THE LIFE OF THE HOLY PROPHET MUHAMMAD
(PEACE AND BLESSINGS OF ALLAH BE UPON HIM)
(SEAL OF THE PROPHETS)
THE SEMITIC RACE AND
THE BACKGROUND OF ISLAM
The Arabs belong to the Semitic race. Of all the various
races in the world, the Semitic people have perhaps
contributed the most to the civilization of Man. Arabia,
the birth place of Islam, is considered to be the probable
cradle of the Semitic race. In the course of time these
Semitic people migrated into different parts of the
Fertile Crescent and became known as the Babylonians,
Assyrians, Chaldaeans, Amorites, Phoenicians, Canaanites,
and the Hebrews of history.
It was the people of the Semitic race who gave the
world its three greatest monotheistic religions: Judaism,
Christianity and Islam. The term Semite is derived from
Shem, the eldest son of Noah and the progenitor of the
According to historians, the first migration of the
Semitic race occurred around 3500 B.C. and carried these
people from their original homeland in Arabia (perhaps
around Najd) to the regions of Egypt, Canaan, and Mesopotamia.
One branch of the Semitic people went to Egypt which
was then populated by the Hamitic people, a branch of
the white race. The amalgamation of the Hamites and
the Semitic migrants produced the Egyptians of history.
Another branch of the Semitic people went to the southeastern
part of Mesopotamia which was then populated by the
Sumerians. The admixture of these two peoples gave rise
to the Babylonians of history.
Another branch of the Semitic people settled down in
the Canaan region, and later, on the coastal strip of
Sidon and Tyre, and gave rise to the Canaanites and
Phoenicians of history.
Around 2500 B.C., another migration of the Semitic
people, called the Amorites, started from the Canaan
Phoenicia area and reached the eastern part of the Fertile
Crescent, producing the Assyrians of history.
The early civilization in the Tigro Euphrates area
consisted of city states. The first known king of Sumer
was Etana (3000 B.C.), while Akkad was ruled by the
Akkadian dynasty founded by Sargon 1.
Then, around 2100 B.C., Hammurabi of the Amorites united
the entire Akkad Sumer region and renamed it as Babylon.
Hammurabi was a great administrator and legislator.
He established a proper code of conduct for the people
which is known today as the "Code of Hammurabi".
This code is perhaps the oldest code known to man and
deals with the rights and duties of the various classes
of people living in the Babylonian Empire.
After the death of Hammurabi, the Babylonian Empire
started to decline till the 8th century B.C. when it
was conquered by the Assyrians from the north.
The Assyrians were a group of Semitic people who had
established themselves over the northern region of the
Mesopotamian valley. Through warfare and aggression,
the Assyrians conquered a vast territory, including
In 722 B.C., Sargon II, an Assyrian king, conquered
Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Sargon II carried away as captives the most influential
men of the Ten Tribes of the Hebrews. These captives
are known in history as the Lost Ten Tribes.
Sennacherib (705 681 B.C.) and Ashurbanipal (668 626
B.C.) were the other two famous kings of the Assyrians.
Ashurbanipal was the greatest king of Assyria and the
entire western Asia acknowledged his authority. On his
death, the Assyrian Empire started to decline and in
612 B.C. Ninevah, the capital of Assyria fell to the
conquering Medes of Persia.
On the fail of Assyria, the Babylonian Empire rose
to prominence again under the Chaldaeans dynasty (625
538 B.C.). Nabopolassar was the founder of this New
Babylonian dynasty and his son, Nebuchadnezzar, was
its greatest king. It was under him that Babylon recovered
its ancient splendour and glory. In 586 B.C., he defeated
the Hebrew king of Judah, destroyed the city of Jerusalem
and exiled the Jews from the city. It was Nebuchadnezzar
who built the Hanging Gardens of Babylon for the pleasure
of his wife. In 539 B.C., the Chaldaeans Empire was
overthrown by the Medes of Persia under their king Cyrus.
Cyrus then allowed the exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem
and start the restoration of their sacred city.
The branch of the Semitic race known as the Hebrews
lived in the Canaan region around 2100 B.C. When Joseph
became governor of a province of Egypt, many Hebrews
migrated to that land. The later kings of Egypt, however,
mistreated the Israelites who spent the next three hundred
years in bondage and servitude under their Egyptian
masters. Finally, in 1445 B.C., the Israelites left
Egypt in an Exodus under the direction of Moses and
eventually returned to their original homeland in the
Canaan area. The later history of the Hebrew people
is described in some detail in this book under the title
All the Semitic peoples share not only a common ethnic
heritage but their languages also form a common speech
group. To the Semitic languages belong the Akkadian
(the language of ancient Babylon and Assyria), Canaanite
(of which ancient Phoenician and Hebrew are variant
forms), Aramaic (which survives today in the form of
Syriac), and Arabic. A common feature of all these Semitic
languages is a system of derivation from roots which
normally consist of three consonants. The Arabic language
today is considered to be the closest to what scholars
believe was the primitive form of the Semitic speech.
ARABIA AT THE TIME OF
PROPHET MUHAMMAD'S BIRTH
The Holy Prophet Muhammad was born in Mecca to the
year 570 A.D. The city of Mecca is located in the western
part of the Arabian Peninsula which is a rectangular
shaped block of land surrounded on three sides by the
waters of the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the
Red Sea. To the north lies another formidable barrier,
the Syrian Desert. For this reason the inhabitants of
Arabia used to refer to their land as al Jazirah, the
Most of the Arabian Peninsula is a desert land of scorching
sun with oases and settlements scattered here and there.
There is not a single river in Arabia which flows perennially
and reaches the sea. None of its streams are navigable.
Longer than man can remember, Bedouin tribes have inhabited
this region, constantly moving in search of food and
pastures. Caravan routes cross the desert in all directions.
In ancient times, caravans carried spices from Mecca
to the city of Damascus in Syria.
The Meccans trace their ancestry back to Ishmael who,
along with his father Abraham, rebuilt the Ka'ba some
4,000 years ago. The Arabs were largely an idolatrous
people worshiping many gods. It is said that the Ka'ba
contained some 360 idols, one for each day of the year.
Even in pre Islamic days, Mecca enjoyed a certain importance
among the Arabs who used to come there for their annual
pilgrimage and for performing sacrifices to their gods.
Although Allah was the Supreme God of the Arabs, they
also believed in a number of other deities. Following
is a list of some of the principal deities of the Arabs
Allah the Supreme God
Hubal the chief of the minor deities
al Uzza identified with the planet Venus
al Lat a female deity located at Ta'if
Manat a large sacrificial stone
Taghut an idol in the shape of a lion
Wadd a statue in the form of a man
Suwah an idol in the form of a woman
Ya'uq worshiped in the form of a horse
Nasr worshiped in the form of an eagle
Yaghuth an idol worshiped by the tribe of Murad
Isaf an idol that stood on Mount Safa
Naila _ an image on Mount Marwa
Duwar a favourite idol with the young women
Of the above Arab deities, the names of al Uzza, al
Lat and Manat are mentioned in Surah al-Najm (53:20
21), and the names of Wadd, Suwah, Ya'uq, Nasr and Yaghuth
are mentioned in Surah Nooh (71:24).
Aside from the idolatrous Arabs, there were Jews, Christians,
Zoroastrians, and Hanifs Living in Arabia. Zoroastrianism
was the ancient religion of Iran and Hanifs were a small
group of monotheistic people who traced their religion
back to the Prophet Abraham. The Tradition of the Holy
Prophet indicates that his natural religious inclination
was towards the Hanifite beliefs before the advent of
While the Peninsula of Arabia was ruled by different
tribes with their own recognized territories, the world
outside was more organized. To the east existed the
Sasanid Empire of Iran, to the north the Christian Byzantine
Empire and to the west, across the Red Sea. The Kingdom
The Sasanid Empire came into being in the year 226
A.D. and the Sasanid dynasty ruled over Iran for four
centuries. The last king of the dynasty was Chosroes
Pervez who ascended the throne in 590 A.D. He was a
contemporary of the Byzantine Emperor, Heraclius and
of the Holy Prophet Muhammad. The official religion
of the Sasanid Empire was Zoroastrianism, a monotheistic
faith founded by the Prophet Zoroaster around 1500 B.C.
The Byzantine Empire (also called the Eastern Roman
Empire) consisted of Syria, Palestine, Egypt and part
of southeastern Europe. The Empire was named after Byzantium,
a Greek city on the Bosporus which is a narrow strait
connecting the Black Sea with the Mediterranean. In
327 A.D. Byzantium was made the capital of the Eastern
Roman Empire by Constantine the Great and the city was
renamed Constantinople. Today the city of Constantinople
is called Istanbul. During the time of the Prophet Muhammad,
Heraclius was the Emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire.
The armies of Chosroes and Heraclius were constantly
at war throughout the lifetime of the Prophet.
The Abyssinian Kingdom was ruled by King Negus, or
Najashi as the Arabs used to call him. At the time of
the Holy Prophet, the Kingdom of Abyssinia was at its
height and an ally of the Byzantine Empire. Like the
Byzantine Empire, the religion of the Abyssinian Kingdom
It is said that around the year 570 A.D., the Christian
Chief of Yemen, named Abraha, attempted to invade Mecca
with the intention of destroying the Ka'ba. Abraha's
army rode on elephants and in the Arab history the year
570 A.D. is known as the Year of the Elephant. Abraha
did not succeed in his mission and his army was destroyed
by an epidemic of disease and a terrible storm. The
Quranic Surah al Feel refers to this event.
The Arab culture was a strange mixture of extreme moral
defects and some admirable qualities. On the one hand
drinking, gambling, personal vendettas and burying alive
of baby girls were commonplace. On the other hand, the
Arabs were well known for their hospitality, honour,
bravery and love for Arabic poetry. It was among such
people that the Holy Prophet of Islam was born.
PROPHET MUHAMMAD'S EARLY LIFE
Prophet Muhammad was born in 570 A.D. in the Hashemite
branch of the tribe of Quraysh. His father's name was
Abdullah and his mother's Aminah. His grandfather, Abdul
Muttalib, was the chief of Mecca at the time of Abraha's
invasion. Shortly after his marriage, Abdullah went
to Yathrib (Medinah) in pursuit of trade. He died there
a few months before the Prophet was born.
When the Prophet Muhammad was two years old, he was
sent to a nurse named Haleema of the tribe of Banu Sa'd.
Living in the desert he learned from this tribe the
purest and most classical form of the Arabic language.
In his later years the Holy Prophet used to tell his
"I am the most Arab among you, for I am of the
tribe of Quraysh and I have been brought up among the
tribe of Banu Sa'd."
In the sixth year of his life, Prophet Muhammad was
returned to the care of his mother who took him to Yathrib
to meet other relatives. On the way back from Yathrib,
his mother fell ill and died.
Prophet Muhammad's grandfather, Abdul Muttalib, was
very fond of him and took him under his own care. But
the guardianship of his grandfather lasted only two
years and when the Prophet Muhammad was eight years
old, his grandfather also passed away. On his deathbed,
Abdul Muttalib entrusted his grandson to the care of
one of his sons, Abu Talib.
Although Abu Talib took the Prophet Muhammad under
his own care, he was not a rich man and had to support
his own family as well. When the Prophet grew older,
he started earning his own living by modest business
transactions but mostly as a shepherd. In his early
teens the Prophet accompanied his uncle Abu Talib on
a journey to al Sham (Syria). In connection with this
trip the biographers relate young
FAMILY TREE OF THE HOLY PROPHET
AND THE VARIOUS CALIPHATE DYNASTIES
The first two caliphs are not shown below. Abu Bakr
belonged to the Banu Taym branch and Omar to the Banu
Adi branch of the tribe of Quraysh. The third and fourth
caliphs are shown by numbers. The first four caliphs
of the Umayyad dynasty are shown by numbers in brackets.
Muhammad's encounter with a monk named Bahirah who recognized
in him the signs of prophethood and advised Abu Talib
to take good care of him.
While the Prophet Muhammad was in his teens, the valley
of Mecca saw a bloody fighting erupt among the various
tribes. Many persons were killed in these tribal feuds
which lasted many years. These wars were fought during
the sacred months when fighting was prohibited among
the Arabs. For this reason these wars are known in history
as the Fijar or "Sacrilegious" Wars. After
the fighting was finally over, some energetic youths
from the various tribes made a pact among themselves
to maintain peace and order in the area and help the
poor and the oppressed people. Prophet Muhammad was
a member of this agreement which was named Half al Fadhool,
or the Alliance of Fadhals, in memory of an ancient
society instituted with similar objectives by four persons
named Fadhl, Fadhal, Mufadhal and Fudhayl.
MARRIAGE TO HAZRAT KHADIJAH
Even in his youth the Prophet Muhammad was well known
for his honesty, sincerity and truthfulness. At the
time there lived in Mecca a rich lady by the name of
Khadijah who was twice widowed. On hearing of Muhammad's
fame, she invited him to her house and requested him
to take charge of her business. Muhammad traveled to
Syria in charge of Khadijah's business and the expedition
met with great success and brought unexpected profits.
Khadijah made a proposal of marriage to Muhammad which
was accepted. At the time of his marriage, Muhammad
was twenty five years old while Khadijah was forty.
From his marriage to Khadijah, the Holy Prophet had
seven children: three sons and four daughters. All the
Prophet's sons died in infancy. The four daughters reached
womanhood and got married but all died before the age
of thirty. Only Fatimah outlived her father and that
by six months. Following are the names of the Prophet's
children from his first marriage:
daughters: Zaynab married to Abul A's
Ruqayyah married to Utbah, a son of Abu Lahab.
Marriage ended in divorce. She then
married Uthman, who became the third
Successor of the Holy Prophet.
Umme married to Utaybah, another son of
Kalthum Abu Lahab. This marriage ended in
divorce too. She also married Uthman,
after the death of Ruqayyah.
Fatimah married to Ali, son of Abu Talib.
After the birth of his first son, Prophet Muhammad
took on the kunniyat of Abul Qasim, meaning the Father
of Qasim, and was usually addressed by the people by
A DISPUTE RESOLVED
Prophet Muhammad's desire for maintaining peace and
averting conflict is quite evident from an incident
that occurred when he was about thirty five years old.
The Quraysh of Mecca decided to rebuild the Ka'ba after
some cracks had appeared in its walls. All the families
of the Quraysh assisted in this effort. As the walls
rose from the ground and the time came to replace the
sacred black stone in its place, a dispute broke out.
Each of the four main families of the Quraysh wanted
this honour exclusively for themselves and the construction
of the Ka'ba came to a halt. After many days of suspended
work, the Quraysh assembled again and decided that the
first person to enter the Ka'ba's courtyard will be
chosen to settle the dispute. Muhammad happened to be
that person. Muhammad quickly grasped the situation
and asked that the black stone be placed on a sheet
of cloth. He then asked the four families of the Quraysh
to hold each comer of the cloth and raise the stone
to its place. Thus Muhammad, through his wisdom, averted
the conflict and resolved the dispute in a manner acceptable
to the Quraysh.
THE FIRST REVELATION
After his marriage to Khadijah, the Prophet Muhammad
became very reflective. He used to retire to a cave
on Mount Hira and spend his time in meditation and seclusion.
He sometimes spent many nights in this cave and on one
of these occasions had an extraordinary experience.
One night, in the year 610 A.D., he was lying, wrapped
in a mantle, when the Angel Gabriel visited him. Four
times the Angel embraced him tightly and said: "Read."
Each time the Prophet replied: "What shall I read?"
Then the Angel replied:
Read, in the name of thy Lord who created,
Created man from a clot of blood. Recite,
for thy Lord is most Beneficent;
Who taught by the pen,
Taught man what he knew not.
Prophet Muhammad was forty years old at the time of
this first revelation which marks the beginning of his
prophethood. These five verses of the first revelation
are part of Surah al Alaq, the 96th Chapter of the Holy
Quran. The night of the first revelation occurred towards
the end of the month of Ramadhan and was later named
lailatul Qadr or the Night of Power.
When the vision in the cave vanished, the Prophet awoke
full of fear. He realized that a big responsibility
was being given to him which he was not sure he could
carry out. He hurried back to his home and narrated
the incident to his wife Khadijah, saying,
Weak man that I am, how can I carry the responsibility
which God proposes to put on my shoulders?"
Khadijah replied at once:
"God is witness, He has not sent you this Word
that you should fail and prove unworthy and that He
should then give you up. How can God do such a thing,
while you are kind and considerate to your relations,
help the poor and the forlorn and bear their burdens?
You are restoring the virtues that had disappeared from
our country. You treat guests with honour and help those
who are in distress. Can you be subjected by God to
Having said this, Khadijah took the Prophet to her
cousin, Waraqa bin Naufal, who was a Christian hermit.
When Waraqa heard the account, he said:
"The angel who descended on Moses, I am sure,
has descended on you. Your people will oppose you and
will turn you out. I wish that I was alive at that time
and could help you"
Although the first revelation marked the beginning
of the prophetic career of Muhammad, it did not contain
any special instructions for him. Such instructions
started to come down in subsequent revelations. A second
revelation followed soon and more clearly defined the
O thou covered in a mantle
Arise and deliver thy warning
And your Lord do extol
And your garments do purify
And all uncleanliness do thou shun
And give not just to gain more
And for thy Lord's cause, be patient
The above verses belong to Surah al Muddathir, the
74th Chapter of the Holy Quran.
Another night soon, after this, the Prophet was given
further commands to intensify his worship. In this third
revelation he was clearly told that a great responsibility
was indeed being placed on his shoulder:
O thou wrapped in a mantle
Pray at night except for a small portion
Half of it or a little less or a little more
And recite the Quran a good recital
Verily, We will cast upon thee a mighty Word......
And remember the name of thy Lord and devote thyself
Him very devoutly
The Lord of the East and the West
There is none worthy of worship except Him
So take Him for thy Guardian" (73:2 10)
PREACHING IN MECCA AND THE OPPOSITION
At first the Prophet reported his visions and revelations
to a few close relatives and friends. A number of these
believed in him and embraced the new religion. The very
first person to accept Islam was, of course, his wife
Khadijah. Then came Ali, his cousin, and Abu Bakr, his
childhood friend. These were followed by Uthman, Abdur
Rahman, Zayd, al Zubayr, and Talha. Zayd was Prophet
Muhammad's freed slave and adopted son.
Then, as commanded, the Prophet took his preaching
to his own clan. One day he climbed on top of Mount
Sana, in Mecca, and called out:
"O people of Quraysh!
"O people of Quraysh!"
Hearing his call, the people of Quraysh gathered around
him and asked what the matter was. The Prophet said:
"If I told you that there was an army behind this
hill, would you believe me?"
They all replied:
"Indeed, for we trust you, and we have never known
you to tell a lie."
The Prophet then said:
"Know then that I am a Warner and I warn you of
a severe punishment. O Banu Abdul Muttalib! O Banu Abd
Manaf! O Banu Zuhra! O Banu Taym! O Banu Makhzum! O
Banu Asad! God has commanded me to warn my nearest kinsmen,
that I can guarantee to you no good on the earth or
in heaven unless you witness that there is none worthy
of worship except God."
Hearing this, the Prophet's uncle, Abu Lahab, got up
"Perish thou this very day! was it for this that
thou assembled us here?"
Not discouraged at this cruel and harsh reception from
his own kinsfolk, the Holy Prophet took his preaching
to the people of Mecca at large. He spoke to them around
the Ka'ba and he talked to them in the streets of Mecca.
His message to the people in each case was very simple:
"God is One. There is none worthy of worship except
Him. He has no associate. He is the sole Creator of
the Universe. God is Unseen and All Powerful and to
portray Him with figures and statues is not right. Muhammad
is God's Messenger just like Abraham, Moses and Jesus..."
In short, the Holy Prophet asked the people to give
up idol worship, return to the worship of One God and
be kind and charitable to the poor.
The Meccans, however, rejected the Prophet's message
and displayed considerable hostility to him and his
followers. The Meccans did not like to be told that
the religion of their forefathers was absurd. Mecca,
moreover, enjoyed a certain status in Arabia due to
the Ka'ba and the annual pilgrimage. The Meccans saw
in Islam a real threat to their own social and political
power and did their utmost to oppose this new religion.
The chief among these opponents were Omar bin Hisham
(known among the Muslims as Abu Jahal, the father of
ignorance), Abu Lahab the Prophet's uncle, Abu Sufyan,
the leading man of the House of Umayyah, and Uqbah bin
Mueet, also of the House of Umayyah.
While the nobility of Mecca turned a deaf ear to the
Prophet's call, the poor and the oppressed were strongly
attracted to his teaching. Slaves, young men and hapless
women collected around the Prophet. These people saw
that Islam recognized the rights of the poor; the slaves
and the women and they saw a new hope for themselves
in this religion.
The acceptance of the Prophet's teachings by the poor
made the chiefs of Mecca all the more angry and vengeful.
The Meccans were a class conscious society and the chiefs
of Mecca could not even think that the poor could have
the same rights as themselves. The Quraysh, therefore,
started to ill-treat the Prophet and his followers.
The brunt of their wrath fell upon the converted slaves
and the poor people of the lower classes who had no
patron or protector. These helpless people were abused,
persecuted and tortured but rarely did anyone renounce
his religion. Bilal, a negro slave, was made to lie
on hot sand, and stones were put on his chest. Yasir,
a poor man, was tortured till he died, and his wife,
Sumayyah, was murdered by Abu Jahal. Many a slave were
rescued from persecution by the rich and influential
Abu Bakr who would buy them and set them free.
The Prophet himself was under the protection of his
uncle .Abu Talib. This, however, did not stop his opponents
to maltreat him when ever they got an opportunity. On
one occasion the Holy Prophet was saying his Prayer
at the Ka'ba when a person, on the instigation of Abu
Jahal, brought the innards of a camel and dumped them
on his back. The Prophet was in the state of prostration
at the moment and could not lift himself up due to the
heavy weight. One of his daughters eventually came to
his help and pushed the burden aside. Similarly, in
the streets of Mecca the Prophet was a perpetual target
of fun and mockery. He, however, remained steadfast
in his mission to convey the message of God to the people
and to warn them of the Day of Judgment, when they will
all be held accountable for their deeds.
EMIGRATION TO ABYSSINIA
When oppression in Mecca reached its extreme, the Prophet
advised his followers to seek refuge in a foreign land.
As a result, in the fifth year of the Prophet's mission,
a small party of Muslims, consisting of eleven men and
four women, set out for Abyssinia. The Kingdom of Abyssinia
was ruled at the time by a Christian king named Negus
(Najashi) who was well known for his justice.
When the Quraysh learned of this emigration, they sent
a delegation to the King with the request to expel the
Muslims from his Kingdom. They told the King that the
Muslims had started a new religion in opposition to
their ancestral faith as well as to Christianity. The
King summoned the Muslims to his court and demanded
an explanation. Ja'far bin Abu Talib spoke on behalf
of the Muslims:
"O King, we were an ignorant people, given to
idolatry. We did not make good our obligations to our
relations, and ill treated our neighbours. The strong
among us thrived at the expense of the weak. Then, at
last, God raised a Prophet for our reformation. He called
us to worship One God and exhorted us to give up idolatry.
He enjoined us to speak the truth, to make good our
trusts and to be good to our neighbours. He taught us
to avoid bloodshed and forbade all indecent things.
So we believed in him, followed him and acted upon his
teachings. Thereupon our people turned against us and
subjected us to tortures. When their cruelties exceeded
all bounds, we came to your country seeking asylum"
After this Ja'far recited a passage from Surah Maryam
which showed Negus the great respect and reverence Muslims
had for the Prophet Jesus.
Negus was greatly impressed by the morals and ideals
of the Muslims and allowed them to stay in his land
as long as they wished. The Quraysh delegation had to
return to Mecca unsuccessfully.
These early emigrants to Abyssinia did not stay in
that country for long. On hearing the rumour that relations
between the Muslims and the Quraysh had improved, the
emigrants returned to Mecca within a few months only
to find the persecution worse than ever before.
AL MIRAJ (THE ASCENT)
In the fifth year of his call, the Holy Prophet experienced
a spiritual event known as al Miraj or the Ascent. In
this vision he saw the Angel Gabriel take him to the
heavens. There he met a number of earlier prophets in
the seven levels of the heaven and eventually found
himself in the presence of God. It was in this vision
that the five Daily Prayers were enjoined upon his followers.
The Tradition of the Holy Prophet gives detailed accounts
of how the number of Daily Prayers was reduced from
fifty to five.
THE SECOND EMIGRATION TO ABYSSINIA
In the meantime, the Quraysh redoubled their persecution
of Muslims. The Prophet again advised his followers
to take refuge in Abyssinia. The emigrants this time
numbered 101, including 18 women. This second group
of emigrants stayed in Abyssinia until the Prophet's
emigration to Yathrib.
At the rapid success of Islam, the Quraysh became frightened.
They went to Abu Talib and offered to give all sorts
of riches to the Prophet Muhammad on the condition that
he give up his mission. Abu Talib called the Prophet
and told him about the wishes of the Quraysh. On hearing
this, the Holy Prophet replied:
"O my uncle, if they were to place the sun on
my right hand and the moon on my left, I will not give
up preaching the truth of One God. I must go on doing
so until I die."
In the sixth year of the Prophet's call, Hamzah and
Omar bin Khattab accepted Islam. Both men were brave
and highly influential in the Meccan society and their
conversion brought great moral and physical support
to the Muslim community.
BOYCOTT OF THE HASHIMITES
Seeing the influence of the Prophet spreading everywhere,
the Quraysh took punitive measures against the Hashemite
branch of the tribe. In the 7th year of the mission,
the Quraysh proclaimed a total boycott of the Hashemite
who were forced to retire into the secluded quarter
of the city. During this period the Hashemite were cut
off from supplies of corn and other foodstuff. Also,
no one would trade with them or talk to them during
this period. Not all the Hashemite were Muslims but
the entire clan endured this difficult situation for
the sake of their Muslim kinsfolk. This state of affairs
lasted for nearly three years.
Finally, five decent members of the enemy revolted
against this terrible situation and the boycott was
lifted. After the lifting of the boycott, there was
a temporary relaxation of hostilities against the Muslims.
Exaggerated reports of this temporary improvement in
the situation reached Abyssinia, whereupon many of the
Muslim emigrants returned to Mecca including the Prophet's
daughter, Ruqayyah, and her husband, Uthman.
In the year 619 AD, not long after the lifting of the
boycott, the Prophet suffered two great personal losses.
The Prophet was fifty years old when both his wife and
his uncle, Abu Talib, passed away one after the other.
Khadijah had been married to the Prophet for twenty
five years and gave him moral support through the most
critical period of his life. Abu Talib, though he never
accepted Islam, continued to give his protection and
affection to the Prophet against the great opposition
of the Quraysh. The Prophet Muhammad was highly grieved
at the loss of both these persons and the year of their
deaths is known in Islamic history as the "the
Year of the Sorrow".
THE HOLY PROPHET VISITS TA'IF
When life became very difficult in Mecca and people
would not listen to him, the Prophet decided to go to
Ta'if and preach to the people there. Zayd, his freed
slave and adopted son, accompanied the Prophet on this
journey. Ta'if was a small town about sixty miles south
east of Mecca and, like it, was inhabited by idol worshipers.
The Holy Prophet stayed in Ta'if for a few days and
preached to its chiefs without any success. The chiefs
of Ta'if set vagabonds and street boys at the Prophet
who pelted him with stones and drove him out of the
city. Both Zayd and the Prophet were wounded. The Prophet
was grieved and dejected at this treatment when an angel
appeared and asked him if he wished his persecutors
to be destroyed. The Prophet replied, "No. I hope
one day their children will accept Islam and worship
the One God"
On his way back from Ta'if, the Prophet rested in a
vineyard which belonged to two Meccans. They were his
persecutors at Mecca but on this occasion they were
sympathetic and sent him a tray-full of grapes carried
by a Christian slave, named Addas. The Prophet asked
the slave where he was from, and Addas replied, "Ninevah."
Upon this the Holy Prophet said, "Ninevah, the
home of Jonah son of Mathew, who was a prophet like
me." The Prophet also told Addas about his own
mission and teachings. Addas felt as if he was in the
presence of an Israelite Prophet and immediately embraced
FIRST PLEDGE OF AQABAH
During the season of a pilgrimage, the Prophet met
a group of six men from Yathrib. He explained to them
his mission and asked for their help in spreading his
message in their home town. On their return to Yathrib,
these people spread the news that a prophet had risen
among the Meccans.
During the next pilgrimage season, in the year 621
A.D., a group of twelve faithful followers came from
Yathrib. The Prophet met these people at a place called
Aqabah, where they all took an oath at the Prophet's
hands, never to worship anything except God. This is
known as the First Pledge of Aqabah.
AL ASRA (THE NIGHT JOURNEY)
In the year 621 A.D., the eleventh year of the Prophet's
call, he experienced another spiritual event. The Prophet
at the time was staying with his cousin, Hind, the daughter
of his uncle Abu Talib. She was also known as Umm Hani.
In a spiritual vision during the night, the Holy Prophet
was transported from the Sacred Mosque in Mecca to the
Prophet Solomon's Temple at Jerusalem which was known
to the Muslims as the Distant Mosque.
This vision, although purely spiritual, was so vivid
and realistic in its nature that the Holy Prophet could
easily describe the city of Jerusalem and the Distant
Mosque to the amazement of the disbelievers.
SECOND PLEDGE OF AQABAH
In the following year, 622 A.D., some seventy three
people came from Yathrib, at the time of the pilgrimage
to Mecca. These people secretly met the Prophet in the
valley of Aqabah and offered an oath of allegiance to
him. These new converts to Islam pledged to help and
protect him if the need ever arose. They also extended
him an invitation to come to Yathrib.
HIJRAT (MIGRATION) TO MEDINAH
After the second pledge of Aqabah, the Muslims in Mecca
started to migrate to Yathrib in small groups. There
they enjoyed greater freedom to practice their religion.
Soon, hardly any of the Prophet's Companions was left
in Mecca except Abu Bakr and Ali. When Abu Bakr asked
for the Prophet's permission to emigrate, he said, "Go
not away, for God may give you a companion." Abu
Bakr understood that he must wait for the Prophet and
started making necessary preparations.
When the Quraysh realized that they could not stop
the flow of conversion, they became furious and decided
to murder the Holy Prophet himself. The leaders of the
Quraysh gathered together and devised a plan under which
each clan was to nominate a person. All the persons
thus selected were to fall upon the Holy Prophet at
a given moment and strike him a mortal blow. In this
way all the clans would share equally in the killing
of the Prophet which would make it difficult for the
Hashemite to avenge his death. When the Prophet learned
of the evil intentions of the enemy he, in the company
of Abu Bakr, quietly slipped out of Mecca in the secrecy
of the right. They both took shelter in a nearby cave
For two days and two nights, the Prophet and Abu Bakr
hid in the cave. On the third night, according to plan,
two swift camels were brought to the cave and the party,
including the Prophet, Abu Bakr and his servant rode
towards Yathrib led by a guide. Yathrib is located about
two hundred miles north of Mecca but the party chose
a more westerly route, close to the coastline of the
When the Meccans discovered that the Prophet and Abu
Bakr had escaped, they searched for them all around
Mecca. Failing to find them, they offered a reward of
a hundred camels for the capture of the two, dead or
alive. Tempted by the reward, a Bedouin chief, Suraqa
bin Malik, went in pursuit of the party.
When Suraqa bin Malik sighted the party, he, according
to the superstitious Arab custom of the time, consulted
his arrows which bade ill luck. The temptation of the
reward, however, made him continue the pursuit. At this
time his horse stumbled and he fell down. This was another
sign for him. When eventually he caught up with the
party, he told them of his evil intentions and the sudden
change of heart. The Prophet let him go but made him
promise not to reveal the party's whereabouts to anyone.
Suraqa later narrated this incident, saying, that he
was then convinced that the Prophet was a true one and
that he would definitely succeed in his mission. Suraqa
requested the Prophet to write him a guaranty of peace
when the Prophet became supreme. To this the Prophet
At that moment the Holy Prophet received a revelation
and said to Suraqa,
"Suraqa, how will you feel with the gold bangles
of the Chosroes on your wrists?"
Amazed at the prophecy, Suraqa asked,
"Which Chosroes? Chosroes, the Emperor of Iran?"
The Prophet replied, "Yes"
Sixteen or seventeen years later this prophecy was
literally fulfilled. During the reign of the second
Caliph, Omar, the Muslims conquered the Kingdom of Chosroes.
When the spoils of the war were placed in front of Omar,
he noticed the gold bangles which Chosroes used to wear
on state occasions. Remembering the Prophet's words
to Suraqa, he decided to make a visible fulfillment
of the prophecy. He called for Suraqa and bade him wear
the bangles. To this Suraqa protested since the wearing
of gold by men was not permitted by the Prophet. Hazrat
Omar said that the occasion was an exception and that
Suraqa will have to wear the bangles. To this Suraqa
finally complied. The Holy Prophet was no longer in
this world but the Muslims who were present saw the
prophecy of the Messenger of God fulfilled in front
of their own eyes.
Coming back to the migration, the Holy Prophet continued
his journey towards Yathrib, where the people were eagerly
awaiting his arrival. When he reached near Yathrib,
he decided to stop for a while in Quba, a nearby village.
He stayed in Quba for a few days and also laid the foundation
of the first mosque ever built by the Muslims. Then
he went on to Yathrib, where the people of the city
had turned out in large numbers to welcome him.
This emigration of the Holy Prophet from Mecca to Yathrib
is called the Hijrah and took place in June 622 A.D.,
some twelve years after the beginning of his mission.
The Muslim calendar, the Hijrah, dates from this event.
With this migration the Meccan period of humiliation,
persecution and restrictions finally came to an end
and the years of success and religious freedom began.
LIFE AT MEDINAH
With the arrival of the Prophet, Yathrib changed its
name to Medinah tun Nabi, the City of the Prophet. In
the course of time it was shortened to al Medinah, the
On arriving at Medinah, the Prophet took up residence
at the house of Abu Ayub Ansari. Soon he sent his freed
slave, Zayd, to Mecca to fetch his family and relatives.
The Prophet also bought a vacant piece of land nearby
and laid the foundation of a mosque. After this he built
houses for himself and his companions.
The faithful followers of the Holy Prophet, who had
left their homes and other worldly possessions in Mecca
and had come to Medinah for the sake of Islam, were
known as Mohajereen or Emigrants. Their love for the
Prophet was unbounded and they were also very dear to
the Prophet. They numbered about seventy men at the
time of the Prophet's arrival in Medinah.
The new converts at Medinah, who had helped the Prophet
at a most difficult time, were called by him Ansar or
Helpers. They numbered about one hundred. The Prophet
formally established ties of mutual brotherhood between
individuals of the two groups and asked each man among
the Ansar to "adopt" a brother from among
the Mohajereen. This action not only welded the social
ties between the two groups but also helped economically
the refugees who had left all their possessions back
CONSTITUTION OF MEDINAH
On his arrival at Medinah, the Prophet devoted himself
to the organization of the city. The Jews of Medinah
were divided into three branches: Banu Qainuka, Banu
Nadir and Banu Qurayzah. Prominent among the Arab tribes
were Aus and Khazraj. There was strong rivalry among
these various religious and political factions and mutual
hostility often erupted in the form of fighting.
With the Muslims, the Jews and the idolatrous Arabs,
the city of Medinah was divided into three religious
groups. The Prophet realized it quickly that a peaceful
state could only exist if it was based on goodwill and
support of all sections of the society. The Prophet,
therefore, formulated a charter for the people of Medinah
which is also known as the Constitution of Medinah.
According to this charter blood feud was abolished and
all rights were given equally to all people. Some of
the important points of this charter were:
1. All parties signing this charter will form a common
2. All parties to this agreement will remain united
in peace or in war.
3. If any of the parties was attacked by an enemy,
others would defend it with their combined forces.
4. None of the parties will give shelter to the Quraysh
of Mecca or make any secret treaty with them.
5. The various parties to this agreement will be free
to profess their own religion.
6. Bloodshed, murder and violence will be forbidden.
7. The city of Medinah will be regarded as sacred and
any strangers who came under the protection of its citizens
will be treated as citizens of Medinah.
8. Alt disputes will be referred to the Holy Prophet
ADHAN OR THE CALL TO PRAYER
In the early days of the Prophet's stay at Medinah,
whenever the time of Prayer came, the Muslims assembled
in the Prophet's Mosque without being called. Since
there were no clocks or watches in those days, the Muslims
could not come to Prayer at any fixed time. A strong
need, therefore, arose to have the Muslims called to
the Prayer. Various means to achieve this objective
were considered by the Holy Prophet. The Jews used to
call their people with a horn while the Christians used
the bell. Even the lighting of fire, following the style
of the Zoroastrians was considered.
After consultations with his Companions, the Holy Prophet
finally decided in favour of an oral Call and asked
Bilal, a freed Abyssinian slave, to give the first Adhan.
Bilal used to ascend to the roof of the house adjacent
to the Prophet's Mosque and deliver the Call to Prayer
THE INCIDENT AT NAKHLAH
One and a half years after Hijrah, the Holy Prophet
sent nine persons towards the valley of Nakhlah in order
to observe the movements of a Quraysh caravan. Abdullah
bin Hajash was appointed the leader of this scouting
team. It was the sacred month of Rajab when fighting
was not permitted among the Arabs.
When the reconnoitering group reached Nakhlah and spotted
the caravan, they conferred among themselves as to their
course of action. Some of the Muslims did not like breaking
the sanctity of the sacred month while others were opposed
to letting the Quraysh escape unchecked. Finally, a
consensus was reached to fight with the enemy.
During the fighting that ensued, Waqid bin Abdullah
of the Muslims shot an arrow that killed Amrao bin Hazrami
of the Quraysh. The Muslims took two prisoners and some
booty and returned to Medinah.
When the Holy Prophet learned of this incident, he
was highly grieved and refused to accept part of the
booty presented to him. The two Meccan prisoners were
eventually returned to the Quraysh in exchange for the
two Muslims captured during the fighting.
THE BATTLE OF BADR
After losing the opportunity to kill the Holy Prophet,
the Meccans now were really angry at the spread of Islam
in Medinah. The Meccans started to interfere with the
Muslims' right to pilgrimage and also instigated the
people of Medinah against the Holy Prophet. They changed
their normal caravan routes and started going through
tribal areas around Medinah to rouse the tribes against
In the year 624 A.D., two years after the Hijrah, Abu
Sufyan was bringing a commercial caravan back from Syria.
The Muslim scouts were keeping an eye on the caravan
just in case it posed any threat to Medinah. After Abu
Sufyan saw the Muslim scouts he became frightened and
sent a messenger to Mecca to bring an adequate force
to safe guard the caravan.
When the chiefs of Mecca learned that their goods laden
caravan was in possible danger, they quickly gathered
a well armed and well equipped army of more than a thousand
warriors. The army set out from Mecca under the leadership
of Abu Jahal to confront the Muslims. When the Holy
Prophet learned of the Meccans' intentions, he gathered
some 310 Muslims from among the Mohajereen and Ansar
and set forth from Medinah. The Muslims camped for the
night at a place called Badr, a few miles south west
of Medinah. Early on the morning of March 13, 624 A.D.,
the Holy Prophet arranged his small army into ranks
and files and delivered a brief address on Jehad, fighting
in the cause of God.
Then, according to the Arab custom, three leaders of
the Quraysh named Shaiba, Utba and Walid bin Utba challenged
three Muslims to a single combat. Their challenge was
accepted by Ali, Hamzah and Obadiah. Ali and Hamzah
overpowered their opponents but Obaidah and Walid exchanged
several blows and both fell down, severely wounded.
After these single combats, a fierce battle broke out
in which both sides fought bravely. While the Quraysh
were fighting for their false pride and glory, the Muslims
were fighting in the cause of Islam and for their very
existence. Two young Ansars attacked Abu Jahal and mortally
wounded him. Very soon the Quraysh were routed and took
to their heels. They were chased by the Muslims and
some of them were made prisoners.
The Muslims lost fourteen men in the battle of Badr
while the Quraysh lost seventy. The very first person
to be slain among the Muslims in a pitched battle was
Mahja bin Saleh, a freed slave. He was given the title
of "Chief of the Martyrs" by the Holy Prophet.
A number of the Quraysh were taken prisoners by the
Muslims. The Prophet ordered his followers to treat
these prisoners of war with kindness. The Holy Prophet
decided to liberate the prisoners on payment of ransom.
Those who could not pay the ransom but were literate,
were allowed to earn their freedom by teaching ten Muslim
children how to read and write. Those who were poor
and illiterate were released on the promise that they
will not fight the Muslims in the future.
The battle of Badr was the first confrontation between
the Muslims and the Meccans. The Muslims not only came
out victorious, but some of the worst enemies of Islam
such as Abu Jahal were also eliminated in the battle.
This battle, therefore, marked a turning point in the
history of Islam and considerably boosted the morale
of the Muslims who, until then, had only known persecution
The Muslims' victory at Badr could not be tolerated
by the vendetta seeking Quraysh of Mecca and the hostile
Jews of Medinah. Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan and daughter
of Utba, who had lost her father, her brother and her
uncle in the battle, swore that she would not rest until
another army was sent against Medinah. The Jews of Medinah
were envious of the spreading influence of Islam and
started openly opposing the Muslims and the Holy Prophet,
though they had a treaty with them. Then there were
the hypocrites who had outwardly accepted Islam but
in their hearts sought ways and means to hurt the Muslims
and spread discontent and disunity among their ranks.
The leader of the hypocrites was a man by the name of
Abdullah bin Ubayy bin Salul. He was the chief of the
Khazraj tribe and, before the arrival of the Prophet
in Medinah, was generally accepted as the chief of the
city. He, therefore, greatly resented the Prophet's
authority and, as later developments will show, tried
his best in turning the people against the Prophet.
EXPULSION OF BANU QAINUKA FROM MEDINAH
After the Battle of Badr, the Jews started giving open
expression to their feelings of hatred and jealousy
against the Muslims. The relations between the Muslims
and the three Jewish tribes began to deteriorate. An
isolated case of a street fight between a few Muslims
and Jews of Banu Qainuka eventually led to an open confrontation
between the two groups. The Muslims marched towards
the strongholds of Banu Qainuka in Medinah and besieged
them for a fortnight. After this period, the Banu Qainuka
surrendered on the condition that they, their families
and their animals be spared. The Prophet accepted these
terms and the Banu Qainuka were expelled from Medinah.
BATTLE OF OHUD
The Quraysh of Mecca were smarting under their crushing
defeat at Badr and could not tolerate the spread of
Islam in Medinah. Moreover, the Meccans wanted to avenge
the loss of some of their leaders, like Abu Jahal and
Utba, who were killed in the battle of Badr at the hands
of the Muslims.
The Quraysh, therefore, started to make preparations
for another attack on Medinah. In the third year of
the Hijrah, exactly one year after the battle of Badr,
the Meccan army proceeded towards Medinah under the
leadership of Abu Sufyan. The army consisted of some
3,000 soldiers and 200 horses.
In the month of March, year 625 A.D., the Prophet left
Medinah with one thousand men and started marching towards
Uhud to meet the enemy. Soon after leaving the city.
Abdullah bin Ubayy deserted the Muslim army, taking
his three hundred men with him. There were now only
seven hundred Muslims left to face an enemy of three
Both armies camped near Mount Uhud, located a few miles
north of Medinah. Next morning, the Prophet arranged
the Muslim army in such a way that Mount Ohad was at
their back. To further safeguard against a surprise
attack from a small opening in the mountain, the Prophet
appointed a batch of fifty archers to take up positions
on a hill guarding this passage. These archers were
instructed not to leave their positions until further
During the first phase of the battle, a part of the
Meccan army under the command of Ikrimah, son of Abu
Jahal, advanced towards the Muslims from the front.
The Muslims fought very bravely and overpowered the
enemy which ran from the battle field. Thinking that
the enemy was beaten, the Muslims started picking up
the spoils of battle. The fifty archers, realizing that
they may lose this opportunity, left their positions
and also joined the plunder.
The ready eye of Khalid bin Walid, who had not yet
accepted Islam and was fighting from the Meccan side,
saw the chance and attacked the Muslims from their rear.
The Muslims at that time were disorganized and panicked,
falling easy target to the Meccans' swords. The Holy
Prophet tried to call his people together but a stone
hurled at him broke his two teeth and he fell to the
ground momentarily stunned. At that instant a rumour
spread among the Muslims that the Prophet was killed.
This further heightened the disarray of the Muslims
who then ran from the battle field and took to the protection
of the mountain.
Seventy Muslims lost their lives in this battle compared
with a loss of only twenty three by the enemy. The Prophet's
uncle, Hamzah, was also killed during this battle by
a spear thrown by Wahshi, an Abyssinian slave of Hind.
Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, cut the belly of Hamzah's
corpse and chewed his liver to satisfy her revenge for
her father and brother who were killed in the battle
of Badr at the hands of Hamzah.
After a major victory at Badr, the Muslims now suffered
a big setback at Uhud. The reasons for their defeat
were the military tactics of Khalid bin Walid, the lack
of discipline among the Muslim ranks, negligence of
the Prophet's orders by the archers, the love of plunder
on the part of the Muslim army and the reduction of
the Muslim forces by the desertion of Abdullah bin Ubayy.
EXPULSION OF BANU NADIR FROM MEDINAH
After the battle of Uhud, the two Jewish tribes remaining
in Medinah, Banu Nadir and Banu Qurayzah, had a dispute
regarding a mutual agreement. The matter went before
the Holy Prophet who decided in favour of Banu Qurayzah.
Banu Nadir resented this decision and, upon the instigation
of Abdullah bin Ubayy, decided to kill the Holy Prophet.
The Prophet escaped from this attempt upon his life
and ordered them to leave Medinah. Banu Nadir initially
defied this order but gave in after a fortnight of siege.
They were allowed to take their goods and chattel and
were expelled from Medinah. Some of these people went
to Syria while others settled in a place called Khyber
where they continued their anti Islamic activities.
THE MURDER OF MUSLIM MISSIONARIES
In the same year as the Battle of Uhud, 625 A.D., seven
men of the Banu Qara tribe came to Medinah and asked
the Holy Prophet to send some missionaries to their
area to teach them the Holy Quran and Islam. The Holy
Prophet had already started sending missionaries to
the various tribes and this time sent six of his own
Companions for this purpose.
When these six missionaries reached the place called
ar Raji belonging to the tribe of Banu Hudhayl, they
were set upon by two hundred men. Four of the missionaries
were killed in the fight and two, Zayd bin Dathinah
and Khubayb, were taken prisoners and sold to the Meccans
who intended to kill them to avenge the deaths of their
own relatives in the Battle of Badr.
When Zayd was going to be beheaded, Abu Sufyan asked
"Tell me, O Zayd, would you not prefer that Muhammad
was here in your place to receive this punishment while
you were safe at home with your people?"
"I certainly prefer that Muhammad be where he
is, safe from all harm. It is more preferable to me
than my being with my own people."
Abu Sufyan was amazed at this answer and this display
of love and loyalty by the Companions of the Holy Prophet
for him. Zayd was beheaded.
When the other Muslim prisoner, Khubayb, was taken
out to be executed in front of the people of Mecca,
he asked for permission to say a Nafl Prayer, which
he made very short. After completing his Prayer he told
"I wanted to prolong my Prayer but was afraid
that you might think that I was not ready to die."
Soon after the incident of ar Raji, a man named Abu
Bata came to Medinah and asked for enlightenment in
the religion of Islam. After being instructed in the
new faith, Abu Bara requested the Holy Prophet to send
some Huffaz, the Memorizers of the Holy Quran, to the
people of Najd to preach them Islam. The Holy Prophet
was afraid for the lives of his Companions and turned
down the request. But when Abu Bata gave personal guarantees
for their protection, the Holy Prophet acceded to his
request and sent with him seventy Muslim missionaries.
When these seventy missionaries reached a place called
Bir Mauna, the cousin of Abu Bara instigated the local
tribesmen against the Muslims. These tribesmen surrounded
the Muslim missionaries and after a fight killed all
of them with the exception of one man who managed to
return to Medinah.
BATTLE OF THE DITCH
Although the Muslims were defeated at Uhud, their efforts
to spread Islam continued with intense zeal, and their
numbers kept on growing. With the growth of Islam the
city of Medinah started to enjoy a status which rivaled
that of Mecca. The Quraysh saw, in the growth of Islam,
a real threat to their own religious and social position
among the Arabs. At the same time the Jews expelled
from Medinah were instigating the Quraysh against the
Finally, in the year 627 A.D., some five years after
the Hijrah, the Quraysh once again rounded up an army
and marched upon Medinah under the leadership of Abu
Sufyan. This time their forces numbered ten thousand
men and six hundred horses. A number of Arab tribes
joined league with the Meccans in this battle. For this
reason this battle is also known as the Battle of the
When the Prophet learned of this threat he gathered
some three thousand men to face the enemy. On the advice
of Salman al Farsi, the Prophet decided to remain in
the city and dug a long trench around that part of Medinah
which gave an open access to the enemy. One side of
Medinah had a natural protection of hills and another
side was protected by stone houses and groves of trees.
When the Quraysh saw this defense, they were perplexed.
They besieged the city and tried to storm it. But the
Muslims easily repulsed the attack each time. Finally,
the Quraysh decided that the only way to enter the city
was by making a secret alliance with the Jewish tribe
of Banu Quraysh. Since Banu Qurayzah already had a peace
treaty with the Prophet, they refused this offer of
the Meccans. On their persistence, however, they agreed
to attack the Muslims from the rear while the Meccans
engaged the Muslim army at the ditch. This secret plot
of the Jews was discovered by the Muslims who then placed
some five hundred soldiers on the Banu Qurayzah side
of Medinah to guard against a surprise attack from that
Meantime, the Meccans were running short of their food
supplies, the weather was turning adverse and a strong,
cold wind had started to blow. Under the circumstances
Abu Sufyan raised the siege and decided to return to
Although the Battle of the Ditch was a major confrontation
between the Quraysh and the Muslims, very little actual
fighting took place. The Muslims lost five men while
the enemy lost three.
BANU QURAYZAH PUNISHED
After the departure of the Meccan army, the Muslims
turned their attention to Banu Quraysh who had betrayed
them during the battle of the Ditch. The Muslims laid
siege to the Jews' fortress. When Banu Quraysh could
not hold out any longer, they sent a message to the
Holy Prophet that they would surrender but would like
their fate to be decided by one of their allies. Sa'd
bin Muadh, the chief of the tribe of Aus, was appointed
the arbiter. Sa'd passed the judgment on the Banu Quraysh
according to the law of the Torah. According to the
Jewish law the punishment for treason was death. In
passing the death sentence on Bann Quraysh, Sa'd reminded
the Jews of the fact that had the Jews succeeded in
carrying out their plan, they would have put all the
Muslims to death.
As a result of Sa'd bin Muadh's judgment, all the male
members of the Banu Quraysh tribe who were of fighting
age were executed and their women, children and elders
expelled, who went to Syria.
Many historians have commented that the Banu Quraysh
made a tactical mistake in asking one of their own allies
to decide their fate. The Mosaic Law was very strict
in such matters and any person honestly passing a judgment
under this law could not be too lenient. The historians
believe that if the Banu Quraysh had entrusted their
fate to the Prophet Muhammad himself, he would have
definitely forgiven their excesses and, at the most,
expelled them from Medinah.
CHARTER FOR THE CHRISTIANS
In the sixth year of the Hijrah, the Prophet granted
to all Christians a charter. According to this charter:
o the Christians were not to be unfairly taxed
o no bishop was to be expelled from his monastery
o no pilgrim was to be detained from the performance
o no Christian churches were to be pulled down for
the building of mosques
o Christian women married to Muslims were free to enjoy
their own religion
o in the case of repair of churches, the Muslims were
to help the Christians
BAI'AT E RIDHWAN AND THE TREATY OF HUDAYBIYA
By the year 628 A.D: some six long years had passed
since the Muslims emigrated from Mecca. They were getting
nostalgic and wanted to visit their homes. Also, many
of the Muslims had not performed the pilgrimage since
they left Mecca. Then one night the Holy Prophet dreamed
that he was entering the Ka'ba and its key was in his
hand. He told of this dream to his Companions and invited
them to perform the "Umrah" or the Informal
Pilgrimage. In February 628 A.D., the Holy Prophet left
for Mecca in the company of 1,500 Muslims. It was the
month of Dhul Qadah, one of the four sacred months when
war was unlawful throughout Arabia (the three other
sacred months were: Rajab, Dhul Hijjah and Muharram).
When the Quraysh learned of the approach of the Muslims,
they started making preparations for a confrontation
and told the Muslims that they will not be allowed to
enter Mecca and perform the pilgrimage.
The Muslims camped outside Mecca, in a place called
Hudaybiya. The Holy Prophet dispatched Uthman as messenger
to the Quraysh to inform them of the Muslims' intentions
of only performing the pilgrimage. At that time a rumour
spread out that Uthman had been murdered by the Quraysh
and caused a great deal of commotion among the Muslims.
Realizing the sensitivity of the occasion and the potential
for an armed conflict with the Quraysh, the Holy Prophet
sat down under a tree and asked his followers to offer
an oath of allegiance to him. They all submitted to
it one by one declaring their resolve to fight to the
bitter end for the cause of Islam. This oath of the
Muslims at the hands of the Prophet is known as "Bay'ate
Ridhwan", or the Pledge of Acceptance.
The Quraysh became alarmed at this display of solidarity
by the Muslims and decided to come to terms with them.
Suhayl bin Amr and two other representatives of the
Quraysh came to confer with the Holy Prophet. When an
agreement was finally reached, the Holy Prophet asked
Ali to write down the terms as he began to dictate them.
The Prophet started his dictation with the invocation
Bismillah ar Rahman ar Raheem in the name of God, the
Gracious, the Merciful. At this Suhayl bin Amr objected
saying that they did not know what Rahman was and, instead,
proposed to write Bismika Allahumma, In Thy Name, O
God. Some of the Prophet's Companions objected to this
but the Prophet said to write it down.
The Holy Prophet then continued to dictate: "These
are the terms of the truce between Muhammad, the Messenger
of God and Suhayl the son of Amr". Suhayl protested
again saying, "If we knew that you were the Messenger
of God we would not be stopping you from performing
the pilgrimage neither would we have fought with you;
so write Muhammad the son of Abdullah." Ali by
this time had already written the words Messenger of
God. The Prophet asked him to strike them out and write
in their place "the son of Abdullah".
This treaty between the Muslims and the Meccans is
known as the Treaty of Hudaybia and according to its
1. There was to be no fighting for a period of ten
2. Any one who wished to join the Prophet's side was
free to do so and any one who wished to join the Meccans,
was free to do so.
3. If a young man from among the Quraysh joined the
Prophet, he would be returned to his parents or guardians.
If a young man from among the Muslims joined the Quraysh,
he would not be returned.
4. That year, the Muslims will go back without performing
5. Next year, the Prophet and his followers could enter
Mecca for a period of three days and perform the pilgrimage.
During this period the Quraysh would withdraw from the
6. When the Muslims entered Mecca next year, they would
On the surface the Treaty of Hudaybia appeared humiliating
for the Muslims and Omar could not contain his feelings.
He went to the Holy Prophet and Said:
"Are you not God's Prophet?" to which the
Prophet replied "Yes".
"Are we not in the right and our enemies in the
wrong?" asked Omar. To this the Prophet replied
"Then why do we yield in such low fashion?"
Omar asked again.
The Prophet replied: "I am God's Messenger and
I will not disobey Him. He will give me the victory".
"But didn't you tell us", Omar persisted,
"that we should go to the Ka'ba and perform the
"Yes" replied the Prophet, "but did
I tell you it would have to be this year?"
The Treaty of Hudaybia gave the Muslims much needed
peace and calm in which to concentrate their efforts
on the spread of Islam. Great warriors like Khalid bin
Walid and Arm bin A's, embraced Islam after the treaty
of Hudaybiya. The success of Islam after the treaty
can be recognized from the fact that at the time of
the treaty there were only 1,500 men with the Holy Prophet,
but two years later, at the time of the conquest of
Mecca, they were ten thousand.
THE HOLY PROPHET SENDS LETTERS TO VARIOUS KINGS
On returning to Medinah after the treaty of Hudaybiya,
the Holy Prophet sent envoys to various kings and rulers.
Each envoy carried a letter from the Prophet, inviting
the ruler to accept Islam. These envoys were sent to:
o Heraclius, the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire
o Chosroes Pervez, the Emperor of Iran
o Negus (Najashi), the King of Abyssinia
o Muqauqis, the ruler of Egypt
o Mundhir Taimi, the chief of Bahrain
o Al Harith bin Abi Shimr, the Ghassanid Prince of
o Hawdah bin Ali, the chief of Yamamah
o King of Oman
The Prophet also wrote such letters to the chiefs of
many other tribes around Arabia such as:
o Chief of Banu Nahd, a tribe of Yemen
o Chief of Hamadaan, another tribe of Yemen
o Chief of Banu Alim
o Chief of Hadrami tribe
The Letter to Heraclius
The letter addressed to Heraclius was delivered to
him while the Emperor was visiting Syria. The envoy
carrying the letter was called to the King's court and
the letter was read to the King by an interpreter. The
King wanted to know if an Arab caravan was visiting
Syria so that he could question an Arab about this Arabian
Prophet. It so happened that Abu Sufyan, an enemy of
the Prophet, was in town and was taken to the King's
court. The conversation that took place between the
King and Abu Sufyan has been recorded in the books of
Hadith, as follows:
King: What sort of family does this Prophet come from?
A.S.: He comes of a noble family and is one of my relations.
King: Have any Arabs before him made similar claims?
King: Did your people ever find him telling a lie before
King: Has there been a king or ruler among his forefathers?
King: Who are his followers? Rich or the poor people?
A.S.: Mostly poor, humble and young people.
King: Are their numbers increasing or decreasing?
King: Do his followers ever go back to their old beliefs?
King: Has he ever broken a pledge?
King: What does he teach?
A.S.: He teaches that we should worship One God and
not set up equals to Him. He preaches against the worshiping
of idols. He wants us to speak the truth and give up
all evil and corrupt practices. He tells us to be good
to one another, keep our promises and discharge our
King: It seems to me that his claim to prophethood is
true. I was half expecting his appearance in our time
but I did not know that he was going to be an Arab.
If what you have told me is true, then I think his influence
and his rule will definitely spread over these lands.
The Letter to Chosroes Pervez
The letter sent to Chosroes, the Emperor of Iran, got
a different kind of reception. The Emperor ordered an
interpreter to read the letter to him. On listening
to the contents, the Emperor flew into a rage and tore
the letter into pieces. When the Prophet's envoy reported
this incident back to him, the Holy Prophet said:
"What Chosroes has done to our letter, God will
do to his Empire"
Chosroes even issued orders for the arrest of the Prophet.
The Emperor was soon murdered by his own son who cancelled
the orders for the Prophet's arrest. The Kingdom of
Iran fell in a few years in front of the Muslim forces
sent out during the reign of Omar, the second Khalifah
of the Holy Prophet.
The Letter to Negus
The letter sent to Negus, King of Abyssinia, received
an honourable reception. The King showed great respect
for the letter and ordered an ivory box for it, saying:
"While this letter is safe, my Kingdom is safe"
The Letter to Muqauqis
When the Prophet's letter was received by Muqauqis,
the Christian ruler of Egypt, he questioned the envoy
regarding the Holy Prophet. Muqauqis did not accept
Islam but, very diplomatically, he wrote a letter to
the Holy Prophet in reply sending with it presents of
gold, two Egyptian girls, garments of Egyptian linen
and a mule.
The Letter to Mundhir
The envoy carrying the letter to Mundhir, Chief of
Bahrain, was the most successful of all envoys sent
out by the Holy Prophet. When Mundhir received the Prophet's
letter, he and many of his friends and followers accepted
Islam. The Chief also wrote to the Holy Prophet for
further instructions for his people.
THE CONQUEST OF KHYBER
Five months after returning from Hudaybiya, the Prophet
learned of the rebellion of the Jews of Khyber. Since
the expulsion of the Jews from Medinah, many had settled
down in Khyber and continued their nefarious activities
against the Muslims. They instigated and aroused against
Islam the Christian tribes settled on the southern frontier
of the Roman Empire, the Arab tribes around Medinah
and even Chosroes of Iran.
In August 628 A.D., the Prophet marched towards Khyber
with 1,600 of his followers. At Khyber, a number of
small forts fell one after the other and, after a heavy
contest, their main fortress, al Qamus, was also captured.
The Jews being helpless, asked for the Prophet's pardon.
He not only forgave them but also returned their land
and properties with complete freedom to practice their
faith. A fixed land tax, however, was imposed upon them.
Some 18 Muslims were killed in this Battle while the
Jews lost 93 men.
THE THREE DAY PILGRIMAGE
Next year, in 629 A.D., Prophet Muhammad visited Mecca
according to the terms of the treaty of Hudaybiya. Many
Muslims accompanied him this time to perform the pilgrimage.
When the Quraysh learned of the Prophet's approach,
they, too, left the city according to the agreement.
The Holy Prophet and his followers performed the Umrah
or the Lesser Pilgrimage and after three days, returned
BATTLE OF MUTAH
On return from his three day pilgrimage, the Prophet
learned that the Christian tribes on the Syrian border
were becoming hostile. The Prophet, therefore, sent
a letter with an envoy to the Ghassanid Prince at Damascus,
complaining about these hostilities. The Ghassanid Prince
ruled that area in the name of Rome. While on his way
the envoy was intercepted and murdered at Mutah by a
Christian chieftain named Shurahbil.
To put an end to these continuing hostilities, the
Prophet raised a force of 3,000 men and dispatched it
towards Syria under the command of Zayd bin Harith,
the freed slave and adopted son of the Holy Prophet.
The Byzantine army, it is estimated, was close to one
hundred thousand strong.
The Muslim army marched away in September 629 A.D.
and covered over six hundred miles to reach Mutah. It
was the largest and most arduous expedition ever undertaken
by the Muslims and the first one against the Christians.
When the Muslims saw the size of the Christian army,
they wanted to send word back to Medinah for reinforcement.
However, the distance to Medinah was too great and the
Muslim leaders decided to fight with whatever soldiers
As the battle started, Zayd, the commander of the Muslim
forces, was killed and the flag and command passed on
to Jafar bin Abu Talib. Soon after, Jafar also fell
and the command passed to Abdullah bin Rawah, as the
Holy Prophet had instructed. Soon, Abdullah bin Rawah
also fell. At this point Khalid bin Walid picked up
the flag of the Muslim army and continued fighting till
Next, day, Khalid bin Walid took his exhausted army
and the battle continued for a while. The Muslims, however,
were grossly outnumbered and continuing the fighting
any longer would have been suicidal. Khalid bin Walid,
therefore, gathered the leftover of his army, executed
a retreat and returned to Medinah. The Muslims at Medinah
chided the returning army and scolded them for not fighting
till their death. The Prophet, however, defended the
army's action and praised Khalid bin Walid for his bravery
giving him the title of Saif Allah the sword of God.
Because of the timely retreat of the Muslim army, not
very many people were killed in this battle.
THE CONQUEST OF MECCA
In the treaty of Hudaybiya it was agreed that any tribe
wanting to join the Muslims or the Quraysh was free
to do so. As a result, the Khuza tribe joined the Muslims
while the Banu Bakr entered into an alliance with the
Some two years after the treaty, the Banu Bakr tribe,
with the help of the Quraysh, raided the Khuza tribe
by night and killed a number of their men. The Khuza
tribe sent a deputation of about forty men to the Holy
Prophet, demanding help and justice. The Prophet sent
a peace mission to the Quraysh proposing that:
(a) the Quraysh pay proper compensation to the Khuza
(b) the Quraysh cut off all relations with the Banu
(c) the Quraysh declare the treaty of Hudaybiya as
null and void.
The Quraysh neither wanted to pay compensation nor
break away their relationship with the aggressor tribe
of Banu Bakr. They, therefore, accepted the third alternative.
With the agreement now dissolved between the Muslims
and the Meccans, the Prophet realized that there was
no other way to render justice except by fighting the
Quraysh. In January 630 A.D., the Prophet advanced towards
Mecca with an army of ten thousand men. This was the
largest force Medinah had ever seen. On reaching Mecca,
the Muslim army camped outside the city.
Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Quraysh, came out during
the night with two companions to see the Muslim camp.
He was astounded at the size of the Muslim army and
could hardly contain his amazement. The Muslim ranks
which numbered about three hundred at the battle of
Badr a few years ago had now swollen to nearly ten thousand.
While Abu Sufyan and his companions were scouting around,
they were captured by the Muslim guards and brought
in front of the Holy Prophet. The Prophet not only pardoned
his lifelong enemy but also allowed him to spend the
night in the Muslim camp. Abu Sufyan was amazed at the
discipline of the Muslims and their love for the Holy
Prophet. Abu Sufyan made a remark at the time that:
"I have seen great courts. I have seen the courts
of Chosroes and that of Kaiser, but I have never seen
any people so devoted to their leader as the Muslims
are to their Prophet."
By sunrise, Abu Sufyan and his companions had accepted
Islam. They, however, were concerned about the fate
of Mecca and asked the Holy Prophet as to what would
the Muslims do to the Meccans. The Prophet replied:
"These people have been very cruel. They have
gone back on the peace they signed at Hudaybiya and
attacked the Khuza tribe. They have made war in a place
which had been made sacred by God"
Abu Sufyan and his companions asked the Holy Prophet
for forgiveness and enquired if the Meccans could have
peace if they did not draw their swords. The Prophet
"Everyone who stays indoors will have peace. Whoever
takes shelter in the house of Abu Sufyan will have peace.
Whoever enters the Sacred Mosque will have peace. Those
who lay their arms will have peace."
In the morning, Abu Sufyan returned to Mecca with this
message while the Muslim army started marching into
the city. The Holy Prophet gave strict orders to his
generals not to permit any fighting unless the enemy
The Prophet went straight to the Ka 'ba and performed
the circuit seven times. Then he ordered that the Ka
'ba be cleared of all idols and paintings. The idols
were broken and the walls of the Ka 'ba cleansed of
all pictures. After this, the Holy Prophet went inside
the Ka 'ba and said his Prayer there.
The Holy Prophet then addressed the Meccans and told
them that they will not be called to account. Ikrimah,
the son of Abu Jahal, was in the process of escaping
to Abyssinia when he learned of this general amnesty.
He could not believe his ears and had to ask the Holy
Prophet himself, who replied, "Yes, I have forgiven
you". Utbah and Mu'attib, the two surviving sons
of Abu Lahab, were afraid to appear before the Prophet.
Utbah had divorced Ruqayyah, the Prophet's daughter,
under pressure from his father. The Holy Prophet took
Lahab's sons by their hands and walked to the wall of
the Ka 'ba where he prayed for a long time. On returning
he said, "I asked my Lord to give me these two
sons of my uncle, and He has given them to me".
Both these sons embraced Islam. All historians agree
that in the history of conquests there has never been
a more triumphant entry than this one. Hardly any blood
was shed and all the enemies were pardoned. The Muslims
had been tortured in this city and were eventually driven
out of it. The residents of this city had not let the
Muslims live in peace even in Medinah and had waged
many battles against them. But on this day, when the
enemy lay helpless, defeated and at the mercy of the
Muslims, a general forgiveness was declared and no revenge
was taken. Such examples of greatness are truly rare
in the history of conquests.
BATTLE OF HUNAYN
Immediately after the conquest of Mecca, the Muslims
had to fight the Hawazin and Thaqif tribes which dwelt
in the area east of Mecca. These two tribes invited
a number of other tribes in the area to join them in
battle against the Muslims.
This battle between the Muslims and the Hawazin and
allied tribes was fought in the valley of Hunayn. When
the Muslim army entered the valley, the enemy archers
rained arrows from the surrounding cliffs where they
lay hidden. The beasts of the Muslim army took fright
and ran in spite of the riders. There was a time when
the Prophet was left with only a handful of companions.
When his companions tried to stop him from going ahead,
he scorned the proposal and said:
"I am a Prophet, it is no lie; Yet I am the son
of Abdul Muttalib."
At this moment the thunderous voice of Abbas, the Prophet's
uncle, rang out in the valley telling the Muslims that
their Prophet had stood his ground and was calling for
help. The Muslims then gathered together and drove the
enemy from the battle field.
DISTRIBUTION OF THE BOOTY AND
THE ANSAR'S UNHAPPINESS
The victory at Hunayn gave the Muslims their largest
spoils of war. These spoils consisted of camels, goats
and silver and were divided into five equal portions.
Four of these portions were distributed among the Muslim
army and one portion was reserved for the Muslim Treasury
to be used as the Holy Prophet saw fit.
From this fifth portion, the Holy Prophet gave generously
to some of the newly converted leaders of the Quraysh
such as Abu Sufyan, Muawiah, Harith bin Harith, Harith
bin Hisham, Suhayl bin Amr and some others, all of whom
had been staunch opponents of Islam before the conquest
The Ansar felt left out and grieved at this act of
generosity towards the new converts and some of them
gave voice to their feelings. When the Holy Prophet
learned of their resentment, he asked for them to be
assembled. When they had all gathered in front of him,
the Prophet addressed them:
"O Ansar! It has been reported to me that you
do not approve of my distribution of the booty. Is it
not true that when I came to you, you were languishing
in misguidance and error, and God guided you to the
truth through me? And is it not true that I found you
in a state of poverty, and God made you affluent? And
is it not true that I found you enemy one of another,
and God reconciled your hearts?
After listening to each sentence of the admonition,
the Ansar would say, "Indeed! God and His Prophet
have been very generous." The Holy Prophet then
"Why don't you say this O Ansar, 'It was you,
Muhammad, who were under our obligation. Did you not
come to us vanquished and defeated, and we came to your
rescue? Did you not come to us exiled and rejected,
and we gave you shelter? Did you not come to us in want
and need, and we came to your help?
"Had you replied to me in these words, you would
have said nothing but the truth and I would have agreed
with you. O Ansar, are you angry because I gave away
some goods to those whom I sought to win to Islam? Because
I considered that their faith could be confirmed by
material goods, whereas I considered yours to be based
on solid conviction?
"Does this not satisfy you, O Ansar, that when
other people return home loaded with goods and camels,
you will return home with the Prophet of God? By Him
Who controls Muhammad's soul, there is no people to
whom I love to belong more than the Ansar."
The Holy Prophet said these words in great love and
affection for the men of Ansar who had pledged their
unswerving loyalty and allegiance to him, and had helped
him at the most critical stage in his mission.
When the Ansar heard these words of great affection
and sincerity from the Prophet's mouth, they burst into
tears and they all shouted with one voice, "We
want only Muhammad, the Prophet of God."
CAMPAIGN OF TABUK
In the summer of year 630 A.D., rumours spread out
in Medinah that the Byzantine army was gathering in
the southern part of Syria, ready to attack Medinah.
Later events showed that these rumours were cleverly
spread by the hypocrites in Medinah who wanted to provoke
the Muslims against the Roman Empire.
The previous encounter with the Byzantine forces at
Mutah was still fresh in the minds of the Muslims who
showed some reluctance in joining this campaign. The
Prophet finally prepared an army of thirty thousand
men and marched towards Syria. After reaching Tabuk,
the Prophet stayed there a few days and not finding
any signs of the enemy, returned to Medinah. The journey
took the Muslim army about two and a half months and
was the last campaign undertaken by the Holy Prophet
in his life.
After his return from. Tabuk, a large number of deputations
from various tribes and states came to Medinah to offer
their allegiance to the Prophet. They came from Oman,
Hadramawt, Harridan, Kindah, Bahrain, Yamamah and many
other provinces of Arabia. In fact so remarkable was
the movement of these deputations towards Medinah that
the ninth year of the Hijrah is known as the "Year
THE FAREWELL PILGRIMAGE AND
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
In the year 632 A.D., the Holy Prophet felt that his
mission was nearing completion, and understanding that
the end of his life was near; he decided to make a farewell
pilgrimage to Mecca. After completing the various ceremonies
of the Hajj, the Prophet addressed the people gathered
there from the top of the Mount of Mercy, in the Plain
"O people, listen to my words; for I do not know
if I shall be among you after this year. Remember that
you have to appear before your Lord Who will demand
from you an account of all your actions.
"O people, you have rights over your wives and
your wives have rights over you. Remember, you must
always treat your wives with kindness. Woman is weak
and cannot protect her own rights. When you married,
God appointed you the trustees of those rights. You
brought your wives to your homes under the Law of God.
You must not, therefore, insult the trust which God
has placed in your hands.
"O people feed your slaves as you feed yourselves
and clothe your slaves as you clothe yourselves. If
they commit a fault which you are unable to forgive,
then pass them on to someone else. They are part of
God's creation and are not to be harshly treated.
"O people, listen to my words, and remember that
all Muslims are brothers one of another. As you are
one brotherhood, you will not take your brother's belongings
which he does not give you of his own goodwill. And
guard yourself against committing injustice.
"O people, take note that I trample under foot
all un-Islamic customs and traditions. All blood feuds
are wiped out. As God has made you one brotherhood,
so be not divided. An Arab has no superiority over a
non Arab, nor a non Arab over an Arab; nor is a white
one to be preferred to a dark one, nor a dark one to
a white one. This day, retaliation for all murders committed
in the days of ignorance is cancelled and all sums of
interest are remitted.
"O people, worship your Lord, observe Prayer,
observe the Fast during Ramadhan, pay the Zakat cheerfully,
perform the Pilgrimage, and obey those in authority
among you; God will admit you to His paradise"
And he concluded:
"What I have said to you, you shall tell the others
who are not present"
With these words the Prophet finished his address when
a revelation came to him:
"This day have I perfected for you your religion
and completed upon you my favour and have chosen for
you Islam as Religion (5:4)
This is believed to be the last revelation received
by the Holy Prophet and with it the process of Quranic
revelations, spanning a period of twenty two years,
came to a close.
THE PROPHET'S ILLNESS
Two months after returning from the farewell pilgrimage,
the Holy Prophet fell ill. One day, after having led
the Prayer, he addressed the people present in the mosque.
He said, "There is a slave among the slaves of
God to whom God has offered the choice between this
world and that which is with Him. And the slave has
chosen that which is with God." When Abu Bakr heard
these words, he began to weep; for he understood that
the Holy Prophet was speaking of himself and that the
choice he referred to was his imminent death. The Holy
Prophet continued, "O people, the most beneficent
of men unto me in companionship and generosity has been
Abu Bakr; and if I were to select from all mankind an
inseparable friend, he would be Abu Bakr. But real companionship
and brotherhood is ours when God unites us all in His
When the Prophet became so ill that he could not even
come to the mosque, he asked that Abu Bakr lead the
daily Prayers. Hazrat A'isha knew that her father was
very sensitive and prone to weeping and would be greatly
distressed taking the Prophet's place. She, therefore,
suggested Omar's name instead. But the Holy Prophet
insisted that it be Abu Bakr.
One day the Prophet was feeling a little better so
he asked to be taken to the mosque. Ibne Abbas and Ali
supported him from each side and, with his feet dragging
on the ground, took him to the mosque. Abu Bakr had
already started leading the Prayer. As Ibne Abbas and
Ali took the Prophet to the front row, the people tried
to give Abu Bakr a hint by clapping their hands. Abu
Bakr, however, was too engrossed in the Prayer and did
not take any notice. Finally he became aware of the
Prophet's presence behind him and wanted to move back.
The Prophet, however, indicated to him to continue leading
the Prayer and asked lab Abbas and Ali to put him down
next to Abu Bakr. The Prayer then continued in such
a manner that Abu Bakr was following the Holy Prophet
seated next to him while the people behind were following
Abu Bakr. After the Prayer was over the Prophet asked
Abu Bakr why he didn't continue leading the Prayer after
he was asked to do so. Abu Bakr replied, "How dare
the son of Abu Qahafa lead the Prayer in the presence
of the Messenger of God."
As the Prophet's illness advanced, he requested his
wives to allow him to spend his last days with A'isha,
to which they all agreed. One day Fatimah, his daughter,
came to see him. A'isha saw the Holy Prophet whisper
something in Hazrat Fatimah's ear, upon which Fatimah
began to cry. Then he whispered something else in her
ear, which made her smile through her tears. When A'isha
queried Fatimah on what the Holy Prophet was whispering
to her, she answered that it was a secret not to be
divulged. Much later, she told A'isha that the Holy
Prophet had informed her that he was going to die in
that illness and this had made her cry. Then the Holy
Prophet told her that she, Fatimah, would be the first
from the Prophet's house to join him, and this had cheered
The Prophet's Mosque in Medinah was adjacent to his
residence. One day the Prophet stood by the window and
looked outside at the Muslims getting ready to say their
Fajr Prayers behind Abu Bakr. The people looked at the
Holy Prophet's face and waited for him to join them.
He smiled at them and indicated with his hand for Abu
Bakr to go ahead with the Prayer. That was the last
time the Muslims saw their Prophet's face; that day
at noon, the Holy Prophet passed away. On June 8, 632
A.D., the Holy Prophet was buried and thus ended the
glorious career of the Prophet of Islam, the greatest
man of Arabia, indeed of the whole world.
When Omar was told of the Prophet's death, he did not
believe it. He always thought that the Holy Prophet
was going to outlive all of them. He, therefore, proceeded
to the mosque and started telling the people that the
Prophet was merely absent in spirit and will return
When Abu Bakr heard the sad news, he went straight
to his daughter A'isha's house and drew back the cloak
which covered the Prophet's face. He looked at the face
of his departed friend and then bent down and kissed
it. "Dearer than my father and mother," he
said, "thou hast tasted the death which God decreed
for thee. Thou art too precious with the Lord for another
death to befall thee."
After this, Abu Bakr went out where Omar was still
addressing the people. He asked Omar to be quiet but
Omar paid no attention. Finally Abu Bakr started to
speak to the people himself:
"O people, whosoever worships Muhammad, let him
then know that Muhammad is dead. But whosoever worships
God, let him know that the Lord is living and does not
Abu Bakr then recited the following Quranic verses
which were revealed after the Battle of Uhud:
"And Muhammad is only a Messenger. Verily, Messengers
have passed away before. If then he dies or is slain,
will you non back on your heels?" (3:145)
Hazrat Abu Bakr's words put a hush on the crowd. Omar
himself was astounded. When realization finally sank
in that the Holy Prophet was really dead, his legs could
not carry him and Omar fell to the ground.
The Holy Prophet's body was bathed and laid out in
the chamber of A'isha where he had died. Next morning,
the inhabitants of Medinah came and visited it, praying
over his remains. Abu Bakr and Omar entered the chamber
and prayed as follows:
"Peace be upon thee, O Prophet of God, and mercy
from the Lord and His blessing. We bear witness that
the Prophet of God has delivered the Message revealed
to him; has fought in the way of God until God gave
his religion victory; has fulfilled his words, has drawn
us to himself, and been kind and tenderhearted towards
the believers; has sought no recompense for delivering
the Faith to us, neither has he sold it for a price
at any time."
In the evening, the final rites were performed and
the body was buried in a grave dug in A'isha's chamber,
at the same place where the Prophet had breathed his
last. Later on, when Abu Bakr died, he was buried in
the same chamber and, in due time, Omar as well. Thus
was fulfilled a dream of A'isha that three moons fell,
one after another, into her chamber.
WIVES OF THE HOLY PROPHET
1. HAZRAT KHADIJAH (Marriage: 595 A.D.)
A fairly well to do lady of Mecca, Khadijah was twice
widowed, and fifteen years his senior, when she married
the Prophet Muhammad. Her former husbands were named
Abu Halah and Ateek.
Her marriage with the Holy Prophet lasted twenty five
years fifteen years before and ten years after the beginning
of his prophetic mission. As long as the Holy Prophet
was married to Khadijah, he did not take any other wife.
Khadijah died about two years before the Hijrah when
the Holy Prophet was fifty years old. She was buried
in Mecca. Khadijah was the Prophet's only wife who bore
him children that lived past infancy.
The Prophet's love and regard for Khadijah was so great
that even after her death the manner in which he remembered
her often made even the likes of A'isha very jealous.
On one occasion Khadijah's younger sister, Halah came
to visit the Holy Prophet. When he heard her voice he
became startled and remarked:
"It must be Halah; her voice is so much like Khadijah's."
At this A'isha could no longer control herself and
"How come, you always think of the old woman who
is dead, while God has given you better wives?"
The Holy Prophet replied:
"It is not so. When people rejected me she stood
by me; when people disbelieved, she believed and accepted
Islam; when I had no support, she helped me."
2. HAZRAT SAUDAH (Marriage: 620 A.D.)
Saudah held the distinction of being the first lady
the Holy Prophet married after the death of Khadijah.
At the time of her marriage to the Holy Prophet Saudah
was a widow of nearly fifty years of age. The name of
her former husband was Sakran who was an early convert
to Islam. Both of them had migrated to Abyssinia but
had returned to Mecca about the time Khadijah died.
Very soon afterwards Sakran died, leaving Saudah a widow.
At the time of Khadijah's death, two younger daughters
of the Holy Prophet Umm al Kalthum and Fatimah were
still young and unmarried. At the suggestion of the
wife of one of his Companions, the Holy Prophet married
Saudah to be relieved of domestic worry.
The marriage took place in Mecca, a few months after
Khadijah's death. When the Holy Prophet migrated to
Medinah, Saudah also joined him there. She died in 22
A.H. during the Khilafat of Omar.
3. HAZRAT A'ISHA (Marriage: 622 A.D.)
A'isha was the daughter of Abu Bakr and his wife Zaynab
(Umm Roman). At the time of the Prophet's marriage to
Saudah, the name of A'isha was also brought to his attention.
But A'isha was then engaged to Jubayr bin Mutim. Later
on Jubayr who had not embraced Islam broke the engagement
due to Abu Bakr's close companionship with the Holy
After her engagement with Jubayr was dissolved, the
Holy Prophet married A'isha with Abu Bakr performing
the "nikah" ceremony. The marriage, however,
was not consummated till after the Prophet's migration
A'isha spent nine years with the Holy Prophet and died
in 57 A.H., at the age of sixty six years. She was buried
in the graveyard in Medinah, known as Janna-tul-Baqih.
A'isha was very dear to the Holy Prophet not only because
of her youthfulness but also because of her intelligence,
quick wittedness and piety. More than one quarter of
all the Ahadith quoted by the great compilers of the
Prophet's Traditions are narrated by Hazrat A'isha.
4. HAZRAT HAFSAH (Marriage: 624 A.D.)
Hafsah was the daughter of Omar bin Khattab. The Holy
Prophet married her in the third year of the Hijrah,
soon after her former husband, Khumays, died of wounds
sustained in the Battle of Badr.
Hafsah was a very learned lady, and the standard text
of the Holy Quran, in the sequence laid down by the
Holy Prophet, was kept in her custody.
Hazrat Hafsah died in 45 A.H., at the age of sixty
and was buried in the Janna-tul-Baqih.
5. HAZRAT ZAYNAB BINT KHUZAYMAH (Marriage:
Zaynab was first married to Tufayl bin Harith who had
divorced her. She then married Abdullah bin Hajash who
became a martyr in the Battle of Uhud. In consideration
of her bereavement, several Muslims offered to marry
her but she declined them all. However, when the Holy
Prophet proposed to her she accepted the honour. The
marriage took place soon after the Battle of Uhud, in
3 A.H. She was thirty years old at the time.
Zaynab bint Khuzaymah, however, did not live long and
died within two or three months after her marriage.
Besides Khadijah, Zaynab bint Khuzaymah was the only
other wife of the Holy Prophet who died within his lifetime.
The funeral prayer was performed by the Holy Prophet
himself, and Zaynab was buried in the Janna tul-Baqih.
5. HAZRAT UMM SALMAH (Marriage: 626 A.D.)
Her real name was Hind and she was the daughter of
Suhayl and Atikah. She was fast married to Abdullah
bin Abdul Asad who had taken the "kunniyat"
of Abu Salmah.
Both Umm Salmah and her husband had embraced Islam
in the early years of the Prophet's mission and were
also among the first emigrants to Abyssinia. Later on
they returned to Mecca and after the Holy Prophet's
migration to Medinah, followed him there.
Abu Salmah suffered some bad wounds in the Battle of
Uhud and eventually succumbed to blood poisoning some
eight months later. Umm Salmah was a mature lady with
four children when she became a widow.
When the Holy Prophet proposed to her, she initially
made some excuses regarding her advanced age and having
many children but later on accepted the honour. They
were married around 4 5 A.H.
Umm Salmah died in 63 A.H., at the age of eighty four,
and was the last of the Prophet's surviving wives. She
was buried in the Janna-tul-Baqih, alongside the Holy
Prophet's other wives.
7. HAZRAT JOWA'RIAH (Marriage: 626A.D.)
Formerly known as Barrah, Juwayriah was the daughter
of Harith, the Chief of the Banu Musta'liq tribe. She
was married to Musafi who lost his life fighting against
the Muslims in the Expedition of Banu Musta'liq, in
the fifth year of the Hijrah.
With the defeat of the Banu Musta'liq, a large amount
of booty and prisoners of war came into the hands of
the Muslims. Juwayriah fell to the lot of a warrior
who demanded as ransom quantity of gold beyond her means
to pay. She then came to the Holy Prophet beseeching
him for help. He offered to marry her to which she,
as well as her master, agreed. She was about twenty
years old at the time.
When the Muslim warriors learned of this marriage,
they freed all captives of the Banu Musta'liq clan since
they had all now become relatives of the Holy Prophet
by virtue of his marriage to Juwayriah.
Juwayriah died in 50 A.H., at the age of sixty five.
She was also buried in the Janna-tul-Baqih in Medinah.
8. HAZRAT ZAYNAB BINT JAHSH (Marriage: 626 A.D.)
Zaynab was the daughter of Umaymah, a sister of the
Prophet's father Abdullah and thereby a cousin of the
Holy Prophet. She belonged to the noble clan of Hashim
and was proud of this fact.
When the Prophet launched his drive for Islamic brotherhood
and tried to remove all signs of racial and ethnic superiority,
he arranged the marriage of his cousin Zaynab to his
freed slave, Zayd.
Zaynab, however, could never get adjusted to the idea
of marrying a freed slave and her marriage with Zayd
eventually led to a divorce due to mutual incompatibility.
Since the Holy Prophet had been responsible for arranging
her marriage and had guaranteed her upkeep, he decided
to marry her himself. Zaynab was about thirty eight
years old at the time and the marriage took place in
the fifth year of the Hijrah.
Zaynab was the most generous of the Holy Prophet's
wives and used to give away most of her annual stipend
to the poor. Before his death the Holy Prophet once
remarked to his wives:
"The first to join me among you is the one with
the longest hand."
The Prophet's wives took the hint literally and started
comparing the lengths of their hands. It was after the
death of Zaynab that the other wives realized that the
Holy Prophet's words actually alluded to the person's
generosity. Zaynab died in 20 A.H., at the age of fifty-three.
9. HAZRAT UMME HABIBAH (Marriage: 628 A.D.)
Her real name was Ramlah and she was the daughter of
Abu Sufyan, a staunch enemy of the Holy Prophet. She
had married Ubaydullah bin Jahsh and both had embraced
Islam in the early days of the Prophet's mission. To
avoid the persecution of the Muslims in Mecca, both
Umm Habibah and her husband went to Abyssinia with the
Second Emigration of the Muslims to that country.
On reaching Abyssinia, her husband converted to Christianity
while Umm Habibah remained steadfast in her faith. After
his conversion, Ubaydullah separated from his wife and
later on died.
In the seventh year of the Hijrah, the Holy Prophet
sent his envoy from Medinah to Negus, King of Abyssinia,
asking for Umm Habibah's hand in marriage. Negus conveyed
the Prophet's proposal to Umm Habibah to which she readily
consented. Negus himself presided over the marriage
ceremony and afterwards sent Umm Habibah to Medinah
under proper escort. At the time of her marriage to
the Holy Prophet, Umm Habibah was about thirty sin years
Umm Habibah died in 44 A.H. at the age of seventy three
and was buried in the Janna tul-Baqih in Medinah.
10. HAZRAT SAFIYAH (Marriage: 628 A.D.)
Her real name was Zaynab and she was the daughter of
Haiy bin Akhtab, a chieftain of the Banu Nadir tribe
of the Jews. The Banu Nadir had been expelled from Medinah
after the Battle of Uhud and had settled down at Khyber.
Safiyah's first marriage to Sallam bin Mishkan ended
in divorce. She then married Kinanah, a Jewish warrior
at Khyber. During the Battle of Khyber her husband and
father were both killed and Safiyah, along with other
women, was captured. In deference to her status among
her own people, the Holy Prophet released her and invited
her to embrace Islam. The Holy Prophet then asked for
her hand in marriage, to which she readily agreed. She
was about eighteen years old at the time.
Being of Jewish origin and an outsider, Safiyah often
received a discriminatory treatment from the Holy Prophet's
other wives. Once A'isha called her a "shrimp"
on account of her short stature. The Holy Prophet overheard
the remark and said to A'isha:
"A'isha, you have said a word which, if dropped
in the sea, would pollute the whole water."
On another occasion A'isha and Zaynab teased Safiyah
regarding their ethnic superiority by saying that they
were not only the Prophet's wives but were also related
to him. When Safiyah complained about this to the Holy
Prophet, he said:
"Safiyah, why didn't you reply saying that your
father was Aaron, your uncle Moses and your husband
is Muhammad; so how can they be superior to you?"
Safiyah died in 50 A.H., at the age of sixty one and
was buried in the Janna tul-Baqih.
11. HAZRAT MAIMOONAH (Marriage: 629 A.D.)
Maimoonah was the daughter of Harith of the Hawazin
tribe and a sister in law of the Prophet's uncle, Abbas.
She first married Masood bin Amr who divorced her. She
then married Abu Rahm who died soon after.
On the suggestion of Abbas, the Holy Prophet married
Maimoonah, after the three day pilgrimage in the seventh
year of the Hijrah. The Holy Prophet wanted to have
the marriage ceremony in Mecca and invite the Quraysh,
but the Meccans did not allow him to stay in the city
more than the three days agreed upon in the Treaty of
Hudaybiya. The marriage ceremony, therefore, took place
at Sarif, north of Mecca, and was performed by Abbas.
Maimoonah was about thirty years old at the time.
Maimoonah died in 50 A.H., at the age of seventy three
and was buried at Sarif, according to her will. Besides
Khadijah, Maimoonah is the only wife of the Holy Prophet
who was not buried in the Janna tul Baqih in Medinah.
12. HAZRAT MARIAH QIBTIAH (Marriage: 629 A.D.)
After the Treaty of Hudaybiya, the Holy Prophet sent
his envoys to various kings and rulers inviting them
to embrace Islam. One of the recipients of these envoys
was Muqauqis, the Ruler of Egypt. Muqauqis did not embrace
Islam but, very diplomatically, sent some presents to
the Holy Prophet including two Coptic maidens named
Mariah and Sirin.
Both these girls embraced Islam. Mariah was taken into
marriage by the Holy Prophet while Sirin, her sister,
was married to a Companion of the Prophet. The marriage
of Mariah took place in the seventh or eighth year of
Mariah held the distinction of being the only wife,
other than Khadijah, to bear the Holy Prophet a child,
a son by the name of Ibrahim. This son, however, died
in the tenth year of the Hijrah when he was only eighteen
Mariah herself did not live long and died five years
later. She was buried in the Janna-tul-Baqih graveyard.
A NOTE ON THE BATTLES FOUGHT DURING THE LIFE OF THE
Much criticism is raised against Islam today, attributing
its rapid spread to the use of sword and physical compulsion.
This however, is not borne out by historical facts.
For the first fourteen years of his twenty two year
prophetic career, the Holy Prophet passively bore all
sorts of persecutions and aggressions afflicted upon
him. And when finally the permission to fight was granted
by God (22:39) the Holy Prophet fought only in self
defense or to check the enemy's war preparations or
to establish peace in the area.
It should be noted that during the eight year period
from the Battle of Badr to the Campaign of Tabuk, the
total number of battle casualties in the whole of Arabia
was only about 1250. Of these about 250 were Muslims
and about 1000 non Muslims. These are extremely small
numbers even by the standards of those days, and put
the degree of warfare carried out by the Muslims in
its proper perspective.