(THE SEALED NECTAR)
Memoirs of the Noble Prophet
Author: Saifur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri
Jamia Salafia - India- .
Translated by: Issam Diab .
Muhammads Birth and Forty Years prior to Prophethood
Muhammad , the Master of Prophets, was born in Bani Hashim lane in Makkah on Monday morning, the ninth of Rabi Al-Awwal, the same year of the Elephant Event, and forty years of the reign of Kisra (Khosru Nushirwan), i.e. the twentieth or twenty-second of April, 571 A.D., according to the scholar Muhammad Sulaimân Al-Mansourpuri, and the astrologer Mahmûd Pasha.
Ibn Sad reported that Muhammads mother said: "When he was born, there was a light that issued out of my pudendum and lit the palaces of Syria." Ahmad reported on the authority of Arbadh bin Sariya something similar to this.
The place where the prophet was born
It was but controversially reported that significant precursors accompanied his birth: fourteen galleries of Kisras palace cracked and rolled down, the Magians sacred fire died down and some churches on Lake Sawa sank down and collapsed.
His mother immediately sent someone to inform his grandfather Abdul-Muttalib of the happy event. Happily he came to her, carried him to Al-Kabah, prayed to Allâh and thanked Him. Abdul-Muttalib called the baby Muhammad, a name not then common among the Arabs. He circumcised him on his seventh day as was the custom of the Arabs.
The first woman who suckled him after his mother was Thuyebah, the concubine of Abu Lahab, with her son, Masrouh. She had suckled Hamzah bin Abdul-Muttalib before and later Abu Salamah bin Abd Al-Asad Al-Makhzumi.
It was the general custom of the Arabs living in towns to send their children away to bedouin wet nurses so that they might grow up in the free and healthy surroundings of the desert whereby they would develop a robust frame and acquire the pure speech and manners of the bedouins, who were noted both for chastity of their language and for being free from those vices which usually develop in sedentary societies.
The Prophet was later entrusted to Haleemah bint Abi Dhuaib from Bani Sad bin Bakr. Her husband was Al-Harith bin Abdul Uzza called Abi Kabshah, from the same tribe.
Muhammad had several foster brothers and sisters, Abdullah bin Al-Harith, Aneesah bint Al-Harith, Hudhafah or Judhamah bint Al-Harith (known as Ash-Shayma), and she used to nurse the Prophet and Abu Sufyan bin Al-Harith bin Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophets cousin. Hamzah bin Abdul-Muttalib, the Prophets uncle, was suckled by the same two wet nurses, Thuyeba and Haleemah As-Sadiyah, who suckled the Prophet .
Traditions delightfully relate how Haleemah and the whole of her household were favoured by successive strokes of good fortune while the baby Muhammad lived under her care. Ibn Ishaq states that Haleemah narrated that she along with her husband and a suckling babe, set out from her village in the company of some women of her clan in quest of children to suckle. She said:
It was a year of drought and famine and we had nothing to eat. I rode on a brown she-ass. We also had with us an old she-camel. By Allâh we could not get even a drop of milk. We could not have a wink of sleep during the night for the child kept crying on account of hunger. There was not enough milk in my breast and even the she-camel had nothing to feed him. We used to constantly pray for rain and immediate relief. At length we reached Makkah looking for children to suckle. Not even a single woman amongst us accepted the Messenger of Allâh offered to her. As soon as they were told that he was an orphan, they refused him. We had fixed our eyes on the reward that we would get from the childs father. An orphan! What are his grandfather and mother likely to do? So we spurned him because of that. Every woman who came with me got a suckling and when we were about to depart, I said to my husband: "By Allâh, I do not like to go back along with the other women without any baby. I should go to that orphan and I must take him." He said, "There is no harm in doing so and perhaps Allâh might bless us through him." So I went and took him because there was simply no other alternative left for me but to take him. When I lifted him in my arms and returned to my place I put him on my breast and to my great surprise, I found enough milk in it. He drank to his hearts content, and so did his foster brother and then both of them went to sleep although my baby had not been able to sleep the previous night. My husband then went to the she-camel to milk it and, to his astonishment, he found plenty of milk in it. He milked it and we drank to our fill, and enjoyed a sound sleep during the night. The next morning, my husband said: "By Allâh Haleemah, you must understand that you have been able to get a blessed child." And I replied: "By the grace of Allâh, I hope so."
The tradition is explicit on the point that Haleemahs return journey and her subsequent life, as long as the Prophet stayed with her, was encircled with a halo of good fortune. The donkey that she rode when she came to Makkah was lean and almost foundered; it recovered speed much to the amazement of Haleemahs fellow travellers. By the time they reached the encampments in the country of the clan of Sad, they found the scales of fortune turned in their favour. The barren land sprouted forth luxuriant grass and beasts came back to them satisfied and full of milk. Muhammad stayed with Haleemah for two years until he was weaned as Haleemah said:
We then took him back to his mother requesting her earnestly to have him stay with us and benefit by the good fortune and blessings he had brought us. We persisted in our request which we substantiated by our anxiety over the child catching a certain infection peculiar to Makkah.At last, we were granted our wish and the Prophet stayed with us until he was four or five years of age.
When, as related by Anas in Sahih Muslim, Gabriel came down and ripped his chest open and took out the heart. He then extracted a blood-clot out of it and said: "That was the part of Satan in thee." And then he washed it with the water of Zamzam in a gold basin. After that the heart was joined together and restored to its place. The boys and playmates came running to his mother, i.e. his nurse, and said: "Verily, Muhammad has been murdered." They all rushed towards him and found him all right only his face was white.
Back to His Passionate Mother:
After this event, Haleemah was worried about the boy and returned him to his mother with whom he stayed until he was six.
In respect of the memory of her late husband, Amina decided to visit his grave in Yathrib (Madinah). She set out to cover a journey of 500 kilometers with her orphan boy, woman servant Umm Ayman and her father-in-law Abdul-Muttalib. She spent a month there and then took her way back to Makkah. On the way, she had a severe illness and died in Abwa on the road between Makkah and Madinah.
To His Compassionate Grandfather:
Abdul-Muttalib brought the boy to Makkah. He had warm passions towards the boy, his orphan grandson, whose recent disaster (his mothers death) added more to the pains of the past. Abdul-Muttalib was more passionate with his grandson than with his own children. He never left the boy a prey to loneliness, but always preferred him to his own kids. Ibn Hisham reported: A mattress was put in the shade of Al-Kabah for Abdul-Muttalib. His children used to sit around that mattress in honour to their father, but Muhammad used to sit on it. His uncles would take him back, but if Abdul-Muttalib was present, he would say: "Leave my grandson. I swear by Allâh that this boy will hold a significant position." He used to seat the boy on his mattress, pat his back and was always pleased with what the boy did.
When Muhammad was eight years, two months and ten days old, his grandfather Abdul-Muttalib passed away in Makkah. The charge of the Prophet was now passed on to his uncle Abu Talib, who was the brother of the Prophets father.
Abu Talib took the charge of his nephew in the best way. He put him with his children and preferred him to them. He singled the boy out with great respect and high esteem. Abu Talib remained for forty years cherishing his nephew and extending all possible protection and support to him. His relations with the others were determined in the light of the treatment they showed to the Prophet
Ibn Asakir reported on the authority of Jalhamah bin Arfuta who said: "I came to Makkah when it was a rainless year, so Quraish said O Abu Talib, the valley has become leafless and the children hungry, let us go and pray for rain-fall. Abu Talib went to Al-Kabah with a young boy who was as beautiful as the sun, and a black cloud was over his head. Abu Talib and the boy stood by the wall of Al-Kabah and prayed for rain. Immediately clouds from all directions gathered and rain fell heavily and caused the flow of springs and growth of plants in the town and the country.
Bahira, the Monk:
When the Messenger of Allâh was twelve years old, he went with his uncle Abu Talib on a business journey to Syria. When they reached Busra (which was a part of Syria, in the vicinity of Howran under the Roman domain) they met a monk called Bahira (his real name was Georges), who showed great kindness, and entertained them lavishly. He had never been in the habit of receiving or entertaining them before. He readily enough recognized the Prophet and said while taking his hand: "This is the master of all humans. Allâh will send him with a Message which will be a mercy to all beings." Abu Talib asked: "How do you know that?" He replied: "When you appeared from the direction of Aqabah, all stones and trees prostrated themselves, which they never do except for a Prophet. I can recognize him also by the seal of Prophethood which is below his shoulder, like an apple. We have got to learn this from our books." He also asked Abu Talib to send the boy back to Makkah and not to take him to Syria for fear of the Jews. Abu Talib obeyed and sent him back to Makkah with some of his men servants.
The Sacrilegious Wars:
Muhammad was hardly fifteen when the sacrilegious wars which continued with varying fortunes and considerable loss of human life for a number of years broke out between Quraish and Banu Kinana on the one side and Qais Ailan tribe on the other. It was thus called because the inviolables were made violable, the prohibited months being included. Harb bin Omaiyah, on account of his outstanding position and honourable descent, used to be the leader of Quraish and their allies. In one of those battles, the Prophet attended on his uncles but did not raise arms against their opponents. His efforts were confined to picking up the arrows of the enemy as they fell, and handing them over to his uncles.
At the conclusion of these wars, when peace was restored, people felt the need for forming confederacy at Makkah for suppressing violence and injustice, and vindicating the rights of the weak and the destitute. Representatives of Banu Hashim, Banu Al-Muttalib, Asad bin Abd Al-Uzza, Zahrah bin Kilab and Taim bin Murra were called to meet in the habitation of an honourable elderly man called Abdullah bin Jadaan At-Taimy to enter into a confederacy that would provide for the above-mentioned items. The Messenger of Allâh shortly after he had been honoured with the ministry of Prophethood, witnessed this league and commented on it, with very positive words: "I witnessed a confederacy in the house of Abdullah bin Jadaan. It was more appealing to me than herds of cattle. Even now in the period of Islam I would respond positively to attending such a meeting if I were invited."
In fact, the spirit of this confederacy and the course of deliberations therein marked a complete departure from the pre-Islamic tribal-pride. The story that led to its convention says that a man from Zubaid clan came as a merchant to Makkah where he sold some commodities to Al-As bin Wail As-Sahmy. The latter by hook or by crook tried to evade paying for the goods. The salesman sought help from the different clans in Quraish but they paid no heed to his earnest pleas. He then resorted to a mountain top and began, at the top of his voice, to recite verses of complaint giving account of the injustices he sustained. Az-Zubair bin Abdul-Muttalib heard of him and made inquiries into the matter. Consequently, the parties to the aforesaid confederacy convened their meeting and managed to force Az-Zubaidys money out of Al-As bin Wail.
Muhammads Early Job:
Muhammad , had no particular job at his early youth, but it was reported that he worked as a shepherd for Bani Sad and in Makkah. At the age of 25, he went to Syria as a merchant for Khadijah - may Allah be pleased with her - . Ibn Ishaq reported that Khadijah, daughter of Khwailid was a business-woman of great honour and fortune. She used to employ men to do her business for a certain percentage of the profits. Quraish people were mostly tradespeople, so when Khadijah was informed of Muhammad , his truthful words, great honesty and kind manners, she sent for him. She offered him money to go to Syria and do her business, and she would give him a higher rate than the others. She would also send her hireling, Maisarah, with him. He agreed and went with her servant to Syria for trade. 
His Marriage to Khadijah:
When he returned to Makkah, Khadijah noticed, in her money, more profits and blessings than she used to. Her hireling also told her of Muhammads good manners, honesty, deep thought, sincerity and faith. She realized that she homed at her target. Many prominent men had asked for her hand in marriage but she always spurned their advances. She disclosed her wish to her friend Nafisa, daughter of Maniya, who immediately went to Muhammad and broke the good news to him. He agreed and requested his uncles to go to Khadijahs uncle and talk on this issue. Subsequently, they were married. The marriage contract was witnessed by Bani Hashim and the heads of Mudar. This took place after the Prophets return from Syria. He gave her twenty camels as dowry. She was, then, forty years old and was considered as the best woman of her folk in lineage, fortune and wisdom. She was the first woman whom the Messenger of Allâh married. He did not get married to any other until she had died.
Khadijah bore all his children, except Ibrahim: Al-Qasim, Zainab, Ruqaiyah, Umm Kulthum, Fatimah and Abdullah who was called Taiyib and Tahir. All his sons died in their childhood and all the daughters except Fatimah died during his lifetime. Fatimah died six months after his death. All his daughters witnessed Islam, embraced it, and emigrated to Madinah.
Rebuilding Al-Kabah and the Arbitration Issue:
The Haram Mosque
When the Messenger of Allâh was thirty five, Quraish started rebuilding Al-Kabah. That was because it was a low building of white stones no more than 6.30 metres high, from the days of Ishmael. It was also roofless and that gave the thieves easy access to its treasures inside. It was also exposed to the wearing factors of nature because it was built a long time ago that weakened and cracked its walls. Five years before Prophethood, there was a great flood in Makkah that swept towards Al-Kabah and almost demolished it. Quraish was obliged to rebuild it to safeguard its holiness and position. The chiefs of Quraish decided to use only licit money in rebuilding Al-Kabah, so all money that derived from harlotry, usury or unjust practices was excluded. They were, at first, too awed to knock down the wall, but Al-Waleed bin Al-Mugheerah Al-Mukhzumi started the work. Seeing that no harm had happened to him, the others participated in demolishing the walls until they reached the basis laid by Abraham. When they started rebuilding its walls, they divided the work among the tribes. Each tribe was responsible for rebuilding a part of it. The tribes collected stones and started work. The man who laid the stones was a Roman mason called Baqum. The work went on in harmony till the time came to put the sacred Black Stone in its proper place. Then strife broke out among the chiefs, and lasted for four or five days, each contesting for the honour of placing the stone in its position. Daggers were on the point of being drawn and great bloodshed seemed imminent. Luckily, the oldest among the chiefs Abu Omaiyah bin Mugheerah Al-Makhzumi made a proposal which was accepted by all. He said: "Let him, who enters the Sanctuary first of all, decide on the point." It was then Allâhs Will that the Messenger of Allâh should be the first to enter the Mosque. On seeing him, all the people on the scene, cried with one voice: "Al-Ameen (the trustworthy) has come. We are content to abide by his decision." Calm and self-possessed, Muhammad received the commission and at once resolved upon an expedient which was to conciliate them all. He asked for a mantle which he spread on the ground and placed the stone in its centre. He then asked the representatives of the different clans among them, to lift the stone all together. When it had reached the proper place, Muhammad laid it in the proper position with his own hands. This is how a very tense situation was eased and a grave danger averted by the wisdom of the Prophet
The Black Stone
Quraish ran short of the licit money, they collected, so they eliminated six yards area on the northern side of Al-Kabah which is called Al-Hijr or Al-Hateem. They raised its door two metres from the level ground to let in only the people whom they desired. When the structure was fifteen yards high they erected the roof which rested on six columns.
When the building of Al-Kabah had finished, it assumed a square form fifteen metres high. The side with the Black Stone and the one opposite were ten metres long each. The Black Stone was 1.50 metre from the circumambulation level ground. The two other sides were twelve metres long each. The door was two metres high from the level ground. A building structure of 0.25 metre high and 0.30 metre wide on the average surrounded Al-Kabah. It was called Ash-Shadherwan, originally an integral part of the Sacred Sanctuary, but Quraish left it out.
A Rapid Review of Muhammads Biography before Commissioning of the Prophethood:
Prophet Muhammad was, in his youth, a combination of the best social attributes. He was an exemplary man of weighty mind and faultless insight. He was favoured with intelligence, originality of thought and accurate choice of the means leading to accurate goals. His long silence helped favourably in his habit of meditation and deep investigation into the truth. His vivid mind and pure nature were helpfully instrumental in assimilating and comprehending ways of life and people, individual and community-wise. He shunned superstitious practices but took an active part in constructive and useful dealings, otherwise, he would have recourse to his self-consecrated solitude. He kept himself aloof from drinking wine, eating meat slaughtered on stone altars, or attending idolatrous festivals. He held the idols in extreme aversion and most abhorrence. He could never tolerate someone swearing by Al-Lat and Al-Uzza. Allâhs providence, no doubts, detached him from all abominable or evil practices. Even when he tried to obey his instinct to enjoy some life pleasures or follow some irrespectable traditions, Allâhs providence intervened to curb any lapse in this course. Ibn Al-Atheer reported Muhammad as saying: "I have never tried to do what my people do except for two times. Every time Allâh intervened and checked me from doing so and I never did that again. Once I told my fellow-shepherd to take care of my sheep when we were in the upper part of Makkah. I wanted to go down to Makkah and entertain myself as the young men did. I went down to the first house of Makkah where I heard music. I entered and asked: What is this? Someone answered: It is a wedding party. I sat down and listened but soon went into deep sleep. I was awakened by the heat of the sun. I went back to my fellow-shepherd and told him of what had happened to me. I have never tried it again."
Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Jabir bin Abdullah that he said: "While the people were rebuilding Al-Kabah, the Prophet Muhammad went with Abbas to carry some stones. Abbas said: Put your loincloth round your neck to protect you from the stones. (As he did that) the Prophet fell to the ground and his eyes turned skyward. Later on he woke up and shouted: My loincloth... my loincloth. He wrapped himself in his loincloth." In another report: "His loins were never seen afterwards."
The authorities agree in ascribing to the youth of Muhammad modesty of deportment, virtuous behaviour and graceful manners. He proved himself to be the ideal of manhood, and to possess a spotless character. He was the most obliging to his compatriots, the most honest in his talk and the mildest in temper. He was the most gentle-hearted, chaste, hospitable and always impressed people by his piety-inspiring countenance. He was the most truthful and the best to keep covenant. His fellow-citizens, by common consent, gave him the title of Al-Ameen (trustworthy). The Mother of believers, Khadijah - may Allah be pleased with her - , once said: He unites uterine relations, he helps the poor and the needy, he entertains the guests and endures hardships in the path of truthfulness.
In the Shade of the Message and Prophethood
In the Cave of Hira:
When Prophet Muhammad was nearly forty, he had been wont to pass long hours in retirement meditating and speculating over all aspects of creation around him. This meditative temperament helped to widen the mental gap between him and his compatriots. He used to provide himself with Sawiq (barley porridge) and water and then directly head for the hills and ravines in the neighbourhood of Makkah. One of these in particular was his favourite resort a cave named Hira, in the Mount An-Nour. It was only two miles from Makkah, a small cave 4 yards long and 1.75 yard wide. He would always go there and invite wayfarers to share him his modest provision. He used to devote most of his time, and Ramadan in particular, to worship and meditation on the universe around him. His heart was restless about the moral evils and idolatry that were rampant among his people; he was as yet helpless because no definite course, or specific approach had been available for him to follow and rectify the ill practices around him. This solitude attended with this sort of contemplative approach must be understood in its Divine perspective. It was a preliminary stage to the period of grave responsibilities that he was to shoulder very soon.
Privacy and detachment from the impurities of life were two indispensable prerequisites for the Prophets soul to come into close communion with the Unseen Power that lies behind all aspects of existence in this infinite universe. It was a rich period of privacy which lasted for three years and ushered in a new era, of indissoluble contact with that Power.
Gabriel brings down the Revelation:
When he was forty, the age of complete perfection at which Prophets were always ordered to disclose their Message, signs of his Prophethood started to appear and twinkle on the horizons of life; they were the true visions he used to experience for six months. The period of Prophethood was 23 years; so the period of these six months of true visions constituted an integral part of the forty-six parts of Prophethood. In Ramadan, in his third year of solitude in the cave of Hira, Allâhs Will desired His mercy to flow on earth and Muhammad was honoured with Prophethood, and the light of Revelation burst upon him with some verses of the Noble Qurân.
As for the exact date, careful investigation into circumstantial evidence and relevant clues point directly to Monday, 21st. Ramadan at night, i.e. August, 10, 610 A.D. with Prophet Muhammad exactly 40 years, 6 months and 12 days of age, i.e. 39 Gregorian years, 3 months and 22 days.
Aishah, the veracious, gave the following narration of that most significant event that brought the Divine light which would dispel the darkness of disbelief and ignorance. It led life down a new course and brought about the most serious amendment to the line of the history of mankind:
Forerunners of the Revelation assumed the form of true visions that would strikingly come true all the time. After that, solitude became dear to him and he would go to the cave, Hira, to engage in Tahannuth (devotion) there for a certain number of nights before returning to his family, and then he would return for provisions for a similar stay. At length, unexpectedly, the Truth (the angel) came to him and said, "Recite." "I cannot recite," he (Muhammad ) said. The Prophet described: "Then he took me and squeezed me vehemently and then let me go and repeated the order Recite. I cannot recite said I, and once again he squeezed me and let me till I was exhausted. Then he said: Recite. I said I cannot recite. He squeezed me for a third time and then let me go and said:
The Prophet repeated these verses. He was trembling with fear. At this stage, he came back to his wife Khadijah, and said, "Cover me, ... cover me." They covered him until he restored security. He apprised Khadijah of the incident of the cave and added that he was horrified. His wife tried to soothe him and reassured him saying, "Allâh will never disgrace you. You unite uterine relations; you bear the burden of the weak; you help the poor and the needy, you entertain the guests and endure hardships in the path of truthfulness."
She set out with the Prophet to her cousin Waraqa bin Nawfal bin Asad bin Abd Al-Uzza, who had embraced Christianity in the pre-Islamic period, and used to write the Bible in Hebrew. He was a blind old man. Khadijah said: "My cousin! Listen to your nephew!" Waraqa said: "O my nephew! What did you see?" The Messenger of Allâh told him what had happened to him. Waraqa replied: "This is Namus i.e. (the angel who is entrusted with Divine Secrets) that Allâh sent to Moses. I wish I were younger. I wish I could live up to the time when your people would turn you out." Muhammad asked: "Will they drive me out?" Waraqa answered in the affirmative and said: "Anyone who came with something similar to what you have brought was treated with hostility; and if I should be alive till that day, then I would support you strongly." A few days later Waraqa died and the revelation also subsided.
At-Tabari and Ibn Hisham reported that the Messenger of Allâh left the cave of Hira after being surprised by the Revelation, but later on, returned to the cave and continued his solitude. Afterwards, he came back to Makkah. At-Tabari reported on this incident, saying:
After mentioning the coming of the Revelation, the Messenger of Allâh said: "I have never abhorred anyone more than a poet or a mad man. I can not stand looking at either of them. I will never tell anyone of Quraish of my Revelation. I will climb a mountain and throw myself down and die. That will relieve me. I went to do that but halfway up the mountain, I heard a voice from the sky saying O Muhammad! You are the Messenger of Allâh and I am Gabriel. I looked upwards and saw Gabriel in the form of a man putting his legs on the horizon. He said: O Muhammad You are the Messenger of Allâh and I am Gabriel. I stopped and looked at him. His sight distracted my attention from what I had intended to do. I stood in my place transfixed. I tried to shift my eyes away from him. He was in every direction I looked at. I stopped in my place without any movement until Khadijah sent someone to look for me. He went down to Makkah and came back while I was standing in the same place. Gabriel then left, and I went back home. I found Khadijah at home, so I sat very close to her. She asked: Father of Al-Qasim! Where have you been? I sent someone to look for you. He went to Makkah and returned to me. I told her of what I had seen. She replied: It is a propitious sign, O my husband. Pull yourself together, I swear by Allâh that you are a Messenger for this nation. Then she stood up and went to Waraqa and informed him. Waraqa said: I swear by Allâh that he has received the same Namus, i.e. angel that was sent to Moses. He is the Prophet of this nation. Tell him to be patient. She came back to him and told him of Waraqas words. When the Messenger of Allâh finished his solitary stay and went down to Makkah, he went to Waraqa, who told him: You are the Prophet of this nation. I swear by Allâh that you have received the same angel that was sent to Moses."
Interruption of Revelation:
Ibn Sad reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas that the Revelation paused for a few days. After careful study, this seems to be the most possible. To say that it lasted for three and a half years, as some scholars allege, is not correct, but here there is no room to go into more details.
Meanwhile, the Prophet , was caught in a sort of depression coupled with astonishment and perplexity. Al-Bukhari reported:
The Divine inspiration paused for a while and the Prophet became so sad, as we have heard, that he intended several times to throw himself from the tops of high mountains, and every time he went up the top of a mountain in order to throw himself down, Gabriel would appear before him and say: "O Muhammad! You are indeed Allâhs Messenger in truth," whereupon his heart would become quiet and he would calm down and return home. Whenever the period of the coming of the Revelation used to become long, he would do as before, but Gabriel would appear again before him and say to him what he had said before.
Once more, Gabriel brings Allâhs Revelation:
Ibn Hajar said: That (the pause of Allâhs revelation for a few days) was to relieve the Messenger of Allâh of the fear he experienced and to make him long for the Revelation. When the shades of puzzle receded, the flags of truth were raised, the Messenger of Allâh knew for sure that he had become the Messenger of the Great Lord. He was also certain that what had come to him was no more than the ambassador of inspiration. His waiting and longing for the coming of the revelation constituted a good reason for his steadfastness and self-possession on the arrival of Allâhs inspiration, Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of Jabir bin Abdullah that he had heard the Messenger of Allâh speak about the period of pause as follows:
"While I was walking, I heard a voice from the sky. I looked up, and surely enough, it was the same angel who had visited me in the cave of Hira. He was sitting on a chair between the earth and the sky. I was very afraid of him and knelt on the ground. I went home saying: Cover me , Cover me . Allâh revealed to me the verses:
After that the revelation started coming strongly, frequently and regularly.
Some details pertinent to the successive stages of Revelation:
Before we go into the details of the period of communicating the Message and Prophethood, we would like to get acquainted with the stages of the Revelation which constituted the main source of the Message and the subject-matter of the Call. Ibn Al-Qayyim, mentioning the stages of the Revelation, said:
The Second: What the angel invisibly cast in the Prophets mind and heart. The Messenger of Allâh said: "The Noble Spirit revealed to me No soul will perish until it exhausts its due course, so fear Allâh and gently request Him. Never get so impatient to the verge of disobedience of Allâh. What Allâh has can never be acquired but through obedience to Him."
The Third: The angel used to visit the Messenger of Allâh in the form of a human being and would speak to him directly. This would enable him to fully understand what the angel said. The angel was sometimes seen in this form by the Prophets Companions.
The Fourth: The angel came to him like the toll of a bell and this was the most difficult form because the angel used to seize him tightly and sweat would stream from his forehead even on the coldest day. If the Prophet was on his camel, the camel would not withstand the weight, so it would immediately kneel down on the ground. Once the Messenger of Allâh had such a revelation when he was sitting and his thigh was on Zaids, Zaid felt the pressure had almost injured his thigh.
The Fifth: The Prophet saw the angel in his actual form. The angel would reveal to him what Allâh had ordered him to reveal. This, as mentioned in (Qurân), in Sûrah An-Najm (Chapter 53 - The Star), happened twice.
The Sixth: What Allâh Himself revealed to him in heaven i.e. when he ascended to heaven and received Allâhs behest of Salât (prayer).
The Seventh: Allâhs Words to His Messenger at first hand without the mediation of an angel. It was a privilege granted to Moses - Peace be upon him - and clearly attested in the Qurân, as it is attested to our Prophet in the Sûrah Al-Isrâ (Chapter 17 - The Journey by Night) of the Noble Qurân.
Some religious scholars added a controversial eighth stage in which they state that Allâh spoke to the Prophet directly without a curtain in between. This issue remains however unconfirmed.
Proclaiming Allâh, the All-High; and the Immediate Constituents
The first Revelation sent to the Prophet implied several injunctions, simple in form but highly effective and of serious far-reaching ramifications. The angel communicated to him a manifest Message saying:
For convenience and ease of understanding, we are going to segment the Message into its immediate constituents:
These were the basic preliminaries that the Prophet had to observe, very simple injunctions in appearance, greatly fascinating in their calm rhythm, but highly effective in practice. They constituted the trigger that aroused a far-ranging tempest in all the corners of the world.
The verses comprise the constituents of the new call and propagation of the new faith. A warning logically implies that there are malpractices with painful consequences to be sustained by the perpetrators, and since the present life is not necessarily the only room to bring people to account for their misdeeds or some of them, then the warning would necessarily imply calling people to account on another day, i.e. the Day of Resurrection, and this per se suggests the existence of a life other than this one we are living. All the verses of the Noble Qurân call people to testify explicitly to the Oneness of Allâh, to delegate all their affairs to Allâh, the All-High, and to subordinate the desires of the self and the desires of Allâhs servants to the attainment of His Pleasures.
The constituents of the call to Islam could, briefly speaking, go as follows:
The verses have been prefaced, in the voice of the Most High, by a heavenly call mandating the Prophet to undertake this daunting responsibility (calling people unto Allâh). The verses meant to extract him forcibly out of his sleep, divest him of his mantle and detach him from the warmth and quiet of life, and then drive him down a new course attended with countless hardships, and requiring a great deal of strife in the way of Allâh:
Suggesting that to live to oneself is quite easy, but it has been decided that you have to shoulder this heavy burden; consequently sleep, comfort, or warm bed are items decreed to be alien in your lexicon of life. O Muhammad, arise quickly for the strife and toil awaiting you; no time is there for sleep and such amenities; grave responsibilities have been Divinely determined to fall to your lot, and drive you into the turmoil of life to develop a new sort of precarious affinity with the conscience of people and the reality of life.
The Prophet managed quite successfully to rise to his feet and measure up to the new task, he went ahead in a spirit of complete selflessness, relentlessly striving and never abating in carrying the burden of the great Trust, the burden of enlightening mankind, and the heavy weight of the new faith and strife for over twenty years, nothing distracting his attention from the awesome commission. May Allâh reward him, for us and all humanity, the best ending. The following research at hand gives an account in miniature of his long strive and uninterrupted struggle he made after receiving the ministry of Messengership.
Phases and Stages of the Call
The Muhammadan Call could be divided into two phases distinctively demarcated:
Each of the two phases included distinctive features easily discernible through accurate scrutiny into the circumstances that characterized each of them.
The Makkan phase can be divided into three stages:
The Madinese phase will be considered later in its due course.
The First Stage Strife in the Way of the Call
Three Years of Secret Call:
It is well-known that Makkah was the centre for the Arabs, and housed the custodians of Al-Kabah. Protection and guardianship of the idols and stone graven images that received veneration on the part of all the Arabs lay in the hands of the Makkans. Hence the difficulty of hitting the target of reform and rectitude in a place considered the den of idolatry. Working in such an atmosphere no doubt requires unshakable will and determination, that is why the call unto Islam assumed a clandestine form so that the Makkans should not be enraged by the unexpected surprise.
The Early Converts:
The Prophet naturally initiated his sacred mission right from home and then moved to the people closely associated with him. He called unto Islam whomsoever he thought would attest the truth which had come from his Lord. In fact, a host of people who nursed not the least seed of doubt as regards the Prophet , immediately responded and quite readily embraced the true faith. They are known in the Islamic literature as the early converts.
Khadijah, the Prophets spouse, the mother of believers, was the first to enter the fold of Islam followed by his freed slave Zaid bin Harithah, his cousin, Ali bin Abi Talib, who had been living with him since his early childhood, and next came his intimate friend Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (Abu Bakr the truth verifier). All of those professed Islam on the very first day of the call. Abu Bakr, and from the first day he embraced Islam, proved to be an energetic and most zealous activist. He was wealthy, obliging, mild and upright. People used to frequent his house and draw nigh to him for his knowledge, amity, pleasant company and business. He invited whomever he had confidence in to Islam and through his personal efforts a good number of people converted to Islam, such as Uthman bin Affan Al-Umawi, Az-Zubair bin Awwam Al-Asadi, Abdur Rahman bin Awf, Sad bin Abi Waqqas, Az-Zuhri and Talhah bin Ubaidullah At-Tamimy. Those eight men constituted the forerunners and more specifically the vanguard of the new faith in Arabia. Among the early Muslim were Bilal bin Rabah (the Abyssinian), Abu Ubaidah bin Al-Jarrah from Bani Harith bin Fahr (the most trustworthy of the Muslim Nation), Abu Salamah bin Abd Al-Asad, Al-Arqam bin Abi Al-Arqam from the tribe of Makhzum, Uthman bin Mazoun and his two brothers Qudama and Abdullah, Ubaidah bin Al-Harith bin Al-Muttalib bin Abd Munaf, Said bin Zaid Al-Adawi and his wife Fatimah - daughter of Al-Khattab (the sister of Umar bin Al-Khattab), Khabbab bin Al-Aratt, Abdullâh bin Masud Al-Hadhali and many others. These were the Muslim predecessors. They belonged to various septs of Quraish. Ibn Hisham, a biographer, counted them to be more than forty.
Ibn Ishaq said: "Then people entered the fold of Islam in hosts, men or women and the new faith could no longer be kept secret."
The Prophet used to meet and teach, the new converts, the religion in privacy because the call to Islam was still running on an individual and secret basis. Revelation accelerated and continued after the first verses of "O you wrapped in garments." The verses and pieces of Sûrah (chapters) revealed at this time were short ones with wonderful strong pauses and quite fascinating rhythms in full harmony with that delicate whispering setting. The central topic running through them focused on sanctifying the soul, and deterring the Muslims from falling prey to the deceptive glamour of life. The early verses used as well to give a highly accurate account of the Hell and the Garden (Paradise), leading the believers down a new course diametrically opposed to the ill practices rampant amongst their compatriots.
As-Salât (the Prayer):
Muqatil bin Sulaiman said: "Salât (prayer) was established as an obligatory ritual at an early stage of the Islamic Call, a two rak ah (unit of prayer) Salât in the morning and the same in the evening;
Ibn Hijr said: "Definitely the Prophet used to pray before The Night Journey but it still remains a matter of controversy whether or not the prayer was established as an obligatory ritual before imposing the rules of the usual five prayers a day. It is related that obligatory prayer was established twice a day, in the morning before sunrise and after sunset. It is reported through a chain of narrators that when the Prophet received the first Revelation, Gabriel - the angel, proceeded and taught him how to observe Wudu (ablution). When the Prophet had finished, he took a handful of water and sprinkled it on his loins.
Ibn Hisham reported that when it was time for prayers, the Messenger of Allâh and his Companions went into a mountain valley to pray secretly. Abu Talib once saw the Messenger of Allâh and Ali praying, he asked them what they were up to. When he got to know that it was obligatory prayer, he told them to stay constant in their practice.
The Quraishites learn about the Call:
This stage of the Call, even though conducted in a clandestine manner and on an individual basis, its news leaked out and assumed a public interest all over Makkah. In the beginning, the Makkan leaders did not care much about Muhammad and took no heed of his teachings. At first, they thought that Muhammad was merely a religious philosophist like Omaiyah bin Abi As-Salt, Quss bin Saidah, Amr bin Nufail and their ilk who used to philosophize on godship and religious obligations. But this attitude of indifference soon changed into real apprehension. The polytheists of Quraish began to watch Muhammads movements closely and anxiously for fear of spreading his Call and producing a change in the prevalent mentality.
For three underground years of activism, a group of believers emerged stamped by a spirit of fraternity and cooperation with one definite objective in their mind: propagating and deeply establishing the call unto Islam. For full three years Muhammad had been content to teach within a rather narrow circle. The time had, however, come to preach the faith of the Lord openly. The angel Gabriel had brought him down a further Revelation of Allâhs Will to confront his people, invalidate their falsehood and crush down their idolatrous practices.