Muhammad (S) – The Prophet of Islam – Part 4
by Habib Siddiqui
It is said that a man’s real essence is known in times of crisis and tragedy, and how he deals with his adversaries when the circumstances reverse.
The second year before the Prophet’s (S) migration to Madinah was an unusually sad year. He was nearing 50 and his wife Khadijah (RA) was 65, when she suddenly died. They had lived together in harmony for 25 years. She had been not only his only wife but also his intimate friend, wise counselor, and mother to his entire household including Ali ibn Abi Talib and Zayd ibn Haritha (RA). Then Abi Talib, the uncle of the Prophet (S), died after a brief illness. [He had been a guardian to orphan - Muhammad (S) since the latter was only seven years old. In later years, as the chief of the Bani Hashim (the Prophet’s clan), he tried to protect Muhammad (S) from ill-treatments of the pagan Arabs when Muhammad (S) preached Islam amongst them.] Thus, Muhammad (S) lost the last bit of protection he was enjoying amongst the Quraysh.
On one occasion a passer-by leaned over the Prophet’s (S) gate and tossed a piece of putrefying offal into his cooking pot. Another day, when Muhammad (S) was praying in the courtyard of his house, a man threw over him a sheep’s uterus filthy with blood and excrement. On another occasion, when the Prophet was coming from the Ka’bah (the House of Worship towards which Muslims pray), a man took a handful of dirt and threw it in his face and over his head. When he returned home one of his daughters washed him clean of it, weeping the while. The Prophet (S) tried to console her saying, “Weep not, little daughter. Allah will protect your father.” [Muhammad – his life based on the earliest sources by Dr. Martin Lings]
It was then that he decided to seek help from Thaqif, the people of Ta’if, situated nearly 50 miles east of Makkah. On his arrival, he went straight to the house three brothers who were the leaders of the Thaqif at the time. Unfortunately, when he invited them to Islam, they got enraged and stirred up their slaves and retainers to insult him and shout at him, until a crowd of people were gathered together against him who pelted him with stones. Muhammad (S) began to bleed profusely, the blood congealing in his shoes and making it difficult for him to take his shoes off for making ablution (wadhu). [Uswai Rasool-e-Akram: The Life and the Teachings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad by Dr. Muhammad Abdul Hai]
A’isha (RA) said that she once asked the Prophet (S): “Did you face a day severer than the day of the battle of Uhud?’ He answered: ‘I have experienced from thy people and the hardest treatment I met from them was what I received from them on the day of ‘Aqaba. I betook myself to Ibn Abd Yalil b. Abd Kulal with the purpose of inviting him to Islam, but he did not respond to me as I desired. So I departed with signs of (deep) distress on my face. I did not recover until I reached Qarn al-Tha’alib. Where I raised my head, lo! near me was a cloud which had cast its shadow on me. I looked and lo! there was in it the angel Jibril (Gabriel) who called out to me and said: God, the Honored and Glorious, has heard what thy people have said to thee, and how they have reacted to thy call. And He has sent to thee the angel in charge of the mountains so that thou mayest order him what thou wishest (him to do) with regard to them. The angel in charge of the mountains (then) called out to me, greeted me and said: Muhammad, God has listened to what thy people have said to thee. I am the angel in charge of the mountains. and thy Lord has sent me to thee so that thou mayest order me what thou wishest. If thou wishest that I should bring together the two mountains that stand opposite to each other at the extremities of Mecca (Makkah) to crush them in between, (I would do that). But the Messenger of Allah (S) said to him: I rather hope that God will produce from their descendants such persons as will worship Allah, the One, and will not ascribe partners to Him.” [Sahih Muslim]
Not only that when Muhammad (S) felt himself to be in safety and at peace, he prayed: “O God, unto Thee do I complain of my weakness, of my helplessness, and of my lowliness before men. O Most Merciful of the merciful, Thou art Lord of the weak. And Thou art my Lord. Into whose hands wilt Thou entrust me? Unto some far off stranger who will ill-treat me? Or unto a foe whom Thou has empowered against me? I care not, so Thou be not wroth with me. But Thy favoring help – that were for me the broader way and the wider scope! I take refuge in the Light of Thy Countenance whereby all darknesses are illuminated and the things of this world and the next are rightly ordered, lest Thou make descend Thine anger upon me, or lest Thy wrath beset me. Yet is it Thine to reproach until Thou art well pleased. There is no power and no might except through Thee.” (Lings)
The Makkan idolaters persecuted Muhammad (S) and his followers for 21 years – 13 in Makkah and 8 in Madinah, where he was forced to take refuge. They left no scheme and mechanism unused to harass the nascent community of Muslims. They compelled them to leave their hearth and home. They seized their properties. They even sent delegation to Abyssinia pleading to the King Negus that he deport the first group of Muslims, which had sought refuge there, to Makkah. They killed many Muslims, including the beloved uncle of the Prophet – Hamza (RA). But when Makkah was conquered by a force of 10,000 Muslim Army in 8 A.H. they were completely at the mercy of Muhammad (S). They expected vengeance for their past misdeeds. Surely, just a single nod from the Prophet (S) would have many heads rolling on the dust.
But what did Muhammad (S) do with his vanquished foes? To the mighty, but then defeated chiefs of the Quraysh who stood before him bowing their heads in fear and shame, the Prophet (S) posed a question, “Do you know how I am going to deal with you today?” They replied in suppressed tones, “O the truthful and trustworthy one! You are our noble brother and a noble brother’s son. We have ever found you merciful.” [There was no falsehood in their statement for the Prophet (S) was known as the most truthful and trustworthy person in entire Arabia even in the pre-Islamic days. He was called al-Amin.] The Prophet (S) said: “I tell you the same thing today as Yusuf (Prophet Joseph) had told his brothers – ‘No reproach shall be on you this day. Go, I set you all free’ (Qur’an ch. 12).” The Prophet (S), thus, proclaimed a general amnesty. In their relief and astonishment, the entire population of Makkah, including Abu Sufyan – the leader of the many expeditions against Muslims, hastened to swear allegiance. Among the women who embraced Islam was Hind (the daughter of Utbah and wife of Abu Sufyan) who had chewed the raw liver of Hamza (RA) after he was martyred in the battle of Uhud. The Prophet (S) said to her, “Welcome” and forgave her. He (S) forgave all his former foes, including Ikrimah, the son of Abu Jahl – one of the worst enemies of Islam. [Ibn Hisham; Lings]
[Compare this magnanimity of the Prophet of Islam against world leaders of our time, who do not mind killing hundreds of thousands of unarmed civilians through their ‘smart’ bombs and missiles; in spite of dozens of international laws for protection of human rights and peaceful coexistence between nations.]
Such was the personality of Muhammad (S), Rahmatul lil alameen (the mercy to the universe). It is little wonder that to the faithful Muslims, Muhammad (S) is the best of mankind that was ever created by God (Allah). He is the epitome of leadership, veracity, honesty, trustworthiness, valor and courage, devotion and love, kindness and gentleness, faith and taqwa (fear of Allah), caring and giving, self-denial and forbearance, modesty and humility, patience, beauty, forgiveness and mercy. He is the perfect human being. The Qur’an says: “Indeed you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted standard of character.” (Qur’an 68:4)
George Bernard Shaw said about Muhammad (S): “He must be called the Savior of Humanity. I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it much needed peace and happiness.” (THE GENUINE ISLAM, Singapore, Vol. 1, No. 8, 1936)
It is not difficult to understand why Jules Masserman said, “Head of the State as well as the Church, he (Muhammad) was Caesar and Pope in one; but, he was Pope without the Pope’s pretensions, and Caesar without the legions of Caesar, without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a police force, without a fixed revenue. If ever a man ruled by a right divine, it was Muhammad, for he had all the powers without their supports. He cared not for the dressings of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life.”
(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.]