Grace and Truth
04. THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD ACCORDING TO IBN HISHAM
3 - Growing RESISTANCE of Mecca towards Muhammad (616 to 619 A.D.)
The Growing Boycott of the Meccans -- Muhammad's Vision of his Ascent to Heaven.
3.01 -- Growing resistance of Mecca towards Muhammad -- (616 to 619 A.D.)
According to Muhammad Ibn Ishaq (died 767 A.D.) edited by Abd al-Malik Ibn Hisham (died 834 A.D.)
An edited translation from Arabic, originally by Alfred Guillaume
A selection with annotations by Abd al-Masih and Salam Falaki
3.02 -- The Growing Boycott of the Meccans (starting approx. 616 A.D.)
3.02.1 --The conversion of Umar ibn al-Khattab (approx. 616 A.D.)
When Amr ibn al-‘As and Abd Allah ibn Abi Rabi‘a returned from Abyssinia, not having accomplished the things they intended, and even Hamza and Umar ibn al-Khattab had converted to Islam - the last being a strong and powerful man, against whom no one dared to do battle - the companions of Muhammad felt strong enough to take it up with the Quraish.
Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud reported: “Until the conversion of Umar, we couldn't pray at the Ka‘ba. When Umar* converted to Islam, he began battling the Quraish, until he could pray at the Ka‘ba and we with him.” Umar's conversion took place after the emigration of the companions of Muhammad.
* Umar, who later became the second caliph, was a learned man, comparable to the Apostle Paul in his dynamic. Following the death of Muhammad, Umar and his armies carried Islam deep into North Africa and Middle Asia. He conquered Jerusalem and subjected the centres of Christendom to Islam. He was the Moslem missionary to the nations - not victorious with the word, however, but with the sword!
Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Harith (who heard it from his mother, the daughter of Abi Hathma) explained: “By Allah, we wanted to leave for Abyssinia. Amir had left to get something when Umar ibn al-Khabbab came around, who at that time was still a polytheist and who had often insulted and offended us. He remained standing before me and said: ‘So you are off, mother of Abd Allah!’ I answered: ‘Yes, we want to leave for the land of Allah until Allah helps us, for you have shown us violence and added insults.’ He replied: ‘May Allah be with you!’ and continued on. I detected a sympathy in his countenance, such as I had never seen in him before. He appeared troubled by our leaving. When Amir came back with what he had gone to get, I spoke to him: ‘You should have just now seen Umar, how he appeared so touched and saddened for our sake.’ Thereby he responded: ‘Are you hoping he will be converted?’ I answered, ‘Yes.’ He replied: ‘The one who you just now saw will not be converted before the donkeys of al-Khattab.’ He was sceptical about him being converted, since he had always found him crude and hardened toward the faith.”
Umar's conversion happened in the following manner: His sister Fatima, who was the wife of Sa‘id ibn Zaid ibn Amr ibn Nufail, had gone over to Islam along with her husband, yet secretly out of fear of Umar. Nu‘aim ibn Abd Allah al-Nahham, also, who was of the Banu ‘Adi ibn Ka‘b, had converted to Islam, yet out of fear of his clan had held his faith secretly. Khabbab ibn al-Arat came to Umar's sister to teach her the Quran. One day Umar left with a buckled sword to go and meet Muhammad, who had assembled roughly forty people around him, both men and women, in a house near Safa. Among them was also his uncle Hamza, Abu Bakr, Ali and others who had remained with him in Mecca and not emigrated.
Nu‘aim ibn Abd Allah met Umar and asked him where he wanted to go. He answered: “I want to kill the apostate Muhammad, who has divided the Quraish, declared them to be fools, reviled their faith and blasphemed their gods.” Nu‘aim then said: “By Allah, Umar, you are rushing to ruin. Do you think the sons of Abd Manaf will let you wander around the earth if you have killed Muhammad? Why don't you rather go back to your own family and order their affairs?” Umar responded: “Who do you mean by saying ‘my own family’?” Nu‘aim answered: “Your brother-in-law and cousin Sa‘id ibn Amr and your sister Fatima. They have, by Allah, gone over to Islam and follow Muhammad. Concern yourself first with them!” Thereupon Umar turned around and left for the dwelling of his brother-in-law. There Khabbab ibn al-Arat had entered with a book in which the 20th Sura, Ta-Ha* was written, which he was teaching them. When they heard the voice of Umar, Khabbab withdrew and Fatima hid the text in her garment. Yet while approaching the house, he had heard how Khabbab had been reciting to them. As soon as he entered, he said: “What kind of muttering did I hear?” They said: “You did not hear anything.”
* Some Suras begin with cryptic letters, the meaning of which remains unknown - even for Moslems. Sura Ta-Ha is one of them.
He responded: “Most definitely! I also, by Allah, have heard that you follow the faith of Muhammad.” Thereupon he struck his brother-in-law in the face, and as his sister stepped between them he also struck and wounded her. At this both of them confessed: “Yes, we have become Moslems. We believe in Allah and his messenger. Now do what you think is good!”
When Umar saw his sister bleeding, he grew remorseful and perplexed over what he had done. He said to her: “Give me the book from which I heard you reading. I want to see what Muhammad brought you.” - Umar was, in fact, literate. Fatima responded: “We fear you want to damage it.” He gave assurance, however: “Have no fear!” He then swore by his gods that he would give it back to her as soon as he had read it.
Because of these words she hoped for his conversion, and for that reason she said to him: “As a polytheist you are unclean. This Scripture can only be touched by someone clean.” Umar then stood up and washed himself. She then gave him the book in which was written the Sura Ta-ha. When he had read the beginning he cried out: “How beautiful and exalted are these words!” When Khabbab heard this, he, too, entered the room and said: “By Allah, Umar, I hope that Allah has chosen you through the prayer of his prophet. Even yesterday I heard how he prayed: ‘Allah, strengthen Islam through Abu al-Hakam ibn Hisham or through Umar ibn al-Khattab.’ Now then, Umar, turn to Allah!” Umar responded: “Lead me to Muhammad, so that I might convert before him.” Khabbab said: “He is with some companions in a house by Safa.”
Umar fastened his sword to his side and then went to the house and knocked on the door. One of the companions of Muhammad looked through the crack in the door. When he saw Umar with his sword at his side, he fearfully ran to Muhammad and reported it to him. Hamza ibn Abd al-Muttalib then said: “Let him come in. If he has something good in mind, so we will requite it to him. If he comes with evil intentions, we will behead him with his own sword.” Muhammad let him enter in, stood up and went to him in the antechamber. He took hold of him on the belt or on the collar, drew him to himself and asked: “What brings you here, Son of Khattab? By Allah, I think you will not rest until Allah sends hardship upon you.” Umar said: “Messenger of Allah, I have come to confess that I believe in Allah and in his messenger and on that which he has revealed from Allah.” Muhammad cried out: “Allah is greater!” All those assembled in the house recognized that Umar had become a Moslem.
The companions of Muhammad then departed, feeling strengthened by the conversions of Umar and Hamza. They knew these two would protect Muhammad and see that their rights were assured before their enemies.
3.02.2 -- The steadfastness of Umar in Islamic faith
Nafi‘, a freedman of Abd Allah ibn Umar, told me about Ibn Umar: “After Umar had gone over to Islam, he asked: ‘Which Quraishite knows the traditions the best?’ When he was told about Jamil ibn Ma‘mar al-Jumahi, he went to him that morning and ‘I,’ so added Ibn Umar, ‘followed him in order to see what he would do. I was a boy who well understood what he saw. When he came to Jamil, he said: “Do you know that I have become a Moslem and follow the faith of Muhammad?” Jamil gave no answer, but closed up his outer garment and went to the sanctuary where the Quraishites were assembled. I was following him with my father. Here he called out with a loud voice: ‘The son of al-Khattab has become an apostate!’ Umar called out after him, however: ‘He is lying. I have become a Moslem and confess that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is his slave and messenger.’”
The Quraish fell upon him and wound up fighting each other until the sun stood vertical above their heads. Umar then grew weary and sat down. The Quraish gathered around him and he said: ‘Do what seems good to you, but, by Allah, if we were three hundred men strong we would fight so long until either you or we would have to leave the place.’ While they were so quarrelling there came up an older Quraish wearing an outer garment of cloth from Yemen and a colourful undergarment. While he stood before them, he asked what was going on. Someone answered him that Umar had become apostate. Thereupon he said: ‘Then leave him alone! He has chosen a faith for himself, so what more do you want? Do you perhaps think that the Banu ‘Adi ibn Ka‘b will deliver up their enemy to you?’ And, by Allah, they were like a garment that had been taken off him.
Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Harith reported to me about a wife or from someone else from the family of Umar. Umar is to have said: “In the night of my conversion I was contemplating who it could be that was the bitterest enemy of Muhammad. I determined to go to him and tell him I had become a Moslem. I discovered it was Abu Jahl and so went the following morning to his house and knocked on the door.
Abu Jahl came out and cried: ‘Welcome, my nephew! What brings you here?’ I answered: ‘I have come to tell you that I have become a Moslem, that I believe in Allah and in Muhammad, his messenger, and that I consider his revelation to be true.’ He then slammed the door in front of my face and said: ‘May Allah shame you and your message!’”
3.02.3 -- In the ravine of Abu Talib
When the Quraish saw that the companions of Muhammad had found rest, safety and protection with the Negus, that Umar had gone over to Islam and that Hamza, too, was holding to Muhammad - and that Islam was gradually spreading among many tribes, they came together and determined to draft up a document in which they obligated themselves to enter into no marriage with the Banu Hashim and to do no trade with them. This agreement was posted inside the Ka‘ba to strengthen their covenant.
Thereupon the Banu Hashim and Muttalib retreated into the ravine of Abu Talib. Only Abu Lahab ibn Abd al-‘Uzza ibn Abd al-Muttalib separated himself from the sons of Hashim and supported the Quraish. Husain ibn Abd Allah explained: “When Abu Lahab abandoned his clan and became a companion of the Quraish, he encountered Hind, the daughter of ‘Utba ibn Rabi‘a, and said to her: ‘Now, daughter of ‘Utba, have I not assisted Lat and Uzza and have I not renounced those who have opposed you?’ She answered: ‘Surely, father of ‘Utba, Allah will reward you.’ Furthermore, Abu Lahab was to have said, among other things: ‘Muhammad promises things after death and the existence of them in which, it seems to me, even he does not believe. What will he give into my hand?’ He then blew into his hands and said: ‘May you come to ruin! I don‘t see anything of that which Muhammad speaks of.’ Allah then revealed: ‘May both hands of Abu Lahab perish!’” (Sura al-Masad 111:1)
For two or three years the Moslems lived in this ravine in great distress, for their friends among the Quraish could only provide for them secretly. Once, Abu Jahl encountered Hakim ibn Hizam ibn Khuwailid and his servant, who was carrying grain. Hakim wanted to bring it to his aunt Khadija, the daughter of Khuwailid, who together with Muhammad, her husband, was living in the ravine. Abu Jahl held him tightly and cried out: “Do you want to bring sustenance to the sons of Hashim? By Allah, you and your food, you‘re not to go a step further; you are rather to follow me to Mecca where I will make a disgrace of you both.”
Abu al-Bakhtari ibn Hashim then came up and asked: “What do you have there?” Abu Jahl responded: “He wants to bring the Banu Hashim food.” Abu al-Bakhtari then said: “That is food that his aunt was keeping with him and that she now wanted it back. Do you want to hinder him from bringing her back her own food? Leave the man in peace!” Abu Jahl refused, however, so that it came to blows. Abu al-Bakhtari took up a jawbone of a camel and injured Abu Jahl with it. Furthermore, he gave him some powerful kicks with his foot. Hamza, who was standing nearby, observed everything. This bothered the two who were fighting, for Muhammad could hear of it and take some real pleasure in it.
3.02.4 -- The uncle of Muhammad, Abu Lahab, and his wife, Umm Jamil
While Allah was protecting Muhammad from the Quraish, and the Banu Hashim, the Banu Muttalib and his uncle, too, were hindering them from doing him harm, the Quraish continued to malign and show hostility to him. So revelations began to appear in the Quran against the Quraish and against those who particularly were coming against Muhammad. A part of them was mentioned by name and the other part was included among the entirety of unbelievers. To the first part there belonged Abu Lahab, the uncle of Muhammad, and his wife Umm Jamil, the daughter of Harb, the “carrier of wood”. She got this name because she would lay thorny wood onto the path of Muhammad. Therefore it is said in the Quran: “1 May the hands of Abu Lahab wither! May he himself wither! 2 Nothing shall his wealth and gains avail him. 3 He shall be burned in a raging fire 4 and his wife, the carrier of wood, 5 shall have a rope of palm fibre around her neck!”* (Sura al-Masad 111:1-5).
* Muhammad's Sura of cursing and revenge toward his Uncle Lahab and his wife is an example of the spirit in Islam, which does not bless, but curses enemies, which does not love, but hates adversaries (Sura al-Masad 111:1-5).
Jesus taught just the opposite: “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:35).
When Umm Jamil became aware of the revelation concerning her and her husband, she is reported to have gone to Muhammad with a big stone in her hand, who was sitting with Abu Bakr by the Ka‘ba. While she stood before them, Allah blinded her so that she could not see Muhammad. She asked Abu Bakr: “Where is your friend? I have heard he criticized me. By Allah, if I meet him I will hit him with this stone in the mouth!”
When she had gone away, Abu Bakr said to Muhammad: “Do you think she saw you?” Muhammad responded: “She did not see me: Allah made me invisible for her.”
3.02.5 -- The prohibition of mocking the gods
One time, so it was told to me, Abu Jahl encountered the messenger of Allah and said to him: “Stop once and for all reviling our gods, or we will revile the god you worship.” Then Allah revealed: “Do not revile the idols which they invoke besides Allah, lest in their ignorance they should spitefully revile Allah” (Sura al-An‘am 6:108). Muhammad immediately stopped reviling their gods, summoned everyone, however, to believe in Allah.*
* Here we encounter the diplomatic cleverness of Muhammad. He concealed the negative side of the truth in order to be able to spread the positive side of his message unhindered.
3.02.6 -- Those who will be fuel in hell
Whenever Muhammad began to recite the Quran in an assembly and to summon the Quraish to believe in Allah, warning them of the fate of previous nations, it would always come about that Al-Nadr ibn al-Harith would begin telling them about the strong Rustem and of Isfendiar, the kings of the Persians. He then added: “By Allah, the stories of Muhammed are not lovelier than those from me. They, too, are copied from old books just as mine are.”
Allah then revealed: “5 They purport that it was fables of the ancients that he has copied so that they were dictated to him morning and evening. 6 Say: He who knows the secrets of heaven and earth revealed it to him. He is forgiving and merciful‘” (Sura al-Furqan 25:5-6). “7 Woe to every lying sinner, 8 He hears the verses of Allah recited to him and then haughtily persists (in his rejection), as though he never heard them. Proclaim to him a painful torture!” (Sura al-Jathiya 45:7-8). “151 Isn't it that in their lying they say: 152 ‘Allah gave birth (to offspring)!’ And surely they are liars.”* (Sura al-Saffat 37:151-152)
* The theological struggle of Moslems with Christians continually intensified during the course of Muhammad‘s growing rejection of polytheism. He described the Christians as liars, because they believed in the Son of God. Later he cursed them in his rage (Suras Al ‘Imran 3:61; al-Tawba 9:29-30).
One day, Muhammad was sitting with Walid ibn al-Mughira and other Quraish in the area of the Ka‘ba. Al-Nadr ibn al-Harith came up and sat down with them. Muhammad spoke for a while and al-Nadr contradicted him. Muhammad finally brought him to silence and recited the following Quran verse: “98 Truly, you and all that you worship instead of Allah are the fuel of hell; and you are going down into it. 99 If these were gods, they would not go down into it and all will eternally remain in it. 100 In it for them there is groaning with pain and they are bereft of hearing in it” (Sura al-Anbiya’ 21:98-100).
When Muhammad had barely risen, there came Abd Allah ibn al-Ziba‘ri, the Sahmite, and sat down among the others. Al-Walid ibn al-Mughira then said to him: “Al-Nadr had hardly been sitting among us but that Muhammad had claimed we and all we worship besides Allah will be fuel for hell.” Abd Allah then replied: “By Allah, if I meet him I will dispute with him. Ask him if really everything that is worshipped apart from Allah shall come to hell, including he that worshipped it. We worship the angels, the Jews Ezra* and the Christians Jesus.” The talk of Abd Allah pleased al-Walid and the others. They were glad he had brought proof against what Muhammad had maintained. When Muhammad got word of what Abd Allah had said, he answered: “Only those who wanted to be worshipped besides Allah will be burned, together with those who worshipped them.”** The Quraish worship Satans (Tawagit) and idols, who want to be worshipped by them.” At that time Allah revealed to him: “101 Truly, those to whom We have already shown favour shall be far removed from it (hell). 101 They shall not hear its roar, rather they shall delight forever in what their souls desire” (Sura al-Anbiya’ 21:101-102) - for example, Jesus, Ezra, the rabbis and the priests, who died in obedience to Allah.
* The Jews sometimes honoured Ezra so highly that outsiders misunderstood this as worship.
** The worship of Christ (Revelation 5:12) represents an abomination for Moslems. According to the Islamic understanding, the threatened punishment in the eternal fire of hell also includes Christians who worship Jesus.
Concerning the assertion that they worship angels, who are the daughters of Allah, the revelation came: “26 They say, ‘The All-Merciful has adopted an offspring.’ Glory be to him! Nay, they are but slaves to whom he has been benevolent. 27 They do not speak before He speaks and they act by His command” (Sura al-Anbiya’ 21:26-27).
In regard to Jesus there came the answer: “59 Truly he is nothing but a slave, whom we favoured and we made him an example to the sons of Israel ... 61 Truly he is knowledge of the hour (of the coming judgment), (saying:) ‘Doubt not concerning it, and follow me. This is a straight path’” (Sura al-Zukhruf 43:59 and 61). The miracles that I accomplished through him, like the resurrecting of the dead and the healing of the sick, are sufficient proof for the hour.* Therefore do not doubt!
* Christ and His miracles are counted in Islam as signs of the coming judgment of Allah!
3.02.7 -- Concerning the resurrection of the dead
Ubayy ibn Khalaf and Uqba ibn Abi Muit were close friends. One day Ubayy heard that Uqba had sat down with Muhammad and listened to him. Therefore he went to him and said: “I have heard that you went looking for Muhammad and listened to him. If this is true then I swear that I no longer want to see you and will no longer speak to you until you go to him and spit in his face.” Uqba - may Allah curse him! - the enemy of Allah, did this. Thereupon the exalted Allah revealed: “And on that day the evildoer shall bite his hands, saying, ‘Would that I had taken the way with the messenger!” (Sura al-Furqan 25:27).
One time Ubayy went with an old bone to Muhammad and asked him if he really believed this bone would be raised. He crumbled it with his hand and blew the dust into the wind. Muhammad answered: Indeed this bone and you yourself - when you shall be in the same condition - Allah will raise you up and bring you to hell”*
* See Sura Ya-Sin 36:78.
3.02.8 -- The dispute between Muhammad and the Quraishite idol worshipers
While Muhammad was circumambulating the Ka‘ba one day, al-Aswad ibn al-Muttalib, Walid ibn al-Mughira, Umaiyya ibn Khalaf and al ‘As ibn Wa’il - respected men among the Quraish - placed themselves in his way and said: “All right, Muhammad, we want to worship your God. Therefore you worship our gods, too, so that we can all pray together. If that which you worship is better, then we will have our portion therein. If that which we worship is better, then you, too, will have a portion thereof. Allah then revealed: “1 Say: ‘O you Unbelievers, 2 I do not worship what you worship ... ’” (Sura al Kafirun 109:1-2).
3.02.9 -- The tree Zaqqum in hell
As the tree Zaqqum was being discussed in the Quran, in order to threaten the unbelievers, Abu Jahl said: “O Quraish, do you know what the Zaqqum Tree is, with which Muhammad is threatening you? They are the dates of Medina with butter. By Allah, if we could get such Zaqqum we will surely enjoy their taste.” Allah then revealed: “43 Lo, the tree of Zakkoum 44 is the food of the guilty, 45 like molten copper, boiling in the belly 46 as boiling water bubbles” (Sura al-Dukhan 44:43-46).* The assertion of Abu Jahl is false.
* Contrast with Suras al-Saffat 37:62 and al-Waqi‘a 56:52.
3.02.10 -- Regarding Ibn Umm Maktum - the blind
On one occasion, when Muhammad was trying to win Walid Ibn-al-Mughira for Islam in a conversation, the blind Ibn Umm Maktum came by. He, too, spoke to Muhammad, and asked him to recite from the Quran. For Muhammad, however, the questions of the blind man were annoying, for he preferred to be occupied with Walid, whose conversion he ardently longed for. When the blind man wanted to hear still more from him, Muhammad indignantly turned away from him and left him standing.*
* Jesus, on the other hand, left the masses standing, turned toward the blind and opened his eyes through His omnipotent word (Mark 10:46-52). Muhammad had no power to heal. He sought to win the strong for himself and for Islam, but not the weak and the sick. He left the blind man standing in order to continue speaking with the influential. Jesus, however, came on purpose to the poor, the miserable, the sick, the weak and the sinners in order to help them. (Matthew 11:25-30).
In Sura ‘Abasa 80:1-11 we read that Muhammad was reprimanded because of his behaviour toward the blind!
3.02.11 -- On those who returned from Abyssinia
The companions of Muhammad that had gone to Abyssinia once heard the rumour that the Meccans had converted to Islam. Therefore they set out to return. Only as they came into the vicinity of Mecca did they hear that it had been a false rumour. For that reason they could only secretly enter Mecca. Some of them remained in the city until the emigration of Muhammad to Medina and fought at his side at Badr and Uhud. Others were held back, so that Badr and other battles eluded them. Still others died in Mecca. In all it was 33 men who returned from Abyssinia.*
* Ibn Hisham concealed the fact that Muhammad, during a time the boycott of the Meccans was intensifying, had a weak moment, wherein he recognized, in addition to Allah, Lat, Uzza and Manat as female deities -even legitimizing their existence through a divine revelation (Suras al-Najm 53:19-21 and al-Hajj 22:52-53). Later Muhammad rejected these verses as a whispering of Satan. The Satanic Verses, however, remain a part of the Quran to this day.
When the asylum seekers in Abyssinia heard that Muhammad had permitted a limited polytheism, they broke off their stay in the foreign country, wanting to return to Mecca. Yet when they arrived home Muhammad had already retracted the compromise with his enemies as a false revelation. He had not been able to discern the whispering of Satan from the voice of the true God. This statement of Muhammad lays open the question whether yet other verses in the Quran are also of satanic origin.
3.02.12 -- Regarding the courage of Uthman
Salih ibn Ibrahim ibn Abd al-Rahman ibn Auf reported to me something which he heard from someone whom Uthman himself had told: “Uthman ibn Maz‘un saw how the companions of Muhammad suffered, while he himself, under the protection of Walid, could go out whenever he wanted. He then said: ‘By Allah, it pains my heart that I live under the protection of an idol worshiper, while my comrades and companions in the faith suffer all sorts of troubles and wrongs because of their belief in Allah.’ Therefore, he went to Walid and said: ‘Your protection has proven itself. Yet in the future I give up all claim to it.’ Al-Walid asked: ‘Why that, my nephew? Did someone from my clan belittle you?’ He answered: ‘No, but I am satisfied with the protection of Allah and am in need of no further protection.’ To that Walid responded: ‘Then go with me to the Ka‘ba and openly renounce yourself from my protection, such as I have openly bestowed upon you.’ Following that they went to the sanctuary and Walid said: ‘Uthman has come to renounce the protection I have given him.’ Uthman added: ‘It is true. I have found him to be a faithful and noble protector, but I want to have no further protector besides Allah. Therefore I release him from his obligation.‘”
One day Labid ibn Rabi‘a ibn Malik ibn Ja‘far ibn Kilab recited some verses in the company of some Quraishites. When he said: “Everything is vain except for Allah,” Uthman, who was also present, added: ‘You have spoken truthfully!’ Labid continued on: ‘Everything pleasant must end some day!’ Uthman retorted: ‘You lie. The pleasantries of paradise will never end!’ Labid then said: ‘O, you Quraishites! By Allah, no one from your company has been offended until now. Since when has this sort of thing been happening?’ One of those present answered: ‘Don‘t take it to heart what this man says. He is one of the fools that has renounced our faith.’ For Uthman's part he also did not want to remain silent, until it came to an argument and the man struck him on the eye, so that it became green and blue. When Walid saw this, who was nearby, he remarked: ‘By Allah, my nephew, your eye could have been spared. Until now you have lived under my protection.’ Uthman responded: ‘No, by Allah, my other eye longs for the same thing that befell this eye in the service of Allah. I am under the protection of the one who is stronger and mightier than you, father of Abd Shams.’ Walid said: ‘Well now, my nephew, if you want I will again put you under my protection.’ Uthman, however, wanted to know no more of it.
3.02.13 -- Of Abu Satama and his protection
Abu Ishaq ibn Yasar told me about Salama ibn Umar ibn Abi Salama: “When Abu Salama placed himself under the protection of Abu Talib, there went some men from the Banu Makhzum to Abu Talib and spoke: ‘You have already come to your brother's son's protection against us. Why do you need to protect yet another one of us?’ Abu Talib answered: ‘He has placed himself under my protection and is the son of my sister. If I do not protect the son of my sister then neither could I protect the son of my brother.’ Abu Lahab then stood up and said: ‘By Allah, you have already done a lot to this old man. You continually attack him because he grants protection to those from his clan. Either leave him in peace or let us all hold to him until he reaches his goal.’ They responded: ‘We want to do no more that displeases you, Father of ‘Utba.’ This same man was their friend and support against Muhammad, and it remained that way.”
3.02.14 -- Regarding Abu Bakr
Just as Muhammad ibn Muslim had told me, who heard it from Aisha, Abu Bakr, the truthful, asked Muhammad for permission to emigrate, at the time when he was subject to many insults in Mecca and when the Quraish had allied themselves against Muhammad and his companions. Muhammad permitted it, and he departed. However, when he had travelled a day or two‘s journey he encountered Ibn al-Dughunna, a brother of Banu al-Harith ibn Abd Manat ibn Kinana, who at that time was lord of the Ahabish. This man asked Abu Bakr where he wanted to go. He answered: “My people have driven me away in that they have insulted and oppressed me.” - “And why that?” asked Ibn al-Dughunna, “are you not the ornament of the tribe, a helper in cases of misfortune? You are benevolent and bring back that which is lost. Turn around, for I will protect you!” Abu Bakr returned with him to Mecca, and Ibn al-Dughunna explained to the Quraishites that he would protect Abu Bakr and that no one was to harm him. From then on they left him alone.
Aisha further said that Abu Bakr had a place to pray in front of the door to his dwelling, among the Banu Diumah. He was an emotional man who could move others to tears with his recitations from the Quran. Young people, slaves and women all remained standing and admired him. For that reason some of the Quraish went to Ibn al-Dughunna and complained: “Have you given this man protection so that he can harm us? When he prays and recites the Quran, he is deeply moved. Furthermore, he is a man of striking appearance, so that we fear he will lead our women, children and weak ones astray. Go to him and command him to withdraw into his house. There he can do whatever he wants.”
So Ibn al-Dughunna went to Abu Bakr and said: “I did not offer you my protection so that you can vex your people. They feel molested, because you pray before your house. Therefore draw back into your own house and do what you want!” Abu Bakr responded: “Or I will renounce your protection and satisfy myself with the protection of Allah.” - “Now then,” responded Ibn al-Dughunna, “now confirm this to me.” Whereupon Abu Bakr then said: “I release you from your duty to provide protection.” Ibn al-Dughunna then showed this to the Quraish and left it up to them what they wanted to undertake against Abu Bakr.
3.02.15 -- How the ban of the Banu Hashim and Muttalib was lifted (approx. 619 A.D.)
The Banu Hashim and Muttalib had withdrawn into the ravine, after the Quraish had banned them. Some from the Quraish came together, however, to again see the ban lifted. The most zealous was Hisham ibn Amr ibn Rabi‘a, who was a nephew of Nadhla Ibn Hashim on his mother's side. For that reason he felt drawn to the Banu Hashim. He also enjoyed a very good reputation among his people. As I heard it, he came one night to the entry of the ravine in which the Banu Hashim and Muttalib were dwelling. He had a camel with him loaded with food whose bridle he then removed and, with a whack, drove him into the ravine. Another time he loaded the camel with clothes and did the same thing. Hisham went to Zuhair ibn Abi Umaiyya, whose mother, Atika, was a daughter of Abd al-Muttalib, and said: “Do you like it that you can eat, clothe yourself and contract marriages as you please, while your maternal uncles, as you well know, cannot buy, sell or contract marriages? By Allah, if they were the uncles of Abi al-Hakam ibn Hisham and you had desired from him what he expected of you, he would never have yielded to you.” Zuhair responded: “Woe to you, Hisham! What can I do alone? If I could find someone else I would try and repeal the ban.” Hisham responded: “In me you have found a second man!” Zuhair then said: “Search yet for a third!” Hisham went to Mut‘im ibn Adi and spoke: “Is it right with you that two clans of the sons of Abd Manaf perish before your own eyes? In this matter are you of the same mind as the Quraish? By Allah, if you grant them this you will soon see what they are able to undertake against you.” Mut‘im responded: “What should I do? I am only one man.” To that Hisham retorted: “I have found a second.” - “Who?” - “I myself.” - “So search now for a third!” - “That has already happened!” - “Who is it?” - “Zuhair ibn Abi Umaiyya.” - “So look now for a fourth!” Hisham went to Abu al-Bakhtari and said to him the same thing he did to Mut‘im. That one then asked: “Will there be anyone to support me in this matter?” Hisham told him about Zuhair and himself. The man then responded: “Search still for a fifth!” Hisham then went to Zama ibn al-Aswad and spoke with him about the kinfolk and the rights of those under the ban. Zama asked: “Who is in agreement with that which you suggest to me?” Hisham told him of the others and they arranged to meet together by night at the projecting part of Hajun, one of the heights beside Mecca. There they placed themselves under mutual obligation to muster up everything in order to repeal the ban. Zuhair volunteered himself to make the request.
On the following morning as the Quraish, as usual, met together, there appeared Zuhair in a broad garment and circled the Ka‘ba seven times. He then turned toward those gathered together: “You dwellers of Mecca, is it right that we nourish and clothe ourselves well, while the Banu Hashim perish and we avoid all contact with them? By Allah, I will not rest until this unjust agreement - that divides our tribe - is torn apart.”
Abu Jahl, who was sitting on the one side of the sanctuary, responded: “You lie. The ban will not be lifted.” Zama ibn al-Aswad then said: “You are, by Allah, a great liar. We were not in agreement when this agreement was drawn up.” Abu al-Bakhtari retorted: “Zama is right, we are not in agreement with this and do not support the ban.” To that al-Mut‘im added: “You two have spoken the truth. Whoever says anything different has lied. Before Allah we renounce this ban and from all that is in the document.”
While Hisham was supporting this, Abu Jahl shouted: “The affair was transacted in the night, when consultation was taking place elsewhere.” At that al Mut‘im stood up to tear up the paper, but the worm had already gnawed it to pieces. The only words still readable were “in Your name, Allah”. The writer of the document was Mansur ibn ‘Ikrima, whose hand, so it is maintained, later shrivelled up.
3.02.16 -- How Muhammad converted Rukana
Abu Ishaq ibn Yasar told me: “Rukana ibn Abd Jazid, the strongest man among the Quraish, found himself one day alone with Muhammad in a ravine by Mecca. Muhammad spoke: ‘Do you not fear Allah, Rukana, and follow my call?’ He answered: ‘If I knew that you speak the truth I would follow you.’ Muhammad responded: ‘If I throw you to the ground will you believe that I speak the truth?’ - ‘Yes.’ - ‘So stand up and let us wrestle together!’ Rukana stood up to wrestle with Muhammad. Muhammad hit him with a blow so that he fell helplessly to the ground. Rukana wanted to take up the fight again but once again Muhammad threw him to the ground. Rukana then said: ‘By Allah, that is amazing. How can you throw me to the ground?’ Muhammad responded: ‘If you fear Allah and accept my faith I will show you yet a greater wonder.’ - ‘Which is?’ - ‘I will call out to the tree you see over there and it will come to me.’ At Rukana's insistence Muhammad called to the tree and it came and remained standing before him, until he commanded it to return to its place, which it then did. Rukana returned to his people and said: ‘O you sons of Abd Manaf, with your friend you can enchant all the dwellers of earth, for, by Allah, I have never seen a greater sorcerer.’ He then told them what Muhammad had done and what he had seen.”*
* If this story should be true, it then raises the question whether Muhammad was not ultimately a sorcerer, with demonic power at his disposal.
3.02.17 -- The Arrival of a Christian deputation from Abyssinia
While Muhammad was still in Mecca, there came to him about twenty Christians, after they had heard reports about him in Abyssinia. They found him in the place of prayer, sat down beside him, spoke to him and asked him questions - all the while the men of the Quraish stood at their meeting place by the Ka‘ba. After they had asked the messenger of Allah all they wanted to know from him, he called them to submission to Allah and recited before them some texts from the Quran. When they heard the Quran their eyes became wet with tears. They immediately accepted Allah, believed on him, trusted his reality and experienced what was written of him in their book. They had barely left Muhammad when Abu Jahl ibn Hisham, with some men from the Quraish, came up to them to bar their way and said: “May God thwart your delegation! The people of your religion, to whom you belong, have sent you that you might bring to them news of this man (Muhammad). You, however, sat yourselves to him and immediately abandoned your religion, without ever getting to know him. A dumber delegation than this we have never seen!”
Others said: “The delegation came from the Wadi Najran (in North Yemen). God only knows who it was in reality!” In regard to this delegation the following verses were sent down: “52 Those to whom we have caused the Book to be brought prior to him, are those, who believe in it. 53 When it was recited to them they said: ‘We have believed in it. It is the truth from our Lord. Prior to him we had already been surrendered (i.e. Muslims).*’” (Sura al-Qasas 28:52-53).
* The missionary activity of the Islamic asylum seekers in Abyssinia had after-effects. Some Christians wanted to examine Islam and visited Muhammad in order to become acquainted with him. There will always be good-natured and superficial Christians who understand religious half-truths and impressive forms of piety as the foundation of a true faith. The Gospel, however, teaches us that even the deepest religiosity cannot save a person. The blood of the crucified Son of God alone produces a righteousness that counts before God (cf. Romans 1:17). All other religions open no way to God. They remain caught up in the error of self-redemption and legality.
3.02.18 -- “Should Allah have pardoned men such as these ...?”
One time Muhammad was sitting beside the Ka‘ba, surrounded by some of the least esteemed of his companions - among others, Khabbab, Ammar, Abu Fukaiha Yasar, a freedman of Safwan ibn Umaiyya ibn Muharrith and Suhaib. The Quraish began speaking cynically among themselves: “Those are his companions, just as you see. Should it be that Allah has pardoned just such men as these among us through guidance and knowledge of the truth? If in truth there was something good in Muhammad's revelation, these men would not have preceded us. Allah would not have given them distinction before us.”
So Allah revealed: “Do not drive away those that call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking only to gain His favour … If you drive them away, you shall yourself become an evildoer.” (Sura al-An‘am 6:52).
3.02.19 -- Muhammad and Jabr - the Christian
As it was reported to me, Muhammad often sat by Marwa (in the vicinity of Mecca), in front of the hut of a young Christian named Jabr,* who was a slave of the Banu al-Hadrami. Therefore it is said that Jabr taught Muhammad much of what he later revealed. There then appeared the Quran verse: “We know that they say: ‘A human being taught him.’ But the language of him, concerning whom they blaspheme, is a foreign language, while this is eloquent Arabic speech.” (Sura al-Nahl 16:103).
* The slave Jabr is one of the Christians known by name who Muhammad sat with for hours in a shop of mixed wares, in order to enquire and receive teaching from him about the Gospel. The Meccans, who were ill-disposed toward Muhammad, mocked and called Jabr the “Holy Spirit” of Muhammad, who inspires him, and from whom he receives a part of his revelations.
3.02.20 -- How Sura al-Kawthar was revealed
As it was reported to me, al-‘As ibn Wa’il, the Sahmite, said the following when the talk was of Muhammad: “Leave him alone! He has no descendants! In a few years all remembrance of him will have vanished and you will have rest before him.” Thereafter Allah revealed: “We have given you al-Kawthar”* (Sura al-Kawthar 108:1), which is better than this earth and all that is on it.
* Al-Kawthar means “the great, the exalted and abundant”. Al-Kawthar is also the name of a river in paradise that is said to have numerous tributaries. Its water tastes sweet like honey and its riverbed is inlaid with precious stones.
3.03 -- Muhammad's Vision of his Ascent to Heaven (approx. 619 A.D.)
3.03.1 -- Muhammad's night-time journey and vision of an ascension to heaven
Islam had already begun to spread out among the Quraishites and other clans of Mecca when Muhammad was carried from the place of worship in Mecca to the temple in Jerusalem. Regarding this journey there are traditions from Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud, from Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri, from Aisha, the wife of Muhammad, from Mu‘awiya ibn Abi Sufyan, from Hassan ibn Abi al-Hassan al-Basri, from Ibn Schihab al-Zuhri, from Qatada, from other bearers of tradition and from Umm Hani, the daughter of Abu Talib. We have summarized here what the different men and women reported about it.
This journey represented a temptation and testing of Moslems at the command of Allah, the Exalted and the Mighty. It signified an instruction for those who understand, a guidance, grace and confirmation for believers. Allah's command was rendered. Muhammad needed to ascend so that Allah could “show him his wonders” (Sura al-Isra’ 17:1) as much as he wanted, so that Muhammad might have a glance of his power and dominion, by which he does whatever he wills.
Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud explains: “Muhammad was brought to Buraq*, the amazing animal that had already carried prophets before him, whose every step of hoof brought him so far as the eye could see. His friend (Gabriel) helped him mount and accompanied him. Muhammad saw the wonders between heaven and earth. He finally came to Jerusalem. Here he encountered Abraham, Moses, Christ and other prophets, who assembled together for his sake, and he prayed with them.”**
* Buraq means: the lightning-quick, glistening one and signifies in Islam a white riding animal that the prophets mounted (Sura al-Isra’ 17:1). It is said to be larger than a donkey and smaller than a mule and have two wings. When Muhammad mounted this marvellous animal for his ascension he was accompanied by Gabriel and Michael (Ali Mansuru‘s - Nasif: Sharhu Kitabi-t-Taj).
** In Islam, Abraham, Moses and Christ are the most important prophets from the time before Muhammad. In that Jesus is mentioned together with Abraham, Moses and Muhammad, he is degraded to the level of the other prophets.
In actual fact, Moses and Elijah appeared to the Lord Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. The two representatives of the Old Covenant strengthened Jesus on the way to the cross, that he might accomplish the redemption of the world (Matthew 17:3-4; Mark 9:4-5; Luke 9:30-31).
Muhammad was never transfigured. Even during his vision or night dream, he remained a normal human being.
Muhammad was brought three vessels. The one contained milk, the other wine and the third water. As the vessels were placed before him, Muhammad heard a voice that called out to him: “If you take the vessel with water you and your people will be drowned. If you reach for the wine, so you and your people will be led astray. However, if you prefer the milk you and your people will be rightly guided.”
“Therefore I took”, Muhammad was to say, “the vessel with milk and drank from it, and Gabriel said to me, ‘You will be rightly guided and your people with you, o Muhammad!’”
Al-Hassan told me that Muhammad was once to have said: “While I was sleeping in the sanctuary, Gabriel came to me and nudged me with the foot. I sat upright but didn‘t see anything. Therefore I laid down on my bed again. Once more Gabriel nudged me with his foot. I rose up, but when I saw nothing I laid down again. He nudged me again a third time and as I sat up he grasped my arm. I stood up and he led me to the door of the place of worship. There stood a white animal somewhere between the size of a donkey and a mule. It had two wings on the hips, under which the hind feet projected, while his front legs reached as far apart as the eye could see. Gabriel boosted me up and accompanied me. He remained continually at my side.”
I heard from Qatada that Muhammad said: “As I came close to the animal to mount it, it grew stubborn. Gabriel then laid his hand on its mane and said: ‘Are you not ashamed of yourself, Buraq? By Allah, no more noble slave of Allah has ever mounted you than Muhammad.’ Buraq was so ashamed that he entirely broke out in sweat. He then remained quietly standing until I had mounted him.”
Al-Hassan reported: “Muhammad travelled to Jerusalem, with the accompaniment of Gabriel. There he found Abraham, Moses Christ and other prophets. Muhammad went up to them and prayed with them. He was then brought two vessels, in which the one was wine and in the other milk. Muhammad took the vessel with milk and drank from it. The wine he left untouched. Then Gabriel said to him: “You have been rightly guided since your creation, your people are rightly guided, and wine is forbidden you.”
Muhammad then returned to Mecca and told the Quraishites about his experiences the following morning. Most of the people said: “That is, by Allah, a certainty! Muhammad wants to have made the journey back and forth to Syria in a single night, while a caravan needs two months for it.”
Many Moslems again fell away from Islam. Others came to Abu Bakr and asked: “What do you think of your friend who maintains he spent this last night in Jerusalem? He supposedly prayed there and came back again.” Abu Bakr answered: ‘You compose lies about him.’ They then responded: ‘He is in the area of the Ka‘ba and is himself talking about it.’ Abu Bakr responded: ‘By Allah, when he himself says it, then it is true, and what is so amazing about it? I believe it when he tells me the revelation comes from heaven to earth in one hour of the day or the night. And this means so much more than that which seems so incredible to you.‘
He then went to Muhammad and asked: “Have you, o prophet of Allah, told these people that you were in Jerusalem?” He answered: “Yes.” Abu Bakr then said: “Describe to me the city. I have been there before.” Muhammad then began to describe Jerusalem, and as often as he described details of a certain part of the city Abu Bakr would cry out: “You have spoken truthfully! I testify that you are a messenger of Allah.” When he had ended he said to Abu Bakr: “You, Abu Bakr, are the truthful one.” From this day on he was known as “the truthful one”.
Hassan went on to further report: “Against those who fell away from Islam because of this event, Allah revealed: ‘... And we made the vision that we showed you to be only a trial for men, together with the cursed tree in the Quran; and we frighten them, but it only makes them more rebellious’” (Sura al-Isra’ 17:60).
Someone from the family of Abu Bakr told me, Ai’sha is to have said: “Muhammad‘s body was not absent, but Allah let his spirit travel.” Ya‘qub ibn ‘Utba ibn al-Mughira ibn al-Akhnas reported to me, Mu‘awiya ibn Abi Sufyan was to have answered, when he was asked about the night journey of Muhammad: “It was a true vision from Allah.”
After him Al-Zuhri reported what he had heard from Sa‘id ibn al-Musayyab: “Muhammad described Abraham, Moses and Christ to his companions, after he had seen them in this night. Of Abraham he said: ‘I have never seen anyone who resembles me more closely or I him. Moses was a man of great stature, agile, with frizzy hair and a bent nose, as though he would be from the tribe of Shanu‘a. Christ appeared white-reddish, of average stature, with flowing hair, shining face, as if he had just came up out of a bath. One had the impression that water was dropping from his head, although that was not the case.’” *
* Muhammad appears to have heard something about the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan.
Jesus probably had a light brown skin. Had he looked differently than the other Jews, he would have been called a bastard and rejected.
3.03.2 -- A description of Muhammad
Umar, a freedman of the Ghufra, reported from Ibrahim ibn Muhammad ibn Ali ibn Abu Talib that Ali gave the following description of Muhammad: “He was neither too tall nor too short, of middle stature. His hair was not too curly, not too wavy. His face was not too full and not too fleshy. It was white mixed with reddishness. His eyes were black and his eyelashes long. He had a strong head and solid shoulders, a little fine hair on the chest, large hands and feet. When he walked his steps were light, as if he was moving on precipitous ground; when he turned around he did so entirely. He went so lightly, as if he hovered on water, and when he looked to one side, he turned himself entirely around. Between his shoulders was the seal of prophethood.* His hands were the most generous of any man‘s. His breast was the most courageous. His tongue was the most truthful.** He was the most faithful toward those under his safeguard, the meekest and most pleasant in his dealings. Whoever saw him suddenly became filled with awe. Whoever approached him more closely loved him. Whoever described him had to say: ‘I have not seen before or after the likes of him.’”
* The seal of prophethood has various interpretations as to form and colour. Occasionally a birth-mark is considered a seal.
** Muhammad legally permitted men to lie: a) during war, b) in order to reconcile two enemies, or c) for men to lie toward their wives and the wives towards their husbands. (At-Tirmidhi, Kitab al-Birr, 26; Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal 3:457).
3.03.3 -- The ascension to heaven and the wonders that Muhammad thereby saw
A reliable man told me he heard that Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri was to have heard the following words of Muhammad: “When I had finished doing everything necessary in Jerusalem, I was brought a ladder. I had never seen something more beautiful. It is the one on which the dead will fix their eyes upon during the resurrection. My friend (Gabriel) let me climb it, until we reached one of the gates of heaven, which is called the Watchman's Gate. Here there stood an angel named Isma‘il. He had command over 12,000 angels, and in turn each of these had 12,000 subordinate angels.”
Muhammad said: “As I came to the lowest heaven, all of the angels encountered me with laughing, cheery faces and wished me luck. Only one angel wished me luck that did not laugh or appear pleased. For that I asked Gabriel why just this angel showed no laughing, cheerful face, as did the others.” Gabriel answered: ‘He would surely show you laughter if he had ever done it to someone else before or would do it again. But this angel never laughs. He is Malik - the Lord of Hell.’ I then said to Gabriel, who at this point gave command according to Allah's will, who could as well be trusted: ‘Will you not command him to show me the fire of hell?’ He agreed and gave the corresponding command to Malik. This one then lifted the lid and set it aside, and the fire raged and climbed high, such that I thought it would destroy everything I saw before me. Therefore I asked Gabriel to command him to force it back again. Gabriel did this and Malik cried out: ‘Get back!’ The fire then went back to the place it had come from, and it appeared to me as if a shadow had fallen upon everything. Malik then shoved the lid back in place.”
According to the report of Abu Sa‘id, Muhammad said: “When I came into the lowest heaven, I saw a man sitting to whom the souls of mankind were presented. With one of them he was delighted and said: ‘Good soul - come from a good body.’ With another he showed a dark face and cried: ‘Fie, ugly soul - come out of an ugly body.’ I asked Gabriel: ‘Who is this man?’ He answered: ‘This is your father Adam,* to whom the souls of his descendants are being presented. He is delighted with the believers and says: ‘Good soul from a good body.’ With the unbelievers he is distressed and filled with disgust, and says: ‘Ugly soul from an ugly body.’”
* According to Islamic understanding, Adam belongs to the believers and was already a Moslem. This conception of Moslems rests upon a tradition from Muhammad that brought about confusion in the minds of later generations. Therefore there are countless fabricated traditions that speak of Adam's homage to Muhammad. (see al-Mawahib al-Ladunniyya)
“I then saw men with the lips of camels, who were holding pieces of fire in their hands, as big as to fill the entire hand. They threw this fire into their mouths and it came out again in the back. I asked Gabriel: ‘What kind of men are these?’ He answered: ‘They are men who unrighteously devoured the goods of orphans.’”
“I then saw men with bellies, such as I had never seen before. They crawled on their bellies like thirsty camels, which then trampled all over them so that they could no longer move away from them. I asked Gabriel: ‘Who are these?’ He answered: ‘These are usurers.’”
“I then saw men who had good, fat meat lying before them, and beside that bad, stinking meat; nevertheless they ate from the spoiled and left the good lying. I asked Gabriel what kind of men these were. He answered: ‘They are those that abandon the women Allah has allowed them to have and turned toward those Allah has forbidden them.’”
“I then saw women who were hanging by their breasts. I asked Gabriel: ‘Who are these?’ He answered: ‘They are such that have foisted illicit children upon their husbands. Allah‘s rage is mighty against a woman who begets someone into a generation it does not belong to, who then devours its goods and uncovers shame.’”
According to Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri, Muhammad continued on: “Gabriel then let me ascend to the second heaven. Here I saw the two cousins* - Christ and John (the Baptist).”
* Muhammad would have heard from Christians that John the Baptist and Jesus were distant relatives (Luke 1:36).
In that he placed Jesus with John in the second heaven, he placed him under Moses and Abraham. Yes - he even put him under Joseph, Enoch and Aaron. At all costs he wanted to lower him and make him like Adam (Sura Al ‘Imran 3:59).
“I then came to the third heaven. There was a man who looked like a full-moon. When I asked about his name, Gabriel said to me: ‘It is your brother Joseph, the son of Jacob.’”
“He took me then to the fourth heaven. There I again saw a man whom Gabriel called Idris (Enoch - the immortal prophet), who then added: ‘And We have exalted him to a lofty place’ (Sura Maryam 19:57).”
“He then led me to the fifth heaven. There was an aged man there, with white hair and a long, white beard. I have never seen a more attractive man. I asked for his name and Gabriel said to me, ‘it is Harun (Aaron), the son of ‘Imran and beloved among his people.’”
“In the sixth heaven, which I then ascended, I saw a big man with a bent nose, as if he would have been from the tribe of Schanu‘a. I asked Gabriel: ‘Who is this man?’ He answered: ‘It is your brother, Moses, the son of ‘Imran.’”
“He then let me ascend to the seventh heaven. There sat a man, who looked very similar to me, upon a throne before the gate of paradise, through which every day 70,000 angels pass and who do not come out until the day of resurrection. I asked Gabriel: ‘Who is this man?’ He answered: ‘It is your father Abraham.’”
He then led me to paradise. There I saw a young black woman (slave, servant) who very much pleased me. I asked whom she belonged* to, and she answered ‘Zaid ibn Haritha,’ and I brought Zaid this glad tiding.”
* It is interesting that this time Muhammad did not directly ask about the person but about her owner - since it had to do with a woman! Zaid, Muhammad's adopted son, was the first adult male to accept Islam.
Later Muhammad came unaware upon Zaid's wife, Zainab, when she was bathing and, on the basis of a special revelation, married her - after Zaid had divorced her (Sura al-Azhab 33:35, 37, 50).
According to the tradition of Abd Allah ibn Mas‘ud, Gabriel was asked at every door of heaven he wanted to enter, who it was that was with him. When he named the name of Muhammad, one asked whether he had already been sent as a prophet, and as soon as he answered this question in the affirmative it was called out: “May Allah send him greetings from his friends and his brother!”
After he had come up to the seventh heaven, Gabriel led him to his Lord,* who then prescribed for him fifty daily prayer proceedings.**
* The Quran and the Hadith themselves never describe Allah in a vision. They recognize no glorious appearances of the Lord and know nothing of the Cherubim. Muhammad did not break down in terror before the holiness of God. Those are indications that, in reality, he never saw God, but rather, was misled and fooled by a dream. Islam allows no description of Allah, because He is indescribable. No one knows who he is or what he looks like. In Islam man is not made in the image of God, but is the slave of Allah. Allah remains the distant, great and unknown God - whom no one can expect to reach or to understand.
In the Bible, however, several visions of the holy and glorious God are given. Whoever saw him was greatly shaken and fell, as if dead, to the ground (Isaiah 6:1-8; Ezekiel 1:4 - 2:1; Acts 9:4; Revelation 1:17; 4:1-3; 5:6-8).
** The fruit of the supposed encounter of Muhammad with Allah was no grace, leading to salvation. It also brought about no deep contrition or repentance in Muhammad, nor did a warning of God‘s coming judgment follow it. The vision had the singular effect of intensifying Muhammad‘s basic legalistic behaviour and promoted increased worship. That shows that Allah is first and foremost a law-giver and a judge to be worshipped. He is not, however, a loving Father or a self-sacrificial Saviour like Jesus.
Muhammad further proclaimed: “On the way back I came by Moses, your good lord, and he asked me how many prayers had been prescribed for me. I answered, ‘Fifty per day‘. He then said: ‘So many rounds of prayer are tiring, and your people are weak. Go back again to your Lord and request him to make it easier for you and your people.’ I followed this council and the number was reduced by ten.”
“Yet Moses still found forty to be too many and advised me to ask for a further alleviation. Again ten were removed.”
“However, Moses found it still too many. I returned back so often that finally only five rounds of prayer were prescribed for me each day.”*
* The account of Muhammad‘s mediation represents an Islamic reflection of Abraham's intercession for the people of the cities of Sodom and Gomorra (Genesis 18:16-33). Abraham asked for the wicked to be preserved and petitioned for a smallest number or righteous as condition for the cities to be spared. With Muhammad, however, it did not involve the salvation of his followers, but only concerned an easing of the Moslem‘s religious duties. The result of Muhammad's mediation was not the pardon of sinners, but a compromise in the giving of the law, ending in a more comfortable worship for the same reward. Otherwise there was nothing that came out of his vision of a heavenly journey.
“While Moses yet tried to get me to turn back, I said: ‘Now that I have so often asked for an easing, I would be ashamed to do so again. Whoever performs these daily prayers five times in faith and in expectation of reward will truly receive the reward of fifty prayers, just as it was originally prescribed.’”
* The so-called heavenly journey of Muhammad (al-mi‘raj) represents an extremely controversial subject for Islamic theologians. Some are of the opinion that Muhammad undertook this journey bodily, while others, taking their support from a tradition of Aisha, believe the journey was only a dream of Muhammad‘s, one in which he found himself in Jerusalem only in the spirit.
3.03.4 -- How Allah prevented the mockers from doing harm
In spite of all mocking, all insults, and whether or not people called him a liar, Muhammad continually admonished his people in expectation of God's reward. As it was told to me by Sa‘id ibn Rumman of ‘Urwa ibn al-Zubair, there were five mighty and esteemed men who were the most evil mockers: al-Aswad ibn al-Muttalib was of the Banu Asad. As I heard it, Muhammad - when he got news of his vile derision - was to have prayed: “Allah! Make him blind and kill his son!”*
* The curse of Muhammad breathes out the spirit of revenge that breaks through again and again in Islam. Jesus, however, healed the blind and warned the mockers. Here the fundamentally different spirit in the Gospel and in the Quran becomes visible.
Jazid ibn Rumman told me of Urwa ibn al-Zubair: “Gabriel came to Muhammad as the mockers circumambulated around the place of worship. Muhammad rose up and placed himself beside him. When al-Aswad ibn al-Muttalib came by, Gabriel thrust a green leaf in his face, and he became blind.”*
* The angel Gabriel manifests himself in Islam as an angel of judgment and as a helper of Muhammad, in order to carry out his intentions of revenge. Gabriel is here no messenger of God‘s grace that blesses and saves. What a distortion this is! Muhammad had no idea of the spiritual majesty and splendour of the angels of God.
“Al-Aswad ibn Abd Jaghuth then came by. He (Gabriel) then pointed to his body, and he became sick with dropsy, only to die from this sickness.”
“Next al-Walid ibn al-Mughira came by. Gabriel pointed to the scar from an old wound on the heel, which he had suffered years earlier. The evil then grew worse, and he died of it. Following this al-‘As ibn Wa’il came by. Gabriel pointed to the sole of his foot. Soon after that he rode on a donkey to Ta’if. The donkey lay down upon thorny brambles and a thorn from it penetrated the sole of al-‘As' foot, so that he then died. Finally al-Harith ibn Tulatila came by, and Gabriel pointed to his head, which then began to fester at the very spot pointed to, until he died.”*
* Such reports imply there was black magic involved, as does the summons to the prayer duel in Sura Al ‘Imran 3:61, where Muhammad wanted to lay the curse of Allah over the Christians because they did not accept Islam.
Jesus, however, commanded His disciples to forgive their enemies all of their sins, to bless them and to do good to them (Matthew 6:14-15). The blessing of Christ is stronger than the curse of Allah (John 16:33; Romans 8:31-39).
3.03.5 -- The deaths of Abu Talib and Khadija (approx. 619 A.D.)
The men who tormented Muhammad in his house were Abu Lahab, al-Hakam ibn Abi al-‘As, Uqba ibn Abi Muit, Adi ibn Hamra al-Thaqafi and Ibn al-Asda al-Hudhali. They were his neighbours.
Of these men only al-Hakam later converted to Islam. As it was told me, the one threw the uterus of a sheep on him while he was praying, the other threw the uterus into the pot being used to cook for him. Finally, in order to be safe, Muhammad had to pray in a closed room. As told to me by Umar ibn Abd Allah, Muhammad would take such refuse on a stick and carry it outside the door and then call out: “O, you sons of Abd Manaf! What a wonderful neighbourhood I enjoy!” He then threw the refuse to the side.
Then it came about that Abu Talib and Khadija died in the same year.* Muhammad was dealt a terrible blow by such a tragedy, for Khadija had given such faithful support to him in Islam, and he had found consolation with her, and Abu Talib had defended and protected him from his tribal clan. Both died three years before the emigration to Medina.
* Until the deaths of Abu Talib and Khadija, Muhammad had been - and with him all of Islam - maintained and supported by the power of the clan, whose duty it was to protect him. When the representatives of this tribal protection died in the same year, Muhammad was left defenceless and became an outlaw. Islam grew up and was strengthened under the protection of the Arabic clan.
Jesus, however, had no clan to protect him. His brothers separated themselves from Him early on. Jesus became a refugee and several times had to withdraw into foreign territory (Phoenicia and the 10 cities), until he resolutely and purposely set His face to go to Jerusalem, there to die as the Lamb of God for all men (Matthew 12:46-50; John 7:3-10).
After the death of Abu Talib, the Quraish mistreated Muhammad in a manner they would never have dared to do in the time of Abu Talib. One went even so far as to pour dust over his head. Muhammad went into his dwelling and still had the dust in his hair. One of his daughters cried when she washed the dirt from his head. He said to her, however: “Do not cry my dear daughter; Allah will protect your father.” At times in between he would say: “As long as Abu Talib lived, the Quraish could do nothing to me.”
3.04 -- TEST
- as an encouragement in future service for Christ.
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