The Third Stage – Calling unto Islam Beyond Makkah

In Shawwal (in the end of May or the beginning of June 619 C.E.) of the tenth year of Prophethood, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) set out on foot towards At-Ta’if, about 60 kilometers from Makkah, in the company of his freed slave Zaid bin Harithah inviting people to Islam.

Contrary to his expectations, he got a terribly hostile reception. He approached the family of `Umair, who were reckoned among the nobility of the town. However, to his disappointment, they turned a deaf ear to his message and used abusive language for the noble cause he had been striving for. Three brothers from the chieftains of Thaqif — `Abd Yalil, Mas`ud and Habib — sons of `Amr bin `Umair Ath-Thaqafi met the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who invited them to embrace Islam and worship Allah, but they insolently mocked at him and refused his invitation. “He is tearing the drapes of the Ka`bah; is it true that Allah has sent you as a Messenger?’’ said one of them. “Has not Allah found someone else to entrust him with His Message?’’ said the second. “I swear by Allah that I will never speak to you. If you are really the Messenger of Allah, then you are too important to be speaking to me. If you are lying against Allah, then I should never speak to you,’’ said the third. Discovering that it was futile talking to them, Allah’s Messenger, stood up and left them saying:

“Since you are behaving in this manner, please do not disclose my presence here.’’

For ten days he stayed there delivering his message to the elite, one after another, but all to no avail. In order to hasten the departure of the “unwelcome” visitor, the foolish ones among them and their servants chased him through the narrow lanes, pelted him with stones and obliged him to flee from the city pursued by a merciless crowd. Blood flowed down both his legs; and Zaid, trying to shield him, was wounded in the head. The crowd did not cease until they had chased him two or three miles across the sandy plains to the foot of the surrounding hills. There, tired and exhausted, he took refuge in one of the numerous fruit orchards, and rested against the wall of a vineyard. At a time when the whole world seemed to have turned against him, Muhammad turned to his Lord and started praying, the touching words through which his oppressed soul expressed its distress are preserved to this day. He was tired and wounded but confident of the help of his Lord:

“O Allah (Might and majesty belong to Him!)! To You alone I complain of my weakness, my insufficient ability and my insignificance before the people. You are the most Merciful of the mercifuls. You are the Lord of the helpless and the weak, O Lord of mine! Into whose hands would You abandon me: into the hands of an unsympathetic distant relative who would angrily frown at me, or to the enemy who has been given control over my affairs? But if Your wrath does not fall on me, there is nothing for me to worry about.’’

“Your pardon is ample enough for me. I seek protection in the light of Your Face, which illuminates the darkness, fixing the affairs in this world as well as in the Hereafter. May it never be that I should incur Your wrath, or that You should be wrathful to me. And there is no power nor recourse, but Yours alone.’’

Seeing him in this helpless condition, Rabi`ah’s two sons, wealthy Makkans, were moved on grounds of kinship and compassion, and sent to him one of their Christian servants with a tray of grapes. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) accepted the fruit with the blessed invocation:

“In the Name of Allah.’’

The Christian servant `Addas was greatly impressed by these words and said: “These are words which people in this land do not generally use.’’

The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) asked:

“What land are you from, and what is your religion?’’

`Addas replied: “I am a Christian by faith and come from Nineveh.’’

The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) then said: “You belong to the city of the righteous Yunus, son of Matta.’’ `Addas asked him anxiously if he knew anything about Jonah.

The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) remarked:

“He is my brother. He was a Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and so am I.’’

Thereupon `Addas paid homage to Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and kissed his head, his hands and his feet. One of the brothers said to the other, “Look at your slave dishonoring you.’’ When `Addas came back to them they said: “What was that for?’’ He said, “O my master! There is nothing on the earth better than this man. He has informed me about a matter that only a Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would know.’’ They angrily said: “What is wrong with you `Addas? Do not leave your religion, certainly your religion is better than his religion.’’

Heart-broken and depressed, Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) set out on the way back to Makkah. When he reached Qarn Al-Manazil, Allah the Almighty sent Jibreel (May peace be upon him!) together with the angel of mountains. The latter asked the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) for permission to bury Ta’if between Al-Akhshabain — the mountains of Abu Qubais and Qu`aiqi`an.

Al-Bukhari has recorded the details of this event with a chain from `Urwah bin Az-Zubair that `Aishah narrated to him that she asked the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “Have you ever experienced a worse day than Uhud?’’ He answered:

“Your tribes have troubled me a lot, and the worst trouble was the trouble on the day of `Aqabah when I presented myself to Ibn `Abd Yalil bin `Abd Kulal and he did not respond to my invitation. So, I departed, overwhelmed with excessive sorrow, and proceeded on, and could not relax till I found myself at Qarn Ath-Tha’alib, where I lifted my head toward the sky to see a cloud shading me unexpectedly. I looked up and saw Jibreel (May peace be upon him!) in it. He called me saying, `Allah has heard what your people said to you, and their reply to you. Allah has sent the angel of the mountains to you so that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people.’ The angel of the mountains called upon me and greeted me, and then said, ‘O Muhammad! Order what you wish. If you like, I will let Al-Akhshabain fall on them.’’’

The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

``No, I hope that Allah will let them beget children who will worship Allah Alone, and will worship none besides Him.’’

Allah’s Messenger was then refreshed and his heart was set at rest in the light of the invisible Divine aid. He proceeded to Wadi Nakhlah where he stayed for a few days.

During his stay there, Allah sent him a company of Jinns who listened to him reciting the Noble Qur’an:

``And (remember) when We sent towards you (Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)) Nafran (three to ten persons) of the jinns, (quietly) listening to the Qur’an, when they stood in the presence thereof, they said: `Listen in silence!’ And when it was finished, they returned to their people, as warners. They said: ‘O our people! Verily, we have heard a Book (this Qur’an) sent down after Moses, confirming what came before it, it guides to the Truth and to a Straight Path (i.e., Islam). O our people! Respond (with obedience) to Allah’s Caller (i.e., Allah’s Messenger Muhammad), and believe in him (i.e., believe in that which Muhammad has brought from Allah and follow him). He (Allah) will forgive you of your sins, and will save you from a painful torment (i.e., Hell-fire).’’’ [46:29-31]

The same incident is referred to in Surat Al-Jinn :

``Say (O Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)): It has been revealed to me that a group (from three to ten in number) of jinns listened (to this Qur’an). They said: `Verily, we have heard a wonderful Recitation (this Qur’an)! It guides to the Right Path, and we have believed therein, and we shall never join (in worship) anything with our Lord (Allah).’’’ [72:1,2]... till the end of the 15th Verse.

From the context of these Verses and their interpretation, we can establish that the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was not aware of the presence of that group of Jinns. It was only when Allah (Might and majesty belong to Him!) revealed these Verses that he came to know of it. The Verses also confirm that it was the first time they had approached him. However, the context of the different versions suggests that the Jinns repeated their visits later on.

The presence of that company of Jinns comes in the context of the Divine support given to His Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), and constitutes a promising sign of ultimate victory and success for the Call of Islam. It provides a proof that no power however mighty could alter what is decided by Allah (Might and majesty belong to Him!) :

``And whosoever does not respond to Allah’s Caller, he cannot escape on earth, and there will be no Auliya’ (protectors) for him besides Allah (from Allah’s punishment). Those are in manifest error.’’ [46:32]
``And we think that we cannot escape (from the punishment of) Allah in the earth, nor can we escape (from the punishment) by flight.’’ [72:12]

Given this support and auspicious start, the depression, grief and sadness that used to overwhelm him since he was driven out of At-Ta’if, disappeared and he turned his face towards Makkah with fresh determination to resume his earlier plan to expose people to Islam and communicate his Message in a great spirit of zeal and matchless enthusiasm.

Zaid bin Harithah, his companion, addressing the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “How can we dare step into Makkah after they (Quraish) have exiled you?’’ The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) answered:

“O Zaid! Allah (Might and majesty belong to Him!) will surely provide relief and He will indeed support His religion and Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).’’

When he was a short distance from Makkah, he retired to the Cave of Hira’.

Whence he dispatched a man from the Khuza`ah tribe to Al-Akhnas bin Shuraiq seeking his protection. The latter answered that he was the Quraish’s ally and in no position to offer protection. He dispatched the messenger to Suhail bin `Amr, but to no avail, either.

Al-Mut’im bin `Adi, a notable in Makkah, however, volunteered to respond to the Prophet’s appeal for shelter. He asked his people to prepare themselves fully armed and then asked Muhammad to enter into the town and enter directly into the Sacred Masjid. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) observed a two-Rak’ah prayer and left for his house guarded by the heavily-armed vigilant Mut’im bin `Adi and his sons until he reached his door.

It has been reported that later Abu Jahl, the archenemy of Islam, asked Mut’im if his behavior suggested protection or conversion, the latter replied it was merely protection. Abu Jahl was relieved and said that he would give Muhammad protection for his sake.

Allah’s Messenger never forgot Mut’im’s favor. At the conclusion of the battle of Badr, he said:

“If Mut`im bin `Adi were living and had asked me for the release of these rotten people, then I would have given them to him.’’

Islam Being Introduced to Arab Tribes and Individuals

In Dhul-Qa`dah, the tenth year of Prophethood, i.e., July 619, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) returned to Makkah to resume his activities. The time for the pilgrimage to Makkah was approaching so he hastened to introduce people, both tribes and individuals, to Islam and call upon them to embrace it, as was his practice since the fourth year of his Prophethood.

On the authority of Az-Zuhri, the tribes that Islam was introduced to were Banu `Amir bin Sa`sa`ah, Muharib bin Khasfah, Fazarah, Ghassan, Murrah, Hanifah, Sulaim, `Abs, Banu Nasr, Banu Al-Buka’, Kindah, Kalb, AlHarith bin Ka`b, `Udhrah and the people of Hadramout. They however, remained persistent and none of them responded positively.

Islam was not introduced to them in one single year but rather repeatedly from the fourth year until the last season of pilgrimage before the migration to Madinah. Most of these were introduced to Islam during the Hajj season of the tenth year.

Ibn Ishaq has mentioned some details about the presentation of Islam to them and their rejection of it. Here is a summary:

The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) visited a branch of Banu Kalb known as Banu `Abdullah. He called them to Allah’s Message. He made a presentation to them in which he said:

“O Banu `Abdullah! Indeed Allah made your father’s name a good one.’’ Yet they would not accept what he presented them with.

He called on Banu Hanifah in their locale and presented himself before them, but none of the Arabs rejected him in a more repulsive fashion than them.

He addressed Bani `Amir bin Sa’sa’ah, calling them to Allah and presenting himself before them. One of them called Bahirah bin Firas, said: “By Allah, I can take this young man from the Quraish and consume all of the Arabs with him!’’ Then he asked him: “If we were to give you allegiance and Allah gives you victory over your opponents, will we succeed you in rule?’’ The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied:

“The rule is up to Allah, He places it wherever He wills.’’

The man commented: “Should we stretch out our necks for the Arabs for you, then when Allah gives you victory, you would grant rulership to other than us? We have no need for your affairs.”

When Banu `Amir returned to their area, they narrated the story to an elderly man who had remained behind because he was too old: “A young man of Quraish of Bani `Abdul-Muttalib, claiming that he is a Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), contacted us, asked for support and a place of refuge in our land.’’ The old man placed his hand on his head being struck by the news, and swore, “He is really Ismaelite (he descends from Ismael). He is the Truth (he is a real Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)). How did it happen that you misjudged his words?”

The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was not disappointed at all. He persisted in his mission for which he had been commissioned to strive despite all odds. He did not confine his efforts to the tribes but also established contacts with individuals from some of whom he was able to receive a favorable response.

Moreover, later in the same season, some of them did believe in his Prophethood and entered the fold of Islam. The following list includes some of those early converts:

Suwaid bin Samit

He was an intelligent poet from Yathrib (Madinah) who had good judgment. His people called him Al-Kamil (The Perfect) because of his lineage, poetry, nobility and family. During his stay in Makkah for pilgrimage (or lesser pilgrimage), Allah’s Messenger invited him to Islam. He replied: “Perhaps what you have is similar to what I have.’’ Allah’s Messenger said to him:

“And what is it that you have?’’

He said: “Luqman’s wisdom.’’ So he said:

“Present it to me.’’

So he did, to which Allah’s Messenger replied:

“This speech is good, yet what I have is better than this. It is a Qur’an that Allah the Most High revealed to me, it is guidance and light.”

He accepted Islam at once. When he returned to Madinah, he was killed in the fighting between the Aws and Khazraj tribes prior to the battle of Bu`ath. He accepted Islam in the eleventh year of the Prophethood.

Eyas bin Mu`adh

He was a youth from the Aws tribe who came as a member of delegation seeking alliance with the Quraish against another rival tribe dwelling in Madinah, Al-Khazraj. This was during the eleventh year of Prophethood around the time of the battle of Bu`ath. The Aws were fewer in number than the Khazraj. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) met them and advised them saying:

“Maybe there is something better for you than what you came for?’’ They said: “What would that be?’’ He replied:

“I am Allah’s Messenger, He sent me to the worshippers to invite them to worship Allah without associating partners with Him and He revealed the Book to me.’’

Then he mentioned Islam to them and recited some portion of the Qur’an for them. Eyas said: “O people! By Allah, this is better than what you came for.’’

Then Abul-Husayr Anas bin Rafi`, a member of the delegation, took a handful of dust and threw it in Eyas’ face, saying: “Get away from us.’’

The people then left Madinah after having failed to establish an alliance with the Quraish. Shortly after his arrival in Madinah, the boy breathed his last acclaiming Allah’s Name and celebrating His Glory.

Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari

He used to live in the suburbs of Yathrib. News of the acceptance of Islam by Suwaid bin Samit and Eyas bin Mu`adh reached him and constituted a turning point in his life. Al-Bukhari recorded from Ibn `Abbas that Abu Dharr said:

“I was a man from the tribe of Ghifar. We heard that a man had appeared in Makkah, claiming to be a Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). I said to my brother, `Go to that man and talk to him and bring me his news.’ He set out, met him and returned. I asked him, `What news have your brought?’ He said, `By Allah, I saw a man enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil.’ I said to him, `You have not satisfied me with this meagre information.’

So, I took a water-skin and a stick and proceeded towards Makkah. Neither did I know him (i.e., the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)) nor did I like to ask anyone about him. I kept drinking the water of Zamzam and staying in the mosque. Then `Ali (May Allah be Pleased with him) passed by me and said, `It seems you are a stranger?’ I said, `Yes.’ He proceeded to his house and I accompanied him. Neither did he ask me anything nor did I tell him anything.

The next morning, I went to the mosque to ask about the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) but no one told me anything about him. `Ali (May Allah be Pleased with him) passed by me again and asked, `Hasn’t the man recognized his dwelling place yet?’ I said, `No.’ He said, `Come along with me.’ He asked me, `What is your business? What has brought you to this town?’ I said to him, `If you keep my secret, I will tell you’. He said, ‘I will.’ I said to him, `We have heard that a person has appeared here, claiming to be a Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). I sent my brother to speak to him and when he returned, he did not bring a satisfactory report; so I thought of meeting him personally.’

`Ali (May Allah be Pleased with him) said (to Abu Dharr), `You have reached your goal; I am going to him just now, so follow me, and wherever I enter, enter after me. If I should see someone who may cause you trouble, I will stand near a wall pretending to mend my shoes (as a warning), and you should go away then.’ `Ali (May Allah be Pleased with him) proceeded and I accompanied him till he entered a place, and I entered with him to the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to whom I said, `Present (the principles of) Islam to me.’ When he did, I embraced Islam immediately. He said to me:

‘O Abu Dharr! Keep your conversion a secret and return to your town; and when you hear of our victory, return to us.’

I said, `By Him Who has sent you with the Truth, I will announce my conversion to Islam publicly among them (i.e., the infidels).’ I went to the mosque, where some people from Quraish were present, and said, ‘O folk of Quraish! I testify that La ilaha illallah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and I (also) testify that Muhammad is His (Allah’s) Slave and His Messenger.’ (Hearing that) the Quraish men said, `Get this Sabi (i.e., Muslim)!’ They got up and beat me nearly to death.

Al-`Abbas saw me and threw himself over me to protect me. He then faced them and said, `Woe to you! You want to kill a man from the tribe of Ghifar, although your trade and your communications are through the territory of Ghifar?’ They therefore left me. The next morning I returned (to the mosque) and said the same as I had said the previous day. They again said, `Get this Sabi!’ I was treated in the same way as on the previous day, and again Al-`Abbas found me and threw himself over me to protect me and told them the same as he had said the day before.’’ So, that was the conversion of Abu Dharr to Islam.’’

Tufail bin `Amr Ad-Dawsi

He was an honest poet and chief of Ad-Daws tribe inhabiting an area close to Yemen in South Arabia. He arrived in Makkah in the eleventh year of Prophethood. Great reception ceremonies were hosted on his arrival. The Makkans soon started poisoning his ears with all sorts of opposition against the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). They even alleged that he had caused the most terrible split in society, dividing all forms of social life — even family ties were subject to his schemes and plans of discord. They even warned him against speaking or even listening to him. Overpowered by these pleas, he complied with their requests and even stuffed his ears with a piece of cotton in order not to hear any word of the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). However, when this tribesman entered the mosque, he saw Muhammad observing his prayer and out of curiosity, he approached him for it was Divine Will that he would hear the Prophet’s appealing words.

The temptation to hear more was irresistible so he followed the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) into his house, briefed him on his arrival and the entire story of the people of the Quraish. Allah’s Messenger recited some Verses of the Noble Qur’an and Tufail grasped their exceptional beauty and distinguished the truth latent within. He embraced Islam and testified that there is no god worthy of worship but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger. He then said that he was an influential man among his people and that he would call them to profess Islam, yet he wanted a supplication from the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to equip him with a sign that would ease his future task. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) supplicated to Allah for him, and a Divine light was bestowed in his whip. He called his father and wife to embrace Islam and they responded immediately. His people showed a little lack of interest initially, but he encouraged them enthusiastically and was successful in his endeavor. He and seventy or eighty of his followers emigrated to Madinah after the Battle of the Trench.

He was an accomplished fighter in the cause of Allah and was martyred on the day of Al-Yamamah.

Dumad Al-Azdi

He came from Azd Shanu’ah in Yemen, and was a specialist in incantation. He arrived in Makkah to hear the foolish ones there say that Muhammad had lost his mind. He decided to practice his craft on the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), who on seeing him said:

“Praise is to Allah, we entertain His praise and seek His help. Whomsoever Allah guides, none will lead astray, and whomsoever Allah leads astray, none will guide. I testify there is no god worthy of worship but Allah and Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.’’

Dumad heard the words and requested the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to repeat them, and the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) complied with the same request thrice. Thereupon he said: “I have heard soothsayers, sorcerers and poets, but never have I experienced the sweetness of your words, they have the depth of the ocean.’’ He then gave a pledge of a sincere convert.

Breezes Inspiring Hope From Madinah

It was during the pilgrimage season, in the eleventh year of Prophethood, that the Islamic Call found the righteous seeds through which it would grow up to constitute tall trees whose leaves would foster the new faith and shelter the new helpless converts from the blows of injustices and highhandedness of the Quraish. It was the Prophet’s wise practice to meet the delegates of the Arabian tribes by night so that the hostile Makkans would not debar him from achieving his objectives. In the company of his two truthful Companions, `Ali (May Allah be Pleased with him) and Abu Bakr(May Allah be Pleased with him), he had an interesting talk regarding accepting Islam with Bani Dhuhal, but the latter suspended their conversion.In pursuit of the same objective, the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his Companions passed by `Aqabah in Mina where they heard people talking. They went towards them and found six men from Yathrib, all of whom were from the Khazraj tribe: As’ad bin Zurarah, `Awf bin Harith, Rafi’ bin Malik, Qutbah bin `Amir, `Uqbah bin `Amir and Jabir bin `Abdullah.

The Madinese had always heard the Jews say that a Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was about to rise, for the time for him had arrived, and that when they found him, they would follow him and then kill their enemies as the children of `Ad and Iram had been killed.

When Allah’s Messenger met them, he asked them:

“Who are you?’’

“From the tribe of Khazraj,’’ they replied.

He asked them:

“Are you the allies of the Jews?’’ They said: “Yes.’’ He said:

“Then why not sit down for a little and I will speak to you.’’

They accepted the offer readily for the fame of Muhammad had spread to Madinah and the strangers were curious to see more of the man who had created a stir in the whole area. The Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) presented an explanation of Islam to them, its implications, and the responsibilities that fell upon those who accepted it. When the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) concluded his talk, they exchanged ideas amongst themselves to the following effect: “Know surely, this is the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) with whom the Jews are ever threatening us; so, let us make haste and be the first to join him.”

They, therefore, embraced Islam, and said to the Prophet (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), “We have left our community for no tribe is so divided by hate and enmity as they are. Allah may cement our ties through you. So, let us go and invite them to this religion of yours; and if Allah unites them in it, no man will be dearer than you.”

The handful of Madinese converts remained steadfast to the cause and they preached Islam with full zeal and devotion with the result that they succeeded in winning supporters for Islam from among their fellow citizens and there was hardly a house in Madinah not talking curiously and enthusiastically about Allah’s Messenger.

The Marriage of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her)

In Shawwal of the same year, the Prophet (Peace be upon him) formally married ‘Aishah (May Allah be pleased with her) the verifier of the truth’, when she was six of age, and consummated his marriage with her in Shawwal, the year 1 A.H. in Madinah when she was nine.

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