The Year of Grief- The Passing Away of Khadijah (r.a) and Abu Talib

Muslim joy over being relieved of the idolater boycott did not last long, as the Prophet’s (pbuh) uncle Abu Talib, the protector of Muslims who took great pains in safeguarding them, passed away shortly thereafter.

On many occasions, the Noble Prophet (pbuh) would insist his uncle to accept Islam, only on each occasion to have Abu Talib reply, “I know you speak the truth. But if I accept, even the women of Quraysh would condemn me!”

Having accepted the truth of the Prophet (pbuh) in his conscience, he was however held back by his ego.

Even on his deathbed, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) urged him to give up his soul to the Almighty in a state of belief:

“Please uncle…Just say the word so Allah will grant you eternal happiness!”

He was prevented by Abu Jahl, who was there paying a visit. As the Noble Prophet (pbuh) repeated the words of shahadah to his uncle, Abu Jahl spoke over him, saying, “Don’t you forget that you are in the religion of your ancestors!”

The last words of Abu Talib to the Messenger of Allah eventually were:

“I am breathing my last, in the religion of old. I would have accepted your words, only if I knew Quraysh would not think I changed my religion from fear of death!” (Bukhari, Janaiz 81, Manaqibu’l-Ansar 40; Ibn Saad, I, 122-123)

To these words, the Prophet (pbuh) replied, with a glimmer of hope, “Still, I will always pray for your forgiveness.”

He left his uncle’s house in grief.

The last promise the Prophet (pbuh) made to his uncle sparked the following Revelation:

اِنَّكَ لاَ تَهْدِى مَنْ اَحْبَبْتَ وَلَكِنَّ اللّٰهَ يَهْدِى مَنْ يَشَاءُ

“Surely you cannot guide whom you love, but Allah guides whom He pleases…” (al-Qasas, 56) (Muslim, Iman, 41-42)

Guidance is a Divine light that leads to the straight path. It only reaches those whose hearts are inclined to the Truth.

يَهْدِى اِلَيْهِ مَنْ اَنَابَ

“…and guides to Himself those who turn (to Him).” (ar-Rad, 27)

Thus others can at best only act as a means. Guidance does not come solely through the efforts of a person, even if the person is a prophet. Despite all the efforts of the Noble Prophet (pbuh), guidance did not come to Abu Talib, simply because, even though he knew what was right, he chose not to turn to the Truth and allowed himself to fall victim to his ego.

Only thirteen days had passed since the saddening death of Abu Talib when the companion, the great support and the lifelong partner of the Prophet (pbuh) and the noblest of all women Khadijat’ul-Qubra also breathed her last. For the Muslims, one grief had followed another. With a heart set in sorrow and eyes welled with tears, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) placed his wife in her resting-place with his own hands.

Throughout her life, Khadijah (r.ha) served as a reliable advisor and a source of comfort for the Prophet (pbuh) in the way of Islam. Her passing away touched the Messenger (pbuh) so much that he mourned, “Of the two disasters that have befallen this ummah (meaning the deaths of his uncle and wife), I do not know over which one I should grieve over more.” (Yakubi, II, 35; Taberi, Tarih, II, 229)

Because of these two sorrowful losses, the tenth year of the Meccan period came to be known as the Year of Grief.

The losses of his uncle and wife now meant that the Noble Prophet (pbuh) no longer had an outward support and refuge. His spiritual world was now reserved to the Almighty only. After all, it was Allah alone on whom one could rely and in whom one could trust, in the absolute sense. Besides, by losing his father, mother and grandfather at an early age, the Prophet (pbuh) had already been nurtured by the Almighty.

Khadijah (r.ha) was an exceptionally virtuous woman. On one occasion, the Archangel Jibril came to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) to say:

“Khadijah is on her way to you, with a bowl of food in her hand. When she comes, pass her the peace and blessings of her Lord and mine, and give her the good news of a palace made of pearl, awaiting her in paradise where there shall be no noise or fatigue!” (Bukhari, Manaqibu’l-Ansar, 20)

To this greeting, Khadijah responded by exclaiming:

“Allah Himself is Peace; it is from Him that peace comes, so peace unto Jibril as well! And may the peace, mercy and blessings of the Almighty be upon you, the Messenger of Allah!”

Throughout his remaining years, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) never forgot his blessed wife, showing the greatest display of loyalty to her memory.

Aisha (r.ha) explains:

“I have never envied another wife of the Prophet (pbuh) more than I have envied Khadijah (r.ha). What’s more, I had never seen her. But the Prophet (pbuh) would always mention her name. Like whenever he had a sheep slaughtered, he would more often than not send some parts of the meat to Khadijah’s friends. On one time, unable to hold myself I said, ‘As if there was nobody left on Earth except Khadijah!’

In reply, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) began mentioning each of her virtues, and added, ‘She was also the mother of my children.’

That was when I said to myself I will never speak ill of her again.” (Bukhari, Manaqib’ul-Ansar 20; Adab 73; Muslim, Fadailu’s-Sahabah 74-76)

Hala bint Khuwaylid, Khadijah’s (r.ha) sister, once asked permission to see the Prophet (pbuh). At that instant, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) remembered the voice of Khadijah (r.ha), and he remarked excitedly:

“O Allah! This is Khadijah’s sister, Hala bint Khuwaylid!”

Seeing the excitement, Aisha (r.ha), again, could not contain herself:

“Why do you keep mentioning the name of an old Qurayshi woman who is now long dead? Allah has given you better in her place!” (Bukhari, Manaqib’ul-Ansar, 20)

It was herself that Aisha (r.ha) was implying with the word ‘better’. Deeming her words inappropriate, the Messenger of Allah responded:

“No, Allah has not given me better. She believed me when no one else did. She trusted me when everybody else was calling me a liar. She gave me her all when everybody else backed away. And through her, Allah blessed me with children.” (Ibn Hanbal, VI, 118)

The Journey to Ta’if

The ill-treatment of the Noble Prophet (pbuh) increased all the more after the passing away of both his uncle and wife. The assaults, now well and truly terrible, were trying the patience of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). Seeking respite, and with Zayd (r.a) by his side, he decided to journey to Ta’if, a town about 120 km away from Mecca.

There he explained Islam to the locals, calling them to tawhid. Having a word with their leaders, he advised them to give up worshipping idols and called them to realize they are servants of Allah (SWT). There was virtually no person left whom the Prophet (pbuh) had not spoken to.

But this call caused the eruption of a violent storm among the locals of Ta’if, who were idolaters just like the Quraysh. Caught in the mazes of their egoistic lives, not even a single person heeded the invitation. To make matter worse, they even began harassing the Gracious Messenger (pbuh).

First they mocked him, pestering him with insults. Then they lined their slaves on both sides of the streets where the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would pass, and had him stoned. This severe harassment continued until the Prophet (pbuh) left town. Even when he was well outside the town, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) continued being pelted with stones. The feet of the Grandest of Prophets (pbuh), for the sake of whom the universe had been created, were left soaked in a pool of blood that filled his shoes. Also heavily injured was his loyal companion Zayd (r.a), who was trying to shield him with his own body, shouting:

“Don’t! The man you are stoning is a Prophet!”

With difficulty, they were able to manage to make it to a garden belonging to Meccans, as they threw themselves under the shade of a date tree. The earth and the skies above were in mourning, as were the angels, Jibril, Mikail, Israfeel, Azraeel, alike.

Headed by Jibril, and with permission from the Almighty, the angels rushed next to the Prophet (pbuh):

“Say the word and we shall destroy that tribe!” they said.

But despite the vicious treatment he had received, the Prophet of Compassion (pbuh) still only had good wishes in his heart, as he turned to the gates of heaven:

“Allah! I only submit to you my own vulnerability; that I have lost strength and have been ridiculed…

O the Most Compassionate! If you are not angry with me, I will not in the least worry for the troubles I have undergone!

Allah! Guide this tribe, for they do not know.

Allah! I seek your forgiveness, only for your sake!” (Ibn Hisham, II, 29-30; Haythami, VI, 35; Bukhari, Bad’ul-Khalq, 7)

Feeling for the Gracious Prophet (pbuh), the owners of the garden who were from the clan of Rabiah, sent their slave Addas to him with a bowl of grapes. Addas presented the treats:

“Please, help yourself”, he said.

After saying, بِسْمِ اللّٰهِ, ‘in the name of Allah’, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) began eating. The words caught the attention of Addas. He had never heard anyone utter those words before.

“Nobody around here knows or says that word”, he mumbled, which he followed up by asking, “You are different from those around here. May I ask who you are?”

The Prophet (pbuh) replied with a question.

“Where are you from? And what is your religion?”

“I am from Nineveh and I am a Christian”.

“So you are from the town of the righteous Yunus ibn Matta…” the Messenger (pbuh) commented.

Addas was now all the more amazed.

“How do you know Yunus?”

The Light of Being (pbuh) replied:

“Yunus is my brother. He was a prophet and so am I”.

Thereupon, the founts of faith began bursting out from the heart of Addas, and excitedly getting up at his feet, he seized the hands of the Prophet (pbuh) and pronounced the words of tawhid. (Ibn Hisham, II, 30; Yaqubi, II, 36)

When his masters condemned him for it, Addas defended his decision, saying, “I have never met a man like him in my life. He said a word only a prophet (pbuh) could have known.” (Ibn Hisham, II, 31)

How fortunate Addas (r.a) was to heed to the call of the Prophet (pbuh) amid the most difficult times of his life and seize the honor of becoming a Muslim to comfort him. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) became so happy for him that he had all but forgotten the pains he had suffered.

Today a mosque stands in memory of Addas (r.a) where he accepted Islam and the garden where he treated the Noble Messenger (pbuh) with grapes has been kept as it was.

A Unique Mercy and Solace from the Compassionate

Aisha (r.ha) explains:

“Once I asked the Prophet (pbuh) whether there had been a day where felt more distress than the Battle of Uhud.

‘Yes, I suffered a lot in the hands of your tribe. The worst was what they did on the day of Aqabah.[1] Again, I sought the protection of Abdiya’lil ibn Abduqulal, who over and above rejecting me had all the troublemakers stone me until I was left in blood. So I turned back, distraught. Only when I reached Kam’us-Saalib could I come to my senses. There I looked up and saw a cloud shading me. On a closer look, I noticed Jibril in the midst of the cloud. He was calling out to me:

‘The Almighty knows the way you have been treated by the tribe and how they have refused to shelter you. To do to them as you wish, he has sent you the Angel of Mountains!”

Then the Angel of Mountains greeted me and called out:

“Muhammad! Allah the Almighty has heard what the tribe has said to you. I am the Angel of Mountains. The Almighty has sent me to do to them as you command. What do you command? If you wish, I shall tumble these two mountains down on their towns!”

“No. I only wish from the Almighty that He bring forth from their children people who will only worship Him and who will not attribute to Him any partners”, I replied. (Bukhari, Bad’ul-Khalq, 7; Muslim, Jihad, 111)

The following poem beautifully expresses the love of the Compassionate for His noblest servant:

So beloved are you in Divine eyes, that for you
He would sacrifice the world and what’s in it.

The Ta’if journey contains many lessons:

1. First, it emphasizes the importance of inviting to Islam. Even though it was the year of grief, the Prophet (pbuh) did not take any time off, carrying on his call with patience and perseverance.

2. Although the locals of Ta’if stoned him, the Noble Messenger (pbuh) had no ill wishes for them. Together with displaying the Prophet’s (pbuh) compassion, this also shows that an inviter must also be compassionate.

3. A caller to Islam must be self-critical and continue praying for the guidance of others without falling into despair. Upon seeing a mistake, it was common for the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) to remark, as if to attribute the mistake to himself:

“What is it with me that I see you do such and such?”[2]

Again, Suleyman’s (a.s) remark upon noticing the absence of the Hoopoe during a meeting is of a similar kind:

مَا لِيَ لَا أَرَى الْهُدْهُدَ

“What is it with me that I do not see the Hoopoe?” (an-Naml, 20)

4. The guidance of Addas following the Ta’if journey is of great importance in raising the spirits of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) in the most testing of times. It also shows that even when undergoing great struggles, the guidance of even a single person should provide more than enough comfort.

5. An inviter should set an example through his manners.

6. An inviter ought to be cultured and know how to interact with people, and know to say the right words at the right time, just like the Prophet’s (pbuh)encounter with Addas.

The Jinn’s Hearing of the Quran from the Noble Prophet (pbuh) and their Acceptance of Islam

During the evening stopover on the return from Ta’if, a journey in which only Addas heeded the call, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) recited some Quran and was overheard by a group of jinn. All of them realized the truth and declared their faith in the Prophet (pbuh). They returned to their people with the duty of invitation. (Ibn Saad, I, 212)

Ibn Abbas (r.a) further explains:

“With some companions by his side, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) left with the intention of going to the Ukaz Fair.

This was when demons, from among the jinn, were prevented from eavesdropping on news coming from the heavens.[1] Those with a habit of doing so were even bombarded with flaming stars.[2] They thus returned to their folk empty-handed.

‘Why haven’t you brought any news?’ they were asked.

‘We found we are now prevented by a barrier placed between us and the heavens. Not only were we unable to steal any news, we were chased with flaming stars…so we had to flee!’ they responded.

‘This must be due to something new that has just happened. Roam East and West and come back with news’, they were told.

Thus the jinn divided into separate groups and headed towards different directions. The group that went towards Tihamah stumbled across the Prophet (pbuh) offering fajr salat with his Companions near Nakhlah on the way to the Ukaz Fair. Hearing the Quran, they were all ears:

‘So this must be what prevents us from gathering news from the heavens!’ they decided.

Then they returned to their folk. ‘We have heard a wonderful Quran, which guides to the right path’, they assured. ‘So we believe in it and no longer will we ascribe any partners to our Lord!’

Thereupon the Almighty revealed Chapter al-Jinn, informing the Prophet (pbuh) how the relevant jinn overheard him recite the Quran and the words of wisdom they conveyed to their tribe:

قُلْ اُوحِىَ اِلَىَّ اَنَّهُ اسْتَمَعَ نَفَرٌ مِنَ الْجِنِّ فَقَالُوا اِنَّا سَمِعْنَا قُرْاَنًا عَجَبًا. يَهْدِى اِلَى الرُّشْدِ فَاَمَنَّا بِهِ وَلَنْ نُشْرِكَ بِرَبِّنَا اَحَدًا.

“Say: It has been revealed to me that a party of the jinn listened, and they said: Surely we have heard a wonderful Quran, Guiding to the right way, so we believe in it, and we will not ascribe any partner to our Lord.” (al-Jinn, 1-2) (Bukhari, Tafsir, 72; Adhan, 105; Muslim, Salat, 149; Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 72/3324)

The Almighty further explains the event in Chapter al-Ahqaf as follows:

وَاِذْ صَرَفْنَا اِلَيْكَ نَفَرًا مِنَ الْجِنِّ يَسْتَمِعُونَ الْقُرْاَنَ فَلَمَّا حَضَرُوهُ
قَالُوا اَنْصِتُوا فَلَمَّا قُضِىَ وَلَّوْا اِلَى قَوْمِهِمْ مُنْذِرِينَ.
قَالُوا يَاقَوْمَنَا اِنَّا سَمِعْنَا كِتَابًا اُنْزِلَ مِنْ بَعْدِ مُوسَى مُصَدِّقًا
لِمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ يَهْدِى اِلَى الْحَقِّ وَاِلَى طَرِيقٍ مُسْتَقِيمٍ.
يَاقَوْمَنَا اَجِيبُوا دَاعِىَ اللّٰهِ وَاَمِنُوا بِهِ يَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ مِنْ ذُنُوبِكُمْ وَيُجِرْكُمْ مِنْ عَذَابٍ اَلِيمٍ. وَمَنْ لاَ يُجِبْ دَاعِىَ اللّٰهِ فَلَيْسَ بِمُعْجِزٍ فِى اْلاَرْضِ وَلَيْسَ لَهُ مِنْ دُونِهِ اَوْلِيَاءُ اُولَئِكَ فِى ضَلاَلٍ مُبِينٍ.

“And when We turned towards you a party of the jinn who listened to the Quran… When they came to it, they said: Be silent! Then when it was finished, they turned back to their people to warn them. They said: O our people! We have heard a Book revealed after Musa verifying that which is before it, guiding to the truth and to a right path. O our people! Accept the Divine caller and believe in Him, He will forgive you of your faults and protect you from a painful punishment. And whoever does not accept the Divine caller, shall not escape in the earth; neither shall they have guardians besides Him, for they will be in manifest error. (al-Ahqaf, 29-32)

The Quran explains the following in relation to the barring of the jinn from eavesdropping on the heavens:

وَاَنَّا لَمَسْنَا السَّمَاءَ فَوَجَدْنَاهَا مُلِئَتْ حَرَسًا شَدِيدًا وَشُهُبًا.
وَاَنَّا كُنَّا نَقْعُدُ مِنْهَا مَقَاعِدَ لِلسَّمْعِ فَمَنْ يَسْتَمِعِ اْلانَ يَجِدْ لَهُ شِهَابًا رَصَدًا. وَاَنَّا لاَ نَدْرِى اَشَرٌّ اُرِيدَ بِمَنْ فِى اْلاَرْضِ
اَمْ اَرَادَ بِهِمْ رَبُّهُمْ رَشَدًا

“And we sought to reach heaven, but we found it filled with strong guards and flaming stars. And we used to sit in some of the sitting-places thereof to steal a hearing, but he who would try to listen now would find a flame lying in wait for him; and we know not whether evil is meant for those who are on earth or whether their Lord means to bring them good.” (al-Jinn, 8-10)[3]

Outwardly, the Prophet’s (pbuh) only gain from the Ta’if journey was the guidance of Addas (r.a). But in reality, the Compassionate Allah provided many more blessings. Included among this, for instance, is that he was given the sultanate of both worlds. First, even before he returned to Mecca, the jinn heard the Prophet (pbuh) recite the Quran which inspired them to begin the call among their own people. A short time later, the Almighty was to grant His beloved the Ascension or the Miraj, making him the sultan of the heavens.

As the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had left Mecca with his own consent, according to Arabian custom, to return to the town he needed the protection of a Meccan. Thus on his way towards Mecca from Nakhlah, the Prophet (pbuh) sent a Meccan who he came across near Mount Hira, first to Ahnas ibn Sharik, and then to Suhayl ibn Amr and Mutim ibn Adiyy, with the message:

“Will you have me under you protection until I communicate the task of prophethood given to me by my Lord?”

The first two declined. Mutim, however, accepted and the Light of Being (pbuh) was able to spend the night at Mutim’s house. Come morning, Mutim gathered his sons and clan around him, ordering them:

“Arm yourselves and remain on guard next to the pillars of the Kaabah!”

When they reached the Kaabah, Mutim made an announcement to the Meccans:

“Listen up, Quraysh! I have Muhammad under my protection. Nobody shall touch him!”

Mutim and his sons stood guard by the Kaabah until the Prophet (pbuh) circumambulated and performed two rakahs of salat. (Ibn Saad, I, 212; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah, III, 182)

Years later, Mutim was slain at the Battle of Badr, unfortunately without the honor of being a Muslim. Following the battle, amid discussions regarding what to do with the Meccan prisoners, the Prophet (pbuh) expressed his appreciation to Jubayr, the son of Mutim:

 “Had your father been alive and wanted me to free the prisoners, I would have freed them without asking for the least ransom.” (Bukhari, Khumus, 16, Ibn Hisham, I, 404-406)

Loyalty that extends even to a nonbeliever, for easing the path for the call of Islam, could only be an expression of supreme morals.

Meeting with Various Tribes and Inviting them to Islam

After returning from Ta’if, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) kept a low profile for a while. Soon after, he resumed his call, only to find the idolaters acting more brutally than ever. The Almighty then commanded the Prophet (pbuh) to meet other Arab tribes and invite them to Islam.

Thus, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) took the opportunity provided by the months of pilgrimage to address those visiting Mecca for the fairs of Ukaz, Majannah and Zhu’l-Majaz, first reading them the Quran before extending an invitation to Islam. Members of the tribes whose camps the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) personally visited to ask for assistance in carrying out the duty given to him by the Almighty included the Banu Amir, Muharib, Fazara, Ghassan, Murrah, Hanifah, Sulaym, Abs, Banu Nasr, Banu Baqqa, Kind, Kalb, Harithah, Uzra and Hudarimah.[4]

Jabir (r.a)[5] narrates:

“During the month of pilgrimage, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) would present himself to the pilgrims while standing at Arafa and say, ‘Is there anyone who will take me to his tribe? Quraysh has prevented me from communicating the word of my Lord.’” (Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 19-20/4734)

But no tribe was putting its hand up to accept the invitation to protect and assist the Prophet (pbuh). While some simply turned cold shoulders and acted rudely, others debated with the Prophet (pbuh) as to why his own tribe had left him without support, when they, out of all people, knew him best. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) continued inviting them to the path of Truth regardless.[6]

Before even stepping foot inside Mecca, any pilgrim or fairgoer from the Mudar tribe, Yemen or elsewhere would be cautioned, “Don’t you let the young man of Quraysh turn you away from your religion!”[7]

At some point, the Noble Prophet (pbuh) went to the Thalabah clan in Mina. Once, he told them of being the Messenger of Allah, he was asked by Mafruq ibn Amr, one of their leaders:

“To what do you invite people, brother?”

With Abu Bakr (r.a) standing by his side shading him from the sun, the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) took a seat next to them and said the following to Mafruq:

“I invite you to bear witness that there is no god but Allah, who is One without any partners, and that I am his messenger; and also to protect and help me until I carry out to completion what I have been commanded by Allah. Quraysh has disputed the Divine command; they have denied His messenger and have preferred error over truth. But Allah stands in need of no one and deserves all the praise!”

“My brother, what else do you invite to?” Mafruq asked.

Then the Noble Prophet read aloud the following ayah from Chapter al-Anaam:

قُلْ تَعَالَوْا اَتْلُ مَا حَرَّمَ رَبُّكُمْ عَلَيْكُمْ اَلاَّ تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ اِحْسَانًا وَلاَ تَقْتُلُوا اَوْلاَدَكُمْ مِنْ اِمْلاَقٍ نَحْنُ نَرْزُقُكُمْ وَاِيَّاهُمْ وَلاَ تَقْرَبُوا الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَلاَ تَقْتُلُوا النَّفْسَ الَّتِى حَرَّمَ اللّٰهُ اِلاَّ بِالْحَقِّ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّيكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَعْقِلُونَ. وَلاَ تَقْرَبُوا مَالَ الْيَتِيمِ اِلاَّ بِالَّتِى هِىَ اَحْسَنُ حَتَّى يَبْلُغَ اَشُدَّهُ وَاَوْفُوا الْكَيْلَ وَالْمِيزَانَ بِالْقِسْطِ لاَ نُكَلِّفُ نَفْسًا
اِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا وَاِذَا قُلْتُمْ فَاعْدِلُوا وَلَوْ كَانَ ذَا قُرْبَى وَبِعَهْدِ اللّٰهِ
اَوْفُوا ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّيكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ. وَاَنَّ هذَا صِرَاطِى مُسْتَقِيمًا فَاتَّبِعُوهُ وَلاَ تَتَّبِعُوا السُّبُلَ فَتَفَرَّقَ بِكُمْ
عَنْ سَبِيلِهِ ذَلِكُمْ وَصَّيكُمْ بِهِ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ.

“Say: Come I will recite what your Lord has forbidden to you. Do not associate anything with Him and show kindness to your parents, and do not slay your children for fear of poverty– We indeed provide for you and for them– and do not draw nigh to indecencies, apparent and concealed, and do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden except for the requirements of justice; this He has enjoined upon you that you may understand. And do not approach the property of the orphan except in the best manner until he attains his maturity, and give full measure and weight with justice- We do not impose on any soul a duty except to the extent of its ability; and when you speak, then be just though it be against a relative, and fulfill Allah’s covenant; this He has enjoined you with that you may be mindful. And know that this is My path, the right one, therefore follow it, and follow not other ways, for they will lead you away from His way; this He has enjoined you with that you may guard against evil. (al-Anaam, 151-153)

“So, my brother, tell me; to what else do you invite?” asked Mafruq after a brief pause. “If what you have said were words of men I surely would have made them out by now.”

Thereupon the Messenger of Allah quoted:

اِنَّ اللّٰهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَاْلاِحْسَانِ وَاِيتَائِ ذِى الْقُرْبَى وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ وَالْبَغْىِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

“Surely Allah enjoins the doing of justice and the doing of good and the giving to the kindred, and He forbids indecency and evil and rebellion; He admonishes you that you may be mindful.” (an-Nahl, 90)

“My brother from Quraysh! You indeed invite to the best of morals and conduct! From what I can see, your people are slandering you in calling you a liar!” Mafruq exclaimed. Hani and Muthanna, other leaders of the clan, lent Mafruq their support. But they said they could not accept the offer until they consulted the other leaders of their tribes, stating moreover that they had made a pact of alliance with the Persians, who would not be happy if they heard of such a deal.

So even though they accepted in their consciences, the clan in the end declined the offer of the Prophet (pbuh) out of fear of getting into trouble.[8]

Tariq ibn Abdullah (r.a) narrates the following:

“I once saw the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) at the Zhu’l-Majaz Fair, wearing a red shirt, calling out, ‘People… Say La ilaha illallah and be saved!’

Behind him was another man, throwing rocks at the Messenger (pbuh), shouting in his wake, ‘Do not listen to him! He is a liar!’

The stones had left the feet of the Prophet (pbuh) in blood. Not knowing till then who the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was, I asked those around me.

‘A young man from the sons of Abdulmuttalib’, they replied.

‘What about the man throwing stones?’

‘His uncle Abu Lahab!’” (Hakim, II, 668; Ibn Athir, Usd’ul-Ghabah, III, 71)

Another account of the hardships the Noble Prophet (pbuh) had to endure in the way of inviting people to Islam was given by Mudrik al-Azdi (r.a):

“I was performing pilgrimage with my father. Once we stopped over at Mina, we came across a large group.

‘I wonder why they have gathered’, I said to my father.

‘…For the man who has abandoned the religion of his tribe!’ he replied.

When I looked towards the direction my father was pointing to, I saw the Messenger of Allah. We could hear him say loud and clear, ‘People, say La ilaha illallah and be saved!’

Some were spitting at him and throwing dirt at his face; others were hurling abuse. This continued until midday. Then a girl, whose neck was slightly exposed, came with a jug of water and a handkerchief. She was crying. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) drank from the water, washing his hands and face. Afterward lifting his head, he said:

‘Cover your neck with your headscarf, my dear. And don’t ever think that they can kill or dishonour your father!’

I later found out she was his daughter Zaynab.” (Ibn Athir, Usd’ul-Ghabah, V, 130; Haythami, VI, 21)

Zaynab, Fatimah and the other daughters (r.a) of the Noble Messenger (pbuh) spent their childhood and youth in the weakest days of Islam, when Muslims were subjected to the harshest treatment. Zaynab and her sisters (r.a) would always find themselves sharing the pains suffered by the Prophet (pbuh) and the Muslims. When their father set out from home to call people to Islam, they would either wait anxiously by the door or follow him, step by step, to ensure no harm befell him.

They were also by their father’s side mourning the passing away of their dear mother Khadijah (r.ha). Never did the Prophet (pbuh) undergo any hardship without his daughters shedding tears by his side. Fatimah (r.ha) would be there wiping the Prophet’s (pbuh) blood, while Zaynab (r.ha) would be in his wake with some water to wash his face. They led a difficult life indeed.

Included among the many tribes the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) called to Islam at the Ukaz Fair were the sons of Amir ibn Sa’saa.

“Are you willing to give me refuge and protect me, as the Messenger of Allah, until I am able to pass on the commands of my Lord to people and complete my duty? I will not force anyone among you”, he asked them.

“We will neither drive you out, nor believe you. We will only protect you until you complete your mission”, they responded.

At that point a certain person from their tribe, named Bayhara, turned up. Having found out the identity of the Prophet (pbuh), he had already been thinking how he would be able to gain supremacy over the entire Arabs, if only he could win the Prophet over.

“Say we pledged allegiance to you and Allah made you victorious over your enemies, would kingship be ours after you are gone?” he impudently asked the Noble Messenger (pbuh).

“All affairs belong to Allah. He elects whomever He wishes!” the Light of Being (pbuh) replied.

“So you are asking us to put our bodies inn the line of fire against all the Arabs for you and then expect us to wait and see who is given kingship if you are victorious? That’s a raw deal!” Bayhara remarked, before shouting to his clan:

“I have not seen a bargain worse than yours in this entire fair. Go ahead and draw the hostility of the entire Arabs. But know that his tribe knows him best. Had they seen any goodness in him, they would have been sure to lay claim to him before you ever did!”

With the pendulum having swung his way, he then turned once again to the Prophet (pbuh):

“Leave this place immediately!”

When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) got to his feet to mount his camel, the wretched Bayhara poked the camel’s chest, causing the camel to spring and the Noble Prophet (pbuh) to fall.

Seeing the horrific treatment of the Prophet (pbuh), Dubaa bint Amir, a Muslim woman present, screamed in a sense of urgency, “For heaven’s sake, sons of Amir! How can you stand seeing the Messenger of Allah abused right in front of your eyes without moving a finger?”

Thereupon, three men stood up and disciplined Bayhara, for which they earned the good wishes of the Noble Prophet (pbuh):

“Grant them your blessings, o Allah!” he prayed.

So great were the blessings of this prayer, that not only were the three men eventually guided, they all breathed their last as martyrs.

The tribe had a leader, prevented by old age to visit Mecca for pilgrimage, who was told about the encounter by his returning tribesmen. The moment he heard what had happened, he put his hands on his head in despair, telling them off with regret:

“How on earth will you make up for such a lost opportunity? I swear to God that nobody from among the sons of Ismail has ever falsely claimed to be a prophet! How could you not see he was telling you the truth? What on earth were you thinking?”[1]

In spite of all the abuse he had to cope with, the Gracious Messenger (pbuh) was meanwhile continuing to call the remainder of the other tribes at the fair to the path of truth.

Marriage with Sawdah (r.ha)

Sawdah (r.ha) was previously married to Sakran ibn Amr (r.a). Together they were among the migrants of Abyssinia, where Sakran had passed away a short time later. Being one who had shown great loyalty and devotion to the path of Islam, Sawdah (r.ha) had earned the praises of the Prophet (pbuh). Thus to help her out of the troublesome situation she would face as a widow, the Prophet (pbuh) took her hand in marriage.

Setting up the marriage was Hawla the wife of Othman ibn Mazun (r.a). As was the custom, Sawdah’s father was asked to grant permission. As expected, he was more than happy for his daughter.

Yet, Sawdah (r.ha) could not find in herself the courage to go ahead with the marriage, mainly because of the five or six small children she had from her late husband.

Seeing her hesitance, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) asked her the reason of her doubts.

“How could I have doubt about marrying you when there is nobody in the world dearer to me? But I fear my small children will end up disturbing you with all their noise. Otherwise I am more than happy to marry you…” (Ibn Saad, VIII, 53-57; Ahmad, I, 318-319; VI, 211; Haythami, IV, 270)

The marriage took place on the tenth year of prophethood, in the month of Ramadan.

Sawdah (r.ha) cared enormously for the Prophet (pbuh). She became the other half of the Prophet (pbuh), always by his side at a time when he needed support the most, and took compassionate and loving care of his young daughters who were in need of tender, motherly affection.

[1].      Ibn Hisham, II, 33-34; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya, III, 184; Ibn Hajar, al-Isâba, IV, 353.

[1].      “The jinn used to ascend to the heavens and eavesdrop on Revelation. Upon overhearing a word, they would add to it ninety-nine words of their own. One word would remain true, while the rest would be fabricated. Once the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) was sent as a Prophet, from then on, they were hindered from ascending to their posts in the heavens by flaming stars. Previously, no jinn had been targeted with them in the skies.” (Tirmidhi, Tafsir, 72/3324)

[2].      Shihab, in Arabic, which means a flare of fire, is especially used to describe the flame that appears in the skies simultaneously with a shooting star. Contemporary commentators have said that shihabs could signify meteors.

[3].      The great Mawlana Rumi describes the incident by use of metaphor:

“Demons used to ascend to the skies and listen in on the secrets of the heavens.

Just as they would be about to take flight with a small number of secrets, blazing stars would drive them out of their corners.

‘A Prophet has been sent’, would resonate. ‘Go to where he is and acquire from him whatever it is that you want.’

‘If a precious pearl is what you search, then enter houses through their doors!’*

‘Rattle the loop of that door and wait at its threshold…for heavens provide no road for you and those like you.’

‘Besides, there is no need for you to venture out onto distant journeys…for We have placed the greatest mystery of all in our servant whom We have fashioned from mud.

‘If you are sincere, then go to his presence, the Caliph of the Divine. Even if you are a hollow cane, you shall become a cane full of sugar with his help and companionship.’”

* “Enter houses through their doors.” (al-Baqara, 189) In the Age of Ignorance and during the first years of Islam, after donning the consecrated state (ihram) for pilgrimage, one would not enter his house or garden by their door. If a townsman, he would instead open a whole in the roof through which he would go in and out of his house. If a desert Arab, he would then rip open the back part of his tent, in preference to entering through the front. To do so until they were out of ihram, they assumed, was of great virtue and goodness. By revealing the 189th ayah of al-Baqarah, the Almighty proclaimed otherwise. (Wahidi, p. 56-57) The Divine expression has since come to be used as an allusion to ‘doing things the right way’; and Mawlana Rumi ÞÏÓ ÓÑå, here, affords a sufi commentary of the ayah: to find Allah, one must resort to ahlullah, His people, who are virtually His doors.

[4].      See Ibn Saad, I, 216-217; Ahmed, III, 322, 492; Ibn Kathir, III, 183-190.

[5].      Jabir ibn Abdullah (r.a) was born in Medina sixteen years prior to the Hegira. Abdullah ibn Jabir (r.a), his father, is the first Companion martyred at the Battle of Uhud. Forced to remain behind to look after his nine sisters, Jabir had not been able to participate in any battles while his father was alive. Following his death at Uhud, however, Jabir (r.a) took active part in nineteen battles with the Messenger of Allah (pbuh). He was the youngest participant at the Second Aqabah Pledge. The Prophet of Allah (pbuh) had great affection for him. Time and again the Blessed Prophet (pbuh) would take Jabir behind him on the saddle while on camelback, and visit him while ill. Jabir (r.a) struggled to pay off the debts his father had left behind. The creditors, most of whom were Jews, were urging immediate payment. To make matters worse, there was not much harvest that year. So the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) had all the harvested dates piled in heaps; and with the scale in his blessed hands, he began repaying the creditors, one by one. Not only was Jabir’s entire debt (r.a) paid back, as a Divine miracle, the dates had not decreased.

         One of the mukthirun, the seven Companions with the most hadith narrations under their names, Jabir (r.a) narrated 1540 hadiths. He once heard about Abdullah ibn Unays narrating a hadith, about the state of people upon resurrecting from the graves; a hadith Jabir (r.a) nonetheless wished to hear firsthand. Not in the least deterred by the fact that Abdullah had long moved to Damascus, Jabir bought a camel, mounted it and departed from Medina, reaching Damascus following a month’s journey where he listened to the hadith straight from Abdullah ibn Unays’ mouth. Towards the end of his life, Jabir (r.a) lost his sight, finally passing away in Medina in 697 (H. 78), at the age of 94. He was the last Companion to pass away in Medina.

[6].      Ahmed, III, 322; Ibn Saad, I, 216.

[7].      Hakim, II, 681/4251.

[8].      Ibn Asir, Usdu’l-Ghâba, V, 250-251; Ibn Kathir, al-Bidaya, III, 187-189.