The Prophet Muhammadas, peace be upon him (sa), was the founder of Islam. On these pages, we will briefly outline his life story, drawing upon the sources listed below. By tracing the life story of the Holy Prophetsa , one can separate myth from reality, and perceive the radiant character of the Prophetsa shining through.
To begin with, we will present some excerpts from the writings of his greatest lover, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the Promised Messiah and Mahdi:
“That light of high degree that was bestowed on perfect man was not in angels, was not in stars, was not in the moon, was not in the sun, was not in the oceans and the rivers, was not in rubies, emeralds, sapphires, or pearls; in short, it was not in any earthly or heavenly object. It was only in perfect man whose highest and loftiest and most perfect example was our lord and master, the Chief of the Prophets, the Chief of all living ones, Muhammad, the chosen one (sa). That light was bestowed on this man and, according to their ranks, upon all those who bore the same colour to some degree…. This dignity was found in its highest and most perfect form in our lord and master and our guide, the immaculate Prophet, the righteous one, testified to by the righteous, Muhammad, the chosen one (sa).”
“O all ye who dwell upon the earth, and O all human souls that are in the east or in the west, I announce to you emphatically that the true reality in the earth is Islam alone,and the True God is the God Who is described in the Qur’an, and the Prophet who has everlasting spiritual life and who is seated on the throne of glory and holiness, is Muhammad, the chosen one (sa). The proof of his spiritual life and holy majesty is that by following him and loving him we become recipients of the Holy Spirit and are favoured with the bounty of converse with God and witness heavenly signs.”
“When we estimate justly, then out of the whole series of Prophets, we find one of high courage and alive and greatly dear to God, the Chief of the Prophets, the pride and the crown of the Messengers, whose name is Muhammad Mustafa and Ahmad Mujtaba [peace and blessings of Allah be on him]. By walking under his shadow for ten days one obtains that light which before him could not be obtained in a thousand years…. We have found every light by following the immaculate Prophet and whoever follows him will also find it and he will become so accepted of God that nothing will be impossible for him. The Living God, Who is hidden from people, will be his God and all false gods will be trodden under his feet. He will be blessed everywhere and Divine Power will be with him. Peace be on him who follows the guidance.”
“I always wonder how high was the status of this Arabian Prophet, whose name was Muhammad, (thousands of blessings and peace be upon him). One cannot reach the limit of his high status and it is not given to man to estimate correctly his spiritual effectiveness. It is a pity that his rank has not been recognized, as it should have been. He was the champion who restored to the world the Unity of God which had disappeared from the world; he loved God in the extreme and his soul melted out of sympathy for mankind. Therefore, God, Who knew the secret of his heart, exalted him above all the Prophets and all the first ones and the last ones and bestowed upon him in his lifetime all that he desired.
He is the fountainhead of every grace and a person who claims any superiority without acknowledging his grace is not a man but is the spawn of Satan, because the Holy Prophet has been bestowed the key to every exaltation and he has been given the treasury of every understanding. He who does not receive through him is deprived forever. I am nothing and possess nothing. I would be most ungrateful if I were not to confess that I have learnt of the true Unity of God through this Prophet. The recognition of the Living God we have achieved through this perfect Prophet and through his light. The honour of converse with God, through which we behold His countenance, has been bestowed upon me through this great Prophet. The ray of this sun of guidance falls like sunshine upon me and I continue illumined only so long as I am adjusted towards it.”
The main bulk of biography over the following pages was from A Book of Religious Knowledge by Waheed Ahmed. Some very minor amendments have been made.
The description of the Prophet’ssapersonal qualities comes from Life of Muhammed by Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmood Ahmadra
Miscellaneous articles on https://www.alislam.org/holyprophet/ were also consulted during this process.
The use of ‘pbuh’ signifies ‘peace be upon him’ and is an honorific given in Islam to prophets of God. It is especially important to say this after mentioning the Prophet Muhammadsa .
The use of ‘ra’ signifies the Arabic for ‘may Allah be pleased with him/her’ and is often used after mentioning the name of a companion of the Prophetsa .
The Prophet’s Early Life
The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, was the Founder of Islam, and the one to whom the final religion was revealed by Allah. He was born in a noble family in 570 CE in Makkah, Arabia, and was a descendent of Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him). The word ‘Muhammad’ literally means ‘praiseworthy’.
The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa belonged to the tribe of Quraysh, the leading tribe of Makkah. The Quraysh were descendants of Prophet Abrahamsa through his son, Prophet Ismail. The Ka’bah, which is considered by Muslims to be the first house of God, was rebuilt by Abraham and his son Ismail some 2600 years before the Holy Prophetsa .
At the time of the birth of the Prophet Muhammadsa , the whole world seemed to be passing through a period of extreme moral and religious decline. The condition of Arabia was especially poor. The Arabs suffered from extreme moral vices such as drinking, gambling, and brutal deeds during frequent fights that spun out of tribal rivalries. The Arabs believed in a Supreme God and in the prophethood of Abraham, yet they also worshipped many other gods in the form of idols. They had installed some 360 idols in the Ka`bah itself where the Arabs from all over Arabia would come for their annual pilgrimage. Women enjoyed little status and no rights in the Arab society. Certain families had the savage custom of putting baby girls to death. Slavery was common among them and the slaves lived in misery and extreme hardship. However, the Arabs also possessed some admirable qualities such as hospitality, a sense of honour, bravery, and love for poetry. It was among such people that the Holy Prophet of Islamsawas born.
Life Before Prophethood
His father, Abdullah, died a few months before his birth. His mother, Aminah, had seen a vision, also some time before his birth. In this vision, an angel proposed to her the name Muhammadsa for her child. Also, she saw that glittering lights, emitting from herself, spread all over the world. After birth, he and his mother had to be looked after by their grandfather, Abdul Muttalib. He entrusted him to the care of the nurse Haleema, as was the custom in Mecca. His mother passed away when he was six years old. Then he was cared for by his grandfather Abdul- Muttalib, who also died two years later. Muhammadsa was then looked after by his uncle Abu Talib.
Despite these hardships, Muhammadsa grew up to be an honest, dignified, truthful, and intelligent person. He also helped his uncle with his trade, sometimes accompanying him on his travels to other lands. Muhammadsaled a pious and simple life and was well known for his willingness to help others. His conduct earned him the titles of As-Siddique (meaning the most truthful) and Al-Amin (meaning the most trustworthy). From his very childhood he was given to reflection and meditation. In the quarrels and rivalries of others he took no part, except with a view of putting an end to them. It is said that the tribes living in Mecca and the territories around, tired of unending blood-feuds, collectively founded an association which was to help victims of aggressive and unjust treatment. When the Holy Prophetsa heard of this, he gladly joined. Members of this association gave an undertaking in the following terms:
They will help those who were oppressed and will restore them their rights, as long as the last drop of water remained in the sea. And if they do not do so, they will compensate the victims out of their own belongings.
Marriage To Khadijah
Even in his youth the Prophet Muhammadsa was well known for his honesty, sincerity and truthfulness. At the time there lived in Mecca a rich lady by the name of Khadijah who was twice widowed. On hearing of Muhammad’s fame, peace be upon him, she invited him to her house and requested him to take charge of her business. Muhammadsa travelled to Syria in charge of Khadijah’s business and the expedition met with great success and brought unexpected profits. Khadijah made a proposal of marriage to Muhammadsa which was accepted. At the time of his marriage, Muhammadsa was twenty-five years old while Khadijah was forty.
From his marriage to Khadijah, the Holy Prophetsa had seven children: three sons and four daughters. All the Prophet’s sons died in infancy. The four daughters reached womanhood and got married but all died before the age of thirty. Only Fatimah outlived her father, and only by six months.
A Dispute Resolved
The Prophet Muhammad’s desire, peace be upon him, for maintaining peace and averting conflict is quite evident from an incident that occurred when he was about thirty-five years old. The Quraysh of Mecca decided to rebuild the Ka’ba after some cracks had appeared in its walls. All the families of the Quraysh assisted in this effort. As the walls rose from the ground and the time came to replace the sacred black stone in its place, a dispute broke out. Each of the four main families of the Quraysh wanted this honour exclusively for themselves and the construction of the Ka’ba came to a halt. After many days of suspended work, the Quraysh assembled again and decided that the first person to enter the Ka’ba’s courtyard will be chosen to settle the dispute. Muhammadsa happened to be that person. Muhammadsa quickly grasped the situation and asked that the black stone be placed on a sheet of cloth. He then asked the four families of the Quraysh to hold each comer of the cloth and raise the stone to its place. Thus Muhammadsa , through his wisdom, averted the conflict and resolved the dispute in a manner acceptable to the Quraysh.
When the Prophetsa was over thirty years of age, love of God and love of His worship began to possess him more and more. Revolting against the mischiefs, misdeeds and the many vices of the people of Mecca, he chose a spot two or three miles away for his meditations. This was on top of a hill, a sort of cave shaped out of stone. His wife Khadija would prepare food enough for several days, and with this he would repair to the cave Hira. In the cave he would worship God day and night. When he was forty years of age, he saw a vision in this very cave. He saw someone commanding him to recite. The Prophetsa said in reply he did not know what or how to recite. The figure insisted and at last made the Prophetsarecite the following verses:
‘Recite thou in the name of thy Lord Who created, created man from a clot of blood. Recite! And thy Lord is the Most Beneficent, Who taught man by the pen, taught man what he knew not (96:2-6).
These verses, the first ever revealed to the Prophetsa , became part of the Qur’an as did other verses which were revealed later. Muhammadsa was so overawed by this experience that he rushed home and related it to his wife Khadijah. He said: “Weak man that I am, how can I carry the responsibility which God proposes to put on my shoulders?”
Khadija replied at once,
‘God is witness, He has not sent you this Word that you should fail and prove unworthy, that He should then give you up. How can God do such a thing, while you are kind and considerate to your relations, help the poor and the forlorn and bear their burdens? You are restoring the virtues which had disappeared from our country. You treat guests with honour and help those who are in distress. Can you be subjected by God to any trial?’
Khadijah then took the Prophetsa to her cousin Waraqah bin Naufal who was a Christian hermit. On hearing what had happened Waraqah said:
“The angel who descended on Moses, I am sure, has descended on you. Your people will oppose you and will turn you out. I wish that I would be alive at that time and could help you”
Although the first revelation marked the beginning of the prophetic career of Muhammadsa , it did not contain any special instructions for him. Such instructions started to come down in subsequent revelations. A second revelation followed soon and more clearly defined the Prophet’s mission.
“O thou covered in a mantle
Arise and deliver thy warning
And your Lord do extol
And your garments do purify
And all uncleanliness do thou shun
And give not just to gain more
And for thy Lord’s cause, be patient.”
The above verses belong to Surah al Muddathir, the 74th Chapter of the Holy Quran.
The Early Years of Islam
Preaching In Mecca And The Opposition
At first the Prophetsa reported his visions and revelations to a few close relatives and friends. A number of these believed in him and embraced the new religion. The very first person to accept Islam was, of course, his wife Khadijah. Then came Ali, his cousin, and Abu Bakr, his childhood friend. These were followed by Uthman, Abdur Rahman, Zayd, Zubayr, and Talha. Zayd was Prophet Muhammad’s freed slave and adopted son.
Then, as commanded, the Prophet took his preaching to his own clan. One day he climbed on top of Mount Sana, in Mecca, and called out:
“O people of Quraysh!
O people of Quraysh!”
Hearing his call, the people of Quraysh gathered around him and asked what the matter was. The Prophet said:
“If I told you that there was an army behind this hill, would you believe me?”
They all replied:
“Indeed, for we trust you, and we have never known you to tell a lie.”
The Prophet then said:
“Know then that I am a Warner and I warn you of a severe punishment. O Banu Abdul Muttalib! O Banu Abd Manaf! O Banu Zuhra! O Banu Taym! O Banu Makhzum! O Banu Asad! God has commanded me to warn my nearest kinsmen, that I can guarantee to you no good on the earth or in heaven unless you witness that there is none worthy of worship except God.”
Hearing this, the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Lahab, got up and said:
“Perish thou this very day! Was it for this that thou assembled us here?”
Not discouraged at this cruel and harsh reception from his own kinsfolk, the Holy Prophetsa took his preaching to the people of Mecca at large. He spoke to them around the Ka’ba and he talked to them in the streets of Mecca. His message to the people in each case was very simple:
God is One. There is none worthy of worship except Him. He has no associate. He is the sole Creator of the Universe. God is Unseen and All Powerful and to portray Him with figures and statues is not right. Muhammad is God’s Messenger just like Abraham, Moses and Jesus…
In short, the Holy Prophetsa asked his people to give up idol worship, return to the worship of One God and be kind and charitable to the poor.
The Meccans, however, rejected the Prophet’s message and displayed considerable hostility to him and his followers. The Meccans did not like to be told that the religion of their forefathers was absurd. Mecca, moreover, enjoyed a certain status in Arabia due to the Ka’ba and the annual pilgrimage. The Meccans saw in Islam a real threat to their own social and political power and did their utmost to oppose this new religion.
The chief among these opponents were Omar bin Hisham (known among the Muslims as Abu Jahal, the father of ignorance), Abu Lahab the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Sufyan, the leading man of the House of Umayyah, and Uqbah bin Mueet, also of the House of Umayyah.
While the nobility of Mecca turned a deaf ear to the Prophet’s call, peace be upon him, the poor and the oppressed were strongly attracted to his teaching. Slaves, young men and hapless women collected around the Prophet. These people saw that Islam recognised the rights of the poor, the slaves and the women, and they saw a new hope for themselves in this religion.
The acceptance of the Prophet’s teachings by the poor made the chiefs of Mecca all the more angry and vengeful. The Meccans were a class-conscious society and the Chiefs of Mecca could not even think that the poor could have the same rights as themselves. The Quraysh, therefore, started to maltreat the Prophetsa and his followers. The brunt of their wrath fell upon the converted slaves and the poor people of the lower classes who had no patron or protector. These helpless people were abused, persecuted and tortured but rarely did anyone renounce his religion. Bilal, a negro slave, was made to lie on hot sand, and stones were put on his chest. Yasir, a poor man, was tortured till he died, and his wife, Sumayyah, was murdered by Abu Jahal. Many a slave were rescued from persecution by the rich and influential Abu Bakr who would buy them and set them free.
The Prophet himself was under the protection of his uncle Abu Talib. This, however, did not stop his opponents maltreating him whenever they had an opportunity. On one occasion the Holy Prophetsa was saying his Prayer at the Ka’ba when a person, on the instigation of Abu Jahal, brought the innards of a camel and dumped them on his back. The Prophet was in the state of prostration at the moment and could not lift himself up due to the heavy weight. One of his daughters eventually came to his help and pushed the burden aside. Similarly, in the streets of Mecca the Prophetsa was a perpetual target of fun and mockery. He, however, remained steadfast in his mission to convey the message of God to the people and to warn them of the Day of Judgment, when they would all be held accountable for their deeds.
Emigration To Abyssinia
When oppression in Mecca reached its extreme, the Prophetsa advised his followers to seek refuge in a foreign land. As a result, in the fifth year of the Prophet’s mission, a small party of Muslims, consisting of eleven men and four women, set out for Abyssinia. The Kingdom of Abyssinia was ruled at the time by a Christian king named Negus (Najashi) who was well known for his justice.
When the Quraysh learned of this emigration, they sent a delegation to the King with the request to expel the Muslims from his Kingdom. They told the King that the Muslims had started a new religion in opposition to their ancestral faith as well as to Christianity. The King summoned the Muslims to his court and demanded an explanation. Ja’far bin Abu Talib spoke on behalf of the Muslims:
“O King, we were an ignorant people, given to idolatry. We did not make good our obligations to our relations, and ill-treated our neighbours. The strong among us thrived at the expense of the weak. Then, at last, God raised a Prophet for our reformation. He called us to worship One God and exhorted us to give up idolatry. He enjoined us to speak the truth, to make good our trusts and to be good to our neighbours. He taught us to avoid bloodshed and forbade all indecent things. So we believed in him, followed him and acted upon his teachings. Thereupon our people turned against us and subjected us to tortures. When their cruelties exceeded all bounds, we came to your country seeking asylum”
After this Ja’far recited a passage from Surah Maryam which showed Negus the great respect and reverence Muslims had for the Prophet Jesus.
Negus was greatly impressed by the morals and ideals of the Muslims and allowed them to stay in his land as long as they wished. The Quraysh delegation had to return to Mecca unsuccessfully.
These early emigrants to Abyssinia did not stay in that country for long. On hearing false rumours that relations between the Muslims and the Quraysh had improved, the emigrants returned to Mecca within a few months only to find the persecution worse than ever before.
The Second Emigration To Abyssinia
In the meantime, the Quraysh redoubled their persecution of Muslims. The Prophetsa again advised his followers to take refuge in Abyssinia. The emigrants this time numbered 101, including 18 women. This second group of emigrants stayed in Abyssinia until the Prophet’s emigration to Yathrib.
At the rapid success of Islam, the Quraysh became frightened. They went to Abu Talib and offered to give all sorts of riches to the Prophet Muhammadsa
on the condition that he give up his mission. Abu Talib called the Prophet and told him about the wishes of the Quraysh. On hearing this, the Holy Prophet replied:
“O my uncle, if they were to place the sun on my right hand and the moon on my left, I will not give up preaching the truth of One God. I must go on doing so until I die.”
In the sixth year of the Prophet’s call, Hamzah and Omar bin Khattab accepted Islam. Both men were brave and highly influential in the Meccan society and their conversion brought great moral and physical support to the Muslim community.
Boycott Of The Hashimites
Seeing the influence of the Prophet spreading everywhere, the Quraysh took punitive measures against the Hashemite branch of the tribe. In the 7th year of the mission, the Quraysh proclaimed a total boycott of the Hashemite who were forced to retire into the secluded quarter of the city. During this period the Hashemites were cut off from supplies of corn and other foodstuff. Also, no one would trade with them or talk to them during this period. Not all the Hashemites were Muslims but the entire clan endured this difficult situation for the sake of their Muslim kinsfolk. This state of affairs lasted for nearly three years.
Finally, five decent members of the enemy revolted against this terrible situation and the boycott was lifted. After the lifting of the boycott, there was a temporary relaxation of hostilities against the Muslims. Exaggerated reports of this temporary improvement in the situation reached Abyssinia, whereupon many of the Muslim emigrants returned to Mecca including the Prophet’s daughter, Ruqayyah, and her husband, Uthman.
In the year 619 C.E., not long after the lifting of the boycott, the Prophetsa suffered two great personal losses. The Prophetsa was fifty years old when both his wife and his uncle, Abu Talib, passed away one after the other. Khadijah had been married to the Prophet for twenty-five years and gave him moral support through the most critical period of his life. Abu Talib, though he never accepted Islam, continued to give his protection and affection to the Prophetsa against the great opposition of the Quraysh. The Prophet Muhammadsa was highly grieved at the loss of both these persons and the year of their deaths is known in Islamic history as “the Year of Sorrow”.
The Holy Prophet Visits Ta’if
When life became very difficult in Mecca and people would not listen to him, the Prophetsa decided to go to Ta’if and preach to the people there. Zayd, his freed slave and adopted son, accompanied the Prophetsa on this journey. Ta’if was a small town about sixty miles south east of Mecca and was also inhabited by idol worshipers. The Holy Prophetsa stayed in Ta’if for a few days and preached to its chiefs without any success. The chiefs of Ta’if set vagabonds and street-boys on the Prophet who pelted him with stones and drove him out of the city. Both Zayd and the Prophetsa were wounded. As the Prophetsa was grieved and dejected at this treatment, an angel appeared and asked him if he wished his persecutors to be destroyed. The Prophetsa replied, “No. I hope one day their children will accept Islam and worship the One God”
On his way back from Ta’if, the Prophetsa rested in a vineyard which belonged to two Meccans. They were his persecutors at Mecca but on this occasion they were sympathetic and sent him a tray-full of grapes carried by a Christian slave, named Addas. The Prophet asked the slave where he was from, and Addas replied, “Ninevah.” Upon this the Holy Prophet said, “Ninevah, the home of Jonah, son of Matthew, who was a prophet as I am.” The Prophetsa also told Addas about his own mission and teachings. Addas felt as if he was in the presence of an Israelite Prophet and immediately embraced Islam.
First Pledge Of Aqabah
During the season of a pilgrimage, the Prophetsa met a group of six men from Yathrib. He explained to them his mission and asked for their help in spreading his message in their home town. On their return to Yathrib, these people spread the news that a Prophet had risen among the Meccans.
During the next pilgrimage season, in the year 621 C.E., a group of twelve faithful followers came from Yathrib. The Prophet met these people at a place called Aqabah, where they all took an oath at the Prophet’s hands to never worship anything other than God. This is known as the First Pledge of Aqabah.
Al Isra (The Night Journey)
In the year 621 C.E., the eleventh year of the Prophet’s call, he experienced another momentous spiritual event. The Prophetsa at the time was staying with his cousin, Hind, the daughter of his uncle Abu Talib. She was also known as Umm Hani.
In a spiritual vision during the night, the Holy Prophetsa was transported from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to the Prophet Solomon’s Temple at Jerusalem which was known to the Muslims as the Distant Mosque.
This vision, although purely spiritual and carrying deep prophetic import, was so vivid and realistic in its nature that the Holy Prophet could easily describe the city of Jerusalem and the Distant Mosque to the amazement of the disbelievers.
Second Pledge Of Aqabah
In the following year, 622 C.E., some seventy-three people came from Yathrib, at the time of the pilgrimage to Mecca. These people secretly met the Prophet in the valley of Aqabah and offered an oath of allegiance to him. These new converts to Islam pledged to help and protect him if the need ever arose. They also extended him an invitation to come to Yathrib.
Migration to Medinah
After the second pledge of Aqabah, the Muslims in Mecca started to migrate to Yathrib (Medinah) in small groups. There they enjoyed greater freedom to practice their religion and soon, hardly any of the Prophet’s companions were left in Mecca except Abu Bakr and Ali. When Abu Bakr asked for the Prophet’s permission to emigrate, he said, “Go not away, for God may give you a companion.” Abu Bakr understood that he must wait for the Prophetsa and started making necessary preparations.
When the Quraysh realised that they could not stop the flow of conversion, they became furious and plotted to murder the Holy Prophetsa himself. The leaders of the Quraysh gathered together and devised a plan under which each clan was to nominate a person. All the persons thus selected were to fall upon the Holy Prophetsa at a given moment and strike him a mortal blow. In this way all the clans would share equally in the killing of the Prophetsa which would make it difficult for the Hashemite to avenge his death. When the Prophet learned of the evil intentions of the enemy he, in the company of Abu Bakr, quietly slipped out of Mecca in the secrecy of the right. They both took shelter in a nearby cave called Thaur.
For two days and two nights, the Prophetsa and Abu Bakr hid in the cave. On the third night, according to plan, two swift camels were brought to the cave and the party, including the Prophetsa , Abu Bakr and his servant rode towards Yathrib led by a guide. Yathrib is located about two hundred miles north of Mecca but the party chose a more westerly route, close to the coastline of the Red Sea.
When the Meccans discovered that the Prophetsaand Abu Bakr had escaped, they searched for them all around Mecca. Failing to find them, they offered a reward of a hundred camels for the capture of the two, dead or alive. Tempted by the reward, a Bedouin chief, Suraqa bin Malik, went in pursuit of the party.
When Suraqa bin Malik sighted the party, he, according to the superstitious Arab custom of the time, consulted his arrows which bade ill luck. The temptation of the reward, however, made him continue the pursuit. At this time his horse stumbled and he fell down. This was another sign for him. When eventually he caught up with the party, he told them of his evil intentions and the sudden change of heart. The Prophetsa let him go but made him promise not to reveal the party’s whereabouts to anyone. Suraqa later narrated this incident, saying, that he was then convinced that the Prophetsa was a true one and that he would definitely succeed in his mission. Suraqa requested the Prophet to write him a guaranty of peace when the Prophet became supreme. To this the Prophetsa agreed.
At that moment the Holy Prophetsa received a revelation and said to Suraqa,
“Suraqa, how will you feel with the gold bangles of the Chosroes on your wrists?”
Amazed at the prophecy, Suraqa asked,
“Which Chosroes? Chosroes, the Emperor of Iran?”
The Prophet replied,
Sixteen or seventeen years later this prophecy was literally fulfilled. During the reign of the second Caliph Omar, the Muslims conquered the Kingdom of Chosroes. When the spoils of the war were placed in front of Omar, he noticed the gold bangles which Chosroes used to wear on state occasions. Remembering the Prophet’s words to Suraqa, he decided to make a visible fulfilment of the prophecy. He called for Suraqa and bade him wear the bangles. To this Suraqa protested since the wearing of gold by men was not permitted by the Prophet. Hazrat Omar said that the occasion was an exception and that Suraqa would have to wear the bangles. To this Suraqa finally complied. The Holy Prophetsa was no longer in this world but the Muslims who were present saw the prophecy of the Messenger of Godsa fulfilled in front of their own eyes.
Coming back to the migration, the Holy Prophetsa continued his journey towards Yathrib, where the people were eagerly awaiting his arrival. When he reached near Yathrib, he decided to stop for a while in Quba, a nearby village. He stayed in Quba for a few days and also laid the foundation of the first mosque ever built by the Muslims. Then he went on to Yathrib, where the people of the city had turned out in large numbers to welcome him.
This emigration of the Holy Prophet from Mecca to Yathrib is called the Hijrah and took place in June 622 C.E., some twelve years after the beginning of his mission. The Muslim calendar, the Hijrah, dates from this event. With this migration the Meccan period of humiliation, persecution and restrictions finally came to an end and the years of success and religious freedom began.
Life at Medinah
With the arrival of the Prophetsa , Yathrib changed its name to al-Medinah-tun-Nabi, the City of the Prophet. In the course of time it was shortened to al-Medinah, the City.
On arriving at Medinah, the Prophetsa took up residence at the house of Abu Ayub Ansari. Soon he sent his freed slave, Zayd, to Mecca to fetch his family and relatives. The Prophet also bought a vacant piece of land nearby and laid the foundation of a mosque. After this he built houses for himself and his companions.
The faithful followers of the Holy Prophetsa , who had left their homes and other worldly possessions in Mecca and had come to Medinah for the sake of Islam, were known as Muhajiroon or the Emigrants. Their love for the Prophetsa was unbounded and they were also very dear to the him. They numbered about seventy men at the time of the Prophet’s arrival in Medinah.
The new converts at Medinah, who had helped the Prophetsa at a most difficult time, were called by him Ansar or Helpers. They numbered about one hundred. The Prophetsa formally established ties of mutual brotherhood between individuals of the two groups and asked each man among the Ansar to “adopt” a brother from among the Mohajiroon. This action not only welded the social ties between the two groups but also helped economically the refugees who had left all their possessions back in Mecca.
Constitution Of Medinah
On his arrival at Medinah, the Prophetsa devoted himself to the organization of the city. The Jews of Medinah were divided into three branches: Banu Qainuka, Banu Nadir and Banu Qurayzah. Prominent among the Arab tribes were Aus and Khazraj. There was strong rivalry among these various religious and political factions and mutual hostility often erupted in the form of fighting.
With the Muslims, the Jews and the idolatrous Arabs, the city of Medinah was divided into three religious groups. The Prophet realised quickly that a peaceful state could only exist if it was based on goodwill and support of all sections of the society. The Prophet, therefore, formulated a charter for the people of Medinah which is also known as the Constitution of Medinah. According to this charter blood-feud was abolished and all rights were given equally to all people. Some of the important points of this charter were:
- All parties signing this charter will form a common nationality.
- All parties to this agreement will remain united in peace or in war.
- If any of the parties was attacked by an enemy, others would defend it with their combined forces.
- None of the parties will give shelter to the Quraysh of Mecca or make any secret treaty with them.
- The various parties to this agreement will be free to profess their own religion.
- Bloodshed, murder and violence will be forbidden.
- The city of Medinah will be regarded as sacred and any strangers who came under the protection of its citizens will be treated as citizens of Medinah.
- All disputes will be referred to the Holy Prophet for decision.
The Call To Prayer
In the early days of the Prophet’s stay at Medinah, whenever the time of Prayer came, the Muslims assembled in the Prophet’s Mosque without being called. Since there were no clocks or watches in those days, the Muslims could not come to Prayer at any fixed time. A strong need, therefore, arose to have the Muslims called to the Prayer. Various means to achieve this objective were considered by the Holy Prophetsa .
The Jews used to call their people with a horn while the Christians used the bell. Even the lighting of fire, following the style of the Zoroastrians was considered.
After consultations with his Companions, the Holy Prophet finally decided in favour of an oral Call and asked Bilal, a freed Abyssinian slave, to give the first Adhan. Bilal used to ascend to the roof of the house adjacent to the Prophet’s Mosque and deliver the Call to Prayer from there.
The First Battles
The Battle Of Badr
After losing the opportunity to kill the Holy Prophetsa , the Meccans were furious at the spread of Islam in Medinah. The Meccans started to interfere with the Muslims’ right to pilgrimage and also instigated the people of Medinah against the Holy Prophetsa .
They changed their normal caravan routes and started going through tribal areas around Medinah to rouse the tribes against the Muslims.
In the year 624 C.E., two years after the Hijrah, Abu Sufyan was bringing a commercial caravan back from Syria. The Muslim scouts were keeping an eye on the caravan just in case it posed any threat to Medinah. After Abu Sufyan saw the Muslim scouts he became frightened and sent a messenger to Mecca to bring an adequate force to safeguard the caravan.
When the Chiefs of Mecca learned that their goods laden caravan was in possible danger, they quickly gathered a well-armed and well-equipped army of more than a thousand warriors. The army set out from Mecca under the leadership of Abu Jahal to confront the Muslims. When the Holy Prophetsa learned of the Meccans’ intentions, he gathered some 310 Muslims from among the Mohajireen and Ansar and set forth from Medinah. The Muslims camped for the night at a place called Badr, a few miles south west of Medinah. Early on the morning of March 13, 624 C.E., the Holy Prophetsa arranged his small army into ranks and files and delivered a brief address on Jihad, fighting in the cause of God.
Then, according to the Arab custom, three leaders of the Quraysh named Shaiba, Utba and Walid bin Utba challenged three Muslims to a single combat. Their challenge was accepted by Ali, Hamzah and Obadiah. Ali and Hamzah overpowered their opponents but Obaidah and Walid exchanged several blows and both fell down, severely wounded.
After these single combats, a fierce battle broke out in which both sides fought tirelessly. While the Quraysh were fighting for their false pride and glory, the Muslims were fighting in the cause of Islam and for their very existence. Two young Ansars attacked Abu Jahal and mortally wounded him. Very soon the Quraysh were routed and took to their heels. They were chased by the Muslims and some of them were made prisoners.
The Muslims lost fourteen men in the battle of Badr while the Quraysh lost seventy. The very first person to be slain among the Muslims in a pitched battle was Mahja bin Saleh, a freed slave. He was given the title of “Chief of the Martyrs” by the Holy Prophetsa .
A number of the Quraysh were taken prisoners by the Muslims. The Prophetsa ordered his followers to treat these prisoners of war with kindness. The Holy Prophetsa decided to liberate the prisoners on payment of ransom. Those who could not pay the ransom but were literate, were allowed to earn their freedom by teaching ten Muslim children how to read and write. Those who were poor and illiterate were released on the promise that they will not fight the Muslims in the future.
The battle of Badr was the first confrontation between the Muslims and the Meccans. The Muslims not only came out victorious, but some of the worst enemies of Islam such as Abu Jahal were also eliminated in the battle. This battle, therefore, marked a turning point in the history of Islam and considerably boosted the morale of the Muslims who, until then, had only known persecution and harassment.
The Muslims’ victory at Badr could not be tolerated by the vendetta-seeking Quraysh of Mecca and the hostile Jews of Medinah. Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan and daughter of Utba, who had lost her father, her brother and her uncle in the battle, swore that she would not rest until another army was sent against Medinah. The Jews of Medinah were envious of the spreading influence of Islam and started openly opposing the Muslims and the Holy Prophet, though they had a treaty with them. Then there were the hypocrites who had outwardly accepted Islam but in their hearts sought ways and means to hurt the Muslims and spread discontent and disunity among their ranks. The leader of the hypocrites was a man by the name of Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul. He was the Chief of the Khazraj tribe and, before the arrival of the Prophet in Medinah, was generally accepted as the chief of the city. He, therefore, greatly resented the Prophet’s authority and, as later developments will show, tried his best in turning the people against the Prophet.
The Battles Of The Holy Prophet
Much criticism is raised against Islam today, attributing its rapid spread to the use of sword and physical compulsion. This however, is not borne out by historical facts.
For the first fourteen years of his twenty-three-year prophetic career, the Holy Prophetsa passively bore all sorts of persecutions and aggressions afflicted upon him. When finally the permission to fight was granted by God (Holy Qur’an, 22:39) the Holy Prophetsa fought only in self-defence or to check the enemy’s war preparations or to establish peace in the area.
It should be noted that during the eight-year period from the Battle of Badr to the Campaign of Tabuk, the total number of battle casualties in the whole of Arabia was only about 1250. Of these about 250 were Muslims and about 1000 non-Muslims. These are extremely small numbers even by the standards of those days, and put the degree of warfare carried out by the Muslims in its proper perspective.
Expulsion Of Banu Qainuka
After the Battle of Badr, the Jews started giving open expression to their feelings of hatred and jealousy against the Muslims. The relations between the Muslims and the three Jewish tribes began to deteriorate. An isolated case of a street fight between a few Muslims and Jews of Banu Qainuka eventually led to an open confrontation between the two groups. The Muslims marched towards the strongholds of Banu Qainuka in Medinah and besieged them for a fortnight. After this period, the Banu Qainuka surrendered on the condition that they, their families and their animals be spared. The Prophetsa accepted these terms and the Banu Qainuka were expelled from Medinah.
Battle Of Uhud
The Quraysh of Mecca were smarting under their crushing defeat at Badr and could not tolerate the spread of Islam in Medinah. Moreover, the Meccans wanted to avenge the loss of some of their leaders, like Abu Jahal and Utba, who were killed in the battle of Badr at the hands of the Muslims.
The Quraysh, therefore, started to make preparations for another attack on Medinah. In the third year of the Hijrah, exactly one year after the battle of Badr, the Meccan army proceeded towards Medinah under the leadership of Abu Sufyan. The army consisted of some 3,000 soldiers and 200 horses.
In the month of March, year 625 C.E., the Prophet left Medinah with one thousand men and started marching towards Uhud to meet the enemy. Soon after leaving the city. Abdullah bin Ubayy deserted the Muslim army, taking his three hundred men with him. There were now only seven hundred Muslims left to face an enemy of three thousand strong.
Both armies camped near Mount Uhud, located a few miles north of Medinah. Next morning, the Prophetsaarranged the Muslim army in such a way that Mount Uhud was at their back. To further safeguard against a surprise attack from a small opening in the mountain, the Prophetsa appointed a batch of fifty archers to take up positions on a hill guarding this passage. These archers were instructed not to leave their positions until further orders.
During the first phase of the battle, a part of the Meccan army under the command of Ikrimah, son of Abu Jahal, advanced towards the Muslims from the front. The Muslims fought very bravely and overpowered the enemy which ran from the battlefield. Thinking that the enemy was beaten, the Muslims started picking up the spoils of battle. The fifty archers, realizing that they may lose this opportunity, left their positions and also joined the plunder.
The ready eye of Khalid bin Walid, who had not yet accepted Islam and was fighting from the Meccan side, saw the chance and attacked the Muslims from their rear. The Muslims at that time were disorganised and panicked, falling easy target to the Meccans’ swords. The Holy Prophetsa tried to call his people together but a stone hurled at him broke his two teeth and he fell to the ground momentarily stunned. At that instant a rumour spread among the Muslims that the Prophetsa was killed. This further heightened the disarray of the Muslims who then ran from the battle field and took to the protection of the mountain.
Seventy Muslims lost their lives in this battle compared with a loss of only twenty-three by the enemy. The Prophet’s uncle, Hamzah, was also killed during this battle by a spear thrown by Wahshi, an Abyssinian slave of Hind. Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, cut the belly of Hamzah’s corpse and chewed his liver to satisfy her revenge for her father and brother who were killed in the battle of Badr at the hands of Hamzah.
After a major victory at Badr, the Muslims now suffered a big setback at Uhud. The reasons for their defeat were the military tactics of Khalid bin Walid, the lack of discipline among the Muslim ranks, negligence of the Prophet’s orders by the archers, and the reduction of the Muslim forces by the desertion of Abdullah bin Ubayy.
Expulsion Of Banu Nadir From Medinah
After the battle of Uhud, the two Jewish tribes remaining in Medinah, Banu Nadir and Banu Qurayzah, had a dispute regarding a mutual agreement. The matter went before the Holy Prophetsa who decided in favour of Banu Qurayzah. Banu Nadir resented this decision and, upon the instigation of Abdullah bin Ubayy, planned to kill the Holy Prophet.
The Prophetsa escaped from this attempt upon his life and ordered them to leave Medinah. Banu Nadir initially defied this order but gave in after a fortnight of siege. They were allowed to take their goods and chattel and were expelled from Medinah. Some of these people went to Syria while others settled in a place called Khyber where they continued their anti-Islamic activities.
The Murder Of Muslim Missionaries
In the same year as the Battle of Uhud, 625 C.E., seven men of the Banu Qara tribe came to Medinah and asked the Holy Prophet to send some missionaries to their area to teach them the Holy Quran and Islam. The Holy Prophet had already started sending missionaries to the various tribes and this time sent six of his own Companions for this purpose.
When these six missionaries reached the place called Ar-Raji belonging to the tribe of Banu Hudhayl, they were set upon by two hundred men. Four of the missionaries were killed in the fight and two, Zayd bin Dathinah and Khubayb, were taken prisoners and sold to the Meccans who intended to kill them to avenge the deaths of their own relatives in the Battle of Badr.
When Zayd was going to be beheaded, Abu Sufyan asked him:
“Tell me, O Zayd, would you not prefer that Muhammad was here in your place to receive this punishment while you were safe at home with your people?”
“I certainly prefer that Muhammad be where he is, safe from all harm. It is more preferable to me than my being with my own people.”
Abu Sufyan was amazed at this answer and this display of love and loyalty by the Companions of the Holy Prophetsa for him. Zayd was beheaded.
When the other Muslim prisoner, Khubayb, was taken out to be executed in front of the people of Mecca, he asked for permission to say a voluntary Prayer, which he made very short. After completing his Prayer he told his executioner:
“I wanted to prolong my Prayer but was afraid that you might think that I was not ready to die.”
Soon after the incident of Ar-Raji, a man named Abu Bata came to Medinah and asked for enlightenment in the religion of Islam. After being instructed in the new faith, Abu Bara requested the Holy Prophet to send some Huffaz, the Memorizers of the Holy Quran, to the people of Najd to preach them Islam. The Holy Prophet was afraid for the lives of his Companions and turned down the request. But when Abu Bata gave personal guarantees for their protection, the Holy Prophet acceded to his request and sent with him seventy Muslim missionaries.
When these seventy missionaries reached a place called Bir Mauna, the cousin of Abu Bara instigated the local tribesmen against the Muslims. These tribesmen surrounded the Muslim missionaries and after a fight killed all of them with the exception of one man who managed to return to Medinah.
Battle Of The Ditch
Although the Muslims were defeated at Uhud, their efforts to spread Islam continued with intense zeal, and their numbers kept on growing. With the growth of Islam the city of Medinah started to enjoy a status which rivalled that of Mecca. The Quraysh saw, in the growth of Islam, a real threat to their own religious and social position among the Arabs. At the same time the Jews expelled from Medinah were instigating the Quraysh against the Muslims.
Finally, in the year 627 C.E., some five years after the Hijrah, the Quraysh once again rounded up an army and marched upon Medinah under the leadership of Abu Sufyan. This time their forces numbered ten thousand men and six hundred horses. A number of Arab tribes joined league with the Meccans in this battle. For this reason this battle is also known as the Battle of the Confederates.
When the Prophetsa learned of this threat he gathered some three thousand men to face the enemy. On the advice of Salman al Farsi, the Prophetsa decided to remain in the city and dug a long trench around that part of Medinah which gave an open access to the enemy. One side of Medinah had a natural protection of hills and another side was protected by stone houses and groves of trees.
When the Quraysh saw this defence, they were perplexed. They besieged the city and tried to storm it. But the Muslims easily repulsed the attack each time. Finally, the Quraysh decided that the only way to enter the city was by making a secret alliance with the Jewish tribe of Banu Quraysh. Since Banu Qurayzah already had a peace treaty with the Prophet, they refused this offer of the Meccans. On their persistence, however, they agreed to attack the Muslims from the rear while the Meccans engaged the Muslim army at the ditch. This secret plot of the Jewish tribe was discovered by the Muslims who then placed some five hundred soldiers on the Banu Qurayzah side of Medinah to guard against a surprise attack from that quarter.
Meanwhile, the Meccans were running short of their food supplies, the weather was turning adverse and a strong, cold wind had started to blow. Under the circumstances Abu Sufyan raised the siege and decided to return to Mecca.
Although the Battle of the Ditch was a major confrontation between the Quraysh and the Muslims, very little actual fighting took place. The Muslims lost five men while the enemy lost three.
Banu Qurayzah Punished
After the departure of the Meccan army, the Muslims turned their attention to Banu Qurayzah who had betrayed them during the battle of the Ditch. The Muslims laid siege to the Jews’ fortress. When Banu Qurayzah could not hold out any longer, they sent a message to the Holy Prophetsa that they would surrender but would like their fate to be decided by one of their allies. Sa’d bin Muadh, the chief of the tribe of Aus, was appointed the arbiter. Sa’d passed the judgment on the Banu Qurayzah according to the law of the Torah. According to the Jewish law the punishment for treason was death. In passing the death sentence on Banu Qurayzah, Sa’d reminded the Jews of the fact that had the Jews succeeded in carrying out their plan, they would have put all the Muslims to death.
As a result of Sa’d bin Muadh’s judgment, all the male members of the Banu Qurayzah tribe who were of fighting age were executed and their women, children and elders expelled, who went to Syria.
Many historians have commented that the Banu Qurayzah made a tactical mistake in asking one of their own allies to decide their fate. The Mosaic Law was very strict in such matters and any person honestly passing a judgment under this law could not be too lenient. Many historians believe that if the Banu Qurayzah had entrusted their fate to the Prophet Muhammadsa himself, he most likely would have forgiven their excesses and, at the most, expelled them from Medinah.
A Period of Reconciliation
Charter For The Christians
In the sixth year of the Hijrah, the Prophetsa granted all Christians a revolutionary charter of peace. It was originally given to the Christians of the St. Catherine’s Monastery, but its contents were generalised to all Christians of all times. According to this charter, often known as the ‘Ashtiname’:
- The Christians were not to be unfairly taxed
- No bishop was to be expelled from his monastery
- No pilgrim was to be detained from the performance of pilgrimage
- No Christian churches were to be pulled down for the building of mosques
- Christian women married to Muslims were free to enjoy their own religion
- In the case of repair of churches, the Muslims were to help the Christians
Bay’at-E-Ridhwan & The Treaty Of Hudaibiya
By the year 628 C.E., some six long years had passed since the Muslims emigrated from Mecca. They were getting nostalgic and wanted to visit their homes. Also, many of the Muslims had not performed the pilgrimage since they left Mecca. Then one night the Holy Prophetsa dreamed that he was entering the Ka’ba and its key was in his hand. He told of this dream to his Companions and invited them to perform the “Umrah” or the Lesser Pilgrimage. In February 628 C.E., the Holy Prophetsaleft for Mecca in the company of 1,500 Muslims. It was the month of Dhul Qadah, one of the four sacred months when war was unlawful throughout Arabia. The three other sacred months were: Rajab, Dhul Hijjah and Muharram.
When the Quraysh learned of the approach of the Muslims, they started making preparations for a confrontation and told the Muslims that they would not be allowed to enter Mecca and perform the pilgrimage.
The Muslims camped outside Mecca, in a place called Hudaibiya. The Holy Prophetsa dispatched Uthman as a messenger to the Quraysh to inform them of the Muslims’ intentions of only performing the pilgrimage. At that time a rumour spread out that Uthman had been murdered by the Quraysh. This caused a great deal of commotion among the Muslims. Realising the sensitivity of the occasion and the potential for an armed conflict with the Quraysh, the Holy Prophetsa sat down under a tree and asked his followers to offer an oath of allegiance to him. They all submitted to it, one by one declaring their resolve to fight to the bitter end for the cause of Islam. This oath of the Muslims at the hands of the Prophetsa is known as “Bay’at-e-Ridhwan”, or the Pledge of Acceptance.
The Quraysh became alarmed at this display of solidarity by the Muslims and decided to come to terms with them. Suhayl bin Amr and two other representatives of the Quraysh came to confer with the Holy Prophetsa .
When an agreement was finally reached, the Holy Prophetsa asked Ali to write down the terms as he began to dictate them.
The Prophet started his dictation with the invocation Bismillah ar Rahman ar Raheem in the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful. At this Suhayl bin Amr objected saying that they did not know what Rahman was and, instead, proposed to write Bismika Allahumma, In Thy Name, O God. Some of the Prophet’s Companions objected to this but the Prophetsa said to write it down.
The Holy Prophetsa then continued to dictate: “These are the terms of the truce between Muhammad, the Messenger of God and Suhayl the son of Amr.” Suhayl protested again saying, “If we knew that you were the Messenger of God we would not be stopping you from performing the pilgrimage neither would we have fought with you; so write Muhammad the son of Abdullah.” Ali by this time had already written the words Messenger of God. The Prophet asked him to strike them out and write in their place “the son of Abdullah.”
This treaty between the Muslims and the Meccans is known as the Treaty of Hudaibiya and according to its terms:
- There was to be no fighting for a period of ten years.
- Anyone who wished to join the Prophet’s side was free to do so and anyone who wished to join the Meccans, was free to do so.
- If a young man from among the Quraysh joined the Prophetsa , he would be returned to his parents or guardians. If a young man from among the Muslims joined the Quraysh, he would not be returned.
- That year, the Muslims will go back without performing the pilgrimage.
- Next year, the Prophet and his followers could enter Mecca for a period of three days and perform the pilgrimage. During this period the Quraysh would withdraw from the city.
- When the Muslims entered Mecca next year, they would be unarmed.
On the surface the Treaty of Hudaibiya appeared humiliating for the Muslims and Omar could not contain his feelings. He went to the Holy Prophet and Said:
“Are you not God’s Prophet?” to which the Prophetsa replied “Yes”.
“Are we not in the right and our enemies in the wrong?”
asked Omar. To this the Prophetsa replied
“Then why do we yield in such low fashion?”
Omar asked again.
The Prophetsa replied:
“I am God’s Messenger and I will not disobey Him. He will give me the victory”.
“But didn’t you tell us”,
“that we should go to the Ka’ba and perform the pilgrimage?”
replied the Prophetsa ,
“but did I tell you it would have to be this year?”
The Treaty of Hudaibiya gave the Muslims much needed peace and calm in which to concentrate their efforts on the spread of Islam. Great warriors like Khalid bin Walid and Amr bin ‘As, embraced Islam after the Treaty of Hudaibiya. The success of Islam after the treaty can be recognised from the fact that at the time of the treaty there were only 1,500 men with the Holy Prophetsa , but two years later, at the time of the conquest of Mecca, they were ten thousand.
Spreading of the Message
The Holy Prophet Sends Letters To Various Kings
On returning to Medinah after the treaty of Hudaibiya, the Holy Prophetsa sent envoys to various kings and rulers. Each envoy carried a letter from the Prophet, inviting the ruler to accept Islam. These envoys were sent to:
- Heraclius, the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
- Chosroes Pervez, the Emperor of Iran
- Negus (Najashi), the King of Abyssinia
- Muqauqis, the ruler of Egypt
- Mundhir Taimi, the chief of Bahrain
- Al Harith bin Abi Shimr, the Ghassanid Prince of Damascus
- Hawdah bin Ali, the chief of Yamamah
- King of Oman
The Prophet also wrote such letters to the chiefs of many other tribes around Arabia such as:
- Chief of Banu Nahd, a tribe of Yemen
- Chief of Hamadaan, another tribe of Yemen
- Chief of Banu Alim
- Chief of Hadrami tribe
The Letter to Heraclius
The letter addressed to Heraclius was delivered to him while the Emperor was visiting Syria. The envoy carrying the letter was called toHeraclius’ court and the letter was read to Heraclius by an interpreter. Heraclius wanted to know if an Arab caravan was visiting Syria so that he could question an Arab about this Arabian Prophet. It so happened that Abu Sufyan, an enemy of the Prophet, was in town and was taken to Heraclius’ court. Heraclius made Abu Sufyan’s companions stand behind him while he quizzed the Arab enemy of the Prophetsa .
Abu Sufyan later reported the incident as follows:
‘What is his family status amongst you?’
I replied, ‘He belongs to a good (noble) family amongst us.’
Heraclius further asked, ‘Has anybody amongst you ever claimed the same (i.e. to be a Prophet) before him?’
I replied, ‘No.’
He said, ‘Was anybody amongst his ancestors a king?’
I replied, ‘No.’
Heraclius asked, ‘Do the nobles or the poor follow him?’
I replied, ‘It is the poor who follow him.’
He said, ‘Are his followers increasing decreasing (day by day)?’
I replied, ‘They are increasing.’
He then asked, ‘Does anybody amongst those who embrace his religion become displeased and renounce the religion afterwards?’
I replied, ‘No.’
Heraclius said, ‘Have you ever accused him of telling lies before his claim (to be a Prophet)?’
I replied, ‘No. ‘
Heraclius said, ‘Does he break his promises?’
I replied, ‘No. We are at truce with him but we do not know what he will do in it.’ I could not find opportunity to say anything against him except that.
Heraclius asked, ‘Have you ever had a war with him?’
I replied, ‘Yes.’
Then he said, ‘What was the outcome of the battles?’
I replied, ‘Sometimes he was victorious and sometimes we.’
Heraclius said, ‘What does he order you to do?’
I said, ‘He tells us to worship Allah and Allah alone and not to worship anything along with Him, and to renounce all that our ancestors had said. He orders us to pray, to speak the truth, to be chaste and to keep good relations with our Kith and kin.’
Heraclius asked the translator to convey to me the following,
“I asked you about his family and your reply was that he belonged to a very noble family. In fact, all the Apostles come from noble families amongst their respective peoples. I questioned you whether anybody else amongst you claimed such a thing, your reply was in the negative. If the answer had been in the affirmative, I would have thought that this man was following the previous man’s statement. Then I asked you whether anyone of his ancestors was a king. Your reply was in the negative, and if it had been in the affirmative, I would have thought that this man wanted to take back his ancestral kingdom.
I further asked whether he was ever accused of telling lies before he said what he said, and your reply was in the negative. So I wondered how a person who does not tell a lie about others could ever tell a lie about Allah. I, then asked you whether the rich people followed him or the poor. You replied that it was the poor who followed him. And in fact all the Apostle have been followed by this very class of people.
Then I asked you whether his followers were increasing or decreasing. You replied that they were increasing, and in fact this is the way of true faith, till it is complete in all respects. I further asked you whether there was anybody, who, after embracing his religion, became displeased and discarded his religion. Your reply was in the negative, and in fact this is (the sign of) true faith, when its delight enters the hearts and mixes with them completely. I asked you whether he had ever betrayed. You replied in the negative and likewise the Apostles never betray. Then I asked you what he ordered you to do. You replied that he ordered you to worship Allah and Allah alone and not to worship any thing along with Him and forbade you to worship idols and ordered you to pray, to speak the truth and to be chaste. If what you have said is true, he will very soon occupy this place underneath my feet and I knew it (from the scriptures) that he was going to appear but I did not know that he would be from you, and if I could reach him definitely, I would go immediately to meet him and if I were with him, I would certainly wash his feet.’
Heraclius then asked for the letter addressed by Allah’s Apostle which was delivered by Dihya to the Governor of Busra, who forwarded it to Heraclius to read. The contents of the letter were as follows:
“In the name of Allah the Beneficent, the Merciful (This letter is) from Muhammad the slave of Allah and His Apostle to Heraclius the ruler of Byzantine. Peace be upon him, who follows the right path. Furthermore I invite you to Islam, and if you become a Muslim you will be safe, and Allah will double your reward, and if you reject this invitation of Islam you will be committing a sin by misguiding your Arisiyin (peasants). (And I recite to you Allah’s Statement:)
‘O people of the scripture! Come to a word common to you and us that we worship none but Allah and that we associate nothing in worship with Him, and that none of us shall take others as Lords beside Allah. Then, if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are Muslims (those who have surrendered to Allah).’ (3:64).
Abu Sufyan then added, “When Heraclius had finished his speech and had read the letter, there was a great hue and cry in the Royal Court. So we were turned out of the court. I told my companions that the question of Ibn-Abi-Kabsha (the Prophet Muhammad) has become so prominent that even the King of Bani Al-Asfar (Byzantine) is afraid of him. Then I started to become sure that he (the Prophet) would be the conqueror in the near future, till I embraced Islam.”
The Letter to Chosroes Pervez
The letter sent to Chosroes, the Emperor of Iran, had a different reception. The Emperor ordered an interpreter to read the letter to him. On listening to the contents, the Emperor flew into a rage and tore the letter into pieces. When the Prophet’s envoy reported this incident back to him, the Holy Prophetsa said:
“What Chosroes has done to our letter, God will do to his Empire”
Chosroes even issued orders for the arrest of the Prophet. The Emperor was soon murdered by his own son who cancelled the orders for the Prophet’s arrest. The Kingdom of Iran fell in a few years in front of the Muslim forces sent out during the reign of Omar, the second Khalifah of the Holy Prophetsa .
The Letter to Negus
The letter sent to Negus, King of Abyssinia, received an honourable reception. The King showed great respect for the letter and ordered an ivory box for it, saying:
“While this letter is safe, my Kingdom is safe”
The Letter to Muqauqis
When the Prophet’s letter was received by Muqauqis, the Christian ruler of Egypt, he questioned the envoy regarding the Holy Prophet. Muqauqis did not accept Islam but, very diplomatically, he wrote a letter to the Holy Prophet in reply sending with it presents of gold, two Egyptian girls, garments of Egyptian linen and a mule.
The Letter to Mundhir
The envoy carrying the letter to Mundhir, Chief of Bahrain, was the most successful of all envoys sent out by the Holy Prophetsa . When Mundhir received the Prophet’s letter, he and many of his friends and followers accepted Islam. The Chief also wrote to the Holy Prophetsa for further instructions for his people.
Later Battles and Tensions
The Conquest Of Khyber
Five months after returning from Hudaibiya, the Prophet learned of the rebellion of the Jews of Khyber. Since the expulsion of the Jews from Medinah, many had settled down in Khyber and continued their nefarious activities against the Muslims. They instigated and aroused against Islam the Christian tribes settled on the southern frontier of the Roman Empire, the Arab tribes around Medinah and even Chosroes of Iran.
In August 628 C.E., the Prophet marched towards Khyber with 1,600 of his followers. At Khyber, a number of small forts fell one after the other and, after a heavy contest, their main fortress, Al Qamus, was also captured. The Jews being helpless, asked for the Prophet’s pardon. He not only forgave them but also returned their land and properties with complete freedom to practice their faith. A fixed land tax, however, was imposed upon them.
Some 18 Muslims were killed in this Battle while the Jews lost 93 men.
The Three Day Pilgrimage
Next year, in 629 C.E., Prophet Muhammad visited Mecca according to the terms of the treaty of Hudaibiya. Many Muslims accompanied him this time to perform the pilgrimage. When the Quraysh learned of the Prophet’s approach, they, too, left the city according to the agreement. The Holy Prophetsa and his followers performed the Umrah or the Lesser Pilgrimage and after three days, returned to Medinah.
Battle Of Mutah
On return from his three-day pilgrimage, the Prophetsa learned that the Christian tribes on the Syrian border were becoming hostile. The Prophetsa , therefore, sent a letter with an envoy to the Ghassanid Prince at Damascus, complaining about these hostilities. The Ghassanid Prince ruled that area in the name of Rome. While on his way the envoy was intercepted and murdered at Mutah by a Christian chieftain named Shurahbil.
To put an end to these continuing hostilities, the Prophetsa raised a force of 3,000 men and dispatched it towards Syria under the command of Zayd bin Harith, the freed slave and adopted son of the Holy Prophetsa . The Byzantine army, it is estimated, was close to one hundred thousand strong.
The Muslim army marched away in September 629 C.E. and covered over six hundred miles to reach Mutah. It was the largest and most arduous expedition ever undertaken by the Muslims and the first one against the Christians. When the Muslims saw the size of the Christian army, they wanted to send word back to Medinah for reinforcement. However, the distance to Medinah was too great and the Muslim leaders decided to fight with whatever soldiers they had.
As the battle started, Zayd, the commander of the Muslim forces, was killed and the flag and command passed on to Jafar bin Abu Talib. Soon after, Jafar also fell and the command passed to Abdullah bin Rawah, as the Holy Prophetsa had instructed. Soon, Abdullah bin Rawah also fell. At this point Khalid bin Walid picked up the flag of the Muslim army and continued fighting till evening came.
Next, day, Khalid bin Walid took his exhausted army and the battle continued for a while. The Muslims, however, were grossly outnumbered and continuing the fighting any longer would have been suicidal. Khalid bin Walid, therefore, gathered the leftover of his army, executed a retreat and returned to Medinah. The Muslims at Medinah chided the returning army and scolded them for not fighting till their death. The Prophet, however, defended the army’s action and praised Khalid bin Walid for his bravery, giving him the title of Saif Allah, the sword of God.
Because of the timely retreat of the Muslim army, not very many people were killed in this battle.
The Conquest Of Mecca
In the treaty of Hudaybiya it was agreed that any tribe wanting to join the Muslims or the Quraysh was free to do so. As a result, the Khuza tribe joined the Muslims while the Banu Bakr entered into an alliance with the Meccans.
Some two years after the treaty, the Banu Bakr tribe, with the help of the Quraysh, raided the Khuza tribe by night and killed a number of their men. The Khuza tribe sent a deputation of about forty men to the Holy Prophetsa , demanding help and justice. The Prophetsa sent a peace mission to the Quraysh proposing that:
- (a) the Quraysh pay proper compensation to the Khuza tribe, or
- (b) the Quraysh cut off all relations with the Banu Bakr, or
- (c) the Quraysh declare the treaty of Hudaibiya as null and void.
The Quraysh neither wanted to pay compensation nor break away their relationship with the aggressor tribe of Banu Bakr. They, therefore, accepted the third alternative. With the agreement now dissolved between the Muslims and the Meccans, the Prophetsa realised that there was no other way to render justice except by fighting the Quraysh. In January 630 C.E., the Prophetsa advanced towards Mecca with an army of ten thousand men. This was the largest force Medinah had ever seen. On reaching Mecca, the Muslim army camped outside the city.
Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Quraysh, came out during the night with two companions to see the Muslim camp. He was astounded at the size of the Muslim army and could hardly contain his amazement. The Muslim ranks, which numbered about three hundred at the battle of Badr just six years ago, had now swollen to nearly ten thousand.
While Abu Sufyan and his companions were scouting around, they were captured by the Muslim guards and brought in front of the Holy Prophet. The Prophet not only pardoned his lifelong enemy but also allowed him to spend the night in the Muslim camp. Abu Sufyan was amazed at the discipline of the Muslims and their love for the Holy Prophetsa . Abu Sufyan made a remark at the time that:
“I have seen great courts. I have seen the courts of Chosroes and that of Kaiser, but I have never seen any people so devoted to their leader as the Muslims are to their Prophet.”
By sunrise, Abu Sufyan and his companions had accepted Islam. They, however, were concerned about the fate of Mecca and asked the Holy Prophetsa as to what would the Muslims do to the Meccans. The Prophetsareplied:
“These people have been very cruel. They have gone back on the peace they signed at Hudaibiya and attacked the Khuza tribe. They have made war in a place which had been made sacred by God”
Abu Sufyan and his companions asked the Holy Prophetsa for forgiveness and enquired if the Meccans could have peace if they did not draw their swords. The Prophetsa replied:
“Everyone who stays indoors will have peace. Whoever takes shelter in the house of Abu Sufyan will have peace. Whoever enters the Sacred Mosque will have peace. Those who lay their arms will have peace.”
In the morning, Abu Sufyan returned to Mecca with this message while the Muslim army started marching into the city. The Holy Prophetsa gave strict orders to his generals not to permit any fighting unless the enemy fought first.
The Prophetsa went straight to the Ka’ba and performed the circuit seven times. Then he ordered that the Ka’ba be cleared of all idols and paintings. The idols were broken and the walls of the Ka’ba cleansed of all pictures. After this, the Holy Prophetsa went inside the Ka’ba and said his Prayer there.
The Holy Prophetsa then addressed the Meccans and told them that they will not be called to account. Ikrimah, the son of Abu Jahal, was in the process of escaping to Abyssinia when he learned of this general amnesty. He could not believe his ears and had to ask the Holy Prophetsa himself, who replied, “Yes, I have forgiven you.” Utbah and Mu’attib, the two surviving sons of Abu Lahab, were afraid to appear before the Prophet. Utbah had divorced Ruqayyah, the Prophet’s daughter, under pressure from his father. The Holy Prophetsa took Abu Lahab’s sons by their hands and walked to the wall of the Ka’ba where he prayed for a long time. On returning he said, “I asked my Lord to give me these two sons of my uncle, and He has given them to me.”
Both these sons embraced Islam. Most historians agree that in the history of conquests there has never been a more triumphant entry than this one. Hardly any blood was shed and all the enemies were pardoned. The Muslims had been tortured in this city and were eventually driven out of it. The residents of this city had not let the Muslims live in peace even in Medinah and had waged many battles against them. But on this day, when the enemy lay helpless, defeated and at the mercy of the Muslims, a general forgiveness was declared and no revenge was taken. Such an example of greatness is unmatched in the history of conquests.
Battle Of Hunayn
Immediately after the conquest of Mecca, the Muslims had to fight the Hawazin and Thaqif tribes which dwelt in the area east of Mecca. These two tribes invited a number of other tribes in the area to join them in battle against the Muslims.
This battle between the Muslims and the Hawazin and allied tribes was fought in the valley of Hunayn. When the Muslim army entered the valley, the enemy archers rained arrows from the surrounding cliffs where they lay hidden. The beasts of the Muslim army took fright and ran in spite of the riders. There was a time when the Prophetsa was left with only a handful of companions. When his companions tried to stop him from going ahead, he scorned the proposal and said:
“I am a Prophet, it is no lie; I am the son of Abdul Muttalib.”
At this moment the thunderous voice of Abbas, the Prophet’s uncle, rang out in the valley telling the Muslims that their Prophetsa had stood his ground and was calling for help. The Muslims then gathered together and drove the enemy from the battle field.
Distribution Of The Booty And The Ansar’s Unhappiness
The victory at Hunayn gave the Muslims their largest spoils of war. These spoils consisted of camels, goats and silver and were divided into five equal portions. Four of these portions were distributed among the Muslim army and one portion was reserved for the Muslim Treasury to be used as the Holy Prophetsa saw fit.
From this fifth portion, the Holy Prophetsa gave generously to some of the newly converted leaders of the Quraysh such as Abu Sufyan, Muawiah, Harith bin Harith, Harith bin Hisham, Suhayl bin Amr and some others, all of whom had been staunch opponents of Islam before the conquest of Mecca.
The Ansar felt aggrieved at this act of generosity towards the new converts and some of them gave voice to their feelings. When the Holy Prophetsa learned of their resentment, he asked for them to be assembled. When they had all gathered in front of him, the Prophetsa addressed them:
“O Ansar! It has been reported to me that you do not approve of my distribution of the booty. Is it not true that when I came to you, you were languishing in misguidance and error, and God guided you to the truth through me? And is it not true that I found you in a state of poverty, and God made you affluent? And is it not true that I found you enemy of one another, and God reconciled your hearts?
After listening to each sentence of the admonition, the Ansar would say, “Indeed! God and His Prophet have been very generous.” The Holy Prophetsa then continued:
“Why don’t you say this O Ansar, ‘It was you, Muhammad, who were under our obligation. Did you not come to us vanquished and defeated, and we came to your rescue? Did you not come to us exiled and rejected, and we gave you shelter? Did you not come to us in want and need, and we came to your help?
“Had you replied to me in these words, you would have said nothing but the truth and I would have agreed with you. O Ansar, are you angry because I gave away some goods to those whom I sought to win to Islam? Because I considered that their faith could be confirmed by material goods, whereas I considered yours to be based on solid conviction.
“Does this not satisfy you, O Ansar, that when other people return home loaded with goods and camels, you will return home with the Prophet of God? By Him Who controls Muhammad’s soul, there is no people to whom I love to belong more than the Ansar.”
The Holy Prophetsa said these words in great love and affection for the men of Ansar who had pledged their unswerving loyalty and allegiance to him, and had helped him at the most critical stage in his mission.
When the Ansar heard these words of great affection and sincerity from the Prophet’s mouth, they burst into tears and they all shouted with one voice, “We want only Muhammad, the Prophet of God.”
Campaign Of Tabuk
In the summer of year 630 C.E., rumours spread out in Medinah that the Byzantine army was gathering in the southern part of Syria, ready to attack Medinah. Later events showed that these rumours were cleverly spread by the hypocrites in Medinah who wanted to provoke the Muslims against the Roman Empire.
The previous encounter with the Byzantine forces at Mutah was still fresh in the minds of the Muslims who showed some reluctance in joining this campaign. The Prophetsa finally prepared an army of thirty thousand men and marched towards Syria. After reaching Tabuk, the Prophet stayed there a few days and not finding any signs of the enemy, returned to Medinah. The journey took the Muslim army about two and a half months and was the last campaign undertaken by the Holy Prophet in his life.
After his return from Tabuk, a large number of deputations from various tribes and states came to Medinah to offer their allegiance to the Prophet. They came from Oman, Hadramawt, Harridan, Kindah, Bahrain, Yamamah and many other provinces of Arabia. In fact, so remarkable was the movement of these deputations towards Medinah that the ninth year of the Hijrah is known as the “Year of Deputations”.
The End of the Prophet’s Life
Farewell Pilgramage & Sermon
In the year 632 C.E., the Holy Prophet felt that his mission was nearing completion, and, understanding that the end of his life was near, he decided to make a farewell pilgrimage to Mecca. After completing the various ceremonies of the Hajj, the Prophetsa addressed the people gathered there from the top of the Mount of Mercy, in the Plain of Arafat:
“O people, listen to my words; for I do not know if I shall be among you after this year. Remember that you have to appear before your Lord Who will demand from you an account of all your actions.
“O people, you have rights over your wives and your wives have rights over you. Remember, you must always treat your wives with kindness. Woman is weak and cannot protect her own rights. When you married, God appointed you the trustees of those rights. You brought your wives to your homes under the Law of God. You must not, therefore, insult the trust which God has placed in your hands.
“O people, feed your slaves as you feed yourselves and clothe your slaves as you clothe yourselves. If they commit a fault which you are unable to forgive, then pass them on to someone else. They are part of God’s creation and are not to be harshly treated.
“O people, listen to my words, and remember that all Muslims are brothers one of another. As you are one brotherhood, you will not take your brother’s belongings which he does not give you of his own goodwill. And guard yourself against committing injustice.
“O people, take note that I trample under foot all un-Islamic customs and traditions. All blood-feuds are wiped out. As God has made you one brotherhood, so be not divided. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab; nor is a white one to be preferred to a dark one, nor a dark one to a white one. This day, retaliation for all murders committed in the days of ignorance is cancelled and all sums of interest are remitted.
“O people, worship your Lord, observe Prayer, observe the Fast during Ramadhan, pay the Zakat cheerfully, perform the Pilgrimage, and obey those in authority among you; God will admit you to His paradise”
And he concluded:
“What I have said to you, you shall tell the others who are not present.”
With these words the Prophetsa finished his address when a revelation came to him:
“This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed upon you my favour and have chosen for you Islam as Religion.” (Holy Qur’an, 5:4)
This is believed to be the last Qur’anic revelation received by the Holy Prophetsa and with it the process of Quranic revelations, spanning a period of twenty two years, came to a close.
The Prophet’s Illness
Two months after returning from the farewell pilgrimage, the Holy Prophetsa fell ill. One day, after having led the Prayer, he addressed the people present in the mosque. He said, “There is a slave among the slaves of God to whom God has offered the choice between this world and that which is with Him. And the slave has chosen that which is with God.” When Abu Bakr heard these words, he began to weep; for he understood that the Holy Prophetsa was speaking of himself and that the choice he referred to was his imminent death. The Holy Prophetsa continued, “O people, the most beneficent of men unto me in companionship and generosity has been Abu Bakr; and if I were to select from all mankind an inseparable friend, he would be Abu Bakr. But real companionship and brotherhood is ours when God unites us all in His presence”.
When the Prophetsa became so ill that he could not even come to the mosque, he asked that Abu Bakr lead the daily Prayers. Hazrat A’isha knew that her father was very sensitive and prone to weeping and would be greatly distressed taking the Prophet’s place. She, therefore, suggested Omar’s name instead. But the Holy Prophetsainsisted that it be Abu Bakr.
One day the Prophetsa was feeling a little better so he asked to be taken to the mosque. Ibn Abbas and Ali supported him from each side and, with his feet dragging on the ground, took him to the mosque. Abu Bakr had already started leading the Prayer. As Ibn Abbas and Ali took the Prophet to the front row, the people tried to give Abu Bakr a hint by clapping their hands. Abu Bakr, however, was too engrossed in the Prayer and did not take any notice. Finally, he became aware of the Prophet’s presence behind him and wanted to move back. The Prophetsa , however, indicated to him to continue leading the Prayer and asked Ibn Abbas and Ali to put him down next to Abu Bakr. The Prayer then continued in such a manner that Abu Bakr was following the Holy Prophetsa seated next to him while the people behind were following Abu Bakr. After the Prayer was over the Prophetsa asked Abu Bakr why he didn’t continue leading the Prayer after he was asked to do so. Abu Bakr replied, “How dare the son of Abu Qahafa lead the Prayer in the presence of the Messenger of God.”
As the Prophet’s illness advanced, he requested his wives to allow him to spend his last days with A’isha, to which they all agreed. One day Fatimah, his daughter, came to see him. A’isha saw the Holy Prophet whisper something in Hazrat Fatimah’s ear, upon which Fatimah began to cry. Then he whispered something else in her ear, which made her smile through her tears. When A’isha queried Fatimah on what the Holy Prophetsa was whispering to her, she answered that it was a secret not to be divulged. Much later, she told A’isha that the Holy Prophet had informed her that he was going to die in that illness and this had made her cry. Then the Holy Prophetsa told her that she, Fatimah, would be the first from the Prophet’s house to join him, and this had cheered her up.
The Prophet’s Mosque in Medinah was adjacent to his residence. One day the Prophetsa stood by the window and looked outside at the Muslims getting ready to say their Fajr Prayers behind Abu Bakr. The people looked at the Holy Prophet’s face and waited for him to join them. He smiled at them and indicated with his hand for Abu Bakr to go ahead with the Prayer. That was the last time the Muslims saw their Prophet’s face; that day at noon, the Holy Prophetsa passed away. On June 8, 632 C.E., the Holy Prophetsa was buried and thus ended the glorious career of the Prophet of Islam, peace be upon him, the greatest man of Arabia, indeed of the whole world.
When Omar was told of the Prophet’s death, he did not believe it. He always thought that the Holy Prophet was going to outlive all of them. He, therefore, proceeded to the mosque and started telling the people that the Prophetsa was merely absent in spirit and will return soon.
When Abu Bakr heard the sad news, he went straight to his daughter A’isha’s house and drew back the cloak which covered the Prophet’s face. He looked at the face of his departed friend and then bent down and kissed it. “Dearer than my father and mother,” he said, “thou hast tasted the death which God decreed for thee. Thou art too precious with the Lord for another death to befall thee.”
After this, Abu Bakr went out where Omar was still addressing the people. He asked Omar to be quiet but Omar paid no attention. Finally Abu Bakr started to speak to the people himself:
“O people, whosoever worships Muhammad, let him then know that Muhammad is dead. But whosoever worships God, let him know that the Lord is living and does not die”
Abu Bakr then recited the following Quranic verses which were revealed after the Battle of Uhud:
The Holy Prophet’s body was bathed and laid out in the chamber of A’isha where he had died. Next morning, the inhabitants of Medinah came and visited it, praying over his remains. Abu Bakr and Omar entered the chamber and prayed as follows:
“Peace be upon thee, O Prophet of God, and mercy from the Lord and His blessing. We bear witness that the Prophet of God has delivered the Message revealed to him; has fought in the way of God until God gave his religion victory; has fulfilled his words, has drawn us to himself, and been kind and tender-hearted towards the believers; has sought no recompense for delivering the Faith to us, neither has he sold it for a price at any time.”
In the evening, the final rites were performed and the body was buried in a grave dug in A’isha’s chamber, at the same place where the Prophetsa
had breathed his last. Later on, when Abu Bakr died, he was buried in the same chamber and, in due time, Omar as well. Thus was fulfilled a dream of A’isha that three moons fell, one after another, into her chamber.
“And Muhammad is only a Messenger. Verily, Messengers have passed away before. If then he dies or is slain, will you non back on your heels?” (Holy Qur’an, 3:145)
Hazrat Abu Bakr’s words put a hush on the crowd. Omar himself was astounded. When realization finally sank in that the Holy Prophetsa was really dead, his legs could not carry him and Omar fell to the ground.
The Prophet’s Personal Qualities
Excerpts from Life of Muhammad by Hazrat Mirza Bashirrudin Mahmood Ahmadra .
The Prophet’s Purity Of Mind And Cleanliness Of Body
It is related of the Holy Prophetsa that his speech was always pure and that he was (unlike most of his contemporaries) not given to the use of oaths (Tirmidhi). This was something exceptional for an Arab. We do not imply that the Arabs at the time of the Holy Prophetsa habitually indulged in foul language, but there is no doubt that they were in the habit of punctuating their speech with a generous measure of oaths, a habit that persists among them even to this day. The Holy Prophetsa , however, held the name of God in such reverence that he never uttered it without full justification. He was very particular, even punctilious, with regard to physical cleanliness. He used to brush his teeth several times a day and was so keen on the practice that he used to say that were he not afraid that the ordinance might prove onerous, he would make it obligatory upon every Muslim to brush his teeth before every one of the five daily prayers. He always washed his hands before and after each meal and, after eating anything that had been cooked, he always rinsed his mouth and considered it desirable that every person who had eaten anything cooked should rinse his mouth before joining in any of the prayers (Bukhari). In the polity of Islam a mosque is the only place of gathering prescribed for the Muslims. The Holy Prophetsa , therefore, laid particular stress upon the cleanliness of mosques, especially on occasions when people were expected to collect in them. He had directed that on such occasions incense should be burnt in the mosques to purify the air (Abu Dawud). He also gave directions that nobody should go to a mosque on the occasion of a congregation or gathering after eating anything that was likely to exhale an offensive odour (Bukhari). He insisted upon streets being kept clean and clear of twigs, stones, and all articles or matter which was likely either to obstruct or to prove offensive. Whenever he himself found any such matter or article lying in a street he would remove it, and he used to say that a person who helps to keep streets and roads clean and clear, earns spiritual merit in the sight of God. He is also reported to have enjoined that public thoroughfares should not be so used as to cause obstruction nor should any unclean or undesirable matter or article be thrown on to a public street, nor should a street be defiled in any other way, as all such acts are displeasing to God. He was very keen that all supply of water conserved for human use should be kept clean and pure. For instance, he prohibited anything being thrown into standing water which might befoul it and any reservoir of water being used in a manner which would render it impure (Bukhari and Muslim, Kitab al-Birr Wassila).
The Prophet’s Simple Life
The Prophetsa was extremely simple in the matter of food and drink. He never expressed displeasure with ill prepared or ill-cooked food. If he could eat such food he would do so to save the person who had prepared it from disappointment. If, however, a dish was uneatable, he merely refrained from partaking of it and never expressed his disapproval of it. When he sat down to a meal he paid attention to the food placed before him and used to say that he did not like an attitude of indifference towards food, as if the person eating was above paying attention to mere matters of food and drink. When any eatable was presented to him he always shared it with those present. On one occasion somebody presented him with some dates. He looked round and after making an estimate of the number of people present divided the dates equally among them, each of them receiving seven. Abu Hurairara relates that the Holy Prophetsa never ate his fill even of barley bread (Bukhari).
Whenever the Holy Prophetsa sat down to a meal he always began to eat by invoking the name and blessings of Allah, and as soon as he concluded he rendered thanks in these words: “All praise is due to Allah, Who has given us to eat: Praise, abundant and sincere and ever-increasing: Praise, which does not leave an impression upon one’s mind that one has rendered enough praise but which creates in one’s mind the feeling that enough has not been said and the praise which ought never to be terminated and which makes one think that every divine act is worthy of praise and should be praised. Oh Allah! do Thou fill our hearts with these sentiments.” Sometimes he used these words: “All praise is due to God Who has satisfied our hunger and thirst. May our hearts ever yearn after His praise and never be ungrateful to Him.” He always admonished his Companions to stop before they had eaten their fill and used to say that one man’s food should always suffice for two. Whenever any special food was prepared in his house he used to suggest that a portion of it should be sent as a present to his neighbours; and presents of food and other articles used constantly to be sent from his house to his neighbours’ houses (Muslim and Bukhari, Kitab al-Adab).
Relationship With God
Every aspect of the Holy Prophet’ssalife appears to have been governed and coloured by his love for and devotion to God. In spite of the very heavy responsibilities that had been laid upon his shoulders the greater portion of his time during the day as well as during the night was spent in the worship and praise of God. He would leave his bed at midnight and devote himself to the worship of God till it was time to go to the mosque for the morning prayers. He sometimes stood so long in prayer during the latter part of the night that his feet would get swollen, and those who saw him in that condition was always much affected. On one occasion ‘A’ishara said to him: “God has honoured you with His love and nearness. Why then do you subject yourself to so much discomfort and inconvenience?” He replied: “If God has by His Grace and Mercy conferred His love and nearness upon me, is it not my duty in return to be always rendering thanks to Him? Gratitude should increase in proportion to the favours received” (Bukhari, Kitabul Kusuf).
He never entered upon any undertaking without divine command or permission. It has already been related in the biographical portion that, in spite of the very severe persecution to which he was subjected by the people of Mecca, he did not leave the town till he received the divine command to do so. When persecution became very severe and he gave permission to his Companions to migrate to Abyssinia, some of them expressed a desire that he should accompany them. He declined to do so on the ground that he had not received divine permission to that effect. Thus, during a period of hardships and persecution when people usually like to keep their friends and relations close to themselves, he directed his Companions to seek refuge in Abyssinia and himself stayed behind in Mecca, for God had not yet directed him to leave it.
Whenever he referred to or discoursed about God, it appeared to onlookers as if his whole being was in the grip of a passion of love for, and devotion to God.
High Moral Qualities
The Holy Prophetsa , throughout his life, had to encounter a succession of bitter experiences. He was born an orphan, his mother died while he was still a small child and he lost his grandfather at the age of eight years. After marriage he had to bear the loss of several children, one after the other, and then his beloved and devoted wife Khadijara died. Some of the wives he married after Khadija’sra death, died during his lifetime and towards the close of his life he had to bear the loss of his son Ibrahim. He bore all these losses and calamities cheerfully, and none of them affected in the least degree either his high resolve or the urbanity of his disposition. His private sorrows never found vent in public and he always met everybody with a benign countenance and treated all alike with uniform benevolence. On one occasion he observed a woman who had lost a child occupied in loud mourning over her child’s grave. He admonished her to be patient and to accept God’s will as supreme. The woman did not know that she was being addressed by the Holy Prophetsa and replied: “If you had ever suffered the loss of a child as I have, you would have realised how difficult it is to be patient under such an affliction.” The Prophetsa observed: “I have suffered the loss not of one but of seven children,” and passed on. Except when he referred to his own losses or misfortunes in this indirect manner, he never cared to dwell upon them nor did he permit them in any manner to interfere with his unceasing service to mankind and his cheerful sharing of their burdens.
Justice And Fair Dealing
The Arabs were greatly given to favouritism and applied different standards to different persons. Even among the so-called civilized nations of today one observes a reluctance to bring prominent persons or persons occupying high positions or offices to account for their doings, though the law is enforced rigorously against the common citizen. The Holy Prophetsa was, however, unique in enforcing uniform standards of justice and fair dealing. On one occasion a case came before him in which a young woman belonging to a highly respectable family was found to have committed theft. This caused great consternation as, if the normal penalty were imposed upon the young woman, a leading family would be humiliated and disgraced. Many were anxious to intercede with the Prophetsa on behalf of the offender but were afraid to do so. Eventually Usamara was prevailed upon to undertake the mission. Usamara went to the Holy Prophetsa but the moment the latter perceived the trend of his submission he was much upset and said: “You had better desist. Nations have come to a bad end for showing favours to highly placed persons while pressing hard on the common people. Islam does not permit this and I will certainly not do it. Verily, if my own daughter, Fatima, were to commit an offence I would not hesitate to impose the appropriate penalty” (Bukhari, Kitabul Hudud).
Regard For The Poor
The Holy Prophetsa was ever concerned to ameliorate the condition of the poorer sections of the community and to raise their status in society.
A poor Muslim woman used to clean out the Holy Prophet’ssamosque in Medina. The Prophetsa did not see her in the mosque for some days and made inquiries concerning her. He was told that she had died. He said:
“Why was I not informed when she died? I would have wished to join her funeral prayers,”
“perchance you did not consider her worthy of consideration as she was poor. This was not right. Direct me to her grave.”
He then proceeded to her grave and prayed for her (Bukhari, Kitabus Salat). He used to say that there were people with tangled hair whose bodies were covered with dust and who were not welcomed by those who were well-to-do, but who were so highly valued by God that if, trusting in God’s beneficence, they swore in His name that a certain matter would take a certain turn, He would support them. (Muslim, Kitabul Birr Was Sila).
Treatment Of Women
The Holy Prophetsa was very keen on improving the condition of women in society and on securing for them a position of dignity and fair and equitable treatment. Islam was the first religion which conferred upon women the right of inheritance. The Qur’an makes daughters along with sons heirs to the property left by their parents. In the same way a mother is made an heir to her son’s or daughter’s property and a wife is made an heir to her husband’s property. When a brother becomes an heir of his deceased brother’s property a sister is also an heir to that property. No religion before Islam had so clearly and firmly established a woman’s right of inheritance and her right to possess property. In Islam a woman is the absolute owner of her own property and her husband cannot obtain any control over it by virtue merely of their relationship. A woman is at full liberty to deal with her property as she chooses.
He was so careful concerning the sentiments of women that on one occasion when he was leading the prayers he heard the cry of a child and concluded the service quickly, explaining thereafter that as he had heard the cry of the child he imagined that the child’s mother would be distressed at its cry and he had therefore concluded the service quickly so that the mother could go to the child and look after it. When during any of his journeys women were also among the party he always gave directions that the caravan should move slowly and by easy stages. On one such occasion when the men were eager to push forward, he said: “Take care of glass! Take care of glass!” meaning thereby that women were of the party and that if camels and horses were put to the gallop they would suffer from the joltings of the animals (Bukhari, Kitabul Adab). During a battle, confusion arose among the ranks of the mounted soldiers and the animals became unmanageable. The Holy Prophetsa fell from his horse and some of the women also fell from their mounts. One of his Companionsra, who was riding a camel immediately behind the Prophetsa jumped down and ran towards him crying: “May I be your sacrifice, O Messenger of Allahpbuh.” The Prophet’ssafoot was still in the stirrup. He released it hastily and said to his Companion: “Don’t bother about me, go and help the women.” Just before his death one of the injunctions he addressed to Muslims and laid stress upon was that they should always treat women with kindness and consideration. It was an oft repeated saying of his that if a man had daughters and he arranged to have them educated and took pains with their upbringing, God would save him from the torment of Hell (Tirmidhi).
Tolerance In Religious Matters
The Holy Prophetsa not only emphasised the desirability of tolerance in religious matters but set a very high standard in this respect. A deputation from a Christian tribe of Najran visited him in Medina to exchange views on religious matters. It included several Church dignitaries. The conversation was held in the mosque and extended over several hours. At one stage the leader of the deputation asked permission to depart from the mosque and to hold their religious service at some convenient spot. The Holy Prophetsa said that there was no need for them to go out of the mosque, which was itself a place consecrated to the worship of God, and they could hold their service in it (Zurqani).
Cruelty To Animals
He warned people against cruelty to animals and enjoined kind treatment to them. He used to relate the instance of a Jewish woman who was punished by God for having starved her cat to death. He also used to relate the story of a woman who found a dog suffering from thirst near a deep well. She took off her shoe and lowered it into the well and thus drew up some water. She gave the water to the thirsty dog to drink. This good deed earned her God’s forgiveness for all her previous sins. ‘Abdullah bin Mas‘udra relates: “While we were in the course of a journey along with the Holy Prophet (sa) we saw two young doves in a nest and we caught them. They were still very small. When their mother returned to the nest, not finding her little ones in it, she began to fly wildly round and round. When the Holy Prophetsa arrived at the spot he observed the dove and said, ‘If any one of you has caught its young ones he must release them at once to comfort it’ ” (Abu Dawud).
As has been related the Holy Prophetsa was himself so rigid in his standards of truthfulness that he was known among his people as “The Trusty” and “The True”. He was equally anxious that Muslims should adopt the same standards of truth as were observed by himself. He regarded truth as the basis of all virtue, goodness and right conduct. He taught that a truthful person is one who is so confirmed in truth that he is counted truthful by God.
A man once came to the Holy Prophetsa and said:
“O Messenger of Allah! I suffer from three evils: falsehood, indulgence in strong drinks and fornication. I have tried my utmost to get rid of them but have not succeeded. Will you tell me what to do? ” The Prophetsa replied:
“If you make a firm promise to me to give up one of them I guarantee that you will be rid of the other two.” The man promised and asked the Prophetsa to tell him which of the three he should give up. The Prophetsa said: “Give up falsehood.” Some time later the man came back and told the Holy Prophetsa that, having followed his advice, he was now free from all three vices. The Prophetsa asked him for the details of his struggle and the man said: “One day I wanted to indulge in liquor and was about to do so when I bethought myself of my promise to you and realised that if any of my friends asked me whether I had taken liquor, I would have to admit it as I could no longer utter a falsehood. This would mean that I would acquire an evil reputation among my friends and they would in future avoid me. Thinking thus, I persuaded myself to postpone drinking to some later occasion and was able to withstand the temptation at the time. In the same way when I found myself inclined towards fornication I argued with myself that indulgence in the vice would expose me to the loss of the esteem of my friends as I would either have to tell a falsehood if questioned by them, thus breaking my promise to you, or I would have to admit my sin. In this way I continued to struggle between my resolve to fulfil my promise to you and my desire to indulge in liquor and in adultery. When some time had passed I began to lose the inclination to indulge in these vices and the resolve to keep away from falsehood has now saved me from the other two also.”
Treatment Of Relatives
Most people suffer from the failing that when they marry and set up house for themselves, they begin to neglect their parents. The Holy Prophetsa , therefore, laid great stress upon the meritoriousness of serving one’s parents and treating them with kindness and consideration. Abu Hurairara relates: “A man came to the Holy Prophetsa and asked to be told who was most deserving of kind treatment at his hands. The Prophetsa replied: ‘Your mother’. The man asked ‘And next to her?’ The Prophetsa repeated, ‘Again thy mother’. The man asked a third time, ‘And after my mother?’ and the Prophetsa again replied, Still thy mother’, and when the man asked him a fourth time, he said: ‘After her thy father and after him thy nearest relatives and after them thy more remote relatives.’ “The Prophet’ssaown parents and grandparents had died while he was still a child. The parents of some of his wives were, however, alive and he always treated them with great consideration and deference. On the occasion of the surrender of Mecca when the Holy Prophetsa entered the town as a victorious general, Abu Bakrra brought his father to meet him. He said to Abu Bakrra : “Why did you trouble your father to come to me? I would gladly have gone to him myself” (Halbiyya, Vol. 3, p. 99). One of his sayings was: “Unlucky is the man whose parents live to old age and he fails to earn Paradise even then”, meaning that the service of one’s parents particularly when they reach old age attracts the grace and favour of God and, therefore, a person to whom is afforded the opportunity of serving his aged parents and who avails himself of the opportunity to the full is bound to become confirmed in righteous ways and a recipient of the grace of God.