Ta’if : A Lesson in Persistence

It had been a year of sorrow and misfortune for Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). First, his beloved wife Khadijah died. She was, from all people, the best supporter he had. Soon afterwards, his uncle Abu Talib died. As the head of the Prophet’s clan, he was the only person who was able to give him protection from the rest of the tribe of Quraysh. Abu Talib loved his nephew Muhammad intensely, and it pained Prophet Muhammad all the more that his uncle died a disbeliever.

The death, in the same year, of the Prophet’s wife Khadijah and his uncle Abu Talib magnified the Prophet’s sorrows and doubled his feelings of estrangement and alienation and filled his heart with pain. Moreover, it left him and his followers politically isolated in Makkah, without support.

The tribe of Quraysh seize this opportunity to increase their abuses and tighten their grips on the Muslims. Abu Lahab succeeded Abu Talib as the leader of the Prophet’s clan Banu Hashim, and he harbored the bitterest hatred for Islam and the Prophet (peace be upon him). He used to go up to the Prophet (peace be upon him) during the pilgrimage and in the marketplace and throw dirt and stones upon him, calling him a Sabian and a liar and warning people against following him.

Makkah became unbearable. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had to seek support from outside of Makkah. He first headed for the neighboring town of Ta’if, looking for this support. But what did he meet with there?

The people of Ta’if ordered their children to throw rocks and stones at prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to drive him out of the city. The rocks that were thrown at him by the children caused him to bleed seriously, so much that his feet became stuck to his shoes by the drying blood.

When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was outside the city walls, he almost collapsed. They went a short distance outside of the town and stopped in a vineyard that belonged to two Makkans who were there at the time.

The owners of the vineyard had seen how he had been persecuted in Makkah and on this occasion they felt some sympathy toward their fellow citizen. They had his wounds dressed, and let him rest and recuperate until he felt strong enough to resume his journey across the rough terrain between Ta’if and Makkah. It was there that he had the famous encounter with the angel of the mountains.

We have the following account from A’ishah, the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him), when she asked him: “Was there ever a day that was worse for you than the Battle of Uhud?” 

The Prophet replied:

Your tribe (Quraysh) had troubled me a lot, and the most severe of this trouble was on the day of ‘Aqaba when I presented myself to Ibn `Abd Yalayil b. `Abd Kulal and he did not respond to my request. So I departed, overwhelmed with sorrow, and proceeded on, without rest until I found myself at Qarn al-Tha`alib where I lifted my head towards the sky to see a cloud shading me unexpectedly. I looked up and saw within it Gabriel. He called me saying: “Allah has heard what your people have been saying to you, and how they have disputed you. Allah has sent the Angel of the Mountains to you so that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people.” 

The Angel of the Mountains called and greeted me, and then said: “O Muhammad! Order what you wish. If you like, I will cause the two mountains to fall upon them.”

I said: “No, for I hope that Allah will bring forth from their progeny people who will worship Allah Alone, and none besides Him.” [Sahih al-Bukhari (4/81, 8/168). Sahih Muslim (3/1420)]

The people of Ta’if rejected the Prophet (peace be upon him) and what he came with most harshly. He departed from them in sadness and returned to Makkah only to find that its people had become even more enraged and infuriated with him. He was not even able to enter the city until he received the protection of al-Mut`im b. `Udayy. He had first sought the protection of al-Akhnas b. Shurayq and Suhayl b. `Amr, but they had refused.

Presenting the Message to the Tribes

But he persisted in calling to Allah. After returning from al-Ta’if, he began to approach the tribes during the festivals and explain to them Islam. He would ask them for protection and support so he could convey the word of Allah.

Salim b. Abi al-Ja`d relates the following from Jabir:

“Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) used to approach the people at the ground where they would settle, saying: ‘Is there any man who will take me to his people? For verily Quraysh has forbidden me from conveying the words of my Lord.” [Sunan Abi Dawud (5/103), Sunan al-Tirmidhi (5/184), Sunan al-Nasai (101), and Sunan Ibn Majah (1/73)]

Jabir continued: “A man from Hamdan approached him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him: ‘From whom are you?’ He replied: ‘I am from Hamdan.’ He said: ‘Do your people have power?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ Thereafter, the man began to fear that his people would scorn him. He went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and said: ‘I will return to you and inform you.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) agreed. In the month of Rajab of the following year, a delegation came to him from Madinah.” [Musnad Ahmad (3/390)] 

One of the great achievements of calling the tribes to Islam was the meeting between Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) and the delegation from Madinah and the oath of allegiance they gave to him at `Aqabah. This was followed by the emigration to Madinah where the Muslims were finally able to practice Islam in peace and freedom.

This was the turning point for the Muslims. It was so significant that the emigration marks the first year of the Muslim calendar.

Islam’s Message vs Makkan Tribal Politics

The Arab world was a tribal world where tribal customs and affiliations held sway. Most behavior was governed by tribal conflicts and competition between tribes for dominance and leadership.

When Allah chose His Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to carry His Message, he was one of the most distinguished and noble men in his society. His father came from the house of `Abd al-Manaf and his mother from the noble house of Zuhrah. He was from the most noble lineages of the most noble clan – Banu Hashim – of the tribe of Quraysh. The Prophet (peace be upon him) was also known for his noble manners and exemplary character. He remained aloof from the shortcomings of character that the Arabs used to boast about in that time of ignorance. He was free of any reproachable behavior, since Allah protected him from the time he was born and kept him away from any dubious behavior and from anything that could harm his reputation.

All the same, he never held a leadership position in any tribe. There were many reasons for this. Some of these reasons related to his environment and his age. From another angle, there was also the divine intervention that protected the Message from being mixed up with any worldly motivations that the insincere always yield to and that people of integrity always shy away from. One of the objections levied against him by the idolaters was that they questioned the reason why Allah would choose Muhammad (peace be upon him) for His Message. They did not take note of his virtues and personal qualities and failed to see how he was any better than they were. Quite the contrary, they suggested many people who they claimed were more suited to carry the Message, people of prominence who held power in their tribes.

“They said: ‘Why was the Quran not sent down to a man of prominence in either of the two chief cities’.” [Surah al-Zukhruf: 31]

They did not necessarily mean any person in particular from the cities of Makkah and Ta’if, though some narrations suggest certain individuals. Among the people of Makkah mentioned were: al-Walid b. al-Mughirah al-Makhzumi and `Utbah b. Rabi`ah. Al-Walid was known as “the Rayhanah of Quraysh” rayhan being a plant valued for its exquisite fragrance. Among the people of al-Ta’if, there was the possibility of Habib b. `Amr al-Thaqafi, Ibn `Abd Yalil, `Urwah b. Mas`ud, or Kinanah b. `Abd.

Although they did not necessarily intend any specific person by their statement, they clearly meant that the Message should have been revealed to a prominent person from Makkah or al-Ta’if, a person of nobility, leadership, or tribal chieftaincy, like those people mentioned above.

What presumption must have possessed them to think they could involve themselves in the divine choice of selecting a prophet? They actually went so far as to demand that each one of them be afforded the status of the Messenger and be visited by an angel and receive revelation, so that no one of them would have to follow another.

Allah says,

“When a sign comes to them, they say: ‘We shall not believe until we receive something like what was given to Allah’s Messengers.’ Allah knows best where to place His Message. Soon will the wicked be overtaken by humiliation and a severe punishment from Allah for all their plots.” [Surah al-An`am: 124]

They exalted in themselves and refused to follow another human being like them, even if he be a prophet supported by revelation from Heaven. They demanded that angels descend upon them or that they gaze upon Allah with their own eyes. For this, their fate was to meet a disgraceful punishment both in this world and in the Hereafter and enter the Hellfire in humiliation.

Allah says;

“Soon will the wicked be overtaken by humiliation before Allah.” [Surah al-An`am: 124]

In another verse, Allah says;

“Those who do not hope to meet with Us say: ‘Why are not angels sent down to us, or why do we not see our Lord’ Verily they are conceited about themselves and mighty is their insolence.” [Surah al-Furqan: 21]

These arrogant people refuse from the start to obey a man like themselves. It was the same for other proud and haughty nations who rejected the truth saying: “If you obey a man like yourselves, you will certainly be lost.” [Surah al-Mu’minun: 34]

They argued that if this Messenger had to come from the human race, then why could he not come from the highest ranking members of society,  the leaders and the chiefs of the tribes who, as far as they were concerned, were more suitable to be followed? This was nothing more than an excuse used to justify the actions of those who denied the truth that the Messenger came with and turned away from it.

This is why you find that those who rejected the Message who came from the same clan as Allah’s Messenger used to argue that Allah’s Messenger was not a chief and had no authority or position of prominence among them. Those who came from other clans in the tribe rejected his call in order to protect their own clan’s power and prestige in their competition with the other clans. Those who came from other tribes rejected him to preserve the status of their tribe and out of disdain for following a member of another tribe.

Al-Mughîrah b. Shu`bah relates:

The first day I met Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him), I was walking with Abu Jahl b. Hisham in some of the alleyways of Makkah. We met with Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) and he said to Abu Jahl: “Come forward to Allah and his Messenger. I call you to Allah.”

Abu Jahl replied: “O Muhammad, will you stop blaspheming our gods? Do you want nothing but for us to bear witness to the fact that you conveyed the message? For, by Allah, even if I knew that what you say is the truth, I would not follow you.”

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) departed and Abu Jahl turned to me and said: “By Allah, I know that what he says is true, but the tribe of Banu Qusayy says that they have custodianship over the gates and we agree. They say that they have the council and we agree. They say that they carry the banner and we agree. They say that they provide water for the pilgrims and we say that we agree. They feed the people and we feed the people. Then, while we are neck to neck, they come and say that they have a prophet among them. What can we say to this? No, I will never accept it!” [Ibn Ishaq, al-Maghazi (p. 210). Al-Bayhaqi, Dala’il al-Nubuwwah (2/207)]

From this confession, the matter becomes perfectly clear. The issue with Abu Jahl and his ilk was the tribal struggles for leadership and prestige. Banu Qusayy monopolized the custodianship of the gates, the distribution of water, and the council. It was not possible to let them to have the exclusive claim of a prophet among them, because if this were to happen, the whole tribe of Quraysh – and all other Arabs as well – would yield to that clan’s authority.

A similar story is that of Abu Jahl and Abu Sufyan and al-Akhnas b. Shurayq when they listened to the Quran night after night.

One morning, al-Akhnas went to Abu Jahl and said: “O Abû al-Hakam, what is your opinion about what I heard from Muhammad?”

Abu Jahl replied: “What did you hear? We compete with Banu `Abd Manâf in nobility. They provide food and we provide food. They carry the burdens and we carry them, they give and we give… until we are neck in neck like two racehorses, then they say: ‘We have a prophet among us who receives revelation from Heaven’ When will we be able to say the same thing? By Allah, we should never listen to him and never believe him.”  [Sîrah Ibn Hisham (1/337). Ibn Ishaq, al-Siyar wa al-Maghazi (189). Al-Bayhaqi, Dala’il al-Nubuwwah (2/206)]

It was very difficult for Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) to carry out his duty in the midst of such a tribal environment that centered exclusively around the clan and was plagued by bitter tribal competition. Hs closest relatives failed to follow him because he was not one of his clan’s chiefs. Others refused to follow him because he did not come from their clan or tribe.

Ibn `Abbas relates that when verse 214 of Surah al-Shu`ara’ was revealed (“And admonish your nearest kin.”), the Prophet (peace be upon him) climbed Mount Safa and called out the names of the clans of Quraysh: “O Banu Fahr, O Banu `Udayy… until they all assembled. Those who could not go out themselves sent out messengers to find out what was going on. Abu Lahab and the tribe of Quraysh came out. Then he said: “What would you think if I were to inform you that a great army was gathered in the valley that wants to attack you? Would you believe me?”

They replied: “Yes we would, because we have never known anything but honesty from you.”

He said: “Then I warn you of a great punishment that awaits you.”

Abu Lahab spoke up and said: “May you perish for the rest of the day! You brought us out here for this?” Thereafter, Allah revealed the verse: “Perish the hands of Abu Lahab! May he perish. His wealth and all of his gains will not suffice him.” [Sahih al-Bukhari (4/161) and Sahih Muslim (1/193)]

From the moment the Prophet (peace be upon him) made that announcement, Makkah became divided into two camps. There is the camp of disbelief and paganism that includes both Arabs and non-Arabs, rulers and subjects, close relatives of the Prophet and those unrelated to him. Then there was the camp of faith that at first comprised of Muhammad b. `Abd Allah (peace be upon him) and one other free man, one slave, one boy, and one woman. These were the people who sacrificed for the religion everything that was dear and precious to them.

Friday Khutbah : The Battle of Uhud: Victory – Not Defeat

Friday Khutbah : The Battle of Uhud: Victory – Not Defeat
- by Imam Al-Madinah Al-Munawarrah ‘Abdul Muhsin Ibn Muhammad al-Qasim
from the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, on Rabee’uth-Thaanee 1, 1422 (June 23, 2001)

The Transcript:

All praise is due to Allah. May peace and blessings be upon His prophet Muhammad.

Fellow Muslims! Fear Allah as He should be feared for the fear of Allah increases one in blessings and removes calamities.

The Almighty Allah sent our prophet Muhammad to mankind after a break in the series of messengers at a time when the world was immersed in a deep darkness of ignorance. The Prophet and his companions started spreading the religion and the disbelievers challenged his message and unsheathed their swords to fight him. The Muslims faced them in the battle of Badr and realised a great victory by Allah’s command. The flag of Islam was raised high and the disbelievers returned to Makkah disgraced, everyone mourning the killing of his relative and lamenting over his misfortune.

The defeat was so painful for the disbelievers that they resolved to confront the Muslims again. They spent a whole year amassing as many weapons and men as they could to fight the Muslims. They left Makkah for Madinah in the third year of Hijrah in order to avenge their defeat during the Battle of Badr.

Upon reaching Madinah they camped at mount Uhud. Meanwhile some men among the Muslims who were unfortunate enough not to have participated in the Battle of Badr and were enthusiastic about Jihad advised the Messenger of Allah to go out and meet the enemy. The Prophet agreed and all the Muslims likewise were determined to go out and meet them.

After performing Friday Prayers, the Prophet entered his house, and emerged wearing an armoured breastplate, and declared,

“It is not appropriate for any Prophet who has once put on his armour to take it off again until Allah has judged between him and his enemy (by granting one victory over the other).”

The Prophet then set out in the company of one thousand men, one third of whom turned back home after travelling part of the way towards Mount Uhud under the influence of the head of the hypocrites; Abdullah bin Ubay. The Prophet proceeded with the remaining men until he camped at the trail of Mount Uhud putting the mountain behind him and facing the idolaters. He assigned some fifty archers under the command of Abdullah ibn Jubair to man a small strategic foothill and commanded them not to leave their position under any circumstances.

On the morning of the following day, the Prophet mobilized his army, inspected their armour, paraded the youths, sent back those of them who were still too young to fight and approved the participation of others. Among those he allowed to participate were Samrah ibn Jundub and Raafi’ ibn Khadeej; they were then but fifteen years old.

The Quraysh, meanwhile, also got ready for the battle. They were three thousand strong; among them were two hundred horsemen led by Aboo Sufiyan. Their intention was to put out the light of Allah and mislead His slaves, and the intention of the Muslims – who numbered only seven hundred men – was to attain victory from Allah or achieve martyrdom.

The Messenger of Allah urged his companions to fight and encouraged them to be patient and enduring.

The two armies then confronted each other with unsheathed swords, and a plethora of spears and arrows. Allah then gave permission to His Messenger to fight and the battle commenced in earnest. The Muslims initially gained the upper hand and Allah made them victorious. The disbelievers were exposed. Their standard fell and they turned their backs and fled.

When the archers saw the disbelievers defeated, they thought that there was no way they could make a comeback, and some of them left the position which the Prophet had commanded them to man in search of booty. Their leader reminded them of the Prophet’s order but his reminder fell on deaf ears and they left that strategic foothill.

Khalid bin Waleed – who was still a kaafir at that time – emerged from behind the mount where the Prophet had positioned the archers; realising that most of the archers had left that strategic position; and killed the remaining ten archers. Thus the Muslims were surrounded by the unbelievers: by their cavalry from behind and their infantry in front. So they encircled them, and a group of the Muslims were defeated while the rest were scattered in disarray. The unbelievers recovered from their initial defeat, returned to their fallen standard and began to cause a disturbance among the broken ranks of the Muslims. And aught befell them but that which was the Will of Allah; and He blessed whom He willed with martyrdom. The Prophet boldly held fast while most of his companions fled away from him while he called to them to come and reap the blessings of the hereafter. Some returned and regrouped around him. The disbelievers too made for the Prophet wanting to kill him. They gashed his face, smashed his teeth with a stone and ruined his helmet, and he fell down into a trench made by Aboo Aamir Al-Faasiq (the Godless). Ali ibn Abi Taalib took him by the hand and Talhah ibn Ubaidillah embraced him, and Mus’ab ibn Umayr was killed defending him.

The disbelievers drew nearer to him, but a group of Muslims numbering about ten protected him valiantly until they were all killed. Then Talhah ibn Ubaidillah fought them courageously until he drove them away but his hand got amputated in the process. Aboo Dujaanah also shielded the Prophet with his back and though arrows were raining down on him he did not move. Then Satan proclaimed at the top of his voice that Muhammad had been killed. This proclamation made the Muslims lose heart and many of them began to turn away. The Prophet then drew near to the Muslims and when they saw him, they gathered around him and followed him to the mountain path where he camped.

Ali ibn Abi Taalib washed the blood from the Prophet’s face and poured water upon his head. When his daughter Fatimah saw that the water only increased his bleeding, she took a piece of straw mat, burnt it and put it on the wound and the bleeding stopped.

The Prophet was so overstrained that when he wanted to mount a rock, he could not until one of his companions aided him. The Muslims became concerned about their fallen brethren, so the Messenger of Allah went to see the martyrs and found that many had been impudently mutilated. He looked for his uncle Hamzah, and found him lying in the wadi (dry river bed), disembowelled with his nose and ears cut off.

The disbelievers also went back to their mounts with their injured and dying victims. Thus was the Battle of Uhud brought to an end, leaving behind seventy martyrs among the Muslims and twenty two perished among the unbelievers; with our victims going to paradise and theirs going to Hell.

Dear Muslims! The Battle of Uhud was a victory for us, not a defeat. The battle is full of lessons and admonitions. Its events are a bright legacy that Muslims inherit generation after generation. Sixty verses were revealed concerning the events of this great battle and they had a great impact on the mind of the Prophet and he continued to refer to them even upon his deathbed.

This religion was only able to reach us as a result of the great and bitter struggle of the Companions and our righteous predecessors. These people underwent huge difficulties and trials for the survival of this religion. Anas ibn An-Nadr was wounded eighty times in this battle and the enemy so mercilessly mutilated him that only his sister could identify him by his fingertips. Sa’d ibn Ar-Rabee’ was stabbed seventy times with spears and arrows. In light of this, stop and think: What have you done for our religion?

The noble companions were by no means the best of this Ummah by virtue of their being the first to embrace Islam, but rather by virtue of their companionship and courage. They sacrificed their lives and bodies for this religion until it reached us in its complete form; some returned with amputated limbs, others with badly torn up bodies, and yet others returned not, leaving behind widows and orphans. Therefore give them their due estimation, thank them for their efforts and invoke Allah’s pleasure on them, for their Lord has expressed His love for them; He is pleased with them and they are well pleased with Him.

Brothers in faith! Acts of disobedience to Allah turn glory into disgrace. Many souls were lost during that battle because of a misdeed. Adam was expelled from Paradise because of a single sin and a woman was condemned to Hell because she starved a cat to death. Therefore obey Allah and worship Him, you will get relief from hardship and do not do any act that may turn your enemy’s weapon against you.

In this decisive battle, Samrah and Raafi’ took part in it and were martyred while they were only fifteen years old. That is an indication that Islam prevailed and has been made great on the strength of the blood of such youths among the companions, and not by wasting time and running after lustful desires. The parents of these admirable youths strove to guide them, and they reaped the fruits of their efforts. But what about us: what have our youths done for their religion? What are their ambitions? What are their concerns? To what do they aspire? How can we attract them to Islam and avert them from bad company? – Those friends who fail you when you need them the most. They pretend to be your friends when you are in prosperity and turn into your enemies when you are in hardship. An prime example of this is how the hypocrites deserted the Sahabah during their most trying period before the Battle of Uhud. Rather, keep the company of good people, for they guard you in your presence and absence, they strive for your benefit and defend you. Never despair of the reform of your society for success belongs to the righteous. Also do not despair of the mercy of Allah, for the Prophet endured persecution and injury until people entered into the religion of Allah in groups.

The end of all matters is in the hands of Allah; so always pray to Allah. The guidance of mankind is solely in the hands of the Creator of mankind. Consider the case of Aboo Sufiyan who was the standard bearer of the kuffar in the Battle of Uhud and yet was seen during the conquest of Makkah saying the Kalimah. Similarly, Wahshee, who killed Hamzah (the Prophet’s Uncle), soon after embraced Islam and later went on to kill the notorious false Prophet Musaylamah the Liar. Be afraid of Allah, lest you be misled, for mankind’s hearts are between two of Allah’s fingers and He turns them about as He likes. Pray to Him for continued steadfastness and strength of heart.

Be also aware that whenever a man falls into sin, repentance always remove them regardless of their multitude and magnitude. Consider the case of Khalid ibn Al-Waleed who led the disbelievers’ cavalry during the Battle of Uhud and by whose hand many honourable companions were martyred. When Allah opened his heart to Islam, he came to the Prophet and said,

“I make one condition: That you forgive me all my past misdeeds.” The Prophet replied him thus: “O Khalid! Do you not know that Islam negates all that precedes it, and that repentance erases whatever sins one might have committed before?”

Therefore free yourself, my dear brother, from the mire of sins, and repent for good deeds remove the evil ones. Also hold fast to this religion for much blood has been shed in its cause. Further, a man is sometimes tested through his close relations, but one must be patient with whatever they may do, for it was the Prophet’s relatives who came to Madinah to kill him and they did what most of the other unbelievers would never do by mutilating the Muslim martyrs. Yet, the Prophet forgave them during the conquest of Makkah. Therefore emulate the Prophet, be kind to your kith and kin and overlook whatever they do to you.

Beware also of dissention and controversy for they cause defeat, and do not dispute with one another lest you lose courage and your strength departs and be patient. When ever you are in prosperity do not be lulled into a false sense of security when you commit sins; for sorrow may be disguised beneath a façade of enjoyment. Consider the case of the archers who were delighted when they saw the booty and left their positions in order to get their share of it, hence making the whole army suffer a near defeat as a consequence. No condition is permanent. Therefore be patient in difficulties and thank Allah when you are in contentment.

Prophets were only human beings who suffered just as their fellow human beings suffered; they should not be raised above the position of servitude to Allah so as not to diminish their position. The Messenger of Allah wore his armour, fought along side his companions and Angels Jibreel and Meekaaeel fought for him, and even so his face was cut open and his teeth broken. Allah alone commands all that happens by His Divine Will. Had the Prophet possessed any power for himself then surely not a drop of his blood would have been spilt. Direct all your acts of worship to Allah alone. Humble yourself before Him; He will make your affairs easy for you.

Moreover, Uhud is just a mountain, blessings should not be sought from its soil and pebbles should not be picked up. It was at its side that seventy Muslims were martyred and the Prophet injured. If it had possessed any special benefit, what happened would not have happened. Leave your affairs to Allah, trust Him and take refuge with Him during times of hardship.

It is an ideal of manhood and generosity to appreciate the services rendered for the cause of religion. The ideal was exemplified by the Prophet when he kept the valiant deeds of the Uhud martyrs fresh in his memory until he died. On his deathbed eight years later, he prayed for them as if he was bidding them farewell. So always honour the great men of this religion. Aboo Sufiyan said,

“I have never seen a person love another person as the companions of Muhammad loved him.”

Allah says,

“If it had been Allah’s will, He himself could certainly have punished them (without you). But (He lets you fight) in order to test some of you with others. But those who are killed in the way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost. He will guide them and set right their state. And admit to Paradise which He has made known to them.” (Muhammad 47: 4-6)

Fellow Muslims! The only way to attain Heaven is through hardship and toil; the road to it is long and tortuous, filled with trials and difficulties. Only through being humble to Allah during trials does Allah grant one victory. Whenever Allah wants to honour a slave of His, He tests him and He raises his rank according to his humility and submission to Him. Allah has prepared for His believing slaves positions in His Abode of Honour, that can not be attained except through undergoing trials and He has also prepared for them means that can lead them to those positions through different tests. Submit yourself to the will of Allah, and be pleased with what He decrees for you.
One of the righteous predecessors said,

“If it were not for trials and calamities (that we have in this world) we would arrive on the Day of Judgement bankrupt.”

Each day of our lives is different, our conditions are always changing; a day of victory and another of defeat; a day of glory, and another of disgrace; a day of good health and another of sickness; a day of wealth and another of poverty. Make use of your worldly blessings to achieve prosperity in your hereafter and know that whoever gives precedence to this world over the hereafter has ruined his chances of success in both of them.

The created one could not be an object of worship

(The created one could not be an object of worship)

Allah the Almighty said:

“Do they attribute as partners to Allah those who created nothing but they themselves are created? No help can they give them, nor can they help themselves.” (Surah Al A’raf 7:191,192)

Allah the Most Exalted said:

“And those, whom you invoke or call upon instead of Him, own not even a Qitmir (the thin membrane over the date-stone). If you invoke (or call upon) them, they hear not your call, and if (in case) they were to hear, they could not grant it (your request) to you. And on the Day of Resurrection, they will disown your worshipping them. And none can inform you (O Muhammad (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him)) like Him Who is the All-Knower (of each and everything).” (Surah Fatir 35:13, 14)

It is reported in the Sahih (i.e. Al-Bukhari and Muslim) from Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) who narrated:

The Prophet (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) was hit on the day of Uhud (the battle of Uhud) and his teeth were broken. So he said, “How can a people succeed who hit their Prophet?” The verse (Surah Ali ‘Imran 3:128) was then revealed: “Not for you (O Muhammad, but for Allah) is the decision.”

Also reported therein from Ibn Umar (May Allah be pleased with him):

He heard Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) say when he raised his head from bowing in the last Rak’at of the Fair prayer: “O Allah, curse so-and-so:’ Then Allah revealed: ‘Not for you (O Muhammad, but for Allah) is the decision.’

In another narration:

“He (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) invoked Allah against Safwan bin Umaiyah and Suhail bin’ Amr and Al-Harith bin Hisham”, then the verse was revealed: ‘Not for you (O Muhammad, but for Allah) is the decision.’

It is also reported in the Sahih Al-Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) who said:

Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) stood up when it was revealed to him: “And warn your tribe (O Muhammad May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him ) of near kindred.” (Surah Al Shu’ara’ 26:214) and (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said, “O people of Quraish” -or words similar to that -“sell your own souls. I will not be of any help to you before Allah; O Abbas bin Abdul-Muttalib, I will not be of any help to you before Allah; O Safiyah, aunt of Allah’s Messenger, I will not be of any help to you before Allah; O Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad, ask of my wealth what you wish, I will be of no avail to you before Allah.”

Important issues:

1) An explanation of the two verses (Surah Al A’raf 7:120 and Surah Fatir 35:13,14).

2) The story of Uhud.

3) Qunut (supplication) of Allah’s Messenger (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in the prayer (against someones) and saying Amin of the Companions (May Allah be pleased with him) behind him.

4) The ones who were supplicated against, were disbelievers (Kuffar).

5) They (Quraish) did things that most other of the disbelievers had not done such as causing injury to the head of their Prophet and being intent upon his murder. Also mutilation of those killed in battle though they were their cousins.

6) Allah revealed to him in relation to this: “Not for you (O Muhammad, but for Allah) is the decision.”

7) His (Allah’s) Statement: “He turns in mercy to (pardons) them or punishes them” and He did turn toward them and they believed.

8) Al-Qunut (invoking Allah against someones) in time of disaster.

9) Specifically naming the ones who are being invoked against in the prayers by their names and the names of their fathers.

10) Cursing someone in particular in the Qunut.

11) Circumstances of the Prophet (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) at the time of the revelation to him of: “And warn your tribe (O Muhammad (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)) of near kindred.” (Surah Al Shu’ara’ 26:214)

12) The seriousness of the Prophet (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) to the issue that insanity was attributed to him, and likewise is the case of a Muslim who does so now.

13) His (the Prophet’s) statement to those close and far to him: “I will be of no avail to you before Allah” to the extent that he said: “O Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad, I will not be of any avail to you before Allah.” If he made this clear while he was the leader of the Messengers that he (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) could not avail the best of women of this world, and a man believes that he (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) does not speak but truth, -then he looks at what has occurred in the hearts of the people of position today, the issue of Tauhid would be clear, and so the strangeness of the religion.

Extract from:
Kiittab Att–Tauhiid, by Abdul Malik Mujahid
Dar-us-Salam Publications

Companion of the Prophet : Sa`id ibn `Amir al-Jumahy

There are big-name companions of the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) like Salman al-Farisi, Bilal, Abu Bakr and `Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) whom we’ve heard so much about. Their journeys to Islam, and how they sacrificed for the sake of the truth brings smiles to our faces, or sometimes brings us to tears – and always make us feel connected to our Islamic heritage. There are other companions whom we don’t hear about as often, but their lives are also filled with struggles and exemplary behavior that deserves our attention.

One of these lesser-known companions is Sa`id ibn `Amir al-Jumahy. His story is translated below, with some modification, from the book Suwar Min Hayat Al-Sahabah (Glimpses from the Lives of the Companions) by Dr. `Abd al-Rahman Ra’fat Al-Basha. I hope you find his story as moving and inspiring as I have, and may it resonate deeply in your heart, mind and soul.

Sa`id’s story begins when he was a young boy living in Makkah. It was his fate to witness something that would haunt him forever, yet transform his life completely.

He was among thousands of people invited to watch the killing of Khubayb ibn `Adiy, a companion of the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam), whom the Quraysh had captured. Sa`id had a tall stature and strong build, so he managed to push through to the frontlines and get a close-up view of the Quraysh’s captive. He saw Khubayb weighed down in chains as women and children pushed him into the arena of death. They all wanted to avenge Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) through killing Khubayb, and also get revenge for their dead in the Battle of Badr.

Sa`id watched as they brought Khubayb up to the cross to be crucified. He heard his calm, firm voice, amidst the screaming women and children, make the request: “If you could let me pray two rak`as (units of prayer) before my death, please do so.” He saw him face the qiblah (direction of prayer), and pray with complete composure and contentment. After his prayer, Khubayb turned to the leaders of Quraysh and said fearlessly: “By Allah, if you hadn’t assumed that I’m elongating my prayer out of fear of death, I would have lengthened my prayer.”

Then, with his own two eyes, Sa`id saw his people mutilate Khubayb alive. They cut up his body, piece by piece, while having the nerve to challenge Khubayb: “Would you like Muhammad to be in your place and you be saved?” He responded without hesitation: “By Allah, I wouldn’t like that I be secure with my family and children while Muhammad is even pricked with one thorn…”

The spectators were infuriated. They threw their hands up in the air and yelled even louder than before: “Kill him! Kill him!” Sa`id could see Khubayb looking towards the sky from atop the cross, saying: “Allahumma-ahsihim `adada, waqtulhum badada, wa la tughadir minhum ahada (O Allah, count them all, wipe them out, and don’t leave any of them out).” Then he breathed his final breaths, being left with countless cuts and gashes from all the swords and spears that struck him.

Soon afterward, everyone dispersed. The people of Quraysh got caught up in other events and forgot about Khubayb and his death. But this young boy, Sai`d ibn `Amir, never forgot Khubayb for a moment. He would see him in his dreams when he slept, and he would see his image while awake – being mutilated in front of him, and praying those two calm rak`as before he was crucified. He would hear the echo of Khubayb’s voice as he supplicated against the Quraysh, fearing that he would be counted in the supplication and be struck with a thunderbolt, or that a boulder would fall on him from the sky.

Sa`id learned from Khubayb what he didn’t know before. He learned that the true life is a life of belief and conviction in God, and struggling for the sake of this belief until death. He also learned that deep-rooted iman (faith in God) can give you unimaginable strength. And there’s one more thing he learned: that a man whose companions loved him that much, must be a Messenger receiving Divine help from the heavens.

It was through these realizations that Allah guided Sa`id to Islam. He wasted no time and stood up in front of a group of people and announced his Islam, and his disassociation from the sins and evil acts of Quraysh, and from their idols and false gods.

Sa`id migrated to Madinah and accompanied the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam); he witnessed the Battle of Khaybar with him and other battles after that. When the beloved Messenger (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) passed away, Sa`id was at the disposal of Abu Bakr and `Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) during their caliphates, and he lived a life that was uniquely exemplary to the believers. Both successors of the Prophet (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) knew of Sa`id’s honesty and God-consciousness, and they would take his advice, and listen intently to his words.

On one occasion, during the beginning of `Umar’s caliphate, Sa`id came to `Umar and said,

“O `Umar, I advise you to fear Allah in dealing with people, and not to fear the people over Allah. Don’t let your words contradict your actions, for the best of speech is that which the actions attest to…

O `Umar, never lose sight of those whom Allah has given you responsibility over, from the Muslims near and far. Love for them what you love for yourself and your family, and hate for them what you would hate for yourself and your family. Tread through the challenges to reach the truth, and by Allah, don’t fear the blame of the blamers.”

“Who can handle all this Sa`id?!” `Umar asked passionately.

“Someone like you whom Allah has given leadership over the Ummah of Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam), and whom no one stands between him and Allah.”

At that point, `Umar sought Sa`id’s assistance. He said, “Sa`id, I am making you a governor of Hims (Hims is a city in present-day Syria).” Sa`id replied, “O `Umar, I beg you by Allah, don’t put me through this trial.”

`Umar got angry and said, “Woe to you… you put this matter (i.e. the caliphate) around my neck and then you abandon me! By Allah, I won’t let you go.” So `Umar appointed Sa`id as the governor of Hims, and asked, “Shall we pay you?” Sa`id quickly refused: “And what would I do with it O Amir al-Mu’minin?! (leader of the believers). My right from the Treasury already surpasses my needs.” Then `Umar left Sa`id to govern Hims.

After a short time, a group of people from Hims, whom `Umar trusted, passed through town. He asked them to write down the names of their poor people so he can get their needs met. They gave him a list, and lo and behold, one of the names was Sa`id ibn `Amir.

Shocked, `Umar said: “Who is Sa`id ibn `Amir?!”

They said, “He is our Amir.”

“Your Amir is poor?!” `Umar asked with astonishment.

They affirmed, “Yes, and by Allah, days would pass by and no light (i.e. fire for cooking) would be lit in his home.”

On hearing this, `Umar wept until his beard became wet with tears. He took 1,000 dinars and put them in a sack, instructing the people of Hims: “Send him my salaam and tell him that Amir al-Mu’minin sent you this money to assist you in fulfilling your needs.”

The delegation brought the money to Sa`id. He opened the sack and found money in it, but immediately pushed it away, saying, “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji`ūn (to Allah we belong and to Him is our return)” as if a catastrophe had befallen him.

Startled, his wife asked: “What is wrong Sa`id…? Did Amir al-Mu’minin pass away?!”

“No, worse than that,” said Sa`id.

“Have the Muslims been struck by a calamity?!”

“No, worse than that.”

“And what can be worse than that?!”

“The dunya (material world) has come to destroy my (outcome for the) hereafter, and the fitnah (trial) has entered my home.”

Not knowing anything about the money, she said easily: “Get rid of it.”

“Will you help me in doing so?”

“Yes,” she replied.

So they both rationed the dinars into sacks, and distributed them to the poor Muslims in Hims.

It wasn’t long before `Umar ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) came to al-Sham to check up on its affairs. Hims at the time was known as Al-Kuwayfa (the smaller Kufa) because it was similar to Kufa in that its people used to complain from their leaders like the people of Kufa. When `Umar went to Hims, the people greeted him, and he asked them, “How do you find your Amir?”

They immediately complained about him and brought up four issues – each one being worse than the previous one. `Umar said: “I brought them together (Sa`id and his people), and prayed to Allah that He doesn’t disappoint me in (Sa`id) because I had a great deal of trust in him.”

When they were all before him, he asked again, “What are your complaints about your Amir?”

They replied, “He doesn’t come out to us until late morning.”

“What do you have to say about this Sa`id?” `Umar asked.

He remained quiet for a bit, then said: “By Allah, I would hate to say this, but now I have to; my family has no servant, so I wake up every morning and knead the dough for them. Then I rest a little until it rises. Then, I bake it for them. Then I make ablution, and go out to meet the people.”

“And what other complaint do you have about him?” `Umar asked.

“He doesn’t respond to anyone who calls for him at night,” they said.

“What do you have to say about this Sa`id?” `Umar asked again.

He replied, “By Allah, I would hate to mention this too… I have devoted the day to (serving) them and the night to (worshipping) Allah, the Glorious and Almighty.”

“And what other complaint do you have about him?” `Umar said.

They said, “There is one day out of every month where he doesn’t come out at all.”

“And what is this Sa`id?” `Umar asked.

Sa`id said, “I don’t have a servant, O Amir al-Mu’minin, and I don’t have any clothing except what’s on me now. So, I wash it once a month and wait (at home) for it to dry, and then I go out to the people at the end of the day.”

“And what is your last complaint about him?” `Umar asked.

They said, “From time to time he loses consciousness, and becomes unaware of those he is sitting with.”

“And what is this Sa`id?!” `Umar exclaimed.

Sa`id said, “I witnessed the killing of Khubayb ibn `Adiy while I was a mushrik. And I saw the Quraysh mutilate and cut up his body while asking him: ‘Would you like Muhammad to be in your place and you to be saved?’ But, Khubayb responded: ‘By Allah, I would not like that I be secure with my family and children while Muhammad (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) is even pricked with one thorn…’

And by Allah, there is not one day that I remember this and how I didn’t help him except that I think Allah will not forgive me for it; and that is when I lose consciousness.”

At this point, `Umar exclaimed, “Praise be to Allah Who did not disappoint me in him!”

Then he sent Sa`id another 1,000 dinars to help him with his needs. When Sa`id’s wife saw the money, she said,

Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah) that we no longer have to depend on your service. Go buy us food, and bring us a servant.”

Sa`id told her, “Are you interested in something better?”

“What would that be?” she asked.

“We give it to the One who sent it to us, while we are in great need of it.”

“And how is that?”

“We loan it to Allah as a goodly loan.” (Quran, 64:17)

“Yes,” she agreed, “and may you be rewarded good (for this),” she said.

Sa`id didn’t get up from his place until he took all 1,000 dinars and divided them up in sacks again. He told someone from his family, “Take them to the widow of this person, and to all these orphans, and to the needy of that family, and to the poor of such and such families.”

This was the simple, humble, devout life of Sa`id ibn `Amir, who always preferred others over himself, even though he was in desperate privation.

May Allah be pleased with Sa`id, and Khubayb, and all the companions. And may He purify our hearts, and grant us the strength and courage to follow in the footsteps of the righteous.

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