birth of Muhammad and the dawn of prophecy
According to tradition, the prophet Abraham brought his first-born Ishmael and his mother Agar (Hagar in Hebrew) from Canaan to an arid valley that later became known as Mecca. He used to visit them once a year. When Ishmael grew up enough to help him, Abraham built the House of God known as Ka'bah.
There was a lack of water in that land when Ishmael and Hagar were left there, and it was thus that the source of Zamzam miraculously appeared to quench Ishmael. The Jurhum tribe, when he discovered it, asked for permission from Agar to draw water, and during his annual visit the prophet Abraham granted this permission. The same Ismaele eventually married a woman from the same tribe and had twelve children, including Qidar (Kedar in Hebrew).
Over time the Ishmaelites grew in number, thus fulfilling the promise that God made to Abraham, that is to say that he would exceptionally multiply the descendants of Ishmael. Thus the Ishmaelites spread throughout the Hijaz peninsula. But they lacked organization and consequently did not have much power. About two hundred years before Christ, Adnan, one of the descendants of Qidar, ascended to fame. In any case, his genealogy dating back to Qidar does not find all scholars unanimous. The Arabs, in fact, have narrated various genealogies, and the Prophet, in order to highlight the Islamic tradition according to which the individual qualities, and not genealogy and ancestry, are the criterion of excellence, and not to get caught up in such unnecessary and superfluous arguments, he ordered the Muslims:
When my genealogy reaches Adnan, this is enough.
In the third century of the Christian era a guide named Fahr emerged in that family. He was the son of Malik, son of Nadhar, son of Kinanah, son of Khuzaymah, son of Mudrikah, son of Ilyas, son of Madhar, son of Nazar, son of Ma'ad, son of Adnan. Some think that this Fahr was called Quraish, and that this is the reason why his sons were later known as "the Quraish".
In the fifth generation after Fahr, in the fifth century of the Christian era, a very powerful personality appeared on the scene. It was Qusayi, son of Kilab, son of Murrah, son of Lu'i, son of Ghalib, son of Fahr. Many scholars argue that it was actually Qusayi, not Fahr, to be called Quraish. The well-known Muslim scholar Shi'bli al-Nu'mani wrote:
Qusayi became so famous and achieved such prestige that some people claim that he was the first man to be called Quraish, as Ibn Abdi Rabbih claimed in his book Al-Iqdu'l-Farid, clearly stating that Qusayi, when he gathered all the sons of Ishmael spread far and wide, persuading them to abandon the nomadic lifestyle and gathering them around the Ka'bah, was called Quraish (the one who brings together). Al-Tabari quotes the caliph Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan, who would have said: "Qusayi was Quraish, and nobody was given this name before him."
When Qusayi grew up, a man from the Khuza'ah tribe named Hulail became the Ka'bah's trustee. Qusayi married his daughter and, according to the will of Hulail, was appointed future foster of the Ka'bah after Hulail himself. Many systems and institutions are owed to Qusayi:
• Established Dar-a-Nadwah (House of Assembly), where important issues such as war and peace were discussed, caravans organized for the departure and weddings and other ceremonies were celebrated.
• Founded the Siqayah (water distribution) and Rifadah (food distribution) systems for pilgrims during the hajj days; from al-Tabari it is clear that these systems were followed in Islam up to its time, that is, five hundred years after Qusayi.
• Ideò a system to accommodate the pilgrims and have them settle in the Mash'arul-Haram in the night, illuminating the valley with the lamps in order to make their stay comfortable.
• Rebuilt the Ka'bah and dug the first water source of Mecca, Zamzam, which was later buried and of which no one remembered the real location anymore.
The Arab historians unanimously affirm that he was a generous man, courageous and loved by people. His ideas were pure, his thought clear, and his manners very refined. His word was followed as a religion in the course of his life and even after his death. People used to visit his grave in Hajun (today Jannatul Ma'alla). No wonder, therefore, that he was the undisputed head of the tribe, who owed his strength and power to his leadership. All responsibilities and privileges fell on him: the custody of the Ka'bah, the leadership of Darun-Nadwah, which he himself had founded; the refreshment (Rifadah) and the distribution to the pilgrims of running water (Siqayah); being the flag bearer of the Quraish in wartime (Liwa) and the army commander (Qiyadah).
These were the six privileges that were seen with great respect and before which all the inhabitants of Arabia bowed. The most extraordinary aspect of his life was his altruism. In all areas of his life there was never any sign indicating an embezzlement due to his being the undisputed leader of the tribe.
Qusayi had five sons and a daughter: Abduddar was the largest, followed by Mughirah (known as Abd Munaf). He loved his eldest son, and shortly before his death he entrusted him with all the six responsibilities mentioned above. Abduddar, however, was not a very capable man, while Abd Munaf was considered a wise leader even during his father's life, and his words were dutifully followed by the whole tribe. Thanks to his nobility of mind and his benevolence he became commonly known as "the generous". So that in the end Abduddar passed all his responsibilities to Abd Munaf, who virtually became the supreme head of the Quraish.
Abd Munaf had six sons, Hashim, Muttalib, Abdush-Shams and Nawfil being the best known among them.
As long as Abduddar and Abd Munaf were both alive, there were no disagreements and disputes. After their death, however, a dispute arose between their children regarding the distribution of the six responsibilities. Almost a war broke out before it was agreed that the Siqayah, the Rifadah and the Qiyadah were entrusted to the sons of Abdu Munaf, the Liwa and the Hijabah to the sons of Abduddar and the guidance of Dar-a-Nadwah to both families .
The name Hashim will always shine in the history of Arabia and Islam, not only because he was the great-grandfather of the Prophet, but also for his eminent achievements. He may well be compared with every other great head of his time, and considered the most generous, dignified and respected chief of the Quraish. He used to welcome pilgrims during the hajj nobly and with open arms. But the most emblematic testimony of his benevolence is his title «Hashim», with which he was known everywhere.
It is said that once there was a great famine in Mecca, and Hashim could not witness helplessly to the painful laments of the Meccans. He took all his wealth, went to Syria, bought flour and dry bread and brought them to Mecca; every day he slaughtered his camels to prepare the meat sauce, then the bread and biscuits were broken and put into the sauce and the whole tribe was invited to eat. This went on until the famine was overcome and all lives were thus saved. It was this extraordinary gesture that gave him the name "Hashim", that is "he who breaks bread". Indeed, his real name was Amr.
Hashim was the founder of the commercial caravans of the Quraish, and succeeded in obtaining an edict from the Byzantine emperor who exempted the Quraish from all kinds of duties and all taxes when they entered or left the countries under Byzantine rule. He obtained the same concession from the emperor of Ethiopia. Thus the Quraishites took their commercial caravans in the winter in Yemen (which was under Ethiopian domination), crossed Syria in the summer, and finally reached Ankara (under Byzantine rule). But the trade routes were not at all safe, and for this Hashim visited all the dominant tribes between Yemen and Ankara, making agreements with them all. They came to a deal where they would not attack the Quraish caravans, and Hashim pledged, on behalf of the Quraish, for the commercial caravans to bring all their goods to their destination, buying and selling at reasonable prices. So, despite all the dangers and risks that characterized the then Saudi Arabia, the commercial caravans of the Quraish could always feel safe.
It is to this agreement obtained by Hashim that God refers to the Qur'an, indicating it as a great benefit given to the Quraish:
For the Covenant pact, for their winter and summer caravans pact. So worship the lord of this House, the One who has preserved them from hunger and has protected them from [every] fear [CVI, 1-4].
At that time there was a dramatically cruel tradition spread among the Quraish, known as ihtifad. When a poor family could no longer take care of itself, it went off into the desert, set up a tent, and remained in it until death reached each of its members one after the other. Thus they thought that no one would come to know of their indigence, and letting themselves die of starvation would still preserve their honor.
It was Hashim who persuaded the Quraish to actively oppose poverty instead of surrendering to it. This is his solution: to put together a rich person with a poor person, as long as their employees were equal in number; the poor person had to help the rich person during the trade trip, and all the capital increase due to profit had to be divided equally between the two. In this way, there was no longer any need to practice the tradition of ihtifad. This solution was in fact unanimously accepted and implemented by the tribe. A wise decision that not only removed poverty from the Quraish, but also created a feeling of brotherhood and unity among all its members.
These undertakings would have been enough to assure him of a long and prosperous life, but our wonder was boundless when we learned that Hashim was only twenty-five years old when death reached him in Gaza, Palestine, around 488 AD. His tomb is still preserved, and Gaza is also called Ghazzah Hashim, or "Gaza of Hashim".
It is also reported that Hashim was a very handsome and elegant man, and that is why many leaders and rulers wanted him as a husband for their daughters. But he married Salma, daughter of Amr of the tribe of Adi Bani Najjar, of Yathrib (today's Medina). She will be the mother of Shaibatul-Hamd (commonly known as Abdul-Muttalib), who was still an infant when Hashim died.
Hashim had five sons: Abdul-Muttalib, Asad, Nadhah, Saifi and Abu Saifi. The last three had no children, Asad had only one daughter, Fatima bint Asad, future mother of the Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib, so it was only through Abdul-Muttalib that the progeny of Hashim survived.
Abdul-Muttalib was born in Yathrib in his maternal grandfather's house, and he was only a few months old when Hashim died. After his death, it was his brother Muttalib who succeeded him in all the aforementioned responsibilities and responsibilities. After some time, Mut-talib went to Yathrib to take his nephew and take him to Mecca. When he entered the city carrying his nephew with him on his camel, it is said that some cried "here is the slave of Muttalib," but he replied, "No! He is my nephew, son of my late brother Hashim. " But the real name of that child, even though many people today know him just as Abdul-Muttalib (slave of Muttalib), was Shaibatul-Hamd.
Muttalib loved his nephew very much and always held him in high esteem, unlike the other two paternal uncles, Abdush-Shams and Nawfil, who were rather hostile, and the death of Muttalib was his nephew to succeed him in Siqayah and Rifadah.
Despite the hostility of his two paternal uncles, his personal qualities and virtues and his ability to guide were such as to make him soon take the title of Sayyidul Batha (the Chief of Mecca). He lived until he was eighty-two and in his honor was laid a carpet in front of the Ka'bah that no one could tread on except himself. In the last days of his life this rule was broken only by the orphaned son of Abdullah, who used to sit on it. Abdul-Muttalib forbade the Quraish from interfering in the actions of that child, and said to them: "This child of my family will have a special dignity." In fact, that child was Muhammad, the last Messenger of God on earth.
Abdul-Muttalib forbade his sons to use intoxicants and he used to go to the cave of Hira during the month of Ramadhan to spend the month in the appeal of God and to assist the poor. Like his father and uncle, he used to feed and quench the pilgrims during the hajj season. Throughout the course of the year even the beasts and birds received food from his home and, for this, he was also called Mut'imuttayr (bird feeder).
Some of the systems devised by Abdul-Muttalib were later integrated into Islam. He was the first person to do nadhr and to respect him, to give a fifth (khums) of the gain on God's way, to cut the hands of thieves, to make the intoxicants illicit, to forbid fornication and adultery, to discourage the custom of killing the daughters and the tawaf around the Ka'bah without clothes, and fixing the compensation for manslaughter (killing someone by mistake or not voluntarily) to one hundred camels. Islam subsequently integrated all these systems. It is not possible to present the entire story of Abdul-Muttalib in a few pages, but two important events must be remembered: the rediscovery of Zamzam and the attempt to attack the Ka'bah by Abraha, the governor of Yemen on behalf of the Ethiopia.
Hundreds of years ago Zamzam had been buried and no one knew where it was. (It is not the place here to provide details of how and from whom it was buried). One day Abdul-Muttalib was sleeping in the Hatim of the Ka'bah and someone told him in a dream to dig the Taybah and draw water. He asked where Taybah was, but the vision vanished without giving an answer. The same vision was repeated in the second and third days, but the names changed each time. On the fourth day, he was told to dig Zamzam, and Abdul-Muttalib asked where he was. Signs were thus supplied to him. Abdul-Muttalib, along with his eldest son (at that time still his only son) Harith, dug into the place where Zamzam is still located today. On the fourth day of excavations the wall of the well finally emerged, and after a few more excavations the water level was reached. At that point Abdul-Muttalib exclaimed "Allahu akbar!" (God is the greatest!), And then he said: "This is the well of Ishmael!" The Quraishites gathered around him and began to argue that, since the original well was owned by Ishmael, even the rediscovered belonged to the entire tribe. Abdul-Muttalib refused this argument, saying that the well had been given to him in a special way by God himself. The Quraishites wanted to fight it, cover the well and then bring it back to light, but eventually agreed to bring the case before a wise woman of the Sa'd tribe in Syria.
Each clan then sent a man to his representative. Abdul-Muttalib, together with his son and a few companions, joined the caravan, though having separate reserves. In the middle of the desert the water of the Abdul-Muttalib group ended and his companions began to suffer thirst, but the other leaders of the caravan refused to supply them with water, so that they came to be about to die. Abdul-Muttalib then ordered to begin excavating tombs, so that, as one died, the others would give him a proper burial, and only the last one would remain unburied. They then began to dig their graves, while the other groups watched the scene amused.
The day after Abdul-Muttalib completed his work, he urged his followers not to give in to death without having made a final effort. He then climbed onto his camel, which, when it lifted off the ground, hit the ground slightly from which, suddenly, fresh water began to flow. Abdul-Muttalib and his companions shouted Allahu Akbar, and immediately began to quench their thirst and to fill the receptacles of skin then in use for the transport of water. Abdul-Muttalib decided to invite the other groups to do the same, causing resentment of his companions. But he explained: "If we did now as they did before with us, there would be no difference between us and them."
The entire caravan could then refreeze and restore its reserves. That done, they said:
O Abdul-Muttalib! For God! God has decided between us and you. He gave you victory. For God, we will never dispute with you about Zamzam again. God himself, who created this source for you in the desert, gave you Zamzam.
Zamzam thus became the exclusive property of Abdul-Muttalib, who dug the well even deeper. These further excavations brought to light two golden deer, some swords and knitted vest. Just as before, the Quraish asked for a distribution of the assets, and as before Abdul-Muttalib refused. In the end the dispute was resolved this way: the golden deer was given to the Ka'bah, the swords and the knitted garments to Abdul-Muttalib. The Quraish, on the other hand, did not belong to anything. It was then that Abdul-Muttalib decided to donate one-fifth of his possessions to the Ka'bah.
The episode just recounted occurred during the youth of Abdul-Muttalib.
Now we will speak instead of what is considered the most important event of his life, which took place eight years before his death, and it was that he became the patriarch of the tribe.
It is said that the Ethiopian governor of Yemen, Abraha al-Ashram, was envious of the reverence that the Arabs showed towards the Ka'bah. As a faithful Christian, he built a large cathedral in Sanaa (capital of Yemen) and ordered the Arabs to go on pilgrimage as an alternative. The order was however ignored. Not only that, someone entered the cathedral and desecrated it. Abraha's anger knew no bounds and, in his fury, he decided to take revenge by demolishing and desecrating the same Ka'bah. He then moved with a large army to Mecca.
With him there were many elephants, and he himself rode one. The elephant was an animal that the Arabs had never seen, and that same year became known as the Year of the Elephant (Amul-Fil), starting a new era in the calculation of years in Arabia. This new calendar remained in use until the time of Umar ibn al-Khattab, when, on the advice of Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib, he replaced it with the one departing from hijrah (which we will indicate with dH).
When news came of the march of this great army led by Abraha, the Arab tribes of the Quraish, Kinanah, Khuza'ah and Hudhayl gathered to organize the defense of the Ka'bah. Abraha sent a vanguard to Mecca in order to capture camels and young men and women. The contingent managed to catch many animals, including many belonging to Abdul-Muttalib.
Meanwhile, a man from the Himyar tribe was sent by Abraha to the Quraish to warn them that he was not going to fight them: his only purpose was to demolish the Ka'bah, but if they resisted, then they would be destroyed . The ambassador also provided a dreadful description of the army of Abraha, who, in effect, appeared to be more numerous and better equipped than all the tribes put together.
Abdul-Muttalib replied to this ultimatum with these words:
For God, we do not want war with him. As for this House (the Ka'bah), it is the House of God; if God wants to save His House, he will save it, but if he leaves it without protection, then no one can save it.
Then Abdul-Muttalib, Amr ibn Lu'aba and some other eminent tribesmen visited Abraha. He was informed in the meantime of the prestige and position enjoyed by Abdul-Muttalib, whose personality was very solemn and instilled a reverential fear. When he entered the tent of Abraha, he rose from his throne and gave him a warm welcome, sitting at his side on the carpet. During the conversation, Abdul-Muttalib demanded the return of his camels. Abraha, astonished, said:
When my eyes fell on you, I was so impressed that if I had asked to gather my army and return to Yemen, I would not have had the courage to fight back. But now I no longer feel any respect for you. Because? I came to demolish the House which is your religious center, as it was for your ancestors, as well as the foundation of the prestige and respect you enjoy in Arabia, and you did not say a single word in its defense. On the contrary, come and ask me for the return of some camels ?!
I am the owner of those camels, so I try to save them, and this House has its owner who will surely save it.
Abraha was surprised by this answer. He then ordered the return of the camels, and the Quraish delegation left again.
The day after, Abraha ordered his army to enter Mecca. Abdul-Muttalib ordered the Meccans to leave the city and take refuge in the surrounding hills, while he, along with other important members of the Quraish, would remain within the enclosure of the Ka'bah. Abraha sent one of his emissaries to warn them to leave that position. When the emissary arrived near them, he asked who the chief was, and everyone turned to Abdul-Muttalib, who was then invited to go to Abraha for an interview. When he returned he said:
The owner of this House is his defender, and I am sure that He will save it from the attack of his enemies and will not dishonor the servants of His House.
He then leaned on the door of the Ka'bah and, crying, recited the following verses:
Hate! Surely a man defends his home,
so surely you will protect yours.
Their cross and their anger can never dominate Your Wrath.
Hate! Help your people against the followers of the cross and its worshipers.
Then he went to the top of the Abu Qubays hill. Abraha advanced with his army, and when he saw the walls of the Ka'bah he immediately ordered his demolition. As soon as the army was near the Ka'bah, God's army appeared on the western side. An impressive dark cloud formed by small birds (known in Arabic as Ababil) swooped down on Abraha's army. Each bird carried three stones: two in the legs and one in the beak. A rain of pebbles dropped by the birds fell on the astounded army that, in a few minutes, was practically destroyed. Abraha himself was seriously injured. He immediately decided to return to Yemen, but he died along the way. This was such an important event that God himself spoke about it in the surah CV:
Did not you see how your Lord acted with those of the elephant? Did not make their cunning fail? He sent flocks of flinging birds at them on their hardened clay stones. He reduced them as an empty chaff.
Some historians have tried to minimize the impact of the divine wind by suggesting that the army actually perished due to a smallpox epidemic. But this explanation raises more problems than it solves. How is it possible that the whole army perished due to an outbreak just when it was advancing towards the Ka'bah? How is it possible that not a single soldier survived the epidemic? Why had no meccano been infected? Moreover, if there was no epidemic outbreak in Mecca either before or after this sudden manifestation, where did this plague come from?
This epochal episode occurred in 570 AD The same year that Abdullah and Amina was born Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam.
When, during the discovery of Zamzam, Abdul-Muttalib met the enemies of the Quraish, he became quite worried because he had only one son who could help him. He therefore prayed to God and made a vow (nadhr) whereby, if God had granted him ten children to help him against his enemies, he would have sacrificed one to please Him. His request was granted, and God gave him twelve children, among whom five became famous in the history of Islam: Abdullah, Abu Talib, Hamza, Abbas and Abu Lahab. The other seven were: Harith (already mentioned), Zubayr, Ghaydaq, Muqawwim, Dharar, Qutham and Hijl (or Mughira). He also had six daughters: Atikah, Umaymah, Baydha, Barrah, Safiyyah and Arwi.
When the tenth son was born, Abdul-Muttalib decided, as promised, to sacrifice one of them. The name of Abdullah was chosen by lot. He was his dearest son, but he willingly accepted God's will. He then took Abdullah by the hand and led him to the place where the sacrifice was to be offered. His daughters began crying begging him to sacrifice ten camels in his place. At the beginning Abdul-Muttalib refused, but when the pressure of the family and, in fact, of the entire tribe, grew, he agreed to decide by lot between Abdullah and ten camels. But the name of his son came out again. At the suggestion of the people, the number of camels was increased to twenty, but the same result came out. Repeatedly the number of camels was increased to thirty, to forty, and so on up to a hundred, when the camels were mined. The family was partying, but Abdul-Muttalib was not satisfied. He said: "Ten times the name of Abdullah has been extracted, and it is not right to ignore all these verdicts with one single opposite". Three times more, therefore, he repeated the extraction between Abdullah and a hundred camels, and all the times the camels were extracted. Then he sacrificed the camels and the life of his son was saved.
It was at this event that the Prophet referred when he said: "I am the son of two sacrifices" (ie Ishmael and Abdullah).
The name of Abdullah's mother was Fatima, daughter of Amr ibn Aidh ibn Amr ibn Makhzum. He was also the mother of Abu Talib, Zubayr, Baydha, Umaymah, Barra and Atikah.
A year before the "Year of the Elephant" Abdullah married Amina, daughter of Wahb ibn Abd Munaf ibn Zuhrah ibn Kilab. On that same occasion Abdul-Muttalib married Hala, daughter of Wuhaib, that is Amina's cousin. Hamza was born from Hala, who was suckled by Thawbiyah, a slave of Abu-Lahab. She also gave milk to the Prophet for some time. So Hamza was the uncle of the Prophet and also his cousin, as well as a brother of milk. Different traditions indicate as the age of Abdullah, at the time of his marriage, seventeen, twenty-four or twenty-seven years.
Abdullah once traveled with his caravan to Syria on a business trip, but on the way back he fell ill and stopped at Yathrib (Medina). Abdul-Muttalib sent Harith to look for him and bring him back, but when he found him he was already dead. Abdullah was therefore buried in Yathrib. Unfortunately, the Wahhabis first walled up his grave by forbidding everyone to visit her, then, in the 70 years, they exhumed his body and those of seven companions of the Prophet and later buried them all together somewhere under the pretext of expanding the mosque .
Abdullah left some camels, goats and a slave, Ummu Ayman. The Prophet went all this as his inheritance.
Muhammad was born in this family on Friday, the 17 Rabi-ul-Awwal, 1 Year of Amul-Fil (corresponding to 570 AD) to bring God's Message to the world. The date of the 12 Rabi-ul-Awwal is higher in Sunni circles. So the prayer of Abraham, recited while building the Ka'bah, was answered:
O our Lord, raise up among them a Messenger who recite Your verses and teach the Book and wisdom, and increase their purity. You are the Wise, the Mighty [II, 129].
And the prophecies of Jesus were fulfilled:
O Children of Israel, I am truly a Messenger of Allah to you [sent] to confirm the Torah that preceded me, and to announce to you a Messenger that will come after me, whose name will be "Ahmad" [LXI, 6].
Abdullah, father of the Prophet, died a month earlier (or according to other traditions two months later) his birth, and his grandfather Abdul-Muttalib took care of the care and growth of the child. After a few months, following an ancient Arab custom, the child was entrusted to a Bedouin woman named Halimah, of the Bani Sa'd tribe, to be nursed.
When he was only six years old, he also lost his mother, and so the doubly orphaned child was raised by Abdul-Muttalib with the most attentive care. It was by God's will that the Prophet had to face all these sufferings, these pains and privations that may characterize human life, so that he could learn to overcome them by becoming courageous and elevating his stature in human perfection. It was not two years before Abdul-Muttalib died at the age of eighty-two, leaving the care and custody of the orphan Muhammad at Abu Talib who, like his wife Fatima Bint Asad, loved Muhammad more than his own children. As the Prophet himself once said, Fatima Bint Asad was for him a "mother" who let his children wait while he took care of him, who left them in the cold while giving him the warmest blankets. Abu Talib himself did not break away from that child day and night.
Abu Talib succeeded Abdul-Muttalib in Siqayah and Rifadah, and actively participated in commercial caravans. When Muhammad was twelve years old, Abu Talib greeted his family, being about to leave on a long journey to Syria. But Muhammad embraced him and began to cry, and in the end Abu Talib became convinced to take him with him. When the caravan reached Busra, in Syria, as usual, they stopped at the monastery of a monk named Bahira. It is not possible here to provide all the details of that visit. Suffice it to say that the monk, seeing some signs that he brought back to those he learned from the holy scriptures, was convinced that the orphaned child was the last expected prophet. To be sure he began to talk to him, and when he said "I swear to Lat and Uzza to tell me ...", the child began to shout "do not speak the names of Lat and Uzza in front of me! I hate them!". At that point Bahira was convinced, and he strongly advised Abu Talib not to continue to Damascus "because if the Jews will see what I have seen, I fear that they will try to hurt him. I am sure that this child will have a great eminence ".
Abu Talib, following his advice, sold all his merchandise at a low price here and there, then immediately returning to Mecca.
In a place called Ukaz every year a great annual meeting took place during the month of Dhul-Qa'dah, during which every war and bloodshed were forbidden. In the days of the meeting Ukaz presented a scene of pleasure and abandonment, with dancers, game tables, orgies of drinkers, poetic recitations and various shows of skill that often ended in quarrels and fights.
During one of these meetings a clash began between the Quraish and the Banu Kinanah on one side, and the Qais Aylan on the other. This disagreement lasted for years with considerable loss of life and property on both sides. The vulgar scenes, the indecent behavior that accompanied the great drunkenness and the horrors of war must have had a profound impression on the sensitive soul of Muhammad. When the Quraish finally succeeded, a League formed at the suggestion of Zubayr, an uncle of the Prophet, to avoid and prevent any violation of peace, to help the victims of oppression and to protect travelers. Muhammad showed an active interest in the activities of this League, known as Hilf-ul-Fudhul (League of Virtuosos) and the result of an agreement between Banu Hashim, Banu Taym, Banu Asad, Banu Zuhrah and Banu Muttalib. The League continued its activities for about half a century, even beyond the rise of Islam.
The time came when Muhammad became big enough to follow the commercial caravans. But the financial position of Abu Talib at that time became very weak due to the expenses of the Rifadah and the Siqayah, so it was no longer possible for him to equip Muhammad with his own wares. He therefore advised him to act as the agent of a noble lady, Khadijah bin Khu-waylid, who was one of the wealthiest women in the Quraish tribe. It is written that, in commercial caravans, its usual merchandise was as precious as that of the entire tribe put together.
His genealogy was joined with that of the Prophet in the person of Qusay. She was indeed Khadijah, daughter of Khuwaylid ibn Asad ibn Abdul Uzza ibn Qusayi.
The reputation that Muhammad had won for his honesty and his moral integrity led Khadijah to willingly entrust his goods to him, to sell them in Syria. He then traded in such a way that the assets yielded more than expected, becoming even more esteemed and respected for his integrity, his honesty and his generosity. Khadijah was very impressed. Only two months after his return to Mecca he became her husband. The Prophet was twenty-five years old, Khadijah forty, and he was a widow.
In 605 AD, around, when the Prophet was thirty-five years old, a flood hit Mecca and the construction of the Ka'bah was severely damaged. The Quraish decided to rebuild it. When the walls reached a certain height, a dispute arose between the various clans about who was entitled to place the Black Stone (Hajar Aswad) in its proper place. This dispute threatened to take on serious proportions but ultimately agreed that the first person who would enter the Ka'bah compound the next morning would have been the arbiter of this dispute.
It so happened that that person was just Muhammad. The Quraish were happy about this because Muhammad was very well known for his honesty and his respected and trustworthy personality. Muhammad put his habit on the ground and placed it on the Black Stone. He told the clans in dispute to send a representative to grab each one corner of the garment, and lift it up. When the veil was raised to the required level, he took the stone and placed it in the arranged place. This was the solution that dissolved the dispute and satisfied all the departed.
It was during this period that he concluded several commercial agreements and always acted with great integrity in the agreements and in the relations with the members. Abdullah, son of Abu Hamza, says that he concluded a transaction with Muhammad. The details of this agreement had not yet been outlined, when he suddenly turned away, promising that he would return as soon as possible. When, after three days, he returned, he was surprised to find Muhammad, who was still waiting for him. Not only that, Muhammad showed no sign of impatience towards him, saying only that he had been there for three days waiting for him. Saib and Qais, who had concluded commercial agreements with Muhammad, also testified to his exemplary behavior. The people were so impressed by his moral upbringing, by his integrity, by the purity of his lifestyle, by his resolute loyalty, by his close sense of where, who called him "al-Amin", "the trusty".
The era in which the Prophet was born is traditionally called the Age of Ignorance (Ayyamul-Jahiliyyah) in which, generally speaking, moral rectitude and spiritual code had long been forgotten. Superstitious rituals and beliefs had replaced the pillars of divine religion.
Only a few quraishites (the prophets of the Prophet and a handful of a few others) remained followers of the religion of Abraham, but they were an exception and were not able to have any influence on others, who were deeply immersed in pagan rituals and beliefs. There were also those who did not even believe in God and thought that life was a mere natural phenomenon. It is about these people that the Quran states:
They say: "There is only this earthly life: let us live and die; what kills us is the passing of time ". Instead they do not possess any science, they do nothing else but inferences [XLV, 24].
Some believed in God but not on the Day of Resurrection, or in reward and punishment. It is against their belief that the Qur'an states:
Say: "He who created them the first time will give them back their life. He knows perfectly every creation "[XXXVI, 79].
While few believed in God, as well as in punishment and reward in the life of the afterlife, but not in prophecy. It is concerning them that the Koran said:
And they say: "But what is the messenger who eats food and walks in the markets? [XXV, 7].
But, in general, the Arabs were idolaters. In any case, they did not recognize idols as God, but only as intermediaries between man and God. As the Koran pointed out, they stated:
We only adore them because they bring us closer to Allah [XXXIX, 3].
Some tribes worshiped the Sun, others the Moon. But the great majority, while indulging in idolatry, believed that there was a supreme Being, the creator of the heavens and the earth, whom they called "Allah". The Koran states:
If you ask them: "Who created the heavens and the earth and subdued the Sun and the Moon?" They will certainly answer: "Allah". Why then do they turn away from the right path? [XXIX, 61].
When they get on a ship, they call upon Allah to make Him a sincere worship. When he puts them to safety on the mainland, they attribute to him the consoci [XXIX, 65].
Christianity and Judaism, in the hands of their followers in Arabia, had lost their appeal. As the Scottish orientalist William Muir wrote,
Christianity, now as in the past, has spread weakly on the surface of Arabia, and more rigorous influences of Judaism have sometimes been visible in a more profound and restless flow, but the tide of idolatry and superstition, disruptive to every part with an unbroken and never-ending impetus towards the Ka'bah, provides ample evidence of the fact that faith and worship towards the Ka'bah have kept the Arab mind in a strong and undisputed slavery. After five centuries of Christian evangelization only a few disciples could be counted among the tribes, and therefore as a factor of conversion it was in fact totally ineffective.
There was a man, among the Arabs themselves, who had to free them from their swamp of ignorance and deviation in the light of faith and devotion to the one God: Muhammad.
Because of its geographical position and its connection, both by land and sea, with the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, Arabia has been profoundly influenced by the superstitious beliefs and the evil tendencies prevalent in many parts of these continents. But once the disbelief and disreputable practices were overcome, it could, thanks to this same geographical position, become the center of enlightenment radiating divine authority and knowledge to the whole world.
When Muhammad was thirty-eight years he spent much of his time in meditation and solitude. The cave of Mount Hira was his favorite place. It was there that he used to retreat with food and water to spend some days sometimes whole weeks immersed in the memory of God. No one was allowed to go there except his wife Khadijah and her cousin Ali. He also used to spend the whole month of Ramadhan there.
The waiting period was about to end. His first forty years of life had been characterized by different experiences, and from the point of view of the world, he had developed a psychological and intellectual maturity, although in reality he was the embodiment of perfection from the beginning. He said, "I was a prophet when Adam was between water and clay." His heart was filled with profound compassion for humankind and a pressing invitation to eradicate erroneous beliefs, the evils of society, cruelty and injustice. Thus came the moment when he was allowed to announce his prophecy. One day, when he was in the cave of Hira, the archangel Gabriel came to him and gave him the following message from God:
Read! In the name of your Lord who created, he created man by adherence. Read, for your Lord is the Most Generous, He who taught through Calamus, who taught man what he did not know [XCVI, 1-5].
These were the first revealed verses, the 27 day of the month of Rajab, the fortieth year of the Elephant Age (610 AD).
The descent of the divine message, which continued for the next twenty-three years, therefore began, and the Prophet rose up to proclaim to the world the Unity and the Oneness of God and the unity of the whole human race, to demolish the a building of superstition, of ignorance and of unbelief, to implement and spread a noble and superior conception of life and the world, and to guide the human race in the light of faith and celestial blessing.
The task was wonderful and immense. The Prophet began his mission cautiously, limiting it initially to his closest relatives and friends, with whom he met immediate success. His wife Khadijah testified to his truth as soon as he heard the message of divine revelation. Then his cousin Ali and his freed slave and adopted Zayd readily accepted the new faith, Islam, "submission to the Will of God". The fourth was Abu Bakr.
Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, in his book Al-Isabah, and Abdul Malik ibn Hisham, in his Al-Sirat al-Nabawiyya, both wrote that:
Ali was the first to accept Islam and to pray (offer prayer), and that he accepted whatever was revealed to the Messenger by God. At that time Ali was only ten years old. After Ali, Zayd ibn Harithah accepted the Islamic creed and offered the prayer, and after him Abu Bakr. Muhammad ibn Ka'b al-Qarzi, Salman the Persian, Abu Dharr, Miqdad, Khabbab, Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri and Zayd ibn al-Arqam, all companions of the Prophet, testified that Ali was the first to accept Islam . These famous comrades gave Ali the preference for others.
Sayyid Amir Alì (Indian Muslim jurist and politician) writes in his The Spirit of Islam (1891):
The fact that his closest relatives, his wife, his beloved cousin and close friends were totally imbued with the truth of his mission and convinced of his aspiration is a noble characteristic in the story of the Prophet, who strongly attests to the sincerity of his character , the purity of his teachings and the intensity of his faith in God. Those who knew him best, the closest relatives and closest friends, people who lived with him and noticed all his movements, were his most sincere followers. and devotees.
The English historian John Davenport wrote in his An apology for Muhammad and the Koran (1869):
It is strongly corroborating the sincerity of Muhammad that the earliest converts to Islam were his closest friends and the people of his family, who, all intimately connected to his private life, could not fail to discover those discrepancies that less invariably exist between the claims of the hypocritical cheater and his actions in daily life.
Slowly the message spread. During the first three years only about thirty followers joined him. Despite the prudence and care exercised, the Quraish were well aware of what was going on. At first they did not give much importance to the thing, merely taunting the Prophet and the handful of his followers. In fact, they doubted his sanity and thought he had become mad or possessed.
But after three years came the time to proclaim the will of God in public. God said:
Danne the announcement to your closest relatives [XXVI, 214].
This verse ended the period of secret worship, and announced the open proclamation of Islam. According to a tradition reported by various sources, Imam Ali said:
When the verse wa andhir Ashiratakal-aqrabin was revealed, the noble Messenger called me and ordered me: "O Ali! The Creator of the universe has ordered me to admonish my people about his destiny, but by perceiving the nature of people and knowing that when I announce the words of God they will behave badly, I felt depressed and weak, and therefore kept me calm until Gabriele arrived again informing me that there would be no more delay. So, o Ali, take some wheat grains, a leg of a goat and a large jug of milk and prepare a feast, then call the sons of Abdul-Muttalib to me so that I can deliver them to God's words " . I did what the Prophet told me to do and gathered the sons of Abdul-Muttalib, who were about forty, all together. Among them were the uncles of the Prophet: Abu Talib, Hamza, Abbas and Abu Lahab. When food was served, the Prophet lifted a piece of bread and broke it into small pieces with his own teeth, then scattered the pieces on the tray and said, "Start eating by saying bismillah." All those present ate until satiety, although milk and food were sufficient only for one person. Then it was his intention to speak with them, but Abu Lahab intervened and said, "Verily, your companion has hypnotized you!" Hearing this, everyone dispersed and the Prophet was unable to speak to them.
The next day the Prophet told me again: "O Ali, organize a banquet again like you did yesterday, and invite the sons of Abdul-Muttalib." I then organized the banquet and gathered the guests as I had been asked to do by the Prophet. As soon as they finished eating, the Prophet addressed them saying, "O sons of Abdul-Muttalib, I have brought for you the best blessings of this world and of neighbor, and I have been instructed by the Lord to call you to Him. Will you help me in this cause to be my brother, my successor and my caliph? " No one answered. But I, though I was the youngest of them all, said, "O Messenger of God, I am here to help you on this mission." Then the Prophet wrapped his neck very affectionately: "People! This is Ali, my brother, my successor and my caliph among you. Listen to him and obey him. " Having heard this from the Prophet, everyone laughed and said to Abu Talib: "Listen! You have been ordered to obey your son and follow him! "
Abul-Fida, in the Tarikh, also states that some of the verses by Abu Talib himself demonstrate that he accepted the prophecy of Muhammad in the depths of his heart.[Excerpts from: Allamah Rizvi, The Prophet Muhammad, Irfan Editions - Courtesy of the publisher]