(THE SEALED NECTAR)
Memoirs of the Noble Prophet
Author: Saifur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri
Jamia Salafia - India- .
Translated by: Issam Diab .
The polytheists were paralysed by the carefully planned and speedy movement of Muhammads followers towards their new abode in Madinah. They were caught in unprecedented anxiety and got deeply worried over their whole pagan and economic entity. They already experienced Muhammad as an influential leader; and his followers as determined, decent and always ready to sacrifice all they had for the sake of the Messenger of Allâh . Al-Aws and Al-Khazraj tribes, the would-be-hosts of the Makkan Muslims, were also known in Arabia for their might and power in war, and judicious and sensible approach in peace. They were also averse to rancour and prejudice for they themselves had had bitter days of inter-tribal warfare. Madinah , itself, the prospective headquarters of the ever-growing Islamic Call, enjoyed the most serious strategic position. It commanded the commercial routes leading to Makkah whose people used to deal in about a quarter of a million gold dinar-worth commodities every year. Security of the caravan routes was crucial for the perpetuity of prosperous economic life. All those factors borne in mind, the polytheists felt they were in the grip of a serious threat. They, therefore, began to seek the most effective method that could avert this imminent danger. They convened a meeting on Thursday, 26th Safar, the year fourteen of Prophethood / 12th September 622 A.D ., i.e. two and a half months after the Great Aqabah Pledge. On that day, "the Parliament of Makkah" held the most serious meeting ever, with one item on the agenda: How to take effective measures with a view to stopping that tidal wave. Delegates representing all the Quraishite tribes attended the meeting, the most significant of whom were:
On their way to An-Nadwah House, Iblis (Satan) in the guise of a venerable elderly man standing at the door interrupted their talk and introduced himself as a man from Najd curious enough to attend the meeting, listen to the debate and wish them success to reach a sound opinion. He was readily admitted in.
There was a lengthy debate and several proposals were put forward. Expulsion from Makkah was proposed and debated in turn but finally turned down on grounds that his sweet and heart-touching words could entice the other Arabs to attack them in their own city. Imprisonment for life was also debated but also refused for fear that his followers might increase in number, overpower them and release him by force. At this point, the arch-criminal of Makkah, Abu Jahl bin Hisham suggested that they assassinate him. But assassination by one man would have exposed him and his family to the vengeance of blood. The difficulty was at last solved by Abu Jahl himself, who suggested that a band of young men, one from each tribe, should strike Muhammad simultaneously with their swords so that the blood-money would be spread over them all and therefore could not be exacted, and his people would seek a mind-based recourse for settlement. The sinful proposal was unanimously accepted, and the representatives broke up the meeting and went back home with full determination for immediate implementation.
Migration of the Prophet
When the iniquitous decision had been made, Gabriel was sent down to Muhammad to reveal to him Quraishs plot and give him his Lords Permission to leave Makkah. He fixed to him the time of migration and asked him not to sleep that night in his usual bed. At noon, the Prophet went to see his Companion Abu Bakr and arranged with him everything for the intended migration. Abu Bakr was surprised to see the Prophet masked coming to visit him at that unusual time, but he soon learned that Allâhs Command had arrived, and he proposed that they should migrate together, to which the Prophet gave his consent.
To make the necessary preparations for the implementation of their devilish plan, the chiefs of Makkah had chosen eleven men: Abu Jahl, Hakam bin Abil Al-As, Uqbah bin Abi Muait, An-Nadr bin Harith, Omaiyah bin Khalaf, Zamaa bin Al-Aswad, Tuaima bin Adi, Abu Lahab, Ubai bin Khalaf, Nabih bin Al-Hajjaj and his brother Munbih bin Al-Hajjaj. All were on the alert. As night advanced, they posted assassins around the Prophets house. Thus they kept vigil all night long, waiting to kill him the moment he left his house early in the morning, peeping now and then through a hole in the door to make sure that he was still lying in his bed. Abu Jahl, the great enemy of Islam, used to walk about haughtily and arrogantly jeering at Muhammads words, saying to the people around him: "Muhammad claims that if you follow him, he will appoint you rulers over the Arabs and non-Arabs and in the Hereafter your reward will be Gardens similar to those in Jordan, otherwise, he will slaughter you and after death you will be burnt in fire." He was too confident of the success of his devilish plan. Allâh, the All-Mighty, however, in Whose Hands lie the sovereignty of the heavens and earth, does what He desires; He renders succour and can never be overpowered. He did exactly what He later said to His Prophet:
At that critical time the plans of Quraish utterly failed despite the tight siege they laid to the Prophets house, the Prophet and Ali were inside the house. The Prophet told Ali to sleep in his bed and cover himself with his green mantle and assured him full security under Allâhs protection and told him that no harm would come to him. The Prophet then came out of the room and cast a handful of dust at the assassins and managed to work his way through them reciting verses of the Noble Qurân:
He proceeded direct to the house of Abu Bakr who, immediately accompanied him and both set out southwards, clambered up the lofty peak of Mountain Thawr, and decided to take refuge in a cave.
The assassins who laid siege to the house were waiting for the zero hour when someone came and informed them that the Prophet had already left. They rushed in and to their utter surprise, found that the person lying in the Prophets bed was Ali not Muhammad . This created a stir in the whole town. The Prophet had thus left his house on Safar 27th, the fourteenth year of Prophethood, i.e. 12/13 September 622 A.D.
Knowing already that Quraish would mobilize all its potentials to find him, he played a clever trick on them and instead of taking the road to Madinah in north side of Makkah as the polythiest would expect, he walked along a road least expected lying south of Makkah and leading to Yemen. He walked for 5 miles until he reached a rough rocky mountain called Thawr. There his shoes were worn out, some said he used to walk tiptoe in order not to leave a trail behind him. Abu Bakr - may Allah be pleased with him - carried him up the mountain to a cave called after the name of the mountain, Cave Thawr. Abu Bakr first entered to explore the cave and be sure that it was safe, closed all holes with pieces torn off from his clothes, cleaned it and then asked the Prophet to step in. The Prophet went in and immediately laid his head in Abu Bakrs lap and fell asleep. Suddenly Abu Bakrs foot was stung by a poisonous insect. It hurt so much that his tears fell on the Prophets face. The Prophet immediately applied his saliva on Abu Bakrs foot and the pain went off on the spot. They confined themselves to this cave for three nights, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Abdullah, the son of Abu Bakr would go to see them after dusk, stay the night there, apprise them of the latest situation in Makkah, and then leave in the early morning to mix with the Makkans as usual and not to draw the least attention to his clandestine activities. Amir bin Fuhairah, while in the company of other shepherds of Makkah tending his master Abu Bakrs flock, used to stole away unobserved every evening with a few goats to the cave and furnished its inmates with a plentiful supply of milk.
Quraish, on the other hand, were quite baffled and exasperated when the news of the escape of the two companions was confirmed. They brought Ali to Al-Kabah, beat him brutally and confined him there for an hour attempting desperately to make him divulge the secret of the disappearance of the two fugitives, but to no avail. They then went to see Asma, Abu Bakrs daughter, but here also their attempts went in vain. While at her door Abu Jahl slapped the girl so severely that her earring broke up.
The notables of Makkah convened an emergency session to determine the future course of action and explore all areas that could help arrest the two men. They decided to block all avenues leading out of Makkah and imposed heavy armed surveillance over all potential exits. A price of 100 camels was set upon the head of each one. Horsemen, infantry and tracers of tracks scoured the country. Once they even reached the mouth of the cave where the Prophet and Abu Bakr were hiding. When he saw the enemy at a very close distance, Abu Bakr whispered to the Prophet : "What, if they were to look through the crevice and detect us?" The Prophet in his God-inspired calm replied:
It was really a Divine miracle, the chasers were only a few steps from the cave.
For three days Muhammad and Abu Bakr lived in the cave and Quraish continued their frantic efforts to get hold of them.
Someone called Abdullah bin Uraiquit, who had as yet not embraced Islam, but was trusted by Abu Bakr, and had been hired by him as a guide, reached the cave after three nights according to a plan bringing with him Abu Bakrs two camels. His report satisfied the noble fugitives that the search had slackened. The opportunity to depart was come. Here Abu Bakr offered the Prophet the swift animal to ride on. The latter agreed provided that he would pay its price. They took with them the food provisions that Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, brought and tied in a bundle of her waistband, after tearing it into two parts, hence the appellation attached to her: "Asma of the two waistbands." The Prophet , Abu Bakr and Amir bin Fuhairah departed, and their guide Abdullah bin Uraiquit led them on hardly ever trodden ways along the coastal route. That was in Rabi Al-Awwal, 1st year A.H., i.e. September 622 A.D. The little caravan travelled through many villages on their way to Quba. In this context, it is relevant to introduce some interesting incidents that featured their wearying journey:
In a version by Abu Bakr - may Allah be pleased with her - , he said: "We emigrated while the Makkans were in pursuit of us. None caught up with us except Suraqah bin Malik bin Jusham on a horse. I said: O Messenger of Allâh, this one has caught up with us. The Prophet replied:
On Monday, 8th Rabi Al-Awwal, the fourteenth year of Prophethood, i.e. September 23rd. 622, the Messenger of Allâh arrived at Quba.
As soon as the news of Muhammads arrival began to spread, crowds came flocking out of Madinah . They would come every morning and wait eagerly for his appearance until forced by the unbearable heat of the midday sun to return. One day they had gone as usual, and after a long wait and watch they retired to the city when a Jew, catching a glimpse of three travellers clad in white winding their way to Madinah , shouted from the top of a hillock: "O you people of Arabia! Your grandfather has come! He, whom you have been eagerly waiting for, has come!" The Muslims immediately rushed holding their weapons, (to defend him) . The joyful news soon spread through the city and people marched forward to greet their noble guest.
Ibn Al-Qayyim said: "The shouts of Allâhu Akbar (Allâh is Great) resounded in Banu Amr bin Auf. Muhammads elation correspondingly increased, but with rare sense of timing and propriety, called a halt. Serenity enveloped him and the evelation was sent down:
Urwah bin Az-Zubair said: They received the Messenger of Allâh , and went with them to the right. There Banu Amr bin Awf hosted him. That was on Monday, Rabi Al-Awwal. He sat down silent, and Al-Ansar (the Helpers), who had not had the opportunity to see him before, came in to greet him: It is said that the sun became too hot so Abu Bakr stood up to shade him from the hot sun rays.It was really an unprecedented day in Madinah . The Jews could perceive concretely the veracity of their Prophet Habquq, who said: God has come from At-Taiman, and the Qudus one from Faran Mount.
Muhammad stayed in Quba with Kulthum bin Al-Hadm, a hospitable chief of the tribe of Amr bin Awf. Here he spent four days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday . It was during this period that the foundation of Quba Mosque was laid on the basis of pure piety.
Ali hung back in Makkah for three days to return the trusts, on behalf of the Prophet , to their respective owners. After that he started his emigration journey to catch up with him at Quba.
On Friday morning, the Prophet , sent for Bani An-Najjar, his maternal uncles, to come and escort him and Abu Bakr to Madinah . He rode towards the new headquarters amidst the cordial greetings of his Madinese followers who had lined his path. He halted at a place in the vale of Banu Salim and there he performed his Friday prayer with a hundred others . Meanwhile the tribes and families of Madinah , the new name for Yathrib and a short form of The Messengers Madinah (City), came streaming forth, and vied with one another in inviting the noble visitor to their homes. The girls of the Madinese used to chant beautiful verses of welcome rich in all meanings of obedience and dutifulness to the new Messenger.
Though not wealthy, every Ansar (Helper) was wholeheartedly eager and anxious to receive the Messenger in his house. It was indeed a triumphal procession. Around the camel of Muhammad and his immediate followers, rode the chiefs of the city in their best raiment and in glittering armour, everyone saying: "Alight here O Messenger of Allâh, abide by us." Muhammad used to answer everyone courteously and kindly: "This camel is commanded by Allâh, wherever it stops, that will be my abode."
The camel moved onward with slackened rein, reached the site of the Prophetic Mosque and knelt down. He did not dismount until it rose up again, went on forward, turned back and then returned to kneel down in the very former spot. Here, he alighted in a quarter inhabited by Banu Najjar, a tribe related to the Prophet from the maternal side. In fact, it was his wish to honour his maternal uncles and live among them. The fortunate host, Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari, stepped forward with unbounded joy for the Divine blessing appropriated to him, welcomed the Noble Guest and solicited him to enter his house.
A few days later, there arrived the Prophets spouse Sawdah, his two daughters Fatimah and Umm Kulthum, Usama bin Zaid, Umm Aiman, Abdullah son of Abu Bakr with Abu Bakrs house-hold including Aishah - may Allah be pleased with her - . Zainab was not able to emigrate and stayed with her husband Abi Al-As till Badr Battle.
Aishah - may Allah be pleased with her - said: "When the Messenger of Allâh arrived in Madinah , both Abu Bakr and Bilal fell ill. I used to attend to their needs. When the fever took firm grip of Abu Bakr he used to recite verses of poetry that smacked of near death; Bilal, when the fit of fever alleviated, would also recite verses of poetry that pointed to clear homesickness." Aishah - may Allah be pleased with her - added:
"I briefed the Prophet on their grave situation, and he replied: O Allâh, we entreat You to establish in our hearts a strong love for Madinah equal to that we used to have for Makkah, or even more. O Allâh, bless and increase the wealth of Madinah and we beseech You to transmute its rotten mud into wholesome edible fat."
Life in Madinah
The Madinese era could be divided into three phases:
The First Phase
Emigration to Madinah could never be attributable to attempts to escape from jeers and oppression only, but it also constituted a sort of cooperation with the aim of erecting the pillars of a new society in a secure place. Hence it was incumbent upon every capable Muslim to contribute to building this new homeland, immunizing it and holding up its prop. As a leader and spiritual guide, there was no doubt the Noble Messenger , in whose hands exclusively all affairs would be resolved.
In Madinah, the Prophet had to deal with three distinctively different categories of people with different respective problems:
In Madinah , things were otherwise; here all the affairs of their life rested in their hands. Now, they were at ease and could quite confidently handle the challenges of civilization, construction, means of living, economics, politics, government administration, war and peace, codification of the questions of the allowed and prohibited, worship, ethics and all the relevant issues. In a nutshell, they were in Madinah at full liberty to erect the pillars of a new Muslim community not only utterly different from that pre-Islamic code of life, but also distinctive in its features in the world at large. It was a society that could stand for the Islamic Call for whose sake the Muslims had been put to unspeakable tortures for 10 years. No doubt, the construction of a society that runs in line with this type of ethics cannot be accomplished overnight, within a month or a year. It requires a long time to build during which legislation and legalization will run gradually in a complementary process with mind cultivation, training and education. Allâh, the All-Knowing, of course undertook legislation and His Prophet Muhammad , implementation and orientation:
"He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger (Muhammad ) from among themselves, reciting to them His Verses, purifying them (from the filth of disbelief and polytheism), and teaching them the Book (this Qurân, Islamic laws and Islamic Jurisprudence) and Al-Hikmah (As-Sunna: legal ways, orders, acts of worship, etc. of the Prophet Muhammad .)." [62:2]
The Prophets Companions - may Allah be pleased with them all - , rushed enthusiastically to assimilate these Qurânic rules and fill their hearts joyfully with them:
"And when His Verses (this Qurân) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith." [8:2]
With respect to the Muslims, this task constituted the greatest challenge for the Messenger of Allâh . In fact, this very purpose lay at the heart of the Islamic Call and the Muhammadan mission; it was never an incidental issue though there were the matters that required urgent addressing.
The Muslims in Madinah consisted virtually of two parties: The first one already settled down in their abode, land and wealth, fully at ease, but seeds of discord amongst them were deeply seated and chronic enmity continually evoked; they were Al-Ansar (the Helpers). The second party were Al-Muhajirun (the Emigrants), homeless, jobless and penniless. Their number was not small, on the contrary, it was increasing day by day after the Prophet had given them the green light to leave for Madinah whose economic structure, originally not that prosperous one, began to show signs of imbalance aggravated by the economic boycott that the anti-Islamic groups imposed and consequently imports diminished and living conditions worsened.
Religiously, they showed no zeal; their most obvious religious commodity was fortunetelling, witchcraft and the secret arts (blowing on knots), for which they used to attach to themselves advantages of science and spiritual precedence.
They excelled at the arts of earning money and trading. They in fact monopolized trading in cereals, dates, wine, clothes, export and import. For the services they offered to the Arabs, the latter paid heavily. Usury was a common practice amongst them, lending the Arab notables great sums to be squandered on mercenary poets, and in vanity avenues, and in return seizing their fertile land given as surety.
They were very good at corrupting and scheming. They used to sow seeds of discord between adjacent tribes and entice each one to hatch plots against the other with the natural corollary of continual exhaustive bloody fighting. Whenever they felt that fire of hatred was about to subside, they would nourish it with new means of perpetuity so that they could always have the upper hand, and at the same time gain heavy interest rates on loans spent on inter-tribal warfare.
Three famous tribes of Jews constituted the demographic presence in Yathrib (now Madinah): Banu Qainuqua, allies of Al-Khazraj tribe, Banu An-Nadir and Banu Quraizah who allied Al-Aws and inhabited the suburbs of Madinah.
Naturally they held the new changes with abhorrence and were terribly hateful to them, simply because the Messenger of Allâh was of a different race, and this point was in itself too repugnant for them to reconcile with. Second, Islam came to bring about a spirit of rapport, to terminate the state of enmity and hatred, and to establish a social regime based on denunciation of the prohibited and promotion of the allowed. Adherence to these canons of life implied paving the way for an Arab unity that could work to the prejudice of the Jews and their interests at both the social and economic levels; the Arab tribes would then try to restore their wealth and land misappropriated by the Jews through usurious practices.
The Jews of course deeply considered all these things ever since they had known that the Islamic Call would try to settle in Yathrib, and it was no surprise to discover that they harboured the most enmity and hatred to Islam and the Messenger even though they did not have the courage to uncover their feelings in the beginning.
The following incident could attest clearly to that abominable antipathy that the Jews harboured towards the new political and religious changes that came to stamp the life of Madinah. Ibn Ishaq, on the authority of the Mother of believers Safiyah - may Allah be pleased with her - narrated: Safiyah, daughter of Huyayi bin Akhtab said: I was the closest child to my father and my uncle Abi Yasirs heart. Whenever they saw me with a child of theirs, they should pamper me so tenderly to the exclusion of anyone else. However, with the advent of the Messenger of Allâh and setting in Quba with Bani Amr bin Awf, my father, Huyayi bin Akhtab and my uncle Abu Yasir bin Akhtab went to see him and did not return until sunset when they came back walking lazily and fully dejected. I, as usually, hurried to meet them smiling, but they would not turn to me for the grief that caught them. I heard my uncle Abu Yasir say to Ubai and Huyayi: "Is it really he (i.e. Muhammad )?" The former said: "It is he, I swear by Allâh!" "Did you really recognize him?" they asked. He answered: "Yes, and my heart is burning with enmity towards him"
An interesting story that took place on the first day, the Prophet stepped in Madinah, could be quoted to illustrate the mental disturbance and deep anxiety that beset the Jews. Abdullah bin Salam, the most learned rabbi among the Jews came to see the Prophet when he arrived, and asked him certain questions to ascertain his real Prophethood. No sooner did he hear the Prophets answers than he embraced Islam, but added that if his people knew of his Islamization they would advance false arguments against me. The Prophet sent for some Jews and asked them about Abdullah bin Salam, they testified to his scholarly aptitude and virtuous standing. Here it was divulged to them that he had embraced Islam and on the spot, they imparted categorically opposite testimonies and described him as the most evil of all evils. In another narration Abdullah bin Salam said, "O Jews! Be Allâh fearing. By Allâh, the only One, you know that he is the Messenger of Allâh sent to people with the Truth." They replied, "You are lying." ... That was the Prophets first experience with the Jews.
That was the demo-political picture within Madinah. Five hundred kilometres away in Makkah, there still lay another source of detrimental threat, the archenemy of Islam, Quraish. For ten years, while at the mercy of Quraish, the Muslims were subjected to all sorts of terrorism, boycott, harassment and starvation coupled by a large scale painstaking psychological war and aggressive organized propaganda. When they had emigrated to Madinah, their land, wealth and property were seized, wives detained and the socially humble in rank brutally tortured. Quraish also schemed and made attempts on the life of the first figure of the Call, Muhammad . Due to their acknowledged temporal leadership and religious supremacy among the pagan Arabs, given the custodianship of the Sacred Sanctuary, the Quraishites spared no effort in enticing the Arabians against Madinah and boycotting the Madinese socially and economically. To quote Muhammad Al-Ghazali: "A state of war virtually existed between the Makkan tyrants and the Muslims in their abode. It is foolish to blame the Muslims for the horrible consequences that were bound to ensue in the light of that long-standing feud."
The Muslims in Madinah were completely eligible then to confiscate the wealth of those tyrants, mete out for them exemplary punishment and bring twofold retaliation on them in order to deter them from committing any folly against the Muslims and their sanctities.
That was a resume of the major problems that the Prophet Muhammad had to face, and the complicated issues he was supposed to resolve.
In full acknowledgment, we could safely say that he quite honestly shouldered the responsibilities of Messengership, and cleverly discharged the liabilities of both temporal and religious leadership in Madinah. He accorded to everyone his due portion whether of mercy or punishment, with the former usually seasoning the latter in the overall process of establishing Islam on firm grounds among its faithful adherents.