Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Flight to Abyssinia

Description: The persecutions against the converts were so cruel to be endured that Prophet Muhammad SAW advised them to emigrate to Abyssinia [Ethiopia], where the Christian Negus, was ‘an upright King.’

But in midst of the Quraish hostility, Hamzah bin Abdul Muttalib and ‘Umar bin Al-Khatab converted to Islam and added significance addition to the Muslims.

By Ben Al-Hussaini.

Allah Encourage Migrating.

The series of persecutions started by the Quraish in the late fourth year of the Call. The converts which were mostly of the humble folk unable to defend themselves against the Quraish oppression. The persecution against them was so cruel to be endured that they contemplated ways to avert the painful cruelty against them. It was at this depressing period that Allah SWT revealed that His Earth was not too restricted for them, suggesting migrating:

“Good is for those who do good in this world, and Allah’s earth is spacious. Only those who are patient shall receive their rewards in full, without reckoning.” [Surah Az-Zumar, 39: 10]

The Prophet SAW knew that Ashamah, who held the title of Negus, The Christian King of Abyssinia [Ethiopia] was a fair ruler who would not wrong his subjects. Thus the Prophet SAW permitted some of his followers to seek asylum at least temporarily in Abyssinia, where they would be well received by the Negus.

The Refuge to Abyssinia

In the month of Rajab of the fifth year of the Call [614 CE], a group of twelve men and four women left for Abyssinia. Among them were ‘Uthman bin ‘Affan and his wife Ruqaiyah, the Prophet’s daughter. The Quraish pursued for them but they left Port of Shu’aibah for Abyssinia and accorded due hospitality. With respect to these two, the Prophet said:

“They are the first people to emigrate in the cause of Allah after Abraham and Lot.” [1]

Due to the news the Makkans heard about hospitality accorded to Muslims in Abyssinia the Quraish became more annoyed and meted more horrible ill-treatment and tortures against the Muslims. Thereupon Allah Messenger SAW deemed imperative to permit the helpless for the second time. About eighty-three and nineteen women fled to Abyssinia.

This apparently has further infuriated the Meccan Quraish, and they sent envoys, ‘Amar bin Al-As and ‘Abdullah bin Rabi’ah- before embracing Islam, to the King of Abyssinia to demand for the extradition of the Muslims refugees and that they might be put to death for adjuring their old religion and embracing a new one.

The King summoned the Muslim refugees and inquired of them what was the religion, which they had adopted in preference to their old faith or his religion. Ja'afar bin Abu Talib, brother of ‘Ali stood up and acted as the spokesman for the exiles.

Ja’afar bin Abu Talib said:

"O king, we were plunged in the depth of ignorance and barbarism, we adored idols, we lived in unchastely, and we ate dead bodies, and we spoke abomination, we disregarded every feeling of humanity and sense of duty towards our neighbors, and we knew no law but that of the strong, when Allah raised among us a man, of whose birth, truthfulness, honesty, and purity we were aware. He called us to profess the Unity of Allah and taught us to associate nothing with Him; he forbade us the worship of idols and enjoined us to speak the truth, to be faithful to our trusts, to be merciful, and to regard the rights of neighbors; he forbade us to speak evil of the worship of Allah and not to return to the worship of idols of woos and stone and to abstain from evil, to offer prayers, to give alms, to observe the fast. We have believed in him, we have accepted his teachings and his injunctions to worship Allah alone and to associate nothing with Him. Hence our people have persecuted us, trying to make us forego the worship of Allah and return to the worship of idols of wood and stone and other abominations. They have tortured us and injured us until, finding no safety among them; we have come to your kingdom trusting you will give us protection against their persecution."

After hearing the speech from Ja’afar Abi Talib the Negus asked: “Is there any of this with you that he told you be from Allah?”

Then Ja’afar bin Abu Talib recited the Quran the opening passage of Surah Maryam, where it told the story the birth of both John and Jesus and the account Mary having been fed with food miraculously.

The Negus wept and said: “Truly this has come from the same source as that which Jesus brought.”

The Muslims won the day, first by demonstrating that they worshipped the same God as the Christians. The hospitable king ordered the deputies to return to their people in safety and not to interfere with their fugitives. Thus the emigrants passed the period of exile in peace and comfort.

While the followers of the Prophet sought safety in foreign lands against the persecution of their people. When their schemes failed they began to nurse the idea of killing the Prophet SAW. He would pray and worship Allah openly and inviting publicly to Allah. There was nothing to prevent him when the message came:

“Therefore proclaim openly that which you are commanded, and turn away from Al-Mushrikun.” [Surah Al-Hijir, 15:94]

Abu Jahal and his companions were hostile and brutal to Muslims and their intent to kill the Prophet SAW was at one point were real that they strangled him but Abu Bakar came and asked them to leave the Prophet.
The Prophet sought to continue his preahing to the Quraish more strenuously than ever. Again they came to him with offers of riches and honor, which he firmly and utterly refused. But they mocked at him and urged him for miracles to prove his mission. He used to answer: "Allah has not sent me to work wonders; He has sent me to preach to you."

Thus disclaiming all power of wonder working, the Prophet ever rested the truth of his divine mission upon his wise teachings. He addressed himself to the inner consciousness of man, to his common sense and to his own better judgement. Say (O Muhammad): "I am only a human being like you. It is inspired in me that your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God- Allah), therefore take the Straight Path to Him (with true Faith - Islamic Monotheism) and obedience to Him and seek forgiveness of Him. And woe to Al Mushrikeen; (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, and disbeliveers in the Oneness of Allah etc., those who worship others along with Allah or set up rivals or partners to Allah. [urah Fussilat, 41:6 ]

Despite all the exhortation of the Prophet, the Quraish persisted in asking him for a sign. They insisted that unless some sign be sent down to him from his Lord, they would not believe. The disbeliveers used to ask: "Why has Muhammad not been sent with miracles like previous prophets?" T he Prophet replied: "Because miracles had proved inadequate to convince. Noah was sent with signs, and with what effect? Where was the lost tribe of Thamud? They had refused to receive the preaching of the Prophet Salih, unless he showed them a sign and caused the rock to bring forth a living camel. He did what they asked. In scorn they cut the camel's feet and then daring the prophet to fulfill his threats of judgment, were found dead in their beds the next morning, stricken by the angel of the Lord."

There are some seventeen places in the Quran, in which the Prophet Muhammad is challenged to work a sign, and he answered them all to the same or similar effect: Allah has the power of working miracles, and has not been believed; there were greater miracles in nature than any which could be wrought outside of it; and the Quran itself was a great, everlasting miracle. The Quran, the Prophet used to assert to the disbeliveers, is a book of blessings which is a warning for the whole world; it is a complete guidance and explains everything necessary; it is a reminder of what is imprinted on human nature and is free from every discrepancy and from error and falsehood. It is a book of true guidance and a light to all.

As to the sacred idols, so much honored and esteemed by the pagan Arabs, the Prophet openly recited: They are but names which you have named - you and your fathers - for which Allah has sent down no authority. (CH 53:23 Quran)

When the Prophet thus spoke reproachfully of the sacred gods of the Quraish, the latter redoubled their persecution. But the Prophet, nevertheless, continued his preaching undaunted but the hostility of his enemies or by their bitter persecution of him. And despite all opposition and increased persecution, the new faith gained ground. The national fair at Okadh near Mecca attracted many desert Bedouins and trading citizen of distant towns. These listened to the teachings of the Prophet, to his admonitions, and to his denunciations of their sacred idols and of their superstitions. They carried back all that they had heard to their distant homes, and thus the advent of the Prophet was made know to almost all parts of the peninsula.

The Meccans, however, were more than ever furious at the Prophet's increasing preaching against their religion. They asked his uncle Abu Talib to stop him, but he could not do anything. At , as the Prophet persisted in his ardent denunciations against their ungodliness and impiety, they turned him out from the Ka'ba where he used to sit and preach, and subsequently went in a body to Abu Talib. They urged the venerable chief to prevent his nephew from abusing their gods any longer or uttering any ill words against their ancestors. They warned Abu Talib that if he would not do that, he would be excluded from the communion of his people and driven to side with Muhammad; the matter would then be settled by fight until one of the two parties were exterminated.

Abu Talib neither wished to separate himself from his people, nor forsake his nephew for the idolaters to revenge themselves upon. He spoke to the Prophet very softly and begged him to abandon his affair. To this suggestion the Prophet firmly replied: "O my uncle, if they placed the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand to cause me to renounce my task, verily I would not desist therefrom until Allah made manifest His cause or I perished in the attempt." The Prophet, overcome by the thought that his uncle and protector were willing to desert him, turned to depart. But Abu Talib called him loudly to come back, and he came. "Say whatever you please; for by the Lord I shall not desert you ever."

The Quraish again attempted in vain to cause Abu Talib to abandon his nephew. The venerable chief declared his intention to protect his nephew against any menace or violence. He appealed to the sense of honor of the two families of the Bani Hashim and the Bani Muttalib, both families being kinsmen of the Prophet, to protect their member from falling a victim to the hatred of rival parties. All the members of the two families nobly responded to the appeal of Abu Talib except Abu Lahab, one of the Prophet's uncles, who took part with the persecutors

The Conversion of Hamzah bin ‘Abdul Muttalib.

In the state of hostility, Hamzah bin Abdul Muttalib converted to Islam in month of Dzul-Hijjah of the sixth year of the Call. It was reported that One day the Prophet SAW was seated on the Safa Hill when Abu Jahal passed by and passed a hostile remarks about the religion preached by the Prophet, but he kept silent. Abu Jahal took a stone and hit the Prophet’s head and bled. Hamzah was returning from hunting and a slave girl reported to Hamzah.

Hamzah was deeply offended went straight to Abu Jahal sitting in the company of the Quraishites. Hamzah struck his bow upon Abu Jahal’s head violently and said:

“Ah! You have been abusing Muhammad: I too follow his religion and profess what he preaches.”

At this time Hamzah, the youngest son of Abdul Muttalib. Hamzah was a man of distinguished bravery, an intrepid warrior, generous and true, whose heroism earned for him the title of the "Lion of Allah." He became a devoted adherent of Islam and ever lost his life in the cause.

The Conversion of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab.

Another significant addition to Islam in that month of Dzul-Hijjah was the conversion of ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab, three days following Hamzah. ‘Umar was one of the most formidable young men, a man of fearless courage and determination, feared and respected in the city. Infuriated by the increasing success of the new religion - so contrary to all that he had been brought up to believe - he swore to kill Muhammad SAW, regardless of the consequences. He was instructed that, before doing so, he had better look into the affairs of his own family, for his sister and her husband had become Muslims. Bursting into their home he found them reading a Surah called ‘Ta-Ha’, and when his sister acknowledged that they had indeed embraced Islam, he struck her a harsh blow. More than a little ashamed of himself, he then asked to see what they had been reading. She handed him the text after insisting he made ablution before handling it, and as he read these verses of the Quran, he underwent a sudden and total transformation. The sweet potency of the words of Quran changed him forever! He went directly to Muhammad and accepted Islam.

In him the new faith gained a valuable adherent and an important factor in the future development and propagation of Islam. Hitherto he had been a violent opposer of the Prophet and a bitter enemy of Islam

The party of the Prophet had been strengthened by the conversation by his uncle Hamzah, the youngest son of Abdul Muttalib, adopted Islam. Hamza was a man of distinguished bravery, an intrepid warrior, generous and true, whose heroism earned for him the title of the "Lion of Allah." He became a devoted adherent of Islam and ever lost his life in the cause.

Hamzah Abdul Muttalib was a man of great valor and merit; and of Abu Bakar As-Siddiq and 'Umar Al-Khattab, both men of great energy and reputation. The Muslims now ventured further to perform their devotions in public.

Alarmed at the bold part which the Prophet and his followers were able to assume, and roused by the return of the deputies from Abyssinia and the announcement of their unsuccessful mission, the Quraish determined to check by a decisive blow any further progress of Islam.

The Boycott against Banu Hashim and Banu Muttalib.

In the seventh year of the mission, they made a solemn covenant against the descendants of Hashim and Muttalib, engaging them to contract no marriage with any of them and to have no communication with them. Upon this, the Quraish became divided into two factions, and the two families of Hashim and Muttalib all referred to Abu Talib as their chief. Abu Lahab, the Prophet's uncle, however, out of his inveterate hatred of his nephew and his doctrine, went over to the opposite party, whose chief was Abu Sufian Ibn Harb, of the family of Umaiyah. The persecuted party, Muslims as well as idolaters betook themselves to a defile on the eastern skirts of Makkah. They lived in this defensive position for three years. The provisions, which they had carried with them, were soon exhausted. Probably they would have entirely perished but for the sympathy and occasional help received from less bigoted compatriots.

Destruction of the Saheefah

Frustrated on every side, the Meccan oligarchy, under the leadership of Abu Jahal, now drew up a formal document declaring a ban or boycott against the Hashim clan as a whole; there were to be no commercial dealings with them until they outlawed Muhammad, and no one was to marry a woman of Hashim or give their daughter to a man of the clan. Then, for three years, the Prophet was constrained with all his kinsfolk in their stronghold, which was situated in one of the gorges which ran down to Makkah.

At length some kinder hearts among Quraish grew weary of the boycott of old friends and neighbors. They managed to have the document, which had been placed in the Ka’abah, brought out for reconsideration. When it was found that all the writing had been destroyed by white ants, except the words Bismika Allahumma [“In thy name, O God”]. When the elders saw that marvel, the ban was removed, and the Prophet was again free to go about the city. Meanwhile, the opposition to his preaching had grown rigid. He had little success among the Makkans, and an attempt which he had once made to preach in the city of Taif was a failure. His mission was not proceeding how he expected, when, at the season of the yearly pilgrimage’, he came upon a little group of men who heard him gladly.


1. Zadul-Ma’at 1/24.

®srikandeh: The Sealed Nectar.

See: Prophet Muhammad.11.

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