14. From Bad to Worse

But the news was not true! As soon as they landed on the shore and neared Mecca, they heard the terrible truth. Quraish made sujood because Prophet Muhammad (s) was reading and the Surah was so powerful that when it ended with an ayah ordering people to make sujood they couldn’t help but do so. But they had not accepted Islam. So the returning Muslims tried to escape back to Abyssinia but most couldn’t. They were captured and tortured. 

Quraish decided to go to Abu Talib, the Prophet’s uncle who protected him, and ask him to stop Muhammad (s).  “Stop him or we will fight you,” they said to Abu Talib. Abu Talib had never seen them so angry. He went to his nephew Muhammad (s) and told him what Quraish had said, and how they had threatened him. Prophet Muhammad thought his uncle was about to stop protecting him, and that he planned to hand him over to Quraish. He turned to his uncle and said, “O Uncle, by God, if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left, that I may leave this matter, verily – until God wills its victory or I die trying – I will not leave it.” Abu Talib, with tears in his eyes, reassured him he would continue to protect him.

Quraish decided to try something else. If Abu Talib did not tell Muhammad to stop, perhaps it’s because he needed him. “Let us offer him a replacement,” they said to each other. They went to Abu Talib and named a young man to him. “He is the bravest, strongest, noblest, and most handsome of all the youth. Take him, he is yours; and hand us Muhammad so that we may kill him.” “Have you lost your mind,” Abu Talib answered, “You want to kill my son, and I should take care of yours?”

Now the people of Mecca grew angrier and angrier. They even tried to kill the Messenger (s) but Allah protected him. “Why do you think he is doing this?” they wondered. “What will stop him?” They agreed upon a new plan. They would offer Muhammad anything and everything on the condition he stopped calling people to this new religion. They sent someone to say, “O Muhammad, if it is money you want, we will collect money so that you are the richest among us. If it is rank that you want, we will make you our chief and not do anything without your permission. If it is kingship you crave, we will make you our king, and if it is an illness that you suffer from, we will bring you the best doctors.” “Are you finished?” asked Prophet Muhammad. “Yes,” said the man from Quraish. “Then listen to me,” and Prophet Muhammad began to recite Quran. It was so beautiful and so amazing that the man listened carefully, and then the ayahs that Prophet Muhammad (s) recited were about the punishment of the bad people. “Please stop!” the man begged, and he left. He went back to the people of Quraish and told them he heard something marvelous.

Still the people of Quraish would not believe; and they treated the Muslims and the Messenger (s) badly. 

The Prophet (s) had an uncle his age that he was very close to when they were young. The uncle’s name was Hamza bin Abdul-Muttalib, and he was a very strong and brave man. One day Abu Jahl saw the Prophet (s) close to the Kaba, and he began to make fun of him and say bad words to him, then he poured dirt on his head. Soon after, Hamza returned from a hunting trip. When he reached the Kaba, a young servant who had seen what happened, told him what Abu Jahl had done to Prophet Muhammad (s). Hamza became furious. He had always loved his cousin Muhammad and now that he heard this, he couldn’t contain himself! He saw Abu Jahl sitting near the Kaba, walked up to him, and hit him on his nose with his bow saying, “Do you insult Muhammad and I believe in his religion and say as he says?!” Abu Jahl’s nose was bleeding but he was too shocked to hit back. He couldn’t believe what he heard. Hamza now had become a follower of Muhammad!

Hamza, of course, had not really become Muslim. He was upset, and he said what he said on the spur of the moment. That night at home, he could not sleep. What should he do? How can he go back on his word in front of people? How could he become a follower of a religion he did not understand? Hamza spent a sleepless night. 

In the morning, he went off to see the Messenger (s) and he spoke to him about his feelings. The Prophet (s) explained Islam to him for a long time, and finally Hamza felt his heart was calm and full of light.

Quraish now started to dare Prophet Muhammad (s) and ask for miracles, “Move these mountains!” they said. “Spread the land. Let rivers flow here as in Sham and Iraq. Bring back to life those who have died, especially Qusayy. Ask your God to give you gardens and palaces and treasures of gold and silver. Make the sky fall on us. And we will never believe you until you set up a ladder to the sky and climb it as we watch; and even then not until you bring four angels  to say you are telling the truth and even then, we don’t think we will believe you.”

One day, a man took his sword and decided he was going to relieve Quraish of Muhammad. “Where are you going?” asked a passerby, seeing his sword and the determined look on his face. “I am going to kill Muhammad!” he answered.