sat in silence. No one followed him, except for one young kid, Ali who was also invited, and answered the Prophet's call and gave him his hand to pledge loyalty. Why do we not do the same, why do we not gather our families to agree upon doing some rightful deeds together? Let us learn from our Prophet.

The time had come to announce Islam to everyone. The Prophet PBUH chose a famous spot in Mekkah (the mountain of Safa) climbed it, and started, boldly, to call people to gather. Let the Prophet's strength be an inspiration to you never to be ashamed of your religion, always be strong and daring. Remember the ayah that can be translated as: "A Book sent down to you, (i.e., The Prophet) so let there be no restriction in your breast on account of it, that you may warn thereby; and (it is) a Reminding for the believers." (TMQ, 7:2).

The Prophet started calling, "O Bani Fihr! O Bani 'Adi!" addressing various tribes of Quraysh till they were assembled. Those who could not come themselves sent their messengers to see what was happening. Abu Lahab and other people from Quraysh came and the Prophet then said, "Suppose I told you that there was an (enemy) cavalry in the valley intending to attack you, would you believe me?" They said, "Yes, for we have never known you to tell anything other than the truth." He then said, "I am Allah's Prophet to you, I am a warner to you in face of a terrific punishment."

Abu Lahab said (to the Prophet) "May your hands perish all this day. Is it for this purpose that you have gathered us?" [5] Then the Qur'an was revealed: "Would the hands of Abu Lahab be cut up, (i.e., perish) and would he be cut up (too)! In no way did his wealth avail him, neither whatever he earned" (TMQ, 111: 1-2).

Betrayal is most painful when it comes from someone dear. Abu-Lahab was the only one whose name came in such a manner in Quran because he was the first one to provoke others to defy the Prophet. The Prophet PBUH was a virtuous man, did not even answer him. Do not ever set a bad example to your friends, do not be the first to introduce a sin, for the Prophet said, "He who sets in Islam an evil precedent, there is upon him the burden of that, and the burden of him also who acted upon it subsequently, without any deduction from their burden." [6]

Then the Prophet descended the mountain and started preaching for Islam. He talked to people about salvation and attracted them to religion. He did not start with warnings of hellfire, but with promises of Jannah. He wanted religion to appeal to them. Therefore, he did not push them away with words about torment and pain. He said, "oh people, say there is no deity but Allah and you will prosper."[7]

After this incident Quraysh stopped being neutral towards Mohammed PBUH.

Despite the fact that Quraysh started using violence against him and his followers, the Prophet unlike them, never leaned towards violence, because one could never fight or kill one’s own people.

Although the followers were only about 200, while Mekkah’s population was around 25,000 to 30,000, those followers were able to shake Quraysh's resolve because they were deeply rooted in the society. Quraysh tried to stop him in many ways. They started spreading doubts about the Prophet (SAWS), mocking and ridiculing what he said, trying to cause psychological and physical harm, until they even attempted to kill him.

They started calling him several names from poet, sorcerer to insane. Al-Walid Ibn Al Mu'3eera knew that Mohammed was truthful, but he was too arrogant to admit it. Then Allah sent some verses that describe how Al-Walid was scheming. Allah says what can be translated as, "Leave Me with him whom I created alone, And set up (Literally: made) for him extensive wealth, And sons always in presence, And made (life) smooth for him in an accessible (way). Thereafter he expects that I increase (My favors). Not at all! Surely he has been stubborn to Our signs. I will soon oppress him to a (hard) mounting (in calamities). Surely he did think and he determined! So, may he be slain, how he determined! Again, (Literally: Thereafter) may he be slain, how he determined! Thereafter he looked (round); Thereafter he frowned, and he scowled; Thereafter he withdrew, and he waxed proud. So he said, “Decidedly this is nothing except sorcery, transmitted relics. Decidedly this is nothing except the speech of mortals. I shall soon roast him in Saqar." (TMQ, 74:11-26).

As the Prophet went on speaking to people about Islam, he was being followed by his uncle Abu-Lahab who told people that his nephew Mohammed was insane and incited them not believe him. They even sent one of them, Al-Nadr Ibnul-Harith, to Persia for a year to learn tales and fables like the ones Muhammad narrated. They went to the extent of claiming that the Prophet was a secret agent! They also said that he had someone dictating him these myths, "And the ones who have disbelieved have said, “Decidedly this is nothing except a falsehood he has fabricated, and other people have helped him to it.” So they have already come with injustice and forgery (i.e., they have committed injustice and forgery) And they have said, “Myths of the earliest (people) that he has had written down so that they are dictated to him before sunrise and at nightfall" (TMQ, 25:4-5).

However, nothing could stop the Prophet (SAWS) who dedicated all his time and efforts to his message, to the point that Allah pitied his Prophet, as He says what can be translated as: "Yet, it may be that you will consume yourself of sorrow over their tracks (i.e., their tracks or footprints when they turn away) in case they do not believe in this discourse. " (TMQ, 18:6).

In spite of their attempts to shake the trust in him, the number of believers was in constant increase, because truth always prevails.