Muhammad (S) – The Prophet of Islam – Part 2
by Dr. Habib Siddiqui
Islam was a new faith amongst the Arabs of the 6th century C.E. that challenged the old order - customs, traditions, rules and regulations, requiring uncompromising belief in an unseen God – Allah. It challenged the Makkan aristocracy. It required the believer to change his/her lifestyle so that he/she won’t lie, deceive, gamble, intoxicate, kill, murder, steal, fornicate, commit female infanticide, etc. It required fasting (without food and water) from dawn to dusk, during the entire month of Ramadhan, a task which was very difficult in unusually hot summer days of Arabia. It required praying five times daily to remind the believer of his/her servitude to Allah and accountability of his/her deeds – good and bad, large and small. It demanded paying the poor-due (zakat) and making regular charity (sadaqah), feeding the indigent and relieving pains and sufferings of fellow creatures – acts that are against innate human attitude towards wealth and possession. It advocated freeing of slaves. It demanded fair treatment of all – especially, the women and orphans. It preached brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind, irrespective of one’s upbringing, color, race, nationality and wealth. It demanded standing out for truth and justice, even if it was against one’s own soul (nafs). It demanded leading a clean life away from sin and vice that is always mindful of relationship with Allah, fellow creatures and environment, and his/her own self.
And yet with the new set of do’s and don’ts, there were people who embraced Islam – from Bilal the Abyssinian to Shu’aib the Byzantine to Salman the Persian to Abu Bakr the Quraysh, from a 10-year old young boy – Ali ibn Talib to a 55-year old lady – Khadija, from a freed slave by the name of Zaid bin Haritha to a rich merchant by the name of Uthman ibn Affan to a shepherd by the name of Abdullah ibn Mas’oud (RA). They were all ready to make the ultimate sacrifice – personal, family, social, cultural and economic - for their belief in the new faith – Islam. They were even willing to die in the battlefield when called for.
The following historical facts from the lives of the Companions are illustrative:
Bilal (RA) was the slave of a rich man in Makkah, Umayya bin Khalaf, who was one of the worst enemies of Islam. Because of Bilal’s acceptance of Islam, he was whipped at night and with the cuts thus received, made to lie on the burning sand with a heavy stone put on his chest during the day to force him to renounce Islam or to die a lingering death from the wounds. But Bilal (RA) would not yield. One day, Abu Bakr (RA), a wealthy merchant and one of the Prophet’s close friends, came by and saw how Bilal (RA) was tortured by his master. He bought his freedom.
Similar is the story of Khabbab ibn Alarat (RA) who was one of the very early converts to Islam. He was the slave of a woman who was hostile to Islam. When she came to know that he was visiting the Prophet Muhammad (S), she became furious and punished him mercilessly. She used to brand Khabbab’s head with a hot iron rod. He was made to put on steel armor and lie in the sun to sweat and swelter. Very often he was made to lie flat on burning sand, which caused the flesh on his back to waste away. Yet this was not enough for his pagan slave-owner. She would have his body dragged by others over heaps of smoldering charcoal. This would cause his blood and fat to come out of his back.
Sumayya (RA) and her husband Yasir (RA) were slaves of a Makkan idolater who was utterly hostile to Islam. He wanted them to renounce the faith. When they did not, he tortured them mercilessly. They were tormented on scorching sands of Makkah. One day, Sumayya (RA) was standing when Abu Jahl, the worst enemy of Islam, passed that way. He flung all sorts of dirty words at her and then put his spear through the most private part of her body, causing her death. She had refused to renounce Islam in the face of terrible torture in her old age. The blessed lady was the first to meet martyrdom in the cause of Islam. Yasir (R) died after prolonged sufferings at the hands of his persecutors. [For similar stories: see the author’s upcoming book – Book of Devotional Stories.]
S’ad bin Abi Waqas (RA), an early convert to Islam, related: “When my mother heard the news of my Islam, she flew into a rage. She came up to me and said: “O S’ad! What is this religion that you have embraced which has taken you away from the religion of your mother and father…? By God, either you forsake your new religion or I would not eat or drink until I die. Your heart would be broken with grief for me and remorse would consume you on account of the deed which you have done and people would censure you forever more.” ‘Don’t do (such a thing), my mother,’ I said, ‘for I would not give up my religion for anything.’ However, she went on with her threat… For days she neither ate nor drank. She became emaciated and weak. Hour after hour, I went to her asking whether I should bring her some food or something to drink but she persistently refused, insisting that she would neither eat nor drink until she died or I abandoned my religion. I said to her: ‘Yaa Ummaah! In spite of my strong love for you, my love for God and His Messenger is indeed stronger. By God, if you had a thousand souls and one soul after another were to depart, I would not abandon this religion for anything.’ When she saw that I was determined she relented unwillingly and ate and drank.” [Mubarakpuri]
During the battle of Uhud, the pagan Quraysh attacked the Muslims from behind. The entire Muslim army fell into chaos and fierce fighting was going on in the battlefield. The Quraysh attacked Muhammad (S), who was being protected by seven Sahaba (Companions) from the Ansar community of Madinah that had given refuge to the Prophet when he emigrated from Makkah. When the enemy advanced towards him and overwhelmed him, a man from the Ansar came forward and fought (the enemy) until he was killed. The enemy advanced and overwhelmed him again and another Ansar came forward and fought until he was killed. This state continued until all the seven Ansars were killed (one after the other). [Sahih Muslim]
Umme ‘Amarah (RA), a mother, whose real name was Nusaibah binte Kab, went following the Muslim troops… When the situation turned against the Muslims, she rushed to be by the side of the Prophet…When ibn Qamiah (a pagan Quraysh) attacked the Prophet (S), she rushed forward like a flash of lightening and launched severe attacks (on him)…But his counter attack left a deep injury on her arm near the shoulder. [History of Islam by Akbar Shah Najeebabadi] As can be seen, these early Companions were willing to risk their own lives to protect the life of Muhammad (S).
It is, therefore, not difficult to understand how Allah viewed their sacrifice in the Qur’an:
“And the first to embrace Islam are the Muhajirun (those who migrated with the Prophet from Makkah to Madinah) and Ansar (Muslim hosts in Madinah who welcomed the Prophet and his small group of Companions) and all those who followed them exactly (in faith). Allah is well pleased with them and they are pleased with Him and Allah has prepared for them Gardens beneath which rivers flow to dwell therein forever and that is the great success.” [Qur’an 9: 100]
(To be continued)
[About the author: Dr. Habib Siddiqui has authored seven books. His latest book: The Counsel – is now available in Malaysia from the Islamic Book Trust.]