13. A Message to All

It was a different kind of ayah – actually two ayahs; and they would change Prophet Muhammad’s (s)  life completely. One was, “And warn your closest relatives,” and the other revealed shortly thereafter was, “Then declare what you are commanded and turn away from the mushrikeen”.  So, Prophet Muhammad (s) was asked to announce Islam and not keep it a secret anymore.

The Messenger (s) hurried to obey Allah’s order. He invited about fifty of his family members to dinner. He had a big meal prepared. When everyone had finished eating, he explained to them about Islam. Not one of them was interested. He invited them a second time, and when they had finished eating, he stood up and explained to them about Islam and asked for their support. His uncle Abu Talib said he would protect him, and his uncle Abu Lahab said bad words to him; only young Ali said words that pleased the Prophet (s).

Next, the Prophet (s) needed to tell everyone about Islam. It would no longer be a secret anymore. He climbed to the top of a hill called Safa and called out to them —  family by family. People wondered what this was all about, so they came to listen to the man they had always respected and loved. Those who couldn’t come in person sent someone to find out what he was going to say. He said, “If I were to tell you that behind this mountain was an army that was about to go to war with you would you believe me?” They all said, “Yes, of course. You have never lied to us.” He said, “Then I tell you that I am God’s Messenger to you to warn you of great punishment if you do not believe.” There was a hush while people thought about what he said, then Abu Lahab called out, “May you fail for the rest of this day! Is this what you called us for?” He turned and walked away and the people scattered back to their work.

Prophet Muhammad (s) the loving, the merciful, the kind, continued to call people to Islam, but the unbelievers were arrogant and they looked down on the Muslims because so many of them were slaves and poor. They made fun of the Messenger (s) and his followers and tried to stop the spread of Islam. Many of them knew he was telling the truth but they refused to admit it because they were arrogant and jealous.  Abu Jahl, an important man of Quraish, once said to a friend, “I know he is truthful, but his clan fed (the pilgrims), so we fed (the pilgrims); they watered (the pilgrims) so we watered, too. Just when we stood shoulder to shoulder, they now say they have a prophet! Where will we get a prophet from? I will never believe in him!” 

The disbelievers of Quraish tried different ways to stop Prophet Muhammad (s) from spreading Islam and to discourage people from accepting it. There was one man who would take Prophet Muhammad’s (s) place when he left, saying: “I can tell you better stories,” and he would tell them stories of the Persian Kings. There was a group who offered the Prophet (s) a proposal, “We will worship what you worship, if you will worship our idols, first.” This is when Surah al-Kafiroon was revealed.

As the time for the Haj pilgrimage drew near, Quraish began to worry, what would people coming to Mecca for Haj think? We need to warn them about Muhammad and make sure they do not listen to him! They decided to have several people welcome newcomers to the city and caution them not to listen to the crazy man. 

Prophet Muhammad (s) took advantage of the fact that people came from distant places to go on Haj and they stayed in camps. He started going from one tribe’s camp to another, calling them to Islam. Abu Lahab followed in his footsteps, telling the people in each camp, “He’s a liar, he’s a liar.”

When nothing worked to stop Islam from spreading, Quraish began to seriously harm the Muslims. Each tribe began to torture the Muslim members amongst them. They locked them up, beat them, made them hungry and thirsty, and dragged them over the burning sands of Mecca at noon. Even important members of a tribe like, Abu Bakr, Uthman, al-Zubayr, and Mus’ab were tortured.

But the people who were not important in the eyes of Quraish and had no one to defend them were tortured the worst. Bilal, Yasir, Sumayya, their son Ammar, and Khabbab, all were harmed daily. Sometimes, they no longer knew what they were saying.  Abdullah bin Masood was the first to recite Quran aloud to Quraish. They beat him up as he continued to recite Surah al-Rahman. When he returned to the companions with his face all bruised and swollen, they said to him, “This is what we feared would happen to you.” He answered that if the Messenger (s) so wished he would recite to them again the next day.

The Messenger (s) seeing what the Muslims were going through and being unable to protect them said, “If you were to go Abyssinia, you will find there a king that is fair and just. It is a land of truth. So in Rajab of the fifth year of Islam, 11 men and 4 women travelled in secret to the sea, got on two ships, and sailed to Abyssinia. Quraish found out and sent men to stop them, but got to the shore too late. 

Three months later they heard that Prophet Muhammad (s) was reading Quran, and when he came to an ayah that had sujood, not only did he and the Muslims make sujood, but that all of Quraish who were listening did, too! Quraish had entered Islam! What happy news! The Muslims packed their things and hurried back to Mecca.