Saturday, July 31, 2010

Impact of Islam|Islam The Straight Path|Islam Teachings|Quran Guidance

Article first published as Impact of Islam on Blogcritics.

We previously discussed the Prophet Muhammed's (pbuh) 'Flight to Medina' also known as the 'Hijra' or 'The Prophet's Emigration' and we also touched on the massive manhunt Qureish(the leading tribe of Mecca) launched in order to capture Muhammed (pbuh) dead or alive and, consequently, bring an end to Islam.

But what impact did Islam have on the people of Medina particularly? How did they receive Muhammed (pbuh) and that which he brought to the world?

Before we look at that aspect of Islam, let us continue where we left off earlier, i.e. with the trackers of Qureish following the trail of Muhammed (pbuh) and his companion, Abu Bakr, and the subsequent discovery of the cave where the two were hiding.

We discussed previously how Abu Bakr became convinced that it was the end of both him and the Prophet (pbuh) since there was only one way into the cave, and the baying of the mob outside had sounded very ominous indeed. The Prophet (pbuh) had told him not to worry—that Allah was with them, and that the Almighty would not allow any harm to come to them.

We spoke about how the leaders of Qureish— when they arrived at the cave, which was situated on Mount Tuhr— refrained from entering the hideout, especially since a spider had spun its web across the mouth, and a bird's egg was entangled in the center of the web as well! The Prophet (pbuh) and his Companion didn't know about this.

Qureish had felt that no human being or even an animal could have entered the cave without disturbing the web or the egg, and so it was senseless wasting time searching inside, while the two were probably making their getaway. They (Qureish) then left in 'hot pursuit' of the fugitives, whom they knew couldn't have been too far ahead since the two had no means of transport, either by camel or horseback.

History records that a reward of one hundred camels was offered for the capture of Muhammed (pbuh) and Abu Bakr, his friend, dead or alive. Thus one can imagine what this must have meant to the ordinary citizens of not only Mecca, but all the outlying areas as well. One hundred camels! Here was the one chance, perhaps the only chance, of becoming rich and powerful overnight, and to say good-bye to the life of abject poverty and strife that so many of these Arabs were subjected to.

For three days, the Prophet (pbuh) and Abu Bakr remained inside the cave, and as per prior arrangement, Abu Bakr's son Abdullah came to visit and brought them food. He also brought them three camels.

After the three days, the two then prepared for the journey to Medina, which was known as Yathrib at the time, led by a guide by the name of Abdullah bin Uraiqit, who knew the back roads very well. He was also a trusted friend of Abu Bakr.

The hunt for the Prophet (pbuh) had by now somewhat abated.

Nonetheless, caution remained the watchword—opportunists and bounty-hunters were roaming the hills, and, as has been recorded, one such bounty hunter, a warrior by the name of Suraqah bin Malik, acting upon a rumor that the Prophet (pbuh) and his party had been seen in the vicinity of the Red Sea, came upon the three as they made their way through lesser-known territory towards Yathrib.

Suraqah was an absolute killer with a bow and arrow. And no one escaped his aim!

It is said that the Prophet (pbuh) and his friends had their backs to the killer when Suraqah bin Malik prepared to strike. He was a good distance away from them, but he was an expert— he could already see the hundred camels grazing on his ground. Muhammed (pbuh) was as good as dead.

Suraqah pulled back the arrow and his horse's knees buckled.

He swore, and took aim once again. Muhammed (pbuh) was lucky! He grimaced

The horse stumbled a second time just as Suraqah prepared to let fly. He cursed vilely.

What was going on? he thought to himself as he calmed the animal. There were no potholes or rocks that he could see lying in his path.

He took aim a third time and suddenly the horse reared so violently that Suraqah was unceremoniously dumped to the ground.

History records that after Suraqah bin Malik regained his composure and managed to get himself back on his horse again, he hastened after the Prophet (pbuh) and his party and called out to them to wait for him.

Suraqah had never been so shaken in all his life.

And when he caught up with them, he told the Prophet (pbuh) what his intentions had been and that he was convinced that the Prophet (pbuh) had the protection of his god.

Suraqah returned to Mecca and told everyone that Muhammed (pbuh) was nowhere to be found. Thus Qureish called off the search and Muhammed (pbuh) and his party could continue to Medina in safety.

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Friday, July 23, 2010

Turning-point in Islam|Islam The Straight Path|Islam Teachings|Quran Guidance

Article first published as Turning Point in Islam, Part Two on Blogcritics.

We have thus far discussed many of the trials and tribulations the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) endured in his quest of spreading the 'Message of Islam' to the world, and, we have looked at the various aspects of animosity and hatred Qureish (leading Arab Tribe in Mecca at the time) displayed towards Muhammed (pbuh) as his mission progressed. We have seen how the clansmen finally decided on a plan of getting rid of Muhammed (pbuh)—and at the same time ridding the (Arab) world of Islam—especially since his beloved wife, Khadija, his pillar of strength, and his uncle Abu Talib, his protector against Qureish, had both passed away.

But where did this all lead to, we ask? Why did the Prophet (pbuh) persist in ministering to a people who were so steeped in their ignominy and degradation, and who saw him not only as a detriment to their lifestyle and beliefs but as a serious threat to their actual existence?

What happened when Muhammed (pbuh) entered Medina?

However, before we can discuss the actual 'Turning Point' in the Prophet's (pbuh) mission, it becomes necessary to look at that tenth year of prophet-hood, the year he lost both his beloved Khadija and his uncle Abu Talib, and also the year that Allah Almighty summoned 'The Messenger' to his 'Domain' (as is recorded in the Holy Quran) to hand down the Injunction of the Five Daily Prayers (which is to this day prescribed for every sane Muslim anywhere in the world). It is necessary for us to try and access the Prophet's (pbuh) progress in his mission at that particular juncture—necessary, in a sense, to understand what it was that drove him so relentlessly.

We find that now that his confidante (Khadija) and Abu Talib, the Prophet's (pbuh) last line of defense against the wiles of Qureish, were gone, the clansmen had a free hand in persecuting and even killing the Muslims.

We find that because of the aggression and absolute malice of Qureish against Muhammed (pbuh) and his followers, not many people could be persuaded to enter the fold of Islam after that. Not many people had the conviction of standing against Qureish-—at peril of their lives! and see where their new-found beliefs were going to take them. Even some of those who had joined previously were having serious doubts about their commitment to the religion and one by one they turned on their heels. But as we have discussed before, people like Abu Bakr Al Sediq, the Prophet's (pbuh) true friend, Umar ibn Al Hattab, Hamza, the Prophet's uncle, Ali, his cousin, and quite a few others were not allowing Qureish to intimidate them; they continued performing their Five Daily Prayers in open defiance of Qureish's persecution, hence Qureish's murderous plan of getting rid of Muhammed (pbuh).

To try and fathom the Prophet's (pbuh) passion and commitment in spreading the Message of Islam one can but only marvel at his resolve in withstanding all the obstacles that dogged him ceaselessly and continuing his ministries against all odds. One cannot do otherwise but to wonder how it was possible that he could pick himself up after every blow and setback and continue on regardless—like the time when he went to a place called Ta'if, some 50 miles east0south-east of Mecca, to talk to the people there.

As we have said previously, in Mecca it was becoming increasingly difficult—if not impossible—for the Prophet (pbuh) to get people to accept Islam; here, in Ta'if, he felt, the populace might give him a fair hearing, since the Banu Thakif, a powerful tribe, held sway in Ta'if, and more importantly, Qureish had no say over them. After a month's stay in that place, though, Muhammed (pbuh) found himself exactly where he was before he came to Ta'if. He could get no one to listen to him at all! In fact, not only did they refuse to give him a hearing, they rounded up all the street urchins, placed them on both sides of the streets, and as Muhammed (pbuh) exited the city they pelted him with stones.

It has been recorded that so severe was their pelting that blood flowed freely from the Prophet's (pbuh) wounds and into his sandals, causing them to stick stubbornly to his feet!
It has also been recorded that Allah Almighty sent the Archangel Gabriel to Muhammed (pbuh) to inform him that Allah was a Witness to all that was happening to him, and, if he (Muhammed) (pbuh) so wished, Allah would command the Angel of the mountains to topple the mountains of Ta'if onto those who did this to him and destroy them like Allah had destroyed Pharaoh and his army when they went after the Prophet Moses and his people. Allah would annihilate them like He annihilated the wrongdoers during the time of Lot and the time of Noah.

But Muhammed (pbuh) refused, saying that even if those of his generation rejected Allah and Islam, their children and those that came after them might accept what he brought them and his mission would not have been in vain. Today, Ta'if is one of the foremost Islamic cities in the Arabian Peninsula.

Nonetheless, Qureish soon got word of Muhammed's (pbuh) mission to Ta'if and their joy knew no bounds when they heard what had happened to him there. But as if that were not enough, they refused to let him re-enter Mecca on his own; he could only do so in the custody of a Qureishite who was not a Muslim. Like a parole officer!

Muhammed (pbuh) endured all this humiliation and embarrassment, and not once did he give in to Qureish and their evil. He believed that Allah Almighty was his Protector and that no matter how his enemies conspired against him, nothing could happen to him that was not supposed to happen to him.

History tells us that during his 'Flight to Medina' (Hijra), the Prophet (pbuh) and Abu Bakr, his companion, who was with him at the time, took refuge inside a cave just outside of Mecca.
And, as we have discussed before, Qureish had mounted a manhunt that was unequaled at that time or any other time, for that matter.

They (Qureish), together with an army of men that included all the tribes of Mecca, young and old, plus a bevy of trackers who left no 'stone unturned' as they hunted for him, pursued the Prophet (pbuh) and his companion, Abu Bakr all through the night. No one was allowed to sleep; no one could turn back. A huge reward was offered for the capture of the two, dead or alive. Qureish wanted them!

And so the next day, just after the break of dawn, the trackers came to a halt outside the cave Muhammed (pbuh) and Abu Bakr were in. The trail had led them here and there was nowhere else the two could have gone to. They had them!

Meanwhile, inside the cave, Muhammed (pbuh) and Abu Bakr could hear the commotion outside. The trackers were talking animatedly as they waited for the leaders of the tribes to arrive.
Abu Bakr felt his heart pounding so fiercely that his breathing started to rasp. 'O Prophet of Allah (pbuh)...' he began, wiping sweat from his bow. 'I am afraid this is the end..!'

But the Prophet (pbuh) held up his hand and looked at his friend. 'No, Abu Bakr...' he whispered reassuringly. 'It is not the end! Allah will not forsake us. Do not fear!'

And as history records, the leaders all came to gather outside the cave, staring agitatedly at the trackers, who themselves couldn't understand what was going on.
The trail had led them here—there was no question about that—but a spider's web barred the entrance to the cave, and a bird's egg was entangled in it.

'How could anyone enter here without breaking this web?' one of the leaders demanded gruffly. The trackers had no answer.

'Come! We are wasting time!' another ordered. 'We cannot let them get away!'
This event and the consequent passage into the City of Medina heralded the turning-point in Islam.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Turning-point in Islam|Islam The Straight Path|Islamic Teachings|Quran Guidance

Article first published as Turning Point In Islam on Blogcritics.

We have previously discussed the 'Miracles of Islam' and in that article we very briefly touched on the advent of the 'Hijrah,' the Flight to Medina by the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh), that incidentally also marks the start of the Muslim Calender.

We also spoke about Qureish's (leading Arab tribe in Mecca, at that time) plan of getting rid of Muhammed (pbuh) once and for all, by appointing the seven young men of all the seven tribes of Mecca to strike as one and kill the Prophet (pbuh).

We discussed how Allah revealed to Muhammed (pbuh) Qureish's evil intentions and how the Prophet (pbuh) got his cousin Ali(son of Abu Talib) to sleep in his bed, knowing that Qureish would not harm Ali, and how the Prophet (pbuh) slipped past the seven young men during the night and disappeared into the desert, accompanied by his close friend, Abu Bakr.

One point of note, though, is Qureish's newfound boldness in going over to such drastic action of actually killing Muhammed (pbuh)!

We learnt previously how the clansmen seemed satisfied with persecuting and terrorizing the Prophet's (pbuh) followers, and how they relished abusing Muhammed (pbuh) personally, by casting thorn bushes in his path where he walked, or emptying filth over his person while he performed his 'Five Daily Prayers' at the 'Kaabah' (black-clothed building in the center of Mecca)!

It is recorded that Abu Jahl, a relative of the Prophet (pbuh), took immense pleasure in pouring the entrails, as well as the faeces, of a dead goat over the Prophet (pbuh) while he went into prostration—especially since this caused the Prophet (pbuh) great distress and stopped him from continuing his prayers.

Strangely enough though, Qureish, on their part, did try to come to some sort of arrangement with the Prophet (pbuh) when they ultimately realized that Islam was not just another fly-by-night entity, dreamt up by some ambitious trier— especially when people like Hamza and Umar and some other notables embraced the Religion.

They first sent someone by the name of Utbah bin Rabiah to the Prophet (pbuh) to find out what it was he wanted, hence his passion in spreading the 'Message of Islam'.

And the words of Utbah bin Rabiah have been recorded, who said, 'O Muhammed (pbuh) why do you persist in spreading the Religion of Islam? Can you not see the enmity and hatred you are causing between the people of Mecca? Can you not see the division you are causing between brothers and sister, even your own family! What is it you want, Muhammed (pbuh)?'

The Prophet (pbuh) did not answer immediately and Utbah continued. 'I swear that if it is power that you want you can have it. The clansmen of Qureish are prepared to make you king of Arabia if you so want to. They have instructed me to tell you that!'

And still the Prophet (pbuh) did not answer.

'Or perhaps a woman..?' Utbah enquired slyly. 'Perhaps a lady of very high standing and exquisite beauty..?'

Muhammed (pbuh) suddenly started reading a verse from the Holy Quran and Utbah looked at him strangely. 'Why are you doing this?'

The Prophet (pbuh) continued reading and Utbah fell silent as he listened to the words. He couldn't exactly fathom what was happening to him, but whatever it was, it was so beautiful that he sat open-mouthed as the Prophet (pbuh) ended off.

'By God! I swear to you, O Muhammed (pbuh)...' Utbah bin Rabiah exclaimed, jumping up when the Prophet (pbuh) finished. 'On the lives of my family...You shall not be harmed...I swear to you! You shall not be harmed by any one of us!' And he left.

Naturally, Qureish were not impressed when they heard Utbah bin Rabiah telling them that what he had heard was not the rantings of a mad man or the fancies of a power-hungry fortune seeker, but rather the 'Divine Injunctions' of a 'Much Higher Being', and that Muhammed (pbuh) was truly a messenger of this 'Being'!

Qureish then sent a delegation to Abu Talib, the Prophet's (pbuh) uncle, imploring him to stop his nephew from preaching Islam, and to stop vilifying their deities as well.

Abu Talib summoned his nephew and started off by telling the Prophet (pbuh) that he, Abu Talib, was an old man and that the last thing he wanted was for any harm to come to Muhammed (pbuh). Qureish, he had lamented, were desperate in their intentions of halting the Prophet's (pbuh) mission, but they had repeated their offer that they had initially sent Utbah bin Rabiah with, and they were serious in making Muhammed (pbuh) king of Arabia, if that's what he desired.

The Prophet's (pbuh) answer to all this was: 'If they should put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left I shall not turn my back on Allah!'

But during the 10th year of prophet-hood (the year the Prophet (pbuh) ascended into the 'Seventh Heaven' to receive the Revelation about the 'Five Daily Prayers') Muhammed (pbuh) suffered a major blow in his life. First: He lost Khadija, his beloved wife, his soul-mate who had stuck with him through all the trials and tribulations; the one who had consoled him when he had stood at the edge of the precipice of despair so many times! and who happened to be one of the 'First Muslims'.

Not long after that (some reporters say a few days, others a few weeks), Abu Talib, his beloved uncle, passed away.

One can only imagine what this must have done to Qureish's morale. Here, finally, was the answer to all their prayers! Abu Talib, perhaps the only person who stood in their way of eradicating Muhammed (pbuh), was gone!

As we have explained previously, there were many tribes in Mecca that came under the umbrella of the leading tribe of Qureish. And in some way or another they were all related or connected, either by blood lineage or intermarriage. Banu Hashim, the tribe which the Prophet (pbuh) belonged to, was a very strong tribe with great influence. In fact, they were the tribe who were the custodians of the 'Kaabah' and one could only enter the holy sanctity of the black-stoned building with their permission. They held the key to the 'Kaabah'.

Abu Talib, being the leader of the Banu Hashim, held great sway in Mecca. Nobody questioned his authority. But what none of the clansmen could understand was why he backed up the Prophet (pbuh) since he didn't accept Islam himself.

Nonetheless, now that he was gone, Qureish could put their heinous plans into action, and we find that after the seven young men of all the seven tribes of Mecca reported their failure at killing the Prophet (pbuh)—as we have explained before—the clansmen summoned all their able-bodied men and mounted a manhunt that was unequaled in that time, or any other time, for that matter.

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