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Friday, February 18, 2005


The Breaking of All Connections with One's Home, for the Sake of Allah Alone

After his companions had left for Yathrib, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) stayed in Mecca, waiting for permission from Allah to leave the city. Abu Bakr and ‘Ali stayed with him. There were also some Muslims whom Quraysh had not allowed to leave. Abu Bakr kept asking the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) to allow him to go to Yathrib, but the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) kept saying, 'Do not be in a hurry; it might be that Allah will give you a traveling companion.'

The leaders of Quraysh assembled in the house of their ancestor, Qusayy, as was customary when they had an important decision to make. They had to find a way of getting rid of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.), before he was able to join his friends in Yathrib.

As they were busy arguing, the Devil appeared at the door in the form of a noble and handsome old man. When they saw this elderly gentleman standing there, they asked him who he was. He said he was a sheikh from the mountains who had heard what they meant to do and thought he might be able to help or advise them. They thought he looked like a wise man, so they invited him in.

Each leader then started to put forward ideas about what should be done, but none of them could agree about which was best, until Abu Jahl told them his plan. This was that each clan should provide a strong, young warrior, each of whom would be given a sword. All the young warriors would then wait outside the Prophet's house and together attack him as he came out. In this way they would be rid of him but as the blame for killing him would fall on all the clans, the Prophet's family would not be able to seek revenge.

When he heard this, the Devil in the disguise of the old man, said, 'That man is right; in my opinion it is the only thing to do!' The leaders of Quraysh then left to carry out their plan to murder the Prophet (p.b.u.h.).

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

And when the unbelievers plot against thee, to confine thee, or kill thee, or to drive thee out, they were plotting, But Allah was (also) plotting; and Allah is the best of plotters. (Koran viii. 30)

Before the night fell, on which Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) was to be killed, the Archangel Gabriel came to him and said, 'Do not sleep tonight in your own bed.' The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) understood what was going to happen, so he told ’Ali to lie in his bed and wrap himself in the blanket that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) normally used, promising that no harm would befall him.

With the coming of darkness the young men of Quraysh had gathered outside the Prophet's house, waiting for him to come out. After he had made sure that ’Ali was safe, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) left the house. At that very moment, Allah took away the sight of the warriors so that they could not see the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), who took a handful of dust, sprinkled it on their heads and recited these verses:
In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
Ya Sin By the Wise Koran, Thou art truly among those sent On the straight path; A Revelation of the All-mighty, the All-wise, That thou may warn a people whose fathers were never warned, so they are heedless. The Word has already proved true of most of them, yet they do not believe. Lo! We have put on their necks collars of iron up to the chin, so that they are made stiff-necked. And We have put before them a barrier; and We have covered them so they do not see. (Koran XXXVi.I-9)

The young men waited the whole night and were furious when, in the morning, they saw ’Ali instead of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) coming out of the house. They realized that their plan had failed completely.

In the meantime, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) went to Abu Bakr's house and told him, ‘Allah has told me that now is the time for us to leave Mecca.’

'Together?' asked Abu Bakr.

'Together', the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) replied.

Abu Bakr wept for joy, because now he knew that the traveling companion he had been promised was the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) himself. Then he said, '0 Messenger of Allah, these are the two camels which I have kept ready for this.' And so, the two of them left for a cave in Thawr, a mountain to the south of Mecca where they intended to hide.

When they were out of the city the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) looked back and said, 'Of all Allah 's earth, you are the dearest place to Allah and to me and if my people had not driven me out I would never have left you.'

When Quraysh found out that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his companion had gone, they set out after them, searching in every direction. Three days later they finally reached the cave where the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and Abu Bakr were hiding, but a strange and wonderful thing had happened. A spider had woven its web right across the entrance to the cave and a dove was nesting with her mate nearby. As the Meccans stood in front of the cave, with only the spider's web separating them from the fugitives, Abu Bakr began to fear for their safety. He whispered to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), 'they are very close. If one of them turns we will be seen.’

But he was comforted by the Prophet's reply: 'What do you think of two people, who have with them Allah as their third?'

Grieve not, for verily Allah is with us. (Koran ix.40)

After a few moments the search party decided that no one could have entered the cave recently, or the spider's web would not have been complete and the dove would not have nested there, and so they left without searching inside.

Three days later the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and Abu Bakr thought it safe to leave the cave. Abu Bakr's son, ‘Amir, had arranged for three camels and a guide to help them continue their journey to Yathrib. 'Amir would ride behind his father.

The leaders of Quraysh, meanwhile, returned to Mecca and offered a reward of one hundred camels to whoever captured the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). Among those who went in search of him was a famous warrior. He was, in fact, the only one to catch up with him, but whenever he came close, his horse would suddenly sink up to its knees in the sand. When this had happened three times, he understood that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was protected by a power stronger than anything he had known, and so he went back to Mecca. On arriving there he warned everyone against continuing the search, relating what had happened to him.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

If you do not help him, still Allah has helped him already, When the unbelievers drove him forth, the second of two, When the two were in the Cave, when he said to his companion, "Grieve not; surely Allah is with us." Then Allah caused His peace and Reassurance to descend upon him, And helped him with hosts you cannot see, And He made the word of the unbelievers the lowest; While Allah's word is the uppermost; Allah is All-mighty, All-wise. (Koran ix.40)

The Prophet's journey from Mecca is called the hijrah, or migration. It was really the first step towards the spread of Islam throughout the entire world, and Muslims begin their calendar from the year of the hijrah.


WHEN the people of Yathrib heard that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) had left Mecca and was on his way to their city, they anxiously awaited his arrival. Each morning they would go to the edge of the city to see if he were coming. Finally, on Monday, September 27, in the year 622 A.D., someone saw him in the distance and shouted to everyone, 'Here is Muhammad! (P.b.u.h.)The Messenger of Allah has arrived!’ All the Muslims went out to greet him, shouting, ‘Allahu Akbar! Allah is Great! Muhammad the Messenger of Allah has arrived!' The women and children sang songs to show how glad they were to see him.

The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) entered the city with his friend Abu Bakr. Most of the people there had not seen him before and as they gathered around they did not know which of the two was the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), until Abu Bakr got up to shield him with his cloak from the burning sun. Yathrib would now be called al-Medina, which means, The City.

The Messenger of God (p.b.u.h.) stayed in Quba', which is a place at the entrance of Medina, for three days. On the first Friday after his arrival the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) led the congregation in prayer. After this many of the wealthiest men invited him to come and live with them and share their riches. But he refused and, pointing to his she-camel, Qaswa', said, 'Let her go her way', because he knew that his camel was under Allah 's command and would guide him to the spot where he should stay. They let the camel go until she finally knelt down beside a house belonging to the Bani an-Najjar, the tribe to whom the Prophet's mother was related. This house was used as a drying-place for dates and belonged to two young orphan boys named Sahl and Suhayl. They offered to give it to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) but he insisted on paying them for it, and so their guardian, As'ad the son of Zurarah, who was present, made the necessary arrangements.

The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) ordered that a mosque and a place for him to live be built on the site. All the Muslims worked together to finish it quickly - even the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) joined in. It was here that the Muslims would pray and meet to make important decisions and plans. The building was quite plain and simple. The floor was beaten earth and the roof of palm leaves was held up by tree trunks. Two stones marked the direction of prayer. At first worshippers faced Jerusalem, but soon after the direction of prayer was changed towards the Ka 'bah in Mecca.

After the building of the mosque, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) wanted to strengthen the relationship between the people called the Muhajirah or Emigrants, who had left Mecca with him, and the people of Medina, who were known as the Ansar, or Helpers. Each man from Medina took as his brother a man from Mecca, sharing everything with him and treating him as a member of his own family. This was the beginning of the Islamic brotherhood.

In the early days of Islam, the times for prayer were not announced and so the Muslims would come to the mosque and wait for the prayer so as not to miss it. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) wondered how to tell the people that it was time for prayers. He discussed it with his friends, and at first two ideas were put forward; that of blowing a horn as the Jews did, and that of using a wooden clapper like the Christians. Then a man called' Abd Allah ibn Zayd came to the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and told him he had had a dream in which he had seen a man dressed all in green, holding a wooden clapper. He had said to the man, 'Would you sell me your clapper in order to call the people to prayer?' The man had replied, ‘A better way to call the people to prayer is to say:

" Allahu Akbar, Allah is Most Great!" four times, followed by
"I bear witness that there is no divinity but Allah, I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, Come to prayer, come to prayer, Come to salvation, come to salvation. Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar! There is no divinity but Allah',

When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) heard this, he said it was a true vision from Allah. He sent for Bilal, who had a beautiful, strong voice, and ordered him to call the people to prayer in just this way. Bilal did so and soon after 'Umar came out o fhis house and told the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) that he had seen exactly the same vision himself. The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) replied, ‘Allah be praised for that.’

The adhan, or call to prayer, which came to 'Abd Allah ibn Zayd in his dream and was performed by Bilal on the instruction of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.), is the one we still hear today being called from the minarets of mosques all over the world.


The Life of The Prophet Muhammad

by Leila Azzam and Aisha Gouverneur

© Islamic Texts Society http://www.its.org.uk




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