Grace and Truth
04. THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD ACCORDING TO IBN HISHAM
2 - THE BEGINNING OF ISLAM WITH MUHAMMAD (610 to 615 A.D.)
Muhammad's Prophethood -- The rise of the first Islamic Community -- The Opposition of the Meccans -- The First Migration to Abyssinia.
2.01 -- PART II - The Persecuted Prophet in Mecca
2.02 -- Muhammad's Prophethood
2.02.1 -- How Muhammad mediated the quarrel regarding the holy stone in Mecca
When Muhammad was thirty-five years old, the Quraishites determined to erect the Ka‘ba. It was not higher than a man and consisted of stones layered atop each other. And yet they hesitated to tear it down. They wanted to raise the walls and roof the structure, for the treasure, which had been concealed in a well in the inner part of the Ka‘ba, had been stolen. The treasure had been found with Duwaik, a freedman of the Banu Mulayh. They supposed, however, that others had stolen it and hidden it with Duwaik. Shortly before this a storm had thrown the ship of a Greek merchant upon the shore of Jiddah, where it broke apart. The Arabs had carried away its wood, desiring to use it to build the roof of the Ka‘ba. Furthermore there was a Copt*, who by trade was a carpenter, who prepared the wood for them.
* It was a Coptic Christian who framed the roof for the Ka‘ba in Mecca! The Bedouins, who had become settled, were not familiar with the work of carpentry.
In the well of the Ka‘ba, wherein daily food was thrown in, there resided a snake. It liked to lie along the wall of the Ka‘ba in order to sun itself. It was greatly feared, for as soon as anyone came near it would raise itself up, hiss and open wide its mouth. One day while it was once again sunning itself along the wall of the Ka‘ba, Allah sent a bird, who carried it away. Thereupon the Quraish said: “We hope that Allah will approve of our intention. We have a carpenter as a friend; we have wood, and now Allah has given us rest from the snake.”
The Quraish divided up the construction of the Ka‘ba among themselves. The side on which the door was, fell to the sons of Abd Manaf and Zuhra; the part between the black and the Yemenite pillars to the Banu Makhzum and other tribes of the Quraish, which were a part of them; the back part of the Ka‘ba came to the Banu Jumah and Sahm, the sons of Amr; the northern wall to those of the “Hatim”, to Banu Abd al-Dar ibn Qusai, to Banu Asad ibn Abd al-‘Uzza and to Banu ‘Adi ibn Ka‘b.
And yet the men still hesitated to tear down the Ka‘ba. It was then that al-Walid ibn Mughira said: “I will begin to do it!” He took his pick-axe, placed himself in front of the Ka‘ba and cried out: “Allah, let no misfortune come upon us. Allah, we only want what is good!”
He then began to tear down the wall by the two pillars. The others waited the entire night through and said: “We want to see whether a misfortune comes upon him. If so, we'll leave it alone; if not, then Allah approves our intention.”
On the following morning, as al-Walid continued with the demolition, the others followed upon his example. When they got down to the foundation stones, which had been laid by Ibrahim (Abraham),* they found them covered with green and in the form of a camel hump. They were firmly set in layers. A Quraishite, who was likewise involved in the demolition, had inserted a large crowbar between the two stones in order to loosen and pry out one of the stones. As soon as the stone began to wobble all of Mecca began to shake. So they left the foundation stones unmoved so that they remained in their place.
* This obviously is a legend. Abraham never was in Mecca.
Upon one of the pillars the Quraishites found a Syrian inscription. No one could decipher it until it was read to them by a Jew. It said: “I am Allah, the Lord of Mecca. I created this city on the day that I created heaven and earth, formed the sun and the moon, and have given to her seven angels for protection. She will remain as long as the two mountains surrounding her. Her people will be blessed with water and milk.”
Laith ibn Abi Sulaim maintained that forty years before the sending of Muhammad, a stone was found in the Ka‘ba on which was written: “Whoever sows good, harvests blessing; whoever sows evil, reaps regret. Do you want to be rewarded with good for doing evil deeds? No, just as grapes cannot be gathered from thorns.”*
* Perhaps we here have a modified word of Jesus (cf. Matthew 7:16).
The Quraishites proceeded to gather together the stones for the construction of the Ka‘ba. Every tribe worked by itself. They built until they came upon the place of the holy stone. There then arose a quarrel. Every tribe wanted to have the honour and privilege of fitting it again into its place. They soon grew estranged, formed alliances and prepared themselves for battle.
The Banu Abd al-Dar brought a pan with blood and transacted an alliance with the Banu ‘Adi. In so doing they swore to remain faithful until death by dipping their hands into the blood that was in the pan. By this they became known as the “blood-lickers”. This argument lasted for four or five days. Following that they all assembled in the mosque and took council with one another. It was then that Abu Umayya came forth, who at that time was the oldest among the Quraish, and made the Quraish the suggestion that they accept, as arbiter, the one who first put foot in the mosque.
They agreed to this and the first one to enter was Muhammad. When they saw him they cried out: “He is right for us, for he is the truthful one.”
They reported to him the cause of the dispute. At that he had a cloth brought, in which he laid the stone in the middle. He then let one person from each tribe take hold of the cloth, together lift the stone and then carry it to the place where it was to be embedded. He himself then laid it in its old place, and the construction could then be continued.*
* The mediatory help of Muhammad in the renewal of the Ka‘ba in Mecca stands in juxtaposition to the temple cleansing of Jesus, who drove out the traders and the merchants from the temple in Jerusalem to cleanse it for the worship of God (John 2:13-22). Beyond that, Jesus proclaimed that his enemies would tear down the temple and that He would rebuild it in three days (Matthew 26:61; 27:40). He was speaking of His death and the resurrection of His body, which is the true temple of God.
Muhammad let the old temple ritual continue, firmly set the black stone in the Ka‘ba and integrated the heathen pilgrimage into the law of Islam. Jesus, however, created with His church a new temple, in which dwells the Spirit of God.
Muhammad tolerated the Ka‘ba and its idols until he conquered the city with his army. He then cleansed the temple of its idols, but he allowed the black stone to remain embedded in the Ka‘ba and also kissed it.
At the time of Muhammad, the Ka‘ba was eighteen cubits in length, width and height. It was covered with Egyptian canvas and later covered with a stripped cotton material. Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf was the first to cover it with siLuke
2.02.2 -- Concerning the belief in Jinn in Mecca
The Jewish Rabbis, Christian priests and the soothsayers among the Arabs had already spoken about Muhammad in their own time. The rabbis proclaimed what they had found about him and his times in their Scriptures. The soothsayers added to that what they had privately overheard from evil Jinn* (spirits), before stars were cast down upon them (shooting stars).
* Ibn Hisham here describes the Jinn as evil spirits, even though they appeared to know secrets concerning the sending of Muhammad.
Islam speaks of two different types of Jinn - evil and good ones. The latter are the ones that accepted the Quran and became Moslems!
Both male and female soothsayers had made various mentions about the appearance of Muhammad, but the Arabs had shown no interest therein until that which had been said was confirmed. They then came to reason. When the time drew near for the coming of the messenger of Allah the evil Jinn were no longer allowed to overhear. They were not allowed to return to the earlier places where they had eavesdropped, which brought about their being pelted with stars. By this they took notice that what Allah had previously determined also came about. Allah revealed to his prophet this history of the Jinn (Sure al-Jinn 72:1-3): “Say, ‘It has been revealed to me that a number of the jinn listened and said, “We have heard a wonderful Quran (recitation) which guides to truth. We have believed in it and we will not associate anyone with our Lord, for our Lord, the Exalted One, is alone almighty. He has neither a wife nor a son.”‘”*
* Another tradition places this encounter of Muhammad with the Jinn in the time following his rejection by the residents of Ta‘if.
When the Jinn became aware of the Quran, they knew the reason why they were no longer permitted to eavesdrop. The revelation was not to be made incomprehensible and doubtful through dissimilar messages from heaven. Now the Jinn also believed and preached to their companions: “We have heard of a book that came after Moses and that confirms what was revealed to him. It leads to truth and directs to the straight path” (Sura al-Ahqaf 46:30).
* Moslem Jinn show themselves to be zealous missionaries for the expansion of Islam.
Muhammad ibn Muslim ibn Shihab al-Zuhri heard it from Ali ibn Husain ibn Ali ibn Abu Talib, who in turn heard it from Ansar. Muhammad is supposed to have asked them: “What do you think about the shooting stars?” They answered: “We thought a king had died or had been appointed to the throne, or that a famous child had been born or died.” Then Muhammad responded: “That is not so, but rather Allah has decreed something about his creation. The bearers of the throne heard this and praised him. The subordinate angels followed their example. Thus praise extended to the lowest heaven.” It was then one of them wanted to know from another why it was they had praised Allah. They received the answer: “Because those above praise him.” Then those above and all the way to the bearers of the throne were enquired of. When these conveyed the decree of Allah, so it was that the answer was brought down in stages, even to the lowest heaven. Here the evil Jinn listened and interpreted some things incorrectly or falsely. These then went to the soothsayers on earth. There they partly led them astray and partly told them the truth. The soothsayers passed the message on, thus spreading some errors and some truth. Therefore, Allah kept the Jinn far away by allowing them to be pelted with falling stars. In this manner soothsaying came to an end.*
* The Jinn are understood to be mediating spirits, who speak through people (mediums). The Quraishites acknowledged such mediums (possessed by spirits). Occult contact and sufferings were customary and exist until today in Islamic nations.
2.02.3 -- Encounters with Jews*
Salama ibn Salama recounted: “A Jew, a protected companion of the Banu Abd al-Ashhal, came searching for them one day, (at that time I was still one of their youngest, wore a robe and would lie before the dwelling of my family) and spoke of the resurrection, of judgment, of the scales and of paradise and of hell. The polytheists and the idolaters, who believed in no resurrection, replied to him: ‘Do you really believe that people will be resurrected after death and come into a world in which there is a heaven and a hell, and that then they will be recompensed according to their deeds?‘” **
* Numerous Jews lived in the Hijaz, the western part of the Arabian Peninsula, after their dispersion from Judah and Jerusalem in 70 A.D. by the Romans. They believed in the one God and possessed a well-developed liturgy for their worship services. Above all, they had a book, out of which they could read all details pertaining to their faith, their law and their history.
** The belief in the resurrection of the dead and in a paradise and hell was passed on by the Jews to Muhammad. Approximately 70 percent of the texts in the Quran contain distorted stories and laws taken from the Old Testament.
He answered: “Yes, by Him whom man swears by!” He added that he would prefer to be locked up in the biggest heated oven that exists, if that would preserve him from the certain fire of hell meant for him.
Some years before the rise of Islam, a Jew from Syria, by the name of Ibn al-Hayabban, had lived with us. By Allah he was the best among all those who did not practice the five daily prayers. Whenever we had drought, we would go to him and ask him to implore Allah for rain.* Beforehand he would always summon us to give alms, and when we asked him how much, he answered: “A saa‘** of dates or two mudd of barley.” As soon as we brought these, he went with us into the field and began to implore Allah for rain for us. And, by Allah, hardly had he raised himself up when a cloud passed over and poured down its precious moisture upon us. This happened frequently. When the hour of his death approached, he asked his fellow countrymen: “Why do you suppose I left my fertile land behind and migrated to this barren land?” They answered him: “You know that better than we do!” He continued on: “I came here because I have been waiting for a prophet, one whose time will soon come, and who will appear in this land. I have waited for his coming so I can follow him. Now his time is near. Do not allow yourselves to be misled by others, for he will shed the blood of his opponents and take captive their children. Nothing can protect you from him.”
* Prayers for rain are, especially in the Middle East, a widespread practice until today.
** A saa‘ was a dry measure that could hold four mudd. Its size varied in the different regions. Today one saa‘ is considered to be three liters.
When Muhammad later besieged the (Jewish) Banu Quraiza, the men said, who at that time were still young: “O you sons of Quraiza! By Allah, that is the prophet who was promised to you by Ibn al-Hayyaban!”* They retorted, however: “He isn't the one!”
* The continued waiting of the Jews for the Messiah, or for the prophet that Moses had prophesied of (Deuteronomy 18:15) - even after the coming of Jesus - gave Muhammad the idea that he himself was this promised prophet. But the corresponding verse expressly states that the Messiah would come from the nation of Israel: “from your midst, from your brethren”.
2.02.4 -- The God-seekers (the Hanifites)
On one occasion, one of their feast days, the Quraish assembled themselves together around one of their idols, whom they honoured and sacrificed to, whom they lingered over and made procession with. It was one of their annual festival days, which they celebrated. Nevertheless, four of the men drew apart and secretly contracted a friendship covenant among themselves. They were Waraqa ibn Nawfal, ‘Ubaid Allah ibn Jahsh, Uthman ibn al-Huwairith and Zaid ibn Amr. One of them said to the others: “We know, by Allah, that our people do not have the true faith. They have corrupted the religion of their father Abraham. How should we circle around a stone that can neither see nor hear, that can neither bring help nor harm? We will search for another faith, for that which has been passed down to us is of no value.” Following that they spread out into different lands in order to search for the true faith of Abraham.*
* The doubts with respect to animism and petrified souls (idols) were already present in Mecca prior to the time of Muhammad. Therefore, it was a dubious compromise that made Muhammad reinstate the circumambulations and kissing of the black stone into the Islamic pilgrimage liturgy. This amounted to a relapse into darkest heathendom.
Waraqa ibn Nawfal* became engrossed in Christianity and studied the books of the Christians until he became familiar with the scholarship of the People of the Book.
* Waraqa ibn Nawfal was a nephew of the uncle of Khadija, the first wife of Muhammad. He was the leader of a small Christian church in Mecca and undoubtedly had a certain influence upon Muhammad. He reportedly tried to translate the Old Testament Scriptures into Arabic.
‘Ubaid Allah ibn Jahsh remained skeptical until he converted to Islam. He then emigrated with his wife, Um Habiba, a daughter of Abu Sufyan, to Abyssinia. While they were living there, he converted to Christianity and died a Christian. After ‘Ubaid Allah ibn Jahsh became a Christian, he said to his companions, who had emigrated to Abyssinia with him: “We have clearly recognized the truth. You, however, are still searching for it and haven't seen.” In saying this he used an expression that is used when a young dog first opens its eyes and thereby still doesn't see clearly. Muhammad later married the widow of ‘Ubaid Allah.* To that end, he sent Amr ibn Umaiyya al-Damri to the prince of Abyssinia in order to win her. The prince accepted the proposal for a wedding payment of 400 dinars on her behalf.
* The debate about knowledge of the true God passed right through the ranks of early Moslems. They heard the clear testimony of one of their own, who had become a Christian. Perhaps Muhammad wanted to have first-hand knowledge of the reasons why a Moslem would become a Christian when he married the widow of this convert, Umm Habiba, a daughter of Abu Sufyan (who was to become the strongest Meccan opponent of Muhammad before converting to Islam).
Uthman ibn al-Huwairith went to the emperor of Byzantium, became a Christian, and rose under him to a position of high esteem.*
* In the court of the emperor of Byzantium, there may have existed traces of awareness of Muhammad and Islam. From a distance Uthman could have followed the developments in Mecca and Medina and kept his patrons informed thereof.
Zaid ibn Amr accepted neither the Jewish faith nor Christianity. Nevertheless, he abandoned the faith of his own people. He kept himself from all idol worship, from the consumption of dead animals and of those that had been offered to idols, as well as from blood. He also condemned the practice of burying young girls alive.* He said: “I worship the Lord of Abraham,” and loudly denounced the errors of his people. Hisham ibn ‘Urwa reported to me of his father, who heard from his mother, Asma‘, the daughter of Abu Bakr, how he had said: “I have seen Zaid ibn ‘Amr, and how he, as an old man, leaned with his back on the Ka‘ba and said: “People of the Quraish! By Him in whose power my soul lies, apart from me not one of you is in the faith of Abraham.” Then he continued: “Allah … if I knew in which way it is you most want to be worshipped, I would do it; but I don't know.” He then fell down worshipping upon his hands.”
* The Quranic reference to the killing of young girls is found in Sura al-Takwir 81:8-9.
Zaid composed the following verse in regard to his falling away from the faith of his people and about what, as a result, he had to endure:
Shall I believe in one god or in a thousand gods, for then the rule would be divided? I have renounced Lat and Uzza.* That is how the strong and persevering act. I believe neither in Uzza nor in her two daughters. And neither do I visit the two idols of the sons of ‘Amr. I also do not believe in the idols of Ghanm, who was our lord while I was still a youth. I was amazed (in the night there are things that set us in amazement, which nevertheless become discernable under the light of day) that Allah destroyed so many men that were thoroughly contemptible, and yet how he preserved the pious. Allah allows children to grow big and become strong. When a man is misled he can still one day repent, just as a branch that has been moistened in the rain again comes to bloom. I worship my lord, the Compassionate One, so that he, the Merciful One, might forgive me my sin. Remain in the fear of Allah, your lord, then you will not come to ruin. You will see how the pious are given gardens to dwell in, while the portion of those that are unbelieving is the burning fire of hell. They find disgrace in life and after they die their breasts will writhe in anguish.
* See the so-called Satanic Verses of the Quran, whereby, for a time, Muhammad is said to have assented to the existence of Allah's wife (al-Lat) and her daughters (Manat and ‘Uzza) (see Suras al-Hajj 22:52-53 and al-Najm 53:19-23). According to the Biblical measure of testing the prophets, (cf. Deuteronomy 18:20) Muhammad would have had to be put to death.
He then departed in order to search for the faith of Abraham and to enquire of monks and rabbis. He travelled through Mesopotamia and came to Mosul,* visited Syria until he arrived at Maifa, in the province of Balqa. There he found a monk whom, it is supposed, was the most learned Christian. He asked him about the true religion, about the faith of Abraham. The monk responded: “You search a religion, in which now no one can instruct you any more, and yet the time is near for a prophet to appear in the land from which you come. He will be sent by Allah with the true faith of Abraham. Join yourself to him, he will soon appear, for the time has come.” Zaid had acquainted himself with the Jewish religion and with Christianity, but neither of the two religions had satisfied him. On the journey back to Mecca he passed through the land of the Lakhmites. There they attacked and killed him.**
* A city in northern Iraq, which was once a thriving center of the Christian Arameans.
** Already before the revelations to Muhammad there was in Mecca, through the influence of Jews and Christians, a growing conviction with some “Hanifites” (seekers after God) that the gods, idols and statues in the temple area of the Ka‘ba were worthless and dead.
2.02.5 -- How the messenger of Allah is purportedly prophesied in the Gospel
According to the copy of the Gospel revealed by Allah, and written by the disciple John, while Isa was still living, ‘Isa ibn Maryam is to have said the following concerning Muhammad: “Whoever hates me, hates the Lord. If I had not done works before their eyes like no one before me, then they would be innocent. They were ungrateful, however, and believed they had to honour me like the Lord himself. The word written in the book of the law, however, had to be fulfilled, that they hated me without a cause.** If Munhamanna*** had already appeared, whom Allah will send to you from the Lord and from the Spirit of holiness****, he would bear witness for me and for you. You also would do so, for you were with me earlier. This I speak to you that you should not doubt.”*****
* ‘Isa bin Maryam is the Islamic designation for Jesus the Son of Mary.
** Parts of John's Gospel were already known in Mecca at the time of Muhammad and had been discussed by the city's inhabitants (see John 15:23-27; 16:1).
*** Munhamanna seems to be an Arabic translation of the Greek word Parakletos. Interpreting it to connote Muhammad, however, involves a mistake, for though the Greek word was used correctly as far as consonants are concerned, it was interpreted, using false vowels, to be periklytos. Parakletos means the “comforter” and the “helper”; periklytos, however, means “the praised one”, which corresponds to the Arabic meaning of the word Muhammad. For this reason Moslems maintain that Muhammad is the Parakletos, who is the promised Comforter in the New Testament.
**** In this passage the Persons of the Holy Trinity are still mentioned entirely without reflection: Allah, the Lord, and the Spirit of Holiness. In the later theology of Islam, however, they are strictly rejected.
***** Muhammad falsely understood the promise of Jesus Christ (John 15:26), that He would send the comforting Spirit, and applied it to himself. No Moslem can accept that Muhammad is a messenger of Christ (John 14:16-17; 16:7-11)!
It is characteristic that Ibn Hisham, shortly before the beginning of the so-called “revelations” to Muhammad, set out to explain the often not properly understood splinters of the Gospel, thereby indirectly confirming the statement of ‘Ubaid Allah, who in Abyssinia converted from Islam to Christianity.
When Muhammad was forty years old, Allah sent him into the world - as a compassion from him for all of humanity.* In earlier times already, Allah had laid upon each of his prophets the responsibility to believe in Muhammad, to witness to him as truthful and to stand with him against his enemies. They were to proclaim these things to all who believed in them and held them for the truth. They did as they were commanded.
* The corresponding Quranic verse is often applied to the Quran itself and no to Muhammad (Sura al-Nahl 16:89).
2.02.6 -- The first visions of Muhammad (approx. 610 A.D.)
‘Urwa ibn al-Zubair had heard the following from ‘Aisha: “When Allah wanted to honour Muhammad and have mercy upon mankind, he therewith allowed his prophetic ministry to commence, with manifestations appearing in dreams, like the breaking of dawn. Allah granted him the inclination to solitude. It was the solitude that Muhammad loved above all.”
Wahb ibn Kaisan related what ‘Ubaid had said to him: “Muhammad spent a month on Hira and fed the poor that came to him. When the month was over, he circled the Ka‘ba seven times, or as often as it pleased Allah. Only then did he go to his house. When the year of his sending came, he went, as usual, with his family in the month of Ramadan (9th month) to Hira. In the night Allah honoured his servant with the message, there appeared unto him the Angel Gabriel, bringing him the command of Allah.*
* In Galatians 1:8-9 Paul proclaimed, every angel or spirit that proclaimed a gospel after the revelation of the Gospel through Jesus Christ, or that should again inspire a religion of law, to be cursed. Therefore, it could not have been the Angel Gabriel that appeared to Muhammad. Yet that is exactly what Islam maintains!
Furthermore, in Islam the Angel Gabriel is called the “Spirit of Holiness”. Thus the Quranic Holy Spirit is a created angel, but never God's own Spirit. Here it becomes clear that no Holy Spirit whatsoever dwells and is at work in the totality of Islam and among all Moslems.
“I slept”, Muhammad maintained, “when he brought me a silk cloth, upon which was writing, and said ‘Read!’* I responded: ‘I cannot read!’** He then pressed me into the cloth, so that I thought I was going to die. He then let me go and commanded me again: ‘Read!’ When I again answered that I could not read he covered me with the cloth so that I nearly gave up the spirit.*** He then let me go and repeated his command. I then asked, out of fear he would do to me again as before, what it was I should read. He then said. ‘Read, in the name of your Lord, who created man from coagulated blood,**** read, your Lord is the Merciful One, who taught men through the pen, taught them what they knew not’ (Sura al-‘Alaq 96:1-5). I recited now, and Gabriel released me again. After that I awoke and it was, as if these words were written in my heart.”
* The word Quran (literally meaning recitation or that to be read) is a derivation of the infinitive verb form qara’a ; the command form for “read” or “recite” is iqra’. The Quran can not only be read or listened to, but can also be memorized and recited by illiterates (see also the German book of Theodore Nöldeke, “Geschichte des Qurans”, reprinted in 1981, George Olms: Hildesheim, p. 31-32).
** Muhammad was illiterate. He could neither read nor write (Sura al-A'raf 7:157-158). Furthermore, in his time the Old and New Testaments had not yet been translated into Arabic. Even if they would have been available in Arabic, Muhammad would not have been able to read them. Even less would he have been able to read the Bible in its original languages, the Hebrew O.T. and the Greek N.T. Thus he had no access to the sources of Truth and was forced to rely on oral traditions.
Jesus could read and write and he recited texts from the Torah and the Prophets (Luke 4:17-20) in the Hebrew language. Beyond that, He is God's Word incarnate and the Truth in Person.
*** The revelations to Muhammad came in no sort of a satisfying and blessed manner. Every time he received the revelations from his spirit he had the feeling he would painfully suffocate or have to die.
**** God did not create man from a coagulated blood clot. It was not the blood that was there first; at the most it would have had to be animal blood. God created man through His Word and formed him from the soil of earth into His own likeness (Genesis 1:26-27; 2:7; 3:19).
“I came out of the cave and stood in the middle of the mount. Then I heard a voice from heaven that called out to me: ‘Muhammad! You are the messenger of Allah and I am Gabriel.’ I raised my head toward heaven in order to see the one speaking, and then I saw Gabriel in the form of a winged man. His feet were planted on the horizon and he cried: ‘Muhammad! You are the messenger of Allah and I am Gabriel.’ I remained standing and looked towards the apparition, going neither forwards nor backwards. Then I turned away from him, yet no matter which side I looked to, I always saw Gabriel before me. I remained so standing, without going forwards or backwards, until Khadija sent people to search for me. They went on unto the heights of Mecca until they returned to the woman who had sent them. Yet I remained standing until the angel went away, and only then did I return to my family.”
“When I came to Khadija, I sat on her lap and pressed myself tightly to her. She asked me where I had been and said she had sent people out looking for me. They had gone to the heights of Mecca and then returned. When I told her what I had seen, she said: ‘Be glad, O cousin, and be of good cheer by him in whose power my soul lies. I hope you will become the prophet of your people.’”*
* Khadija was the first to believe in Muhammad and encouraged him to believe in his sending. She made him aware of his calling. With her he searched for comfort through intimate embrace.
“She then stood up, dressed herself, and went to her cousin, Waraqa ibn Nawfal, who had become a Christian, read the Scriptures and had heard some things from Jews and Christians. She told him what I had seen and heard. Then Waraqa spoke: ‘Holy, holy, holy by him in whose dominion is Waraqa's soul! If you tell me the truth, it is the greatest Namus* who came to him, who also appeared to Moses, then it is he who is the prophet of this nation. Tell him he is to remain steadfast.’”
* To the Arabic Christians, Namus means the equivalence of “mystery” or “law”. With Moslems, however, it is a description for the angel Gabriel.
Following this, Khadija returned to Muhammad and reported to him what Waraqa had said.
Once the time of meditative seclusion had passed, Muhammad returned home and, as usual, first went to circumambulate the Ka‘ba. Underway Waraqa met and said to him: “Tell me what you saw and what you heard.” When he told it to him he said: “By him in whose dominion my soul is, you are the prophet of this nation. The greatest Namus, who appeared to Moses, has also come to you. People will call you a liar, mishandle you, exile and fight you. If I should experience that time, I will stand with Allah in such a way that he will reckon it to me.” He then bowed his head to him and kissed him on the forehead, whereupon Muhammad returned home.*
* Although Waraqa ibn Nawfal was the leader of the Christian church in Mecca, yet he did not have the gift of discernment or spiritual maturity to determine which spirit it was that actually spoke through Muhammad.
2.02.7 -- How Muhammad's wife Khadija tested his revelations
Isma‘il ibn Abi Hakim, a freedman of the family of Zubair, told me he heard the following from Khadija: “I said to Muhammad: ‘Can you let me know as soon as your friend appears to you?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I asked him to do this. When Gabriel appeared to him again he sent word to me. I said to Muhammad: ‘Sit upon my left thigh!’ After he did this, I asked: ‘Do you still see him?’ He answered, ‘yes.’ I then let him sit upon my right thigh and asked him again whether he still saw him. When he again answered in the affirmative, I let him sit upon my lap and asked him again if he still saw him. When he confirmed that he did, I sighed and threw off my veil. Then I asked him once more if he still saw him and he said ‘no.’ I then cried out: ‘Rejoice, my cousin, and be of good cheer; by Allah it is an angel and not a Satan!’”
Ibn Ishaq added: “When I shared this tradition with Abd Allah ibn Hassan, he said: ‘I have heard the same tradition from my mother Fatima, the daughter of Husain, in the name of Khadija, only according to this tradition Khadija took the prophet underneath her garment, whereupon Gabriel disappeared.’”*
* The testing of the revelation through Khadija bears all too many human inclinations. She understood the religion in a fleshly, not in a spiritual way.
Muhammad did not oppose this type of discerning of the spirits through marital contact. This stands totally in opposition to the testing of the spirits in the New Testament (cf. 1 John 4:1-3). Here the low level of the knowledge of God and piety in the family of Muhammad becomes obvious.
2.03 -- The Rise of the First Islamic Community (starting approx. 610 A.D.)
2.03.1 -- The privileged position of Khadija, Muhammads wife
Khadija believed in Muhammad and considered the revelation to be true. She supported her husband in his designs. She was the first to believe in Allah, his messenger and the revelation. By this Allah gave him comfort, for as often as he heard something unpleasant, experienced opposition, was accused of lying and thereby wanted to grow despondent, Allah would comfort him through her. Whenever he returned home to her, she would always build him up, assuring him of her faith in him and letting him know how insignificant the talk of the people was.
Hisham ibn ‘Urwa related to me what came from his father, who had heard it from Abd Allah ibn Dja‘far ibn Abi Talib, how Muhammed was to have said: “I have been commanded to announce to Khadija that she will receive a house of Qasab, in which no noise or sickness reigns” (Qasab is a hollowed-out pearl). Furthermore, a reliable man told me that Gabriel had come to Muhammad and said to him: “Greet Khadija from her Lord!” When Muhammad delivered this greeting to her, she said: “Allah is salvation; from him comes salvation and salvation be over Gabriel!”*
* It was Khadija who helped Muhammad come to the awareness of his sending, encouraging him again and again to believe in his prophetic calling. It was a woman who first believed in Allah and in his messenger. With her zeal as wife, she helped her husband to become more stable and influenced their daughters to believe in his teaching. Islam began within the framework of a family, while Jesus called His disciples from the circle of penitent followers of John the Baptist (John 1:35-51).
2.03.2 -- When the revelations ceased
When the revelations ceased for a time, Muhammad became very troubled.*
* The revelations ceased for a period of two-and-a-half full years. That drove Muhammad to despair and to the conviction that he had been forsaken and rejected by Allah. He went frequently to the precipice of Mount Hira with the intention to throw himself off (Bukhari, Kitabu fada‘il al-nabi).
It was then that Gabriel conveyed to him Sura al-Duha 93:1-9, in which Allah, who had shown him much mercy, swore:
By the clear day and the sinking night! Your Lord has not turned away from you and is not averse to you. Your future life will be better than the present. What I have resolved to do for you when you turn again to me will be of more value to you than the grace that has been bestowed upon you in this life. Your Lord will give you so much that you will be satisfied (victory in this life and reward in the future world). Did he not find you as an orphan and shelter you? Did he not find you caught up in error and lead you? Were you not poor, and did he not make you rich?
With these words Allah reminded him of how he had begun to show himself merciful to him and how he, through his favour, had drawn him out of his orphanhood, error and poverty.
2.03.3 -- The beginning of the obligation to pray
Muhammad was then prescribed to pray, and he prayed. At first he was taught how the prayer rituals were to be carried out in practice. Later Allah raised the number of prostrations for everyone at home to four. For those travelling, it remained as first directed.
The directive given to Muhammad, regarding how and what he should pray, came in the following manner: Gabriel came to him on the heights of Mecca, pressed one of his heels into the earth toward the valley, and a well of water came gushing up. Therein Gabriel washed himself. Muhammad observed him, seeing how he cleansed himself before prayer. He then followed his example.* Following this Gabriel prayed and Muhammad prayed the words after him. After Gabriel left him, Muhammad went to Khadija and showed her how one was to wash before prayer. He then prayed, just as Gabriel had shown him, and she prayed the same way.**
* Every Moslem must cleanse himself before each and every official prayer. The ritual washings are precisely prescribed. Whoever does not fulfill the cleansing in the correct sequence, his prayer is worthless.
The ritual washings in Islam make it clear that the Moslem has a hidden awareness of guilt and sin, and he suspects that without forgiveness of sin a prayer cannot be answered by God. However, water cannot cleanse from sin. The Islamic ritual washings remain an outer symbol, which have no inner realization.
The modern practice of five daily prayers cannot be derived from the Quran. These regulations are based upon oral traditions of Muhammad.
** Official prayer in Islam contains no free and open speaking with God the Father, in petition and intercession, praise and worship, but rather, represent a literally prescribed, stiff and ordered liturgy for the worship of the great, distant and unknown Allah. Muhammad knew no spiritual prayer. The spirit in him did not pray. The Angel Gabriel prayed before him and Muhammad repeated the words after him (Sura al-Fatiha 1:1-7).
Gabriel had prescribed to Muhammad the five daily times of prayer: The midday prayer occurred as soon as the sun began to move towards the west. The afternoon prayer began as soon as one's shadow equaled one's own height, the evening prayer when the sun set, and the last one, the night prayer, as soon as the last red of the sun had disappeared. The morning prayer was practiced as soon as the light of dawn had broken, the midday prayer was again repeated as soon as the shadow equaled his height, the afternoon prayer as soon as the shadow was twice as long as his height. The evening prayer continued as it had the previous day, when the sun set, and the night prayer, when the first third of the night was over. There again followed the morning prayer - as soon as the day broke - yet before the sun was visible on the horizon.*
* The day of a Moslem is embedded in the worship of Allah. Islamic prayer firmly attaches the Moslem to a theocentric culture. Thirty-four times a day, in his five prayer rituals, a Moslem casts himself to the ground before Allah. Therefore, he is not free, but rather delivered up to Allah - a Moslem. The five prayer times constitutes the backbone of Islam. The worshiping Moslem represents Islam incarnate.
These Islamic prayers are not spiritual, personal prayers - given in response to God's word - instead, they consist of prescribed and fixed formulations, that demand repetition, subjection and discipline. This form of legalistic worship is a prayer for slaves, not for free people who are allowed to address God as their Father.
Gabriel then said to Muhammad: “The time for prayer lies between that in which you prayed yesterday and today.”
2.03.4 -- Muhammad's cousin, Ali, becomes the first male believer
The first male person to believe in Muhammad, who prayed with him and who held his revelations to be true, was the ten year old ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib ibn Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim. Allah had granted him the mercy that even before Islam he had lived with Muhammad.*
* Ali was the cousin of Muhammad and, at the same time, his adopted son and later his son-in-law, who married Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad. He became the fourth caliph. The followers of Ali and his relatives had expected him to be elected as Muhammad's direct successor. Islam split into two camps, Sunnis and Shias, over the controversial issue regarding Ali and his two sons, Hassan and Hussein. The last group regards him as their first Imam.
It was a work of divine favour and grace toward Ali that at one time the Quraish had been afflicted by a period of great barrenness. Yet since Abu Talib had a large family, Muhammad said to his uncle al-‘Abbas, who was the richest man among the Banu Hashim: “You know that your brother, Abu Talib, has a large family and that everyone is suffering underneath this drought. Therefore let us go to him and make it easier for him, by my taking a son off him and you one.” Al-‘Abbas agreed to it. He went with Muhammad to Abu Talib. They told him they had come to bring him relief until the time of burden passed. Abu Talib responded: “If you leave ‘Aqil with me then do what you want.” Muhammad took ‘Ali and pressed him to himself; al-‘Abbas did the same with Ja‘far. In this way ‘Ali came to Muhammad. He obeyed him, believed in him, and held him to be truthful. Ja‘far, however, remained with al-‘Abbas until he converted to Islam and no longer needed his uncle.
Some scholars claim that as soon as the time for prayer came, Muhammad sought out the valleys around Mecca. ‘Ali is to have accompanied him and prayed with him, without his father or his people knowing about it. In the evening they would return together. This went on for a while until one day, during prayer, they were taken unawares by Abu Talib.* This one then asked Muhammad: “What kind of religion is that in which you believe?” He answered: “That is the religion of Allah, of his angels and of his messengers. It is the religion of our father Abraham, which Allah has sent me to the people with. You, my uncle, deserve it the most that I should instruct you and summon you to guidance. You are most worthy to follow my call and give assistance to me.” Abu Talib responded: “I cannot, my nephew, abandon the faith of my fathers. But, by Allah, as long as I live nothing shall happen to harm you.” Furthermore, so it is told, he asked ‘Ali: “What is this faith of yours, my son?” ‘Ali is to have answered: “I believe in the messenger of Allah, my father, and hold his revelation to be true. I pray with him to Allah and follow him.” It is claimed that Abu Talib thereupon replied: “For sure he will only cause you to do good, so stick to him!”
* When the number of Moslems became greater and increased beyond the borders of Muhammad's family, they met to pray in a lonesome valley. In the beginning they did not dare to practice their prayers openly.
2.03.5 -- The freed slave of Muhammad, Zaid ibn Haritha, becomes the second male to follow Islam
Afterwards Zaid ibn Haritha, the freed slave of Muhammad, converted to Islam. He was the first adult man to be converted. Hakim ibn Hizam ibn Khuwailid had brought him from Syria as a youth approaching adolescence. When his aunt Khadija - at that time already the wife of Muhammad - visited him, he gave her a slave that she herself could choose. Her choice fell to Zaid. When Muhammad saw Zaid with her, he asked her if he could have him for himself. She gave him to her spouse and he gave him freedom. In addition he adopted him as a son. This happened already before his (prophetic) sending. Later Haritha met his son Zaid with Muhammad. Muhammad said to Zaid: “If you want, remain with me, if not, then depart with your father.” Zaid chose to remain with Muhammad. When Allah sent Muhammad as prophet, he believed in him, became a Moslem, and prayed with him. Later, when Allah gave the command to: “name the adopted sons according to their fathers,” he became known as Zaid ibn Haritha.
2.03.6 -- The conversion and the zeal of Abu Bakr, the future father-in-law of Muhammad
Thereafter, Abu Bakr ibn Abi Quhafa converted to Islam, whose actual name was ‘Atiq. His father was Uthman. The actual name of Abu Bakr was Abd Allah, while “‘Atiq” was only his nickname, which he had received because of his beautiful, noble face. When Abu Bakr became a Moslem, he confessed Islam openly, and challenged others to be converted to Allah and his messenger. He was an affable, genial man and liked by everyone. He was the most learned among the Quraish and the most informed concerning the strengths and weaknesses of the Quraish ancestors. He was a benevolent merchant with good morals. The people of his tribe came frequently to him to take advice concerning their business matters, since he had broad experience in trade and in other affairs. His manner was pleasing to all. He summoned all who trusted him and sought his company to follow Islam.
Because of Abu Bakr's challenge, Uthman ibn ‘Affan was converted, as well as Zubair ibn al-Awwam, Abd al-Rahman ibn Auf, Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas and Talha ibn ‘Ubaid Allah. When they heeded his summons, he went with them to Muhammad. They confessed Islam and prayed with him. Muhammad was to have said: “Apart from Abu Bakr* I called no one to Islam who first did not have hesitation, doubt and objections. Abu Bakr was the only one who had no objections and showed no manner of hesitation.”
* Abu Bakr, the experienced merchant, is sometimes compared to Peter in his uprightness. Following the death of Muhammad, he became the rock upon which other Moslems built upon. In its critical hour, Abu Bakr held Islam together. He was a close confidant of Muhammad and one of his fathers-in-law. His daughter, Aisha, became the favorite wife of Muhammad. She was married to him for nine years. When Muhammad died, she was just 18 years old.
These eight men led the way for all other believers in Islam. They prayed and believed in Muhammad and in his divine revelation.
2.04 -- The Opposition of the Meccans (starting about 613 A.D.)
2.04.1 -- The spread of Islam among the tribal members
In the period following, more and more men and women accepted Islam. In Mecca there was much talk of the new group. Three years following his commissioning, Muhammad received the command from Allah to go public with his revelation, to acquaint the people with Islam and convert them to it. “Come forth with that what has been laid upon you and turn away from the idolators!” (Sura al-Hijr 15:94) “Speak, I am the true proclaimer.” (Sura al-Hijr 15:89) “Proclaim to your tribesmen and relatives and spread your wings above the believers that follow you…” (Sura al-Shu‘ara’ 26:214-215).
During the beginning stages of Islam, the companions of Muhammad descended into hidden ravines and concealed their prayers before their people. One day, when Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas and other companions of Muhammad were praying in one of the ravines by Mecca, there appeared several idolaters who began to beguile them and challenge them to battle with their insults. At that time Sa‘d ibn Abi Waqqas injured one of the idolaters with the jawbone of a donkey. It was the first blood to be shed in the spread of Islam.
When Muhammad came out openly with his religion, his people did not distance themselves from him and did not oppose him until he spoke about their gods and belittled them. It was then they began to deny him and show him enmity, with the exception of those Allah had preserved through Islam. These, however, were small in number and despised.
2.04.2 -- Muhammad under the protection of his uncle, Abu Talib
In this conflict Muhammad was pitied by his uncle Abu Talib and protected by him. Muhammad obeyed the command of Allah and did not let anything hold him back from proclaiming his faith. When the Quraish were forced to conclude that Muhammad was not going to relent in anything, and that he unwaveringly continued with his diatribes against their gods, and that Abu Talib was well-disposed to stand up for him and not surrender him, several of their most respected members proceeded to Abu Talib and said to him: “Your nephew, o Abu Talib, belittles our gods, speaks vilely against our faith, beguiles our youth and leads our fathers astray. Either you restrain him or you offer him up to us, since both you and we are of another opinion than he, and we will see that you get relief from him.”* Nevertheless, Abu Talib spoke kind words to them and refuted them with mild speech, until they again went away.
* The plot against Muhammad began to take on sharper contour. In its radicalism it resembled the conspiring of the Pharisees against Jesus and His disciples. It was only Abu Talib and Khadija who protected their relatives amidst all the persecutions.
In the meanwhile Muhammad continued to proclaim the belief in Allah and to summon others to Islam. The tensions between himself and the Quraish continued to grow. They avoided and hated Muhammad, spoke much about him and stirred each other to animosity against him. They once again made their way to Abu Talib and said: “You are an honoured and high-ranking man among us. We asked you once already to put a stop to the actions of your nephew against us. Yet you didn't do it. We will no longer, by Allah, tolerate him belittling our fathers, beguiling our youth or cursing our gods. Either you keep him far from us or we will fight against both of you, until either you or we perish.”
Following this they left. Abu Talib was very troubled by the division among his people. But he could not and did not want to give up Muhammad or hand him over. Abu Talib went to Muhammad and repeated to him their words and said: “Spare me and yourself and do not burden me more than I can bear!”
Muhammad thought his uncle had already reached the decision to withdraw his support and to deliver him up, since he felt too weak to protect him. Therefore he said: “By Allah, if they would set the sun to my right and the moon to my left and demand me to abandon my cause until either Allah makes it clear or I perish, I would still not give it up.” Then he cried* and stood up. When he set about to depart, his uncle held him back and said: “Go, and speak what you want. I will never, by Allah, deliver you up.”
* The gospels report that Jesus cried more than once (Luke 19:41; John 11:35). It was not because of self-pity, but because of the hard-heartedness of the people, because of the dreadful power of death and out of compassion for the people, in view of the coming judgment of God.
When the Quraish observed that Abu Talib was not going to withdraw his support from the messenger of Allah and did not want to deliver him up, but rather was more bent on breaking with them and making them his enemies, they went to him with Umara ibn al-Walid and said: “Here is Umara ibn al-Walid, the most valiant and graceful of all the Quraish youth. Take him, make use of his understanding and employ him as helper, and deliver up your nephew to us, who has been unfaithful to you and your father's faith. He has abandoned your community and beguiled the youth, so we will kill him. He, too, is just a man like every other.”
Abu Talib responded: “By Allah, you demand of me something unworthy. You want to give me your son so that I can nourish him, and I am supposed to give you my son so that you can kill him. By Allah, nothing good can ever come of that!”
Then al-Mut'im ibn Adi said: “By Allah, your tribesmen are in the right against you and are trying to spare you something unpleasant. I see, however, that none of all they are offering you is suitable to you.” Abu Talib responded: “By Allah, you are not in the right concerning me, but you appear to be resolved to abandon me and hold together with the others against me. Do what seems good to you!”
The quarrel became stronger and stronger. People armed themselves for battle and showed themselves hostile towards one another. Every tribe tried to dissuade the companions of Muhammad from their faith. Some of them were ill-treated.
Muhammad, however, was guarded by his uncle Abu Talib, who, when he saw the proceedings of the Quraish against the believers, summoned also the Banu Hashim and Muttalib to offer protection to Muhammad and to stand up for him. They followed his request and joined themselves together with him, with the exception of Abu Lahab - the despicable enemy of Allah.
* The law of the clan made the sons of Abd al-Muttalib responsible for protecting Muhammad, even when they did not believe in his mission. It was the Arabic law of the extended family that saved Islam.
2.04.3 -- The campaign of slander of the Quraish against Muhammad
On one occasion there assembled a number of Quraish beside Walid ibn al-Mughira. He was their elderly statesmen and said: “The days of festivity are approaching; the caravans of the Bedouins will come. They have already heard of Muhammad. Make, therefore, a joint resolution concerning what is to be held of Muhammad. Or shall one disprove the other and refute him? Do not get caught up in any differences of opinion, so that one does not accuse the other of lying. They then said: “You speak, father of Abd Sham. We want to approve your view.” He, however, answered them: “You speak. I want to hear you!”
They then said: “We want to say that he is a soothsayer (kahin)*.” He then responded: “No, by Allah he is no soothsayer! He mutters and does not have the rhymed speech they are practiced in.”
* Kahin: Suras al-Tur 52:29; al-Haqqa 69:42.
“Well”, they said, “then we want to pass him off as one who is possessed (majnun)*.” To this Walid responded: “He is not one possessed. He is not like those who almost choke, not whispering or speaking crazy.”
* Majnun: See Suras al-Saffat 37:36; al-Dukhan 44:14; al-Tur 52:29; al Qalam 68:2; al-Takwir 81:22).
The Quraish then thought: “Well, so we will call him a poet (sha‘ir)*”. But to that he rejoined: “He is no poet. We know poetry in all its various rhyming forms, but his words are not poetry.”
* Sha‘ir: Suras al-Saffat 37:35; al-Tur 52:30; al-Haqqa 69:42.
“Well”, they argued, “then let us say that he is a sorcerer (saahir).* Walid ibn al-Mughira responded: “He is no sorcerer. We have watched sorcerers practicing their craft. He does not whisper like they do or make knots like they do.”
* Sahir: Suras Yunus 10:2; al-Hijr 15:15; Sad 38:4 (Mashur, the passive word form of Sahir: Suras al-Isra‘ 17:50; al-Furqan 25:9; al-Dukhan 44:13; al-Takwir 81:25).
From the texts of the Quran, it can be seen that Muhammad appeared to the dwellers in Mecca to be mentally disturbed, whom they feared like they would a madman or a sorcerer.
They then asked: “Well, father of Abd Sham, what shall we say then?” He answered: “By Allah, his speech is sweet. His lineage is excellent and his branches are a garden. From all these things you cannot say a thing without it being immediately known to be false. Yet the best is still that you say he is like a sorcerer, for his speech is magic, in that it separates a man from his father, from his brother, from his wife and from his house!”
They then separated, after they had reached agreement. When the time of festivity drew near, they sat along the way in which the pilgrims passed. There they warned everyone about Muhammad and told them he was a sorcerer. They told everything they had made up about Muhammad to everyone they met. In this way all the Bedouins returned home from this festival with the knowledge of Muhammad's prophethood. They talked about him in all of Arabia.
As the news of Muhammad spread more and more among the Bedouins and passed into all provinces, they began talking about him also in Medina. No other Arabian tribe knew more about him than the Aus and Khazraj, who lived in Medina. Earlier already they had heard about him from Jewish Rabbis, who lived among them under their protection.
2.04.4 -- What Muhammad's own people did to him
The Quraish became increasingly violent as a result of the difficulties they experienced due to their animosity toward Muhammad. They incited the most rash and daring among them to turn against him. These called him a liar, mistreated him and upbraided him publicly for being a sorcerer, a poet, a soothsayer and one possessed. However, Muhammad fulfilled publicly Allah's command by loudly speaking out what they unwillingly heard. He reviled their belief, repudiated their gods, and dissociated himself from them as unbelievers.
They said: “We have never endured something similar. He calls us fools, slanders our fathers, reviles our faith, divides our people and blasphemes our gods. As a fact, we suffer heavily from him.”
Abd Allah ibn Umar ibn al-‘As related: “While they were speaking such things, Muhammad himself appeared, grasped a hold of the pillars of the sanctuary and then began to circumambulate the building, passing them by. By his face I could tell that they had insulted him. I made the same observation when he passed by them a second and a third time. Then he remained standing and said: “Hear this, you community of Quraish, by him in whose power my soul lies; I come to you with the butcher's cutting** (butchering by cutting the throat)!”
*These words contain a threat, or respectively a curse, with which Muhammad predicted the downfall of the Quraish. The intent of his words was revenge.
Jesus, too, cleansed the temple to the honour of His Father. He was not, however, zealous to restore His own honour. He did not threaten the merchants and the traders with death, but cast their money to the ground and commanded them to remove their sacrificial animals.
The people heard these words and it was for each of them as if a bird had settled down on his head. Even the worst among them now spoke to him with the most tender words, saying: “Go, Abu al-Qasim, by Allah you are no fool”, whereupon Muhammed then left them. On the following day they were again assembled in the sanctuary. I was among them and heard how one whispered to the other: “Do you remember what you did to him and he did to you, and that he gave for you to understand that which was not pleasant for you, and yet you let him go?”
While they so spoke Muhammad appeared. They set upon him as one man, encircled him and asked: “Have you truly reviled our gods and our faith?” He answered: “Yes, I did!” Then I saw how one of them grabbed him in the place where he had folded his robe. Abu Bakr came before him weeping and said: “Do you want to kill a man who calls Allah his Lord?” After that they all departed. “That was one of the meanest things they did to Muhammad.”
Umm Kulthum, the daughter of Abu Bakr, informed us of how it further went: “When my father came home that day one part of his head was bald, seeing they had torn out so much of his hair and beard.”
A learned man further made known: “One day when Muhammad went out, every man, both free and slave, called him a liar and insulted him. He again went home and covered himself up. Then Allah spoke to him: “O you that are wrapped up in your vestment, arise and make proclamation!” (Sura al-Muddathir 74:1-2)
2.04.5 -- The conversion of Hamza
Abu Jahl passed by Muhammad at Safaa, where he cursed and insulted him because of his new religion and further affairs. Muhammad did not respond with a word. A freedwoman of Abd Allah ibn Judan, who sat in their dwelling, heard everything. Abu Jahl then proceeded to the assembly of the Quraish at the Ka‘ba and sat down among the others. Not long after Hamza returned from the hunt with a bow hanging over him. He loved hunting and was a skilled hunter. It was his custom that whenever he came home from the hunt, he would not go home until he had first circled the Ka‘ba. When he came to the assembly of the Quraish, he remained standing, greeted them and then talked with them. He was one of the strongest and most powerful men among the Quraish.
When he passed by the woman (the prophet had already gone home), she said to him: “O Abu Umara, if you had seen just now how your nephew Muhammad was treated by Abu al-Hakam Ibn Hisham! This man reviled and vilified him. Then he left without Muhammad having said a word in return.”
Since Allah wanted to bless Hamza with his grace, this one fell into a rage. He passed quickly on without stopping and determined to attack Abu Jahl if he should meet him. When he came to the sanctuary he saw him sitting there with the others. He went up to him and gave him a mighty blow with his bow. Then he called out: “Will you still revile him if I come to confess his faith and make his words my own? Hit me back if you dare!” Some among the Makhzumites stood up to give Abu Jahl support. But he responded: “Leave Abu Umara in peace, for, by Allah, I wickedly offended his nephew.” Hamza continued to remain a Moslem and followed the teaching of Muhammad in all things. The Quraishites recognized that in Hamza Muhammad had gained formidable reinforcement, so that in the future they relented from some of the insults they had directed at him.*
* The Islamic community grew increasingly stronger through battle-ready, strong men, before whom everyone had respect. They gained the goodwill and respect of the people not because of their love and their willingness to sacrifice - as is reported of the first assembly of Christians (Acts 2:47; 3:11; 5:12-16), but succeeded with ever increasing battle strength.
2.04.6 -- How ‘Utba ibn Rabi‘a became convinced of Muhammad
After Hamza had converted and the number of Muhammad's followers had grown, ‘Utba ibn Rabi‘a spoke up during an assembly of the Quraish: “Should I not go to Muhammad and make him certain proposals, which he perhaps will accept and then no longer trouble us with his belief?” They gave approval that he should go and speak to Muhammad. ‘Utba rose up and went to Muhammad, who was sitting alone in the sanctuary, and said to him: “You know, my cousin, that you enjoy a respected position within our clan. Now, however, you have come with a heavy burden, with which you have divided us, mocked us as fools, blasphemed the gods, vilified the religion and accused the departed fathers of unbelief. Listen to me. I will make some suggestions to you, which you should consider. Perhaps the one or the other will be acceptable to you.” Muhammad answered: “Speak, Abu al-Walid, for I want to hear you.”
Thereby began ‘Utba: “If you purpose to gain money with your intentions, then we will together gather up so much as to make you the richest one among us. If, however, it is honour you seek, we will choose you to be our chief elder, so that without you nothing can be agreed upon. We are even willing to recognize you as our prince, if that is your desire. Should a spirit visit you that you cannot repel, then we shall procure for you a doctor and give you our goods until the time you are healed; for it is often that a spirit takes control of a man until he is healed.”*
* In this temptation Muhammad was offered money, honour, might and healing. He rejected it all and remained true to his conviction and principle.
The temptation of Jesus was different from the temptation of Muhammad in the same measure that the person of Jesus is greater than the person of Muhammad (Matthew 4:1-11). Satan himself tempted Jesus, offering Him all the wealth and riches of this world. Jesus, however, rejected this demonic offer. He did not want to win people to Himself through wealth or miracles, but to redeem them through His atoning death.
When ‘Utba had finished speaking, Muhammad responded: “If you are finished, now listen to me: “In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate. Ha, Mim. (I Have received) a revelation from the Merciful, the Compassionate One, a book divided into verse, an Arabic Quran for a people of understanding, containing both good news and warnings. Yet the majority turn away and do not hear” (Sura Fussilat 41:1-4). Muhammad then continued by reciting to him a Sura of the Quran, and ‘Utba listened carefully, supporting himself with his hands to his back. When Muhammad reached the passage: “Bow down before Allah!” (Sura Fussilat 41:37) ‘Utba prostrated himself to the ground with Muhammad. Then Muhammad said to him: “You have now heard what you have heard; now you know what you must do.”
‘Utba then returned to his friends, whereupon one said to the other: “By Allah, we can swear that ‘Utba comes with an entirely different face than he had when he left.” After he once again sat with them they asked him: “What is it you bring?” He answered: “I have, by Allah, heard words that never before came to my ears. They have nothing to do with poetry, magic or enchantment. For that reason trust me, follow me, and leave Muhammad in peace. The words I heard from him will make a great impression. If the Bedouins are hostile to him, then you will get your peace from him through others. But if he is victorious over you, then is his power also your power, his might your might, and you will be the happiest of all peoples because of him.”
They then cried out: “By Allah, he has enchanted you with his tongue!” He retorted: “This is my view. Do now what you think to be good.”
2.04.7 -- The quarrel between Muhammad and the Quraishites intensifies
Islam now began spreading in Mecca even among the families and clans of the Quraish. However, the Quraishites took many of those into custody over whom they had power and attempted to get them to renounce their faith in Islam. After sunset one day there gathered the following Quraishites at the rear wall of the Ka‘ba: ‘Utba ibn Rabi‘a, Schaiba ibn Rabi‘a, Abu Sufyan ibn Harb, al-Nadr ibn al-Harith ibn Kalada, a brother of the Banu Abd al-Dar, Abu al-Bakhtari Ibn Hisham, al-Aswad ibn al-Muttalib ibn Asad, Zama‘a ibn al-Aswad, al-Walid ibn al-Mughira, Abu Djahl Ibn Hisham, Abd Allah ibn Abi Umaiyya, al-‘As ibn Wa‘il, Nubaih and Munabbih, the sons of Hajjaj, the Sahmites, and Umaiyya ibn Khalaf. Beyond that there were also some of the noblest present from each of the tribes.
It was decided to send for Muhammad in order to dispute with him so that they would later not be held accountable because of him. When the messenger came to Muhammad who was to bring him to the noble Quraish, Muhammad followed immediately, thinking they wanted to heed his words. He summoned them to be converted, for their resistance was painful to him. After he had sat down among them, they repeated their earlier charges and made him the same suggestions that had earlier been made to him by ‘Utba. Muhammad responded: “I do not need a doctor, and neither do I seek after money, honour or power. Allah sent me as a messenger and revealed a book to me, commanding me to bring a good message and warnings to you. I have let the message of my Lord come to you and taught you faithful council. Accept that which I have brought to you, so it will be your good fortune in this and in the life to come. If you reject it, I will be patient until Allah decides between me and you.”
They then said to Muhammad: “If you do not want to accept anything of all we have offered you, then know that we have a hard life, since the lack of water affects us more than others and our valley is very narrow. Therefore pray to your Lord, who sent you, that he should remove the mountains* that hem us in, that our land might be broadened and be blessed with rivers, such as in Syria and Mesopotamia; furthermore, our deceased fathers should be made to rise. We will then ask you whether you speak the truth or lie. If they say you speak truthfully and if you do what we require of you, then we will believe you and recognize your extraordinary standing with Allah. We will then recognize you as His messenger.”
* The inhabitants of Mecca must have heard something of the words of Jesus about faith that moves mountains. Yet neither they nor Muhammad understood the spiritual significance of these words (Matthew 17:20; 21:21; Mark 11:23).
Muhammad answered: “I have told you what Allah has charged me with concerning you. If you accept it, then it is your good fortune in this life and in the life to come; if not, I will patiently wait until Allah decides between us.” They said: “So let heaven little by little fall down upon us just as, according to what you say, Allah does when it pleases him. Otherwise we will not believe you.” Muhammad responded: “That is Allah's matter. As soon as it pleases him he will do it.” They retorted: “O Muhammad, your Lord knows for sure that we sit with you here and make certain demands of you. Why doesn't he come and tell you how it is you should refute us and what he will do if we do not lend ear to you? We have heard that a man in Yamama is your teacher. His name is Rahman, but, by Allah, we will never believe in Rahman. We have done what was for us to do and we will no longer tolerate you with your endeavours, until the time either you destroy us or we destroy you. We will not believe in you until you bring down Allah and the angels to us.”*
* The conspiracy of the Meccans against Muhammad was growing. They wanted to kill him. He was unable to give them any answer that went beyond the grave.
The conspiring of the Pharisees against Jesus had advanced so far that they planned His death (Matthew 12:14; 26:4; 27:1; Mark 3:6; 15:1; John 5:16). Yet He said to them: “This adulterous generation will have no other sign given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah” (Matthew 12:39-40; 16:4; Luke 11:29). Jesus had approved of His own death and through faith in His Own resurrection turned it into victory. Muhammad could never attest to such certain words of victory, because in Islam there is no assurance of salvation. Muhammad lies dead in the grave and did not rise. Jesus, however, lives!
2.04.8 -- Abu Jahl's attempted murder of Muhammad
After Muhammad had gone away, Abu Jahl said: “You see that Muhammad will do nothing else than to vilify our faith, slander our fathers, declare us to be foolish and blaspheme our gods. Therefore, I take God as my witness, that tomorrow I will make my way to the Ka‘ba with a stone that is heavy enough that I can still carry it with one hand. When Muhammad then falls down to pray, I will smash his head with it. May you then either protect me or deliver me over to the sons of Abd Manaf, that they might do to me as they like.” Thereupon the Quraishites answered: “We will never deliver you up! Do what you want!”
The following day Abu Jahl took a heavy stone and went in waiting for Muhammad in the sanctuary. As usual he came in the morning and prayed, just as was always his custom in Mecca, with his face directed toward Syria, between the Black Stone and the southern pillar, so that the Ka‘ba was located between him and Syria. All of the Quraish were assembled to see what Abu Jahl would do. Muhammad prostrated himself and Abu Jahl stepped forward toward him with the stone. Yet when he got near Abu Jahl suddenly turned to flight. His face was entirely disfigured and full of horror. His trembling hand held the stone until he cast it away. The Quraish came to him and asked: “What is the matter?” He answered: “I wanted to carry out what I told you yesterday. Yet when I came near to Muhammad, I saw a camel between him and me with a huge head and teeth, such that I have never seen on a camel. He made as if he were going to devour me!”**
* Muhammad originally prayed in the direction of Jerusalem, as was the custom of the Jews on the Arabian Peninsula. At that time Jerusalem belonged to the Syrian Province of Byzantium.
** The supernatural protection Muhammad experienced was no merciful protection through a holy angel of God, but rather resembled an intervening demon in the form of an animal with a grotesque face.
2.04.9 -- Al-Nadr ibn al-Harith - widely travelled opponent of Muhammad
After Abu Jahl reported this, there rose up al-Nadr ibn al-Harith, who spoke: “O you Quraishites, by Allah, something has come over you that you cannot overcome with trickery. When Muhammad was young, he was loved. He was considered to be the most truthful and faithful among you, until he became older and brought upon you what you well know. Then you called him a soothsayer. But, by Allah, he is no soothsayer. He does not blow or make knots, as is the custom of sorcerers to do. Then you said he is a fortuneteller, but he is no fortuneteller. He does not make up rhymes, like you do, and he does not speak wrongly. For that you claimed that he is a poet, but he is no poet. We know the different types of verse and they do not resemble his speech. You called him possessed, but, by Allah, he does not murmur or moan or rave like one who is possessed. Therefore, consider your matter, for you have come into a difficult situation.” Al Nadr was one of the most malicious opponents of Muhammad among the Quraish, one of those who reviled and hated him. He had visited Hira, where he heard about the history of Rustems* and Isfendiars.* Since Muhammad was now in open society admonishing faith in Allah and warning his people of the punishment of Allah, which had already struck other peoples, he now began to speak and said: “I know more beautiful stories than Muhammad.” He then told them the story of the kings of Persia and of Isfendiar and Rustem. There are eight verses of the Quran that make reference to Nadr, such as the verse: “When our verses are recited to him, he says: ‘Those are fables of the ancients‘” (Sura al Qalam 68:15).
* Rustem and Isfendiar are Persian kings, whose heroic deeds are recounted again and again around the campfires of the Bedouins.
2.04.10 -- How the Quraish had the Rabbis interrogated
Since al-Nadr made the message of Muhammad implausible, the Quraish sent him, with ‘Uqba ibn Abi Mu‘ait, to the Rabbis in Medina.* They were to report to them about the speech and oddities of Muhammad, and to ask them what they thought of him, above all, since the Rabbis belonged to a people possessing a book. Beyond that, they had knowledge of the ancient Scripture writings and knew much about the prophets - information of which they had no knowledge of. They travelled to Medina and made their way to the Rabbis. In accordance with their instructions, they spoke to them about Muhammad. Their answer was: “Address three questions to him, which we will give to you. If he answers them, he is a sent prophet; if not, he is a liar. Take heed of how you proceed against him! First ask him about the men who in earlier times passed on. Amazing things are reported of them. Furthermore, ask him about the traveler who reached the utter ends of east and west of the earth. Finally ask him about the spirit. If he answers, follow him, for he is a prophet. If he gives you no answer, he is a liar.”
* In Medina, then known as Yathrib, there were parts of the city in which wealthy Jews lived. Among them there also lived respected Rabbis, who were known all over the land as scholars of the Tora and the Talmud.
Al-Nadr and ‘Uqba returned to Mecca and told the Quraish: “We have now received a possibility to clear up the entire matter,” and then told them of the words and questions of the rabbis. They then went to Muhammad and put the three questions to him. Muhammad retorted with resoluteness: “Tomorrow I will give you the answer.” He waited, however, fifteen nights without another revelation being given him. Finally the Meccans assembled together and said: “Muhammad promised to give us an answer on the following day, and now fifteen nights have passed by.” Muhammad himself was very troubled, for the revelation did not come to him and because the Meccans were taunting him. Finally Allah sent Gabriel to Muhammad. He said to Gabriel: “You stayed away long. I feared something terrible.” Gabriel answered: “We can only come down to you at the command of Allah, your Lord. He has command over what is in our hands, over what is behind us and what is between us.” He then spoke the Sura al-Kahf praising Allah and the prophethood of Muhammed, which they wanted to deny him: “Praise be to Allah, who has revealed the Book to his slave!” (Sura al-Kahf 18:1). This served as confirmation for their question regarding his prophethood. Furthermore, it is right “that He gives warning of a dire scourge from Himself,” (Sura al-Kahf 18:2a) with imminent punishment in this life and great agony in the life to come. It is also right that he “proclaim to the faithful who do good works a beautiful reward, wherein they might ever abide” (Sura al-Kahf 18:2b-3) - namely, a dwelling in eternity in which they remain immortal, to those who believe in his revelations, which others hold to be lies, and for those who perform the works commanded them. “Furthermore he is to warn those who say that Allah has taken for Himself a son” (Sura al-Kahf 18:4). By this he meant the Quraish, who worshipped the angels as the daughters of Allah. “Surely they had no knowledge of Him (Allah), even like their fathers” (Sura al-Kahf 18:5), from whom they did not separate themselves and whose religion they did not want to get slandered. Gabriel proceeded on: “You destroy yourself with grief over their behaviour, when they do not believe this revelation. But Allah says to you, you should not do so” (Sura al-Kahf 18:6).
“When men once fled into a cave and cried: ‘Lord! Give us your mercy and show us what is right to do!‘ We (Allah) then shut their ears for years in that cave. We then awakened them again to see if some could reckon the time of their stay… They were men who believed on Allah and those to whom we allowed our leading in full measure. We strengthened their heart when they rose up and said: ‘Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and earth; apart from him we worship no god, for otherwise we would speak untruth.‘ Our people have recognized other gods besides Allah. Have they convincing grounds for this? Who is a greater evildoer than the one who concocts lies about Allah! When you broke away from your gods and, above all, from that which you worshipped besides Allah, there said one to the other: ‘Flee into the cave, for Allah will spread his grace upon you and grant you relief.’ You would have been able to see the sun when it rose, inclining from your cave to the right, and, when it set, passing by to the left; whereby they found themselves in the middle. These are signs of Allah: ‘He whom Allah guides is rightly guided; but he whom he misleads shall find no man to guide him to the true path.*’” (Sura al-Kahf 18:9-17)
* Islam teaches a double predestination regarding salvation and hell (Suras al-Ra‘d 13:27; Ibrahim 14:4; al-Nahl 16:93; Fatir 35:8; al-Muddathir 74:31). A Moslem has little freedom to make his own decision. The widespread fatalism and lack of responsibility in Islam find their cause here.
Jesus, however, has called us to the freedom of the children of God, who with their own will can reject or accept the salvation prepared for them. Christ died in the place of all men and expects faith in Him as an act of thanksgiving for His being their substitute. The Christian‘s freedom to decide ennobles him to responsibility and activity.
Christian predestination finds its solution in the words of the Apostle Paul - that we have been chosen “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:4). All people have been chosen only because of Jesus, their representative. Whoever believes in Him (and lives with Him) is made righteous (Romans 10:4).
“One might have thought the men in the cave were awake, but they slept. We soon turned them to the right, soon to the left, and their dog spread out his front paws to the door” (Sura al-Kahf 18:18) …” 22 They said: ‘There were three of them, and the fourth was their dog.’ Others maintained they were five, and the dog made the sixth. Yet others said that it had been seven men and their dog the eighth. Allah knows their number, and only few know them. Do not dispute with them and ask none of them for a pronouncement upon themselves, for they have no knowledge thereof. 23 Also never say: ‘I will do that tomorrow,’ 24 without adding, ‘If Allah will’; and think on thy Lord, when you have forgotten and speak: ‘It may be that my Lord will guide me yet more into the truth.’ 25 The men remained in the cave three hundred years, and to that were added nine more” (Sura al-Kahf 18: 22-25).
In connection with their question about the traveller, it is stated: “They will ask you about the Two-Horned (Alexander the Great). Speak! I will give you an account of him: We gave him power on earth and a way to everything.” (Sura al-Kahf 18:83-85) It is reported of the Two-Horned (Dhul-Qarnain) that Allah gave him more power than any other one. All ways were made smooth for him, so that he could subjugate the entire earth, from East to West, until he reached the place where there were no more people.
A well-versed man of the Persian traditions reported to me: “The Two-Horned was an Egyptian whose name was Marzuban ibn Marzuba, a descendant of Junan, the son of Yafith ibn Nuh. His name was Iskander. He is the builder of Alexandria.”
Thaur ibn Yazid told me of Khalid ibn Madan al-Kalai, a contemporary of Muhammad: “Muhammad was once asked about the Two-Horned, and he answered: ‘It was an angel, who measured the earth with cords from below.’” Khalid further reported that one time Umar was to have heard how someone called out to the Two-Horned. To that Muhammad responded: “Allah! Forgive! Is it not enough that you call upon the prophets? Now do you want to call upon angels?”
Concerning the question about the spirit it is said: “They will ask you about the spirit,* speak - the spirit belongs to the things of my Lord; to you is but little knowledge given” (Sura al-Isra’ 17:85).
* The Spirit of God, that is the Holy Spirit, was widely unknown by the Jews in Medina and the Moslems in Mecca. The church of Christ is, however, the temple of the Holy Spirit and lives in His power (John 3:34-36; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4; Romans 5:5; 8:1-16; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19 etc.). Christians live in the power and under the leading of the Holy Spirit. A Moslem has no Holy Spirit and no eternal life indwelling him. Natural piety is not to be confused with the new spiritual birth (cf. John 3:1-8)
When Muhammad later came to Mecca, the Rabbis asked him: “Did you mean us or your people when you said: ‘To you little knowledge has been given?’” Muhammad responded: “To the one as well as to the other.” They then said: “Have you not read in your revelation that to us the Torah has been given, in which everything is explained?” Muhammad answered: “It, too, as far as the knowledge of Allah is concerned, contains but little. For you, however, it is enough when you govern yourselves by it. Regarding this objection of the Rabbis, it is stated in the Quran: “If all the trees in the earth were pens, and the sea, with seven more seas to replenish it, were ink, the writing of Allah's words could never be finished. Allah is mighty and wise” (Sura Luqman 31:27).
Regarding another demand they made, that he should implore Allah for gardens, palaces and treasures, and that Allah should send an angel to witness for him and defend him, we read: “7 How does it come about that this messenger eats and goes about in the market places. If but an angel had come down with him as a warner, 8 or if Allah had sent a treasure to him or a garden, from which he could sustain himself.” The reckless say: “The man you follow is surely bewitched! 9 See how they bestow epithets upon you and see how they have erred from the true way. 10 Blessed is he who, if he wills, can give you better things than these; palaces and gardens watered by running streams” (Sura al-Furqan 25:7-10).
“We have sent no messengers before you who did not eat or go about the market-squares. We have put some of you here to test one another, whether you will endure. Your Lord observes all” (Sura al-Furqan 25:20).
The following verses relate to the words of Abd Allah ibn Abi Umaiyyaa: “90 We will not believe in you until you make a spring gush forth before us from the earth, 91 or cause streams to flow amidst palms and vines; 92 or until you, as you prophesied, cause the sky to fall upon us in pieces, or bring down Allah and the angels in our midst, 93 or until you possess an ornamented house or ascend to heaven. But even then we will not believe you until you bring down a book to us that we can read. Speak! Glory to my Lord! I am no more than a man, a messenger” (Sura al-Isra’ 17:90-93).
As for their claim that a man from Yamama named Rahman was Muhammad's teacher, we read in the Quran: “Thus we have sent you forth to a people, just as it happened before with other peoples, that you may recite to them Our revelations. Yet they deny the Rahman*. Speak: ‘He is my Lord. There is no god but him. In him I have put my trust, and to him everything shall return” (Sura al-Ra‘d 13:30).
* Rahman is a Jemeni word and means the personification of mercy. This concept appears to have been unknown in Mecca, so that it required a defining adjective, rahim (compassionate), which can be considered a synonym. Except for one, all Suras begin with this formulation: “In the name of Allah, the Merciful (al-Rahman), the Compassionate (al-Rahim)!
In view to the money that was offered to Muhammad, we read: “Say: I demand no recompense of you. Keep it for yourselves! Allah will reward me. He is witness over all things” (Sura Saba’ 34:47).
Yet even after Muhammad answered their question and revealed his knowledge about hidden things, thus proving that he spoke the truth and really was a prophet, envy kept them back from believing in him and following him. They remained stubbornly resistant to Allah, turned from him with eyes that had been opened and persevered in their unbelief. One of them said: “Pay no heed to this Quran and talk disparagingly of it. Perhaps you will be victorious!” (Sura Fussilat 41:26)
Abu Jahl said the following one day, in mockery of Muhammad and his revelation: “O, you Quraishites! Muhammad maintains the number of servants of Allah, who will hold you firmly and torment you in hell, is nineteen. You, however, are the largest clan. Should not one hundred men of you be able to overcome one of these slaves?”
Allah then revealed: “We have made only angels* to be the lords over hell and made their number a subject of trial for the unbelievers” (Sura al-Muddathir 74:31).
* Angels are servants of God, sent to protect the Saints. They do not tempt people to sin. Muhammad, however, was not capable of distinguishing fallen angels, or demons, from true angels of God. Most likely he never encountered a glorious angel of God, but only came in contact with demons, who behaved as if they were true angels - in reality, however, they were unclean spirits.
Following these harsh encounters, the Quraishites turned away from Muhammad, no longer listening to him when he read aloud from the Quran. If, in spite of this, someone wanted to hear him while he prayed, he did this in secret, out of fear from others. If he later saw that they had observed this, he would withdraw himself from them, for he feared being mishandled by them.
Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas said: “The verse: ‘Pray neither with too loud a voice nor in silence, but seek between these extremes a middle course’ (Sura al-Isra’ 17:110), was revealed with view to these people.” He was not to pray too loudly, that the people might not turn away from him, but also not too quietly, that those who wanted to hear him without being observed could still understand, take in and apply that which was for their good.
2.04.11 -- Opposition in Mecca towards the recitation of Suras
The first one in Mecca, after Muhammad, to begin loudly reciting the Quran was Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud.* The companions of Muhammad one day assembled together and said: “By Allah, the Quraishites have still never heard the Quran recited out loud to them. Who will do it?” - “I”, answered Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud. They then said: “We fear the Quraish. We need to have a man who belongs to a tribe that will protect him if the Quraish come against him.” Abd Allah responded: “Allow me. Allah will protect me!” The next morning he went into the sanctuary just when the Quraishites were assembled together, and said with a loud voice: “In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate: al-Rahman has taught the Quran!” (Sura al-Rahman 55:2). The Quraish sat up and took notice, then said: “The son of a slave- mother recites loudly a revelation of Muhammad.” They stood up and hit him in the face. He, however, did not let himself be disconcerted, but continued reading a while before going back to his companions. They discovered traces of the blow to his face and cried out: “That is what we feared!” Bet he responded: “The enemies of Allah have never appeared more despicable to me than now. If you want, I will again recite Suras to them tomorrow.” They responded, however: “It is enough; you let them hear what it is they hate.”
* Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud was one of the most skilled writers accompanying Muhammad, who wrote down his so-called revelations.
2.04.12 -- How the Quraishites reacted to the recitations of Muhammad
As soon as Muhammad recited the Quran and exhorted the Quraishites to believe in Allah, they scornfully said: “Our heart is veiled with a covering and remains unresponsive to your admonishments. Our ears are deaf to your cleverness. We don't hear what you say. Between you and us there hangs a curtain that separates us. You act in accordance with your conviction and we will act in accordance with ours. We don't want to learn anything from you.” In response to these words, Allah revealed to him: “45 When you recite the Quran, We let fall between you and those who deny the life to come a curtain. 46 … When you make mention in the Quran of your one and only Lord, they turn their backs and run away” (Sura al-Isra’ 17:45-46). How can they grasp what you speak of the unity of Allah when I placed a veil around their heart, made their ears deaf, and let fall a curtain between you and them? “47 We know well what they want to hear when they listen to you and what they whisper to one another, and how the evil ones say: ‘The man you follow is surely bewitched.’ 48 Behold who it is with whom they compare you with, when they err and do not find the right path. 49 They mock: ‘If we are turned to bones and dust shall we be raised up again as a new creation?’ Speak: ‘You shall, be it iron or stone or any other created thing that appears great to you.’ They then ask: ‘Who will bring us again to life?’ Answer them: ‘The One who created you the first time’” (Sura al-Isra’ 17:48-51).
2.04.13 -- The battle against the companions of Muhammad
The Quraish fought against the believing companions of Muhammad. Every tribe rose up against the weak Moslems who dwelled among them. The Moslems were locked up, beaten, made to suffer hunger and thirst and were bound and put out into the sun. Some again fell away from the faith in order to escape maltreatment. Others were strengthened by Allah so that they could defy their persecutors. Bilal ibn Rabah, whose mother was named Hamama, a woman whom Abu Bakr later freed, belonged at that time to one of Jumah's sons. He was one of the true faithful. Umaiyya ibn Khalaf led him in the heat of mid-day into the valley beside Mecca, threw him on his back, laid a heavy stone upon his breast and cried out: “Just so I will let you die if you do not turn away from Muhammad and worship Lat and Uzza.” But Bilal kept crying out: “One, one!” Hisham ibn ‘Urwa told the following about his father: “While he was so being tormented there came Waraqa ibn Nawfal alongside; as he was crying out ‘one, one!‘, Waraqa said: ‘Yes, by Allah, Bilal, one, one!‘ Then he turned to Umaiyya and his helpers from the Banu Jumah and said: ‘By Allah, if you kill him, I will pray at his grave.’” One day, when they were once again maltreating him, along came Abu Bakr, whose house stood in the Banu Jumah's quarter and said to Umaiyya: “Do you not fear the punishment of Allah on account of mishandling this poor one? How long will this continue?” He answered: “You are the one who has ruined him, you free him from his misery!” - “That I will do”, answered Abu Bakr. I will give you a black slave in exchange for him, who is stronger than him and who is more steadfast in your faith.” Umaiyya consented to this. Abu Bakr gave Bilal his freedom and with him six additional slaves.* They were: Amir ibn Fuhaira, who took part in the battles of Badr and Uhud and who died as a martyr during the battle at the well of Ma‘una; then Umm Ubais and Zinnira. Zinnara lost her sight when Abu Bakr gave her her freedom. Following that the Quraish said: “Lat and Uzza were the ones to make her blind:” She cried out, however: “You lie; by the house of Allah, Lat and Uzza can neither harm nor help!” And then Allah gave her back her sight. Furthermore, he set free Nahdiyya and her daughter. They belonged to a woman of the Banu Abd al-Dar. Abu Bakr passed them when their mistress sent them off with flour and swore she would never set them free. To that Abu Bakr said: “Is that allowed?” She answered: “It is allowed; you have led them astray, now free them, too.” He then asked about the price and granted them freedom. Abu Bakr said to them that they could take the flour of the woman back. They then asked: “Should we not first complete the work and after that bring it back?” He answered: “That, too, you can do if you so desire.” He then passed a slave of the Banu Mu‘ammal , a branch of the Banu ‘Adi ibn Ka‘b, who was a believer, as well as ‘Umar, who at that time was still not a believer and who struck her repeatedly to get her to leave Islam, until he became tired. He told her it was only out of tiredness that he stopped beating her. She responded: “It was Allah who did that to you.” Abu Bakr bought her and likewise granted her freedom. Muhammad ibn Abd Allah ibn Abi ‘Atiq told me about Amir ibn Abd Allah ibn Zubair, who heard it from one of his relatives: Abu Quhafa at one time said to Abu Bakr: “my son, I see that you always buy weak slaves free. It is better to buy strong men their freedom, those who can protect and support you.” Abu Bakr responded: “In all that I do I seek the pleasure of Allah.”
* A considerable part of the followers of Islam in Mecca consisted of slaves, who in this life had no more hope. In the promises of Muhammad about the material joys of paradise, they had found a hope and, therefore, accepted Islam. Many of the believing slaves were later bought free. Thus the number of Moslems grew quickly.
The Banu Makhzum led ‘Ammar ibn Yasir along with his parents, who had converted to Islam, out onto the burning floor of Mecca in the scorching heat of midday. Muhammad then passed by. He is reported to have said: “Patience, oh house of Yasir! To you paradise has been promised.” ‘Ammar's mother was killed because she did not abandon Islam.*
* The number of martyrs of Islam grew in Mecca.
It was the evil Abu Jahl who stirred up the Quraish against the believers. Whenever he heard that a strong, respected man had converted to Islam, so he reprimanded him and shamed him in that he said to him: “You have abandoned the belief of your father, who was a better man than you. We will have you declared to be deranged and an idiot and have your reputation belittled.” If the one who had converted happened to be a merchant, he would then say to him: “By Allah, we will no longer buy your merchandise and destroy you financially.” If it happened to be someone poor or weak, so he would beat him and stir up others against him. Hakim ibn Jubair reported: “The polytheists beat the companions of Muhammad and allowed them to suffer hunger and thirst, until they could no longer sit up out of weakness and finally succumbed to the temptation and recognized Lat and Uzza as gods. They even had to worship a passing beetle as god, in order to escape their heavy punishment.”
2.05 -- The First Migration to Abyssinia (approx. 615 A.D.)
2.05.1 -- The first flight of some Moslems
When Muhammad recognized the dangerous situation his followers found themselves in, while he himself remained unharmed through the protection of Allah and his uncle, he said to them: “How would it be if you would migrate to Abyssinia?* There is a king reigning there who tolerates no injustice. It is a land in which honesty prevails, in which you can remain until Allah frees you from your present condition.”
* Muhammad, who himself was living under the clan protection of Abu Talib, advised the socially disadvantaged Moslems to migrate to Christian Abyssinia. The Christians there granted the Moslems asylum and saved Islam from extermination. Muhammad and the Moslems knew that honesty prevailed among the Christians and that injustice would not be tolerated.
Out of fear of being led into temptation and in order to save their faith, the companions of Muhammad began to migrate to Abyssinia. It was the first migration of the believers.
The entire number of migrants, not including the small children that were taken along or those born in Abyssinia, amounted to 83 persons, if Ammar ibn Yasir is also counted, albeit doubt reigns whether he accompanied the group or not.
Once the Moslems had found safety in Abyssinia and were free to worship Allah without fear, because the Negus had granted them gracious protection, Abd Allah ibn al-Harith ibn Qays composed the following verses:
Take word from me, wandering rider, to those who have their hope in Allah and in religious faith, to every servant of the Lord who is mistreated and suffers violence in Mecca: We have discovered that the land of Allah is spacious and that it offers protection from humiliation, shame and disgrace. Do not continue to endure this life of humiliation, in shame after death and in guilt, like those without assurance. We have followed the messenger of Allah; they, however, have despised the word of the prophet and have gone high in the balance scale. Punish, o Allah, the evildoers, let them not rise up and do harm unto me.
2.05.2 -- The extradition request of the Quraishites
When the Quraish got word that the companions of Muhammad had found rest and safety in Abyssinia, as well as secure places to dwell, they determined to send two capable men from among them to the Negus. They were to influence him to drive the Moslems out of his country. The messengers were Abd Allah ibn Abi Rabi‘a and Amr ibn al-‘As ibn Wa’il. They were given bountiful gifts for the Negus and the patricians.
The migrants (those seeking political asylum) explained: “When we came to Abyssinia, the Negus granted us the best protection. We were allowed to practice our faith and worship Allah in safety. No one did anything to harm us, neither did we have any kind of trouble. When the Quraishites learned of this, they determined to send two capable men to the Negus, taking along the best merchandise of Mecca with them as presents. Among the gifts the most precious was leather, with which they desired to richly reward the ruler and his leading officers. Abd Allah ibn Abi Rabi‘a and Amr ibn al-‘As were instructed to first give gifts to the patricians and only thereafter begin discussion with the Negus and give him the gifts determined for him. They then were to make a request of him to extradite the Moslems without any previous hearing.
The envoys arrived in Abyssinia, where they found the best accommodations from the most helpful of hosts. They right away gave gifts to the patricians, even before they had opportunity to talk with the Negus, saying to them: “Foolish young men have fled into the land of your king, who have abandoned the religious faith of their fathers, yet who also do not accept your religion; they have brought a new faith unknown to us and to you. That is why the most noble of our people are sending us to the king, in order to bring them back. Therefore, when we negotiate with the king in this matter, advise him to deliver them up to us without speaking to them; for your people know them well and recognize what is reproachable in them.”
Once the patricians declared to them their acceptance, the messengers gave their gifts to the Negus. After he had accepted them, they repeated before him what they had said to the patricians, asking him in the name of the most noble of their people - therein also the fathers and mothers of the migrants - to surrender them. The patricians, who were surrounding the king, consented with them and said: “Most certainly their own people know them better and are aware of where they have gone astray. Therefore surrender them up. Let them return with the envoys to their own people.” The envoys feared nothing more than that the Negus himself would speak to the Moslems.
The Negus fell into a rage and cried out: “By Allah, I will not hand over people who have come into my country and who have shown preference to my protection over all others until I have questioned them about that which the envoys maintain. If it should be determined that they speak truthfully, then I will deliver them up and send them back to their own people; if not, I will protect them and grant them the right to live here as long as it pleases them.”
2.05.3 -- The Negus questions the migrants*
A messenger was now sent to summon Muhammad's companions. After the messenger came to them, they gathered together, and one asked the other: “What will you say to the king, when you appear before him?” They answered: “We will say what we know and what the prophet commanded us - come what may.”
* This hearing of the Moslem migrants amounted to the very first public Christian - Islamic disputation.
When they came before the Negus, who had also assembled his bishops and their books around him, he asked them: “What kind of religion is it which caused you to forsake your own people and which holds you back from embracing my or any other religious faith?” Ja‘far, the son of Abu Talib, thereupon answered: “O king, we were in ignorance, worshipped other gods and ate dead animals. We committed obscenities, brought domestic discord and treated guests poorly. The strong devoured the weak, until Allah sent a messenger, one from among us, whose ancestry, love of truth, faithfulness and virtue we know. He summoned us to worship Allah alone and to turn away from stones and other idols, which we and our fathers had worshipped instead of Allah. Furthermore, he commanded us to be sincere in our words, to preserve faithfulness, to love our kinsmen and to protect the guest, to refrain from that which is forbidden, to eat no blood, commit no shameful things, not to lie, not to devour the property of orphans and to not slander virtuous women. He commanded us to worship Allah without partners, to give alms and to fast.”
After Ja‘far had listed further commandments of Islam, he continued: “We considered Muhammad to be truthful, believed in him and followed what he brought to us as divine revelation. We worship Allah alone, without partner, renounce that which he forbade us and consider allowable that which he permitted us. For that our people grew hostile to us and mistreated us. They tried to get us to recant our faith and to lead us back to the worship of idols. We should have held the old detestable things to be again allowed. When they started using violence, drove us into a corner and tried to tear us away from our faith, we migrated to your country, chose your protection above that of all others and hoped, O King, to have to bear no injustice while with you.”
The Negus went on to ask him if he should have any of this divine revelation with him.
When he answered in the affirmative, he requested him to recite it to him. Ja‘far read to him the beginning of the 19th Sura entitled Maryam (Mary). Thereupon the Negus began to weep so strongly that his beard became wet. Even the patricians moistened their books with their tears, when they heard what was recited before them. The Negus then said: “This and that which Moses has revealed springs from the same source. Go your way! I am far removed from handing you over to them.”
2.05.4 -- What the migrants told the Negus about ‘Isa
When the migrants had gone from the Negus, Amr ibn al-‘As said: “By Allah, I will tell him things about them tomorrow that will uproot their green plants.” Abd Allah ibn Abi Rabi‘a , the other messenger, said: “Don't do it; for even if they contradict us they are still our relatives.” Amr responded, however, “By Allah, I will tell the king that they hold Isa (Jesus), the son of Mary, to be a slave.”
The next morning Amr went again to the Negus and said: “O king! They hold evil discussions against Christ. Send for them and ask them what they say about him.” The Negus let them be summoned in order to question them about Christ.
“This was”, so Umm Salama was later to say, “the most dangerous thing we ever encountered. The migrants assembled together and one said to the other: ‘What is it we want to say about ‘Isa when we are questioned about him?’ They determined to say that which Allah had revealed and that which Muhammad had said of him, come what may. When they came before the Negus and he asked them what they thought about ‘Isa,* Ja‘far said: “We confess concerning him that which our prophet has revealed: ‘He is a slave of Allah, His messenger, His Spirit and his Word that He committed to Mary’'''” (Sura al-Nisa‘4:171).
* In this dangerous situation the Islamic immigrants emphasized the positive elements of the Christian faith in the Quran, were silent, however, about its denial of the divine God-sonship of Jesus and His crucifixion. Thus they appeared to the Negus as a Christian sect, but not as an anti-Christian movement (Suras Maryam 19:17-35; Al ‘Imran 3:34-59).
The Negus picked up a piece of wood from the ground and said: “Jesus, the son of Mary, does not exceed that which you have said by the length of this stick.” The patricians, who were standing around him, murmured something. But he continued on: “Go ahead and mutter!” - “By Allah,” he then said to the immigrants, “you may now depart - you are safe in my country. Whoever insults you is to be punished! Whoever insults you shall be punished!”, he repeated. “I do not want to harm you for a mountain of gold. Give the envoys their gifts back! I don't need them! I did not bribe Allah when He gave me back my kingdom; Why should I allow myself to be bribed against him? He did not even listen to the envoys. Why should I follow their will if it is against Allah?”
The envoys left ashamedly without having accomplished anything.
We remained by the Negus under the best peace and protection. While we lived in his country, an Abyssinian plotted a revolt against the Negus. This caused us great alarm. We feared the Negus could be conquered and that his opponent would not recognize our right as he had done. As the Negus set out against the rebels and only the Nile was separating the enemy armies, the companions of the prophet said: “Who will observe the battle and bring us news of its outcome?” Al-Zubair ibn al-Awwam, one of the youngest, volunteered. They were all in agreement and inflated a water skin for him. He hung it around his breast and started swimming, until he came into the region the battle was taking place. We, however, prayed to Allah, that He might grant victory to the Negus and solidify his rule.
While we were waiting to see what would happen, al-Zubair returned, waved with his garment and called: “Good news! The Negus was victorious!” Allah destroyed His enemies. By Allah, we had never experienced such a great joy as we did then.
The Negus returned victorious, for Allah had destroyed his enemies and solidified his power, so that all of Abyssinia rallied around him. For our part we had the most pleasant stay with him until we returned to Muhammad in Mecca.”
2.05.5 -- The indignation of the Abyssinians against the Negus
Ja‘far ibn Muhammad explained to me what he had heard from his father: “One day the Abyssinians gathered together and accused the Negus: ‘You have renounced our faith!’ The Negus sent to Ja‘far and his companions, prepared a ship for them, and had a message sent to them: ‘Go on board the ship, and if I am driven to flight, so you then flee to wherever you want, If I am victorious, however, then stay!’ He then wrote on a piece of paper: ‘I confess that there is no God but Allah, and that Muhammad is His slave and messenger, that Jesus is His slave* and messenger, His Spirit and His Word - that He breathed into Mary.’ He then placed these lines into the right side of his outer garment and advanced towards the Abyssinians, who had lined up in rows for the battle. He called out: ‘O you Abyssinians, do I not have the highest right to rule over you?’ They answered: ‘Yes.’ He then asked: ‘How did you find my way of life while among you?’ They answered: ‘As good as possible.’ - ‘What is it you want then?‘ - ‘You have abandoned our faith and called Jesus a slave.’ - ‘And what do you believe about Jesus?’ ‘We say, He is God's Son.’
* The belief that Jesus was only a slave of God contradicted the view of the Monophysite Copts, who at that time placed greater emphasis on the divinity of Christ than on His humanity. One sees how the controversy between Arius and Athanasius and their followers reached as far as Abyssinia. It also shows which side Mohammad and the Moslems took. Now and then Islam is considered to be an Arian sect.
The Negus laid his hand upon his breast and said: “I confess that ‘Isa, Son of Maryam, was nothing more than this.” By this he meant what was written in the writing he had laid his hand to. With these words the Abyssinians were satisfied, who then departed.
When the Negus died, Muhammad prayed the ritual burial prayer for him in Mecca, and implored Allah for grace for him.
2.06 -- TEST
- as an encouragement in future service for Christ.
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