Chapter 3 :The Beginning of the Call

This chapter will present a brief account of the life of the Messenger of Allah (Allah's blessings and peace be upon him and the people of his household) from the time of his call until his migration to Medina. It will indicate the time when he was commanded to fight, and will present some of the signs and miracles which were wrought at his hands during that period. It consists of eight sections.

The Beginning Of His Call

'Ali ibn Ibrahim [al-Qummi, who is one of our most respected traditionists, related that when the Prophet was thirty-seven years of age, a person used to come to him in his dreams, addressing him and saying: "O Apostle of Allah ! ", but he used to ignore this. After a long time had passed, and as he was among the hills grazing the sheep of his uncle Abu Talib, he saw and heard a person addressing him: "O Messenger of Allah ! " He asked: "Who are you?" "I am Gabriel", the person answered; "Allah has sent me to you so that He may take you for a messenger." The Messenger of Allah told Khadijah of what happened. Khadijah had already been informed of the accounts of the Jews and Bahira', and what Muhammad's mother Aminah had also recounted. Thus, she answered: "O Muhammad, I do hope that it is true!" The Prophet used to hide all this, until one day Gabriel came to him with heavenly water and said: "O Muhammad, rise and perform your ablutions for prayers! " Gabriel taught him the ablutions - washing the face and the two hands from the elbows down, rubbing the head and the two feet to the two heels. He also taught him prostration (sujud) and kneeling (ruku'). When the Prophet attained his fortieth year, Gabriel commanded him to perform the prayers and taught him their rites, except their prescribed times. The Messenger of Allah used to pray two rak`ahs every time he prayed.

'Ali ibn Abi Talib was very much attached to the Prophet, accompanying him wherever he went. One day he saw him praying. He asked: "O Abu 'l-Qasim, what is this that you are doing?" The Prophet answered: "It is the prayer which Allah commanded me to perform." He then called 'Ali to Islam; he accepted, and used to pray with him. Khadijah also entered into Islam. Thus at that time only the Messenger of Allah, 'Ali and Khadijah used to pray.

After a few days, Abu Talib came in to see the Messenger of Allah, accompanied by Ja'far (the Prophet's cousin). He saw the Prophet and `Ali standing beside him in prayer. Abu Talib said to Ja'far, "Stand by the side of your cousin." As he stood at the other side of the Prophet, the Messenger of Allah stepped forward and stood in front of the two men (as prayer leader). Seeing them, Abu Talib recited the following verses:

In truth, Ali and Ja`far are my trust,In times of hardship and sorrow.By Allah, I shall never abandon the Prophet,Nor would any of my sons of high birth abandon him -Do not abandon, but rather support your cousin,The son of my brother from my mother as well as my father.

Al-Qummi related further that the Prophet used to trade for Khadijah before he married her. When he was working for her, she sent him with a caravan belonging to the people of Quraysh to Syria. He was accompanied by a servant of hers called Maysarah. They encamped one day beneath a hermitage belonging to one of the monks living in the area. The monk came down from his cell and looked intently at the Messenger of Allah. He then asked: "Who is this man?" The people answered: "He is the son of `Abdu'l-Muttalib." The monk retorted: "His father could not be alive." Then looking at his eyes and between his shoulders, he exclaimed: "This is the Prophet of the people! This is the Prophet sent with the sword!" When Maysarah returned, he told Khadijah what happened and what had convinced her to offer herself to the Prophet in marriage. Khadijah gained a thousand dinars from that caravan.

One day the Prophet went into a market of the Arabs where he saw Zayd [ibn al-Harithah]. Zayd was a smart youth; the Prophet thus bought him for Khadijah. When, however, the Prophet married her, she gave him Zayd as a gift. When the Messenger of Allah received the call to Prophethood, and 'Ali accepted Islam, Zayd also became a Muslim after him. Thus `Ali, Ja'far, Zayd and Khadijah used to pray behind the Messenger of Allah.

Ash-Shaykh Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn al-Hasan al-Bayhaqi reported in his book Dala'ilu'n-Nubuwwah on the authority of `Ali, who said: "We were with the Messenger of Allah in Mecca when he went out into its suburbs. He did not pass by a tree or mountain but that it met him with the greeting `Peace be upon you O Apostle of Allah.' " [31] It is reported that 'Ali said: "I remember when I used to go with the Prophet into the valley, how he did not pass by a stone or tree but that it exclaimed, `Peace be upon you O Apostle of Allah', while I stood and listened."

A man called `Afif [al-Kindi] related that, "I was a merchant; I came to Mina one day during the hajj (pilgrimage) season. al-`Abbas ibn `Abdi'l-Muttalib was also a merchant. I therefore came to trade with him.. As we were thus occupied, a man came out of a tent to pray: He faced the Ka'bah, and soon a woman came out and likewise stood in prayer. A youth also came out to pray with them. I exclaimed, `O `Abbas, what is this religion? We do not know what this religion is.' He answered, `This is Muhammad ibn `Abdillah, who claims that Allah called him to be a messenger, and that the treasures of Kisra (Khusraw, the Sasanid Persian Emperor) and Qaysar (Caesar, the Byzantine Emperor) will be opened for him. This is his wife Khadijah, daughter of Khuwaylid, who has believed in him. The youth is his cousin 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, who also believed in him.' " `Afif then concluded: "Would that I had believed in him on that day so that I would have been the second man to follow him." Ibn Ishaq reported that when the Prophet came out of the tent he looked at the sky, and when he saw the sun had inclined, he rose up to pray. Ibn Ishaq also mentioned Khadijah's standing in prayer behind him.

It is related on the authority of Mujahid ibn Jabr ( a well-known Qur'an interpreter and traditionist), who said: "Among the favors which Allah bestowed upon 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and the great good He willed for him, was this: The people of Quraysh suffered a great shortage of food. Abu Talib had many children. Thus the Messenger of Allah said one day to his uncle `Abbas, who was one of the wealthiest men among the sons of Hashim, `O `Abbas, your brother Abu Talib is a man with many children, and you can see for yourself how people are suffering as a result of this crisis. Come let us go and relieve him and his children.' They thus went to him and discussed the matter. He answered: `Leave `Aqil (a brother of 'Ali) .and take whomever you wish.' The Messenger of Allah took . 'Ali into his home, and `Ali remained with the Messenger of Allah until Allah called him to be a prophet. `Ali then followed him, believed in him and assented to him."

'Ali ibn Ibrahim [al-Qummi] related that three years after this, Allah revealed to the Apostle of Allah: Declare openly what you have been commanded and be not concerned with the Associators [Quran S : 94] . The Messenger of Allah therefore went out, stood up at al-Hijr [that space which encompasses the Ka'bah on the north] and proclaimed: "O people of Quraysh and you Arab people, I call you all to the worship of Allah alone, and call you to reject all partners with Him, and all idols. I call you all to bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah. Heed my call that you may through it have dominion over all the Arabs. Through it also would non-Arabs submit to your authority. Through it you would be kings in Paradise." But they mocked and laughed at him, exclaiming: "Muhammad son of `Abdullah has gone mad!" They caused him much hurt with their tongues.

Abu Talib asked: "O son of my brother, what is this?" He answered: "Uncle, this is Allah's religion which He chose for His angels and prophets. It is the religion of Abraham and the prophets after him. Allah has sent me also as a messenger to humankind." Abu Talib said: "O son of my brother, surely your people will not accept this from you! Desist, therefore, from proclaiming it to them." "I shall not do so", the Prophet answered, "because Allah has commanded me to call (people to Islam)." Thus, Abu Talib left him alone. The Messenger of Allah intensified his effort in calling the people and warning them at all times.

Those among the People of the Book who heard the news accepted Islam. When, however, the people of Quraysh saw people entering Islam, they were alarmed. They thus went to Abu Talib and demanded: "Restrain your nephew from us, for he has declared our mind to be foolish, and has insulted our gods! He has corrupted our youths, and has dissolved our unity!" Abu Talib then called him and said: "O my brother's son, the people have come to me asking that you desist from insulting their gods." The Prophet answered: "O uncle, I cannot disobey the command of my Lord." Thus he used to call them and warn them of the impending divine punishment. The people of Quraysh gathered in assembly and enquired: "To what does Muhammad call us?" He answered: "I call you to bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and to reject all associates with Him." They protested: "Shall we then abandon three hundred and sixty gods and worship only one God?" Thus Allah mentions in the Qur'an their saying: They marvel that a warner from among them came to them, and the rejecters of faith said, "He is a magician, a liar. Does he wish to render all gods one? This, indeed is a strange thing". . ., and so on to His saying, No! But they have not yet tasted the torment [Qur'an 38: 4 - 8] .

The people then came together to Abu Talib and said: "O Abu Talib, if poverty is the cause of your nephew's action, then we will gather so much wealth for him that he would be the wealthiest man of Quraysh." Abu Talib called him and informed him of their offer. The Messenger of Allah, however, said: "Uncle, I have no need of wealth! Heed my call, so that you may be kings in this world and in the world to come! Then will both Arabs and non-Arabs submit to your authority." They dispersed, but soon returned to Abu Talib and said: "O Abu Talib, you are one of our foremost notables! You see that your nephew has declared us to be of foolish mind. He has cursed our gods and dissolve our unity! Let us give you `Umarah ibn al-Walid, the most handsome and bright youth of Quraysh, the freshest youth and the noblest of lineage to be your son - on condition that you turn over Muhammad to us that we may kill him." He answered: "You have not dealt justly with me! Would you give me your son that I may bring him up, and yet take my son to kill him?" Finally, despairing of convincing him, they desisted.

Al-Hafiz (al-Bayhaqi) related in his book Dala'ilu'n-Nubuwwah on the authority of Ibrahim ibn Muhammad ibn Talhah, that Talhah ibn `Ubaydillah said: "I was present one day at the market of Busra, where I heard a monk who lived in a cell say: `Enquire of the people of this fair if there is anyone among them of the people of the Sanctuary (that is, Mecca).' I replied: `Yes, I am.' He asked: `Has Ahmad come forth yet?' `Who is Ahmad?' I asked. He replied: `The son of `Abdullah ibn `Abdi 'l-Muttalib. This is the month in which he should come forth. He is the last of the prophets. The place of his appearance is the Sanctuary, and that of his migration is a place of date-palms and black stones (that is, Medina). Beware lest anyone accept him before you do.' "

Talhah continued: "I kept what he said in my heart, and .hastened to Mecca. I enquired if anything unusual had happened, and was told that, 'Muhammad ibn `Abdillah al-Amin has declared himself a prophet. Ibn Abi Quhafah (that is, Abu Bakr) has followed him.' I thus went to Abu Bakr and said: `Have you really become a follower of this man?' `Yes', he answered. `You too go to him and follow him, for he invites men to the truth.' "

Talhah then told Abu Bakr what the monk had said. Abu. Bakr took Talhah to the Apostle of Allah, whereupon Talhah became a Muslim. He told the Messenger of Allah what the monk had said, which gladdened the Apostle of Allah. [32]

When both Abu Bakr and Talhah had accepted Islam, a man called Nawfal ibn Khuwaylid ibn al-`Adawiyyah took them and tied them together with one rope. The people of Taym (the tribe to which Abu Bakr belonged) did not protect them. Nawfal ibn Khuwaylid was known as the harshest man of the Quraysh.